Saturday, 27 May 2017

Life in Remainville: Attack of the All-New Also Rans

With the resumption of campaigning another three postings from the Lib Dems have arrived, including personal letters addressed personally to me in person from both Tim Farron and John Leech. Nothing new of interest to report in any of them. I would though like to appeal to the party to stop sending me pictures of Nigel Farage laughing maniacally, they're making me feel ill.

Much more interesting is the first piece of literature from outside the Big Two. There are three other candidates standing this time, sadly not including the Mysterious Independent, who regular readers will know took a punt on becoming mayor instead. UKIP have also failed to show up, which on the one hand is a marvellous indicator of their continuing decline but on the other hand denies us the satisfaction of seeing them lose their deposit again. Laura Bannister is standing for the Greens (not to be confused with Lucy Bannister from 2015 - are they related?) while Sarah Heald is also new for the Tories. The first through the letter box is however not just a new candidate but an entirely new party: Sally Carr MBE of the Women's Equality Party.

Judging from her leaflet Sally Carr MBE appears to be a good egg and the Women's Equality Party are raising all sorts of important issues. But just as with National Health Action elsewhere I can't help but wonder why they've gone to the trouble of forming a new party to fight for them. Doesn't it just ensure that the progressive electorate will be split even further than it is already and give the Tories an even more straightforward path to victory? I suppose that would be a success for women's equality at the prime ministerial level.

To be fair there is absolutely no risk of the Tories winning Withington, so at worst Sally Carr MBE's decision to stand here is harmless, and it does mean the issues she is championing are more likely to be given time at hustings and the like.

Meanwhile no further communications from Labour, but the Jeff Smith windows signs continue to multiply on our street regardless. I'm convinced now that he will win at a canter.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Life in Remainville: après les vacances, le déluge

So you turn your back for a week and seven pieces of literature arrive. Far too many to scan, so you'll just have to click-and-squint to get a flavour:

After heroically reading all of these I have learned:

  • "Who will stop The Hard Brexit?" - Not the Labour Party, no no no. The Liberal Democrats of course. 8/10 fair point rating, although given how their campaign has gone so far I doubt the Lib Dems will be capable of stopping anything much in the next parliament. 
  • "Who can change the Future of Britain?" - Not Corbyn's Labour Party, no no no. Tim Farron's Liberal Democrats of course. A variation on the same theme but with more boo hiss Corbyn photos. I'm a little bit surprised about the focus on Corbyn as I would have thought Withington would be more sympathetic than most areas to his leadership, but what do I know.
  • John Leech still likes to send us personal letters address personally to us in person. More jabs at Labour regarding Brexit, mixed with local matters. Nice to see a Lib Dem bar chart which is more or less accurate, pointing out that the Conservatives indeed can't win here. Going for the Tory voters then?
  • Jeff Smith will Save Our Schools. A nice touch to actually list the local schools and put a money value on what they will lose under the Tories' proposed funding formula.
  • "It's in YOUR hands" - but what? What's in my hands? Tell me! Ah, but now I see the telltale yellow "YOUR". Yes, of course it's the Lib Dems fighting hard Brexit again, or more specifically Corbyn's hard Brexit.
  • Dr  Clare Gerada, former Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, has also taken to sending us unsolicited personal letters addressed personally to us in person. Definitely the most unusual gambit so far and quite interesting that the Lib Dems are going up against Labour with a "Save the NHS" angle. No mention of Labour in the letter though - another pitch for Tory voters concerned about the NHS?
  • Jeff Smith's election communication. Focussing on Tory cuts and the propping up thereof by the Lib Dems, although he does personally pledge to oppose a hard Brexit (so a promise to continue to rebel if necessary? Interesting.)
For fans of photos of Corbyn in a hat, here are the inside details:

To summarise Labour's message is COALITION BAD, while the Lib Dems' is CORBYN BAD, neither of which really resonate for me for reasons I've covered at length before. My indecision continues.

One thing for sure is that in the battle of the leaflets the Lib Dems are miles ahead, which may have something to do with them opening their main Manchester office a short walk away:

On the other hand, a count of window posters on my road is skewed overwhelmingly to Labour, with 9 Jeff Smith posters up already to zero for John Leech. That puts Smith miles ahead of where he was at the same point in the 2015 race. Based on this highly scientific analysis, and given that the Lib Dem's superior leaflet game didn't seem to make much difference in 2015, I predict that Jeff Smith will be re-elected in Withington with an increased majority.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Life in Remainville

With the Andy Burnham Show out of the way thoughts turn to the awful looming catastrophe of 8th June. Manchester Withington is all but irrelevant to the national outcome this time, where there is one mission and one mission only: to reduce the scale of the Tory victory. While it is a privilege to live in a constituency where the Tories don't stand a chance, it does render the local contest somehow a bit academic.

