This blog is a political blog from a left-of-centre perspective. This is not specifically a party political blog, but does have a Lib Dem orientation. Constructive enagement with radical liberals, social democrats / democratic socialists and greens is particularly welcomed.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Local Elections - A Belated Thought

Predictably enough one would have imagined we did brilliantly in the recent local elections from the version of events recorded in 'Lib Dem News' - fast becoming the 'Pravda' of the centre / centre-left ! The national media hinted at a disappointing night for the party. I think neither is quite true. And, it hardly counts as a test of Ming's leadership as lazy political hacks might infer.

In short it was the Tories night. No arguments here. But to poll only 2% more than a Howard-led Tories had managed and to make no major breakthrough in any of the big cities outside the capital suggests their night wasn't as glorious as was initially suggested.Previous successes of this sort have still seen the Tories decisively rejected at national polls, so I don't think they can crow too much yet. A mini-revival in the SE and other parts of the south will not deliver Westminster for Cameron !

The much fabled 40% in the polls was, of course, across England only. The Tories are virtually off the radar in Scotland and Wales, where the Lib Dems are the principal challengers to Labour. Again, it'll be interesting at election time to see if the Tories perform any better on the Celtic fringe than they managed in our great Northern cities.

Ours was in historical terms a good night, but maybe as a party we've become blase about [what might have seemed to be ] an inexorable rise in our local government base. Now we've reached the level we have we are really involved now in a lot of tough electoral 'bunfights' with the other parties.

And, as a form of compliment, in some areas other parties are targetting to win with ALDC style campaigns.

With exceptions, the biggest worry must be that with Labour in collapse we didn't benefit more and, relatively speaking, lots of ex-Labour voters went to many quarters and not enough to the Lib Dems.

The biggest downer on the night for me had to be the BNP results. However, once installed in the council chamber their performance has often been shambolic by any standards of measurement. Many of these seats are reclaimed by the traditional parties at the next available election. Thankfully they haven't really gathered strength in areas other than those where they already had a foothold.

Still one success on the 'yellow' front I'm happy to report [and strangely not mentioned in LDN] was the great escape by Torquay United from relegation to the Conference. Well done boys....C'mon you Gulls !!!

Ming - My View

It's a case of playing catch-up having not posted anything for a while.

Firstly, the leadership of Ming Campbell. It is preposterous that people from within the party, aided by the recent interview comments made by Simon Hughes, are undermining Ming in the early days of his leadership. Whilst he's arguably not made as big a 'splash' initially as David Cameron did with the Tories we need to hold our nerve.

As Patience Wheatcroft says in 'The Daily Telegraph' the test for Cameron comes with policy formulation. Whilst we stay true to our core beliefs the Tories jump from one issue to another seeking to demonstrate how much they've changed. No consistent themes, let alone policies.

When policies emerge will it be more-of-the same as with the Cameron-penned [and panned] 2001 manifesto or will long-time loyal blues be frightened off by a move to a more socially liberal outlook matched with more centrist economic positions. He needs to do the latter but that needs the disowning of much of the heritage of Thatcherism. Trouble is [for them] that'll look like political opportunism.

Further 'compassionate conservatism' reminds one of another policy-lite figure, George W. Bush, who has shown zero compassion at home or abroad since election.

A tory schism is quite possibe. Let us bide our time and allow Ming to be the 'gut Liberal' he professess to, and we want him to be. Parliamentarians 'botched' any possibility of an 'orderly transistion'(copyright Nu Lab) and much bad press ensued.It's time for us all to back Ming. I do and will - and I didn't vote for him earlier this year.