Respect taking more than 55% of the vote in a bog-standard safe Labour seat is bad news for all the main political parties. Electorates are voting tactically with remarkable outcomes. It takes a long time to convince voters that in first-past-the-post systems the vote should be cast against the target candidate, not for the preferred Party necessarily. To have a charismatic and highly communicative candidate set against the target candidate is a bonus.
Thoughts turn at once to the elections for the London mayor but this is a very different election; not first-past-the-post, with inner city and outer suburban electorates voting markedly differently, and with both parties represented by non-standard candidates who, each in their own way, can be seen as a maverick. Except the qualities that make Boris a maverick are very much more attractive than the maverick qualities of Ken Livingstone. Indeed so unpleasant has Livingstone so amply shown himself to be, he has succeeded in losing many of the Party votes that might have accrued to him on party loyalty grounds.
It is the relatively safe seats in constituencies everywhere that are going to be touched by the Bolton West effect. Harriet Harman has said Labour will be working out what happened and why. So should the other mainstream parties - hurriedly. Labour was the first to get the vote-savvy effect in the neck, by 2015 it will be everywhere.
Unless minds change in a hurry over single constituency, first-past-the-post voting. It wouldn't be a bit surprising if a brief, all-party supported bill nipped through Parliament in the next 18 months and we had a proportional, party-list system after all for our next expression of 'democracy' .
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