More losers than winners

by John Quiggin on May 6, 2005

I was writing this at the same time as Chris, and don’t have much more to add, but I’ll post it anyway, having had the dubious benefit of a bit more daytime to digest the results.

The British people have spoken (or at least voted) and I don’t imagine too many members of the political class are happy with the results. The Labour government got back in, but with less than 40 per cent of the popular vote and a lot more vigour among opponents than supporters, it’s not a great result. In particular, given the weakness of the Opposition, the result is a pretty clear rejection of Tony Blair and his approach to politics.

For the Tories, the outcome is even worse. They only got 33 per cent of the vote, against a combined 60 per cent for Labour and the Lib Dems, parties which have broadly similar centre-left views. Barring a cataclysmic change in the electoral landscape, there’s no serious prospect that they can win in five years time.

The Lib Dems did better than most expected, but still failed to break out of third party status, even with the Iraq issue going for them. Their best hope is that Labour’s position will weaken to the point where they are forced into democratic reform of the electoral system, either PR or preferential voting.

Two individuals look to be winners. Gordon Brown now seems certain to replace Blair as PM. Blair’s poor performance and manifest unpopularity make it virtually impossible that he can back out of his promise to retire, and he’s likely to do so sooner rather than later. For Brown, the main risk is that the economy will go sour – it has many of the same vulnerabilities as Australia’s.

The other big winner is George Galloway, former Labour MP and apologist for Saddam, who defeated left-wing Labour MP Oona King in Bethnal Green and Bow. While I’d normally welcome any indication of opposition to the Iraq war, I have to say that this is a deplorable result. I don’t believe everything I read about Galloway, but his own public actions are enough to condemn him.

I forgot to add one particularly welcome loser. Lynton Crosby has demolished his (largely self-generated) reputation as a Machiavellian genius, and succeeded in reattaching the ‘nasty party’ label to the Tories in a way that will be very difficult for them to shake off.

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Indigo Jo Blogs
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1

taylor 05.06.05 at 1:28 am

Speaking of losers, I was disappointed to see that R.U. Seerius, of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, went down to defeat in Erewash. Still, he did manage to get 287 votes, which was more than one half of one percent of the total. Good show.

2

Tom Doyle 05.06.05 at 1:53 am

“While I’d normally welcome any indication of opposition to the Iraq war, I have to say that this is a deplorable result. I don’t believe everything I read about Galloway, but his own public actions are enough to condemn him.”

What did (or could) he have done that was worse than supporting the war?

3

Fred 05.06.05 at 2:53 am

“left-wing Labour MP Oona King” Hardly, she is an arch Blairite and firmly on the right of her party. Good riddence. (pity that George the loony got in though)

4

Ray 05.06.05 at 3:04 am

Galloway made it easy for those who were pro-war to say that those against the war were supporters of Saddam Hussein. Its quite possible that he did more harm than good to the anti-war cause.

5

Tom Lynch 05.06.05 at 3:09 am

6

Barry Freed 05.06.05 at 4:21 am

Never has the loss of proto-punk rocker Screaming Lord Sutch of the Monster Raving Loony Party (which, despite its name was never a fraction as monstrous, raving, or lunatic as those in power on either side of the Atlantic) been more keenly felt than now.

Galloway made it easy for those who were pro-war to say that those against the war were supporters of Saddam Hussein.

Yeah, I’ve never been able to figure out what the hell he could have been thinking when he decided to forge those receipts showing he’d been paid off by Saddam. Strange that. Must be some of that strange English sense of humor. I don’t understand cricket either.

7

reuben 05.06.05 at 4:56 am

Yeah, I’ve never been able to figure out what the hell he could have been thinking when he decided to forge those receipts showing he’d been paid off by Saddam.

Galloway’s crime (at least as far as lending discredit to the anti-war movement), was in being obsequious to Saddam Hussein. The left lambasted Rumsfeld for shaking Saddam’s hand years before, but Galloway did anti-war people no favours by publicly complimenting Hussein on his many great qualities. Politicians often have to meet and even work with Very Bad People, but they don’t have to tell them how nice their cologne is.

