Friday, May 07, 2010

A great night for Birmingham.

Some of my predictions went awry.

Magnificently, Labour's Fortress Edgbaston did not fall to the onward march of Deirdre Alden - and boy, was she unhappy this morning. The count was scheduled to complete by 0045 - there was great drama of the ballot boxes being run into the building in the glare of TV lights and the counters were working flat out. The initial rumour was that Deirdre had it by 2000 votes, but then it went into recount and it became clear that Gisela was actually ahead by almost 1300. What followed appear to have been an increasingly desperate series of counts in the vain hope that a bundle of Conservative votes would miraculously appear out of thin air to save Deirdre's embarrassment at not achieving her promised aim of being the next MP for Edgbaston. Eventually, she accepted that no matter how many recounts were carried out, 1300 votes weren't hiding anywhere and the result was declared. This was Tory target 39 and had received visits from the party leader, massive amounts of funding and had been worked solidly by Deirdre for years, but even that wasn't enough to sell Deirdre and Dave to the good folk of Edgbaston. Gisela has actually been working that seat exceptionally hard, connecting with her constituents and doing a cracking local job and deserves full praise for hanging on in there against the full force of Team Alden.

Gisela should have been despatched with the Labour/Tory swing, but her limpet-like attraction to Edgbaston is remarkable. Everyone thought that she was going to lose - possibly even she did, given her unalloyed glee at winning again, but I have said privately that while I expected her to go with the swing, I would not be surprised if she hung on. Next time, I'll put some money on that one. I'm really delighted that she's still there - she does outclass Deirdre by some distance, to be fair.

I thought we'd lose Hall Green, but Roger held on - despite some questionable leaflets - and was returned with a good majority of around 3k. It was being talked about that Respect had been pushed back heavily and that Jerry Evans could take it for the Liberals. Indeed, he ran a leaflet declaring that he was 'Almost There' - only to find out that 'almost' isn't enough. In fact, he slipped back on vote share from 2005 and into third place behind Respect, which made a decent showing, but still split the anti-Labour vote, allowing Roger Godsiff to cruise through to an easier victory than had been originally thought. Voting in some parts of the constituency was described by an observer as 'mental,' with queues down the street waiting to vote into the late evening.

Curiously, both the Liberals and the Tories were talking up Ladywood, with the chairman of the Ladywood Conservative Party claiming that Ayoub Khan, the Liberal candidate, was in a fight for second place. It now appears that Ayoub was fighting the Conservative candidate for that second spot and he lost ground on the 2005 election as Shabana Mahmood jogged through to an easy Labour win with a thumping 10,000 majority and a 55% vote share - up on 2005.

Selly Oak, despite Nationalising Nigel Dawkins' best attempts, stayed with Labour's Steve McCabe, Richard Burden is still with us in Northfield, Khalid Mahmood held on to Perry Barr quite easily, Liam Byrne is safe in Hodge Hill and Jack Dromey retained Erdington without any major drama - humanely despatching another Alden candidacy, although Bobby was promising that he would be back to take the seat at the next election. Well, you gotta have a dream.

My other outlying forecast of an against the odds hold was Solihull, where my initial view was that Lorely Burt would be evicted in favour of a well-backed Tory candidate with very deep pockets (some £100k over the past year has been spent on thousand upon thousand of glossy, colour leaflets delivered as a stream onto doormats across the constituency). Late on in the campaign, I changed my view and I reckoned that she would hold on - which she duly did, but only by the narrowest of margins, just 175 votes.

And my home ground of Yardley? Well, against a multi-millionaire, with an income of £200k from his extra-parliamentary work, a dozen tame councillors and five years to run up support, John Hemming was restricted to just another couple of hundred votes on his majority. I was expecting, given the climate, an increase to around 5-6000, but that wasn't the case. A resurgent Tory campaign and a shoestring Labour one, run by Lynette Kelly and Stewart Stacey, did a fine job of holding him down. Yes, we lost, but the seat is not out of reach, so I'm as happy as I can be with the result.

In short, with the exception of the semi-detached Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham yesterday rejected the new Cameroon form of Conservatism and largely rejected the advance of Cleggmania. Instead, Birmingham opted for a future for the many, not the few.

And now, off to see how the council count fares.

1 comment:

snowflake5 said...

Well done on holding all those Birmingham seats! You lot are big reason why Cameron doesn't have an overall majority.