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CorbyLiberal

Louise, you talk about a "LibDem standstill", yet in one of the hyper-marginal Tory target seats of Corby, you failed to pull off any gains, losing a net of one seat to the Lib Dems. In fact, the Lib Dems were the only party who ended up with a net gain.

You may try and comfort yourself with the national picture, but shouldn't a PPC in such a crucial seat for David Cameron be pulling off better council campaigns than the dire one in Corby Borough?

If I were Phil Hope, I'd be breathing a sigh of relief at the results - the Tory "resurgence" is certainly none-existent in Corby.

Louise Bagshawe

Liberal, the seat is Corby & East Northamptonshire (despite its inaccurate official name), and you seem to have conveniently forgotten East Northants, where the LibDems and Labour managed a grand total of zero councillors between them! The LibDems also gave up on Northamptonshire, standing just 66 candidates across the entire county, and were therefore able to target heavily the seats they bothered to fight - in East Northants, for example, the LibDems didn't even stand against many of our councillors at all.

Since we offered the voters a choice in every ward we suffered from targeting and adverse boundary changes - but my colleagues' excellent campaign saw our share of the vote soar in Corby proper, to 37% of the vote - the LibDems managed 22%. This reflects the decision to stand candidates across the town, something that did not happen last time. We were hugely cheered to find Tory support everywhere.

Obviously whilst this is highly promising for the General Election there is no complacency in our constituency, neither from me nor from our Corby & East Northamptonshire councillors - and we look forward to retaking Gretton and Weldon next time!

In the interim, I hope LibDems and Conservatives can work together, on issues where we agree, to provide an effective opposition to Labour - who are now at their lowest level in Corby proper for many years.

CorbyLiberal

Louise, East Northants has always been a Conservative stronghold, and even you should know that to have a chance at winning Corby, you need to make inroads into the town. If you can't do that when the country used their ballot to give Blair a "kicking", then how do you expect to take the parliamentary seat with the reversed situation in the polls?

Suggesting the Tories' efforts were diluted because you offred the voters a choice in every ward is a very weak excuse for losing seats when you're supposed to be enjoying a Tory resurgence. All you need to do to offer a choice is to make sure you have a candidate. You then concentrate on the wards you can win, and make sure you get optimum results. That's how the Lib Dems managed to do well in Corby, and it's how they managed to take Weldon and Gretton outright. It won't surprise you that I disagree you will retake those seats next time. In Danesholme, the difference in voting between 2003 and 2007 was vast, as you know.

I cannot speak for Corby Lib Dems, but I know Liberal Democrats everywhere want to do the best they can for their residents. I am sure that where this involves working with other parties to help achieve this, they will do so. However, politically the Liberal Democrats are not so similar to the Tories as you seem to imply, and it's amusing that Cameron feels that an A-Lister should be removed from the PPC list merely for disagreeing with him; yet homophobic bigots like Norman Tebbit and racist bigots like Anne Winterton are still in Parliament under the Tory banner.

True modernising means getting rid of bigots like that. As they remain, they act as a constant reminder that Cameron is nothing more than a gentle face for a ferocious and intolerant party.

Louise Bagshawe

"you need to do to offer a choice is to make sure you have a candidate."

Again, something the LibDems failed to do in Corby, in East Northants, and indeed across the whole of Northamptonshire as a county - I remind you that you stood 66 candidates county-wide.

This does of course leave activists concentrating on the very few seats the party, supposedly a national alternative, chose to bother with. My Conservative council colleagues rightly felt that the voters should always have a choice, and we stood even in the safest Labour wards.

Thanks to the very good campaign in Corby proper (and I cannot claim credit for it, it was run by the councillors themselves - I was lucky enough to be an activist for them, canvassing and leafleting) a lot of progress was made in the Labour strongholds. Again, our share of the vote went up dramatically in the town itself. The LibDems had a vote share 15 points below ours. Itself this was good for them historically and of course bad for Labour.

If you are talking about the general election, 37% in the town of Corby itself, combined with the elimination of Labour in Irthlingborough, and its drop in Thrapston, Raunds, Brigstock and other places where Labour has been represented, looks very promising. As the Parliamentary candidate I have good reason to be grateful for the achievements of my colleagues, both elected councillors and candidates, who got us this breakthrough.

