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Tories keen to exploit Labour’s Southern Discomfort in local elections

19 April 2013

2:49 PM

19 April 2013

2:49 PM

David Cameron’s local election kick-off speech today notably contained no reference to UKIP, but 12 mentions of Labour. The Conservative leader and his colleagues concerned with campaigns are on a damage-limitation exercise about the party’s chances in the local elections, and as well as taking the attack to Labour on the policy front – arguing that the Tories have freed councils from Labour’s restrictions, kept council tax down and reduced local government waste – a plank of their strategy involves attacking Labour’s prowess in southern council seats.

The key phrase which you can expect to hear whenever there is evidence that the Labour campaign is faltering in the south is ‘Labour’s Southern Discomfort’. CCHQ developed it after Labour failed to make an impact in Eastleigh, and hopes that it will be able to argue that this May, the Labour party is demonstrating it can’t really do One Nation politics as effectively as it had hoped. Grant Shapps emphasised this on the World at One today, saying:

‘This is the moment where if Ed Miliband wants to be a One Nation party, he needs to prove he is winning in the south east and the east and the south west. There are lots of parts of the country where he needs to prove that this isn’t an election of southern discomfort.’

As for UKIP, one thing to watch out for is the increasing prominence of planning on campaign literature. It’s no coincidence that as the green belt appears on UKIP local election leaflets, Tory MPs are growing increasingly jittery about any Westminster moves to encroach on green spaces. It’s another example of Nigel Farage trying to branch out his party’s appeal from simply Europe and immigration.

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  • Hexhamgeezer

    So CCHQ’s big idea is to pretend that UKIP don’t exist? I thought they and LibLab were out to court all the fruitcakes loonies and closet racists.

  • Makroon

    So, Red reckons stealing the old “one nation” line is a spiffing wheeze, and now Cameron has decided that the old Brown line about “hard working families” is a vote winner – looks like mutually assured suicide.

  • Russell

    So the South of England, where the majority of the population live, is not included in Milibrains One Nation! What a plan!
    I hope UKIP give labour a real fright in the North of England and tories in many of those constituencies switch to UKIP along with a sizeable chunk of previously labour voters. Now that would shake things up in advance of 2014 MEP elections and the 2015 general election.

    • David Lindsay

      No, it would not. Tories switching to UKIP, as at Rotherham where that was what happened, is not a fright to Labour, which still romped home at Rotherham. It is a fright to the Tories, who are now a peculiarity of the South East, and who are not doing particularly well even there.

      Labour won the 2005 Election handily while holding barely any seats in the South outside London. It can be done. It has been done. Whereas the Tories have never won without the North, where they now have to pretend to themselves that the people switching to UKIP used to vote Labour. No, they did not.

      • Russell

        If sufficient labour voters decide they have had enough of the lies, spin, smear and misrepresentation dished out by labour MP’s and give them a kicking by registering their disgust by voting UKIP in either protest or because of UKIP policies, this WOULD shake things up as I said previously. Simply stating it won’t doesn’t make it so.
        My point about Milibrains One Nation being false is still valid if labour cannot con sufficient voters in the South.

        • David Lindsay

          But it won’t happen. The traditional Labour vote, which did take to mass abstention in places in the last years of Blair but which would never under any circumstances vote for anyone else, is now well and truly back in the fold. Both Con Dem parties could return no MEPs at all from the three Northern regions next year, partly because of UKIP (and I don’t begrudge UKIP that, quite the reverse), but mostly because of how united and energised the Old Labour family now is again.

          • Russell

            And how many labour MEP’s do you think will still be on that particular gravy train next year? I would suggest a lot less than Tory and they are going to get wiped out.

            • David Lindsay

              Then you need to read more. Specific European voting intentions are already being polled, and the Tories are vying with UKIP for a second place 10 points behind Labour. That has now been clear for months.

              • Wessex Man

                ” I believe in miracles in everything you say.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      So most of the population of 64 million live in the South ? I find that an incredible assertion and attach this table…..http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_of_the_countries_of_the_United_Kingdom……………………………….in fact I see only 35% UK population in Southern England

      • Russell

        A fair point, however if you look at the South East, London and the South West as prime Tory territory plus a lot of areas in the Midlands, I think a majority of the population is just about managed,

        • David Lindsay

          We’ll see how “prime Tory territory” any of those still is on the afternoon of 3rd May. The South West and the Midlands, especially.