So is Bethnal Green and Bow now renamed Saddam City?

8

mark s 05.06.05 at 5:38 am

convention in the UK is that the winning MP first thanks the police and the Returning Officer – thus by robustly ATTACKING the Returning Officer in his acceptance speech (for an alleged lack of honesty and competence), Galloway did something i’ve never seen before in a brit election, from a candidate of any complexion

i. do we know the story behind this?
ii. even if his charge turns out to be justified – corruption and vote-rigging is hardly unknown in the east end – is this tactic politically intelligent?

9

Chris Williams 05.06.05 at 5:43 am

What was so ‘left-wing’ about Oona King? I must have missed something. King was as Blairite as they come, as a brief search on Public Whip reveals. Is there some kind of unconscious racism happening here (‘black = radical’), or is this part of the pro-war left’s campaign against the equally odious Galloway?

BG&B was very much a Germany vs Argentina moment as far as I was concerned. Shame they couldn’t both lose.

10

Simstim 05.06.05 at 5:49 am

The overall result is pretty much as predicted, although those early massive-swing results (e.g. Putney and Newcastle Central) did give the pundits a bit of a shock. Blair sounded really ropey on the radio during his acceptance speech at Sedgefield.

11

John Quiggin 05.06.05 at 5:53 am

A fair point, Chris. I had the impression King was left-wing, but I can’t back it up and have struck it out.

12

abb1 05.06.05 at 5:57 am

…but Galloway did anti-war people no favours by publicly complimenting Hussein on his many great qualities.

Could you link to something with his own words, please.

I found this:

The court watched a video of the MP telling Saddam Hussein in 1994: “I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability.”

But he told the court the clip had been taken out of context and he had been referring to the Iraqi people in general, not specifically to their leader.

He said he always made clear he believed Saddam had presided over a brutal regime.

Is that it, or there is more?

Thanks.

13

Barry Freed 05.06.05 at 6:05 am

Jeebus abb1, must you troll in almost every thread here?

/snark

14

abb1 05.06.05 at 6:15 am

Well, Barry, at least in this particular thread I haven’t been trolling yet. Do you have a link or not?

Thanks again.

15

Barry Freed 05.06.05 at 6:22 am

abb1- You misunderstand me. Apparently because you didn’t see the comments on this post from the other day:

https://crookedtimber.org/2005/05/05/janice-rogers-brown-revisited/

See comments #8 and 21,

my bad.

16

rob 05.06.05 at 6:22 am

One of you folks here at CT might wanna mention the horrendous rise of the BNP? They’re now bigger than Plaid Cymru.

17

reuben 05.06.05 at 6:25 am

Abb1

According to media reports, following his “Sir, we salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability”, Galloway then went on to present Saddam Hussein with a pennant from Palestinian youth and to inform Hussein that the people he had visited in Palestine were naming their children after him. He then ended his oration with the words: “We are with you.”

While the first and last parts could conceivably have been addressed not to Saddam but to the Iraqi populace, the bit about Palestinians naming their kids after him could only be complimentary to Saddam. Galloway, described it as a mere ‘salient fact’, but only someone who wished to build up the person they were speaking to would say it in this context. If I had to meet Robert Mogabe, I wouldn’t tell him that I once read a letter to the editor extolling his wondrous leadership.

Here’s a Johann Hari (war supporter from the Independent) article outlining some of Galloway’s great oratory triumphs, including saying that the day the Soviet Union feel was the worst of his life, and Saddam’s treatment of the Kurds was merely part of ‘a civil war’ that ‘involved massive violence on both sides’. (Sorry, don’t know how to embed a link – can anyone tell me how?)http://www.progressives.org.uk/magazine/default.asp?action=magazine&articleid=882

On a side note (at least re the war), Galloway is anti-abortion, which would seem to be a bit of a bad fit with Respect’s supposedly leftist policies.