It goes without saying that Labour and the Lib Dems don't see it that way, and it's clear already that this election is going to be just as closely fought as 2015, even though it is nominally now a safe Labour seat. No complaints from me of course...

I'm not going to post every piece of literature I receive before the main event, not least as the exhausting Libdemalanche is continuing unabated, with yet another feature-packed South Manchester News arriving today (complaining about Labour's record on homelessness, on the same day the mayor announced a new homelessness fund). However, the personal letter addressed personally to Mrs Tomsk and me that we received yesterday from Tim Farron (for it is he) deserves a mention:

Now as far as I understand Labour's position on Brexit, it is indeed the case that they want to take us out of the single market. And I'm not sure I can in good conscience vote for them as a result. On the other hand, Jeff Smith rebelled against the leadership on Article 50 (despite being a whip at the time) and by all accounts has done a good job as MP, so it seems a little mean to kick him out after only two years.

Yes, it's party vs candidate all over again. If anything this time I'm even more undecided.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Life in a Mayoral: piece of cake

So Labour and the Lib Dems were fully justified in switching their leafletting efforts to the general election:

Other names: Description (if any): Number of first preference
votes given for each candidate:
Percentage (%) of
first preference votes:
ANSTEE Sean Brian The Conservative Party Candidate 128,752 22.72%
ASLAM Mohammad Independent 5,815 1.03%
BROPHY Jane Elisabeth Liberal Democrats 34,334 6.06%
BURNHAM Andy Labour and Co-operative Party 359,352 63.41%
FARMER Marcus Jonathan Independent 3,360 0.59%
MORRIS Stephen English Democrats - "Putting England First!" 11,115 1.96%
ODZE Shneur Zalman UK Independence Party (UKIP) 10,583 1.87%
PATTERSON Will The Green Party 13,424 2.37%
Total number of first preference votes: 566,735

Big Andy shows the rest of the country how it's done... compare this with the 46% that Labour achieved in my back of the envelope sum of their 2015 vote.

Update 8/5/2017: As pundits are starting to notice that Burnham smashed it and are wondering why, here are a few things that stood out from my perspective as a humble voter:
  • Burnham's campaign was far more visible than all the other candidates put together - online especially but also for example in adverts in the Manchester Weekly News.
  • Burnham is of course a much bigger name, with a superior track record to advertise. The "strong experienced voice" line rang true, because it is true.
  •  I doubt many people watched the TV hustings, but for those who did it was obvious that Burnham plays in a different league to the others (though Anstee put in a creditable performance to be fair).
  • His proposals were clearly far better thought through than any of the others.
Ultimately I don't think there's a huge amount Labour can learn from his performance, despite how far he outperformed the party at large. To stoop to a football analogy: if Manchester United get drawn against Altrincham FC, it's shouldn't come as a surprise when United post a big victory*.

(*) although as @deGooder wisely notes, that's only true if Van Gaal isn't in charge.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Life in a Mayoral: decision time

So who did I vote for on this historic day?

When the campaign kicked off I was sorely tempted to choose based purely on the candidates' views on Brexit, but now it seems a less urgent concern when there's a better opportunity to make that point next month. And if you discount Brexit, there's only one game in town. Burnham is streets ahead of the other candidates both in his experience and his manifesto, so first choice to him.

Of course I wasn't going to let my first ever supplementary vote election pass without nominating a second choice (not that there's any chance of it coming into play). That was a tougher decision: other than campaiging on Brexit the Lib Dems haven't been particularly inspiring in this race, and it was a bit of a toss-up with the Greens for me. But in an effort to make an informed choice I looked through Paterson's manifesto and noticed he makes a point of opposing HS2, which is an utterly disastrous attitude for a would-be mayor of GM. I couldn't actually find any position on HS2 in Brophy's manifesto, but not mentioning it is definitely preferable to opposing it, so second choice to her.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Life in a Mayoral: canvassed!

Exciting times as the Labour Party visited the Tomsk household this evening on behalf of their general election candidate J---- S----.

Alas the canvassing did not extend to Andy Burnham and therefore I will not be reporting details of our conversation.

No further mayoral election literature has been received, so I guess it's decision time...

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Life in a Mayoral: [redacted]

The first Libdemalanche since 2015 arrives, but sadly without any mention of the Mayoral election. In line with this blog's strict one-election policy I will present their literature without comment, and with the identities of candidates not standing for mayor obscured.

Update 2/5/2017: It seems Labour are so confident of winning the mayoral race that they too are skipping ahead to the general election. Naturally their effort must be appropriately redacted: