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.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Council by-election

Last night's result:

North Ormesby and Brambles Farm Ward, Middlesborough UA. Lab hold. Lab 549 (59.8%, -5.9), BNP 175 (19.1%, +19.1), Con 131 (14.3%, -6.8), LD 63 (6.9%, +6.9). Swing of 12.5% from Lab to BNP since 2007.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Another new school in Hackney

In the heart of the council ward I represent a fantastic new mixed, non-denominational, comprehensive secondary school is being built, replacing the failing Homerton College and bringing hope and opportunity to kids from one of the most deprived areas in the UK. Dave Hill has a picture of the new academy: http://davehill.typepad.com/claptonian/2009/05/another-blue-academy.html

Monday, May 25, 2009

Backing AJ on fair votes

When I first got involved in Labour politics my great passion - critics might say obsession - was the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform - the fight for a fair, proportional voting system where a vote in safe Hackney or Tory Canterbury has as much influence on the election result as one in a marginal seat.

Over the years I’ve prioritised other issues but someone just started broadcasting on my wavelength.

Sorry to upset my many anti-electoral reform allies on other issues, but we need a final Great Reform Act in this country to give control of Parliament to the people. Labour can’t fight for equality without fighting for every vote to have an equal value.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Council by-election results

Last night's council by-election results:

Barton Ward, N Lincs UA. Con hold. Con 1576 (64.4%, +15.8), Lab 653 (26.7%, +6.3), LD 220 (9%, -5.8). Swing of 4.8% from Lab to Con since 2007.

Cottesmoore Ward, Rutland CC. Con hold. Con 389 (68.1%, +0.6), LD 182 (31.9%, +31.9). Swing of 15.7% from Con to LD since 2007.

Irwell Riverside Ward, Salford MBC. Lab hold. Lab 606 (37.6%, -13.3), LD 293 (18.2%, -1.1), BNP 276 (17.1%, +3.7), Con 189 (11.7%, -4.7), Green 125 (7.8%, +7.8), UKIP 123 (7.6%, +7.6). Swing of 6.1% from Lab to LD since 2008.

Labour’s election victory in a by-election for the Irwell Riverside ward of Salford City Council has a deeper significance than most. After ten days of hard pounding over expenses, you might think that Labour’s vote would collapse, or that the BNP or Tories might capitalise. Labour’s Matt Mold won 606 votes to the Lib Dem’s 293. The BNP came third with 276. The Tories limped in fourth, just ahead of the Greens and UKIP. So there was no surge in the BNP, or in other fringe parties. The Tories failed to make any headway whatsoever, their consistent position in the northern cities.

Labour won because Labour voters came out and voted Labour. Hazel Blears was at the heart of the campaign, leading the many young activists she has nurtured and encouraged in her local party. Matt Mold, the candidate, is 27 years old. Hazel showed characteristic courage and campaigning zeal, despite discouraging national newspaper headlines. And she proved that her local party is right behind her. As I’ve always said, local Labour campaigning works, and what local people do in real elections often stands in defiance to the predictions of London-based pundits and commentators.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Call to Arms

I understand a lot of Labour activists are reluctant to canvass for the June 4 elections because they feel demoralised by the expenses scandal and are worried they might get a bad response on the doorstep.

Unfortunately that kind of attitude creates a self-fulfilling prophesy of defeat. You get out of an election what you put in, so if we do nothing we will get roundly thrashed and good MEPs and councillors who are nothing to do with the current crisis will lose their seats - and we'll end up with BNP MEPs.

Now if I wasn't in hospital and could walk I'd be out there campaigning to lead by example. But this time round I can't.

So I want you to do it for me. Think of it as a "get well soon gesture". If you are a Labour activist who was going to sit out this election please get out there and do the canvassing I want to do but am too sick to.

