Tag Archives: general election 1997

For Winchester 1997, read Virginia 2017

The mantra “EVERY VOTE COUNTS” is an article of faith for political activists everywhere. Liberal Democrats know this more than most, having won one election and lost one in the last twenty years by a margin of two votes (Winchester 1997 and North East Fife 2017).

Now, from the state of Virginia, comes another reminder that every conversation with an undecided voter can swing an election, in a very unusual outcome. On election night last November, Republican David Yancey ‘won’ a crucial state house seat by ten votes, just preventing Democrats from overturning a 32-seat Republican majority. However, his challenger, Shelly Simonds, filed for a recount.

Held in December, the recount appeared to have Simonds winning the seat by a single vote, 11,608 to 11,607. Great news for Virginia Democrats, who thought they would now split control 50-50 of Virginia’s 100-seat lower House of Delegates.

However, their initial euphoria was short-lived. Two days later, a three-judge panel threw out Simond’s one vote win, ruling a disputed ballot should count for Yancey, the Republican, and tying the race. (Veterans of disputed ballot arguments at recounts might want to look away now – here’s a copy of the disputed ballot in question, which shows a mark against both the Democrat and Republican candidates, but then also crosses out the Democrat candidate’s name).

Posted in LDVUSA and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

What were you doing 20 years ago today?

Some of you reading this won’t even have been born in 1997, or have been too young to take part in the General Election that year.

20 years ago today was a blistering hot day in Chesterfield. I was knocking up all over town.

I had spent most of the campaign doing front of house in our brilliant little office which was happily situated right next door to a pretty decent Italian restaurant. Several times we ordered food from them and they brought it across on proper plates, with real cutlery. A total luxury for an election office.

We had been working hard to get Tony Rogers elected in Chesterfield. Over the previous few years, we had really been challenging the local Labour hegemony, winning by-election after by-election. While New Labour were very much ahead in the polls, it was very much Old Labour who ran the Derbyshire town.

It was such brilliant fun. Very busy, of course. Paul Holmes as agent is never one to under-estimate anyone’s capacity for work. Legend had it that he took envelopes to stuff to a woman in the early stages of labour. He says he can’t remember doing such a thing, but nobody who knows him seems to have much trouble believing it. There was one time during the European campaign in 1994 when he decided that sorting out a million election addresses wasn’t enough work for us to do and he got us all stuffing envelopes for a by-election in Bradford South too.

He certainly liked to challenge us. You’d be in the middle of doing something and he’d come along with some mailing that needed to go out by the last posting time which was impossibly close. And we always stepped up and did it. We called him lots of names in the process, always to his face and he bore that with good humour.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 37 Comments
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