Friday, March 04, 2011

Don't be too bothered about the Barnsley result: keep calm and carry on

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

Sixth place in the Barnsley by-election is not a good look, no denying it. It is upsetting to come behind hate-fuelled racists like the BNP. But for that sort of seat, in a Labour heartland, last night's result was pretty much par for the course.

For the sake of completeness, thanks to the BBC, here is the full result:

  • Dan Jarvis (Lab) 14,724
  • Jane Collins (UKIP) 2,953
  • James Hockney (C) 1,999
  • Enis Dalton (BNP) 1,463
  • Tony Devoy (Ind) 1,266
  • Dominic Carman (LD) 1,012
  • Kevin Riddiough (Eng Dem) 544
  • Howling Laud Hope (Loony) 198
  • Michael Val Davies (Ind) 60
Lab maj 11,771: Turnout 36.5%
If this was a seat where we had a strong local party with a strong local government base, I'd be more worried. It was never going to be possible to make much of an impact in 3 weeks from a virtually standing start. In the by-elections where we do well, it's not the efforts of the circus that rolls into town that makes victory possible, it's the foot slogging, leaflet delivery, diligent casework, campaigning on local issues over years.  Those people don't often get the glory in the wake of a stunning result, but they deserve it. Take Dunfermline, if it hadn't been for the work of people like Jim Tolson, Tony Martin, Jim Burke and Teresa Little over the years, Willie Rennie would have had nothing to build on.
Looking back, there are plenty results from times when we were doing pretty well in the national polls when we did worse in by-elections. We came sixth in the Glasgow North East by-election in November 2009, with half the vote that Dominic Carman managed to attract yesterday. We'd also had some sub 3% results in Glenrothes and Glasgow East the previous year. In June 2009, we retained our MEP which everyone said we'd lose. In May 2010 Scotland elected 11 Liberal Democrat MPs.
In 1999, Marilyne McLaren came 6th with 3.3 % of the vote in the Hamilton South by-election. In 2001 and 2005 she almost ended up in the House of Commons, coming within 405 votes of Labour in Edinburgh South.
Results like this happen and don't mean much in the scheme of things. Of course, if we had won, I'd be saying that it meant that a Liberal Democrat take-over of the universe was imminent - although it probably would have meant that, to be honest. We never stood a chance. And the party knew that. For Oldham, I was getting several requests for help every day. For Barnsley, nobody ever contacted me and I think that's probably sensible.
The most important thing to remember is that in Council wards all over England and constituencies in Scotland and Wales, our councillors, AMs and MSPs are getting a much warmer reception. We just have to make sure that we do everything we can to support them in the run up to May.


George said...

" It was never going to be possible to make much of an impact in 3 weeks from a virtually standing start"

Eh ? I thought you came second last time ?
That independent guy and the UKIP guy made standing starts.
I think the LIb Dems have been found out. Making promises for decades that if they ever got into power they would change the old system of two party politics.
As soon as they got into power they were found to have no clothes and were just the same as the 'tired old parties'.
Their excuse for reneging on their promises seems to be that they didn't know the true scale of the UK debt. This seems disingenuous since milions of column inches were dedicated to the UK debt. Hundreds of blogs had 'UK debt timers' counting down to the £1trillion debt line.
Their promise to help Gary McKinnon when they got power has been replaced by they can't help Gary McKinnon because they're in power.
Like I said they've been found out.

Anonymous said...

Excuses excuses, the Lib Dems are meant to be the Kings of by-elections! All I have seen from these Lib Dem blogs since the General Election is a bunch of people I once thought were principled making pathetic excuses for a leader who has betrayed the Liberal party. The result is indicative of what is to become of the Lib Dems, a thoroughly untrustworthy party. From second place to sixth! To shrug that result off is simply delusional, clearly you and your 'leader' are not, were not and will not listen to the public!

cynicalHighlander said...

Don't be too bothered about the Barnsley result: keep calm and carry on in self denial mode.

cynicalHighlander said...

Its OK don't bother publishing my post from many hours ago as the LibDems are finished as an honest political party. The Liberal members are leaving in droves as they have integrity which is not part of the LibDem party as all that is left are Democrats which are undercover NuLabour/Conservatives.

I heard Tavish today in Perth and I have listened to a LibDem on the radio tonight which have shown them up as pure and utter hypocrites.

Scotland as does every country deserves better.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't dismiss Barnsley so easily, your vote did go down 13 points. Rarely do political parties have complete meltdowns like that, usually it is a gradual process.

