— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) May 5, 2017
Could Tim Farron losing his seat be the shock of June 8th?
I found the above tweet fascinating, Jim Waterson of Buzzfeed analysed which seats the Tories are targeting by looking at the ad buys in local newspapers. The one that caught my attention was Westmorland and Lonsdale, the constituency of Tim Farron.
The symbolism of Tim Farron, the arch remainer and and advocate of another referendum, losing his seat on June 8th would be yet another blow to those opposed to (hard) Brexit, would appeal to both Mrs May and Sir Lynton Crosby.
It was said that the remoteness of Westmorland and Lonsdale, and the anticipated closeness of the 2015 general election were the only reasons David Cameron and Sir Lynton Crosby didn’t target the seat as part of their black widow strategy against their coalition partners.
With this general election much easier for the Tories thanks to Labour’s choice to fight it with Corbyn as leader, you can see them deciding to target Tim Farron’s seat this time, the newspaper ad buy might be indicative of that, simply because they don’t have to spend quite so much time and effort in the Con/Lab marginals.
If it does happen, there will be a certain symmetry, Tim Farron first won the seat in 2005 as part of the Lib Dem decapitation strategy aimed at senior Tories, where he defeated the well known Doctor Who fan Tim Collins, which as a Whovian I took very badly, the year Doctor Who returned as a series after a sixteen year hiatus.
I suspect by buying ads in the Westmorland Gazette, the Tories are targeting the Barrow and Furness constituency, but at the time of writing, several bookies were offering 8/1 on the Tories taking the seat, I’ve decided to place £50 on it.
It probably won’t win, Paddy Power are offering the best odds on Tim Farron holding his seat at 1/14 which tells you a lot, but with the national polling indicating the Tories have gone up around 10% and above since the last general election, whilst the Lib Dems are stuck on something close to their 2015 vote share, to my mind it does make sense. If the UKIP voters in the seat do switch to the Tories en masse, it would only require a Lib Dem to Con swing of just over 6% for the seat to turn blue.
To help win over Lib Dem voters in the constituency, I suspect Mrs May will highlight her own liberal attitudes to them and other voters, such as her introducing same sex marriage, in stark contrast to the long time Tim Farron took to explain his favoured position when it comes to gay sex.