Friday, February 10, 2006

Lib Dems storm to election victory over Labour

From the Scotsman:
"THE Liberal Democrats swept to a dramatic victory in the Dunfermline and West Fife early this morning, condemning Labour to its worst by-election defeat in Scotland for 18 years.

Willie Rennie, the triumphant new MP, overturned a massive 11,500 Labour majority, recording a swing of 16 per cent to the Liberal Democrats and, in doing so, dealt a devastating blow to Gordon Brown's political credibility.

The Chancellor had led this Labour campaign, spending many days in the constituency and dictating the party's approach. Mr Brown, who lives in the constituency, was desperate to show he could deliver election victories on his own doorstep, and his failure to do so will reverberate around the Labour Party."
A staggering result by any definition. It is indeed a kick in the gonads for Gordy, what with this being his home-turf and all. The article speculates that people are fed up with Labour taking them for granted for so long. I don't know what evidence they have for this but if true, it would be a remarkable change in Scottish politics. I think it would be fair to say the Labour party in Central and Lowlands Scotland take voters for granted in much the same way the Democrats take African-American votes as given, so if it was the case Scots have got fed up with this, it would be a welcome change.

The party contest is different up here. The Tories are nowhere and while it's always a mistake to write them off, they do look a bit like an ex-party up here, with or without David Cameron. Instead, opposition has tended to be nationalist and the interesting thing about this result is that it confirms the general picture emerging from opinion polls that voters are finding the SNP to be a bit crap these days. Their problem is that they essentially have only one tune - that Scotland's ills are a product of the union. Given the performance of the Scottish Parliament, the idea that everything would be better if only 'we' ran things 'ourselves' is stretching credulity more than it used to. The SSP, always essentially a pressure group rather than a serious political party are going nowhere fast, RESPECT doesn't exist up here, which is a blessing - leaving only the Liberals as a credible opposition. Except for the fact that they're in coalition with Labour in Holyrood, and in reality responsible for many of the policies that the voters in Dumfermline and West Fife were pissed-off about. What's needed is for the Liberals and Labour to fall out in Holyrood to make things really interesting in this most dreary of political cultures.

Meanwhile, it's yet another piece of evidence that would suggest that Brown is - assuming he would go on to win a General Election - going to find his room to manoeuvre rather circumscribed by a majority that is tighter than the one Blair has just now.

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