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Are the Tories planning a decapitation strategy?

January 24th, 2010

Why’s the poster campaign focussed on vulnerable ministers?

Before the weekend I suggested that the location of the outdoor poster sites that had been booked for the Tory NHS campaign might provide an indication of party strategy on how marginals were regarded.

After all there is no point in spending good money in existing Tory or Labour strongholds – seats which are not going to change hands and will not affect the actual outcome.

This prompted somebody to give me sight of a spread-sheet listing the locations booked for the 48-sheet and 96 sheet posters and from analysing it I’ve made an interesting discovery – the Tories are going after sitting cabinet ministers in potentially vulnerable seats.

Whether it’s a serious attempt to bring them down I don’t know but looking down the list you could suggest many other marginals where they could be spending their money more effectively. Thus getting special attention are:-

  • John Denham – SOUTHAMPTON ITCHEN LAB MAJ 21%
  • Ed Balls – MORLEY & OUTWOOD LAB MAJ 20.95%
  • Jack Straw – BLACKBURN LAB MAJ 19.45%
  • Ben Bradshaw – EXETER LAB MAJ 17.27%
  • Alistair Darling – EDINBURGH SOUTH WEST LAB MAJ 16.49%
  • Jim Murphy – RENFREWSHIRE EAST LAB MAJ 14.04%
  • My reckoning is that maybe 40% of the overall budget is being spent attacking key ministers. Hardly any money seems to be going on sites in large areas of the Midlands and the North West (outside Straw’s seat in Blackburn) where the key targets are clustered

    I suppose it makes sense – for while the Tories would like to take the seats there’s an important benefit in pinning the ministers down to their own constituencies and ensuring that other Labour resources are diverted in.

    You can envisage the ambitious Ed Balls, for instance, forcefully demanding that his new seat of Morley & Outwood gets extra help. He’ll be acutely aware that if he doesn’t get elected then his leadership hopes could go the way of Michael Portillo’s after the Tories lost Enfield in 1997

    In the betting there’s Ladbrokes market is on how many full members of the cabinet will lose their seats at the election? It might be worth a look.

    Mike Smithson