Friday 27 June 2008

Labour's By-Election Disaster

All the talk before the by-election was on dirty tactics between the Conservatives and Lib Dems, light-heartened candidates standing and voters bombarded with campaign literature. But now the results are out, the headline is disaster for Labour, rather than Tory success.

For Labour to come in fifth place, behind the BNP is a catastrophe for Gordon Brown and his party. The double-whammy of being beaten by the BNP and getting such a small proportion of the vote that Labour lost their deposit is an embarrassment.

Disappointment too for the Lib Dems led by their slick candidate Stephen Kearney. You should have seen the campaign HQ on Thame industrial estate - the helpers like bees in a beehive, working 9am till 9pm to the queen bee Kearney for weeks before polling day. At home we must have received about fifteen separate mail-shots from the Lib Dems but they still trailed the Tories by a massive 10,000 votes.

The Greens did well to come in third, a reflection of the party's popularity in Oxford (7 councillors on City Council) and Oxfordshire (5 councillors on County Council).

One cynical but representative voter I met last night quipped, "after all the attention they gave us, you won't see a politician in Thame till next election time". This is how much of the electorate feels after a fan-fair by election in their town. Despite all the political noise, turnout was down 17% - only half of the constituency bothered to vote!

The lasting memory of the election won't be the low turnout, the Tory - Lib Dem side-swiping or even the two Miss Great Britain candidates, it'll be the day that Labour reached a new low - one year on from Gordon Brown starting as PM, Labour are beaten by the BNP in the wealthy, respectable, rural constituency of South Oxfordshire.

Electorate 69,086 - Turnout 34,761 (50.32%, -17.58%)

John Howell - Conservatives, 19,796 (56.95%, 3.46% increase on 2005 general election share of vote)
Stephen Kearney - Liberal Democrats, 9,680 (27.85%, 1.84%)
Mark Stevenson - Greens, 1,321 (3.80%, 0.54%)
Timothy Rait - British National Party, 1,243 (3.58%)
Richard McKenzie - Labour, 1,066 (3.07%, -11.68%)
Chris Adams, UK Independence Party, 843 (2.43%, -0.07%)
Bananaman Owen - Monster Raving Loony Party, 242 (0.70%)
Derek Allpass - English Democrats, 157 (0.45%)
Amanda Harrington - Independent (Miss Great Britain Party), 128 (0.37%)
Dick Rodgers - The Common Good, 121 (0.35%)
Louise Cole - Independent (Miss Great Britain Party), 91 (0.26%)
Harry Bear - The Fur Play Party, 73 (0.21%)

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