A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Memo to the PM

Dear Prime Minister,

there are rumours circulating that you are considering 25 March as a General Election polling day.

I would urge you not to go for that date and instead to go for 6 May.

There's one simple reason. There will be local government elections, whatever the date of the General Election, on 6 May for every seat in every London borough, for 1/3 of seats in every metropolitan borough, 1/3 of seats in 20 unitary authorities, and in 78 district councils.

A quick look at the list (http://www.gwydir.demon.co.uk/uklocalgov/elec2010.htm) shows this actually implies election of councillors in almost all of the major urban areas in England, i.e. exactly the places where Labour has the best chance of getting councillors elected.

Holding the General Election on the same day as these local elections would mean that turnout in the local elections would jump from the mid-30%s in most authorities to General Election levels of 50-60% or more if the General Election turnout goes up compared to 2005.

This is good for democracy but ought also to be particularly good for the Labour Party as our supporters have a lower propensity to turnout than Tories for socio-economic reasons i.e. the extra 15-25% of people who would vote in the local elections if they were on General Election day would disproportionately consist of Labour voters.

Thus, even if the General Election saw a Labour defeat, scheduling it for the same day as the locals could increase the number of Labour councilors elected dramatically. There is a proven linkage between the number of councillors a party has and the health of its local activist base so this would help ensure Labour started to recover faster organisationally.

In contrast, if the General Election was held in February or March and we were unlucky enough to lose, then the May 6 local elections would be likely to be a rout for Labour. Turnout would collapse as people won't want to vote twice within months. Levels of campaigning by Labour activists would collapse if our morale was low because we had just had a General Election defeat. Labour supporters would be particularly unlikely to turnout if we had just lost the national election. We know this because in 1992 council elections were held just after we lost the General Election and we got thrashed.

As Leader of the Labour Party you are not only responsible for trying to maximise the number of MPs we win, but also for rebuilding our strength in local government. Long term the two are linked.

Please do the right thing by Labour's members, supporters and councillors and council candidates by holding the General Election on the day already scheduled for council elections, 6 May.


Anonymous tim f said...

Quite right. Hopefully this is just one of these daft rumours that gets circulated from time to time, or an attempt to get the Tories to spend money too early (in which case let's hope it doesn't get too out of hand).

Also, we are going to rely even more heavily on having better ground organisation than the Tories than we normally do in this election, so diminishing the value of organisation by throwing all party's plans out of kilter would not be a smart move.

1:36 pm, November 10, 2009

Anonymous Arnold said...

Labour will be lucky if it makes it to May before it goes bankrupt so it may have no choice.

It has been Intellectually Bankrupt for a long time now but the lack of incoming cash is crippling them.

The Tories on the other hand have never had as much financial support as at the moment.

Luke may be right here...

8:10 pm, November 10, 2009

OpenID paulstpancras said...

You are right, Luke, May 6th is the date. Hold the general election on the same dates as Locals. March is a death wish. Sorry to hear that we were both at Queen Sguare at the same time. Hope you get on the NEC. You deserve it. Good luck. Paul.

10:37 pm, November 10, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

good for the Labour Party as our supporters have a lower propensity to turnout than Tories for socio-economic reasons

Ah yes - the unemployed are obviously far too busy to vote. Silly me,

8:29 am, November 11, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brown has no interest in the Labour party.

He is purely interested in saving his own skin and this rumour is all about discomforting the Tories.

That said, the election is almost certain to be on the same day as the local elections because Labour is broke and cannot fund two campaigns. In fact this story started because Labour can't even fund one. It is only the fraud of the £10m of taxpayer's money being given to the unions through the "modernisation fund", which is then miraculously translated into a donation of £10m from the unions to the Labour Party that is keeping the bailiffs from the doors of 39 Victoria Street!

But hey! That's a market for you. If your products are crap, nobody buys them.

8:31 am, November 11, 2009

Anonymous Julian Ware-Lane said...

