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Psephology, Part I. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Psephology, Part I.



Having now had a settling meal of bangers and mash* – and a third gallon of tea – I shall now begin my analysis of the recent election results.


A great deal of attention has been given to the councils, the London assembly, the mayoralty, and the percentages.


I would contend that three events that have not had the attention they deserve, will be of the most consequence.


Put simply, they are as follows.


Elementary, Pitt-Watson.

Funeral baked meats furnished.

Hot Lisboa action!

Amongst the more believable elements of spin from Labour since the magnitude of the disaster broke upon them, is the contention that they lost councils and councillors because they pulled workers out of the constituencies to try shoring up Red Ken in London.


At first blush, this would seem a very curious thing for a political party to do.


And it is – until one realises that Labour had written off many council constituencies, and that it simply had not the resources to do both tasks: tasks that are the fundamental duties of a political party.


Mr Pitt-Watson had been the PM’s personal choice to become the new General Secretary of the Labour Party.  He has declined the post.


The reason why the post was vacant is that Peter Watt, who had held it, is a casualty of the investigation into party finances and is currently being investigated by the Yard.


The reason why David Pitt-Watson has declined the dubious honour is that the man is not a fool.  The Labour Party is, quite simply, insolvent, and Mr Pitt-Watson is not inclined to become its guarantor and put up his personal wealth to that sort of exposure.  Should the Labour Party go into liquidation before the country does as a result of Gordon’s incompetence, Mr Pitt-Watson’s personal assets could, were he its General Secretary, be exposed to forfeiture.  Not unnaturally, he has decided against running such a risk.


A political party that cannot afford to fight elections is headed for the dustbin of history.


A political party that insists on fighting elections whilst standing in its own light is invoking its own nemesis.  A political party that fights a by-election occasioned by the death of its member in such a way as to insult parliamentary convention, her constituency, and her cross-party friends, deserves what it gets.  I cannot quite see how it struck anyone as clever to table the writ for the Crewe and Nantwich by-election before Gwyneth Dunwoody’s funeral.  It is unprecedented, and it is precisely the sort of attitude in Labour against which one Gwyenth Dunwoody MP set her face and which made her a rebel.  One of the best House of Commons women in decades, a formidable committeewoman, and a regular thorn in the side of Tony Blair and Gorrrrrrdon Brrrrrrrrrroooooooouuuuuunnnnnn, she was a tribune of the people and a stern obstacle to their attempts to replace parliamentary government and parliamentary supremacy with a sort of bastard presidency.


It is possible that even now Labour might retain the seat – if her daughter Tamsin, who, as scion of a political dynasty, understandably approved the early writ, is selected to stand, and if everything falls right for Labour.  But Crewe and Nantwich is increasingly not so much a safe Labour seat – its margins decreased in 2001 and 2005, and it was effectively a close marginal in the 1980s; only in the 1997 general election was it the scene of a Labour landslide, as was every constituency in the country, it rather seemed – it is increasingly not so much a safe Labour seat as it was, simply, Gwyneth’s personal constituency.  Without her, it returns to marginal status.  And the last thing the PM really wants is another backbencher in Gwyneth’s mode: even a win carries costs for him. 


But however clever it seemed before the recent elections to call a snap by-election in this constituency, it now seems too clever by half.  The results in the new unitary council of Cheshire East indicate as much.  The Henley by-election is sure to be a Tory retention; the Crewe and Nantwich by-election is now suddenly a great risk, at a time when Labour desperately wants time to lick its wounds and hasn’t the resources to fight a suddenly iconic by-election with a full arsenal.


And finally, of course, there is Mr Wheeler.  Stuart Wheeler has won a Court ruling granting him the right to proceed with a legal challenge to the Treaty of Lisbon, or, more accurately, the stealth EU constitution.  It is being suggested, with great glee in some quarters, that this renders the matter sub judice and will require a halt to further proceedings, where ratification is currently facing a great deal of sniping in the Lords.  Possibly.  In any event, it makes a considerable change to the political landscape, slows if it does not halt the Government schedule, and keeps the issue boiling: all of which are excruciatingly painful events for Gordon Brown and his party.


Tomorrow or on Monday, we shall look at the election results and what they really say about the state of play.


* Oh, very well.  Kobe beef bangers, and mash with dill, lemon zest, onion, and garlic.


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3 comments or Leave a comment
serriadh From: serriadh Date: May 3rd, 2008 11:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I did not know that Dunwoody's daughter was up for selection or her mother's seat. Dear me, I wouldn't have thought Labour stood for that sort of dynastic nonsense - everyone on their own merit, eh? (*cough cough* Hillary Benn *cough cough*) Still, from the way they go on, you'd have thought they didn't like Oxbridge-educated front benches, but then a little look at theirs would seem to disprove that.

The Tories might be bastards, some of them, but you can't beat Labour (Nu or otherwise) for hypocrisy.

And I sincerely hope the Lisbon treaty is scotched at (almost) any cost.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 5th, 2008 03:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

A pious 'Amen' to all points.

I don't mind hypocrisy so much, it's the incessant self-righteousness that gets on my wick.
(Deleted comment)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 5th, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

I can well imagine.

Mind, US election financing ... well. The less said, the better, really.
3 comments or Leave a comment