18

dsquared 05.06.05 at 6:26 am

John, Chris; Oona King’s main claim to fame before Gorgeous George showed up on her doorstep was that she had toured Israel, compared the Palestinians to the Warsaw Ghetto and called for a boycott of Israeli products. There’s nothing intrinsically left-wing about that but it does tend to get you a lot of mates who are very LW.

19

dsquared 05.06.05 at 6:27 am

They’re now bigger than Plaid Cymru.

But a distant fourth place everywhere they stand so who cares? In any case, I personally think that they should win somewhere. If five percent of Britons are fascists, then there ought to be a fascist MP, I find myself saying with my democracy head on. If nothing else, it would stop the major parties from trying to court the fascist vote.

20

Matthew 05.06.05 at 6:29 am

don’t believe everything I read about Galloway

A wise move; there have been countless fabrications and exaggerations against him. The whole case against him revolves around the “courage and indefatigability” quote, but he protested Saddam’s massacres long before the hawks were told by the UK/US governments to do so. I’m not a big fan of him but with enemies like this he seems more and more sympathetic, and his surprising victory is clearly an anti-war one.

21

reuben 05.06.05 at 6:41 am

Despite my distaste and distrust for George, a really high profile toppling like this may be a very good thing for Labour as a whole and Gordon Brown in particular.

22

abb1 05.06.05 at 6:53 am

See comments #8 and 21

Ah, I didn’t see it. Thanks, Barry. However, I certainly do do some trolling once in a while, there’s no sense in denying. Trolling can be fun.

Thanks, Reuben.

I can understand why one would want to say at least some of those things. For example, the fact that Iraqi government used to send money to parents of Palestinian suicide bombers whose (parents’) houses were razed according to the official Israeli policy – that wasn’t a bad thing to do.

We certainly do need his perspective. We have the opposive, often much uglier perspective basically every day in every newspaper; we need this one too.

23

Barry Freed 05.06.05 at 6:57 am

Ah, I didn’t see it. Thanks, Barry. However, I certainly do do some trolling once in a while, there’s no sense in denying. Trolling can be fun.

Oh, I know, I know. Personally, I reserve most of my trolling for Slashdot. (which is no longer nearly as much fun to troll as it used to be. I blame the .cx registry.)

24

Nick 05.06.05 at 6:58 am

Aside from the antics of the Aretha Franklin Tribute Party – one piece of unalloyed good news: Bob Marshall-Andrews scraped home after all in spite of going on TV & announcing he’d lost earlier in the evening. Five more years of high-quality harrying of Blair looks on the cards

25

(another) nick 05.06.05 at 7:41 am

The depressed turnout in Bethnal Green & Bow — 51%, the lowest I’ve seen for any constituency — is as significant as Gorgeous George’s victory.

That said, much of the most prominent anti-Galloway commentary comes from people who have their own, um, loyalities, such as Nick ‘Chalibi’s Palibi’ Cohen.

I’m surprised no-one mentioned Reg Keys’ speech at Sedgefield, which ought to have been the TV highlight, rather than the Paxo-Galloway ego-jousting. You simply don’t get that in American elections.

26

Doug 05.06.05 at 7:56 am

horrendous rise of the BNP? They’re now bigger than Plaid Cymru.

Does that mean we should call them Tweed Cymru?

27

KCinDC 05.06.05 at 8:00 am

Hmm, Kenneth Baer, guest-blogging at Talking Points Memo, calls him “the far-far-far left, Islamist candidate George Galloway”. Even if he were pro-Saddam, how does that translate to Islamist?

Anyway, Galloway sounds like a loon, but I don’t think that excuses Paxman’s interview technique. I’ve heard no indication that Galloway is a racist, and even if he were, “Are you happy you knocked a black woman out of Parliament?” is no way to start an interview if you actually want it to continue.

28

rob 05.06.05 at 8:11 am

But a distant fourth place everywhere they stand so who cares?

Well, a couple of hundred votes from second in Barking, but point taken.

