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The coalition faces a by-election test

5 November 2010

The court’s decision that the Oldham East and Saddleworth election must be re-run
because Phil Woolas was guilty of illegal practices under election law presents the coalition with a dilemma. Do both parties campaign
fully in this three-way marginal?

Oldham East and Saddleworth is number 83 on the Tory target seats list, it would require just over a five percent swing
for them to win. But the Lib Dems are even closer, only a hundred odd votes behind Labour.

If both of the coalition parties went all out for it, Labour would have a much better chance of holding on and winning the seat would be a welcome morale boost for the Lib Dems who were down at
nine percent in one poll this week. I expect that the Tories will field a candidate. But just how much support the candidate gets will be fascinating. Certainly from a coalition perspective, a Lib
Dem win would help Nick Clegg soothe the jangled nerves of some in his party. 

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Show comments
  • John David Barnett


    I think you mean just deserts.

  • Rupert Fotherington-Smythe

    Why on earth would anyone vote for either of them – especially in that neck of the woods? The LibDems are quislings and Woolas (and NuLab) are self-promoting careerist little s*!ts.

  • Minnie Ovens

    The Coalition have very little chance of winning in any shape or form.
    Certainly far less than in the past election.
    Labour might well select someone with an IQ of more than 70 which would help them.

  • Richard Calhoun

    The Tories should leave the field clear for the Libdem candidate at the upcoming by-election.
    He was truly robbed by Woolas, who blatantly told lies, shame on the Labour Party for not censuring him at the time.

  • Naomi Muse

    @TGF UKIP The comment was on tactics to have the Tories not field a candidate and ensure the Lib Dem got in thereby keeping coalition continuity.

  • Naomi Muse

    @moderator Why was Salieri deleted?


    Result in May:
    Labour 14,186
    LibDem 14,083
    Tory 11,773
    BNP 2,546
    UKIP 1,170
    Christian 212

    Quite amusing to see on this most Tory blogsite just how little confidence is displayed and how little enthusiasm there is for fielding a candidate and mounting a Tory challenge to Labour.

    Dave couldn’t convince the general electorate in May and ain’t doing much better with his own faithful now,

  • Paddy

    Naomi Muse: I agree with you the Tories should let a Lib/dem stand.

    I don’t think Woolas will appeal. It will cost him too much.

    The Labour party have now dumped him.

    They have washed their hands of him – just like they’ve done with Blair.

  • Boudicca

    Woolas gets his just desserts. It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving creep.

  • Naomi Muse

    Labour supporters in Oldham will be pretty miffed at having been duped by Woolas’ extremist and clearly illegal leafleting. They worked hard to ensure that he got in.

    The Lib Dems should field their candidate again. The Tories should not bother. Nigel Farage will ensure that UKIP have someone standing.

    The only question really is whether there will be a swing of disaffected Labour voters or not – surely?

  • J.Wright

    Gaffe of the Year!!Who decided to run Smearmaster Simon Hughes to comment on the Woolas Affair.Pot calling the Kettle Black surely.Anyone remember the dirtiest campaign ever,_to stop Peter Tatchell in Bermondsey in 1983.

  • Osred

    It would be an infringement of human rights if an imprisoned murderer or paedophile were prevented from standing, so to preempt such as challenge I suggest a candidate be selected from prison for all 3 wings of the Euro Party. They would, of course, be free to pick the offender of their choice.

    The locals are an irrelevance so we can, as is normal. discount their ill informed opinion

  • denis cooper

    It would be interesting to see how this by-election panned out if it was held under AV.

    Which it would be, if it was a by-election for the Northern Ireland Assembly or for the Irish Parliament – an example of the latter here:

    And which it might even be, if Woolas manages to drag out the legal proceedings for long enough …

    The dilemma for the Tories and the LibDems would be solved – both would put up candidates, with each recommending to their supporters that they should award their second preference votes to the other coalition candidate.

    Far more importantly, it would also solve the recurrent dilemma which affects numerous electors under FPTP –

    “Shall I vote for this candidate, the one who I’d really like to win; or shall I vote for this other candidate who I don’t really want, but who seems to be the candidate most likely to block that other candidate, the one who I definitely don’t want?”

    Of course in practice it would be more complicated than just Tory supporters ranking the LibDem candidate second, and vice versa, because committed UKIP supporters would still only rank the UKIP candidate:

    UKIP 1

    while many others who previously felt constrained to put their single cross against the name of the Tory candidate might well take advantage of the new freedom to express their true preferences with this ranking:

    UKIP 1
    Tory 2

    and in this case either stop there, or go on to

    UKIP 1
    Tory 2
    LibDem 3

    While some tribal Tory supporters might stop at

    Tory 1

    rather than taking the advice of the Tory party, holding their noses, and going on to

    Tory 1
    LibDem 2

    While as well as some

    LibDem 1
    Tory 2

    there could also be some

    LibDem 1
    Labour 2

    but those second preferences would only come into play if the LibDem candidate failed to make it through to the last two.

