We start with a confession at Newton Abbot Labour. When we started the campaign for the 2015 election it was from a pretty low historical percentage of voters; just 7% of people had voted for us in 2010. Many people who would have supported Labour voted tactically for the historical progressive alternative – the Liberal Democrats, in an effort to keep the Tory out. In the end it was a close run thing with the Conservatives winning by just 523 votes. But times have changed.
The moment Nick Clegg formed a Coalition with the Conservatives he betrayed the ‘progressive’ historical tradition of the Liberal Party. Gladstone and Lloyd George turned in their graves. The disaster that has overwhelmed working families during the last five years from the selective austerity, the flat-lining economy, zero wage increases, the crisis in our NHS, was aided and abetted by the Liberal Democrats. Now they come back and ask for our support again, quoting VoteSmart as their endorsement. VoteSmart could have held their finger in the wind to get a better idea of what was actually happening in Newton Abbot: and here’s why.
On the 7th January this year Lord Ashcroft Polls took the time to actually ask (poll) the people of Newton Abbot for their opinions. In his research - to see what was happening in historical Conservative/Liberal Democrat marginal seats he found that the Liberal Democrats were polling just 20% of the electorate. That was down from 42% in 2010! That shows how the people of Newton Abbot judged the Liberal Democrats. The Conservatives had lost 4% but were now a full 19% in front of them, a fact - not surprisingly – reflected by the current betting odds of 1/8 on a Conservative victory.
So what happened to Labour in the poll? Our vote share had increased to 13%. We were heading North the Liberal Democrats were disappearing South over the horizon.
Come election time the battle buses of the Conservatives and Liberals rolled into the West Country as usual; it’s funny they never actually go to where the majority of working families live, the cities and towns. The place where traditional Liberal country folk moved to for work. They seemed too busy trying to convert a few seagulls at Lands End and empty holiday homes.
And the result today? A pseudo election choice between two political parties that have been governing together, now trying to convince us that somehow they are totally different. The Liberal Democrats position themselves today as some sort of referee in the Premier League. Well the direction of the polling in Newton Abbot shows that the people just don’t buy it.
If Labour form a government Liberal Democrat MP’s will have a choice. Follow Labour through the voting lobby in support of a progressive Labour manifesto, or disappear into the Rose Garden again.
There is only one true progressive party that has the interests of working families at heart – the Labour Party. Should Mr Miliband form the next government the Labour party will have achieved power for 17 out of 23 years. There are huge benefits for Newton Abbot working families to be associated with that.
Vote Roy Freer - Labour on Thursday and make your voice heard.