Can Labour contain the damage with an ultra-short campaign?
To all those outside London who have been saying that we have been over-doing the Boris-Ken contest can I say three words – Crewe and Nantwich. For after the London result on Friday the main UK domestic story will be the by election in the Cheshire seat.
This site follows the key action and nothing else will happen in the coming months that will provide such a good test of opinion ahead of the general election.
For given their high ratings in the polls and their likely successes tomorrow the scene should be set for something that we have not seen in UK politics since June 1982 – a Conservative gain in a Westminster by election.
The numbers look good for Cameron’s party – a solid second place last time some way ahead of the Lib Dems as well as a strongish base of councillors. Of course the Tories will desperately be trying to play down expectations but this really is one that they have to win – especially if it follows victory in the London Mayoral race.
In recent times by elections have tended to be dominated by local issues which has been the hallmark of the Lib Dem approach. If the Tories want to win they have to make it a referendum on Labour and Gordon Brown. You can see a campaign theme running along the lines of “Had Enough?”
The Lib Dems and Labour will be trying hard to pick holes in every aspect of the Tory approach to find something that gives them traction. Don’t write off Chris Rennard and the Lib Dem campaign team – they have the track record.
My guess is that the clash will generate much more media coverage than we have seen in by elections of late and that there will be a lot of betting.