Shouldn’t we focus on Labour’s defences?

Shouldn’t we focus on Labour’s defences?

    Is Fortress Labour vulnerable?

All the talk on the site is how can the Tories and Lib Dems make inroads into the the scores of seats that they have to take in order to make an impact at the coming election.

But there’s hardly any attention paid to how Labour is going about holding onto the exceptional and disproportionate gains that it chalked up in 1997 and 2001. In both elections it will be recalled Labour’s seat tally was well in excess of what it should have been on a uniform national swing based on the Martin Baxter calculator

    In 2001 Labour beat Baxter big time – are they able to pull off the same again or will last time’s exceptional gains translate themselves into exceptional losses over and above the normal swing?

This surely is the key issue of this coming election and what everybody considering spread or seat market bets should be examining.

On the face of it Labour should be having a tough time of it. The Iraq War and its aftermath has eaten into some of its membership and activist base and provided the ideal opening for Kennedy and Howard to play the “trust” card. However we look at the polling figures the party is well behind where it was at this stage four years ago.

Important minorites like families trying to work out how to send their children to University, parts of the Mulim communities and now, incredibly, the Jewish population could feel alienated by things the Labour governement has done. Yet because the opposition is split between the Lib Dems and the Tories Tony Blair and his colleagues can sleep soundly at night.

    But is there any way that this election could go wrong for the Government while we still have the first past the post electoral system?

Issue One is differential turnout between the parties. All the polls show that the smaller number of declared Tories are keener to vote than declared Labour supporters. This could be further exacerbated by a feeling that it’s all a foregone conclusion.

Issue Two is the possibility of anti-Labour tactical voting and at least one website has been launched to try to encourage this although it’s hard to see many Lib Dems switching.

Issue Three is impact of special targeting and selective local campaigns. Can these eat into Fotress Labour?

Punters, meanwhile, are not impressed. The spread-betting prices have hardly moved since the start of the week. IG Index spread prices: LAB 355-362 : CON 190-197 : LDs 68-72 .

© Mike Smithson 2005

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