Could the Morley seat be the “Portillo moment – 2010 version”?
We can all, I’m sure, remember it well. In the days immediately after Tony Blair’s stunning landslide in May 1997 the moment everybody seemed to be talking about was the result from Enfield and Southgate where Michael Portillo’s shattering and unexpected defeat seemed to epitomise the whole election and the total collapse of the Tories.
For Labour’s performance there was absolutely staggering and went way way beyond the national swing. For the then Tory defence secretary lost the seat he had held in 1992 with a 58% of the vote. The CON>LAB swing was an amazing 17.1% and it was by far the most unexpected result of the night. The victim, of course, was a high profile cabinet minister who was being talked of as post-election party leader.
Fast forward then to the next election. Could the same thing happen to another cabinet minister who is being talked of as post-election party leader? Could it be that the West Yorkshire seat of Morley & Outwood throws up a dramatic result and leaves Ed Balls without a commons seat?
On the face of it, just like Enfield and Southgate in 1997, the constituency which Balls has moved to looks rock solid. The notional 2005 result was LAB 50.2%: CON 25.6%: LD 10.1% – so a 12.3% swing would be required which goes beyond what even the worse of the current polling is suggesting.
But just look at some of the coverage today about Balls and his role relating to Damien McBride. Then compare it to this squirm-making interview from Wednesday Today programme (from about four minutes in).
If the focus of “Smeargate” now becomes Ed Balls than it’s going to be hard to motivate Labour activists in the seat and the Tories will be really fired up. There’s a final factor as well. Although Labour currently hold the seat it was with a different MP. Balls will not have the benefit of incumbency.
I’ve just had a little bet on the Tories at 3/1 – it looked good value and, alas, Labrokes seems to think to as well. The price has tightened to 5/2.
Hat-Tip to StJohn who has been suggesting this bet for days.