Saturday, November 08, 2008

This Week's Elections

Its been a week of interesting elections - three of them. I got the results of two right - and one spectacularly wrong.

First up was Tuesday's US Presidential Election. Like almost everyone in the world, I'd expected Barack Obama to win. Although John McCain is a very special man, I would probably have allowed my heart to rule my head and voted for Obama myself. He's shown himself to be an inspirational politician. And there is no reason to believe that he will be any less 'conservative' than McCain would have been. His main message since has election has been about his commitment to economic recovery and tax cuts for 95% of American taxpayers. Only thing that worries me is the portrayal of the arrival of the new President elect as akin to the 'second coming'. Truth is that Obama cut his teeth in the tough and rough school of Chicargo politics. For all his charm, he must be a devious and unscrupulous operator to have survived. And he's chosen a brute as his Chief of Staff. His foreign policy is going to be dominated by a tougher line in Afghanistan and a hard line in Iran. His election promises us rather more charm from the occupant of the White House, who could well rebuild some love and respect for the US across the world. As always, Charles Moore has written a lovely piece on this today.

Second interesting election was Glenrothes on Thursday. I cannot understand why Labour's victory is being reported by the media as a surprise. Since Gordon Brown decided to visit the constituency himself, I've not had the slightest doubt that Labour would win. He would never have gone there unless his private polling was predicting victory. The margin was a surprise though. Even though I would like to be really churlish, I cannot deny that it was a good result for Labour, and poor for everyone else. It was particularly poor for the SNP. I can see that this opinion is challengable (because there was an 8% swing to the SNP). But in politics, momentum is everything. Labour managed 'expectation' in a very professional and cunning way, while Alex Salmond needed a setback to puncture the insufferable cockiness that seems to have infected him of late.

The third interesting election was for President of the Liberal Democrats. Well, it was of interest to me because I will be Lembit' Opik's Conservative opponent at the next General Election. I met Lembit on Welshpool's High Street yesterday, and he told me that he was confident of victory. Must admit that I agreed with him. Knowing how important 'name recognition' is in elections, I couldn't believe that someone so well known could lose to someone most of us had never heard of. And it wasn't just losing. This was the sort of result we expect to see in places like North Korea! I was truly astounded by the scale of Baroness Ros Scott's victory - 72% to 22%. Obama only won by 52% to 47%. I've no idea what this means for my own chances of becoming an MP - if anything.

Not many shopping days left before Xmas, so in this season of goodwill, this blog offers congratulations to Barack Obama, Lindsay Roy and Baroness Ros Scott.


denise cobbard-wise said...

My reading of the situation is this....

Lembit's defeat is not good news for you Glyn, I am afraid.

Sadly, he will now have only the constituency to focus on.

If he had of won the Presidency, he would have been out of Montgomeryshire most of the time campaigning all over the UK with little time for the folks back here in Wales.

Alas, he will now be firmly fixed on the election ahead and 'on your case'.

Be in no doubt, you will have to up your game now Glyn.

My advice? Take the game to him - keep ratcheting up the pressure on his failures, on what he hasn't delivered for his people.

We are so badly served in Mid-Wales by the Lib Dem hegemony.

Ther are so complacent - they believe they are born to rule here.

Prove them wrong Glyn - prove them wrong!

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

I guess I must be wound up – must be because I got up in the middle of the night. I guess I am anxious about the back-log of work that’s building up – it’s nice to see my law firm picking up fee paying clients, but it is also a source of stress because of ‘hard deadlines’ which is the life of any US lawyer, including Chicago lawyers of which I am one even though my practice is on America’s East Coast. Once a Chicago lawyer always a Chicago lawyer. So “as it ‘appens”, I am very familiar with Chicago politics having lived in Chicago about 5 years and most of that in downtown Chicago immersed in Chicago’s legal community. I am the only person in Chicago to be sworn in as a US citizen and on the same morning sworn in as a US lawyer, the Chicago Law Bulletin sent a journalist to travel with me and mum between the Federal courthouse in downtown Chicago to a State court (or more accurately a state court for that morning) to be sworn in as a lawyer, I like to say “Chicago Lawyer”.

When I moved to the USA I worked full time for a Chicago law firm and went to law school at night; I graduated with a JD (Juris Doctor) law degree from the same law school (DePaul University’s law school) as Mayor Daley – I guess graduating from DePaul’s law school can help if one later decides to enter Chicago politics or work for the City of Chicago or the Illinois state machine because quite a few Chicago and Illinois politicians and people with ‘clout’ graduated from DePaul – I guess because Chicago has a strong tradition of Irish Catholic politics and DePaul is a Catholic university – perhaps then it should not be surprising to learn that DePaul law graduates are very much in evidence in Chicago politics and the Chicago ‘machine’.

As mentioned and like ‘what she wrote’, the current Mayor of Chicago is a DePaul law school graduate and boy does he love Chicago and DePaul! Mayor Daley is like an institution in Chicago, Chicagoans love him and vote him in time and time again. Once you have lived a while in Chicago you start to see why. Chicago is all about “Chicago institutions”, Chicago families, and Chicago clout. Mayor Daley has/is all three, a Chicago institution, member of one of Chicago’s most famous families, and he has piles of Chicago clout – some of it inherited from his father, Richard Joseph Daley (who was also a Chicago institution, etc. etc. and a former Mayor of Chicago).

