Saturday, April 18, 2015

Labour in Panic?

Oops. I love The [London] Guardian today. It leads with a story where David Axelrod, the Labour Party's invisible US adviser, is attempting to earn his paycheck by claiming the Tories are in panic mode. While the rest of the same newspaper, Labour's primary media cheerleader, spends its time demonstrating Labour panic.

Since we're on the subject of US advisers in the UK General Election (and the Tories have one too, also from Obama campaigns past, one Jim Messina), there's a little trick to determining the true state of thinking in US Presidential campaigns in the couple of weeks before polling day (and we are two and a half weeks away from polling day in the UK).

If the candidate is shoring up his core vote in supposedly safe states, he's in trouble. If he's in the other candidate's safe states, trawling for extra votes, he or she have it in the bag.

Right now, Ed Miliband should be pitching for swing voters. Comparing himself favorably to the Tories on the economy and spending pledges. But instead, he's attempting to stop seepage to UKIP.

And with good reason. Well-known Tory blogger, but in this election, without too much of a dog in the fight (he's already given a couple of Tory Ministers a good flaying on his radio show), anyways, Iain Dale, shared with us this week the experience of a good mate of his out canvassing in London.

Good canvassing is an art. The truly experienced artists make you beg to be allowed to say how you are going to vote. This mate of Iain's states that he was out canvassing in a top Labour marginal in London this past week. And he couldn't find one person to commit to voting Labour. They were all going UKIP. Ok. Anecdotal. But, hmm.

Further on in The Guardian I find two more telling articles. One baldly claiming that, if the current stalemate in the national polls continues, then the legitimacy of Ed will be in question. Another talks of Labour in Scotland being in 'survival' mode. Um. This does not paint a picture of a party in good spirits.

This past week was crucial for Labour. And it was a disaster. I subscribe to Labour's primary activist blog. Good to keep in touch. Do the same thing with the Tories and the LibDems. All the talk the past few years has been the suppressed joy in anticipation of Jon Cruddas's much-heralded drafting of the Labour Manifesto for 2015. And it was finally launched this past Monday. To an overwhelming chorus of crickets.

Five years resulted in a Manifesto which promised Tory-lite. Front and center. Middle. End. Supporting speeches. T-shirts. And Teddy bears. It all came down to this: don't vote for us unless you believe we can be trusted on the economy. You could actually hear columnists in The Guardian weeping.

Then on Thursday, Ed debated with the minnows. Ed's spin doctors were reduced to boasting that Ed had performed better than the leaders of Plaid Cymru and the Green Party.

So, in summary, this week saw Ed gifting the campaign back to the Tories. Moving the focus entirely back to their strongpoint - the economy. It saw him lose another debate to the leader of the Scottish National Party, who solidified fears that English voters have that she will effectively govern them if they vote Labour in England. And by the end of the week, while the IMF are praising the Tories for their economic record, Ed is out on the stump desperately trying to stop his supporters voting UKIP.

Hmm. Time for an update to the prediction. Come polling day, Tories 35%, Labour 31%, LibDems 10%, UKIP 11%, Green 7%.

Let's break that down a bit, because a lot is changing regionally, most of it in favor of the Tories. SNP have solidified their position in Scotland. Labour will likely see their MP's there reduced from 40 to at best 5. SNP will go from 6 to about 40.

There is underway a phenomenon which no-one else is talking about, but which I first mentioned last summer, during the UKIP By-elections. The lefties in the Liberal Democratic Party left their party in droves in 2011, after the LibDems went into coalition with the Tories. A few are returning. But most aren't. But now, the righties are also abandoning the LibDems, to join the Tories.

In this past week, there was some constituency polling which indicated that this might cause the loss of every LibDem seat in the South-West to the Tories - some 14 seats. I think we might seem similar movement around the rest of England, especially in the north, where Labour voters are moving to UKIP and righty LibDems are moving to the Tories. This may not result in many straight Tory gains from the LibDems. But it might produce some interesting Tory gains from Labour.

All in all, I now predict that we will see a fascinating result in this Election. The Tory and Labour totals changing by as little as 10-15 seats from their 2010 totals. The Tories with the largest haul of seats, but just short of a majority. And Labour nowhere close to being able to form a coalition, without every one of the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens.

At which point, I expect David Cameron to continue as Prime Minister of a minority government, claiming that Labour have no authority to move a vote of no confidence - the latter having just been defeated by popular plebiscite.

Isn't this fun ... ??