You may have noticed an eruption of bad analogies of late, as Iceland unleashed a belch of filth over Europe unsurpassed since Bjork’s third album, and Nick Clegg went from Mr ‘Who Hell he?’ to a man more popular than Jesus, even if Jesus was promising every one on Earth a Crunchie Ice Cream and eternal Battenburg. The comment writers had a field day with the simultaneous phenomena, excruciatingly predictable. Yes, while we waited for the wind to change, a wind of change blew across the country. Thats one of the least offensive. If it wasn’t for the glorious fact Chris Moyles was stuck in the US and Status Quo in Russia, I would have blew my…ahhh, no, I can’t do it.
So Tuesday, and I’m off to College House (famous alumni: Richard Beckinsale; my dad) to see how the weird polls would influence the debate. Would Watts be courted by Palmer and Soubry, or attacked? Would Watts revel in his role not as kingmaker, but potential king?
I arrive, and my entrance is announced with great gusto by David Patrick, the Husting’s organizer. ‘Ah Beestonia, welcome, and well done for telling these people that it began at 7pm”. About twenty people are already sitting there, a good half hour before the start, due to my inability to cut and paste the right time. Apologies if that was you. It was cold out anyway, you were best in, safely warm.
I meet my friend Dave B, a staunch Labour voter who should have been in Spain, but instead abandoned his plans when he heard about the event. And nothing to do with the flight ban,oh no. ‘Been swept up in the yellow wave?’ I ask. He snorts ‘It will be a cold day in hell..’ Dave B is not a swing voter.
The format differs from the Evening Post event,with questions being solicited from the floor, with Notingham Uni’s Prof. Stephen Diacon chairing. 150+ Beestonians turned up, a good mix of demographic rather than the usual profusion of grey that tend to dominate these events. This is by no means an ageist observation, its just good to get a seemingly increasingly disinterested youth engaged . The Beeston Express’s Sheila Eden lay down the ground rules, and we were off.
The BNP again were absent, and I later discovered the mystery seventh candidate had withdrew from the race altogether. So the same line-up sat before us, nervously sipping water and adjusting the microphones.
The candidates were asked to give a brief opening statement, and Chris Cobb trotted out the UKIP agenda; David Mitchell (Green) looked slightly less nervous than last time but still far too agreeable to look like a politician; Nick Palmer (incumbent, Labour) flagged up his progressive credentials and his record of integrity;Lib Dem David Watts stressed his local roots and warned against getting carried away on the strength of a few good polls (though his smile seemed to suggest otherwise); and then Anna Soubry (Conservative) did a couple of interesting things…
First, she asked how many people were still undecided. Ten people rose their hands. I mentioned in my last Husting’s report that such events are normally attended by party faithfuls. But I think there is a natural reluctance with the British to state their political preferences in public, its akin to that awful faux pas of letting slip how much you earn, and even expressing an open mind is seen as faintly embarrassing. So I imagine there were more less brazen souls, but still, Anna made a valid point.
She then appealed to these swing voters to see through the myths that they might believe are true about her and her party, and not to be influenced in ‘gossipy, man-in-the-pub websites’ . My companion Dave claims I squeaked with glee at this. That one sentence possibly validated Beestonias existence more than any other. Of course, I might just be experiencing high levels of hubris, but if she wasn’t talking to me, to steal from Travis Bickle, ‘well I don’t see anyone else round here’.
Again, I will only skirt briefly over policy, and not only cos my notes smudged quite badly and resemble a dirty-protester’s prison diary. There were interesting snippets however. The subject of PR over first-past-the-vote was raised, Palmer touting the ‘Alternative Preference’ idea over out-right PR, and threatened to resign the party whip should Labour renege on promises of electoral reform. Soubry bizarrely claimed she was against reform as ‘a referendum would be too expensive’, yet was all for Trident in a further question.
Climate change, pensions, NICE and the decline of a manufacturing base were all raised, and there was little clear ground between the parties. David Mitchell was still pleasantly agreeable, but failed to take the high ground on the issues that he really could claim high moral ground: sadly for the Greens, so much of their agenda has been co-opted by the major parties there undoubted radical agenda gets ignored. Mitchell is a lovely man by all accounts, but his quiet demeanour and his inability to throw out a concise sound-bite means that he is not made of the stuff politicians need to be made of. I hope if he reads this, he’ll recognize thats a compliment.
Chris Cobb was infuriatingly liberal for a UKIP member, and I once again found little disagreeable about him , outside his party allegiance. I really wanted a Kilroy-Silk to shout against, but aside from planting the uneasy image that he was ‘comfortable in bed with Trident’, he could on occasion have been standing for anyone. Please, Chris, next hustings, for my sake, and to stop this blog becoming a love-fest next hustings,please use the F-word judiciously, and blame foreigners for something. Farage slagged off a whole country, show some form please. Ok, just one ‘Its political correctness gone MADDDDDD’?
