A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Monday, May 05, 2008

All change at Crewe - Oh, and Nantwich too!

The Crewe and Nantwich By-election will be upon us very soon. An unseemly rush to hold the election, an unseemly scramble for candidates to be nominated. All very unseemly in the unseemly world of New Labour.

The election will be on the 22nd May and Labour have announced that Gwyneth Dunwoody's daughter Tamsin will fight the seat. There has been a long tradition in British politics for spouses or other relatives to take over the party cause in by-elections. Some would say this is a way to keep the electorate on side with a sympathy vote, others think it gives a natural feeling of dynastic continuity. After all, an MP in the Westminster model of democracy is very much wedded to a constituency. In fact, constituents are known to get the hump on occasions as with Mark Woodnutt in the Isle of Wight or the Leyton by-election of 1965 when Harold Wilson thought it a good idea to drop Patrick Gordon Walker onto the constituency. Leyton voters thought otherwise, and gave him a big raspberry at the ballot box.

On the matter of raspberries, Gordon Brown's been getting the pick of the crop recently. However, he will be looking to the voters in Crewe and Nantwich to give him a juicy plum instead. The Conservatives will be wanting to stem a particular tide of historical political by-election fact. The fact that the last Conservative by-election gain from Labour was Mitcham & Morden, in June 1982. And that was only because the sitting MP decided to test the electorate after defecting to the SDP. He was advised not to do it, but did it anyway. So it is little wonder that no defector has done it since, the last being Bob Spink to UKIP.

All eyes will be on the Conservatives here. Can they beat a 26-year gap in by-election success? David Cameron should say loud and clear what the Tories will do on taxation, helping the poor, about local democracy, cleaning up Westminster politics, and tackling abuses in immigration and employment. He should lay out a proper set of policies on penal reform (not just building more prisons) and he should tackle the abuses that the minority of businesses use in helping create a perception of rip-off Britain. We've seen the corporate cowboys telling us that they have "robust business models" in place, when they have nothing of the kind. Firmer regulation not more regulation, that should be the way forward.

A Conservative Party that has policies that are properly understood and agreed with by the electorate will be a winner. Ones that give the impression of spin and deception won't.


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