Friday, 7 May 2010

Stoke Central General Election Result

Stoke Central's result (below) is pleasing for a number of reasons. Labour has managed to retain a sizeable majority, despite the unfavourable circumstances arising from weariness with the government and, of course, those damaging shenanigans in the local party. However there is no room for complacency. Our canvassing returns flagged up too many people who had been Labour voters previously but were undecided which way to cast their ballot. The party has to make its presence felt across the constituency and be seen to pursue policies that go beyond the limp Third Wayism of the Labour Manifesto. With another general election likely before year's end and all-out council elections in Stoke next year, we have a window of opportunity to return to the kinds of social democratic policies that chime with the wider mood. But with many sections of the PLP scared of its Labourist shadow, what is its likelihood?

As predicted the LibDems came second. In the absence of any kind of campaign their gain can only be explained by the kind of LibDem surge they wished they'd had nationally. The Tories did run a good campaign, but it's difficult to say if Norsheen's vote was due to her team's efforts or the national swing to the right.

What did surprise me is the BNP vote. 7.7% is a lot but clearly out of step with the booming influence the fascists have enjoyed in The Potteries in recent years. I've just heard the BNP have lost one councillor in Bentilee to Labour, and the rumour mill has it their other sitting councillor will be dumped out too. Happy times. But again, the real action will take place at the all-out council elections next year. Whoever goes on to form the next government, the BNP could pick up disaffected votes and resume its ascendency. The only force capable of stopping the fascists is, with all its imperfections, the Labour party.

The other story of Stoke Central are the electoral dead ends of independent campaigns. In clumsy attempts to cash-in on the anti-politics mood, to greater or lesser degrees all the independents run on the theme that it is the existence of parties themselves that are to blame for the state of Stoke. For example, at last week's public meeting to launch Gary Elsby's campaign one prospective non-aligned councillor laid all its woes at the feet of the party whipping system and discipline. This criticism is overly proceduralist (no one would complain if Labour councillors were whipped in support of social democratic policies) and effectively relegates the critique of policy to a secondary issue. The other problem with independents is how do voters tell the difference between them? For all their faults, there is a general awareness of what the main parties (and the major minor parties) stand for - which is an advantage in national contests, but not so much in local elections. That is why independents might be a busted flush in Stoke where the general election is concerned, but I imagine they'll put up a stiff challenge next year.

Lastly, the TUSC vote was very disappointing. This will be considered in the analysis of the far left vote due to appear later.

Tristram Hunt (Labour) 12,605 votes (38.8%, -13.6%)
John Redfern (Liberal Democrat) 7,039 votes (21.7%, +3.1%)
Norsheen Bhatti (Conservatives) 6,833 votes (21%, + 3.7%)
Simon Darby (BNP) 2,502 votes (7.7%, + 0.1%)
Carol Lovatt (UKIP) 1,402 votes (4.3%, + 1.1%)
Paul Breeze (Ind) 959 votes (3%, + 3%)
Gary Elsby (Ind) 399 votes (1.2%, + 1.2%)
Brian Ward (City Independents) 303 votes (0.9%, + 0.9%)
Alby Walker (Ind) 295 votes (0.9%, + 0.9%)
Matt Wright (TUSC) 133 votes (0.4%, - 0.5%)

Turnout 32,470 (53.2%, + 4.5%)


Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Thing that makes me most happy about this election is how bad the BNP did.

Small victory but one I'll cling to.

Phil said...

From Asquith, but edited minus unnecessary abuse:

I predicted Hunt would "win" with less than 50% of the vote, so no surprise there. It did surprise me that Norsheen & her pals did so well, particularly Andy Large, who might have been expected to tank given that the seat became more working-class after these here boundary changes. Especially because he barely seems to have done any campaigning beyond write a few unimpressive comments on blogs. How?

I am looking at the city council results too. I must say I'm glad Shaun Bennett didn't get in, if his comments are anything to go by, & I'm glad Lee Wanger is out, albeit my preferred candidate didn't win. No idea who Majid Khan is though.

David Ellis said...

If Clegg wasn't talking to Cameron the tories would be sharing out his clothes by now. Lib Demmers who thought they were voting to stop the Tories must be gutted. The most Cameron can hope for now is a paralysed Major style government the Thatcher option no longer being available with the Lib Dems one and only policy of PR playing the divisive role that Europe played for Major.

If the Lib Dem/Tory lash up fails and a Lib\Lab pact emerges then the left will have the opportunity to make themselves the official opposition to a savage cutting government as the Tories eat their young.

Sorry for that bit of a troll there. SHould say that I have very much enjoyed your coverage.

Phil said...

There are processes that work on election campaigns relatively autonomous from what work a candidate and party workers do on the ground. The LibDem result in the constituency is proof of this. I think there was a dollop of this at work for the Tories. The media is not a busted flush yet and the near unanimity among the press will have convinced some of the need to vote Tory.

Re: Lee Wanger, good riddance.

BTW Dan, you'll be pleased to hear that rumours abound of the BNP losing ALL their seats on Barking council. After the most favourable general election for them their miserable results - despite an overall increase in their vote - is going to mean even more internal bickering. Ferrets and sacks come to mind.

