Friday, 10 October 2014

Good Election Results For Labour

Yesterday's by-elections were great news for Labour.  On the one hand, UKIP, has reduced the number of Tory held seats for now.  On the other, Clacton will see the UKIP vote squeezed by the Tories at the General Election.  Its still unlikely the split of the right-wing vote will allow Labour in to take Clacton, but it is symptomatic of the number of Tory seats that are now within striking distance for labour to win, on the basis of such a split vote.

The other good result for Labour is the fact that the Liberals now essentially do not exist as a party. They have been reduced to the level of a sect, no more significant than say the SWP, or Socialist Party.  Moreover, any residual votes for the Liberals now will be dissident Tory voters, not potential Labour voters.  They will be free marketeers, who object to the Tory euroseptics, or their lurch towards authoritarianism.  In other words, they will be as much a potential split of the right-wing vote as is UKIP.

Though UKIP, and their media entourage will no doubt make a lot of their result in Heywood and Middleton, it was itself a good result for Labour.  You would not know it from the coverage, which has focused on the fact of the majority being reduced to 600, but Labour increased its share of the vote, by 1%.  UKIP's vote came from a fall in the Tory vote of 15%, and a collapse in the Liberal vote of 18%!!!

The reduced majority is more than explained by the very low turnout - the only time UKIP like the BNP before it, does well in labour areas.  The turnout was down to around 30%, compared to more than 60% in a General Election, because Labour voters tend not to vote other than in General Elections.  Despite all the pre-election hype, therefore, UKIP did not do particularly well, and only did as well as it did by getting the anti-Labour vote to simply switch to it.  Come the General Election, UKIP will be nowhere in Labour seats, but will be in a position to split the right-wing vote in Tory seats.  With the death of the Liberals, who will be lucky to even match the greens for seats in the next parliament, the goal is wide open for Labour to score.

The problem is that you look at Miliband and Balls, and can't help thinking of Gareth Southgate!


David Timoney said...


I think your analysis is spot-on. Heywood & Middleton was actually a very good result for Labour, despite the momentum given UKIP by the media and their immediate spinning of the result as a crisis for Miliband.

It has been amusing to note the various "experts" insisting that Labour only won because of LibDem defectors - i.e. trying to maintain the theory that UKIP is attracting Labour voters en masse.

As you note, UKIP will struggle to add votes at a general election whereas the Labour vote will probably nearly double.

In Clacton, a reversion of voters to type might even see Labour come close to a win if the right-wing vote is more evenly split and the LibDems implode. That would be funny.

Boffy said...


I have written before about the role and nature of the media. What is striking is the extent to which they seem to have a visceral hatred for Ed Miliband. One every occasion, no matter what the topic, not matter which news channel, or even it seems which journalist, the stock question is - "Doesn't this show that Labour should ditch Miliband?"

I am increasingly of the belief that this is spite, because the media thought that they had worked under the assumption that the other Miliband would become leader, and Ed frustrated their predictions. If we couldn't get the candidate elected we wanted they seem to have decided, we'll show we can get him kicked out, or undermine his election chances.

In part as I've written before, its about the fact that with 24 hour news, and competition from the Internet, News as entertainment must be entertaining - journalists as celebrities etc. - and so they are led to big up everything that can be made to appear to be the new next big thing, here UKIP.

On the basis of Thursday's vote, Labour would probably increase its 6,000 majority in Heywood, at a General Election, and as you say, if a seat like Clacton might even come on to Labour's radar with a split right-wing vote, there are any number of Tory seats that are potential targets.

But, that is all the more reason that Labour should not respond to UKIP by following it down any kind of nationalistic, anti-immigrant road, as some right-wing Labourites seem to be proposing. The way to deal with UKIP is to attack the anti-EU/immigrant arguments, alongside taking action, and proposing policies that deal with the real problems caused by austerity, low wages, insecure jobs, lack of skills training and education, hugely inflated asset prices due to lax monetary policy etc.

David Timoney said...


I think the media's antpathy towards Ed Miliband is about more than personal spite or disappointment over the failure of the "annointed one".

The presentation of Ed as weak and vulnerable serves to strengthen those who would trim to the centre (i.e. right), such as Balls & Cooper. Hence the media's policy focus is far more on the "priority" of the deficit rather than immigration.

Miliband could spike the media's guns, and also marginalise UKIP, by addressing the deficit directly, i.e. in the sense of pointing out that it's persistence is a symptom of the collapse in productivity and the stagnation of wages, and thus a statistical artefact rather a problem that should be directly addressed.

Unfortunately, the Labour leadership continue to assume that the electorate are idiots and that media bias is insurmountable, so we are left with blather about "kinder austerity" and "listening to people's concerns"