Iain Dale's sign off post this morning contains the following remarks:
At least we ran a results programme which told you the individual results all over the country, unlike the major broadcasters who seemed to think that it was uninteresting that Rochdale went Tory, or that UKIP won in Hull, or the Tories won in countless areas of Wales.
Iain Dale is right. The Rochdale result is very interesting. But not in the way Iain seems to think. Don't think Mr Dale has the first idea of what Rochdale is like, socially or politically.
Rochdale is an MBC with a sometimes significant Tory group, in power in cahoots with Labour as recently as 2005-06, much to Lib Dem (and some left Labour) disgust. And there have been Tories lending their vote to the Lib Dems for a good long time in the Town seat. Before and after the maverick Lorna Fitzsimons' inter regnum.
Also various defections from Tory to LD including an Old Etonian of moat dredging and wisteria raising stock, name of William Hobhouse. And as we know there is a Tory hegemony in great swatches of Lancashire.
Rochdale's establishment regards itself as very much part of the wider East Lancashire madness.
Rochdale epitomises the sort of deep-seated mill-owning Lib-Con connivance of decades, nay a century. Remember former Tory home Secretary Baron David Waddington's involvement with Cyril Smith in back pedalling on asbestos? And the same pair with a part to play in the miscarriage of justice that imprisoned Stefan Kisko, instead of one Ronald Castree, and ultimately was the death of both Stefan and his mother.
This was not the Tories beating Labour or the incumbent Lib Dems as such. Not in the way you might find in Tonbridge or Lowesoft. This remarkable result - with the Lib Dems down in third though they run the council and have the town seat on loan was I think a significantly communalist one.
Let me explain what I think has been going on.
In 2004 Chris Davies MEP and Sajjad Karim ran a communalist campaign which successfully urged asian voters, muslim voters, BME voters to vote for Sajjad Haider Karim as the only electable asian/muslim/BME. A call to arms with no reference to Lib Dem policies, of which the social liberalism and the free trade dog-eat-dogism were effectively buried as unmentionable.
Due to boundary changes I'm now in a ward that is not regarded as an asian ward and so I did not get any targeted SHK material of that sort this time. Any corroboration most welcome via comments, emails, 'phone. Did you get any such targeted Tory material in Rochdale or East Lancs?
I'm assured that this time Mr Karim did indeed run the same rhetoric, at least on the QT and via word of mouth networks, in these communities. This will have helped form an important part of the Rochdale MBC constituency that voted for the Atkins/Karim "dream ticket". Ditto in East Lancashire. And paradoxically enough this construct mirrors the BNP's own communalist "Vote White" line.
In 2004 the strategy got the LDs a second seat with some 20,000 votes to spare. In 2009 it got the Tories a third seat with some 20,000 to spare too.
What will the Tories in Rochdale do next we wonder? Perhaps Iain could try to find out and tell his readers?
1. Give Lib Dem Paul Rowen a clear run, select a paper candidate, and hardly bother campaigning?
2. Select a principled Tory candidate to fight for every available vote in the town, on the issues?
3. Try to harness the Asian vote, with an Asian candidate with at best a vague allegiance to Tory ideas, seeking to win communalist support as in Euros? Perhaps they will even go so far as to work with radical muslim elements?
4. Invite Iain Dale PPC to come up to East Lancashire and try his hand at cementing this Tory victory he is imagining?
I'd put money on option 3 for the town seat, which could effectively be a variant of 1 as well, and a normal Rotary etc Tory i.e. route 2, for the Heywood seat (Jim Dobbin). We'll have to wait and see won't we. Option 4 would be great fun.
FOOTNOTE: It may also be time to wonder whether Karim will run back to the Lib dems