Latest polling results show the Tories are somewhere between 6-9% ahead. Anna Soubry needs around 4% to unseat Nick Palmer and get in,so its a done deal, right? Wrong.
The most important factor in the election is the remove in voters minds between Palmer and PM Brown/ The Labour Party. While Labour ,and particularly Brown are lagging in popularity with the country, Palmer is increasingly being seen as an MP in his own right, not a mere party stooge.
This means jack to the majority of Broxtowe voters, who pay more heed to the difference between Jedward and Joe than the difference between who rules over them for five years. Most people vote rigidly along stoically rigid lines ‘I’ve always been a Conservative/ Labour, always have been, always will…’etc, and will cast votes accordingly.
The legendary ‘floating voter’, the Holy Grail all parliamentarians seek, is thus the key to success. And this is what makes Broxtowe so interesting. We have an MP (I know hes technically stood down now, but I can’t be arsed playing around with tenses every time I mention him) who is popular across the political strata. The groups ‘Conservatives for Palmer’ and ‘Libdems for Palmer’ are testament to this, and show that Palmer has successfully shifted the focus from Westminster to Broxtowe. A few acts of rebellion in the last few months, opposing the seriously flawed Digital Economy Bill a notable stance, have been successful attempts to lose the Labour Loyalist tag that has dogged his image over the last few years. His whiter-than-white credentials were tested during the MPs expenses scandal and passed the Daz Doorstep Challenge, albeit claiming twice for some Virus Protection Software, in error.
This is a real problem for Soubry.The loyalty of the electorate towards Palmer is such that the 4% swing is not as attainable as the maths might suggest. After publishing my last two posts, a swathe of comments and emails have been sent to me saying ‘Im not a natural Labour voter, but…’ and then gone on to list a reason why they want to retain the incumbant. How can Soubry prise these people to her camp?
Her major line of attack is guilt by association. Her campaign material therefore uses Brown’s unpopularity to call for ‘change’. You may have received such a missive: one side lists her local credentials, cringingly describing herself as a Nottingham ‘lass’, overleaf David ‘Dave’ Cameron stares out looking into the distance like a Che Guevera who just can’t do the beard. The economy is broke, society (cos it exists now, apparently) is also broke, and we need to rebuild trust in our political system (the irony of that line being used on a flyer funded by a dodgy tax-avoiding Lord in Belize is far too easy to rant on about).
Possibly a greater problem is a quite simple one I’ve been hearing lots from chatting to people round Beeston: ‘well, its Anna Soubry, innit?’. Anna’s tenure on the telly was probably seen as a real bonus at the selection meeting, coupled with her gender she was possibly seen as a shoo-in destined for a cabinet position early on- remember the Blair’s Babes of ’97?- but these two factors may be hindering her chances.
Turn on the local news now (exclusively BBC, as ITV just sees the Midlands as a homogeneous mass, although its a fact that Brummies are genetically different to us -theres no evidence at all for this, but its a fact) and you get Anne Davies. Lovely sweet, Anne Davies. Flirty, giggly, but with a lovely smile and a knowing look, you’d possibly vote for her. She even does the voice of Indigo buses, telling you that you are at Beeston Bus Station, and I had to suppress an urge to thank her disembodied voice the first few times I heard it….i’m sliding off the subject here, and sounding like I fancy Davies. I dont (Kylie Pentelow, however…).
I would like to have a drink in a pub with Davies though, she’d make you laugh and tell indiscreet anecdotes about Quentin Rayner. I’m sure no-one really can say that for Soubry. She has a much more steely matriarchal feel about her, a stern authoritarianism that is great for TV with gravitas, but a failing when trying to woo an electorate still sore from the Thatcherite years, still looking back on Edwina Currie’s rule over Derbyshire with a shudder. I don’t like image-based politics, but these things resonate, work on a subtle level, and could see Nick Palmer once again taking up the reins.
Thus, tonight shall be interesting. The first big hustings will pit the main parties (and the BNP, if they can drag their knuckles that far up the road) against each other, and will doubtless be more interesting than the constrictive formatted version Brown, Clegg and Cameron will engage in on ITV. Will Soubry attack Palmer or Brown, local or national? Will she try and ‘triangulate’ Palmer with positivity and promises of local activism? I’ll be there, you should be too, its at Roundhill School (another reason Im surprised the BNP are turning up) and its at 7pm. I will be there, do say hello.
After running this site for a year, I’ve only just figured out how to put a search function, an archive and a subscription button…all to the right of what you’re reading right . Feel free to look at more of my stuff, which proves I can also write poorly on LOADS of subjects…
Thanks for the excellent write-up. Who to back … not Palmer as it is a vote for GB, but it’s not an easy choice.