Thursday, May 02, 2024

Could there be an upset in the North East?

A rather unexpected poll result caught the attention of the political world a few days ago. Jamie Driscoll was just 2 points behind Labour in the contest for the new Mayor of the North East. Driscoll is currently the North of Tyne elected Mayor and has been described by some as the last Corbynite still in power. The "Changed" Labour Party however attempted to end Driscoll's political career by blocking him from being candidate for the new North East Combined Authority Mayor, which will replace the much smaller North of Tyne authority. Current Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness was chosen by Labour instead of Driscoll.

Most people at that point assumed the election was cut and dried. McGuiness would have a relatively straightforward cruise to victory. But then Mayor Driscoll started to muddy the waters. Instead of going quietly, he decided not to go at all. Instead he resigned his Labour membership and announced he was standing as an Independent. 

Most thought this was just a political sideshow.  In the North East Labour heartland, Labour were simply expected to win, deserved or not. But Mayor Driscoll managed to get a bit of a bandwagon rolling and it may have picked up enough momentum (and indeed former members of Momentum) to pip Kim McGuinness to the post.

The evidence for this is an opinion poll. As far as I'm aware, there has been only the one poll done. An organisation called "More in Common" conducted the poll which produced the following:

  • Labour 35%
  • Driscoll 33%
  • Reform 14%
  • Conservatives 11%
  • Lib Dems 4%
  • Greens 4%
There are a large number of questions about this poll. Is it representative of the region? Were the participants self-selecting? Does it take into account what I call transfers (where people voting for a particular party vote the same way in other elections held on the same day but which they regard as of lesser importance).

But if this poll in any way reflects what is happening, and Driscoll is close to wining or even wins outright, this would be an enormous shock to the Labour Party and would knock the gloss off what is expected to be a successful set of elections for them.

I am rather cautious. I suspect Driscoll won't make it. We will find out in the next 24 hours.

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