Watts was not quite triumphant, and aware that such is the bizarre nature of the politics right now polls will be up and down like a whore’s drawers, but still put in a bombastic performance. He is undoubtedly a gifted speaker, and comes pre-armed with facts to fight on both left and right flanks, and does so well. I don’t know how effective he is being in keeping the Lib Dem vote from slipping towards a tactical Labour vote, but he isn’t going down with a fight. Thursday’s TV debate should do him no harm, foreign policy being a strong front for the centre party to rally on, their opposition to Iraq elevating them morally above the support of both Soubry and Palmer’s parties.
Soubry had toned down her hectoring style that was on display at Roundhill, yet still lacked the necessary charisma. Just months ago, I really expected her to take the seat with ease, now shes looking a bit panicky, and unsure where to go next. Nothing policy-wise lit up the room, and one response, on her unequivocal support for Trident, elicited actual hisses from some quarters of the crowd. Can she do it? Like Cameron on a nationwide scale, she is appearing to be a busted flush, peaking too early and now scrabbling to keep what lead they have as initially star-struck voters drift away.
Plus, I’m now officially scared she’ll banish me if she gets in. If I’m living in Clifton come mid-May, I can only blame myself. Hell hath no fury…
Palmer was strong on policy, and able to pick fault in others with a clinical touch, and pleasing self-effacing at times. Campaigning in Chilwell, he realised he had green credentials when a youth asked him ‘Why have you got such a rubbish car?’. His final appeal was the same tact as the last hustings: stating that Soubry is a shoe-in come May 7th should people not realise that this is a two party race.
Im no psephologist, you’ll be shocked to hear, but I recieved an interesting email from Nick Palmer this morning that seems to suggest a Lib Dem victory could be pie-in-the-sky. I’m printing it in full, not through any allegiance, but as it explains things with numbers, those weird things that look like words but are too baffling for a simple child like myself. I am however offering to print a full right of reply from David Watts, as soon as received.I know this issue is forming one of the central themes of the debate, and Mr Watts will not want to let this go unanswered. If Soubry, Cobb and Mitchell also want to weigh in, they also are guaranteed space here. Oh, and if Mick Shore, the invisible BNP candidate fancies getting his tuppence in too, I await the scrawled crayon missive tentatively. Please refrain from wrapping it around a brick next time, I have a perfectly (fireproof) letterbox.
I quote: Hi Matt!Just a quick note re the tactical voting position. The LibDems are saying that they only need a 13% swing to win here, but assuming tha tthe Tory vote doesn’t actually go down the LibDems need a mind-boggling 24% swing – in other words, they need to persuade more than one in two of my voters to switch to them. That ereally isn’t going to happen. By contrast, I don’t need a swing at all – I just need to avoid losing 4.7% of my vote (assuming the Tory vote doesn’t go up).
The most likely way that this will happen is if the LibDems persuade people that it’s a three-horse race and take, say, 6% of my vote – then the result will be Con 37 Lab 36 LibDem 22. We’ve been here before – that sort of result was common before 1997 and it’s the reason the seat was always Tory in the past.
Best regards, Nick.
I know you might all be too busy campaigning to wade into a fight on a man-in-the-pub blog (chance would be a fine thing, Im resigned to park-bench cider drinking until further economical upturn) but I’m sure it’ll be an interesting forum to debate on. Im available via (matt beestonia), or email: email@example.com . Go on, make my Blackberry ping.
A little note…walking back from the debate last night, I strolled by the Hop Pole Inn, and saw Nick Palmer having a post-punch up drink in the front bar. ‘Excellent’ I thought ‘This could make a cracking photo’ and I was just about to turn and hit the bar when I went arse over tit, falling in a heap and doing something evil to my ankle. For no discernible reason, I was sober, laces were tightly secured, the pavement even… but I vowed to abandon any side-line in paparazzi shots, its a cursed business.
Again very nice last night to meet people who read this gubbins,thank you for saying hello, even though my crippling shyness renders me a gabbling wreck.
With the election presently taking up all my brainspace, a limited area at the best of times, I have neglected a few other things that need a mention round Beeston. So, until I get round to writing more thoroughly on them, a little round up
- Theres a very interesting event cracking off on the campus this weekend, which you, yes YOU are invited too: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/Community/OpenDay/CommunityOpenDay.aspx . I’ve been asked to blog live from the event, so shall be doing so from around 11am, Saturday. The campus is a beautiful place this time of year, and there will be some fascinating things to see: if you don’t see an IQ boost of 20 points by the end of the day I shall personally reimburse your admission fee. Entry is free.
