The Count

Well I am home. Sorry to those tweeting me at the count who I did not reply to. I am new to the whole Twitter thing and it was actually a rather hot place to be and I was scrutinising votes.

The count itself was amusing. The Tories were extremely pleasant, polite, and most unlike those who I used to have to deal with in North Norfolk. One of their national agents doubled up on verifying votes from polling district by watching two counters, I watched another two, and then we pooled our data, which was helpful whilst Labour seemed initially very down in the dumps fearing they may have come third.

After the initial bundles from parts of Broadland where the Lib Dems do better, the Lib Dems seemed to be pulling clear from Labour, but in those city wards that may not have had an active Lib Dem campaign in years, Labour were some way clear.

What did make me chuckle was the massive oer optimism of the Greens who do not seem able to sample votes accurately. Their sample from one ward in Thorpe Hamlet, so they were saying, had them well ahead. Interestingly out take (and that of the Tories) was rather different.

The candidates started arriving in dribs and drabs. I had a long chat with Glenn Tingle, the UKIP candidate, particularly about issues and immigration, and I have to offer an apology for even linking any hint of race with their campaign. His utterly charming wife is not what the BNP would call British, so he naturally holds no truck with any racist views. Indeed, the whole UKIP crown were a pleasure to speak to.

As it became clear Chloe Smith had won, the game was to work out who was second and how big the Tory majority would be. Sky News early on seemed to have fallen under the Greens spell and were reporting a good result for them. The Tories thought they had won by about 5000, and I thought about 4000, so the final results was, in my opinion, a great result for them and I would expect the Tories to hold the seat at the general election, even on redrawn boundaries.

As for the minor parties, some pleasant people in the Murray camp, some not so. The Looney leader was polite, but overall, I have to say the Lib Dems were genuinely not that disappointed.

I was told some months ago (when Gibson resigned) that the press were already briefing that the Lib Dems would come 4th, whilst internal party sources had real concerns about how the campaign would pan out for us. As it was we held our ground.

The clearest thing to come from the election was the Greens inability to campaign across a whole constituency, they collapse in their vote from just 7 weeks ago (in the local and Euro elections) and the way that they clearly are not seen as a means of change in general elections, despite the massive coverage they were given.

Whilst UKIP were excluded from the TV debate and did not have the money of the major parties, their campaign won over more voters than the Greens. Yes, the Greens will argue that they only got 3% in 2005, so their vote trebled. But in a poll a few weeks ago they were on 14% and in the local elections they were on 16%, so where did that vote go.

For me the Greens performance was summed up in their candidates speech which went on (and on) for pages. He talked about clean politics, not telling lies and honesty, yet his speech attacked, lambasted and lectured whilst he ignored his claims that the Greens could come second because as a result, it turned out to be a lie. It seems that the Greens are the only people who still think they are telling the truth when they tell lies. Second to fifth is a big lie.

Yes, the Lib Dems didn't come second,we were wrong by one place, but as a Labour official said "We (Labour) did the right thing calling this early because in another week you'd have been past us !"

Oh for one more week.
Anyway, must eat now.


Benji said...

Thanks for your coverage of the campaign,Nich. We didn't agree on much but I appreciated the reports from the ground.

I think it was a real mistake on the Lib Dems part not to sign the clean campaign pledge. With the expenses scandal tarnishing all parties,plus the McBride revelations,it was important not to run a mud-slinging campaign.

Agree with you on the Green Party-the concession speech by the candidate was so much hot air it won't have done the environment much good. The Lib Dems can't afford to wrangle with the Greens like this,not if they want to take out Charles Clarke when the General Election is finally called.

Matt Wardman said...

A good summary, Nich.

I'd be interested to see your thoughts on positive uses of Twitter (not "I have just gone to the toilet") now that you have done so in anger.

Anonymous said...

The Greens were starting from a silly high base here, and should have at least beaten the Kippers. But they are, for whatever reason, psychologically incapable of fighting by-elections: no manpower seems to be the main reason.

Maybe all their hippies and weirdos were cycling up from Brighton, Oxford and Lancaster, or driving some hybrid car fuelled by their own hot air, and only made it up this morning.

Unknown said...

