Could the strategy mean there’s even more exposure for Brown?
A big discussion point on some Tory-inclined blogs today has been the Daily Telegraph story, quoting an unnamed shadow cabinet minister, that the party is planning, in that lovely term coined by the Lib Dems in 2005, a “decapitation strategy” to target the constituencies of several leading Labour figure.
The paper quotes their source as saying: “..Certain Labour Party big beasts, and they know who they are, are already experiencing more activity on the ground from us. We are going to make Ed Balls and Alistair Darling and some of their ministerial colleagues feel very uncomfortable…They will not only be fighting their most difficult general election campaign on a national front in two decades but they will also have really tricky contests in their own constituencies.â€
I don’t think that they have thought it through. There is an important electoral dynamic here which could bring certain seats into the frame which are apparently beyond reach. Thus, say, in Ed Balls’s seat of Morley & Outwood the notional 2005 result had nearly 30% voting for other than Labour or the Tories. A high profile decapitation strategy would up the ante for these voters and you might see more tactical voting to get Balls out.
Also keeping figures like Bradshaw, Straw, Denham, and Darling pinned down in their own seats would mean that Labour’s national campaign would be even more reliant on Gordon Brown – something that, surely, is a net plus for the Tories.
Taking out potential leadership candidates could weaken Labour thus impairing any recovery – that’s assuming that Labour does get beaten. If I was a Tory strategist I’d go for it.