By-elections happening and awaiting – Norwich North and Glasgow North East – have been causing waves and having an impact.
Norwich North’s Tory victory is being presented in the simple one-track media story of ‘Brown is doomed’ which some of the usual suspects (step forward Charles Clarke) are then trotted out to validate. The truth as always is more ambiguous. David Cameron’s limited rebranded new look Conservatism is not sweeping all before it, and is not striking a convincing chord with voters.
Labour is in a deep hole with lots of problems and it does seem that disenchantment with Labour is what is most significantly contributing to the partial and relative shift to the Conservatives. This is a party – which in the depths of recession and with acres of favourable media coverage – is struggling to consistently win 40% of the national vote.
Interesting my comments on last week’s Newsnight seem to have caused a few ripples in different places. The Scots Independent describes myself as a ‘Labour apparatchik’ along with ex-apparatchik Lorraine Davidson – and lambasts both of us for talking down the SNP’s prospects (1). All I said was that Scottish Labour despite everything is polling reasonably well in local government by-elections and the Nats, contrary to myth have an appalling record in parliamentary by-elections – with six victories out of 74 contests since 1945.
And at the same time some people have commented on my statement about David Kerr’s right wing views on top of his Opus Dei membership. I ran an event a couple of years ago at BBC Scotland with senior staff where Kerr gave us the benefit of his well-thought out views on the world. ‘What is the point of social work?’, he asked, before going on to bash Glasgow City Council’s education policies declaring that their per head spending and results ‘proved the failure of their policies’.
Does Kerr still hold such views, as he was widely known in the Beeb as a walking pile of right-wing clichés before he resigned? If he does not hold them, maybe he could tell us when his conversion was from the anti-state zeal he used to espouse? Or maybe the SNP never asked when they choose their third by-election candidate for the seat?