Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Other Victories

I couldn't resist the temptation to have a sneek peek at my old Associations results in Windsor and Maidenhead.

Along with our result here and the turnaround in Bournemouth Windsor and Maidenhead has been the third major upset for the Lib Dems this week.

When I first became involved in politics in 1997 I couldn't understand how we had a seat with a 12,000 commons majority yet regularily lost at local elections to the Lib Dems.

The reason was very similar to the failures here in the 1990's - poor communication by local Conservative councillors and local council candidates.

We weren't losing on the basis that the populace preferred Lib dem ideology, the general election result in Windsor proved that (even here in Torbay there has been no sustained rise in the Lib dem vote since the 1980's , but more on that another day) it was usually because the Lib dems regularily posted good, easy-to-read leaflets through thousands of doors and canvassed; and canvassed.

Then at election time managed to encourage their sometimes lukewarm support to actually vote.

When only 1/3rd of voters turn out, getting your 'side' to do so is the key. Put simply, the LD's were much better at this than we were.

While they tirelessly churned out simple messages, often repeated, tinged with hysterical noises about things that 'might' happen (the school that might close, the hospital that needs 'saving') we would make do with a once in a blue moon leaflet that looked more like a page from the Times (circa 1950) than a political leaflet and usually contained an earnest but boring account of the manfesto about rubbish collections.

I used to use the analogy of us Tories being a old-time boxer squaring up under the Queensberry rules but facing a hoodie brandishing a baseball bat.

Having the best policies is just not enough. Modern politics needs modern campaigning techniques as well.


Barrie Wood said...

Interesting analysis.

One of our [LD] strengths is that we work all-year-round and that residents here from us frequently between elections.

I've never hand anything through my letterbox here in Tormohun and nor did I when I lived in Wellswood - the truest blue seat in Torquay ! Talk about being taken for granted !

Despite your successes last week you do need to up your game. It is interesting to see that the politically split wards did see a number of sitting LDs retain their seats - I believe the work put in by them / us is largely responsible for this outcome.

You can be sure we'll endeavour to up the ante even more with a view to the parliamentary contest and 2011 'locals' !

Anonymous said...

I am a conservative councillor (not one of yours) who has faced a concerted barrage from the Lib dems for years.

I am surprised at you Marcus for using terms like 'good leaflets' - they are the worst kind of gutter politics.

What the Lib Dems do is spread lies and rumours, make nasty and petty personal attacks against their opponents, deceive their electors about their chances of winning and generally do anything to win votes at any cost.

No policies, no philosophy, just envy and bile directed at anyone already elected.

All this does is drag everyone down to the lowest level - and then we wonder why no-one bothers to vote and councillors are held in such low regard.

Barrie Wood said...

Oops...typo alert...should have read hear from us between elections.. and that I've never had anything thru' my letterbox from the Tories.

Anyway I digress...anon...you accuse the LDs of 'bile' and gutter politics whilst conducting a generalised rant against the LD's yourself !

As for policies, for example our Green Tax Switch policy is fully costed. Remind me of your party's costed tax proposals ?

For a party with no firm policy commitments nationally it is ironic you accuse LDs of having no philosophy or policies.

You won't be familiar with Nick Clegg's arguments to enable us to cut crime and the innovative initiatives undertaken by some pioneering LD councils either will you ?

Anon, you even do Marcus a disservice ! Marcus did criticise our election materials, particularly with regard to our focus upon the casino issue.

You don't even have the courage to publish under your own name !

C'mon you are really Cllr Kevin Caroll leader of the Tories on Torbay Council aren't you ?! ;-)

Ill tempered remarks like yours do little to raise the esteem within which councillors [of all colours] are generally held by the electorate !

Derek Hinde said...

You didn't have much in the way of policy plans locally this time though did you Barry?

Barrie Wood said...

1) With an elected Tory mayor and a Tory cabinet the onus was not on us to produce reams of policy positions, for we were not, and would not be, in a position to implement policy - that is the mayor's perogative and his only pledge upon seeking office was an aspiration of "a cleaner, safer and more prosperous bay" What kind of policy direction is that ? And, as if anyone could object to such platitudes.

2) Despite the above we did have a 2007 local election manifesto which sketched out our priorities and I am sure you can still get a copy from our Torquay office.

