Saturday, July 01, 2006

By-elections

Politicians in danger?

"Blaenau Gwent celebrates National Archaeology Week" declares a council press release.
This is appropriate in a week where Dai Davies, the victorious candidate for People's Voice in the Westminster by-election, declared that the old parties should recall the fate of the dinosaurs.

The "adapt or die" message should particularly be heeded by Labour, who were accused of bombarding the voters of Blaenau Gwent with glossily packaged messages, but did not spend any time listening.

It is rumoured that Labour threw many thousands of pounds at both campaigns. They would have done some good for the economy of the valleys, and for their own reputation, if they had spent some of that money on printing their colour leaflets locally.

Our candidates
did well to hold on to the Liberal Democrat vote when the key struggle was between New Labour and traditional socialism.

Liberal Democrats do not have the luxury of traditional safe seats, and are therefore less likely to take votes for granted. However, there is a warning for us in Dai Davies's words, too.

Who should be more worried, Blair or Cameron?

The question was asked on BBC Radio's "Any Questions" this weekend, after New Labour's failure in Blaenau Gwent and the Conservatives' nail-biter in Bromley & Chislehurst.

For me, David Cameron's future looks the more uncertain. The Conservative vote in a supposedly safe Tory seat plummeted, and the Liberal Democrat vote, which Cameron is clearly pitching for, was rock-solid. Clearly, traditional Tories don't like the touchy-feely Cameron touch, Labour voters are switching to Liberal Democrat and LibDems just do not believe the Cameron line.

Blair has already mentally disregarded the failure to regain the Blaenau Gwent Westminster seat. He was not about to renounce his reform programme and re-embrace socialism, which might just have persuaded the valleys voters, but would surely have lost by-elections and council seats galore in England.

The real loser is Rhodri Morgan, who must now be considering his position as leader of Welsh Labour and as First Minister. The People's Voice success in the Assembly election was comprehensive. It also condemns Labour once more to minority government in Cardiff.

- Frank Little
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