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50 Years Ago: Faversham

In one by election after another the Labour Party continues to notch up successes.

As each result is declared, both sides set their statisticians to work to show the voting figures in the most favourable light for them.

A Devizes sends the Tories into raptures—the dark night, they croon, is passing and brighter days are ahead. A Faversham puts the Labour Party back onto its hopeful feet, sets its mouth watering again at the prospect of power which, they think, is almost theirs.

A lot of this enthusiasm is inspired by the theory that nothing succeeds like success, that a big vote in one election begets an even bigger one at a later poll. That is why a party only rarely admits to having taken a beating in a fair and square fight. There is always some aspect of the poll which, selected and perhaps exaggerated, can take the edge off a defeat, and they play this up for all they are worth.

At Faversham the Tories showed their disappointment by dropping their beaten candidate, Mrs. Olsen. From the reports which came from the constituency, Mrs. Olsen did not seem to offer a very effective counter to the Labour candidate's earnestly sympathetic appearance, which apparently impressed a lot of voters as sincere.

Mrs. Olsen tried to blow up Nationalisation as an issue, while Labour's Mr. Boston was playing upon the elector's preoccupation with food prices, rates and unemployment. In a constituency where the workless are something of a problem, the Labour line proved the better vote catcher.

(from ‘The News in Review’, Socialist Standard, July 1964)