Saturday, 16 May 2015

Election 2015: Sore Losers, Sore Winners

What does it take, in terms of practical effort on the ground, to win a Parliamentry election?  From the tone of complaints by some of the Disappointed one is inclined to think they imagine you've simply to have your heart in the right place, pick your candidate, and wait for the tooth-fairy to deliver victory to your chosen camp.

Actually it takes a lot of careful plotting and planning, followed by many many grinding hours of footwork.

History corner: in the heady days of the SDP some good friends of mine whose idealism had inhibited them from joining any of the tarnished old political parties decided Woy Jenkins et al were Different.  They joined up, found the whole thing jolly congenial - and volunteered to deliver 2,000 leaflets.  This was Islington, so no long front-drives involved: but after a couple of evenings they discovered that 2,000 was quite a lot.  Two months later, 1,500 of the expensively produced pamphlets remained in their cardboard boxes.

Back to 2015, and as discussed in CU's recent post, of course many people live in 'safe' seats that are most unlikely to change hands.  But an insurgent party (such as UKIP) or a party wishing to regain power must set about actually winning in places where they don't have incumbency.  And in marginal seats, absolutely everyone must knuckle down to covering the hard yards.

Personally, I have made a habit of living in marginals (see comments on that thread), with 2015 no exception.  I won't bore you with the demographic details but suffice to say, Croydon Central was and is a very marginal seat, with the sitting Tory targetted strongly by Labour and a chunky UKIP vote in the 2014 council elections that could easily have dished him.  So how was it defended?  

By 400+ people pounding the pavements for 6 months, that's how.  Operating under committed and intelligent leadership with a very good, carefully thought-out, bespoke and detailed plan.

You can read about it here.  The headline is misleading because it suggests that incumbency is everything.  It's important for sure, but there's a lot more besides, as the body of the text makes clear.

And that's what it takes to achieve a majority of just 165 votes in a difficult seat.   Labour worked just as hard in Croydon Central, with much optimism in their hearts, and it must be a bitter result for them.

But how many front doors did disgruntled UKIP supporters knock on?  Around our way, the only thing we noticed was some sour-faced leafleting outside a shopping parade on two occasions, and the  one postal delivery that is available free to all candidates.  As my tired feet slowly regain their normal state, you'll understand when I greet "s'not fair" with a chuckle.



dearieme said...

At least the problem round our way of people having their Tory posters ripped down, and being subjected to a bit of related vandalism, has been cured. Nobody puts up Tory posters any more.

So when Labour complained of similar stuff being dished out to them by the SNP, I laughed heartlessly.

Bill Quango MP said...

I saw an awful lot more Tory foot soldiers in the South West than usual.

And less Libby ones.

That must have contributed to their rout and destruction.

Blue Eyes said...

People used to say that the Conservative Party is/was an election-winning machine, and I always thought that machine is the right word. ND your 400 footsoldiers would have been useless without the organisational infrastructure, such as information gathering and targeting the right streets/wards.

On election evening I was armed with a pile of lists of pledges which were being updated by tellers armed with tablets. I suggested that the knockers-up ought also to have tablets and I was told "we're working on that"!

Nick Drew said...

absolutely BE - and we had it (the org, not the tablets), see the article

Jan said...

I think all the leaflets etc are a complete waste of time, energy and paper. I too live in a marginal constituency and judging by the weight of paper I received the LibDems should have won with the Conservatives a close second. Actually the Tories won it but I was tempted to vote Green or UKIP just to register my distaste for the overkill. I also made a point of not watching a single party political broadcast.

Electro-Kevin said...

I don't think leafleting would have made a blind bit of difference.

"Sturgeon/Miliband !" is what won it.

There was nothing that UKIP could do about that.

We mustn't forget to thank UKIP for:

a) demolishing what was left of Clegg's reputation

b) hoovering up Labour votes and widening the Tory lead (proving that "Vote UKIP, get Labour" was bollocks)

I should remind you that various Tory polemicists exhorted us to hold our noses and vote for Cameron (including Blue here) because of the Tartan/Miligonk peril.

So of those who did and who resisted their craving to vote UKIP.

Now they've realised that there is actually no such thing as a 'tactical' vote and that their cross in the box is being taken as a full on endorsement of Cameronianism and a rejection of Faragianism. Can they ask for their money back ?

James Higham said...

some sour-faced leafleting

Glad to see you fair and unbiased, Nick. :)

Nick Drew said...

that's me, James (+:

actually, (a) when it comes to this election I am as partisan as all hell, as you might just possibly have gathered

(b) they really were sour, and when anyone said anything to them - generally civil, but also generally skeptical, their respose was to jeer noisily, which wouldn't be how anyone on my side had been briefed to conduct theirselves

(which brings me back to my point which was - if you're gonna do it with any hope of succeeding, you gotta do it right)

Electro-Kevin said...


I notice Croydon Central saw a loss in the LibDem share of the votes at -11%

Where did they go ?

Thankfully not enough went to Labour and were it not for the UKIP presence they might have.

UKIP increased their vote by 7% and at under 1/4 of either main party weren't going to break through with any amount of leafleting or smiles.

If I'd been a UKIP-intended Tory switcher I'd be annoyed that my feelings were being misinterpreted by your party. Especially if immigration in my area is about to get ramped up again.

Be careful of triumphalism - there are a lot of reluctant Tory voters who are sore too.

Nick Drew said...

ok Kev I shall try to avoid triumphalism (and shall quietly settle for triumph)

my favourite historical analogy (of several) is with the intelligent magnanimity the Brits showed to the Boers after 1902: with the result that by far the greater number of the Boers - who might have been thought natural German supporters (and some actually were) - fought magnificently for the Allies in 2 subsequent conflicts [I trust cameron has this in mind when dealing with the scotty fish-woman]

hard to say about the Libs, who put on no kind of show here whatsoever

surely, at least some potential kippers are mainly motivated by the EU issue, and the argument "only the Tories offer a Referendum" is really quite strong

I realise other kippers are a voicing a more general (anti-establishment?) protest, and/or other things you are better able to articulate than I

also, in Cr.Central - and I wasn't going to bore you with this - but we had a complex issue with the residue of the Pelling affair pre 2010: Pelling (you may recall) was the sitting Tory who had lost the whip (wife-beating, allegedly) but who stood in 2010 as an Inde, and mopped up a lot of votes that would probably have been UKIP in 2010

by 2015 he had defected to Labour (a very odd chap indeed) and unwinding the 2010 position was always going to be complicated

anyhow, the main point for you chaps is surely, where do you go from here?

we've already established you can't/won't win Parliamentary seats in 2015 mode

do you go for northern labour seats? (to me looks quite prospective, right now) and supplant them as the home of the politically-aware working class

and what do you do in the Referndum? - see Richard North passim

whatever it is, you (they) need some serious leadership + strategy

Budgie said...

EK, I remember the same triumphalism after the 2010 election. It seemed to wane a bit after a few months of Cameron. Unsurprisingly. And after 4 years it was gone completely. ND is a bit slow on the uptake so it will take him a bit of time to realise that the new, improved, Cameron is the old Cameron.

Electro-Kevin said...

Yes, Budgie.

And in 2020 there won't be Miligonk/Sturgeon to fight UKIP off with and Cameron will have disappointed on a whole lot more than he has already.

I expect the referendum will have been done and dusted and by then it really won't matter who gets in anyway.