Sunday, December 18, 2005

Firstly the big voting news and the present Mrs Little and I are very happy with the X-Factor and Strictly Come Dancing results. When you reach a certain age and your babysitters are away in London, Saturday night television is all that keep you going.

Sunday was spent mainly at a party in Dereham, but I did get a chance to read Matthew D’Ancona’s excellent piece in the Sunday Torygraph today. Now either he has read my blog or he is indeed a very astute gentleman. The trust of his argument was that the Tories and LibDems are moving politically and personally closer together, maybe in preparation for a post-election coalition. Conservative Chairman Francis Maude and LibDem Treasury Spokesman Vince Cable have both been saying nice things about the other side. Plus who’d want to be the LibDem Leader who helped prop up a Brown-led Labour government after a poor poll showing? Anyway, since the Tory and LibDem leadership are getting on and Cameron is banging on about all sorts of libertarian and environmentalist ideas the notion of a Con/Lib government isn’t all that barking.

So, as predicted, the downfall of Kennedy – when, not if, it comes – will see the LibDems potentially choosing a future coalition partner. Now, obviously I believe that Cameron will be storming to a massive 341 seat majority, with Labour forced into sixth place behind Respect. However, if by some shock the inbuilt problem with First-Past-The-Post prevent this, you could see the Conservatives as the largest party dealing with Laws or Oaten. But perhaps not Hughes or Campbell. Anyway, the Sunday Torygraph seems convinced it’ll be Campbell so ho-hum.

On the Tory front, my little spies tell me that the diary of newly promoted Shadow Education Minister Boris Johnson is filling up with various jaunts around the nation visiting union bars and telling CF branches full of wonderful young blonde Tory-girls about the wonderfulness of Dave Cameron. Damn tough job, but somebody has to do it!


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Anonymous said...

Boris Johnson = Win

Antony said...

Maybe - Boris was touted as a future Shadow Cabinet member, but I suppose if you're not in the front line then Shadow Higher Ed is as good as it gets!

Anonymous said...

'little spies'? an intentional pun perhaps?

Anonymous said...

A question for 2006 is will this be the year of a Lib Dem meltdown in Norwich and who will capitalise.

The Lib Dems are like a three wheel trike - liberals, tactically voting Tories and leftish greens who are sick of Labour. The last wheel has well and truly come off since the Lib Dems gained power. Indeed, what odds on the Greens being the second biggest party on Norwich City council in four years time? (3 cllrs each in Wensum, Nelson, Town Close and even Mancroft). The question is where do all these tactical Tories now vote in the locals now that the Libs are in trouble - if they vote as they should the Libs will be dead in the water. There is no reason at all why the Tories should not be mounting a stronger challenge.

One thing is for certain - Labour in Norwich are in as much trouble as ever. Indeed, senior figures in the city were talking down their 2006 chances days after their "success" in the city in the county elections.

So where are the Tories?

Antony said...

I totally agree with you about this issue. I think there could be a situation where the Council ends up with Labour, Green and then the LibDems within two years. I think the Greens will start ousting LibDem Councillors - they've done it in Town Close and could come close in Mancroft. The question is the Tory strategy. Currently we see Bowthorpe and Catton Grove as the two big targets. But who is to say that under Cameron and with the LibDems in freefall that Eaton and Town Close might not fall our way? I have spoken to very, very senior Green figures who desperately want us to do well because they see a four way split as one route to power without winning a majority themselves. Similarly the LibDems want us to take Labour seats (in fact one senario says they'll only hold on if we win Bowthorpe and Catton Grove) and Labour people I've spoken to say they need a right-wing balance in the chamber.

The trouble with the LibDems is that everybody can have a pop. I'd lay money on Labour winning University and Lakenham back and, eventually, poor ol' Vic's number being up in Mile X. Similarly the Greens have Nelson and Wensum in the bag and will start on Town Close and Mancroft. The Tories will continue to be a threat to the LibDems in Eaton and Town Close too. I wonder what price LibDems down to just 6 Councillors in three years?

