So two by-elections have come and gone- and the media is full of the by-election aftermath. Both main parties have resolutely focused on each other and seemed to ignore any other party. This has been true all over the country in Blue-Yellow seats, Blue-Red seats, Red-Plaid seats, Red-Lib Dem seats and Red-SNP seats – the national HQ’s of Labour and Conservative have focused on each other.
I have been asking the question for nearly 4 years now – would our two major parties ever acknowledge and face up to the existence of the other parties or just take lumps out of each other. Some say that progress has been made, that undecideds and supporters of other parties are now being targeted by both main parties as much as they focus on the core vote. But I think the rules are no longer reliable.
Core voters? Am I a core voter?
I am as loyal a Conservative as almost any and I would never have voted for Douglas Carswell and UKIP – but I may well have considered voting for him if he had stood as an Independent. I like his use of social media, respect the way he consults his constituents and admire his thinking and thoughtfulness as an MP.
The electoral reality is that seats all over the country are now 3 way or 4 way contests at best – at worst they are totally unpredictable. Old canvas returns are less reliable than ever. Even those from last year need a very sceptical look. And that is assuming that the canvassing was done correctly in the first place! Party loyalty is at an all time low, disillusionment with politics is high and the stakes are huge. The 2015 General Election is more important than most recent election – the difference in direction and ideology between the two main parties hasn’t been this wide in decades.
I understand and agree with the national messaging focus from the Conservatives on Miliband vs Cameron as PM. Who wouldn’t? I honestly think Ed is now more of an asset to us than Gordon Brown ever was – but with the Lib Dem betrayal of the boundary reform aimed at making votes fairer and constituencies more similar in size – Ed could still be PM in May next year. We need strong and differentiating national messaging and Lynton Crosby will deliver that better for the Conservatives than anyone. I just hope that it works locally in these 3-way and 4-way contests in this fluid and fast moving electoral landscape.