How will MPs react if they are on the “at risk” list?
For on that Sunday, three days after the voting, the results of the 2004 Euro Elections will be announced. And the form in which these will be presented will be to itemise, party by party, what happened in every single Westmister seat. The aggregate results from each region are used to determine who gets elected.
So sitting Westminster MPs will be able to look at the precise result in their seat and see what would have happened if this had been the General Election. It might not make comforatable reading. Five years ago, when the opinion polls were showing big Labour leads the Tories came top.
May 1999 MORI poll: CON 28 LAB 52 LIB 14
May 1999 ICM poll: CON 28 LAB 51 LIB 16
June ’99 EURO result: CON 34.2 LAB 26.8 LIB 12.1
This produced the following notional seat split based on the actual votes in each Westminster constituency with a comparison from the 1997 General Election.
LAB 266 (-152)
CON 352 (+187)
LIB 3 (-43)
So what will happen this time with the Lib Dems and Conservatives 6-10% BETTER OFF and Labour 20-26% WORSE OFF?
May 2004 YouGov poll: CON 40 LAB 36 LIB 18
May 2004 Populus poll: CON 36 LAB 32 LIB 22
June ’04 EURO result: CON ??? LAB ??? LIB ???
For William Hague the 1999 Euros were the high point of his Conservative leadership and in the General Election in 2001 his party won just one seat more than in the previous General Election.
The difference between now and then is that Labour has seen a collapse in its suport and there’s been a revival of both the Tories and Lib Dems. Thus in the bleak post-Iraq political environment of June 2004 there will be no comforting opinion polls for Labour MPs to console themselves with.
How will the perhaps 200 Labour MPs who see their seats notionally “going Conservative” react? Who will they blame? Will Tony Blair’s brilliance at winning elections be questioned?
Of course these are Euro elections with very low turnouts. This might be ameliorated by the decision to hold, in many places, the local elections on the same day. There is also the all-postal voting experiment in three of the regions designed to improve turn-out and make things slightly better for Labour.
But still there will be a lot of nervous Labour MPs who’ll be trying predict what is going to happen to them. Could Sunday June 13 be the tipping point?
Political gamblers should be very careful. The Tory General Election price should fall and Labour rise. On the Tony Blair and “Still party leaders” markets there will be big price moves. This should be the moment to get good value on Labour for the General Election.