Friday, 16 December 2011

The message from Feltham and Heston

When by-elections occur there is a general expectancy for the party (or parties) in power to lose ground to their opponents. There is a general expectancy that the main opposition party will increase its vote and this tendency is strengthened if the by-election is in a constituency already held by that opposition party. So it was no surprise to see that Labour won the Feltham and Heston by-election yesterday with an increased majority. It was no surprise to see the number of votes go down for the Conservatives and for the Liberal Democrats.

It was not a verdict, as Ed Miliband put it, "on the government's failed economic plan". This presumes that the economic plan has failed when many would not agree. In fact constraints on public spending were inevitable after the note was passed from the former labour treasury minister that there is no money left.

According to the victor Ms Malhotra, it showed many things including "the verdict of young people in Feltham and Heston looking for a job." No it didn't. The election showed how many votes went to each candidate, nothing more nothing less. There was one definite statistic and that was the turnout of 28.8%, the lowest in a by-election for 11 years.If there is any clear message from this by-election it is that we are desperate to change our electoral system.

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