The Thick of It

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Does anyone actually read election leaflets?

There was a minor media furore when Phil Woolas was booted out of parliament for telling lies on his election leaflets. Last night Labour won Oldham East and Saddleworth and increased a slender majority of the shameless Lib Dems. What particularly struck me is that almost none of the reporting or TV  interviews with voters mentioned the Woolas "scandal". People weren't interested it seems. This suggests that nobody really cares about political leaflets, other than for the nuisance they cause to porches and doormats. If they really mattered there would have been a backlash against Labour, but there wasn't.

The media have also reported the drop in support for the Lib Dems and Tories as "expected" and typical for a government at this stage. When Labour lost by elections it was always magnified to be a huge setback for Brown. The real test, for the media and Miliband's Labour, will come when there is a by election in a Tory-Labour marginal. The result and how that is reported will then give a good indication of both the political and media mood.

Despite everything, Labour expected to win Oldham East and the only "disastrous" result for any party would have been for Labour to lose. Miliband has passed his first test with this by election a good demonstration of the enthusiasm that seems to be back within the Labour Party. Victor Debbie Abrahams reported that there were over 1400 Labour volunteers helping her campaign. That is phenomenal. Onwards to the next one. More of that sort of turnout from the Labour ranks and a win over the deeply unpopular Tories in a future by election is a real possibility.

UPDATE: just to be clear, this isn't a defence of Woolas' actions, merely me noting that despite the gravity of his expulsion this wasn't that important in the campaign.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think the issue is that although people care about election leaflets, they care alot more about losign their jobs. Labour didn't experience a backlash only because of an even bigger desire to give a shot accross the bow for the coalition government. In that scenario, the result makes Labour nothing more than the lesser of two evils.