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And rotate on that, Tony :) Sep. 19th, 2003 07:52 am
Lib Dems seize Brent East victory
The Liberal Democrats have snatched one of Labour's safest seats with a victory in a key north London by-election.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3121336.stm

Of course, Labour claim people weren't voting "properly" (ie, for them), and the Tories seem to think they're going to learn from their mistakes - why change the habits of a lifetime?

From: robinbloke
Date: September 19th, 2003 - 12:31 am (Link)
Now that result repeated several dozen times more would be nice
From: julietk
Date: September 19th, 2003 - 12:53 am (Link)
However, it is true that people tend to vote differently in by-elections from General Elections. Protest votes & all that. It's undoubtedly a very good result for the LDs, but they won't be expecting it to hold up at the next GE either.

Glad to see that the Tories are still doing badly, though :-) Unfortunately, wiping them out entirely, unless they finally *do* split over Europe, is monumentally unlikely, Tories in this country being much like death & taxes.
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
From: julietk
Date: September 19th, 2003 - 01:55 am (Link)
Broadly, I think it's because in general elections, people see themselves as voting for a government, rather than voting for an individual MP (despite the fact that what they are actually doing *is* voting for an individual MP!). There is a common view that the Lib Dems couldn't make a government, either because they wouldn't be any good - no experience of government, no previous record (well, not since the last Liberal government in the 20s) - or that they don't stand a chance of getting enough MPs. Thus, fewer people vote for them in GEs. Local elections aren't perceived in this way - people vote more for individuals. And they quite often protest-vote.* By-elections both lack the "voting for a government" aspect, & often get used as protest-vote.

Also, British politics is very nearly 2-party. If you look at vote share across the country, the Lib Dems lose out significantly in terms of share of seats. (because if in a given seat Labour get 40%, the Tories get 25%, & the LDs get 35% of the vote, Labour get the seat - & the LDs are more often squeezed out by the other 2 parties in this way than they manage to do the squeezing)

* I am informed by Labour councillors I know that this can be infuriating if you're campaigning locally - people say "oh, I'm not voting Labour because of the war in Iraq". "But the local council has nothing to do with Iraq!".
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
From: julietk
Date: September 19th, 2003 - 05:40 am (Link)
Re the Lib Dems not making a government - I agree entirely that it's not true. However, as a criticism it will tend to weigh more with people than it did with Labour in 1997 simply because the LDs have been so much the 3rd-party-by-a-long-way for so long. Labour at least *had* been in power before.

Ach, I'm not expressing this terribly well. I think what I'm trying to get at that due to the 2-party nature of British politics, there is a general perception that Labour or the Tories will be in power, & the LDs are there to barrack from the sidelines :-) To a certain extent, this is founded in reality, in that it is *much* more difficult for a 3rd party to get seats (a really good example of this is 1983, where the Alliance got about as many votes as Labour but *way* fewer seats*), & thus more difficult for them to get to the forming-government stage. But it's also, of course, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

* This is for several reasons, not least a certain amount of gerrymandering over the last few decades. Currently, it's estimated that Labour have about a 100-seat advantage over the Tories (i.e. if they both got the same % of votes, Labour would have about 100 more seats), but I don't know where the LDs fit into this. I would speculate along the lines that Labour & the Tories have more in the way of natural constituencies than the LDs (for the Tories, places like Bromley or Tunbridge Wells or wherever where they'd elect a potato if it wore a blue rosette; for Labour, the mining communities of Wales, inner cities, etc). However, if Brent East *is* more than a by-election blip, some of those Labour natural constituencies may be being eaten away. I'd want to see more than a single by-election before concluding that, though :-)

Witter, witter, sorry. One of my MPhil papers was on voting systems, & I did my thesis on the impact of disagreements between Labour leadership & membership :-) Did you mention wine?
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
From: the_maenad
Date: September 19th, 2003 - 01:45 am (Link)
Voting for anyone anywhere is not a waste of time.

The trouble is that people see elections as being like horse races where you're trying to guess the winner. They're not, or at least, they shouldn't be.
From: deliberateblank
Date: September 19th, 2003 - 03:25 am (Link)
And the MRLP polled 50% more then Aaron Barschak!