In my home town, they recently had a by-election. The ward in question, Northgate, had been Labour for a long time, until in the mid-eighties the Lib Dems, through a particularly active and dedicated couple, took one and then the other seat. The two of them held on for all this time, but the husband stood down in the summer due to a personal matter.
Both Labour and the Tories had been vying for contention over the years, and by-elections for local councils tend to be low turnout affairs, so the seat was always know to be up for grabs.
The Tories had been putting leaflets out, but apparently hadn’t wanted an early poll – I’ve heard a rumour that they wanted to wait until the clocks went back so that evenings were less in inviting for canvassing. Labour not having the Ashcroft and Horsham financial backing had people on the ground to campaign instead.
The only things I saw about the campaign were on a couple of blogs. Duncan Crow, a local Tory councillor had two posts, pointing at errors in the other main parties’ leaflet. Andrew Skudder, a Labour ex-councillor, mentioned the feeling in the campaign and then the Tory reaction to it.
In the second of Skuds’ posts, he mentioned one of the things in the Tory leaflets that may have counted against them. They claimed that their candidate was “the only local candidate”. Fine, but as it is, none of the candidates were from Northgate. The Tory’s address was given in Three Bridges, which is near Northgate, but with Crawley’s easily demarcated neighbourhoods, it would be obvious that he was from a different area.
It strikes me as odd, that when one Tory is picking at minor errors in other party’s leaflets (in both cases probably down to slips in copy editing), their own leaflets contain a stonking falsehood that any voter can see is such when they come to read the ballot paper.
THOMAS, Geraint (Labour) 527
SMITH, Ryan (Conservative) 446
WISE, Darren (Liberal Democrat) 230
KHAN, Arshad (Justice) 13
October 18, 2009 at 23:36
I really must start using a “naughty” tag myself – like it!
October 20, 2009 at 00:02
Owen, I’m afraid you are incorrect on a couple of things.
I never heard anyone from our side say we did not want an early poll. In fact, if anything, it was a little late as we kept waiting for the Lib Dems to get on and call it, which is the unwritten protocol when a party is defending a seat.
I suspect Andrew did not see the leaflet we put out on the tuesday. In it, we clearly said that our candidate lives in Three Bridges but that he lives close to Northgate.
If you and him want to talk about controversy in leaflets, you really should talk about the Lib Dem leaflets which were full of slurs about us Conservatives, and very misleading about who the contest was between. All three of their leaflets kept repeating how “Labour are out of the race and are expected to come a distant third”. Clearly that was nonsense which both Conservative and Labour knew because we were the ones actually knocking on doors. When we both pointed that out in our leaflets, the Lib Dems just continued with their assertions, offering no evidence in the process. They lost all credibility by doing this, but then I suspect their leaflets were being produced centrally by someone who wasn’t seeing what both the other parties were putting out.
Anyway, well done to Geraint Thomas on a hard fought victory. He came along to Dev Control this evening, which he may well be joining as we have offered an extra place on this committee to the Labour group. It’s quite a novelty having a new opposition member on CBC. Apart from Marion Ayling in 2008, there hasn’t been a new opposition member that is still there, since 2004, which is Chris Cheshire. Before that there is David Shreeves (2003) and Robert Hull (2000). In a way, it is quite nice to see but hopefully I won’t see it too often in the next few years!
October 20, 2009 at 00:25
1) I am correct that I heard that rumour. I called it a rumour. The nature of them is that they may not be true, but there we are.
2) Skuds indeed says that he did read the leaflets that went out before then, but is it ok to be misleading one week, and more accurate the next? How many people put their postal votes in before Tuesday, or didn’t bother to read the later bumpf?
I still think it was a silly error. More noticeable than a copy snafu in the imprint (which is usually the bit in the tiniest font).
3) Having a go at Lib Dems for overselling their chances is like criticising fish for swimming. It’s what they do. Sometimes it works, sometimes it blows up in their face. To be fair, in this case they probably thought that they had a lot of latent support. Problem is that Gordon had a lot of personal backing, which wasn’t going to be there this time.
I’m pretty sure that there will be change in the political make-up of the Council over time, though. People are already asking if the current administration are any better than the one they replaced.
October 20, 2009 at 01:47
In answer to your last point, we are! But I accept I would say that.
I doubt you heard this ‘rumour’ first hand from someone on my side. I accept you may have heard it, but it is not true. I woud have prefered for Gordon Seekings to have resigned when he publicy said he was going to. We could have then had the by-election at the same time as the County elections in June, saving the taxpayer some money and not having a councillor vacancy for several weeks.
The Lib Dems vastly overselling their chances is one thing, but underselling Labour’s chances as much as they did, and the smears about my side were ridiculous.
I don’t accept that we put out misleading leaflets. Your point about postal voters isn’t strong as they more than anyone, get to examine the ballot paper in the comfort of their own homes and are more likely to read the addresses.
October 20, 2009 at 09:18
Duncan – You may think you are better, but it’s up to the voters, isn’t it?
I didn’t hear the rumour first hand, because if I had, it would not be a rumour. All you need to do is counter it, you don’t have to try and trace the ‘leak’, man.
You are making my point for me on the postal ballots – if the last leaflet they saw from you said “only local candidate” and they took the time to read the papers and saw that your guy was not from Northgate, then they’ll make a judgement.
Many Crawley voters do think it’s important that their councillor live in the same neighbourhood. So, they may well check. If you put ‘only local candidate’ on your leaflet and they are not living in the same ward, that will be frowned upon.