29

des von bladet 05.06.05 at 8:35 am

“Even if he were pro-Saddam, how does that translate to Islamist?”, asks or enquires KCinDC.

It doesn’t, in itself. But his Respect party is an anti-war coalition of very-leftistes and Islamic persons and it has become conventional to slur it as Islamiste. (I don’t follow fringe politics closely enough to have an opinion of my own.)

30

Mill 05.06.05 at 8:53 am

Wait, I’m confused. Am I supposed to salute the English people for standing firm behind Tony Blair and his War on Terror, or revile them for re-electing George Galloway, the man who loves Saddam so much why doesn’t he just marry him? (You know, in Canada or something.)

Better check Instapuntit for orders.

31

Nell Lancaster 05.06.05 at 9:15 am

Ken Baer’s post also includes organizing sister-city relationship with Nablus as an apparently self-evidently evil thing to do.

Ritual deploring is something to avoid, especially on command.

What a gigantic gulf between the British system and our increasingly monarchical one: Tony Blair has to stand right there and listen to vote totals for the ‘Tony Blair Must Go Party’ and stand within five feet of a woman wearing an enormous hat reading ‘LIAR’. And take in the ringing applause for the candidate whose son was killed in Iraq.

Meanwhile, here in the land of the free, middle-aged schoolteachers with the wrong bumper sticker on their car are physically hustled out of taxpaper-funded, public meetings at which our President takes scripted questions from carefully screened supporters.

32

KCinDC 05.06.05 at 9:15 am

Mill, I imagine we’ll have to wait until Blair steps down for the final decision, at which point we’ll officially have to start calling our pseudo-crumpets “Freedom muffins”.

33

Matt Weiner 05.06.05 at 9:26 am

But his Respect party is an anti-war coalition of very-leftistes and Islamic persons and it has become conventional to slur it as Islamiste.

If the Islamic persons involved aren’t primarily the sort of theocratic types who get called “Islamist” this strikes me as objectionable. Not all Muslims are Islamists, true?

34

Ben Alpers 05.06.05 at 9:28 am

What a gigantic gulf between the British system and our increasingly monarchical one: Tony Blair has to stand right there and listen to vote totals for the ‘Tony Blair Must Go Party’ and stand within five feet of a woman wearing an enormous hat reading ‘LIAR’. And take in the ringing applause for the candidate whose son was killed in Iraq.

I know it’s boring, wonkish, technical, and of interest only to Greens like me, but ballot access has a hell of a lot to do with this difference.

In the UK, anyone can stand for a seat in Parliament just by putting down a deposit, which s/he loses if s/he fails to get a certain percentage of the vote. One of the results of this eminently sensible and democratic system were the fifteen candidates standing in Blair’s constituency.

In the U.S., we make it nearly impossible for candidates other than Democrats and Republicans to appear on the ballot. Third parties and independents spend most of their time and resources simply giving the public the opportunity to vote for them. Some states don’t even allow write-ins. In short, our “democracy” is more or less by invitation only. Changing that would be a huge step in the right direction.

35

des von bladet 05.06.05 at 9:41 am

Matt Weiner: Well, these aren’t my opinions. The New Statesman says:

The worst result of the night – from Beth- nal Green and Bow, as Respect, an alliance between the intellectually bankrupt Marxist-Leninists of the Socialist Workers Party and Islamic fundamentalists, propels its leader, a man who “saluted” Iraqi fascism, to victory. Let’s not mince words. George Galloway’s defeat of Oona King is a disaster for the democratic left. As the campaign was fought on communalist lines, it is a disaster for multiracial London as well.”

How theocratic Galloway’s partners are I have no idea. Does anyone actually know anything about this, or are we stuck with slurology?

36

Matthew 05.06.05 at 9:44 am

Wait! Reuben links to a column by Johann Hari which is full of out-of-context quotes and distorsions. Once again I’m not a big fan of Gorgeous George but this is very misleading. It was debunked:

click
.
As far as I know Hari never responded, or denied.
Apart from the Saddam meeting there is nothing much of substance against GG. Would you have called Saddam a murderer to his face?

