Taking Voters For Granted

Austin Mitchell MP . I nearly typed “Austin Mitchell MP is a strange fish”, which would have been an accidental pun…and a very bad pun….because he is Labour MP for Great Grimsby, a fishing port. now in his late 70s, he retires from Parliament this year and is leaving amid some controversy. He is reported by “The Independent” newspapers as saying that Labour will not lose Grimsby “even if we select an alcoholic sex paedophile”. Mitchell denies using this phrase.

To some extent, we all know that there are constituencies where a Party cannot lose. The DUP will never lose North Antrim, even if draped an Orange sash round a passing chimpanzee. We know this. We know that Grimsby SHOULD be a safe Labour seat but it is being hyped as a target for UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party). The political wisdom is that Tory seats in Eastern England are the most vulnerable to UKIP and that there are comparatively few Labour seats that are vulnerable.

Austin Mitchell and Great Grimsby. They seem like a special case.

Mitchell…a gifted Historian is a 1960s and 1970s TV News Presenter. Mostly on Yorkshire TV. His loud “professional Yorkshireman” (albeit a happy one) never worked in London News studios.

Austin Mitchell is Euro-skeptic. Grimsby is anti-Europe. It is after all a once mighty fishing port and successive European legislation in Brussells and successive Westminster governments have accepted it. The British Fishing Industry has been sold down the river….I presume the River Humber.

So Mitchell is either a good constituency MP standing up for his constituents against prevailing Euro othodoxy or he is just another a chancer who said the things that his constituents liked to hear.

He retires is a couple of months and the new Labour candidate is more at ease with Europe. UKIP with its Europhobia will be making much of the decline of Fishing. Labour will be “looking to the future”. And this provides some interest. Can Grimsby fall to UKIP. Well, certainly TV News, profiling constituencies in Labours heartland of North of England, are reporting discontent that Labour strategy is about taking them for granted and pursuing the latest “demographic” identified by a Focus Group.

Mitchell’s reported choice of words…and he denies it….is of course, very bad.

Take for example …the Lancashire constituency of Rossendale and Darwin. My recollection is that it is fairly marginal. But it was actually Labour from 1992 to 2010 when it was lost to the Tories. The youngish Labour candidate, Will Straw, will be hoping to win it back in May. But as he will note, the Minimum Wage was one of the great Labour triumphs of the Blair-Brown years but bringing it up on the doorstep or in hustings might be problematic. Difficult to argue for a Minimum Wage when in the constituency next door the outgoing MP (and father Jack Straw) values one of his speeches at £5,000.

Actually, the old cotten mill towns like Blackburn and Burnley did have some problems with the British National Party (openly racist)…so I suspect Jack Straw’s indiscretion will have a knock on effect. So of course will Austin Mitchell’s indiscretion.

Yet taking its own voters for granted is not something that the British Labour Party leaves to individual indiscretion. It seems to be Party Policy. Especially in Scotland.

Ah Scotland….the gift that keeps on giving. It all seemed so simple. Granting Scotland Devolution two decades ago…or more precisely facilitating it was a major mistake by Labour. Being allied to the Tories and Lib Dems to vote down Scottish Independence in September 2014 was a bigger mistake.

The theory that “YES” voters would quickly forgive and forget the result and the way the campaign was waged is shown to be wrong. Labour NEEDS Scotland. The maths are there.

In 2010, Labour took 41 (of 59 Scottish seats)….Lib Dems 11, Scottish Nationalists 6, Conservative 1.

I do not go along with the opinion polls suggesting that SNP will get around 45 seats. Conservatively, Id be surprised if Labour got less than twenty seats and SNP got more than thirty five. But the point here is that on 2010 figures, Labour had a forty seat advantage over the Tories in Scotland alone. It is unrealistic to expect a Labour majority in Westminster if the Labour-Tory differential in Scotland is just (say) fifteen seats.

Whether on a personal or industrial scale, the British Labour Party takes its supporters for granted.

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3 Responses to Taking Voters For Granted

  1. Labour in England took the working class man for granted, and as you say concentrated on the beautiful people who sip latte and tweet about their online experience. Meanwhile down in the local their core supporters were swapping tips on how to get the DLA as there was no other chance of them surviving with a decent standard of living. Now there is a new kid on the block, a bit of a sinister boy if you ask me, but he knows who is to blame and he will not be slow sorting them out. Guess who will get support?

    This is just starting to happen in the south.

    Once you wrapped the green Flag around you, rapped the door and reminded them how Daddy and/or Granda was in the Old Brigade, better yet, fought side by side with the electors grandda on mountain hill and glen. Reality was the indulged gulpin on the doorstep would have had a greater chance of affinity with the eiderdown rather than the heather.

    Down in the land of milk and honey the grandsons of the Boys of the Old Brigade made a complete arse. Fortuitously the rallying call of we are in it all together as far as the EU was concerned was shown up as a farce, the Germans showed them they were in it for themselves, kicked sand in the eyes of the warriors of destiny and helped themselves to their wallets. Further up the beach Labour said it would stand up to the bullies, it was Gilmours way or Frankfurts way. We know how that ended up. Meanwhile the blueshirts tugged the forelock at the master race.

    People were expected to shut up and take the soup. They did to a greater extent, which just shows that you do not need soldiers to take the fat of the land from the peasantry as in the famine years, just tell them that you are starving them out of love, tough love, which will be good for them. Finally they are showing signs of rebellion over the water charges. Maybe they will not allow themselves to be taken for granted again. I beleieve that people are no longer so easily conned. They want to know what you will do in the future for them, and use past performance as an indicator.

    But north of the border they nationalists have again accepted their role as untermensch. Their leaders went into talks about flags, language, and the past and came out not only accepting austerity but a bribe of up to 1/2billion to implement British education policy by ending Catholic education. Now the SDLP and SF are the implementors of British policy in Ireland, the traditional role of unionism. yet the nationalists will vote for these parties out of tribal loyalty if nothing else. I beleive that we need a new party for nationalists in the north. The SDLP and SF are not representing us properly. When will the northern nationalists show their leadership not to take them for granted?

  2. True – but the present two are useless – time for change

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