- The Crown is the BEST PUB IN THE WORLD-OFFICIAL!! Well, if you consider Britain is the best palace for pubs-and you do, unless under a Section 4; and Notts is the best place for pubs on this tipsy archipelago (a slightly more spurious claim, but I reckon it might be true), then the Crown, Beeston’s Oldest boozer, has been voted the best in the county by CAMRA. Those blokes with gin-blossomed cheeks and furry beards know their stuff, cos its my local. Third was the Vic. Also in Beeston. Beestonia: Booze heaven.
- I am One! Sometime over the weekend this blog hit its first anniversary, I was so busy with the election and discovering the delights of the sublime sitcom Summer Heights High I forgot all about it. I never expected it to last more than a few posts, and definitely didn’t think it would be read by anyone. But, several gallons of wine, three laptops, and weeks of lost sleep later, I now enter my second year.
I’m off to celebrate. Feel free to buy me a pint/call me an ambulance.
My mum was friends with Richard Beckinsale when they were young.
As for the debate, funniest moments were Stephen Diacon repeatedly asking for “another question on that general subject” and getting questions about something completely different (or in one case just a lengthy speech about how Nick Palmer is a jolly nice bloke and it’s a shame that he’s representing Labour – “Right. That wasn’t a question.” Diacon cheerfully replied, and moved on to someone else.) It’s a good thing the subject matter kept changing, really, because there wasn’t much time and at least that way we sort of covered everything.
About swing – like I said in a comment on Broxtowe 2010 (which is starting to turn a bit nasty in the comments fields, isn’t it?), the whole ‘swing’ calculation doesn’t work at all in a three-horse race. The only way to make it meaningful is to express it as three different swings, Lab v LD, Lab v Con, Con v LD, and that gives us so many permutations that anyone can use whatever figures they want, as long as it proves their point. If the BBC says 13%, that’s probably better than anything the candidates themselves have worked out.
Here’s another way to look at it – you described Broxtowe as the country in microcosm recently, and that’s actually very true if you look at the previous election results. The percentages of the Broxtowe vote for the three big parties have always matched the final national opinion polls really, really closely! It’s like the people of Broxtowe always get together and work it out between them, just so that this can be the most normal seat in the country.
PS Anna Soubry doesn’t seem nearly as terrible as you make her sound. Not that I’d vote for her if she paid me, but give the poor woman a break!
I thought that Dave Watts let himself down with his statement about being the only local candidiate, to Nick Palmer he sneered “you like Broxtowe so much you left…..”
I could imagine Dave Watts being the MP for Royston Vasey…..”your not from round here are you” and he would not even need the services of the make artist.
Sourpussy kept looking around at the audience like she is related to a meerkat, sit still woman and look like you are listening to the others.
The Green party lad looked well out of his depth, I suggest he reads up on the Green party manifesto before the next hustings.
The man from UKIP wel nuff said.
Palmer……needs to be more self asserting…..maybe.
the Green Party Manifesto is available for all to read and its well worth it. Greens are not robots
Good report and it’s certainly going to be interesting all the way.
It may be unlikely, but if Ms Soubry does get in and banishes you, come on over here to the People’s Republic of Lady Bay – the acceptable face of the south of the river area. We have an excellent pub, attractive riverside landscape, lots of characterful Victorian/Edwardian houses – you’d feel right at home. This may be why I like Beeston of course…
That would of course put me under Kenny Clarke,,, who may also not like me very much.
LadyBay is a good place though,and its rare I say that about the Southern Lands, spent some very irresponsible times in my teen years there, listening to Orb records in squats and wondering why the wallpaper was melting..
I didn’t attend last night due to a prior engagement. But you made it sound a riot. Glad Dave M did a bit better. I’ll pass on your review of him. I think he’ll be pleased!
Judging by his last couple of posts Terry Tickles doesn’t like me much does he. Oh well.
Improve your politness and ye shall reap your just rewards in the next borough council elections.
You wont win the general election but you could hand this seat to the Sourpussy.
Any remarks I make are blog conditional and not intended to be impolite. You know why I am standing and there is no insider dealing afoot. Humanity is not to be compressed into first past the post points scoring. The romance of the debate is in the hands of you and the swings are irrelevant. The bigger picture speaks for itself if given half a chance….
Love the blog and thanks for the stars! See you Round Three……………………
Remember The Fairground? DKM
Regarding swings, I’ve emailed David Watts about the “swings” point and he’s kindly got back to me. As someone else commented above, swings don’t adequately describe the situation, so I’ll put it like this:
David could win with a 13% swing Lab->LD; however, some 13% Lab->LD swings would hand Anna Soubry a victory.
