Archive for the ‘General Election’ category

It’s All Going To Be In The Timing

May 23, 2008

When is the correct time to fire someone from a role? The generally accepted rule of thumb is “as soon as you have decided that they must go.” This question could well be on the minds of close to two hundred MPs as they try to grapple with the question of the leadership.

This is the simple maxim that Labour has to operate on. Make the decision, loud and clear, as a group. Stick with Brown, or stick the knife in Brown. But whatever they do, they have to make a positive decision quickly, and stick with the course of action. All the silly little notes of this showing indecision he who yields the knife never wins, and so on, miss one important fact.

Right now, Labour isn’t working.

And yes, I’m deliberatly aping the slogan, but it’s true. There is no trust in the party, and it stems in having no trust in the leadership of the party. Core values have been betrayed. Doubling income tax on the poorest workers? Is that really the Labour party? And will people who think that Labour is still the party of the worker listen to them on tax and spend at the General Election?

As I see it, the party should be looking at the three potential outcomes. The first is do nothing, and risk getting wiped out so disasterously that the Conservatives will have a three term run in Parliament. If they stay with Brown then this is very likely. A second outcome, which a new leader should regard as a success, is to limit losses and hand the Conservatives a Parliament with a very small majority (say 20-30 MPs) that would allow the Labour party to fight for a swift return after one term on the opposition benches.

There’s even a slim chance that a new leader could invigorate the party enough that the third outcome, a hung parliament, would be on the cards – and to be honest after the mess of Scotland under previous administrations, having the parties in the SNP minority administration working together on separate issues on a case by case basis I’d be more than happy to see that happen in Westminster.

To be effective, whoever leads the Labour party at the end of the party conference should be the one to take them to the ballot box in 2009 or 2010, and do whatever he (or she.., let’s be fair) can do to get to the most favourable outcome possible.

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Tories to the Left, SNP to the Right… Labour Stuck in the Middle

May 18, 2008

Look I know it’s not accurate, I know it doesn’t go down to the constituency level, and that it’s not as simple as this… but still, is this the trend that we’ll be looking at in terms of seats and voting at the next General Election?

Speculative and Rough

In very broad strokes, the Labour vote and the Labour geography is going to get squeezed. The Lib Dems are going to solidify in the South West, with a few gains around the country, and Labour will be lucky to retian a strong ‘core’ vote in the midlands and the north of England.

On the opinion polls out in today’s Sunday papers, Labour are looking at almost no representation in the South East outside of the capital. How far the ‘border’ of the Conservative gains will climb up the country is going to determine the majority of the next Parliament. Perhaps we just need Jeremy Vine and a climbing Line in the studio to show us what we need to know?

And then there’s Scotland. You might as well throw away the electoral seat calculators that are in use at the moment, because I don’t think they’ve taken into account the sea change that the Scottish Parliament has had on the voters. The SNP are on the rise, Alex Salmond reckons 20 seats for the SNP is a good target for the next General Election (so obviously not all of Scotland is turning SNP yellow…), and given the general distaste of Labour, even before the fun of the WendyRendum, it’s going to be a fight for the party to retain their strength in the central belt.

Scottish Conservative MPs After the Next Election

May 12, 2008

Yes that’s plural. In all the fun of the Scottish Parliamentary Labour Party vs The Labour Party (which does sound like a divorce decree nee The War of the Roses), it’s worthwhile considering who the main beneficiary will be at the upcoming General Election. On a UK level, it’s looking more and more likely that this will be portrayed as a ‘how many seats can Cameron’s Conservatives win?’ contest, and if (a) this will get them to a majority, and (b) how big that majority will be.

The scottish view of the party is going to be very interesting. I don’t yet think that the Tories are in any place well suited for a revival across the country. Political wounds specifically from The Poll Tax and The Miner’s Strike still occupy prominent places in the Scottish mind, especially in the central belt, and as the people who were deeply affected by those policies reach the age group where they are more likely to vote, the likelihood of them switching to a Conservative for a ‘protest’ vote is minimal.

In my mind, the SNP will pick up most of the protesting voters. But that doesn’t leave the Conservatives out for the count. The short answer, I think they’ll reach 20% of the votes and I think there are a handful of potential constituencies that are worth watching in the run up to polling day.

Dumfries and Galloway – (Labour majority 2,992)
If any inroads are made, even a whisper, then it will be in this seat. As far south geographically as possible, this is a straight fight against Labour.

Stirling – (Labour Majority 4,767)
Michael Forsythe’s old seat (and he can still cause a chill to run down our spines) is another straight fight against Labour, with the total Labour vote holding at around 15,000 in the last two elections. The depth of the collapse of Labour in the central belt will determine if this stays red or goes blue. A seat that also declares quite early on Election night, so a good indicator to fortunes.

Edinburgh South – (Labour majority 405 to the Liberals, 3897 to the Conservatives)
A pretty ugly fight in 2005, with dodgy bar graphs, claim and counter claim from the opposition parties eventually allowed Nigel Griffiths to sneak through the middle and win a wafer thin majority over the Liberal Democrats. I’ll be interested to see just how much effort is put into this seat by the respective campaigns.

Edinburgh North and Leith – Labour majority 2153 to the Liberals, 6628 to the Conservatives).
Adjoining Edinburgh South, this constituency presents the Liberal Democrats with a question – it’s 6th on their list of target seats, and the Conservative candidate is some distance back. But Edinburgh South is well within reach, albeit as part of a three way fight. A collapse on the Labour vote hands this to the Liberals, a Conservative resurgence turns it blue.

Perth and North Perthshire – (SNP majority 1521)
Here’;s a might interesting constituency, and one of the few direct SNP/Conservative match ups in the electoral landscape, with Labour out the fight. If the vote holds up here, it’s going to be a good ight for the Conservatives, but I think we’ll see a swing to the SNP and a hold.

Ochil and South Perthshire – (Labour majority 688 to the SNP, 4624 to the Conservatives).
This should be out of reach for the Conservatives, I’ve got it flagged up as a firewall. I very much doubt that this would become blue, but if it does then Labour would be looking at a very long time out of office. This is more likely to return to SNP hands, which is still pretty damaging to Labour both in Westminster and in the knock on effect in Holyrood.

Want me to put a number on it? They’ll win Dumfries, Stirling and one of Edinburgh South or Edinburgh North (depending on how the Liberals campaign in those Edinburgh seats). To take the Perthshire seats would mean a genuine liking of the Scottish Tories, as opposed to a Get Gordon Out vote, so I think that’s unlikely.

Final tally, three or four seats.

Added 10pm, May 12th:
Welcome to readers from Iain Dale’s Daley Dozen post (and thanks Iain, for the link). You can stay up to date with The Scottish Sketch by subscribing to the RSS feed or bookmaring the site (scottishsketch.wordpress.com). Thanks for your time, hope to see you around in the near future.