Friday, January 14, 2011

Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election

So it turned out to be a comfortable victory for Labour, with a majority greater than Phil Woolas got in 1997 at the height of Labour's New Dawn.

The significance of this election was that it was the first since the early 1980's where Labour faced tactical voting against us, and we were nervous, as not only had the LibDems got within 103 votes of us at the 2010 general election but the combined LibDem and Tory vote in that election was enough to overwhelm us.

As it happened, enough LibDem and Tory voters switched to us, and enough Tories stayed Tory, to prevent tactical voting for the LibDems from delivering a win. The Tory candidate looked sad standing on the podium, he had been sacrificed at the Coalition altar, and I felt a bit sorry for him.

If Tories and LibDems are asking "why wasn't tactical voting enough to win this seat", the answer is "because you fielded two candidates", which enabled those genuinely Tory to vote Tory. If they want to crush that kind of thing out they need a a proper "coupon" election of the sort they had in 1918, where no Liberal stood against a Tory and no Tory stood against a Liberal. That requires both parties to merge, which might be too much for Tories to stomach, while at the same time being the end of the LibDems.

As long as the Tories and LibDems field two candidates, the vote should split between them allowing Labour to win, especially if some of their voters switch directly to us because of dissatisfaction with the government.


jams o donnell said...

It wasn't a bad result given that it was a three way marginal with the former MP being disqualified in a dirty campaign. There were a lot of conflicting elements in play but the Labour vote was strong enough to ensure victory.

But enough of stating the blindingly obvious! I wonder what would happen if the govt had gone for a coalition candidate. I would like to think that it would blow up in their face.

Anonymous said...

Shock,horror,the opposition manage to hold onto their seat at a by-election.

Quietzaple said...

They do not need to merge to run a :"coupon" election.

An electoral pact could be more limited, even done on a local basis.

But it would alienate many Lib-Dems for whom it would be a pact too far, and lots of tories too.

Even with AV they wouldn't get the same combined total votes.

Never mind.

Alun said...

It was too much for many Liberals in 1918 to stomach as well; the party split and never recovered.

OLdham Avenger said...

Living in Oldham East (Abbey Hills on the edge of Glodwick) I can safely say that there was absolutley no danger of Labour not holding that seat. What I can say is that the majority would probably have been bigger if they'd picked Riaz Ahmed as the candidate. A lot of people resented having an outsider parachuted-in when Riaz Ahmed - who is popular locally - was a candidate. In addition, in the run-up to the by-election theLib Dem council was continually shooting themselves in the foot over cuts.

The belief on the ground is that Abrahams was chosen to appeal to the Lib Dem voters in Saddleworth, which she did but at the expense of a lot of Labour voters particulalry amongst the asian community which is quite large in Oldham East itself