Accrington, a Political Synopsis

Sometimes you have a sudden realisation of a fact. I had one today whilst watching - shamedly - The One Show (I don't mean to watch it. It's the only thing on at 7PM on a monday.)detailing how a Tory Parlimentary Candidate who dabbled in hard right mudslinging waged his own War on Terror on his Labour and Liberal Democrat foes in the election. Funnily enough, my realisation had nothing to do with this. I tend to just ramble on on these blog posts, without really doing anything other than rehash common opinion. So I'm going to do something a little more interesting. I am going to write a little each week about my local constituency - Accrington and District, worse but more accurately known by the chemical-contaminated sluice that runs through the town bearing the name Hyndburn.

Some simple facts for you. Hyndburn is a Labour seat with a majority of 15%. It's held by the rebel Greg Pope MP, former Whip until 2001. He tends to vote against the government, being significantly more right wing than is the norm within the party. He won his seat when Major was still in power (He beat Ken Hargreaves, the current head of the Right to Life lobby) and is, on the whole, a charismatic and likeable man (I've met him). He's one of the 12 that called for a leadership contest a few weeks back. Arrayed against him are a reasonably sucessful Liberal Democrat party (considering that their base is in Blackburn) and the leader of the Tory council, Peter Britcliff. Britcliff is one of those stubborn men that can't accept that they're not popular amongst voters. He's lost to Greg Pope 3 times now. When Labour got a drubbing at the 2005 election he managed to lose votes - Pope's lost votes were picked up by the BNP (Who achieved a whopping 6.2% of the vote, which is 6.2% more than they achieved in 2001) and to a lesser extent by the Liberal Democrats.

Peter Britcliff is the head of the council. He and Pope do not like each other very much. Britcliff is primarily responsible for destroying the commercial centre of town, leaving the private sector to rot, uninvesting in the public sector, and is currently planning to plonk a monolithic Tesco 100 yards from the Town Hall. I'm not a huge fan.

The local Lib Dem party is non existant. There is not a single Lib Dem councillor, nor is there a Lib Dem local party - as previously mentioned it's part of Blackburn's. I might well be the most outspoken Lib Dem in the entire constituency. The BNP are making worrying ground here - I do not doubt that in more racially motivated areas they'll grab a councillor or two at the next elections. This is a pretty odd place.

I am going to try and make an Accrington-based post each week, detailing punch-ups between Labour and the Tories, my efforts to try and rally a little bit of Lib Dem support in the area, and most of all have a great excuse to slap Britcliff to the greatest audience in the world - the Internet.

- Huw


Anthony said...

I wonder if there is actually Lib Dem activity, and you just don't know about it? It's entirely possible that they're just not targetting where you live . . .

Huw Dawson said...

There's Lib Dem activity, and then there's having no local presence - the local party straddles three constituencies!

Michael Gradwell said...

I lived in Great Harwood in the eighties and nineties when there were a few Liberal Democrat councillors. I stood a few times but Great Harwood wasn't quite ready for liberal democracy. I am now active in Morecambe which includes writing a daily blog. I end my blogs with "change the world" - well good luck with changing Hyndburn.