Victory!

But for whom?

Debbie AbrahamsDebbie Abrahams
And all shall have prizes; well no as there's only one winner in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election. But according to what you want to read into this result the MSM will help. It's a sort of something-for-every-one moment. To the political left it's not the start of the fight back it's proof of success, a warm-up act for ultimate victory; "come the revolution", or for the less vibrant, "come the next election", we shall prevail. For the other parties the true meaning is a bit more hazy, but first the facts:

THE NUMBER OF VOTES CAST

Labour: 14,718
Lib Dems: 11,160
Conservatives: 4,481
Ukip: 2,029
BNP: 1,560
Green Party: 530
Other parties (4) 452

THE PERCENTAGE OF THESE VOTES

Labour: 42.1%
Lib Dems: 31.9%
Conservatives: 12.8%
Ukip: 5.8%
BNP: 4.5%
Green Party: 1.5%
Other parties: (4) 1.1%

So starting with the Green Party, at just 1.5% of the votes it does seem the green revolution is on the back burner. Perhaps the good folk of Oldham East and Saddleworth have, after a very cold winter and rising fuel bills, concluded that global warming is not such a bad thing. Also the Yorkshire moors do have their beauty compromised by windfarms. These would have stood idle during the arctic-like winter so adding insult to injury.

Onto UKIP, one of the very wearying things about Tories is how they bleat on about how UKIP cost the Tory Party votes at the last election forcing poor old David Cameron into coalition with the Lib Dems. A quick trip through the numbers above with a calculator shows this. The Cons at third place got 4481 votes, but all the votes of the parties finishing below them add up to 4571 votes. If we add this number to the Cons tally they still finish in third place! Also as all other parties got more votes than the Tories we may ask, "who is really taking votes from whom" ? A good summary of UKIP here comes from Helen Szamuely, who really does know a thing-or-two about UKIP -

UKIP, I am very pleased to say, saved its deposit, increased both its vote and its share of the vote and beat both the BNP and the miserable Greens. Nevertheless, it would be good to see more people actually voting for one of the smaller parties instead of skulking at home.

Nothing to disagree with there, mind you it would help if UKIP could improve itself, that would help a lot.

And so to the Conservatives. Their result, (support down about 14%) poor or not, has been the opportunity for a bit of soul-searching. Their candidate was a Muslim and due to the complex dynamics of the coalition seemed to be ignored by the party hierarchy as they collectively crossed their fingers and willed the Lib Dems forward. This, understandably, infuriated local activists; so much for localism then! And then there were the comments from Baroness Warsi. She is the Chairman of the Conservative Party, one assumes she joined the party of her own free will so had an inkling that it was politically to the right-of-centre. However, following the election result she made this statement -

As far as the right wing of of our party is concerned, I would say this to them … we had some who made much comment that we weren't fighting a strong enough campaign but, interestingly, didn't turn up to campaign. And therefore I would say to those who are critical, unless you were here, unless you were out delivering, and unless you were knocking on doors, you really don't have a right to complain about us not being vigorous enough.

So what to make of that? As already stated above, coalition dynamics are complicated but to blame this result onto the 'far right' is rash. Warsi is not beyond criticism herself either, Lord Tebbit has questioned the wisdom of her holding political meetings with Urdu as the dominant language. Even if the majority of those attending the meeting are UK born Pakistani it's still a meeting in the UK and so sends out its own complex message, which might not be advantageous in the widest sense. Writing in the Spectator James Forsyth said -

What to do about Warsi is quite a problem for the Tory high command. She does visibly show how the party has changed but she’s also not very competent. Cameron has already split her role, giving Cameron’s university friend Andrew Feldman a whole bunch of the financial and administrative responsibilities. But as one Tory press adviser said to me just now, ‘you can’t put her on the radio. She’s just a disaster waiting to happen.’

As we know there's an ongoing debate about the burka and Warsi is of the opinion it is up to the individual; however, the right wing of her own party find that their actions must be directed by the chairman. Perhaps Warsi should learn to say less?

The Lib Dems. They should count themselves lucky they came so close to Labour. Since the start of the coalition its been clear that real power came as a shock to them, their parliamentary performance has been poor. However, going back to the silly argument that UKIP takes votes from the Tories if they, the Tories, had formally withdrawn their candidate and had all of the Tory votes gone to the Lib Dems they would have won. Obviously this could never happen, highlighting yet again the madness of the anti UKIP Tory whinge.

And so to the winner. Expect to see a lot of Debbie Abrahams on the media. The state broadcaster, the BBC, will carve a path from her door to the nearest broadcasting studio. She will become a celeb with a message, although white being female gives her a valid ticket to put this across. She and her party should make the most of it while they can, the turnout was 48%. This shows, yet again, that if there was a 'none of the above' box to tick on the ballot, the result could have looked a lot different.