Friday, 27 June 2008

So, what's it all about?

So, Labour got thumped in the bye-election. But why? What message are the voters sending? With well over 30,000 different people casting vote, can we even begin to distil a clear understanding of which factors affected their choice?

You and I may not, but the professionals can:

It's road tax!

In his victory speech, Howell claimed that voters had sent an anniversary message to Brown "to get off our backs, stop the endless tax rises and do a U-turn on the road tax rises".

It's the economy!

The health minister, Ben Bradshaw, conceded that the Henley byelection had produced a "terrible result" for Labour, which he put down to economic problems rather than voters' dislike of Brown. "When people start feeling the pinch and start feeling a reduction in their disposable income ... they take their anxiety out on the government."

It's the global economy!

The former prime minister put Brown's problems - and those of other political leaders - down to people wanting domestic answers to global issues such as rising fuel and food prices.

It's disaffected traditional Labour voters!

First Cruddas. He ran an energetic campaign to become Labour's deputy leader (he beat three cabinet ministers to come third) and made much of the accumulating loss of core Labour supporters - the white working class - in areas like his own patch, Dagenham in east London, where the BNP has been picking up votes lately.
This morning's result in Henley suggests that Labour supporters in pockets of poverty that coexist with affluence in south Oxfordshire have drawn a similar two-finger conclusion

It's not anti-Labour, it's pro-Conservative!

"I think what we are seeing is that people who voted for all sorts of different parties - including the Liberal Democrats - are now looking at the Conservatives and saying "Yes, this is an alternative to the Government that I can believe in"..."It is our agenda of giving people more opportunity and control over their own lives, of making families stronger and society more responsible, of making Britain safer and greener that is setting the pace in politics now."

It's the Cabinet!
Tam Dalyell, the ex-Father of the Commons and former Labour MP, said: "Cumulatively it is perceived that there are some young, rather arrogant, inexperienced, bumptious ministers in the Cabinet, and people don't care for them very much.

It's Brown!
Labour's disaster in Henley suggests they are no longer listening to Brown because they have already made up their minds about him. Ominous.

Proof, if proof were needed, of David Davis's sage wisdom. If you want a clear, unambiguous message from the people of Britain, hold a by-election.

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