Nich, let's be honest about the Greens here. On the eve before the poll your party carried within its election material a clear attack that said 'Greens admit defeat.' You yourself scrutinised the lack of manpower they had, the lack of general campaigning they underwent, their inability to campaign across the constituency, and yet, they were only a one and a half thousand off the Lib Dems who, by your own admission, had a huge campaign, put however many resources into this, had been saying all along it was a two horse race between yourselves and the Tories, yet your share of the vote fell on the 2005 result.

Now, I have huge concerns with the Green campaign. For instance, the lack of percieved support the national party gave the campaign, the fact that national party seemed more interested in winning the Goldsmid by-election in Hove (which we won last night, thus meaning the Tories have lost overall control of Brighton and Hove Council), the piss-poor freepost leaflet, and the failure to get a vote out for the Greens in traditional Labour areas.

I think for what it's worth, and considering we only delievered two leaflets and under-financed, we did alright. It was a shame not to break 10%, but compared to Lib Dem hopes of establishing themselves as the second party in this part of Norfolk, you have got to be disappointed. I think everyone has to be.

I think the Lib Dems need to learn a lesson from Norwich North, and if anything it should be thus: keep it to policy, not personality. I think that was th epic failure of the Lib Dem campaign. The Greens epic failure was our lack of message on a strong social justice agenda. We had the press coverage and this message failed to get through, for that I blame our candidate, Rupert Read.

Anonymous said...

SpelthorneGuru (Lib Dem) said...

I would say that the Green's prediction for 2nd place is not a lie.

Yes, they look silly for claiming it but it is not a lie.

Nich Starling said...

Luke, you make some sense. The problem with rupert read
ds pledge was that it was meaningless because his blog contains lies and one he continued to break(see his personal comments about april pond on his blog). The pledge was in itself highly political and any politician could see that. I don't recall April ever received an apology from rupert read for the way he acted to her in 2005 when he tried to disrupt a visit from Charles Kennedy to Norwich so why should we believe his campaign pledges now ?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the By-Election coverage ! might pop back some time lol

Oranjepan said...

I think it was a mistake for the LibDems to concentrate on the Greens as it gave them the oxygen of publicity they are so desperate for.

That said it may have distracted some attention from the tories, but given their starting position and the prevailing national political winds they should have won if even they had turned up with a donkey in a rosette (some might say...).

Still I don't know about the accuracy of the statement that there was a lack of support for the Green campaign from their national party - they sent candidates from my neck of the woods in Berkshire - yet they still failed to make much of a difference. Maybe it says more abut the state of their national party than it does about any difference they are able to make where they are fighting from a position of relative strength.

None of the above said...

Well, any % of not much is pretty dismal. Beyond all the party banter is the insecapable fact that despite all the media coverage over the importance of the by-election, the people of Norwich voted 55% for none of the above.

39% of a 45% turnout for the WINNING party is a signpost of dissatisfaction that needs addressing. All major parties scored many fewer actual votes than in 2005 - apart from the Greens and UKIP.

Still, with an anonymous 27-year-old drone from Deloitte's, banging on about investment, contra the party message, things are looking up for Norwich. FFS.

And I was so looking forward to Read's pompous spit-fleckled rants on Israel from the floor of the House.

Nich Starling said...

Orangepan - The Greens were already getting the coverage, whole articles in national newspapers. access to the press that UKIP and the Lib Dems would have loved, indeed the press tried in so many ways to manipulate this contest so the Greens would be the story. The fact they came 5th was slightly humorous and we were not the only party laughing.

Alan Douglas said...

Nich, such is the scarcity of what I would call "reasonable" discussion within the rather polarised blogosphere that I welcome you as a find. I came through Ian Dale, and the only other opponent whom I deem reasonable is Hopi Sen.

Thanks for your stirling efforts at live-blogging.

Alan Douglas

Anonymous said...

Lacklustre campaign, lack of understanding of local issues or what pushes the right buttons with voters.

The Lib Dems in Norwich are a cameo of the national party's consistent failure to win votes.

Anonymous said...

The thing I don't understand about Rupert's clean campaign pledge where he promises to avoid personal attacks and campaign positively is he doesn't seem to think it applies to internal elections.

Now he's running to take over the national press work (Christ!) he seems to be fighting very dirty inside his own party.

Compare and contrast this;

With this;