Friday, 30 November 2012

Elections, campaigning and percentages

I've been away from the blog for a while, because of family concerns, so I haven't really commented on the recent elections in my part of the world: the P.C.C. elections and the Middlesborough by-election. Actually, I received an invitation to go and help out at the latter, but I had other obligations on that day, and I couldn't make it. A pity, as I would like to have met some fellow LibDems, as apart from Twitter, I don't get to network much.

I'm pleased that the Middlesborough team came third and not last, as 9.91% of the vote is within national averages, according to the varied opinion polls. I've heard that their publicity and election team are really hot, unlike some we could mention (but are too polite to do so). And indeed had the LD vote at 9% as I speak.

Of course I did my civic duty and voted for my party's candidate; Peter Andras polled 13916 of the Northumbrian electorate, or 7.78% which isn't bad when the turnout was 16.8%.

Just as a matter of interest, that makes about 84,585 LibDems in our region, at 7.78% of the electorate of 1,087,220, supposedly an all time low of party support! I've heard LibDems say why bother to run a candidate in a safe Labour area? We'll lose. Well I can think of several reasons:-

1. Those 84,585 party supporters would like to know that someone is at least trying to represent their interests.
2. A vote for us is a kick in the teeth for the likes of the BNP who oppose liberty, freedom, and all the other things the party stands for (though we don't shout it nearly loud enough.)
3. So we build up our support among the electorate by going out and talking to them. A couple of percentage points are always welcome, particularly at deposit-saving time. And anyway, worthwhile things sometimes take a lot of work and effort to get right.
4. Just because people don't vote for us this time, it doesn't mean they will do the same when the next council elections come along. We have an excellent record in local government and can attract floating voters.
5. Taking part in campaigning nurtures all those people who are developing an interest in politics, including young supporters who will be needed by our party in the future. That spotty but enthusiastic young leaflet distributor could turn out to be the next Shirley Williams, John Stuart Mill or Nick Clegg. An eclectic selection, but you see the point, I hope.
6. So we don't win - we still get to socialize with a like-minded bunch and have a laugh.It's called self-development, or being a good citizen if you prefer.
7. Any political party - Labour, in my town - gets arrogant and overconfident, even contemptuous of the electorate, when they are elected unopposed in a safe seat. Why work to please the electorate when you don't have to? I can name Sunderland Councillors who can't even get up off their well-padded butts to get the potholes filled in on a certain road - a matter of one phone call.
8. Even if we achieve little else, we may find a few people who would like to become new members of the party, to our financial and social advantage. A new supporter makes us better as a party by bringing their skills and experience, plus it's nice to meet new people.
9. Meeting the electorate gives us a chance to tell people some of the good things we've done, that the press never seems to cover. It's a successful meeting if the person goes away, looks at our website and starts to think for themselves!
10. From a purely personal standpoint, if you keep on thinking negatively, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. What's the old saying? Better to have tried and lost than never to have tried at all. For the sake of mental well-being, counter the depression by getting out and doing something, even if it's only rants on a blog. Personally, I love a good political argument with someone, even if I don't win.

And finally, until the PCC election, I'd never heard the term psephologist. Apparently, there's a word for me! Someone who plays about with political statistics, in other words. The things I know about Sunderland's wards! And I've only just got started...

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