Saturday, May 08, 2010
Luciana Berger wins Liverpool Wavertree for Labour with an increased majority
It seems fantastical to be typing this entry, I am as stunned as everyone else. I began to believe the hype about how the LibDems were "winning here" as much as you did I expect.
We all thought it was going to be very close and at times over the last few months, I thought we had lost Liverpool Wavertree, the bookmakers put their own money on us losing it.
And yet we won with an increased majority. It was not just an increased turnout that generated that, because of the threat of the Tories, although that played a part of course. There was also an definable move towards Labour with a 5% swing from the LibDems in Wavertree.
And as I reflect upon that, I wonder why it is that we allowed ourselves to believe the hype - mainly generated by the LibDems themselves I think but which certainly took the pundits in too who repeated it verbatim, that they were going to win - or were at least in with a very good chance.
Interestingly the LP regionally and nationally refused to make Liverpool Wavertree a key seat, despite it being such a big LibDem target, telling us we were going to win and not offering any support externally. Again it was a message we should have been remembering.
In August 2007, I wrote on an elections blog that 2005 and the Iraq war unpopularity at that time was the LibDem's big chance to win this seat and that having failed to do so, they would miss out this time. I talked in another entry about a new Labour campaigning enthusiasm and the winning of local council seats back from the LibDems with all year round campaigning. That we were learning to reconnect with the electorate and were much better organised. And presciently I said "The increasing popularity of the Labour Party (in Liverpool) shows that Jane (the then MP who subsequently retired) should expect to increase her majority, not decrease it. By all means give Labour in Liverpool a run for our money, by all means campaign, but please dont fool yourselves into thinking that LibDems are "winning here".
Now assuming that was not all hubris, and I don't remember it being so at the time, why did I forget it?
I wish I had put some money on the result, then!
There was controversy about Luciana's selection, with the media finding her story interesting in an otherwise fairly dull start to the campaign and I think we allowed ourselves to think that the parochial "not from round here" message of the LibDem campaign was having an effect.
We forgot of course that Liverpool has grown and developed over hundreds of years by people coming to live here from around the world. I tell the new citizens when I award them their nationality certificates all about the Irish, Welsh, Chinese, Africans et al who have built our city. So why did we think that the fact that Luciana had come from London would make a difference to the result? Did we learn nothing from St Helens and Mr Woodward for instance?
One woman came in to our Campaign HQ for a big poster for her window because as a London ex-pat herself, she was standing in solidarity with Luciana and wanted to show that support for her after the LibDems made "London" sound like somewhere shameful.
So what I am saying is not that we should be surprised Luciana won for Labour in Wavertree with such a good result, but that it was ever in doubt. Pundits and political journalists, activists and campaigners should in future listen less to the loud noises from the LibDem camp and concentrate on the facts, and I include myself in that!
The result was
Luciana Berger Labour 20132
Colin Eldridge LibDem 12965
Andrew Garnett Conservative 2830
There were 5 others who got nothing much each, all losing their deposits I think. The BNP managed only a derisory 150 votes.
Luciana will undoubtedly be a good MP, I would expect her to be active within the constituency and continue to do lots of visits and to meet lots of people and I would not be surprised to see her star further in the ascendancy in years to come. One to watch!