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Will Labour recover?

July 28th, 2004

westminster

    Or is the “Love Affair” over?

With the latest spread prices showing, not surprisingly, a further move to the Lib Dems at the expense of the Conservatives the big question for those trying to “call” the next General Election is whether and how much Labour can recover from poll ratings that the party has not seen in a generation.

Is this just the normal dip of a party in power, as argued here by the head of Populus, Andrew Cooper, or have large parts of the electorate simply “fallen out of love with New Labour” as described by the veteran columnist, Alan Watkins in the Independent last Sunday. The latest spreads are:-

LAB 346-354 (NC): CON 210-218 (-2): LIBD 64-68 (+2)

Yet again the spread price is based on the 659 seat House of Commons not the 646 one that will be fought over to deal with the Scottish anamoly of having too many seats in proportion to its population. There are many issues involved:-

  • An awkward element to consider is the “bias” in Labour’s favour in the opinion polls that has been experienced in every General Election from 1987 onwards. Is that still there or are we seeing “truer” figures?
  • The Watkins “falling out of love” thesis is reinforced by the news this week of a big decline in party membership to its lowest level since 1933.
  • Factors buoying up Labour are that their declining ratings have not been picked up by the Tories and that in the vast majority of Labour seats the Lib Dems are in third position so, they predict, the third party will pick up many more votes but not many more MPs.
  • The big Tory hope is that things were going relatively well until late May when UKIP started rising what proved to be exaggerated ratings in YouGov polls. Will UKIP continue to eat into Tory support or will it return as we get closer to the General Election when it’s which party should be the next Government that is at issue not an anti-EU protest opportunity?
  • Given the UK’s electoral geography being so much in Labour’s favour it’s a brave punter who bets against the party getting most seats at the General Election. We’d like more interesting bets to be made available – such as will Michael Howard hold off the Lib Dem challenge in is his seat at Folkestone!






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