          • Wessex Man

            Yes I expect them to show an awlful lot of UKIP gains, not long now!

  • David Lindsay

    What “Southern Discomfort”? Failure to win a seat that Labour has never won? The Tories have never won an overall majority without that seat, and they also failed to win it.

    Based on last year’s 60 per cent showings in villages that Labour had not contested since the 1970s, if ever, that party has nothing to worry about.

    And remember that Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Southampton are no longer administratively in the counties that bear their names. Nor is Portsmouth in Hampshire in that sense. Nor is Stoke in Staffordshire. Nor is either Blackburn or Blackpool in Lancashire. There are other examples besides.

    Therefore, the Conservative Party ought to walk these county council elections. But they are not going to. Not at all.

    • Wessex Man

      yes David but zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

      • David Lindsay

        Not written for you, luv.

        • Wessex Man

          oh no don’t chat me up David.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      Cameron will content himself with Witney where a Labour MP has to be first elected as a Conservative

      • David Lindsay

        Labour won the Chipping Norton council ward last year.

  • Mynydd

    So Mr Cameron as already given up on all points north of the Thames. What a player.

    • David Lindsay

      It was made quite clear on Wednesday that a line had been drawn from the Bristol Channel to the Wash, beyond which, in relation to London, all territory had literally been alienated, and declared occupied rather than integral.

      • GUBU

        David, did I miss something? Like a lot of people, I was probably distracted by Mrs Thatcher’s funeral. Please enlighten us…

        • David Lindsay

          I would, but I am not allowed to on here. I am subject to moderation that does apply to anyone else. I am a paying subscriber to this magazine.

          • GUBU

            Quick, David, tell us all before the man with the back to front jacket comes back into the room…

            • David Lindsay

              It is incredible how quickly things are taken down on here. If you can, scroll down to the last few paragraphs of this – http://davidaslindsay.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/questions-to-prime-minister.html

              • GUBU

                …and the straps are now secured. Relax, David, the cartoons will start shortly.

                • David Lindsay

                  Keep proving my point. I have had just as much difficulty posting on the website of the New Statesman, to which I am also a paying subscriber, any questions about the character and cost of this triumphalistic, militaristic, unprecedented rally by the South East and its party.

                  Neoliberal capitalism and its neoconservative foreign policy are now the declared official ideology of this State, and beyond question even on the floor of the House of Commons, the business of which has been suspended in order to glorify that ideology.

                  Obeisance was made not only by Parliament, but also by the monarchy, by the churches, by the print and broadcast media, by the Corporation of the City of London, and most especially by the Police and by the Armed Forces.

                  Political office and military rank are now interchangeable, even identical. No other reasonable inference can be drawn from the burial with full military honours of a politician who was never a member of any of the
                  Armed Forces.

                  And a line has been drawn from the Bristol Channel to the Wash, beyond which, in relation to London, all territory has literally been alienated, and declared occupied rather than integral. In view of the above, we in the Occupied Territories are well and truly bracing ourselves.

                • GUBU

                  Oh no…he’s managed to wriggle free! Call the nurses back and tell them to bring the tranquiliser gun this time…

                • zanegray

                  The Romans had a similar line from Lincoln to Exeter.

                  Below was the prosperous and peaceful part of the population and above…….

                • Wessex Man

                  About time you changed the record David and looked up th most deprived areas of England according to the lasty LABOUR Government!

          • Russell

            Perhaps you should consider switching your subscription to the Guardian, where you would feel quite at home with hatred and bile which have been prominent in open comments this past week

            • David Lindsay

              I am already a subscriber to The Guardian, which offered me the most amazing deal, so don’t believe talk that it is nearly bankrupt. Unless it is, on account of practically giving itself away to anyone who has ever written for it, even just the once?

              The most pointed questioning of this event and of its expense has been in the Telegraph, by Iain Martin after it and, brilliantly, by Peter Oborne before it. Both made the same point: that this effectively declares everywhere outside the South, and especially the South East, to be less British, even un-British.

              We are living in a different country after this, in all the ways that I set out.

              • Russell

                Don’t mention the tax affairs of the Guardian (GMG), which is probably the only reason they are not bankrupt.

