Saturday, May 05, 2012

Local Elections 2012

A strange few days, especially as here in North Lancashire we didn't have any elections despite having more than enough elected representatives. We have town councillors, borough councillors, county councillors then MPs and MEPs. But I still stayed up far too late on Thursday night watching the results come in. I'm not going to ramble on too long here, there is more than enough coverage in the media, but I'm bound to chip in my two penneth.

UKIP bombed again. I begin with them as I know them best having stood in three parliamentary elections for them, numerous locals and a European election. Although they gained a reasonable percentage of protest votes in places, they just cannot convert that into seats, and their London mayoral candidate couldn't even muster 2% of the vote. They got no seats in the London Assembly.

Elsewhere I heard Farage, more of a problem for UKIP than he is an asset, claiming they didn't win seats because their support is not concentrated enough. More bullshit from the bullshitter-in-chief. They don't win seats because they have no coherent local or national policies other than getting out of the EU. It's like a form of Tourette's, UKIP candidates can't fight in a local election without blurting out Brussels, the European Union or that certain vote loser the 'EUSSR', which does set most ordinary people's nutter alert off. Even the dimmest voter knows a local councillor can do bugger all about Brussels.

Where UKIP, or any other party does well locally, is where they fight hard and long, not just popping a leaflet through the doors at election time. UKIP rarely do that although they have had some success, for example in Staffordshire Moorlands, where they did campaign hard and long on local issues. With the resources they should have at their disposal, one of their main reasons initially for taking their MEP seats, they should be running highly effective campaigns. But their MEPs have gone native, another huge problem.

The other problem for UKIP is that they claim to be a libertarian party but aren't. If most of their members looked at what libertarianism actually is they would be horrified. Of course to many people today libertarianism is a nice flag of convenience, that is the case with UKIP. Apart from the EU the membership would split down the middle on any other serious issue. That's why it is, and will remain, a single issue party.

Miliband needn't get too carried away, Labour did well despite him not because of him. Labour would be in terminal trouble if they hadn't done as well as they did on Thursday. It doesn't mean they can win a general election, otherwise they would have sent the Tories into terminal decline which, despite good results, they didn't. Deep down people know that the bankers were a contributory factor to a Labour economic mess, they aren't stupid enough to fall for Labour blaming it all on the bankers.

Despite tying Clegg up, gagging him and sticking him in the cupboard under the stairs for a fortnight the Lib Dems got bombed. Ironic as most parties look to emulate the kind of local campaigning the Lib Dems have always excelled at. But they've paid the price for selling out. Can't say I'm sorry. They may have been the best local campaigners over the years but they have lacked fundamental honesty at a local level, often prepared to sell their grannies for a few more votes.

It's the price the Lib Dems are paying for actually getting involved in power instead of just sitting in the House of Commons griping and whingeing. For years the Lib Dems have been all things to all men, but now they are in government and can no longer hide. What people are finding out is that they are a party of misfits, with the likes of Vince Cable, Chris Huhne and David Laws showing them in their true colours in the national spotlight.

So to the Tories. I liken them to the Church of England. They liberalise and lose support. So they liberalise a bit more, and lose a but more support and so on. Cameron couldn't win a general election when Gordon Brown was Prime Minister, I doubt he could win one even with Miliband leading the Labour Party.

Cameron has a huge problem, he doesn't seem to actually believe in anything. He seems to be a chief executive reacting to circumstances, whereas we really need a captain who can actually set a course and fight his way through the storms and the choppy seas to get us to our destination. He seems to have the kind of faith in Osborne that Blair had in Brown, and look what a shambles Brown made of the finances. He has no real vision, just woolly waffle about 'big society' and.... Oops, can't think of anything else.

The Tories need to start listening to real people, including their real members, rather than the media luvvies and metroplitan elite they seem to be obsessed with. I've lobbied enough Tory conferences in recent years to know that their members, on the whole, don't like Cameron's policies but see him as the best of a bad bunch, their equivalent of Tony Blair. At least they're back in Downing Street so they are holding their noses at the moment. When their best hope for winning the next election is that Miliband remains Labour leader you know they aren't confident in their own leader.

So what the Tories need to do now is to learn from Thursday and toughen up. Yes they got a mid-term thumping, but they can avoid a general election thumping next time around by reconnecting with the traditional conservative support that has turned its back on them in the past two decades. But that leads to the next problem. The Tories aren't overly blessed with potential leaders are they?

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