Monday, July 27, 2009

What message have people of Norwich North sent?

Having had time for reflection, the people of Norwich North have sent complex messages to all parties complex messages. This first in series of postings concerns Ian Gibson.

Despite high profile campaign from several parties and media, only 45% of people bothered to vote. This election was about differential turnout. I was telling in Mile Cross and the low turnout there spoke volumes. But why not vote- are people disillusioned with politics as a whole or loyalty to Ian Gibson?

Having lived in the constituency myself, I can testify that Gibson was a good constituency MP. He may have done the wrong thing in terms of the property issue but other MPs have done much worse. I think it was more to do with Labour wanting to look tougher than Cameron so removed the whip from this frequent thorn in their side. So good result all round for Labour-until Gibson resigns to force by-election. Once again Labour party leadership underestimated his principles. He could easily have followed the example set by series of other (mainly Tory) MPs who announce they will not be restanding at next election thereby getting another year's pay and generous pay-off. He had a strong personal vote which appears to have stayed at home.

On one level, the by-election was a victory for the Conservatives but a somewhat hollow one-failing to really create a bandwagon of enthusiasm for David Cameron's revamped party-not reaching the heights of New labour in 1997 but maybe sleepwalking towards victory. I still think that is far from certain but Labour do have to take action soon-time for proper political reform and a referendum for PR me thinks.

Chloe Smith has spoken alot about accountability-I am sure the electorate will respond to her record accordingly. She would do well to hold this seat post boundary changes and the loss of apparent Tory leaning areas to the new Broadland seat. maybe she should have fought SW Norfolk after all.

For the Lib Dems, second place would have been nice but avoided getting completely squeezed and saw off UKIP and the Greens. I still feel that April Pond was left in a difficult situation when it emerged that the party had made approaches Martin Bell and Peter Franzen to stand. I still hope this was not true but have seen no convincing denial. Certainly neither made any effort to endorse the party in the campaign with Bell publicly backing Craig Murray who deserves credit for his own campaign and result.

UKIP will be pleased, benefiting from proximity to EP elections where they polled well in Norfolk. The Greens must be devastated and made no inroads in the Broadland end of the seat.

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