Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Support from ex-Labour Party member

I have been sent a copy of a resignation letter to the Labour Party by one of its long-term members in Darlington. In his letter, this gentleman remembers the vibrant, exciting times when he campaigned to help get Alan Milburn elected as the town's MP.

I will not detail his reasons for quitting here because some of them are personal and relate to his treatment by the local labour Party, but he ends his letter:

"Some of our Councillors give me the impression, being councillors, as if they have touched the sky, achieved the ultimate, though not all. Mike Barker, Lib Dem, he is very down to earth and a popular councillor, many Darlingtonians log on to his blog.

"I feel I should vote for Mike Barker and not for Jenny, because he is mature, level-headed, polite and courteous, he puts forward his arguments very cogently and above all he is a successful businessman who understands the problems of local businessmen and traders, their concerns and issues related to the town's economy and jobs: what has Jenny to offer to them?"


miketually said...

Third hand rumour, but apparently Labour Councillors are getting worried...

Mike Barker said...

If they have the same canvass returns as me, they should be worried. Jenny Chapman admits on Twitter that she's worried. Their vote in the traditional Labour wards is crumbling.
And the Conservative candidate told me at the weekend that many 'soft' Conservatives were switching to the Lib Dems too.
In a seat like this, the winner might only need 33% of the votes.

miketually said...

I'm not sure the Tories are expecting to make in-roads in many wards. Apparently, Legard is focussing very much on west end schools.

Darlington Councillor said...

Maybe a word from the horse's mouth?

Firstly, I'm not aware of any serious worry in Labour's rank and file - at least not amongst those like me who are actually out every night pounding the streets, and so have an idea of exactly what's going on (and what isn't).

For sure, Labour's vote isn't as strong as it was in 2005 - I'd be a fool to try and persuade you otherwise. I have a sense in the last few days however - since the weekend, certainly - that our vote is hardening.

Now if it was Edward Legard who told Mike b that many soft Tories are switching to the LibDems too, I'm not going to doubt him. What I and others are encountering, however, are some rather happy Tory activists who are increasingly chipper about the LibDems leaching away enough votes from Labour to make Darlington winnable for David Cameron.

Neither, Mike M, do I get the sense that the Tories are focussing only on their "own" areas. This is the big difference between this and previous elections in Darlington, as the Tories are finally venturing outside their 'comfort zone'. In my own patch in Haughton West, for example, they've been canvassing on the Lyonette Road estate, in Morpeth Avenue, Kingsway and Otterburn Close.

This is a very curious election - it's like a jigsaw puzzle has been thrown in the air, and has come down all jumbled. So it has been well worth my while talking to residents I've known for years but wjho were resolutely against Labour, for example, as I've been very pleasantly surprised to find they're voting for us now.

What I just don't buy, however, is the idea that the LibDems can come from a (poor) third place here in Darlington to overtake both Labour and the Tories. It won't happen here any more than it will in Stockton South - another seat polarised traditionally between Labour and the Tories.

If the LibDems had even a sniff here, then some of the LibDem big guns who have been visiting the likes of Durham City, the Newcastle seats and even Redcar (in the case of Vince Cable) would have dropped by on us too. And it aint happened.

If Mike were being really upfront, he'd concede that this election in Darlington for the LibDems is more about preparing for the local elections next year. But he's the parliamentary candidate, so he can't say that - that's natural enough.

Final point - on the basis of the people I'm talking to in Darlington, I wouldn't write off Labour's chances in some of these newly-marginal seats in the North East. The Northern Echo poll today was spectacularly gloomy for us, but I'm finding the LibDem vote to be softer than a ripe Camembert. I might be completely wrong (and it won't be long to find out if I am!) but my sense is that some of the LibDem votes will evaporate before polling day.

So I'm sticking with my prediction that Jenny will win here in Darlington for Labour. But my central message is


Anonymous said...

Vote yellow - get blue?

Exactly the reason our voting system, although it does have some benefits like keeping out fringe parties, needs to be changed immediately.

Mike Barker said...

Indeed. The Labour Party's tactics in Darlington during this election have changed. They began with a very low key, anonymous campaign with leaflets which were virtually devoid of policy, which avoided all mention of the previous MP, the Government's record or the leader of their party.

