Or is Brown’s party just clutching at straws?
According to Gaby Hinsliff and Henry McDonald in the Observer this morning ” a private analysis by Labour strategists suggests that the blues could be denied up to 50 seats at the election because of UKIP supporters splitting the Tory vote.
The figures in Labour’s study, if that’s not too grand a term, “..are based on 100 “supermarginal” seats where its MPs are holding on with majorities of less than 2,000.”
Certainly there was evidence at the 2005 election that a number of blue targets didn’t fall because of some of the party’s vote going with the Farage team.
The flaw in the thesis is that last time, of course, Michael Howard was beaten by election day and it was safe for those who felt strongly about the EU to make their mark by voting UKIP. It wasn’t going to affect the overall result. Next time the polls suggest that it will be very different.
And from what we know from the “forced choice” question to those who voted UKIP in the Euro elections on June 4th they are much more likely to want the blues to win than the reds.
When a sample of 4,252 of them was asked by YouGov whether “..they would prefer to see after the next election, a Conservative government led by David Cameron or a Labour government led by Gordon Brown?” 70% went for the former and only 12% the latter.
So you could see those inclined to UKIP voting for the party only if a Tory victory appeared a certainty. If it looks tight, and that’s how the Tories will present it day after day during the campaign, then you can see them sticking with the blues.
What does not ring quite true about the Observer piece is that the focus was on seats where the Labour majority is less than 2,000. That seems dumb. Most of those seats are almost certainly lost already.
The study, and indeed Labour’s whole defensive strategy, should be on Tory targets numbered 101 – 200. If it’s not then they are in more serious trouble than we thought.