It has been announced that Simon Danczuk will not be permitted to stand again for Labour in the Rochdale constituency which he won in 2010 and retained in 2015 (with a greatly-increased majority). He has been suspended from the Labour Party since December 2015. Danczuk is said to be considering both legal action against the Labour Party and standing as Independent.
There is scarcely any point in listing in great detail the various defaults which led to that suspension. The egregious nature of the now 50-y-o Danczuk’s “private” life has been common currency for years and encompasses “sexting” to a 17-y-o girl, having sex with a recent Twitter acquaintance on the desk of Danczuk’s constituency office, several rather public affairs, numerous other activities and violent fights with his ghastly wife, Karen (failed cafe-owner, poster of Twitter and Facebook “selfies”, possibly the least-competent councillor Rochdale ever had and would-be “reality” TV “star”); also an arrest for domestic violence at his holiday home in Spain. That is before one even looks at his record for Parliamentary expenses-claiming, over-claiming and cheating:
Danczuk’s overall expenses claims, though high, are, it seems, not as high as those made by the highest-claiming few dozen MPs.
It seems, also, that Danczuk’s CV, like those of so many MPs, is a work of semi-fantasy, obscuring as much as it reveals about his various unimpressive pre-political jobs and dodgy business dealings.
Despite all of the above (and rumours of yet worse private behaviour by him and his “estranged” wife, whom he employed –and is said to employ even now– as a supposed assistant, funded by more Parliamentary expenses claims), Danczuk is said to be a popular MP in his constituency. That would seem to be borne out by his election results.
Rochdale has been held several times by all three main System parties in the past century, though the last Conservative victory was in 1955. In more recent years, Rochdale has been held about equally by Labour and by the Liberals or Liberal Democrats.
Looking at the last two General Elections, Danczuk won the seat in 2010 from the Liberal Democrat who had achieved a narrow victory in 2005. In the 2010 contest, Danczuk’s vote was 36.4%, as against the LibDem’s 34.4%. The Conservative came third on 18.1%. The National Front (4.9%) and UKIP (4.4%) lost their deposits, as did two minor candidates.
In 2015, notwithstanding the gathering clouds of scandal, Danczuk and Labour achieved 46.1%. UKIP, represented by a Pakistani Muslim, received an 18.8% vote. The Conservative Party’s candidate, another Pakistani Muslim, received 17%. The LibDems, following the trend of their national vote-collapse, received 10.3%. The Green Party (3%), National Front (1%) and two minor candidates all lost their deposits (though “Rochdale First” beat both the Greens and the NF, receiving 3.4%).
I assume that Danczuk will fail in any legal action that he may take against Labour and so will be standing as an Independent. Labour may select as candidate a Pakistani Muslim to help retain the seat. Recent polling makes plain that the only main demographic still supporting Labour is the ethnic minority one. Rochdale has a high ethnic-minority electorate.
The question is whether usual-Labour voters will stick with the Labour Party or with Danczuk, their Labour MP from 2010 through 2015. It may be that the vote will split almost equally. Danczuk may be helped by Labour’s slide in popularity nationally. On the other hand, Corbyn’s anti-Zionism may help Labour in a heavily-Muslim constituency. Another imponderable factor is how much (if at all) the scandals will affect Danczuk’s vote.
The LibDem candidate is one Andy Kelly, who stood in 2015. He will be handicapped by his party’s pro-EU stance in a constituency which voted 60-40 Leave. Under “normal” circumstances, the LibDems might expect some help from disaffected former Conservative voters, but the expected Labour/Danczuk-as-Independent split may let the Conservative through the middle and that would encourage Conservative-leaning voters to stay loyal. There again, the deflation of the UKIP bubble will inevitably help the Conservative candidate.
In 2015, the combined UKIP and Conservative vote amounted to almost 36%, about 10 points behind Labour (46.1%). However, if even half of the 2015 UKIP vote goes Conservative, the 2017 Conservative vote might amount to as much as 30%. If, again, official Labour loses half or more of its votes to an Independent Danczuk, then each of those two might end up with somewhere around 20%-30%. In other words, the Conservatives have a serious chance of winning Rochdale for the first time since 1955.
Assuming that Simon Danczuk does stand as Independent, my prediction is:
- Simon Danczuk (as Independent);