Be assured we are fighting to win in Norwich!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your encouraging response.

Four way splits could indeed make things very interesting, Town Close could be a case in point where a strengthened Tory vote could push us through the middle. if we were really talking fantasy politics Thorpe Hamlet on its new boundaries (losing Pilling Park but gaining the close)ought to be fertile Tory territory. Indeed, I am sure it is in any national election but in locals its always been a distant third. The yellow boards on Ketts Hill are getting fewer and further apart with every election.

A lesson that the Conservatives in Norwich must learn is to have continuity with candidates and campaigning. Year on year the impression is of a lottery as to who stands in which seat. While the Libs did win some spectacular victories in 2000-2002 these were often on the basis of campaigning over several years - the old Heigham seat took years to turn and Southgate was already established in St Stephen a year before he jumped from third to first, even ole Vic took two years to make it. It is about time the Tories looked to build local profiles, voters respect a candidate taking an interest in their area all year round. I am glad to see that the lesson has been learned in Bowthorpe and that Catton Grove is shifting.

This could be a real year of opportunity to redraw the Norwich electoral map.

Antony said...

I totally agree about Tory candidatures, and that is why I am re-standing in Bowthorpe again this year and have kept up the year round campaigning. The trouble the LibDems are having is that they are losing candidates fast - when they were winning everybody wanted to be part of the Focus team. Now days, as somebody loses they are less keen to get involved. I also worry about Labour, after figures such as Bremner gets elected in University.

Anonymous said...

The truth is dawning that many Lib Dems in Norwich have used it as a flag of convenience -I don't think their organization will have the stength to bounce back from defeats. It was interesting that once the Lib Dems gained power that they couldn't sustain their previous level of campaigning - their main activists were tied up at city hall.

There was a discussion within Labour in 2004 about whether to revert to a defensive strategy - there was a real fear of ending up with 6-9 seats. The Libs will be in a similar position in 2006 and end up fighting in limited wards (Town Close, Mancroft, Eaton, Wensum. They will give up on University, Lakenham, Nelson, Mile X. They will take TH for granted).

Incidentally Labour in Catton Grove have a bee in their bonnet about Eve Collishaw voting against their motion on community wardens in full council. However, the "peoples party" contiues to be in poor shape, particularly in Norwich South.

Anyway - enough of this stream of consciousness. Happy New Year.

Antony said...

I couldn't agree more, but do have a couple of points.

The LibDems in Nelson are dead in the water whilst Cllr Ramsay has breath in his body. No matter how much Dean, Boulton et al complain. I know because one of their so-called senior members told me.

The LibDems are also back-against-walls in Wensum. The Greens have been canvassing non-stop all year (and I mean on Sundays in November too). The question for the LibDems is how big a ditch to dig and try to save Andrew Aalders-Dunthorn. Most of the high ranking LibDems want to give up now, but the grassroots fight on. When they release they cannot win in, say, February, they'll dump the ward.

I agree with you about Mile X, Thorpe Hamlet, Uni and Lakenham - but they will fight decent paper campaigns in the last two. They never fight Bowthorpe, Sewell, Crome or Catton Grove either.

Eaton is a different issue. Most LibDems believe that, like TH, they have it in the bag. However a genuine strong Tory branch exists and there will be a much better Tory candidate than we've had for some years there soon. With Cameron and an unpopular Council who knows?

Mancroft is fascinating. The Greens are targetting it and if the LibDems pull out of Wensum they may just have to face the Greens here. If Labour tactically vote then this one is in the bag. I met a Green Councillor canvassing in Mancroft recently and (I can't say more) but they are fighting a bloody clever campaign.

That leaves Town Close. Hmmm, I agreed with you about the possibility of a 3 way marginal here. Tory candidate John Wyatt is re-standing for the n-th year running. Greens gained the seat by c200 votes last time. LibDem activity at an all time low here (I live in the ward).

Fascinating stuff!