Counting is underway in the Norwich North By-election and initial estimates predict a turnout of around 45% which whilst much lower than the 61% for the constituency in the last general election is not startlingly low for a late term by-election.
The main reason for the delay in the count has emerged and the council is claiming that it is due to the high number of postal votes which require verification. According to the council chief executive Colin Bland “After the last general election new measures were introduced to try to eliminate election fraud. This means that when voters register for a postal vote we collect their date of birth and signature. Once we have received their postal vote we have to check their signature and date of birth against our records to verify their right to vote”. The council are also pointing to the lower costs of paying counters for day time work.
Th result is expected at 12 noon and a Conservative win is expected. Interest will also focus on whether the Liberal Democrats can push Labour into third place.
Whilst a Tory victory in Norwich North looks very likely the by-election has been characterised by a general sense of apathy. It appears that voters have not been polled and unusually for a UK by-election the count won’t take place until the morning, with a confirmation of the result not due until noon.
The Daily Telegraph is reporting that the turnout will be low with one possible explanation being disenchanted Labour voters not turning out.
The full list of candidates in alphabetical order are:
Peter Baggs (Independent)
Thomas Burridge (Libertarian Party)
Anne Fryatt (None of The Above Party)
Bill Holden (Independent)
Laud Howling (The Official Monster Raving Loony Party)
Craig Murray (Put An Honest Man into Parliament)
Chris Ostrowski (Labour)
April Pond (Liberal Democrat)
Rupert Read (Green)
Chloe Smith (Conservative)
Glenn Tingle (UK Independence Party)
Robert West (British National Party)
Constituents are already casting their votes in today’s Norwich North by-election but there will be no point in staying up after the close to see if the Tories do get the big win that the polls are predicting. The reason being is that the count will not begin until Friday morning with a result due at about midday. It is claimed that the count will happen on Friday because partly because staffing a daytime count is easier. However this has not been a problem in previous by-elections.
This is the first by-election since the MPs’ expenses scandal and was brought about by the resignation of Labour MP Ian Gibson after revelations that he used parliamentary expenses to fund for his daughter’s London home and then sold it to her for considerably below the market value.
Taro Aso, the current Japanese prime minister has dissolved the House of Representatives in the Japanese Diet and signalled a general election for August 30th. Following the significance of social media in the US presidential campaign of last year we might expect these new networks to play a significant part. Indeed a number of leading Japanese politicians like Seiji Ohsaka of the DPJ and Gaku Hashimoto of the ruling LDP are already using twitter to comment on policy issues.
However, Japan has a 59-year-old election law that may prevent the use of twitter and other social media in the final stages of the campaign. The law which bans posters and pamphlets has been interpreted as preventing Internet advertising. Seiji Ohsaka has apparently been told that this law means that he must stop using twitter for the 12 days of official campaigning ahead of the election. Ohsaka says “ It will have to be used in campaigns. It is no longer possible to say ‘don’t use it’.”
It will be fascinating to see what impact social media will have in the Japanese election and how this will impact on the campaign plans and ideas for the forthcoming UK General Election.
At about five o’clock today someone known as Lens21 (or Brian van Doogledunk) posted a rumour on twitter that Labour was planning for a November general election. Now I have no way of knowing whether Brian is a credible source but it does strike me that keeping plans for an election secret is a thing of the past. MPs are going twitter crazy, even posting comments from within the House of Commons.
You can not marshall forces within the party without bringing a lot of individuals into the tent. It only takes a tiny leak and the story will be all over you the social web before you can say “your majesty it is my wish to dissolve your parliament”.
If Labour does have secret plans for an election they won’t stay secret for very long.
John Bercow MP has been elected Speaker of the House of Commons to succeed Michael Martin who resigned from the post in June as a result of a lack of parliamentary and public confidence arising from the expenses scandal. He was the first Speaker to be forced out of office for over 300 years.
Bercow was elected on the third ballot of a secret ballot, the first time such a sytem has been used for the election of a Speaker. The final round of the ballot was between Bercow and Sir George Young MP. John Bercow led in all three rounds of the ballot.
The Speaker receives a salary of £72,862 per annum.
The final vote in the third ballot was
- John Bercow MP 322 votes
- Sir George Young MP 271 votes
John Bercow MP (221 votes)
Sir George Young MP (174 votes)
Margaret Beckett MP (70 votes)
Alan Haselhurst MP (57 votes)
Sir Alan Beith MP (46 votes)
Ann Widdecombe MP (30 votes)
Ann Widdecombe is eliminated, Margaret Beckett, Alan Haselhurst and Sir Alan Beith have withdrawn.
Through to the Second Round
- John Bercow MP (179 votes)
- Sir George Young MP (112 votes)
- Margaret Beckett MP (74 votes)
- Alan Haselhurst MP (66 votes)
- Sir Alan Beith MP (55 votes)
- Ann Widdecombe MP (44 votes)
- Parmjit Dhanda MP (26 votes)
- Richard Shepherd MP (15 votes)
- Sir Patrick Cormack MP (13 votes)
- Sir Michael Lord MP (9 votes)
Margaret Beckett MP Labour
Sir Alan Beith MP Liberal Democrat
John Bercow MP Conservative
Sir Patrick Cormack MP Conservative
Parmjit Dhanda MP Labour
Sir Alan Haslehurst MP Conservative
Sir Michael Lord MP Conservative
Richard Shepherd MP Conservative
Ann Widdecombe MP Conservative
Sir George Young MP Conservative
The voting begins after the candidates give a short election address in the House of Commons at 2.30pm. A series of secret ballots will take place until one candidate has a majority of the votes.
There is an interesting Wiki which was set up last month by Paul Youlten who is also the founder of Yellowikis (a user generated yellow pages on the web).
The stated aim of They Want to Work For You is to create a complete guide to each and every candidate planning to stand for Parliament in the next UK General Election. New media expert Seb Bacon conceived the idea in a blog post at MySociety.org in 2006 inspired by their TheyWorkForYou site. Paul Youlten launched the wiki in May 2009.
At the moment the data is incomplete but it has the potential to be a fascinating crowd sourced database in the run up to the election.