CorbyLiberal

You comment on how the Lib Dems "failed" to put candidates up in Corby, yet they managed to take seats off you and Labour, whilst you suffered a net loss. I contest your point that putting up candidates for every seat dilutes campaign resources because you can quite clearly designate which seats are target and which seats are paper. You then work on your targets in order to make sure the net gain is greatest. I can't believe this is a concept the Tories still haven't grasped.

This isn't a personal criticism of yourself Louise, because I think you genuinely want the best for your party in Corby, but I will criticise what you say when you argue that the Lib Dems stood still and then (as you put it in a previous post) "conveniently forget" that you failed to make inroads into the Corby borough.

The general election in previous years has never shown an increase in the Tory vote, just a decrease in the Labour vote. If, with just a few candidates standing in the borough, the Lib Dems can be the only successful party in the May locals, I'd be very interested to see how they manage in the constituency in the next general election.

Louise Bagshawe

I wish the LibDems the best of luck! At the last GE they managed 6,000 votes in the seat - very low indeed. I expect them to improve at Labour's expense. But they will have to do an awful lot better, in GE terms, than 22% of the vote in Corby to our 37% and zero percent of the vote in East Northamptonshire. They were even reduced to a single town councillor in Irthlingborough (as were Labour).

You repeat that my colleagues failed to make inroads in Corby borough, giving as an example Danesholme, yet that ward had very adverse boundary changes for us.

But you are talking about a general election now. Sorry to repeat myself for a third time, but because we stood for the first time right across the town and took the fight to Labour (we even leafleted in Beanfield ward) our share of the vote increased greatly in the town. In the general election, every one of those votes will count. And 37% in inner Corby is oustandingly promising, as is eliminating Labour from the other towns and villages I mentioned in the post above.

Tactically speaking, for the General Election, Conservatives across Northamptonshire will be hoping the LibDems put up more of a fight at the general election than they chose to at the local elections. I must gently suggest to you that if you truly see yourself as an alternative national Opposition, you must have the courage to actually oppose, and that means standing even in difficult seats. They may change. You say that East Northants, now a Labour and LibDem free zone, was always easy for us; in fact, Labour controlled the council as recently as the nineties.

Excuse me if this is my last post here - it's an old thread and I do not want to bore ConHomers to death with the minutiae of our local election successes in Corby & East Northants!

Susan Wade Weeks

I wish I had written that article. I agree with every word.
It amazes me that people have not realised quite how unpopular Gordon Brown is and noticed the huge shift that has taken place around the country in voters' attitudes to the Tories, entirely thanks to a series of brilliant performances from David Cameron and, as Louise points out, the united front that is being shown - and held- by the Shadow Cabinet.

We should never underestimate the public. They recognise and appreciate integrity.

I agree too that now is the time to start asking UKIP to shelve their differences and help us win the next election. Lib Dems feel strongly enough to defect, as they have done in Oxford East: many UKIP supporters are natural Tories with grievances. Let's get them on board.

David Cameron was right to encourage more women to be selected to join the ranks of Conservative Candidates. The ones I have met - and read- are all intelligent, articulate, charismatic, effective and above all, loyal. We need more of them.

Anthony King

I watched Question Time last night and am impressed by your performance. It is expected that a '6' year old audience member who has never seen a previous labour governmen believes Brown's spin and lies.
I was a magistrate until I had to retire when reaching 70 years of age.
You and your mother are absolutely right about bail. We would always consider bail when the circumstances allowed. We did not give bail if there was a danger to the public, if the record of the defendant stated they had not responded to previous bail conditions, the crime was too serious or there was a real risk of absconding or interference with witnesses. Whether the prisons were full, is a government mismanagement issue. I and my colleagues swore an oath to do fair by all peoples which included using the full range of sentencing options, not to make it a lottery by remanding defendants if there happened to be a prison vacancy. During my time on the bench I was not influenced by labour government cries of woe. They failed so should not expect us to 'bail' them out.

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