Friday, 7 November 2008

Glenrothes...a shot across our bows....

. Labour have held Glenrothes with a reduced majority but an increased vote; the Labour majority is 6,737 but their vote actually increased by 3%. The first point here is obvious; the Labour revival is real and happening and as I have said represents a real electoral headache for us, although the Conservatives lost their deposit too last night our vote was down.

There has already been some thoughtful commentary on what this result means. A Lanson Boy reckons that this means;

"Brown has to give serious thought now to calling the election early."

I agree with the caveat it won't be this year but the Glenrothes result does make speculation about a poll in the spring/summer of next year seem well founded. The practical implications for us are that I believe we should now plan on such a basis. Costigan Quist says;

"Party activists are rightly concerned"

and looks forward to a "constructive debate". Meanwhile, Stephen Tall on Liberal Democrat Voice points out correctly that the key to Labour's success was "Labour turned out their vote". He cites a quote for The Guardian which I have to say I noticed;

Labour found 6,000 more voters than expected. “I saw people coming out to vote for Labour who haven’t voted for 20 years. I need to think about that,” said Tricia Marwick, the SNP MSP who won the equivalent Scottish parliament seat of Central Fife from Labour last year. Peter Murrell, the SNP’s chief executive, said: “The sharpness of some of the negative material shows there was some serious brains being in by Labour.”

Labour voters got off their hands and were motivated to put a 'x' in the box for Brown. This is something that if we look at the 'Labour revival' is the key factor. Early polls showing a poll bounce did show that it was the 'heartland vote' that was responding to Brown's handling of the global meltdown. Hardly surprising I would submit. The fact is that although this would be enough to halt a Cameron landslide and maybe even deprive the Conservatives of an overall majority it is unlikely to be enough to win a majority for Labour.

For us, with our '50 key seats strategy' it poses a real challenge; that of crafting our message to address this audience. If we don't we will be squeezed by neither making headway against Labour and fighting a costly defensive action against the Conservatives. Of course, this will necessarily see a cull of Liberal Democrat MP's. Glenrothes was a warning shot across our bows...so yes, let's have a constructive debate and move forward from here...

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