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Press Cycle 9: By-Election Results
#11
The result in Sedgefield was very worrying. To have the BNP in second place, for them to beat every party but the incumbent party, and for all three main parties to see a collapse in votes is very worrying. It's even more worrying when you look at the National Front's votes in 2005 - under 300. Nick Griffin got over 4,000.

This has to be a wake up call to all parties. I do not believe for one moment that over 4000 people in Sedgefield are racists, they simply believe that the other parties are not worth voting for. We must address the issues that those who have voted for the BNP in desperation want addressing whether that is social issues like housing and health or whether it is immigration. It isn't racist to discuss immigration, it isn't racist to have a stance on immigration, it isn't racist to say that potentially immigration may be too high, that something needs to be done about it - the party who isn't afraid of the namby-pamby PC brigade who can put forward a comprehensive immigration policy, as well as dealing with social issues,  will be the party that wins these voters back.
MP for Hexham 2005 -
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#12
I'm glad that the Conservatives have taken note that the by election results are extremely worrying about I think it's time for all of us in Westminster to listen. Telling people you have the policies that will address all of their concerns before you listen is not going to cut it anymore.

In Norwich, we did not see a rise in party vote share which showed underlying discontent with the way Westminster operates. And it's understandable, as three parties were vying for their vote and Norwich had the Leader of the Opposition tell them she was 'by their side.' It's a shame that this message isn't heard loud and clear outside of what the Leader of the Opposition deems 'places that matter.' We all have a stake in gaining back this public trust, but the Conservative Party has to take a long look at itself when it has its leader talk openly about places that do and don't matter, the Shadow Foreign Secretary make clear that he took Scottish votes for granted and Tory backbenches dismiss the voice of the North completely. I came into politics from a community that has been told it didn't matter, and it will be my priority to ensure that through Whitehall and Westminster things change so that it does.
Arthur Sweeney MP for Bootle (2001-Present).
                           Prime Minister (2007-Present).
Media Unknown/Backbench Favourite/Campaign Organiser.
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#13
The success of the BNP in Sedgefield must serve as a wake-up call to the entire political class. The real concerns of those voters, which have turned them off from the mainstream political parties, are not unique to County Durham. I often see them myself in my own corner of West Yorkshire, and I'm sure are shared across the country.

These BNP votes are rooted in a loss of a local community; in a feeling of a world which is moving on without them. There are several causes to this. A loss of jobs from de-industrialisation, globalisation and the closure of the coal mines, shattering local areas and the livelihoods of the people that live there. A sense of powerlessness, with wealth, opportunity and influence seeming to become concentrated elsewhere, whether in London or in Brussels. And, yes, the effect that immigration has had on the resources available for local schools, health care and housing, and on community cohesiveness.

The concerns that lead people to vote for the BNP are real, important, and can be solved through effective Labour policies. Bringing jobs to the jobless, power to the powerless and public services to the public: these are at the core of what the Labour Party and the labour movement stand for. While they get called far-right, these voters are really crying out for solutions from the left. Our Government must be driven by our Labour principles, to improve people's lives across the country, but especially in those places that that the last decades have left feeling isolated, abandoned and forgotten.
Jon Wainwright | Labour Party
Member of Parliament for Pontefract and Castleford

Traits: Backbench Favourite, Media Darling, Finite Resources
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#14
The Prime Minister should stop twisting my words. I said we won where it mattered. I never once said that Sedgefield or Kirkcaldy didn't matter - in fact on the very night I already started addressing some of the issues that might have been at stake. He should stop trying to spin this incredibly serious issue into a "blame-the-Tory" exercise. It should concern us all that the government, instead of talking about solutions, is trying to pin the blame on the Conservative Party campaign. These issues go far deeper than any one campaign or party, and will not be solved simply by more politicians showing up. What these voters cried out for is complex, but it surely includes more sensible controls on immigration, on the powers we hand to Brussels, on stopping the decline of the areas in which they live. They are waiting for an answer, and every minute spent playing the interparty blame game is a minute they are not getting it.
the Rt Hon. Elaine Ashbury MP
Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition & Leader of the Conservative Party (2007-present)
Member of Parliament for Banbury (2001-present)
Traits: Media Darling, Campaigning Guru, Constituency Pariah
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#15
The Leader of the Opposition accuses me of twisting her words, but digs herself into a deeper hole. Why do the votes of people from Norwich matter more to her than Sedgefield or Kirkcaldy, where her party took a massive thumping and their vote share plummeted? 

I can say this as someone born, raised and representing a Northern town: we don't need Westminster politicians like Elaine Ashbury only considering us a place that matters only when she can get our votes, and we definitely don't need her telling us what we want and how she'll deliver it for us when she only steps foot outside of London and the South East during campaign seasons. This was not about blaming any Conservatives, it was emphasising how crucial it is Westminster gets listening - and the Conservatives need to be part of that process if they want to govern for the whole country.
Arthur Sweeney MP for Bootle (2001-Present).
                           Prime Minister (2007-Present).
Media Unknown/Backbench Favourite/Campaign Organiser.
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#16
I've said multiple times that I genuinely want to address the genuine concerns that drove people to vote for the BNP and the SNP. We need to couple action to address concerns on immigration, Europe and the decline of local communities and our broken society with a genuine and enduring mission to continuously stay in touch with people. Even if I have my ideas about what people's concerns are, that doesn't make other concerns more important. That's why I'd like to invite Arthur Sweeney to come with me: let's go to Sedgefield and Kirkcaldy and communities like it together, let's talk to the people there and show them the new kind of politics we've both been talking about. We've been talking about how important it is that Labour listens or the Conservatives listen - but what is needed right now is that we politicians listen, together.

