Is the Labour chair in danger of “crying wolf”?
Clearly, and perhaps we should say thankfully, not everybody studies electoral mathematics with the same intensity as visitors to PBC. But you would have thought that Hazel Blears, chair of the Labour party, would have a broad view of the situation when, as she has done this weekend, she sends out a letter to party members.
Of course it is her duty to keep the party at large in a state of readiness and for all to be aware of the challenge that Labour faces – but she has perhaps gone a bit too far with some of her arithmetic in the letter.
“In the New Year we face real challenges, the election of a new leader, local elections and the need to prepare for the forthcoming general election, which may be less than 16 months away….The Tories are making a comeback, the next general election will not be easy..A swing against Labour of just 1.3% could see the Tories forming the next government.”
That’s clearly rubbish and she must know it. A swing of 1.3% to the Tories would still leave Labour with 34.91% of the vote against 34.54% for the Tories. Putting those into either the Baxter or Wells seat predictors and you still find there’s a Labour majority. Baxter calculates this as CON 230: LAB 328: LD 63 seats leaving Labour with an overall majority of six seats.
To be certain of forming a government Cameron’s party needs a swing of three to four times the level that Blears is talking about. To say it can be done on 1.3% is just nonsense and she must know it.
The Tories need to be almost 5% ahead just to be the winner on seats. To get to the point where Number 10 is a serious possibility a 9-10% lead is required.
I can never understand why politicians get into this territory. Surely being level with your party on an issue as important as will maintain your credibility for the future. As it is this letter looks one step too far.
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The picture is from http://www.hazelblears.labour.co.uk/ViewPage.cfm?Page=16386