Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Life in a marginal: a brief guide to Manchester Withington



As the distribution of leaflets I've received so far may have hinted at, Manchester Withington is a Lib Dem-Labour fight. Historically Withington was a Conservative seat, but turned Labour in 1987 after all the Tory voters moved to little villages in Cheshire. It stayed that way until 2005 when John Leech took it for the Lib Dems with a swing of 17.3%, benefitting from both the student vote and a steady influx of Guardian readers into the consituency. Leech held it in 2010 with an increased majority of 1,894.

The constituency is made up of seven wards: Chorlton, Chorlton Park, Didsbury West, Didsbury East, Old Moat, Withington and Burnage. In the local elections of 2010 (held on the same day as the general election), six of the wards voted Lib Dem, with only Old Moat going Labour. By contrast in the local elections of 2014, all seven wards voted Labour. Indeed, all of Manchester voted Labour; as the Lib Dems like to point out (*), we have a one-party council. So far this has not resulted in tanks rolling down Barlow Moor Road and dissenters found floating in the Mersey, but it's only a matter of time.

It's therefore going to take more than a gazillion leaflets for Leech to hold on to the seat, and I wouldn't put any money on him doing so, but the party is clearly putting in significant resources here, so the local results may not be as predictive as you might expect.


(*) When I say like, I mean really really like. We received yet another Lib Dem Focus today, the first from plain un-suffixed John Leech (TMFKAOMIW):


And this, typically, was inside it:



I'm sure Manchester will get an opposition again one day. From the Greens perhaps.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Life in a marginal: job application edition

The last act as an MP of The Man Formally Known as Our Man in Westminster (TMFKAOMIW as I shall be referring to him in future) was to send us his CV and covering letter for an MP vacancy now being advertised in the Withington area. Full marks for promptness - where are your CVs and covering letters, other candidates? Don't you know The Campaign Has Begun in Earnest (TCHBIE)?



Yes, yes, schools, hospitals, blah blah blah. The key point here is that TMFKAOMIW is a City fan and therefore a gentleman of taste and discernment when you consider the possible alternative.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Life in a marginal: mysterious orange buildings revisited

All is revealed! It is of course the local Lib Dem campaign office.


I particularly like the eclectic list of things delivered: Metrolink, New Jobs, New School, Safer Roads, Alan Turing, The Christie, Environment. Who knew Our Man had both the midwifery skills and command of time travel required to deliver Alan Turing?

You can follow his further adventures in time and space with hastag #makeit15 ...

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Life in a marginal: a Libdemalanche of leaflets

Not one, not two, but three items have arrived from Our Man in Westminster.


First up it's the welcome return of South Manchester Life, now in spacious A4 for its Spring 2015 collection. Is this really the last we'll see of South Manchester Life until the summer? I am saddened.

Following on from absolutely non-partisan South Manchester Life, here comes an actual Lib Dem leaflet complete with an actual Lib Dem logo and actual Lib Dem dodgy bar chart on the front cover. Still no sign of Clegg inside though. Our Man's not that foolish.


Finally there's a proper old-fashioned Lib Dem Focus copied on someone's dodgy old Xerox just like Lloyd George would have done. Respect to the bar chart in the top right corner which actually over-represents the 'can't win here' candidates. Now there's confidence.

Using the power of Lib Dem Maths, I extrapolate from today's figures that we will be receiving upwards of 2,500 Lib Dem leaflets a week by the end of the campaign.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Life in a marginal: The Voice strikes back

Just when I was wondering where my next fix of Labour Voice was coming from, it turns up, this time tailored to our very own Chorlton ward:


I've previously applauded LV for not pretending to be anything other than party propaganda and this remains the case. The front page is nothing to write blogs about, holding close to the national party line. Inside gets more punchy, with the distinctly dubious "Never trust a Liberal Democrat":


OK, it's a very reasonable attack on the Lib Dems as a party, but of course it fails to note that Our Man in Westminster's voting record is quite different to the Lib Dems in general, rebelling on both tuition fees and the bedroom tax.

There follows a list of things Labour have done to make Manchester "the most successful city in the UK":


Yep, Manchester Labour are claiming credit for the discovery of graphene. With such scientific prowess how could I vote for anybody else?

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Life in a marginal: mysterious orange buildings

Anyone care to guess why this long neglected retail unit is being painted a dazzling shade of orange?



Knowing Chorlton it is quite possibly a pop-up shop selling only vintage Tango.