Thursday, 17 June 2010

Relief and Disappointment

The by-election result has given me plenty of food for thought, and not all of it as gloomy as the campaign made me feel.

Four or five weeks ago, I would have said Francis le Gresley was very likely to win by a country mile, on the strength of his CV being so much better than anybody else's. But, when he did in fact do so, I was actually quite surprised. He did not have a particularly good campaign, and his lacklustre hustings performances were well reported on the local blog scene.

So, I think my first lesson is that campaigning counts for less than it should – a decisive proportion of voters are going to vote according to their preconceptions of the candidates, and Francis le Gresley's public standing has been very high for a very long time. And a second lesson is that we bloggers are taken much less notice of by the general public than we like to think.

The upside of impotent blogging is that the vociferous clamour of the Syvret loyalists did not translate into enough votes to let him take any more long holidays at our expense. Now he can put his abject failure as a politician behind him, I hope he can make something of his journalistic career. Although he is an unpleasant man and a crushing disappointment to meet in person, he does have some real abilities, and could make the world a better place if he could only find an effective channel for them. By Election Day, I thought, from all the noise of his fans, that he was going to win, and I am glad to be wrong.

And on the subject of abject failures, I am upset to be proved right about the utter folly of Geoff Southern's campaign. Now it is too late, even he realises that people were not going to like the idea of voting for him when he is already in the States. He campaigned far better than Francis, but, as I said above, campaigning counts for less than preconceptions. And on the other hand, forcing Syvret voters, who had been JDA voters too, to choose has alienated a hefty chunk of the JDA's core vote. For the next couple of elections, the JDA may have to be a behind-the-scenes alliance again, as it was in the Deputies' round of the 2005 Election, until it has lived down this fiasco. Having put years of hard work into the JDA, I am most displeased by this setback.

Two more good things were that the turnout was far higher then I expected, and the lightweight candidates all did far worse than I thought they would. In particular, I thought Peter Remon-Whorral's cheeky charm was striking a chord with the public. However when it came to casting their votes, his lack of serious policy was overwhelmingly rejected. He may be well-liked, but almost nobody made the mistake of making that a reason to vote him into office.

I had better not be too dogmatic about campaigning not counting for much. Patrick Ryan was as good as Geoff Southern on the stage at Trinity hustings, and he managed to run Syvret a close third. I think he could be a Senator and Minister come 2012.

All in all, a lot better than I dared to hope for.


Anonymous said...

Sorry Ugh but your comment about Stuart being an unpleasant man - well all that child abuse stuff, raping and molesting small children - in my book is much much more unpleasant than anything Stuart may put into words. Think about it - and compare - the physical awfulness for a small, vulnerable child being damaged for life by some dirty old degenerate and then Stuart's verbal poke at them - no comparison in my book - but then I think Stuart is a decent bloke obviously not like you!

Ugh, It's Him! said...

My description of Stuart as unpleasant was not based on his denouncements of paedophiles, although if any of his accusations are false that too would be unpleasant.
He and I move in the same circles, and in the past I have had the disappointment of meeting him. So I stand by the term "unpleasant" as summing up my memories of him.

TonyTheProf said...

I thought that it was unlikely that blog numbers would translate into votes, and regarding hustings, how Francis Le Gresley came across mattered less than how he was reported in the media, which being mostly written, doesn't show presentational skills, but pares back to content.

Hustings are vastly overrated as an indicator of success (often filled with various supporters), reporting of hustings reaches a wider audience; the key is to say stuff that reports well.

Anonymous said...

I have never been a big fan of either Geoff Southern or Stuart Syvret in terms of the way in which they present themselves. But I would always have been willing to vote for both on the strength of their abilities. I think this whole election has been a shambles for both.

Stuart's because he never should have let it come to this. He called people's bluff and got found out. The excuses for sloping off for six months just were not believed by most people.

Geoff's because he never should have let his ego outweigh what his head must habe been telling him, and what you make quite clear Deputies Shona and Trevor Pitman and you were telling him.

He has lost a lot through this foolish attempt and gained nothing. Other than quite possibly speeding up the increasingly voiced recognition that he needs to be replaced as the JDA focal point.

This failure is a shame for the JDA because most people I speak to thought the party ran a very good, professional campaign. It is true that one concern would be that the party must simply support unionism but not become a front or vehicle for it.

Nevertheless certainly Stuart Syvret's attempts to conjure up some kind of 'hate campaign' against him to distract from his massive fall from grace is just pure fantasy. Yet all the good work for a kick in the teeth, Geoff. Stupid and sad.

The JDA have plenty of value to say, and four good and very hard working politicians. But you need to shift the media-led public perception that this is 'Geoff Southern's party' and you need to do it fairly quickly.

There are already rumours circulating that without a major change of tack the Pitmans and no dobt De Sousa too will be off. For the sake of what everyone is now calling 'progressive politics' you must not let that happen.