37

reuben 05.06.05 at 9:54 am

Paxman has jumped the shark.

Re Galloway, can any of his supporters (or non-detractors) recall an occasion when he captured an audience or united people behind him by speaking positively about something? He’s the type of angryman poltico who needs an enemy, needs to be shouting at something.

Regarding what he’ll do for the community, I’m not sure that I’ve got all the facts straight (I’ve heard it second hand from a trustworthy source, but haven’t verified the details), but the following is generally correct:
Apparently, MPs are alloted a certain amount of money for a parliamentary secretary. According to a friend who worked on the Labour campaign, Oona King went without a secretary, instead using that money to pay housing officers who cranked through 20,000 housing complaints and issues a year for her constituency.

Is Galloway, who lives like a pasha and thrives on conflict and camera lenses, going to sacrifice a parliamentary secretary for housing officers? Unlikely. Is he going to get his hands dirty with the little stuff that a poverty-filled area like this needs? Unlikely.

He feeds on anger and outrage, and that got him elected. But anger isn’t going to look at 20,000 housing complaints a year.

38

reuben 05.06.05 at 10:07 am

Matthew

I’m not sure that the link you provided directly addresses the ‘naming kids after you’ stuff – is that in a further link?

Anyway, it’s not worth you or I doing too much work over. Whether Galloway is a secret Stalinist or not, I think he’s the wrong kind of politician for an area like Bethnal Green and Bow. As stated above, he thrives on conflict, he prefers the glamorous bits to the daily grind, and he’s more than a bit of a megalomaniac. Even if he hadn’t (allegedly or not) played nicey-nice with Saddam, I think he’s a protest vote that very effectively gives Labour a black eye, but that is likely to have detrimental effects on the fabulous little bit of Britain from which I write this post.

Hopefully, I’ll be proved wrong, and four years from now we’ll be looking back on the many good things that Gorgeous George did for BG & Bow – just as Leyton Orient celebrate their first Premiership victory.

39

Max 05.06.05 at 10:08 am

Is whatever Galloway said about Saddam any worse than what Bush says about Putin?

If we allow for the ordinary b.s. quotient in political dealings of all types, I would suggest this takes us back to the underlying policies, where GG compares well to GB.

Rule of Thumb: believe nothing in The New Republic concerning the Middle East.

40

reuben 05.06.05 at 10:10 am

And there’s a lot of difference between calling a murderer that to his face and telling him what an admired chappie he is. It’s sensible (and even polite) to avoid the former; it’s oleaginous to do the latter.

41

nick 05.06.05 at 10:21 am

For someone who (allegedly) completed a doctorate in politics at Oxford, Kenneth Baer is a remarkably rubbish commentator: his comments on Rochdale, for instance, are a sad little snipe at Howard Dean, apparently ignoring the fact that it was Cyril Smith’s old haunting ground, and basically on loan from the Lib Dems for the past decade.

42

JayAnne 05.06.05 at 10:25 am

I read George Galloway was a very good constituency MP. I do remember a specific instance (told to a journalist by a high-up Tory who’s related to one of his constituents — but Galloway didn’t know that), but am vague on the detail so would have to search. People can say grovelling-sounding things to Saddam (I saw that video on TV here, I’m surprised no-one else here has) and still be very good constituency MPs.

Also calling him an Islamist is foolish.

I’m neither a supporter nor a non-detractor but do dislike the way he gets smeared.

43

dsquared 05.06.05 at 10:45 am

AFAICT, Galloway was pretty much loved by his constituents in Kelvin, but didn’t do all that much actual work for them in the sense of housing complaints and parking tickets. They liked him (and reelected him with ever-increasing majorities) because he was a gobby socialist politician, and up in that bit of Glesgae they like their socialists short and mouthy. In my opinion, being a “good constituency MP” is wildly over-rated; it is entirely possible for people to vote for a politician on the grounds of their politics, rather than as a stopgap for having a crap council (and indeed, Tower Hamlets isn’t a crap council; I’d rather live a year in TH than a month in Lambeth).