Their message was: "Vote for jenny Chapman, she's nice and she lves in Darlington." Now, this is true, but does it show any respect to the electorate if that is your only campaign message?

They were over-confident of winning and decided that they could slip Jenny into Parlament by avoiding all controversy, all policy and any association with their party leadership. Indeed, their window bills show a large photo of Jenny, but barely mention Labour.

Now, because their vote in the wards they have taken for granted for so long has collapsed, they are facing defeat in a three-way battle.

But their only message now is an appeal to tactical voting, suggesting that "soft" Labour voters should stick with Labour, or the Conservatives might get in by the back door.

In fact, based on our canvassing, a vote for the Lib Dems will result in the election of a Lib Dem MP.

The dramatic swing in the Labour vote in this region to the Lib Dems recorded in the Northern Echo, together with a rise in the strength of the minor parties, plus some soft Conservative voters shifting to the Lib Dems plus an increase in the registration and commitment to vote of younger people have all combined to make this constituency a genuine three-way marginal where every vote counts and where, if you want a Lib Dem MP, you can have one, if you vote Lib Dem.

Mike Barker said...

Mark: your comment disappeared when I tried to publish it. If you re-submit it I'll try again. Sorry mate.

Anonymous said...

Vote yellow? Get gold.

james said...

Given that the Liberal Democrats share power with the Tories in twice as many hung parliaments than they share power with Labour, people should be concerned about the dangers of the Tories getting back in office through unusual means.

Paul Kay said...

I am sick to death of hearing "Vote Yellow - Get Blue" or, "A Vote for Lib Dem is a wasted vote" and I'm not the only one. The electorate is, frankly, getting bored with the same arguments which are put forward every year. Incidentally, these are not dissimilar to the arguments put forward in areas such as Preston, where people said "The BNP will never get in"... and we all saw what happened over there.

I find it abhorrently insulting that Labour and the Conservatives treat people this way, it's almost as if they forget it is US they work for.

Of course, party lines dictate what they can and cannot say on the matter, but my vote for LibDem was further reinforced following a knock on my door by a Labour Councillor today.

The gentleman in question said "You're voting LibDem? There is no consistencies in their policies. In all of their constituencies their policies differ." "Fantastic!" I exclaimed, why should where I live have to be run in the same way as London, Birmingham, Manchester or anywhere else? Each and every constituency is different. That said, I also said to the gentleman that this election is two fold given the current climate. On one level it is about local policies whilst on the other, the national policies must be considered. For me, LibDem are the only ones who have considered this. Labour and the Tories appear to have constructed a battleground which is built on the leaders and what they are going to do for the country, not what they can do for me in my region or my locality, and why is this? Because they feel LibDem votes are wasted and they still have a good chance anyway.

Mr. Tory and Mr. Labour, you stick to your party lines, I'll go for a party who allows their members to say what they think, who are transparent and who care about who I am, not who London is.

Anonymous said...

I know quite a few people who have voted Labour all there life. This time there voting Lib Dem and this includes card carrying Labour Party Members.

Wake up Darlington, VOTE LIB DEM!!!!

Berylguru said...

I have become increasingly dissilusioned with the lack of understanding I associate with career politicians at both local and National levels, who just do not understand what it means to be a small business surviving by one's own efforts in order to give a good service and pay the staff. This has caused me to reluctantly change my Labour voting habit of a lifetime to vote this time for our Lib Dem candidate Mike Barker who is at least a fellow business owner and will have experience of the real world and same difficulties I have to tackle and overcome on a daily basis. I must admit I was very confused about who to vote for on this occasion and I just hope I have made the right decision in these difficult times, but I think that if Lib Dems do well it might shake some sense into the other two main parties and change politics for the better...

Lucy said...

The ex Labour person in question is my ex Councillor Barry Glenton from when I lived up the East End. A very good man, a helpful councillor and a nice gentleman. The sort of person missing in the modern day Labour party. I hope he puts up to be a councillor in Darlington at next years local council elections and makes a welcome return to the town hall.

Mike Barker said...

Actually Lucy, it wasn't Barry Glenton, though I would have been delighted if he had also supported my candidature.