As an advocate for fixed-term Parliaments I support the idea of a May election.

It should also be noted that campaihning through April is better than late February into March - lightere evenings, warmer weather, etc.

9:39 am, November 11, 2009

Anonymous Arnold said...

Labour are scrabbling round like rats in a sack looking for funding.

Yes they are (as usual) stealing tax payers money in the 'Union Money Shifting Scam' but they've been doing that for 12 years with different variations on a theme.

The Tories seem to have unlimited support, both financially and it seems in the polls and I mean Brown's popularity here.

Basically if Brown and his thuggish bullies are still in office next May expect a mega crash at the polls.

Which is good for democracy considering the way Brown's attack dogs treated their only Electoral Asset - Tony Blair - then posted pictures of that prat Miliband with his banana to stop any leadership ambitions.

You lot have yourselves to blame for your apathy in letting a once proud political party be dragged into the gutter by Brown, Draper, McBride and his ilk.

Instead of sitting around daydreaming of better times and delusional ideas you can win, get your sleeves rolled up and help the party. We do not need Jobs comforters at this time :-(

9:41 am, November 11, 2009

Blogger Hamish said...

This is my first comment on Luke's Blog, though I have read it from time to time with interest.
But "Memo to the PM" disappoints me. It's all about how to manipulate the electoral process to the advantage of one party.
The justification is to confront another political party which wants to do the same.

Non-politicised people are sick and tired of these antics.
The politicians and politicos just don't get it.
We want true democracy.

12:15 pm, November 11, 2009

Anonymous J R Hartley said...

If Labour are skint - why don't they tap up their old war criminal friend Tony Blair. He's accrued a £15m fortune since hading over the reins to Mr Brown & co. I'm sure he'll be keen to give....

12:26 pm, November 11, 2009

Anonymous Peter Kenyon said...

Dear Luke

Thanks for this. The idea of a March election emanates, according to usually well-informed sources, from the quitters in the PLP who just want out asap, at minimal cost to the Party.

As a current member of the NEC, I remain concerned about how we are going to fund our campaign and have put a positive suggestion on my own blog.

12:31 pm, November 11, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Up to this point, Luke, you appeared to be ever the optimist, even as the polls told a different story. The glass was always half full.

Finally, reality appears to have dawned. The glass is not just half empty. There's very little in the bottle at all.

12:52 pm, November 11, 2009

Blogger Frugal Dougal said...

I believe May was heavily pencilled into the Prime Ministerial diary some time ago...

1:05 pm, November 11, 2009

Blogger Pete Wass said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:39 pm, November 11, 2009

Blogger Pete Wass said...

"if the General Election was held in February or March and we were unlucky enough to lose"

Losing would of course be due to luck and not to the piss poor performance of Labour in government for the past twelve years.

4:40 pm, November 11, 2009

Blogger MR said...

Unless of course we do go for an earlier date, lose and there is enough time for buyer's remorse to set in and then we thrash the Tories in the locals.

Seems to be working in the US where so many regret electing Obama...

5:42 pm, November 11, 2009

Anonymous Labour RIP said...

Your wasting your time he does not listen to anyone

7:05 pm, November 11, 2009

Blogger Gooey Blob said...

It's an interesting point. Is this just a smokescreen, or is it clever tactics?

Let's face it, Labour will lose anyway, the only question is by how many seats. However, I rather think that if the government waits until after another budget, the press will have a field day with it. The bad news story will go on for some time after, and Labour would go into an election campaign staring into the abyss.

9:35 pm, November 11, 2009

Blogger Merseymike said...

Agree completely.It also saves money

11:43 am, November 12, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So your message is hold a general election in the best interest of the Labour Party, and not in the best interest of the country?
You've really lost it!
Bring on fixed term elections and promote democracy and end this disgraceful nepotism and manipulation of our electoral system!!

9:09 pm, November 13, 2009


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