A bigger drop would be problematical
At the General Election the strongly anti-Brexit LAB MP, Heidi Alexander, came out with a share of 67.9% and a margin of 44.8% over the second place Conservatives in Lewisham East. The question, on which Ladbrokes have a market, is how the party will do on votes in the by-election two weeks on Thursday.
The big fear of the Labour hierarchy was that the Lib Dems, who’ve done particularly well in Remain seat by-elections since the Brexit vote, could make this into a referendum on Corbyn’s approach to leaving the EU.
That danger could be partly alleviated by the choice of an anti-Brexit LAB candidate but that has not stopped the LDs making this the key point of their messaging. In the closing 16 days of the campaign the theme of Lewisham “sending a message to Corbyn” will become increasingly intense. The party is running a campaign on the scale of Witney and Richmond Park which means they are throwing everything at it.
It is hard from outside to assess the potency of this approach and what Labour GE voters will actually do on the day. Given that the government of the country is not, as in a general election, at stake could enough of them go with this as a means of influencing party policy?
Certainly I’d expect strongly anti-Brexit LAB MPs, of which there are many, to seize on a poor Lewisham performance to help ratchet up the pressure on the leadership. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them are secretly hoping for the party to hold the seat but on a much reduced majority.
With the YouGov tracker regularly showing that 70% of LAB voters think the referendum vote of Brexit was wrong there is a divide between Team Corbyn and party supporters something which Labour’s opponents are seeking to exploit.
A feature of this election is that it is seen as a foregone conclusion and is now getting relatively little media attention. This means that party messaging becomes the prime source of information for voters.
These are the current Ladbrokes LAB vote share odds.
I quite like the 5/1 40-50% band and would be backing it if I wasn’t in Spain where I’m barred from accessing my Ladbrokes account.