Friday, November 13, 2009

Hollow 'Victory' For Team Brown

Team Brown is spinning a "resounding victory" at Glasgow NE, to prop up their lamentable leader. But the reality is bad news for Brown. Behind the hype lies record voter apathy.

A very different message from the spin has been sent to Westminster. Voters are deserting the Party in droves with two-thirds not bothering to vote.

With 'comfort', 'resounding' and 'victory' all in one sentence, the BBC proudly proclaimed: 'Labour has claimed a "resounding victory" after comfortably winning the Glasgow North East by-election and seeing off an SNP challenge'. The figures tell a different story.

If New Labour could not win in safe Glasgow NE they could not win anywhere. Resounding sure, resounding voter apathy is more accurate.

Out of 62,475 eligible voters the turnout was a pathetic 32.97%. Around 40,000 didn't bother, preferring to stay at home rather than stomach New Labour. A record low for a Scottish by-election and 12.8% down on the 2005 general election.

In the end, New Labour won Glasgow North East with a majority of 8,111. Only a third of those eligible cast their vote.

New Labour spinners are shouting from the rooftops they got sixty percent of the vote. They got sixty percent of a very low turnout.

Beleaguered Brown's future was riding on the outcome of yesterday's by-election, triggered after disgraced commons speaker Martin quit in the wake of the MPs' expenses scandal.

Glasgow NE is rock solid Labour. Unite union cash was poured into the campaign. The Martin Mafia tried every trick in the book with a demolition job on the SNP candidate. Voters should have been be out in force.

Instead they stayed at home. Only around 15% of voters in a New Labour safe seat could be bothered to come out for them.

Of the votes, more than 6000 were postal votes, around one-tenth of eligible voters. A staggering 30 percent of actual votes cast. A shocking number of voters were registered to cast their ballot by post, highlighted yesterday by the Orange Party, more than double since the last general election, raising fears of election fraud.

Now the SNP has called on the Electoral Commission to investigate whether New Labour abused the postal vote system, after a sudden surge of 1,100 postal votes less than three days before the deadline.

Everyone and their dog had been in Glasgow banging the drum for Brown.

The struggling Supreme Leader even put his neck on the line with a final push for votes, writing a personal letter to 4000 households in a last minute blitz on wavering voters.

On voting day, New Labour swung into action mounting a huge get-out-the-vote campaign with more than 450 MPs and activists flooding the seat.

Glasgow NE was always about the general election and propping up Beleaguered Brown. All that was needed was a ringing endorsement for the struggling Supreme Leader.

Reading from a script prepared earlier by Downing Street, winning candidate Bain was well on message: "This is a resounding victory for Gordon Brown and Labour ... They have backed Gordon Brown in his efforts to secure our economic recovery."

Like heck. Voters preferred to stay at home rather than prop up New Labour. Voters who did bother have re-elected a Party that left their area to rot in one of the biggest deprived slums in Europe.

The result may put off Brown plotters ahead of the general election. But the Glasgow NE result was neither a Brown endorsement nor a New Labour dawn outside one safe seat.

The only crumb of 'comfort' for a fag-end government was it managed to hold on to a seat it was always destined to win anyway. Take that away and what is left is a very hollow victory indeed.

Top picture: New Labour 'victor' Willie Bain

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