Austin Mitchell MP . I nearly typed “Austin Mitchell MP is a strange fish”, which would have been an accidental pun…and a very bad pun….because he is Labour MP for Great Grimsby, a fishing port. now in his late 70s, he retires from Parliament this year and is leaving amid some controversy. He is reported by “The Independent” newspapers as saying that Labour will not lose Grimsby “even if we select an alcoholic sex paedophile”. Mitchell denies using this phrase.
To some extent, we all know that there are constituencies where a Party cannot lose. The DUP will never lose North Antrim, even if draped an Orange sash round a passing chimpanzee. We know this. We know that Grimsby SHOULD be a safe Labour seat but it is being hyped as a target for UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party). The political wisdom is that Tory seats in Eastern England are the most vulnerable to UKIP and that there are comparatively few Labour seats that are vulnerable.
Austin Mitchell and Great Grimsby. They seem like a special case.
Mitchell…a gifted Historian is a 1960s and 1970s TV News Presenter. Mostly on Yorkshire TV. His loud “professional Yorkshireman” (albeit a happy one) never worked in London News studios.
Austin Mitchell is Euro-skeptic. Grimsby is anti-Europe. It is after all a once mighty fishing port and successive European legislation in Brussells and successive Westminster governments have accepted it. The British Fishing Industry has been sold down the river….I presume the River Humber.
So Mitchell is either a good constituency MP standing up for his constituents against prevailing Euro othodoxy or he is just another a chancer who said the things that his constituents liked to hear.
He retires is a couple of months and the new Labour candidate is more at ease with Europe. UKIP with its Europhobia will be making much of the decline of Fishing. Labour will be “looking to the future”. And this provides some interest. Can Grimsby fall to UKIP. Well, certainly TV News, profiling constituencies in Labours heartland of North of England, are reporting discontent that Labour strategy is about taking them for granted and pursuing the latest “demographic” identified by a Focus Group.
Mitchell’s reported choice of words…and he denies it….is of course, very bad.
Take for example …the Lancashire constituency of Rossendale and Darwin. My recollection is that it is fairly marginal. But it was actually Labour from 1992 to 2010 when it was lost to the Tories. The youngish Labour candidate, Will Straw, will be hoping to win it back in May. But as he will note, the Minimum Wage was one of the great Labour triumphs of the Blair-Brown years but bringing it up on the doorstep or in hustings might be problematic. Difficult to argue for a Minimum Wage when in the constituency next door the outgoing MP (and father Jack Straw) values one of his speeches at £5,000.
Actually, the old cotten mill towns like Blackburn and Burnley did have some problems with the British National Party (openly racist)…so I suspect Jack Straw’s indiscretion will have a knock on effect. So of course will Austin Mitchell’s indiscretion.
Yet taking its own voters for granted is not something that the British Labour Party leaves to individual indiscretion. It seems to be Party Policy. Especially in Scotland.
Ah Scotland….the gift that keeps on giving. It all seemed so simple. Granting Scotland Devolution two decades ago…or more precisely facilitating it was a major mistake by Labour. Being allied to the Tories and Lib Dems to vote down Scottish Independence in September 2014 was a bigger mistake.
The theory that “YES” voters would quickly forgive and forget the result and the way the campaign was waged is shown to be wrong. Labour NEEDS Scotland. The maths are there.
In 2010, Labour took 41 (of 59 Scottish seats)….Lib Dems 11, Scottish Nationalists 6, Conservative 1.
I do not go along with the opinion polls suggesting that SNP will get around 45 seats. Conservatively, Id be surprised if Labour got less than twenty seats and SNP got more than thirty five. But the point here is that on 2010 figures, Labour had a forty seat advantage over the Tories in Scotland alone. It is unrealistic to expect a Labour majority in Westminster if the Labour-Tory differential in Scotland is just (say) fifteen seats.
Whether on a personal or industrial scale, the British Labour Party takes its supporters for granted.