    And also some

    Labour 1
    LibDem 2

    but it’s unlikely that those second preferences would come into play, because that would mean that the Labour candidate had failed to make it through to the last two.

    I realise that some people will complain that this is too difficult for voters to understand, but it really isn’t – the rules are basically on these lines:

    If A is the candidate you’d most like to become your MP, you put the number 1 against A’s name.

    If after A you can’t be bothered to choose between the other candidates because you think that they’re all equally rubbish, you don’t bother to choose between them – you just fold up your ballot paper and put it in the box.

    On the other hand, if you think that although B is rubbish it would be even worse if C won, you put the number 2 against B’s name to try to block C.

    If after ranking A top as the candidate who you really prefer, and ranking B second as the candidate who you think is most likely to block C who would be even worse, you then couldn’t care less about D, E etc, you just fold up your ballot paper and put it in the box.

    And so on, just stopping when you’ve got to the “couldn’t care less about the others” point.

    The Irish seem to manage it, and it’s a damn sight easier than trying to work out whether bothering to vote in a UK parliamentary election could possibly make any difference on something you care about, or whether in reality it’s decided in Brussels anyway and you’re wasting your time by voting.

  • strapworld

    Trevors Den shows his total lack of knowledge on electoral law and the rules controlled by the electoral commission.

    You have to be a registered political party to stand in an election. As far as I know the coalition is not a political party. I am sure Cameron would love that greatly but as it stands now. There will either have to be a pact for just one partner of the coalition to stand -and alienate the other partners local supporters- OR all parties stand.

    Perhaps, as Martin Cole suggests, the smaller parties could agree to support one candidate from whatever party to stand on an In Out EU Referendum policy.

  • Tiddy

    Perhaps the people you speak of can join the Tory prison hall of fame?

    Maybe the Archer wing, or perhaps the Aitkin one?

  • Marcher Baron

    Time for a Tea Party equivalent candidate to stand up for freedom from the EU and political correctness, plus a small state.

  • mick

    what about the election pledges made by the libdems are they not guilty of misleading the electorate

  • Paddy

    Could we have his head on a stick.

  • TrevorsDen

    I think the coalition should fight by elections as a coalition. It presents a major opportunity for the coalition to put its case.

    That ought to extend to selecting a candidate – who should be local.
    I doubt in this case the local parties have the brains to figure this out or work together.
    But if they did …

  • Martin Cole

    Perhaps the smaller parties could rally around a joint candidate for an in/out EU Referendum as all the three main parties once promised!

  • Verity

    The Coalition hasn’t been in long enough for people to have developed a hatred for the players. Six months from now, anyone tainted with membership of the Coalition probably – unless independently popular – probably wouldn’t win.

  • Neil McEvoy

    The Conservatives should stand aside – and insist on getting their way in some policy debate with the Lib Dems as a quid pro quo.

  • Jane

    It does not matter who wins the election. This Judgement (if it is not overturned) will set a precedent in election material and ensure that all candidates behave honourably and not seek to cause offence to the community nor lie about political opponents. The material produced by Mr Woolas was shameful – i have never seen such shocking electoral material in my life.

    There are a few issues for me which I would wish to have clarification on. Will Mr Woolas pay for his own High Court Action? I do not care if some other body funds it as long as the taxpayer does not foot the bill. Somehow I do not think the Labour Party can meet the costs. Secondly, Ed Miliband was arrogant to appoint Mr Woolas to office given that the outcome of the proceedings had not been decided. This would never have occurred in the real world. Thirdly, what happens now? Does Mr Woolas continue to sit as an MP (and draw his salary) pending the forthcoming election because of the Appeal? We do not even know if his petition has legal grounds for judicial review.

    I am pleased at the decision. This type of “dirty” electioneering is to be deplored.

  • Mark Cannon

    There should be Conservative and Liberal Democrat Candidates. If there were only a single “Coalition” candidate, he/she might still lose which would be very damaging. Better to risk a split vote.

  • voter

    Whatever the coalition decide and whoever stands it would be very surprising if Labour did not increase their majority.

  • Ian Walker

    It’s a no brainer, there’s no chance of a Tory win, so let a LD candidate run on a coalition ticket. Will shut up the LDs grumbling about the poll ratings.

  • GDT

    i’d run on a coalition ticket…

  • Vulture

    The chances of a Lib Dem win – whether the Tories stand or not – are less than zero in the present climate. They will be hammered.

    But will Liebore again field the despicable Woolarse as their candidate? How many more MPs or ex-MPs can they afford who are either a) facing jail for fraud b) facing Police investigation for the same ( Yes Denis McShame – this means you or c) exposed as cheating liars like Woolarse?

    Given that prisoners will all vote Liebore – should Liebore press for a new constituency in Wormwood Scrubs?

  • Mustafa Kip

    Er. What about some of the jangled nerves in the Conservative Party?

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