44

john 05.06.05 at 11:09 am

Baer is a moron. Almost all of his comments on the British election have been worthless at best, and downright misleading at worst.

45

aretino 05.06.05 at 11:17 am

KCinDC –

Galloway had that bit during the campaign where he talked about the 100,000 people who have died in Iraq, and how many of them have darker skins than King. Having brought race into it himself, it seems like fair game to me.

In any case, having watched the interview myself, I can’t believe how poorly he handled the question. Where did he ever get the reputation for being media-savvy?

He should have said it was on Labour, not him, that they had so few black, female MPs.

46

Matthew 05.06.05 at 11:56 am

Ah, Lambeth *sigh*.
Reuben: you pointed to a link that confirmed your prejudices, but that was mostly misleading. Then you berate GG for probably in the future not behaving like the ideal MP? Would your exacting standards apply to Labour MPs?
It’s jingo stuff like this which makes GG look good. He is a very good speaker as well, and the only big politico to have a strong anti-war voice, no matter how everyone is trying to shout it out.

47

oniongravy 05.06.05 at 12:05 pm

I’m surprised that so many see this result as anything but a damn good result for the Labour Party. Think about it:

a) The Tories have proved that even with a weakened Labour Party (after 8 years in office, mind) led a relatively unpopular leader, they have made almost no real electoral ground. Their minor gains in the South are hardly the stuff of a real comeback. As Norman Tebbit (of all people) said today, they have not anything like enough to prepare to win the next election. Bear in mind that the Labour majority is OVERALL, not just over the Tories.

Notably, the Tories failed to take almost any of their targets outside the South East, suggesting that the seismic shift of 97 in places like Edgbaston are more permanent.

b) The Lib Dems capitalised on left wing disaffection with Iraq, occasionally with remarkable results (Leeds NW, Manc Withington), but where do they go from here? They have alienated their more centre-soft right support, illustrated by their total failure to ‘decapitate’ any but one of their Tory targets. With Blair – the focus of the Iraq ire – gone next election, who’s betting that this ‘new era of 3 party politics’ won’t even last one term?

c) The Labour Party suffered from their own voters primarily on Iraq. There is some evidence that immigration may have spoken to South Eastern voters, but on the whole, as Labour preside over improving public services and a healthy economy, Tory pot shots at their record failed to hit the target. And with Brown ready to step into Blair’s shoes, the damage done by Iraq could soon be a distant memory (I’m not suggesting this is right or just, just that it’s likely).

Personally, I’m delighted that the Labour Party have a majority of this size, particularly with the re-election of so many committed Labour rebels. The more contentious issues surrounding identity cards and the right to jury trial are dead in the water IMHO. Blair would be a fool to push his ‘radical’ agenda: he will only risk tarnishing his legacy further and proving that old maxim about all political careers ending in
failure. And it will be fascinating seeing him having to grapple with the beast he’s never bothered to address: the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Meanwhile, Brown must be rubbing his hands with glee…

48

nick 05.06.05 at 12:39 pm

Something that hasn’t been widely noted: Stuart Drummond was re-elected mayor of Hartlepool with a much increased majority. His previous employ was as H’Angus The Monkey, mascot for Hartlepool FC.

From local reports, he’s been really good at the job.

49

JayAnne 05.06.05 at 1:01 pm

dsquared, I have just the one incident (which it will take forever to find) and a general impression given by the piece about it. But anyway, if you think “being a good constituency MP” isn’t important (unless Oona King was, in which case it is) then your previous comments on Galloway (i.e. that he wasn’t a good constituency MP) aren’t relevant.

(Etc., in agreement with Matthew.)

