Saturday, May 12, 2007

Gordon Brown and the new political landscape

Well, it looks like Gordon Brown is going to take over as Labour leader and soon. The political landscape is changing. There was that silly autocue gaffe yesterday during his launch speech. If it is a one off then it won't matter, but he has also been filmed picking his nose and with one trouser leg in his socks.

If things start to go slightly wrong then these images may come back to haunt him.

Gordon kicked off his campaign with many promises. His loyal ranks clearly loved it, and were delving into the meaning of it all. Quite amusing to watch really.

What is clear is that Gordon is bringing many of his own side with him, for now at least. That has got to be good for Labour, but we will have to see how long that lasts.

My impression is that your average voter does not warm to Gordon though. That might change. We will have to see. I suspect not but I may be wrong.

When I looked through some random local election results last week I did notice something of a trend though. It seems Labour are piling up votes in their safe seats. Given that we know how people voted nationally that means that they are also losing them in marginals which is where it counts.

Many think the current boundaries favour Labour because they need less votes to get an MP elected. The reason for this is in part that turnout in Labour's heartland safe seats is appalling. It would be richly ironic if at the next election the balance shifted, Labour got its safe vote out, but lost in all the marginals handing the Conservatives a victory. It may well work out that way because I suspect Gordon Brown is far better at appealing to his own party than the wider electorate.

Once Tony Blair is finally gone, it will be a lot easier for the Conservative party to win elections.


Anonymous said...

Benedict, your theory was indeed proved last week in Scotland.
Labour hung on in many of their heartlands which had a lower turnout.
But just look at what happened to the Labour vote in other area's, voter turnout was higher and Labour support continued to melt away, this was masked by the wider choice of mainstream parties.
A lot of these area's had been won by Labour in the early 90's and in the 97' landslide victory, and despite some people thinking that the whole of Scotland is natural Labour territory this myth has never been true.
They really have retreated back to the Labour heartlands, and just like Scotland gave everyone an early warning of what was going to happen to the tories in 97' just maybe they are leading the way in showing us what will happen in 2009/10 to Labour?

Benedict White said...

ChrisD, yes if Gordon Brown can't hold on to central Fife then how can he hope to hold middle England?

I keep on hearing about how Labour always won in Scotland, but I thought it used to be a Conservative dominated place. Well at least if you coloured the Conservative constituencies blue then Scotland would have looked mostly blue.

IIRC it was under Thatcher that support in Scotland started to collapse.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it was under Thatcher that the tory vote really collapsed in its heartlands and many of these area's are now Libdem or SNP.
I am not saying the tories are suddenly going surge back in Scotland in the next GE, but I also think that Labour will not do well outside their heartlands.
Up in the North East where I live the Conservatives were still able to take a seat of Labour in 92', it was the last time I voted tory and got a tory MP!

Anonymous said...

Meant to add that IIRC Aberdeen South was the only seat that Labour lost to the Conservatives in the 92' GE, which considering how everyone goes on about Labour being kept in power by Scottish voters seems ironic!

Benedict White said...

ChrisD, Many thanks for confirming that. We have a lot to do in Scotland as a party.

Did we take that seat off Labour? As in did they hold it before 1992? Wow!

Anonymous said...

Aberdeen South is strange one, it had been Conservative for quite a few years, but the present Aberdeen North MP Frank Doran won it in 87'. He has the infamous record of being the only Labour MP to lose his seat to the Tories in 92'.
Another strange coincidence is that Frank Doran won it off Conservative MP Gerry Malone who later became MP for Winchester. He lost his seat in 97' by 2 votes to a certain libdemmer called Mark Oaten, he challenged the result and in the subsequent by election lost by a hell of a bigger margin.
Donald Dewar also won the seat for Labour in the 60's!

Benedict White said...

ChrisD, sounds like a bit of an odd seat then!

How did Gerry Malone move to Winchester? Did he lose it in 87, win it in 92 only to be robbed in 1997?

Anonymous said...

Gerry Malone lost Aberdeen South to Frank Doran in 87', it was won back by Raymond Robertson for the Conservatives in 92'.
IIRC Gerry Malone won Winchester in 92' only to lose it to Mark Oaten in 97'.
The Labour MP Ann Begg now holds Aberdeen South but the Libdems are desperately hoping to win next time.
Sadly despite the turn around in tory fortunes since David Cameron was elected we do not appear to have a strong enough grass roots base there to attempt to capitalise on this. But really we should be looking to win back these kind of seats because it is the perfect Scottish example of a middle England constituency which might be attracted to the new Cameron Conservatives.

Benedict White said...

Many thanks ChrisD. The only way to deal with places like that is to build an organisation on the ground and recruit more members. I wonder how they are getting on at that.