Will the polls make a defeat even harder for Labour?

Will the polls make a defeat even harder for Labour?


    What have the double digit leads done for expectation management?

One of the main tasks for party spinners ahead of any election these days is to down-play your chances on the Thursday. For a failure to achieve an outcome that has been widely expected is much much worse than if everybody thinks that the party was going to go down anyway.

Given the precarious position of Labour and Mr. Brown nationally the Glasgow East aftermath is going to be much harder because of the two polls showing Labour victories by 14% and 17%. These have driven the widespread assumption, seen in the betting, that Labour is going to hold on.

    So if Margaret Curran is defeated in the early hours of Friday morning then it’s going to have a bigger impact than at, say, Crewe & Nantwich, where just about everybody expected Labour’s Tasmin Dunwoody to lose.

I always thought that Neil Kinnock’s defeat in the 1992 general election was made much worse because almost every single poll in the campaign was pointing to the end of the Tory government. Being consistently over-stated in the polls, as Labour has been for decades, can be as big a curse as being understated.

The early information on postal voting suggests that turnout might not be as low as has been predicted. By yesterday the number received back was 2,690 of the 3,913 that were sent out. This will rise by tomorrow and points to a great interest in the election.

My view is that the bigger the turnout the better it is for the SNP and that Labour’s chances are now approaching evens.

The big question is what Tory and Lib Dem supporters will do? Will they join the anti-Labour bandwagon by supporting the party most able to hurt Brown and his government or will they stick with their allegiance? My guess is that there will be a big third and fourth party squeeze.

By-election betting – live latest prices

Mike Smithson


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