Posts Tagged ‘Rotherham by-election’

The Lib Dems are flocking to Labour, but are we losing support too?

30/11/2012, 02:42:58 PM

by Kevin Meagher

So as we predicted earlier this week, Labour held Rotherham last night. And, on the face of it, in impressive style.

Labour’s Sarah Champion lived up to her name winning 46 per cent of the vote, 1.7 per cent up on 2010. UKIP were next on 21.8 per cent, with the BNP in third place.

Against the triple whammy of a horrible child grooming scandal in the town, the case of the foster parents who had three children removed from their care by the local council for being UKIP members and the circumstances of Denis MacShane’s resignation, it was not a bad night, all in all, for Labour.

The Lib Dems crashed to eighth place, repeating their dismal performance in the recent police commissioner elections in South Yorkshire when they managed fifth place. Out of five.

They could only muster 451 votes last night, on a 13.9 per cent swing away from their 2010 result when 5,994 people voted for them. Not enough support, then, to win a local council by-election in the town.

So where are these ex-Lib Dems going?

If they are coming straight over to Labour, which seems perfectly plausible given what we know about voting patterns between the two parties, then Labour’s result would have been even more impressive.


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UKIP will take votes from Labour as well as the Tories in Rotherham today

29/11/2012, 07:00:18 AM

by Peter Watt

There is one aspect of the UKIP Rotherham storm that I have found intriguing and that has, for the most part, passed largely without comment: the foster carers who were at the heart of the story were former Labour voters.

And yet this on the face of it belies the presumption that UKIP is a problem for the Tories.  Psephologically speaking of course, it does seem that for the time being at least UKIP has taken voters from the Tories.

It is why Michael Fabricant MP said the unsayable this week by talking of Conservative electoral pacts with UKIP.  But psephology alone is surely only half the story because scratch the surface of the assumptions about UKIP and there are some others bout who votes UKIP and why.

One of the main issues is that those of us who suffer from an obsession with politics still tend to see politics on a linear ‘left-right’ spectrum. This means that we could sit in a bar and quite quickly group policies as “left” or “right” with a high degree of consensus amongst ourselves.

So broadly, parties on the left are in favour of bigger government and those on the right smaller government.  Parties on the left are in favour of the state directly delivering help to the poor and those on the right are more supportive of community and self-help options.  And so on; and depending which party you are from would depend as to whether the broadly left approach or broadly right approach was seen as a positive or not.

Even though in reality we know that it isn’t in fact this simple, it is a stereotype that we instinctively feel is broadly right.  And we think this because it complies with our worldview as Labour activists.  And the same would be true for political activists generally.


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Despite everything, Labour will win in Rotherham tomorrow

28/11/2012, 05:32:32 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Labour will win the Rotherham by-election tomorrow.

To paraphrase George Orwell, that’s a revolutionary prediction in a time of angst for the party in what is usually thought to be a safe northern heartland.

A perfect storm of hostile circumstances surrounds this election, from the botched selection of the party’s candidate through to last weekend’s train wreck issue when a foster couple in the town, who happen to be members of UKIP, had three children removed from their care – with 20 minutes notice.

But these are trifles compared to the deeper issues affecting the town – and the election.

It is of course set against the revelation of a systematic problem of child-grooming by mainly Pakistani men in the town. Specifically, the indolence – and therefore complicity – of public authorities in Rotherham who knew of the problem and failed to act out of a misplaced sense of not wanting to inflame racial tension.

And, not to be forgotten, there’s the actual reason for the by-election in the first place: the resignation of Denis MacShane, in disgrace, after the Commons’ standards and privileges committee pilloried him over his expense claims.


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The Tories would have to be mad, literally mad to cosy up to UKIP

27/11/2012, 07:00:49 AM

by Mark Stockwell

“Political correctness gone mad.” That’s what they’re all saying about Rotherham Council’s decision to remove three children from their foster parents because they had joined UKIP. In this instance, sadly, it seems they may have a point. Now it seems a fair few Conservatives are also intent on beating the well-trodden path to political insanity.

UKIP can clearly expect to do very nicely out of the foster-care furore.

As chance would have it, the good people of Rotherham go to the polls on Thursday to choose a new MP. Normally this would be a shoo-in for Labour – the town’s former MP, Denis MacShane, won with a handsome 5-figure majority over the second-placed Conservative in 2010 – but the circumstances in which MacShane was forced to stand down have left a nasty taste in the mouth.

There has been a controversy in Rotherham lately after the ill-starred local authority asked staff to bring their own IT equipment to work in an effort to cut costs. It turns out they could just have popped into see our Denis in his office, made him a few cups of tea, and walked away with one paid for by the taxpayer after all.

Now the storm over the three foster children means UKIP is ideally positioned as the party of protest against mainstream politics, especially in a town where it’s hard to see the party’s stance on immigration costing it too much support outside the council’s social services department.


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The Rotherham selection is a case study in how not to manage a party

14/11/2012, 05:12:03 PM

by Kevin Meagher

The bad karma emanating from Denis MacShane’s resignation appears to have seeped into the process to select his successor, if last night’s shambles is anything to go by.

Reports that half the membership in Rotherham walked out of the selection meeting in protest over the shortlist of just two candidates they were presented with must qualify as the worst-ever start to a parliamentary by-election campaign.

In its defence, the party needed to act quickly if it was to move the writ to include Rotherham in the brace of by-elections in Croydon and Middlesbrough already scheduled to take place on November 29.

It made sense to do so. The reputation of politics is low enough without MPs being found to have “knowingly submitting 19 false invoices” by the House of Commons’ standards and privileges committee as MacShane was (oddly enough, the committee is chaired by MacShane’s neighbouring MP, Kevin Barron).

But the other festering issue in Rotherham is child abuse, particularly the lamentable, grotesque failure of the authorities in the town to stamp out the grooming of vulnerable young white girls by gangs of predominantly Pakistani men.

So the party was left with a dilemma. Move quickly, and a short campaign could prevent a head of steam building up, either about MacShane or child abuse. So far, so smart.

But then it started to unravel. Rather than allowing the local party to influence the selection shortlist a decision was taken to drop-in a “clean skin” candidate. Someone from outside the usual political haunts who wouldn’t draw quite so much heat from a jaundiced electorate, sick of all politicians.


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Rotherham is the most important election of all

14/11/2012, 07:00:06 AM

by Rob Marchant

It seems that, over the next two weeks, we are about to suffer a plague of elections: six by-elections, plus the rather-important PCC elections.

But the one which has the most compressed timescales of all – where candidate Sarah Champion was selected yesterday, with a mere two weeks until polling day and after a walkout at the selection meeting – is going to be the toughest, nastiest and arguably the most important of all.


Denis MacShane’s resignation a fortnight ago, over the falsification of invoices, was a tragic, shabby end to what was an otherwise rather admirable and productive career, including three years as minister for Europe and some brave work fighting anti-semitism. And whilst there was never any question of personal gain resulting from his actions, it was also clear that his behaviour was inexcusable and that he had to go, to avoid dragging out the pain for him, Labour and his constituents over a further half-parliament.

What has not yet been focused on, however, is the considerable headache that his departure gives Labour.

First, we are in a political climate where the conventional wisdom is that trust in established parties is at a historic low – and therefore the likelihood of major parties being punished is high. Although neither Respect nor the BNP are currently in particularly good shape, this is good news for both of them in all these elections.


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