Monday, November 16, 2009

Why winning Glasgow North East was important but meaningless

Labour's first good news story for a very long time is their victory in Glasgow North East. While the figures show an increased majority up to 60% and what could be described as a landslide endorsement of Brown's government, such indications may be erroneous. By-elections are strange beasts. It would be nice to see a resurgent Labour party, whatever your political persuasion it is a good thing for democracy. But this is not the indicator of this happening. Turnout was only 33%, Labour's majority was always high (though previously unopposed by the major parties) and their overall number of votes decreased slightly. The Scottish National Party gained around 1,000 votes the other parties made little headway at all. But consider the resources thrown at the contest. The visits made the Labour supporters in this traditional heartland seat feel important. If only opening a local or national newspaper they found their area centre stage with the prime minister (or similar figure) walking their streets. This will not happen at the General Election. The General Election will be decided in those marginal constituencies, here resources will be deployed to their maximum but those voters may be much harder to persuade to vote (or support Labour) than the hardened Labourites of Glasgow. Unfortunately for many local MPs and PPCs, it is the question of who should, or who should not, be prime minister that will dominate the contest. In Glasgow it was a question of do they still believe in Labour, they did, but the election will ask a very different question of a range of very different voters. Thus this is a momentary blip in Labour's fortunes, they need a much more positive note to be sounded at the national level to find a resurgence in time for 2010.

No comments: