Sunday, May 13, 2007

Can a political Jonah save himself?

Glyn Davies has emerged as one of the most unfortunate losses in the last Welsh Assembly elections, losing his own list seat entirely because of the Conservatives' success in winning two constituencies. Many tributes have appeared from politicians on all sides of the political divide.

In the aftermath many have urged Glyn to seek a return to politics, with several suggesting he should stand for Montgomeryshire at the next general election. (Glyn Davies: A Challenge Looms) This is the constituency currently held by Lembit Öpik, not exactly the most popular MP amongst Liberal Democrats at the moment and notorious for routinely backing campaigns that crash and burn. Now Montgomeryshire has a reputation for being a safe Liberal Democrat seat (although contrary to myth it hasn't quite been held by the Liberals/Liberal Democrats for all but four of the last 127 years - see my post An inability to get the figures right or just whatever will benefit?) but nothing is certain in politics and personalities sometimes can have strong positive or negative effects on elections. Indeed as Glyn points out:

This is what happened, in the 'constituency' vote, the Liberal Democrat candidate, Mick Bates, polled around 2,000 more votes than our man, Dan Munford - a great effort by Dan which makes Montgomeryshire a marginal seat. But the 'list' vote was as staggering as its been unnoticed. The Conservative vote surged up to 7,191 while the Lib Dem vote collapsed to just 5,111. We won by 2,080. For the first time ever, we absolutely hammered them.
So will Glyn Davies go for it? Many hope he will.

And can Lembit Öpik avoid giving himself the Backing Of Death?


Manfarang said...

And the vote in the 1935 General Election in Montgomerytshire?

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

Clement Davies (Liberal National) elected unopposed. No Liberal candidate.

Manfarang said...

At the meeting of the Executive of the Montgomeryshire Liberal Association, which was called to adopt a candidate for the 1935 election on the 29th October 1935,Clement Davies said he had 'nothing but admiration for Lloyd George..I still like him but it does not necessarily follow that I am going to agree with everything he says'.Clem also had words of praise for Sir Herbert Samuel's group of independent Liberals.He went on to say that he believed that the Liberal National group had far more influence with the government.
The minutes of the meeting recorded that he had been adopted 'as the Liberal candidate' and the motion had been 'carried with a good majority'.

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

Whilst no doubt true, it was the case that most Liberal National MPs still had a "Liberal Association" in their constituencies. Indeed some went through quite some turmoil - in Huddersfield the MP (William Mabane) was tightrope walking between positions, despite nationally being one of the Liberal Nationals.

In quite a number of constituencies the decision taken by the sitting Liberal MP in 1931 settled the fate of Liberalism in many constituencies, with many moving to the National Government. For example in Ross & Cromarty the sitting MP since 1911 went over and at the 1936 by-election (after he took a peerage and crucially with no Liberal National candidate - instead the National flagbearer was Malcolm MacDonald, though the Unionists nominated Randolph Churchill) the Liberal vote was derisory (4.1%). (Not all followed this pattern - Torrington in 1958 was a Liberal gain from a "National Liberal and Conservative" or whatever precise description was used, whilst in Huddersfield the local Liberals maintained strength to first capture the council and then negotiate a pact for the now two seats in 1950).

A candidate may have been adopted by the local Liberal Association and may have used the label "Liberal" (although the labels used were often confusing - in 1931 the use of "Liberal" and "National" in manifestos bore no relation to how the MPs separate out, with even Herbert Samuel standing as "The Liberal and National candidate) but that does not in and of itself make them a Liberal MP. Davies was elected as a Liberal National as part of the government side, whilst the Liberal Party was in opposition.


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