Monday, May 05, 2008

A test of personality or governance

Due to the sad death of Gwyneth Dunwoody, 22nd May will see a by-election in the Crewe and Nantwich constituency. It seems fairly safe, Dunwoody enjoyed a 7,078 majority; but support for Labour has been in steep decline since 1997 (majority was 16,000 in 1997, down to 10,000 in 2001). The Conservatives have not to date made great in-roads in terms of vote increase, the decline is more due to reduced turnout than anything else, but this by-election will take place with a very different backdrop to the last two general elections.

The results make it difficult to say if Dunwoody enjoyed a personal vote, support for her as MP as opposed to a loyal Labour support; however Labour seem to be playing on support for her and sympathy in allowing her daughter Tamsin to be candidate. Her Conservative opponent Edward Timpson is stressing his local credentials and in responding to her selection Timpson questioned her understanding of the local area and suggested she would be too loyal to Brown to be a representative. Interesting that one cannot do both, but this relates to an attack on Brown and his tax reforms presenting him as out of touch.

Of the top three Liberal Democrat Elizabeth Shenton is still the only candidate on Facebook, and now has a wall with two supportive comments and imports news items on her and the party and is up to 147 friends. She is also the only one advertising a personal website devoted to her cats. The Liberal Democrats have been gaining support in the last three election contests, but can she make an impact or even win.

(l-r, Dunwoody, Timpson, Shenton)
The contest will be about gaining support, so persuasion to vote for the individual and party, and mobilisation, persuading people to physically go out and vote. Will this be another referendum on an unpopular government, if so it should be Timpson that wins; or will it be a test of personality? In which case will it be the personal and pavement politics approach that the Liberal Democrats employ that is victorious or will a latent support and sympathy for the late Gwyneth secure the seat for her daughter. Politics is never easy is it?


Crewe Guardian said...

As a journalist in Cheshire I am glad someone is finally showing an interest in this contest beyond it just being Brown v Cameron, the predictions locally show it as close between Labour and Conservatives, hence the choice of candidates. On the ground though LibDems are doing well and there is a lot uncertainty about Labour and if Tamsin is the same as her mum (bless her and god rest her); but it seems an unequivocal win for Timpson and the Conservatives, at the moment he has everything - local guy, young, very active, well-liked and not Labour. Keep an eye on it though

Praguetory said...

Take a look.