I do feel rather strongly about your cavalier dismissal of a) Galloway and b) “good constituency MPs”, and while that may be mainly, now, because I badly need one (not just because of a crap council, but because of a crap National Assembly), it is also because of earlier encounters and experiences. I accept that if I had a lot more money and/or full private health insurance and a car (etc.) or if I got the kind of NHS treatment I got when I lived in London, I might think differently. But I doubt it. My first MP was the Tory who held a Welsh seat for years because he was a good constituency MP. You may well think we Welsh dwarves like our MPs nasty, brutish and short, like us, whether they’re socialist or not (I think I’d better stop before I get thrown off this place for saying what I feel like saying)

50

Ken Houghton 05.06.05 at 1:13 pm

And David Trimble is out.

51

Daniel 05.06.05 at 1:44 pm

yup, there he goes. Sucks to be Oliver Kamm, apparently.

52

Peter 05.06.05 at 2:02 pm

Are there some good mainstream British left-liberal blogs any of you could recommend? So far, all I’ve been able to come across anti-leftist leftists like Oliver Kamm and Harry’s Place, on the one hand, and neo-Leninist websites, on the other hand.

53

Chris Williams 05.06.05 at 3:46 pm

peter, try ‘Blood and Treasure’.

54

reuben 05.06.05 at 3:47 pm

Blimey, Matthew,

As far as I can tell, no one has contradicted GG’s kowtowing to SH, nor did your link actually address (at least not on the first page, maybe further in?) the issues Johann Hari raised in his column.

But as I said, that’s not what bothers me. What bothers me is that I think that King actually gave a shit about her constintuency on a day in day out basis, even though she was a complete buffoon to support the war. I think that GG, on the other hand, saw this constituency as a great place to score some bigtime politcal points, but isn’t actually going to do the work on a day to day basis.

And you can bet your ass I’d hold a Labour candidate to the same ‘work for your area day in day out’ standards. There’s a lot of high level Labour folks I wouldn’t have voted for no matter what. I want someone who’s good for Bethnal Green, not someone who I think is going to use it as a showpiece. And I genuinely don’t think GG is that man. Does that really count as ‘jingo stuff’ in your book?

And like I say, I hope Georgey boy proves me wrong. I’d hate to get all disgruntled and feel like I should move back to Lambeth.

55

reuben 05.06.05 at 3:56 pm

Jayanne,

If I understand you correctly, you fall into the area cited by (who’d have thunk it?) John Lennon, when he said, ‘There’s not enough of a gap between the two main parties, but a lot of people live in that gap.’ That is, the difference between the parties might not seem like much to some of us, but they’re pretty damn big to the people affected by the policy differences therein.

Whether you’re Labour, Tory or Lib Dem, policies really do matter, and those who dismiss the differences between parties (and the value of constituency MPs) are:
a) being facetious, and/or
b) flaunting their privilege – ie rejoicing in the fact that their lives are going to pretty damn fine no matter who’s in charge.

56

David Flood 05.06.05 at 5:37 pm

“And David Trimble is out.”

Good riddance? The attempt to make him an Ulster Unionist ‘de Klerk’ was wildly optimistic, and onlt succeeded in continually feeding the jackass with enough rope to hang pro-Agreement politicians with.

57

sharon 05.06.05 at 6:31 pm

“According to a friend who worked on the Labour campaign, Oona King went without a secretary, instead using that money to pay housing officers who cranked through 20,000 housing complaints and issues a year for her constituency.”

I suggest you think through that claim more carefully. I don’t know what a parliamentary secretary is paid, but an MP only gets £57k a year (this one paid his entire staff £75k in 2003-4), and I don’t think you’re going to get all that many competent housing officers for the price of a secretary (we’re not talking filing clerks here). In order to get through 20,000 complaints a year, between them they’d have to deal with at least 80 complaints per working day.

Let’s just say that I think there’s a teeny bit of exaggeration going on here.

58

Chris Williams 05.06.05 at 6:44 pm

Which would I prefer? An MP who answers letters and gets things done (legally of course, not in the Fine Gael manner) for their constituents, but supports ID cards, mortgaging the future of the public sector, lies about going to war, and paying for education?