Phil said...

There are all kinds of opportunities opening up, David. But I'm not convinced the far left presently constituted will make the most out of it beyond narrow party building.

David Ellis said...

Agree with that Phil. I'm thinking of the Left Labour MPs and what they can be persuaded to do to form an effective opposition to a Lib Dem/New Lab coalition bent on cuts.

Lawrence Shaw said...

Correct on the media Phil...many people DO still cling to their newspapers as both gospel truth and their moral compass - particularly amongst the older generation.

This is changing and I know many people who are seriously questioning what they are reading as a direct result of this election.

In all, I think we can celebrate the fact that the near blanket hysterical press support for the Tories and Liberals (I think only the Mirror supported Labour) and the subsequent actual result means that things ARE changing and the mass media grip is loosening with old age.

I saw Trevor Kavanagh on BBC News earlier apoplectic with rage that public hadn't returned the Tories with a handsome majority as The Sun had instructed them to - and he went off on an incoherent rant about how Labour had gerrymandered last nights result over the past 13 years by stitching up the seats etc etc...

I must say, doing the job I do, seeing him and his ilk watch their power slipping away from them in front of their eyes is so deeply satisfying.

There's a lot to be cheerful about in this election too - BNP rejection, Green MP, general public dissatisfaction with the centre-right consensus...just because the left is descending further into self-important and futile vanity projects doesn't mean the public will not start to take the lead on changing things for the better.

Anonymous said...

It looks like we may be in for a (hopefully) short lived LibDem/Tory alliance after the failure of any of the main parties to get a majority. And that leads me to a thought on the wider ramifications of this election. Ever since 1979 whoever could do the best job of selling neo-liberal economics has been elected. It is precisely for this purpose that New Labour was created in the first place.

On this occasion all three main parties were trying to sell the main product and all three failed. Could it be that after thirty years and eight elections the wheels have finally come off the Thatcherite bandwagon? Even if they have the left needs to get its act together because the Tory response next time round will be even worse!

Just a thought.

asquith said...

Well, I won't use abuse here from now on, I do think it has its uses but I will show due respect to my host.

It was a bit surprising there were so few kippers in the city. Was UKIP's performance in the Euro elections just a flash in the pan, are they not seen as worth supporting in local or parliamentary elections?

I don't know if they have reached their verdict in Buckingham, I will go for a bit of a look now.

Jacob Richter said...

How many seats did the Labour Representation Committee win?

Phil said...

MarshaJane has the list here.

Sister C said...

Phil, you weren't the only one shocked by the size of the majority in Stoke Central. I was personally amazed, and extremely pleased.

I do agree that alot has to be learnt from Central's campaign particuraly the point you raise on the canvassing returns. However, in the last 2 days we worked hard to pull the previously Labour back towards Labour. This took up alot of man hours on the doors but I feel it was well spent.

The parties presence I do feel was felt across the constituency, We covered sections of each ward in the constituency at least 3 times. Hartshill and Bentilee also had alot of phone canvassing work done. I know it wasn't enough, but we did the best we could in the time we had.

I have a list of points that I would like to have improved in this election, but the main point that i'm holding on to is that we did really well given the time that we had. I would also like to say that I was so pleased that the targetting the BNP head on really did work and I was so pleased to see Mr Darby's face when they opened those ballot boxes.

On a final note I'm glad to see we didn't go the way of Paul Farrelly and end up scraping a massively reduced majority despite having 5 years to plan.

Phil said...

Coincidentally I was just listening to Tristram's acceptance speech.

Looking at the situation we were in I don't think there was anything we could have done better. This is your victory more than anyone else's and you should savour it.

Sister C said...

I would be lying if I said that I wasn't pleased that I was noted in the speech, i'm pleased that my efforts were noted and paid off.

Thank you, I will try to savour it but at the moment i'm focusing on

a) tieing up to loose ends on my degree
b) and most importantly coming up with ideas to rebuild the local party.

I'm not resting on my laurels.

Sister Act said...

How did a bankrupt Labour Party fund the Election to the tune of Lord Goldsmith?

Phil said...

Erm ... it didn't. Compare the campaign spends.

Sister Act said... was official that the Labour Party was bankrupt immediateley before the election.
Anyone suggesting so, faced prosecution.
A number of NEC members were threatened.
Where did the money come from?

Anonymous said...

A portion came from the membership, a lot (and i'm not going to give numbers because i'm not 100% sure) gave at least £15 to the campaign when the election was called.

The unions gave money towards the campaign as well.

Finally there were a number of fundraising events, guest speakers at dinners etc.

Sister Act said...

Millions of pounds were given to the Trade Union UNITE over a five year period for 'training purposes' by the Government.
This money totalled £18M and was handed back to Labour (note the benefactors, you, me,HM Gov, Labour, UNITE).
This amounted to funding levels of Lord Ashcroft.
I believe that a Panorama documentary is being made on this subject.
Is this why UNITE memebrs were handed safe seats against the ususal bag carriers and photo copy boys who were projected beyond their means during Blair's years?

Phil said...