Is Labour back to its 2001 form?

Is Labour back to its 2001 form?

    Can the campaign magic of last time repeat itself?

Whatever your allegiance you have to concede that the Labour campaign in 2001 was totally brilliant. Although it’s margin over the Tories was nearly a quarter down on 1997, this did not translate into many seats changing hands because Tony Blair’s party piled on the votes in the only seats that mattered – the marginals it was defending.

This is shown by the way it performed in each category of seat as the following average changes in poll share between 1997-2001 show.

1997 CON hold: 2001 CON +2.5 LAB -0.5 LD -0.4
1997 LAB gain: 2001 CON -0.1 LAB -0.4 LD +0.7
1997 LAB hold: 2001 CON +0.3 LAB -4.0 LD +2.8
1997 LD gain: 2001 CON -0.9 LAB -1.5 LD +3.5
1997 LD hold: 2001 CON +1.2 LAB -1.7 LD +0.9

Thus in Labour’s strongholds – the seats it had in 1992 – the party’s vote share dropped 4% compared with less than half a percent in the seats that were won in the 1997 landslide. This disproportionate performance was the product of the overwhelming desire not to let the Tories back in and good Labour organisation.

    The big gamble of 2005 is the extent to which things like Iraq and the Brown-Blair trouble will affect Labour’s performance in its marginals. There are three possiblities.
  • Labour will repeat its 2001 experience with a better performance than last time in its marginals than other seats thus beating the Baxter uniform swing predictions
  • Labour marginals will follow the uniform swing with the party consolidating its 2001 position.
  • Labour will not sustain the disproportionately better performance of 2001 in its marginals and come out with less seats than the Baxter UNS prediction
  • The outcome of the General Election will be determined by which of these options in correct. Is the Labour organisation back at its 2001 capabilities and is the electorate still as determined to keep the Tories out?

    Punters seem to think that the third option is most likely because the current Labour Baxter figure of 381 seats is well ahead of IG Index’s 359-366 and Spreadfair’s 359-362.5 spreadbetting totals.

    Mike Smithson

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