Or has the FT come to the wrong conclusion?
There’s some research in the Financial Times from the the data service firm, Experian, that suggests that fewer people are being hit by the recession in the Labour held marginals than in other constituencies and the paper is speculating as to whether this is good news for Brown Central.
The research shows that in those Labour seats which the party would lose with a swing of 6.5% – 8.25% that the proportion of the electorate most hit by the crisis is about 21%. This compares with 28% of the voters in current Tory-held seats.
Whether or not this matters depends on the main premise in the report by Simon Briscoe, Statistics Editor, that the “economy is a key factor in voting decisions”. This is part of the received opinion that people assume must be the case but is not supported by the polling or recent election results.
If the economy had been a key element in voting behaviour then John Major’s Tories would have won in 1997. Labour would also have seen a marked recovery during 2009 as perceptions about the economic outlook have improved.
It’s was perceived political weakness that killed the Major government off and which is doing so much damage to Brown’s Labour at the moment. Thus differing messages over the view of the government over the Lockerbie bomber release are far more damaging than the economic outlook.