Has Blair’s New Labour been permanently damaged by Iraq?

Has Blair’s New Labour been permanently damaged by Iraq?

kennedy Charter 88 cook

    What are the prospects for the “Ginger Alliance”?

Judging by the state of the General Election betting markets and the scores of comments on the site this week the big divide amongst political gamblers is between those who believe that the Iraq War and its aftermath has permanently damaged Tony Blair and Labour and those who think there will be a recovery. Only time will tell which view is correct.

    The “recoverers” believe Labour will get back with a substantial majority – the “permanent damage” group think that we are heading for a hung parliament and both sides place their bets accordingly. Almost everybody agrees that the Tories are static and won’t move much from their current position.

Both factions will looking with great interest at DumpBlair – an organisation that had its origins in the anti-war movement – that plans to target 200 swing seats with a tactical voting message. They want a Robin Cook-Charles Kennedy government – which has been unkindly dubbed the “Ginger Alliance” – and say they will be supporting anti-war Labour MPs, Libdems and Scottish and Welsh Nationalists.

They will be opposing Blair loyalists and most Conservatives but they emphasise that they do not want to help the Tories. It is hard to see how they can succeed hurting Blair without giving some benefit to Michael Howard. We expect them to have the support of the Independent newspaper.

In 1997 and 2001 the tactical voting element was simple. The prevailing mood was against the Tories which lost many more seats than the national swing because LDs went with Labour where they were best positioned to beat Conservatives and vice versa where the LDs were the main challenger. This time sections of the public have “fallen out of love” with New Labour as well but have not rushed to embrace the Conservatives again. They might want to have an impact by tactical voting.

    Switching to a different party to stop another party only works if electors know what the position is in their constituency and there’s evidence that many “switchers” only make up their minds at the last minute. This puts a premium on local campaigning and how the message is put over on the door-step.

As well as the new “Dump Blair” move there are three other elements to consider.

Whether anti-Tory tactical voting will continue?. We believe that it will with Labour supporters more than ready again to vote LD the party will be able to hang on to most of the gains from the Conservatives of the past two elections and, perhaps, to pick up a few more seats.

Whether the Labour gains of 1997 and 2001 from tactical switching could be vulnerable? Many supporters of Charles Kennedy’s party are less likely to give their vote to New Labour again because of the war, issues like tuition fees, and the Home Secretary’s less than liberal law and order policies. There are perhaps 30-40 seats in this category and the scale of any “tactical unwind” could determine the outcome of the whole election.

Whether there will be anti-Labour tactical voting from the right? In the by-elections a proportion of Tories have shown themselves willing to vote LD to get Labour out where their party is not the main challenger. Fortunately for Tony Blair the number of LD 2nd place seats to Labour last time was fairly limited. But perceptions of which party is the main challenger are likely to be affected by recent LD local election successes, particularly in some of the cities.

    From all of this the main beneficiaries will be the LDs, the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists, and to some extent the Tories. The big losers will be Labour.

We are solidly in the “Labour’s been permanently damaged camp” and this is reflected in our calls. Even with the recent shift in the number of Labour seats on the spread markets we still think the levels are too high and represent a good SELL opportunity. The Gerneral Election spread markets remain unchanged. LAB 342-350: CON 212-220: LIBD 66-70

We like Bet365’s Labour to get 335 seats or less try this link – which even at 11/8 looks good value, as does the 7/4 on the Tories for 220 seats or less. In the bookmaker’s size of Labour majority market its 4/7 on 51 or less and 7/4 on above 52 seats. If you are a “Labour will recover” supporter then that price looks less risky than spread betting. It works out at a Labour seat total of 349.

Peter Mandelson at the EU. William Hill have emailed us about their market on the former Labour minister not lasting the course in Brussels following his confirmation as EU Trade Commissioner yesterday. The price of 3/1 looks quite tempting.

The US Presidential Election markets still have Kerry and Bush at the same price.


Mike Smithson

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