You'll make an ill man feel better and you might even help Labour pull off an against the odds win.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Euro election deja vu

Today's YouGov poll has these Euro election voting intentions:

Con 26%
Lab 21%
UKIP 16%
LD 14%
BNP 7%

The actual result in the previous 2004 Euros was almost identical:

Con 27%
Lab 23%
UKIP 16%
LD 15%
BNP 5%

So four years of regeneration under Cameron seem to have delivered a 1% fall in the Tory vote...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Thoughts from my sick bed

I guess my mood isn't lifted by being six weeks into a four month hospital stay and facing the prospect of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

But even taking that out of the equation, I haven't felt this depressed about the prospects for Labour since the aftermath of the 1992 defeat.

As it stands we are heading for reduction to a rump of 150-ish MPs and at least a decade in opposition. But if the expenses scandal is not addressed firmly then we could see a collapse of the party system in the way that engulfed Italy in the 1990s.

I'm shocked by the level of venality exposed this week and depressed that people I thought were selflessly motivated by public service have been casually using public money to secretly give themselves lifestyles far in excess of their published salaries.

The Labour Party in the shape of the NEC needs to move decisively to empower local party members to decide whether MPs implicated in the scandal are fit to represent Labour as candidates. A process of re- or where members want them de-selections is the only way to demonstrate that Labour is a movement owned by its mass membership and that our MPs are accountable for their actions.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Council by-election results

Only one by-election of interest last night (another in Anglesey was only contested by independents):

Chopwell and Rowlands Ward, Gateshead MBC. Lab hold. Lab 1221 (53.1%, -4), LD 898 (39.1%, +12.5), Con 177 (7.7%, -8.6). Swing of 8.3% from Lab to LD since 2008.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Less Tax on Beer under Labour

In last night’s debate on the Finance Bill John Redwood MP produced a lot of hot air on behalf of the Tories in support of a Lib Dem motion to postpone any rises in alcohol duty until an assessment of the impact on industry had been completed. He even had the bare faced cheek to suggest that the latest increases could be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back” for the pub trade.

John Spellar MP has obtained figures from the House of Commons Library which show that a lower percentage of the cost of a pint of beer bought in a pub goes on tax now than it did during the Thatcherite years harked back to by John Redwood and the Conservative Party.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Council by-election result

Just one result last night:

Rossmere Ward, Hartlepool UA. Lab hold. Lab 532 (42.3%, +6.1), UKIP 300 (23.9%, -3.8), LD 166 (13.2%, -8), BNP 157 (12.5%, +12.5), Con 102 (8.1%, -6.5). Swing of 5% from UKIP to Lab since 2008.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Topical visitor

Thanks to Hazel Blears for visiting me in hospital today. For some reason there is no YouTube footage.

I'm waiting for my Gordon Brown visit if any of my friends at No10 want an NHS-related photo op.

Caption competition follows in the comments.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Council by-election results

Thursday night's council by-election results:

Staple Tye Ward, Harlow DC. LD gain from Con. LD 604 (39.1%, +6.0), Con 544 (35.3%, -15.3), Lab 329 (21.3%, +5.1), UKIP 66 (4.3%, +4.3). Swing of 10.7% from Con to LD since 2008 - in one of the Tories' key parliamentary targets.

Tadworth and Walton Ward, Reigate and Banstead BC. Con hold. Con 925 (64.3%, -7.1), UKIP 350 (24.3%, +15.3), Lab 163 (11.3%, +5.0). Swing of 11.2% from Con to UKIP since 2008.

East Ecclesfield Ward, Sheffield City Council. LD hold. LD 2239 (44.3%, +1.3), Lab 1420 (28.1%, -2.0), BNP 719 (14.2%, +1.6), Con 564 (11.2%, +0.3), Green 107 (2.1%, -1.2). Swing of 1.7% from Lab to LD since 2008.

Bannockburn Ward, Stirling Council. Lab hold. STV first preferences: Lab 1131 (39.9%, -11.1), SNP 1067 (37.6%, +4.4), Ind 229/89/28 (12.2%, +7.3), Con 173 (6.1%, -1.2), LD 82 (2.9%, -0.8), Green 36 (1.3%, +1.3). Swing of 7.8% from Lab to SNP since 2007.

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