              • Russell

                Being a subscriber to the Guardian no doubt explains why you receive much attention by the moderators here. The language of hatred and comments celebrating the death of an old lady are disgraceful and not wanted by any decent newspaper.

                • David Lindsay

                  You are only proving my point. Britain is now effectively partitioned, at least until the General Election of which the coming local elections will be the harbinger. A Tory Government can now never be a legitimate or even a responsive Government of the whole country, and that party now has no desire to be. On the contrary, it actually defines itself by its violent hatred of everywhere outside the South East, where it thinks that it is more popular than it really is.

                • Russell

                  And by your own view, A labour government can now never be a legitimate or even a responsive government of the whole country, and defines itself by its violent hatred of everywhere outside the North, particularly the parts who burnt effigies of Mrs Thatcher and those in London shouting Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, Dead, Dead, Dead, plus of course those foul mouthed posters inhabiting Guardian and Mirror land.

                • David Lindsay

                  But that is not true, as the local elections results showed last year and will show this year, and as the European results will massively confirm next year when Labour expects to top the poll in all none English regions as well as in Wales, where the Tories came top last time.

                  Any party that continues to glorify a politician who can inspire that level of hatred on the part of entire areas that together contain well over half the population can never even wish to govern on behalf of the whole country, and in fact openly does not wish to do so.

                • Russell

                  If those same IQ2’s who were carrying out those disgusting scenes had been told the truth, about Labour involvement in pit closures (far more than Mrs T), and about labour plans for British Steel closures/privatisation and British Shipbuilding, perhaps some of that hatred would have been directed at the party/individuals responsible for the massive changes in those Industries. It is labour and the Trade Unions who poisoned the minds of those miners, steelworkers and shipbuilders made redundant, and labour who deserve contempt from those workers.

                • David Lindsay

                  They are quite old enough to have been living in the pit villages and the steel towns at the time. As they were. And they, or their husbands, were sacked. By her. No one is that bitter about things that were done to other people. Does “IQ2” just mean “Northern”, or just mean “working-class”, or both? There you go again, proving my point.

                • Russell

                  Not a word about the miners sacked from over 350 pits which were closed so cruelly by the nasty uncaring labour government?

                  The IQ2 reference is aimed at the brainless thugs burning effigies of Mrs Thatcher, those brainless idiots who believed the labour lies/spin machine and were holding celebration parties for the death of an old lady, for the brainless morons chanting Death, and especially for you, David Lindsay as it seems most appropriate from your posts..

                • David Lindsay

                  So I was right, then.

                  When Labour Governments increase public spending in the North, then they help the Labour Party and damage the Tories. When Tory Governments cut public spending in the North, then they help the Labour Party and damage the Tories. Either type of Government at Westminster is bound to be good for the Labour Party and bad for the Tories in the North.

                • Russell

                  ???What are you on about???

                  And still no comment on the 250 + pits that labour closed!

                  I have not seen one comment of yours that has been ‘correct’.

                  Nothing in your comment relates to my previous comment!

                  Are you in the same asylum as Gordon? Ask the nurse for stronger medication, the current one is ineffective.

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  He never responds to inconvenient truths.

              • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                A single party police state if you could have your way.

                • David Lindsay

                  A single-party, certainly single-ideology, military state was what we showed the world that we were on Wednesday. With only its south-easternmost corner properly in it, and the rest held, no doubt, by the highly militarised policing brought in from the South during the Thatcher years. If not by actual military occupation, which one ought not to rule out.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        Yes, i heard that too the old Severn to Wash as a sort of Mason-Dixon Line……was it Iain Martin ?

        • David Lindsay

          Quite possibly. And it is now perfectly true.

          • Wessex Man

            “I believe in fairytells.” zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      Yes which restricts him greatly to a third of UK population assuming he was a winner in London itself which is 13% UK population approx the same as Scotland + Wales, but i cannot see Cameron sweeping Greater London somehow. In fact NW, NE and Yorkshire are as big a population bloc as London + Southeast

  • telemachus

    I just heard Grant Schapps on WATO and he droned on about Labours One Nation Challenge in the Southern Counties
    As Benn said he appeared to be making excuses for failure now prospectively

    • MH50

      Did you write “droned-on” with a sense of irony because absolutely no-one can beat you on that score?

      • telemachus

        Try Mustard

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