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Is Labour’s “Vote Kennedy – Get Howard” warning true?

April 30th, 2005

    Could the small circulation Indy have an impact?

With the Independent looking set to endorse the Lib Dems on Thursday today’s splash lead seeks to undermine Labour’s core strategy for dealing with the Lib Dem threat.

The above is the front page that’s in the shops this morning and might well have an influence beyond the few hundred thousand who buy the paper each day. The story is very clear and could make Labour’s task in the final few days that much harder.

The paper reports …..Labour’s attempts to warn its wavering supporters that a vote for the Liberal Democrats could allow Michael Howard into No. 10 “by the back door” was undermined yesterday in a detailed study carried out for The Independent. The study found that a swing of 11.5 per cent from Labour voters to the Liberal Democrats could deprive Mr Blair of his overall Commons majority but it would be virtually impossible for such defections – at even twice that rate – to let in the Conservatives to form a government.

John Curtice, the respected psephologist and professor of politics at Strathclyde University, who carried out the analysis, said: “Labour’s claim that switching from Labour to the Liberal Democrats could enable Mr Howard to win the election is highly misleading.” Professor Curtice said: “It is even highly unlikely any swing could result in the Conservatives becoming the largest party. The most likely consequence of any large switch from Labour to the Liberal Democrats is simply nobody would have an overall majority.” His study came as Labour sought to deflect attention from the row over the war in Iraq, with cabinet ministers raising the spectre of a Tory victory – made possible by disenchanted Labour voters deserting for Charles Kennedy’s party.

For months we have been arguing that Labour’s approach to this challenge was flawed simply because it is not true and the continued poor poll ratings for Michael Howard have just reinforced this. The alternatives to a large Labour majority are a small Labour majority or a hung parliament.

As we get closer to “make you mind up time” the Curtice report in the article could frame the way this issue is debated and presented on radio and TV.

BET OF DAY. You can get 12/1 against a hung parliament. Although we think a Labour majority is the most likely outcome the chance of a hung parliament is better than 12/1 and this is good value.

NOVELTY BET OF THE DAYDate of next election. . You can get 6/1 against it being before 2009. This price seems good because a consequence of a close result could be another General Election soon afterwards.

Mike Smithson






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