David Watts could win if he took votes from both Lab and Con like this:
Lab 42% – 10% = 32%
Con 37% – 6% = 31%
LD 16% + 16% = 32%
That would be reported as a 13% swing Lab-> LD (avg of 10% and 16%)
This assumes DW can attract Tory votes. If Soubry holds her vote, a 13% swing would give:
Lab 42% – 13% = 29%
Con 37% = 37%
LD 16% + 13% = 29%
Soubry wins. David actually needs a whopping 21% swing from Lab to win outright if Soubry holds her vote:
Lab 42% – 21% = 21%
Con 37% = 37%
LD 16% + 21% = 37%
Given (a) the national picture, (b) the local council picture and (c) the reversal of the LD/Lab tactical vote it seems a 13% swing is easily acheivable. So the big question is: what swing can David get from the Tories? Can Soubry hold her vote up?
And then there’s the swing from Labour to Tory. There are plenty of former Labour voters who’ve now turned against the party, and logically some of them must have been convinced to vote Conservative, whether by David Cameron, Anna Soubry or by Nick Palmer’s “it’s me or her” campaign. If we count the Lib Dem campaign in Broxtowe as having really only started last Thursday (has it only been a week? Wow, that old saying is true!), then the starting point for them is a probable clear Tory majority and the Con-LD swing is the most important figure in the election.
Incidentally, how does Nick Palmer get the 24% swing figure quoted above? He seems to have a real problem with numbers involving Liberal Democrats. Twice in the debate he quoted figures which didn’t make sense at all – in the pensions question he thought David Watts had said something completely different from what he actually did say and told us that his suggestion would reduce the basic pension to £75 a week when Watts had specifically promised that the basic pension rate would be increased (when a good answer to what David Watts actually did say would have been “How are you going to finance all this extra pension money you’re promising?”), and in his closing speech he said that the current national polls would give the Lib Dems 6,000 votes in Broxtowe, which is just plain weird.
Driving through Beeston on the way home from work this evening and it struck me that there were quite a few Tory posters up, a fair few Labour ones and just a single LibDem one. Not very scientific I know, but it doesn’t strike me as the landslide swing to the Libdems that would be necessary for them to win.
What’s it like in the rest of Beeston?
Green invisibility is no proof of our lack of passion, but if you see a poster I’d love to know how we afforded it….
There’s about a million Tory posters decorating the Conservative Club, and a couple of Labour ones defiantly standing on posts on the house next door. Nobody around my area has seen fit to decorate their houses at all – a floating neighbourhood?
There’s also the fact that the Lib Dems have less money than the others, and produced far fewer posters, since they weren’t expecting to get the big swing until last Thursday. Maybe they’re still catching up with the printing? 🙂
May i just add comment as to why the BNP (myself), have not been in attendance at any of the organised hustings to date.
Firstly both labour and conservative candidates have officially stated through their own sites that they hold a no platform policy, against the party i represent, and both have admitted they would not take part should i attend one of the scheduled meetings.
Secondly, the party has received several e-mails and telephone calls from those associated with groups of the far left, who have insisted that should the bnp attend any meeting then they would protest and cause disruption.
Now on the latter issue, i have decided that the negative image such a potential protest will cause for our campaign, especially if portrayed within the media at local level, would be far more damaging to the party’s prospects on 6th May, this risk far outweighs the positives of attaining a few extra votes at such an event. The fact that we cannot accept such offers of debate is sad, and one would hope that those who so openly seek to oppose true democracy will one day see the damage they are causing by their undemocratic tactics and their stifling of debates on important issues. These far left thugs (labour supported), have no place in a campaign where they themselves are not contesting any seats.
Our activist team are busy out in the community and taking our message to the people of broxtowe constituency, speaking face to face, and getting a surprisingly good level of good will and pledges of support. How this will manifest on polling day is hard to predict, but i feel we are in a position to alter the outcome of this election, and that Dr Palmer should be extremely worried that he will be receiving his P45 shortly.
Thus it is not the bnp who shy away from public debate, it is our opponents who clearly will not sit at the same table with us.
anyone who wishes to contact me on any issue may email me at:
Labour supported far-left thugs? You’ll have some evidence for that, I’d imagine, Mike. You wouldn’t just say it if it wasn’t true. May we see the evidence?
Then, after saying why you’ve made the choice not to attend any public debate, you stunningly claim ‘it is not the bnp who shy away from public debate’. That’s on a level with saying that today is Saturday, then instantly following up with ‘thus today is clearly not Saturday’.