In areas where you are well organised no doubt things won't be as spectacular. But you were organised in Oldham and polling data shows you lost a similar percentage of voters, your vote only held because of tory tactical votes. Unless you're as at home in the tory party as Nick Clegg you should be kinda worried.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for such a sensible, well-reasoned post. There's a great danger of people getting hysterical over one by-election result and taking their eyes off the prize - a better than predicted showing in the local elections in May, of which we are more than capable. As ever, it's where we work, we win.
Cllr Sebastian Field

Neil M said...

I think Caron is spot on. Hamilton is exactly the right analogy for this result in Barnsley. Keep calm and carry on campaigning has to be the response.

Anonymous said...

So how many seats do you reckon Liberals can hope for in Scotland's parliament, and will the Liberals work with that little grey haired bloke from Labour, whose name escapes me?

Unknown said...

George, we were lucky to get 17% in May because we didn't do very much in Barnsley. These things happen in general elections. Unless a second place is underpinned with activity on the ground, though, it's not going to hold up in a by-election.

Nobody's said that they can't help Gary McKinnon - Nick said not now, not not ever. And we have kept our promises in fact, or done things which improve the current system for those who have least. It was fairly clear where our red lines were during the election - fairer taxes, pupil premium, cleaning up politics and sorting the economy out.

CH, I only refuse to publish those comments which are horribly abusive or defamatory. Sometimes it takes me a while if I'm away. Be patient.

Tris, the Scottish Parliament was established on the basis that it would be quite difficult for one party to get a majority, forcing parties to talk to each other and work together. On that basis, you can't rule out talking to anyone.

zeonglow said...

And anyway, with our voting system, we could have got just one less vote than Labour, the net effect would be the same. On the bright side we got five times the vote of the loony party

cynicalHighlander said...


CH, I only refuse to publish those comments which are horribly abusive or defamatory. Sometimes it takes me a while if I'm away. Be patient.

Sorry I don't buy that. The first post that came visible was Sebastian Field at No 6 30 hours after George. Which is cherry picking those you like first to create a completely false impression to some passing readers.

Clegg is now hated more than Thatcher in Scotland which is some going but well deserved from their behaviour.

Anonymous said...

So how many seats will you get Caron?

neil craig said...

"I only refuse to publish those comments which are horribly abusive or defamatory."

You know that is wholly untrue carron.

Unknown said...

Actually, Neil, I do know that's true. I will not publish comments that wrongly accuse good people of terrible crimes.

I know that many bloggers refuse to publish all comments from people who make those sorts of wild allegations. I don't have that sort of a blanket ban, and do publish non defamatory and non abusive comments from them.

neil craig said...

You know perfectly well Carron that every word I have said is provably true. That the war against Yugoslavia has been accepted as ilegal even by the Commons Foreign affairs committee.

The suggestion that a single word of mine censored by you is not provably true is defamatory and, if you cannot prove that I have lied you owe me a public apology. If you actually meant what you said you would also remove your defamatory claim.

Unknown said...

I don't believe I actually mentioned any names, Neil.

And I'd appreciate it if you'd spell my name correctly in future.

Unknown said...

CH, you are paranoid, aren't you?

I thought I'd published all the comments I'd received while I was away at Conference, but for some reason some of them hadn't and I only found out when I got back to the laptop on Saturday night/Sunday morning. Reception was pretty erratic in the Conference Hall and I had too many things to do to check every single comment.

neil craig said...

Clearly not even attempting to publish them all ;-)

neil craig said...

Youb are a disgucting, lying, obscene, racist, Nazi whore Caron. How dare you imply otherwise.

Unknown said...

Neil, I think you have just shown yourself up here. Not a description of me most people would recognise.

You write similar comments about other people which I don't publish because it would be defamatory and I'm simply not prepared to do that, especially about people I respect.

But I thought it might be a good idea to let the world see the sort of comments you send on a regular basis.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness gracious me. I came over to see just how much of an idiot there was, to have made such horrible comments on Caron's blog. Imagine my surprise to discover it was someone I knew!

Clearly, Neil, you did spend too much time on the fake Bob Shaw's company... I'm rather shocked to see you've morphed into him!

By the way Caron, comment posts disappearing and reappearing are a standard bug on Blogger. Peruse half a dozen blogs and you'll find the paranoid self-important ones claiming they have been 'censored' when they haven't. And others telling them it's a standard bug and screeches in reply about It's A Conspiracy.

I'm so sad this is what you have become, Neil. I'm sure the Fake Bob is cackling with glee, at his 'influence' over you... you used to be able to spell too!


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