Friday, April 09, 2010

More on the Tory smoke and mirrors campaign

I blogged recently about a possibly Tory smoke and mirrors campaign in Blaydon constituency in which the Tories appear to be delivering their latest leaflet only to the homes of Lib Dem councillors. We think the aim is convince us they are putting in a campaign here when the reality is somewhat different. Well, I can report that more of my fellow councillors have received the Tory leaflet but none of their neighbours did!

For those not in the know, Blaydon is a marginal Labour held constituency with a 5000 majority over the Lib Dems. The Tories got only 8% last time. There are no Conservative Councillors in the constituency. The last time a Conservative was elected to Gateshead Council here was in 1984. They held on to the then Whickham South ward by 25 votes over us. In the following election we won the seat with a majority of around 700. The year after that we won the 2nd seat from the Tories with a majority of 856 ( I remember it specifically as I was the winning candidate!) The rest is history, or rather The Tories are history here. In my ward in the last elections, the Tories got 9%, and that in a ward where a generation ago, they used to get over 50%.

The point is that the Tories here were finished years ago. Their choice of a Parliamentary candidate who lives in Kent is not inspiring confidence amongst Tory voters.

Meanwhile, Labour weakness in the constituency is adding an interesting ingredient into the battle.


Norfolk Blogger said...

They did similar to me in the Norwich North by-election with a car with three people inside driving up, delivered one leaflet to me, then drove off.

kevin scott said...

Gateshead Labour party have approximately £25,000 in the kitty to fight these elections, with a hefty donation from the outgoing MP, David Clelland, made before he stepped down. I can't imagine Blaydon Labour party will have much less to spend, to be honest.

However, I agree, they have less people than ever to deliver leaflets, which is quite shocking when you consider they are the party of government and have held both seats (and the council) for years and have a massive advantage in the area because of that.

As for activists on the ground: I doubt the Tory party could even leaflet a single ward in Gateshead, never mind all 22, while the Lib Dems are thin on the ground in some central Gateshead wards and haven't delivered a leaflet for years in some of them.

The problem, no doubt, is a combination of a lack of local activists and the need to priotitise their efforts in the wards most likely to reap dividends.

This applies to all parties, big and small, and is a sympton of the declining interest in active political involvement across society.

The only way around this is to make the elections less predictable and more competitive.

A proportional system, whereby some candidates are elected at a ward-level, with a top-up system based on the share of the vote electing the rest, just like the GLA in London, seems the only answer.

Plus an elected mayor, instead of the the leader-for-life system we have now, would make politics much more interesting and effective in Gateshead, in my opinion.

What are the chances of the old-party dinosaurs agreeing to these particular reforms, do you think?