The current Mayor Daley (Richard Michael Daley) wears his emotions on his sleeve just like his father did – it’s not uncommon to see him get upset and emotional when it comes to protecting the City of Chicago! Chicago has not lost its roots, it still is a very friendly place (with a Midwestern feel) despite its position as the third largest city in the USA, but probably has more ‘clout’ in Federal politics than LA and NYC combined!

You have got to have lived in Chicago to understand what “clout” means – there was a famous Chicago journalist who worked for the Chicago Tribune (his office was just above the Tribune building’s ground floor entrance arch), he understood “clout” and wrote a great short article on it. A collection of his most famous articles were published in a book – I bought his book - I guessed it would help me understand what makes Chicago tick – he wrote with a lifetime’s experience of ‘living Chicago’ so he wrote powerfully and with conviction about the heart and soul of Chicago and became a "Chicago Institution", much loved by all. "That's Chicago!"

Christopher Wood, Esq., PhD (Chicago Lawyer!)
Wood and Eisenberg, PLLC
6911 Richmond Highway
Suite 403
Alexandria, VA 22306
TEL: 703-660-9700
FAX: 703-660-9218

Glyn Davies said...

denise - You could well be right - but I don't look at things like that. My approach to politics is to work hard and try to support people where I can. I become involved with voluntary bodies that benefit things I'm interested in. What my potential opponents do is a matter for them. If our MP decides to throw himself in working in the constituency, that should be of benefit to us. He'll have to go some to be as commited as I am though.

Savonarola said...

On first assessment, perhaps Opik will begin to invest time in Montgomeryshire and this may save his bacon.
However I think we can draw a lesson from the result - Opik as a C list celeb is out of date particularly in the less frivolous times ahead. Voters will have noted the unreserved commitment of the Cons PPC to the constituency and the next year or so will highlight the differences in both the candidates as individuals and the policies of their respective parties.
I agree with the policy of play the ball and not the man. This approach gets through in the end.

Anonymous said...

Re: the 'third' election (Lib Dem President) or rather the 4th Lib Dem Election and Kirsty Williams run for the leadership of the Welsh Lib Dems and more precisely Kirsty's Williams ditching Peter Black's support ... evidence for this? Watch/listen the papers/TV. Peter Black is for the next week or so in a more precarious position than Lembit.

Glyn Davies said...

savonarola - It seems to me that I have an advantage in that I truly enjoy work in the constituency, and now have a good team of councillors to help me. Our office is busier than when I was an Assembly Member.

anon - cannot follow your comment. My post was about last week's elections - and as far as I can tell, Peter Black is fully on board with Kirsty Williams. Tell us more.

Batman Strikes said...

Intrigue mounts; Matt Withers took a dig at Peter Black’s in yesterday’s Wales on Sunday, Matt Withers pointed out that Peter Black may come to regret his comments:

“IT’S never nice to kick a man while he’s down, so Liberal Democrat AM for South Wales West, Peter Black, may come to regret the description on his blog of unsuccessful presidential candidate John McCain’s speech-giving stance.

“His movements appear to be synchronised by remote control,” he wrote. “Indeed, so unnatural does he seem that there were times when I thought that the Republican nominee was break-dancing with his arms.”

Whoops! The injuries McCain sustained during his well-publicised time in Vietnam left him permanently incapable of lifting his arms behind his head, hence his unusual movements.

Perhaps next week Mr Black will offer his insight into Gordon Brown’s unresponsive left eye.”

Perhaps Matt Withers has picked up on Dr. Christopher Wood's letter published in the Western Mail on 6/11/2008 addressing the same comments published by Peter on his blog.

PS Over on Ordovicius a poster commented: "Kirsty definitely put the knife in Peter Black on the BBC website recently - what's happening?"

The Half-Blood Welshman said...

Well, surely the real question is whether he might quit politics after this humiliation (for that is what it was)? He's always said he wanted to be Party President, he's been resoundingly rejected, there are no front bench roles on offer, he's obviously unpopular with many of his colleagues including here in Wales - maybe he'll decide it isn't worth it?

Presumably if he did that would be good news for you because it would remove his advantage as an incumbent MP - but I suppose much would depend on who was picked as his successor.

Glyn Davies said...

batman - I too find comments about John McCain's arm movements to be very insensitive. And I do not know what is behind Kirsty Williams' negative comments about Peter - if they are true that is.

Half Blood - I see no reason why he should quit politics. He has a good majority which will take some overturning - if he now throws himself 'heart and soul' into representing Montgomeryshire. In my opinion, that is a bigger job than anything the Lib Dems have to offer. I shall just carry on doing what I enjoy doing, and try to win as much support as I can, irrespective of who is standing for the Lib Dems.

Robin said...

Glyn> As reported by BBC Wales (Kirsty Williams faces the music):

What is the biggest mistake you have made in your political career?
Kirsty replied: Appointing Peter Black as my agent in the 1997 General Election, you never know with someone else I may have overturned that huge Labour majority in Ogmore! In general I think it is best to learn from your mistakes and not dwell on them.

Source: BBC - Friday, 7 November 2008

Disgusted at Peter Black said...

In my opinion Peter Black must fully retract what he wrote in ridiculing a war hero. Peter can criticise any politician based on policy, but NEVER should he EVER criticise based on another politician's (or anyone else for that matter) style of walking or holding their arms. Love him or hate him, John McCain served his country. He suffered injuries so severe he nearly died. By his outrageous commentary Peter Black has brought the Welsh Lib-Dem Party into disrepute.