Tuesday, July 19, 2005

What hope for the nasty party?


I can't believe I've let almost a week go by without noting with satisfaction the result of the Cheadle by-election. This is the second time (I think) that the LibDems have, at a by-election, successfully defended a seat they hold - I'm searching my memory, and assuming the first is Truro, but I'm prepared to be corrected.

Now, I've been pretty hard on the LibDems in the past, but I'm pleased they held the seat. Not so much because I support the LibDems (I don't, after all) but because it keeps another seat out of the Tories' hands. Two opposition parties fighting a by-election may seem like two bald men arguing over a comb - the really bloody but significant contests are those where the government is being challenged - but, as Stephen Newton notes, this by-election tells us quite a lot about why the Tories are still in trouble.

One factor that I think Stephen neglects to mention is that the Tories are currently rudderless. Without a confirmed leader, they have no obvious direction that the voters can emote with. Cheers Kennedy may not have the most motivating personality, but at least a handful of the voters know who he is. In any case, the LibDems have always specialised in putting the local candidate at the front of the campaign in a way that the Tories have perhaps not yet mastered; this is what makes the LibDems so powerful in by-elections (and relatively poor in general elections). Once David Davis (does anyone seriously think it's going to be anyone else?) takes over, watch the Tories march forward towards, well, probably a hung parliament, as I have boldly predicted.

(Oh, and the other factor that Stephen hints at is that the Tories were just too nasty at Cheadle. Hmm, maybe, but let's not kid ourselves. I've seen the LibDems produce some comically nasty material at election time. All parties are inclined to play rough - it's not surprising, what else can you expect from kids?)

PS Speaking of bald men and combs, pop over to Liberal Democrat Watch for an amusing account of Nick Harvey's fears about headlice.


Anonymous Philip said...

You do the Tories an injustice. Thanks to many years of NuLab triangulation tactics, they are no longer the Nasty Party. They are the Other Nasty Party.

10:36 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home