Saturday, April 14, 2007

Waiting Armageddon

The Times reports that Labour has already thrown in the towel in four out of ten town hall seats to be fought in the local government elections on May 3.

"Amid fears that it is facing one of its worst electoral drubbings, the party will contest only 60 per cent of the seats up for grabs, the lowest figure since Tony Blair came to power. In some areas it has been unable to find a candidate."

In Thanet, a quick run through the register shows an almost 50/50 split but overall, The Times reports that Labour is contesting only 6,360 seats, down nearly 5 per cent since similar elections four years ago. The Conservatives are contesting 88 per cent (9,264), higher than 2003, while the Liberal Democrats are fielding candidates in 64 per cent (6,667).

Conservative figures show that the BNP is running 717 candidates (one in Margate)while UKIP is fielding 805, though the party says it is contesting more than 1,000 seats.

Rob Hayward, a local government analyst, said the proportion of seats contested by Labour was the lowest of any set of elections while Tony Blair has been in power. “It is the lowest percentage since Tony Blair took power and probably in the last 20 years. It reflects the current state of politics and the relative weakness of the Labour Party.”

Lord Bruce-Lockhart, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “It shows a worrying lack of belief in local democracy.”

Ed: I'm seeing some of this on the doorstep with people feeling disempowered by politics rather than the opposite.

Meanwhile, if government couldn't be less popular, news that thousands of families face the prospect of being hit by a new tax blow following a landmark ruling.

Up to 500,000 families have entered into arrangements to protect them against inheritance tax. The scheme involved splitting the value of a property between a husband and wife, aimed at lessening the tax burden. The Inland Revenue have now closed this avenue of escape.


Michael Child said...

Here in Ramsgate trying to gauge the pre election mood, disillusionment with the local Conservative administration and the national Labour administration seems about equal. The seafront neglect (yesterday I was told that some vandals had thrown one of the concrete supports for the temporary fencing of the cliff, onto J.G.s something that is heavy enough to go through a roof and kill someone inside, fortunately it didn’t this time but, I don’t think the people who live and work down there are very happy) and the Theatre Royal (TDC have advertised two highly paid new posts so it does look as though we are going to get less for more) being the main talking points among my customers. I did point out that news that the delays over getting started on the library seemed to be at an end, somewhat mitigated things. It is however peoples feelings that they don’t know what’s going on and aren’t consulted over important issues, so what’s the point of voting for representation and then not getting represented? If we get the predicted swing and another Conservative local administration it’s almost bound to mean Ramsgate gets hardly any representation in the cabinet, which is not a good thing. It would also seem likely that a lot of people will vote for the Ramsgate First candidates that will probably reduce the overall number of Labour councillors.

Anonymous said...

I have become so suspicious of our Labour Central Government that when it is revealed that the Labour Party is fielding fewer candidates, I look for the real motive. Some might argue that it is a cost cutting exercise; others, that, why put up candidates to have them soundly beaten.

I think the real reason is that the Labour Party can't be bothered with what it regards as an irrelevance,i.e LOCAL GOVERNMENT. It has so esmaculated the freedom of action of local democracy by controlling purse-strings or imposing policy for them to follow that Tory councils act and behave as Labour Councils do; I see no discernible difference between TDC and KCC under local Tory control and administration and any Labour controlled Local Authority. Some-one wants to build 1000+ homes and we are advised that effectively, TDC cannot stop it.

Anonymous said...

Enough of the conspiracy theory and lets look at some local facts. Firstly, the conservative party is not fussy at the candidates it chooses.For example, it is a well known fact that the local conservative party has been touting anybidoy who will stand as candidates since the autumn. I have even had the TDC leader even ask me to defect, which is unbeleivable as I have been a socialist for more than twenty five years. I admit some conservatives are credible candidates but some I would certainly eye others with suspiscion. Thing thing about the labour party is it has dumped all its baggage and the conservatives have picked it up. Obviously, I cannot name names, but I do know their past form and God help TDC if they get elected.
Personaly, I see the conservative line up similar to the 1991 TDC local elections and we all know what happened four years later in 1995.

Tony Beachcomber said...

The 5:37 annon was posted by me Tony Beachcomber

Anonymous said...

So, Tony, what is your take on why fewer labour candidates are standing in 2007; dis-illusionment?; defeatism?; embarrassment? Or disregard for local democracy because power resides at Westminster and there's an over-whelming Labour presence there already?

chris wells said...

Its pretty simple really. As a party in decline labour has few willing volunteers to choose from, and the pool is shrinking. As a party on the up, the Tories have a wider pool and more enthusiasm. Of course some will not be what you really want, but being spoiled for choice is better than giving up on battling? Locally, the Liberal Democrats appear to have vanished almost commpletely from view, the void being filled by independents, the odd green and grey party candidates. Not quite sure how to explain that one...suggestions?

Tony Beachcomber said...

Chris, your political experience shows,do not mistake enthusiasm with hangers on. The party in power localy will always attract people who want to be councillors for the wrong reasons. Sometimes it is best to enlist prospective councillors for the right reasons than not at all as it will only cause problems in the future.
Once upon a time it was said that if you had a drink in the tory club and found a kings shilling in the bottom of your tankard you were enlisted, has the selection proceedure now changed.

chris wells said...

Tony, speaking as a teetotaller of some 25 years standing, perhaps now I kmow why I have difficulties with local selection committeess!

I did say some may not be what you really want...we do actually agree I suspect.

Tony Beachcomber said...

Chris, it will be interesting to see how many elected councillors on May 4th will still be with their political colours in 2011. No doubt by mid term there will be a few political punch ups behind the scenes by mid term. Historically, Conservative local politics does seem prone to that.

James Maskell said...

Labour is prone to that as well Tony as weve seen in the past 4 years. Im sure they'll have a fun time selecting a candidate to face Roger Gale in 2 years time.

Tony Beachcomber said...

First I have heard of it and I am a member of the Labour party, do tell I love gossip ,
Incidentally James ask your running mate does he know any barmen who have been nicked for working and signing on the dole at the same time.