Or is my preferred model the late Jim Marshall, who spent most of his time propping up a bar in the (also late) Royal Mail, but at least voted against much of this state-level nastiness?

Not sure I’d vote for either, to be honest (never did for Jim), but I make my decisions on the basis of how they will vote, not their role as an ombudsman. If you _need_ your MP’s help that badly, then the right thing to do is not to vote for the best ombudsperson regardless of their politics. Instead, set up a claimants’ union.

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Chris Baldwin 05.07.05 at 8:27 am

“So far, all I’ve been able to come across anti-leftist leftists like Oliver Kamm and Harry’s Place, on the one hand, and neo-Leninist websites, on the other hand.” – Peter

Harry’s Place is not anti-Leftist although Oliver Kamm is another matter. Paul Anderson’s ‘Gauche’ blog (libsoc.blogspot.com)is one of my favourite l/w blogs, another good one is Chris Brooke’s ‘The Virtual Stoa’ (http://users.ox.ac.uk/~magd1368/weblog/blogger.html) then there’s ‘Socialism in an Age of Waiting’ (http://marxist-org-uk.blogspot.com/), although that one might be described as far-left and you might think of them as anti-leftist leftists. Same goes for Norman Geras’s ‘Normblog’ (normblog.typepad.com), but both are well worth reading. ‘Shot by Both Sides’ (http://www.stalinism.com/shot-by-both-sides/) is also entertaining, even if the blogger does support the (boo hiss) Liberal Democrats.

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JayAnne 05.07.05 at 9:55 am

Reuben, I was half-asleep when I posted (and very angry with dsquared), so, my apologies to you and to anyone else who had to try to work out what I might be saying… Thank you for working it out and saying it.
I’ve never actually voted for a Tory who was a good constituency MP, and for most of my life, have not voted (I’m pretty Left wing and I lived in safe seats…), but I do see why other people do both.
I’m interested to see Chris chooses MPs on their voting record (or likely voting record). When I do vote, I vote by party and the party’s politics (as it were) given that I’d rather have a Labour Government than a wonderfully liberal Tory MP. Incidentally, it isn’t only claimants who benefit (pun not intentional) from a good constituency MP; and “welfare” payments (I get Disability Living Allowance) are not my main concern in this instance, four-year waiting lists for an initial hospital appointment are.

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rob 05.07.05 at 4:26 pm

oniongravy: one poll suggests only 33% of Labour ‘defectors’ to the LDs cited Iraq as a major motivating factor. OK, it’s a lot, and it’s only a poll, but it might well be indicative. Issues like top-up fees and, well, all manner of things might be behind a shift in the vote, especially among, say, liberal-minded students who have no long-term commitment to the Labour Party but have no time for the hard left. I have no doubt that the LDs will continue to make minor election-on-election gains, the real problem is that every single bloody election they’ll claim “it’s a new era of three-party politics” (1997, 2001, anyone?) when they’ll still be eluded by the kind of really significant breakthrough moment that will actually give that motto some substance.

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Chris Williams 05.08.05 at 4:25 am

Re voting – the most important factor about an MP is whose whip they take. There are very few Labour MPs whose record is rebellious enough that I’d vote for them. In fact, I think there’s just one. There aren’t any Tories, although I there are certainly a few individual Tories (Bottomley springs to mind) who are far more attractive politically than the vast majority of the Labour benches.

What I meant when I said ‘voting record’ is that as far as I’m concerned, an MP is someone who helps run the country, not fix my planning application, and I vote accordingly.

Another point of info re Galloway and race. As far as I know, he only made the response about ‘darker skins than Oona’s’ as a reply to a question along the lines of ‘Don’t you feel bad running against a black woman?’ He didn’t raise the issue of race – others (including Paxman) did, in a despicable fashion. Galloway’s a louse in many important respects, but not that one.

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KCinDC 05.08.05 at 5:06 pm

Nick, Baer’s “sad little snipe” apparently so impressed Kevin Drum that it’s now in the sidebar at Washington Monthly.

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