Quote:I've said multiple times that I genuinely want to address the genuine concerns that drove people to vote for the BNP and the SNP. We need to couple action to address concerns on immigration, Europe and the decline of local communities and our broken society with a genuine and enduring mission to continuously stay in touch with people. Even if I have my ideas about what people's concerns are, that doesn't make other concerns any less important. That's why I'd like to invite Arthur Sweeney to come with me: let's go to Sedgefield and Kirkcaldy and communities like it together, let's talk to the people there and show them the new kind of politics we've both been talking about. We've been talking about how important it is that Labour listens or the Conservatives listen - but what is needed right now is that we politicians listen, together.
OOC: Made a small mistake (underlined), hope it's okay if I fixed it above.
the Rt Hon. Elaine Ashbury MP
Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition & Leader of the Conservative Party (2007-present)
Member of Parliament for Banbury (2001-present)
Traits: Media Darling, Campaigning Guru, Constituency Pariah
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#17
Cycle extended 24hrs
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#18
Our loss in Norwich South was disappointing, but it's important to put it in context. In the face of our national polling situation - which is steadily rising but not yet at its peak - the fact that we were able to hold our own is a massive testament to the excellent work our volunteers and our candidate did in this by-election. It's always tricky for a smaller party to compete with the well-funded campaigning monoliths of Labour and the Tories, and I sincerely believe that, come the next general election, Simon Wright will be the next MP for Norwich South. Our messages on issues such as the economy, civil liberties and Iraq are playing very well with all kinds of voters - the two status quo parties should keep that in mind.

The second place performance of the BNP in the Sedgefield by-election is deeply concerning - but the way to respond is not to stumble on our words, wring our hands, hope the problem will go away if politicians just continue playing standard party blame games. We have to be honest - the BNP is a vile, fascist organisation, and they have nothing to offer people but hatred. And that is why, if we go out and confront them, they are doomed to fail. Because hatred can't build homes, it can't fund schools and hospitals, it can't put police on the street. The way we counter the BNP is by exposing them as the ineffectual bigotry-peddling snake oil salesmen that they are, by giving individuals and communities the power to forge their own future, and by being honest about how immigration and diversity are opportunities rather than challenges. 
Sir Lachlan Domnhall Coinneach Duncan MacMahon
Liberal Democrat MP for Gordon (1983-present)
Liberal Democrat leader (2007-)

Fundraising Extraordinaire, Constituency Appeal, Campaign Organiser, Media Darling, Maverick 
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#19
Closed
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#20
The by-elections were a watershed moment for many reasons. The BNP beat both the Tories and the Lib Dems, the SNP had a great night north of the wall, and the Tories proved that in a head to head to head campaign they can win the big one taking a seat that is on their road to 326, whether they can hold it after the election is another matter entirely. The election night was... well it definitely happened. The Tories made a few verbal faux pas and people wonder aloud whether or not Saxon was completely sober for his appearance giving us a very interesting backdrop for this cycle.

Ashbury starts with the customary gloat pointing out that the Tories won in Norwich South and how that means Labour suck. In her second message she talks about the BNP and how it's time everyone started to listen to the left behind people by bringing in immigration controls and other populist things. Croft piled in on Labour before Robertson released a long statement outlining everything I said in the opening blurb.

The Prime Minister opened the interesting part of these proceedings by taking a very carefully constructed line, he rejected triumphalism and tried to speak to the country as a whole whether they voted for him or not. He calls the SNP and BNP the real victors of the night and pledges to stand against them and stand up for ordinary British people, it was a very good line followed up well by Mr Williams talking about stepping away from Westminster and listening to you. MacKeller talked about how Labour received 20k more votes than anyone else, a move ridiculed by many in the press since two of Labour's ultra-safes were on the ballot but it does add some perspective to the situation. Conway makes that argument as effectively as anyone. Ms McMahon was next up taking the Labour line calling for Tory humility and asking why Kirkcaldy matters less than Norwich. Sir Quentin makes a similar argument but phrases it in a more cliche way (rich mates vs everyone else).

Mr Knight chimes in talking about how we need to start talking about immigration before Sweeney levels everyone for focusing on Norwich and forgetting about everything else. Wainwright does the same but couches it in more Labour Party terms, talking about what Labour needed to be rather than what the political system needed to do. Ashbury holds up a mirror to the PM and talks about how all he's doing is trying to pin the blame on the Tories, an effective line in its own right. Sweeney makes the point for him but doubles down in his own position that it is basically the Tories' fault for their divisive rhetoric before Ashbury plays an ace. The invitation to see the peopel directly together is a great move which makes her look conciliatory and bipartisan, it really makes people stop and think. It will be interesting to see how the PM responds.

Sir Dunk rounds us out with a couple of comments, number one lauding the party's efforts in Norwich despite coming third (a decent result when you look at national swings etc.), and number two attacking the BNP. Good stuff to round us out and provide a centrist perspective.

This cycle was very one-sided for large swathes of it, and ironically the side that "won" the ballot were on the back foot for most of this cycle. The thing which, to me, takes this out of being a rout and just a solid Labour win is the Ashbury line at the end about going together to see the people. At the end of the day it was a good line, but this is a comfortable Labour win. XP to Sweeney, Ashbury, Knight, and Wainwright.
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