Fainting in Coyles An occasional letter from the
Heart of Euroville
Thursday, January 22, 2004
Euro election watch Though the official launch of the European Election campaign has yet to happen, Parliamentary work in Brussels is winding down as members ponder plot and panic about what happens next. For the Conservatives, Jonathan Evans the Welsh leader of the group and pragmatic Europhile, has set a high electoral bar at 42% of the popular vote. Though this may be seen as a hostage to fortune, it has been chosen for sound psephological reasons , It is generally accepted that if the Tories can pick up that percentage in a general election they will achieve a slim overall majority. This however is complicated by the experimental aspects of this years polls.
In at least three areas, the North West, the North East and Yorkshire, traditionally labour strongholds, the Government is introducing postal balloting. This is expected to increase the turnout in those areas. However the advantage of this to labour may in fact be offset by the fact that most metropolitan areas will also be having local council elections. As one senior Tory MEP, the deputy leader Robert Goodwill, told me yesterday, the net result of that is that Alderman Higginbotham and his wife, aunts and cousins will be trawling round the council estates shoring up their vote. However in the rural areas, the Tory strongholds, there are no council elections so the introduction of postal voting may well push up the expected low Tory turnout. It is all swings and roundabouts. That being said, David Bowe, Labour’s vulnerable number three on the list had an emergency meeting with Prescott last weekend to stop postal votes in Yorkshire due to this fear. He was given a thoroughgoing brush off.
The affable Bowe, who had been safe at number 2 on the list in 1999, was shafted during the re-selection process due to a combination of factors. Firstly the NuLab rules governing women candidates means that there has to be boy girl, boy girl don the list like some superannuated playground, and secondly a deal was stitched up between Richard Corbett and Linda McAven to ensure that Bowe was pushed to third place.