3) It would be nice in exchanges on this blog if people would be polite and respectful as I try to be, even if disagreeing completely with Marcus - a pity your anonymous councillor can't manage this !

A Conservative Councillor said...

I am not Kevin Carroll and I am not from Torbay.

Taking the moral high ground sticks a bit from the party who mount an atrocious campaign of personal abuse against every candidate in every by election nationally.

'polite and respectful' - when your party learns to be polite and respectful you might get a bit more respect from the main parties in return.

I have been told by good authority from a senior Lib dem that point one in the by election campaign book is to seek to find a personal weakness in the opposing candidate and then 'relentlessly exploit it'.

The there was the notorious 2003 Lib dem campaign manual which advised candidates to "be wicked, act shamelessly, stir endlessly" and says "positive campaigning will not be enough to win control of the council."

So we have had over the years for instance 'three jobs Bob' (Bromley); 'the STRAIGHT alternative (Bermondsey)and down there you used Rupert Allasons very personal divorce problems against him in 1997.

You don't even manage to pull your punches against your own, as a certain ex Lib Dem leader might witness.

I'll treat you with respect when you start fighting elections on policies instead of personalities.

Barrie Wood said...

Rupert Allason - that would be the man who a trial judge in 2001 described as "a profoundly dishonest man" and "one of the most dishonest witnesses I have ever seen" and who in September 2005, Allason was given a suspended 6-month jail sentence for contempt of court in relation to paying the damages from the 2001 case.

If that is the calibre of man you wish to defend then you are out of step with the people of Torbay, including those well beyond the ranks of the LD's. He was by all accounts a terrible constituency MP .

As for '3 jobs Bob' how was it out of order to ask how Bob Neill was going to combine Westminster, with his jobs as a barrister and GLA member ? We've had a number of [Tory] part-time MPs here in Torbay before and we don't want anymore. Marcus' task is made more difficult by past memories of absentee Tory MP's.

If any Tories reading this want to rally to the cause of Freddie Bennett (Torquay / Torbay MP 55-87) or Rupert Allason I would be much amused. Anyone going to step forward ?!

Lastly however robustly I occasionally disagree with Marcus there is no personal invective to our debates. However, if there was, at least people know who to challenge as I post openly and not anonymously. It seems you are as short on political courage as you are on politeness and knowledge of Torbay in debate.

Marcus Wood said...

Barry, criticising Rupert Allason for things he did after losing the seat and ceasing to be an MP seems a bit unfair to me.

His business after he was out of public office is surely his own affair?

The only criticism I have ever heard for Allason while he was the MP were all from your gang who were gunning for the seat for themselves.

Never once has anyone ever complained to me on the doorstep except by using the repeated phrases and totally undubstantiated rumours put about by your campaigners at the time along the lines of 'he doesn't live here..' (when he in fact lived all week in London, just like Adrian does now).

He did nothing more or less than Mr Sanders does today; including working diligently for his constituents.

And whilst on the subject of honesty Rupert Allason was never plastered across the front page by the local press accused of deceiving them and the electorate as Adrian has been over the mayoral campaign.

And by your own admission you weren't even living here when Freddie Bennett was MP so how do you know what he was like (apart from what you have heard from your Lib Dem friends?)

You see this is the problem. You won't have me criticise your MP without howling in protest; you complain about negative campaigning and urge everyone to be nice to each other yet you seem happy to suspend this 'rule' when it's tory MP's or the Conservative Mayor we are talking about.

Barrie Wood said...

It's pretty subjective as to who is a 'good' MP and who isn't. From personal experience Peter Thurnham (Tory - Bolton NE) was a good constituency MP as was Livingstone (Lab), but Bruinvels (Tory) and Janner (Lab) were both atrocious. I judged them on constituency work and not political preference.

I stand by my assertion - albeit a subjective one - that past performance of Tory MPs here by reputation is not helpful to you. Of course, you and others [Tories or not] might see it differently.

I look forward to the tributes to former Tory MPs on this site ;-)

As for Mr. Bye I have no issues with him (or any other Tory in the bay) on a personal basis. Politically, on any level I just don't rate him - nothing more or nothing less.

Unfortunately the mayoral system of local government - which Cameron supports - only helps personalise political criticism of ANY elected mayor - for s/he holds all the real power.

Whatever the merits of our respective parties I do not think this system is one that is popular across the bay. Personally, I don't want an executive mayor of any political stripe, Lib Dem included.