How will the result impact on the Tory and Labour leadership races?
The next political event that you can bet on is for who should represent South Staffordshire at Westminster on June 23rd – a ballot that had to be put back from May 5th and delayed the return to the Commons of veteran Tory MP, Patrick Cormack, because of the death of one of the candidates. Although there’s been very little media interest in the campaign poorish results for the Tories or Labour could impact on their leadership issues.
If the Tories do substantially worse in votes than the 50.5% share of 2001 then this could reinforce those in the party who are concerned by the proposed rule changes and want an election now on the existing basis. The prolonged process set out by Michael Howard is now looking rather silly. Any change would help David Davis – the current front-runner.
Labour got its vote out on May 5th after the huge warnings about the dangers of “stay at homes” letting the Tories in by the back door. That won’t apply on June 23rd and it’s hard to see how they can get anything like the 34.2% of four years ago. Will a poor performance be seized on by the Brownites to put more pressure on Tony Blair to bring forward his departure?
The Lib Dems will be looking for a big improvement on the 11.6% vote share in 2001 simply to keep up the sense of momentum. Getting close to Labour’s total would be a real boost but they are hampered by the strict restrictions on campaign spending. The by-election rules do not apply.
Alhough it’s hard to see how the veteran Tory, Patrick Cormack, can be beaten there are a number of markets from the size of the majority to the vote shares for the Labour, Tory and the LDs. We think that good bets are for Labour to get less than 30% and the Lib Dems to finish up with more than 15%.
Has anybody got any information about the campaign on the ground?. If you have then please let us know.