Friday, July 20, 2007

Ealing Southall's third-place failure

So the Conservatives came third in Ealing Southall. This is being interpreted as a failure. It is a failure, true, but not as big a one as it feels.

I blame the bloggers. They hyped our chances to an absurdly optimistic level. (If the BBC did too it's only because they were following the bloggers.)

It was obvious from the start we weren't going to win: Sikhs only made up 20ish percent of the electorate. All the defectors were Sikhs. Even if we got 80% of the Sikh vote, which was unlikely, we'd be no-where near winning (or coming second!). And becoming the "Sikh party" is a stupid idea where the Sikhs are a clear minority in a constituency where, after blind Labour loyalty, religion is the next biggest cleavage.

All of the defecting councillors were effectively saying: "Labour didn't favour me so I'm going to go off to the opposition". That was also seemingly Tony Lit's thinking. They didn't care a bit about policy or ideology. And nor do the electorate. To David Cameron's credit, he probably recognised this and thought he'd play to it with focus on personality (not just his, but Mr Lit's).

CCHQ was second-rate in its due diligence. It should have known about the Labour donations, and if it decided they still wanted Mr Lit, wooing him should have been played as a major defection from Labour. That could even have worked to our advantage.

In sum: a disaster all round: for CCHQ, for Mr Lit, Mr Cameron, the councillors, bloggers, the Conservatives' reputation. This was more like a student election than one to Parliament.

We on the right often say that Labour believe their own spin. In this case, we believed our own spin.


Dave Cole said...


Praguetory said...

Interesting analysis. Given that Lit was new to the party he really needed to overcompensate on the loyalty card. I didn't sense this myself.

I think that Tories need to think hard before concluding that this result has much greater meaning.

The lesson I would draw is the same as Tim Montgomerie. We need to demonstrate more authenticity as a party and win as a party not as David Cameron's Conservatives.