Cheer Up It Isn’t all Doom and Gloom
Of course the results for Northampton Labour in the recent County Council Elections were disappointing in terms of the number of seats that were won.
In Northampton South we identified three target seats and two ‘hopeful’ seats with victory in two of them and second place in the other three.
What is obvious to everyone is that, even though Labour with almost 6,000 votes only polled 800 fewer votes than the Conservatives in the Northampton South Constituency, it is the number of seats that really count and first past the post decides the outcome.
So that’s the down side and as with all political parties when expectations and aspirations aren’t achieved there is always a number of self-elected experts who will suddenly appear and declare that they know what went wrong.
I’m fortunately not an expert and as an eternal overly optimistic individual I can see that there is something for Labour to build on.
What we don’t know for example is what the impact of the very low, less than 30% turnout had on the size of the Labour Vote, it being generally accepted that a higher turnout favours Labour.
The challenge and it is a challenge for all political parties is to understand why 7 out of 10 people who took the time to register to vote decided to stay at home and effectively sent out the message that they are disenchanted with all politicians.
It is an issue though that whatever crocodile tears the political parties shed in public they in private have all been complicit in by taking what is euphemistically called a ‘targeted approach’.
Perhaps the constant refrain throughout the recent election campaign that “We haven’t heard from anyone” is a message that has to be taken seriously?
In effect all political parties have moved away from universal canvassing and have chosen to abandon whole neighbourhoods and communities in favour of trying to identify those they think are most likely to vote for them.
It appears perhaps to the electorate that politics is now only for the ‘professional’ politicians and the targeted and the voters are treated as no more than an inconvenience who have to be engaged with only at election times?
The rise in the UKIP Vote is also a challenge to the three established parties though we see a continuing arrogance in opposition leaflets talking about “x cannot win here”, “this is a two-horse race” and “a Vote for ‘A’ will let ‘B’ in” all of which only serves to turn people away.
In terms of the impact on the 2015 General Election and Northampton Borough Council Election the main political parties will ignore and dismiss the rise of UKIP at their peril.
This, for Labour in Northampton South, is only the start and the 6,000 supporters in the County election have to, not only retained over the next two years but increased by 14,000 if we are going to return a Labour MP to Westminster and increase the number of Borough Councillors at the Guildhall.
It is time for Labour to be realistic and optimistic for the future.
What is exciting is that there are Labour supporters and people across Northampton who given the right candidates and policies are prepared to work to deliver what the people of Northampton deserve and pay their taxes for.