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An apology to Jarda who raised the question of postal votes. It appears that they will play rather a large part in our little local difficulty. Postal vote applications were up 149% in this constituency, to 9,845 for this election.

The impact of postal votes has led to the LibDem Leader in BIrmingham calling for separate counting of postal votes and a number of new safeguards. It's believed (it said so on the World at One at least) that the Tories are backing this, but whether Labour will is another matter. And now the Police have been invited to get involved (I'm not sure kicking the votes downstairs and blaming it on an accident will help...)

Perhaps it explains why Labour are taking it so easy in Keighley. They already know the result? Surely not...

Overheard

In a London bar while out celebrating the victory of the mighty Tykes.

"I'd vote for the BNP if they had any other policies"

So, uhhr, you'd vote for them whatever their other policies happended to be, but you won't vote for them because of the one policy they're known for. Hmm.

Second speculations

Well, now we know the way the election's going to pan out on the doorsteps (not my doorstep you understand, neither hide nor hair has been seen of anyone nor of any leaflet). Labour's building up the fear of the BNP and the Tories. They're desperate to get out the vote. The LibDems are playing their usual long game. The Tories are relying on fear, and aiming at the elderly. The BNP are turning everything they can into a racist incident, and spreading rumour after rumour (well, it works better than a ground team I guess).

Some random observations from a lot of conversations over the last few days:

1) The Tories are having trouble with their ground-work. They can't get enough good canvassers. Poulsen is bright and capable, but he hasn't got good enough support. There are fears that the vote in Ilkley won't be getting out.

2) Cryer's team are really concentrating on fear of the Tories. They barely mention Blair or the government (which is sensible). They're struggling to overcome a lot of resistance amongst the BritAsian community, particularly the young, who may not vote at all. Blair is universally disliked (I know, tell you something you don't know).

3) However, fear of Tories and BNP will be getting the Labour vote out; they'll be picking up a lot of unexpected votes in high Tory areas (contributory votes one might say) from Labour supporters who wouldn't normally bother to go to the polls.

4) Immigration is not the main issue for anyone outside of the Keighley wards. However, it comes up on the radar as associated with other issues (usually crime).

5) But, the BNP is an issue. Voting patterns are altering because of people's response to them

6) From lack of a proper ground team, the BNP message isn't spreading. Outside of Keighley Central, East and West, they're not gathering votes at all. They're pretty well stuck. I've only spoken to a few people from Worth Valley ward, and they're suggesting swings to Labour--can't confirm that at all.

7) The LibDems are doing better than anyone thought. Quietly. Whether it will be enough to cost Labour the seat I'm not sure. I think Poulsen might start praying for that.

Week Two predictions--Ann Cryer by 1,000 votes. BNP to get <4,500. LibDems to increase votes. Turnout over 65% this time.

woops!

Just noticed that in an earlier crib note, I suggested the Tory candidate in the last election was Andrew Cooke. It was, of course, Simon. That's what you get for c n p ing from the Beeb. Nobody noticed though. Maybe nobody cared!

Baby blues

And so along comes the LibDems manifesto to round off the big three. At least it's shorter than the other parties'. UNfortunately, Charlie doesn't seem to know his own tax policy, but some of us might be re-assured by that (I'm sure Howard knows his, but given the evidence of recent days, is the one he's sharing really the one he's intending to pass on?).

It's all fairly liberal, of course. But there are some points which could really work in our constituency. Anti-social 'cracking down on licensees' (easy to say when you're not getting funding from the big brewers). Lots on the elderly not paying for care, and getting more on their pensions. Scrapping of Council Tax (though then some confusion over the bureaucratic costs of using money from well-off councils to support less well-off ones.

The big ones we'd support, of course, are on the scrapping of iD card proposals, a return to fundamental British standards of liberty, and a single equality act. Hmm, and only one paragraph (and that not very well high-lighted) on Europe--as in European Constitution anyway. And that's attached to a binding referendum which is a retreat from their old policy. 

Well, wonder if it'll be enough for a breakthrough?

As expected

It appears that the immigration debate is starting to backfire. The Tory (and, by implication, BNP) concentration on the subject and nothing but the subject is motivating Labour supporters, and ensuring they'll actually go to the polls. Meanwhile, those most likely to passively support the BNP are traditionally those least likely to vote (particularly if this weather holds up).

Secure borders?

Funnily enough, it doesn't look like our borders WILL be that secure under the Tories.

Meanwhile, Labour launches its manifesto, and it's possibly the most boring document I've ever seen (and that's including the full text of the FoIA legislation). Hidden away in Chapter Three is the stuff I've been looking forward to--a points system for immigration, language tests, financial bonds, fingerprinting of all entrants, and 'electronic borders system', national register (course, none of this is about immigration, but about control of the populace already here), new control orders for detention without trial.

And then there's this (which will please KC)--

We will use our presidency of the EU to look at how to ensure content creators can protect their innovations in a digital age. Piracy is a growing threat and we will work with industry to protect against it

GIven the massive evidence that illegal downloading of choons doesn't affect sales of music at all, you'd think they'd take a leetle more care over that one. But, no, in thrall to big business as always, and willing to destroy the European software industry (and e-business culture) to help their American big business friends. Luvverly.

Ho hum. How ghastly. For a look at when Labour manifestoes had something to do with Labour values, check out this site.

Time out

One of those weirdly inconsequential 'isn't it funny up north' articles on the Keighley constituency from The Times. The writer had the same attitude when he was at Leeds Uni. 1500 words that manage to say sod all.

The Indie also covers the Keighley story. A much better article, though the author does manage to put Ilkley in the wrong valley (the Worth?). And makes that cardinal error when criticising someone's spelling--doing the same himself. It's Haworth, not Howarth.