Viewing this by-election through the prism of Hartlepool could be a mistake
While almost all the media focus has been on the July 1st Batley and Spen by-election there’s been hardly any coverage of the Tory defence in Chesham & Amersham where they are defending a 29.1% majority. It is as though the lessons of Hartlepool are being applied in this part of southern England where so many things are different.
There’s a good analysis of what’s going on and the potential dangers for the blue team by Amersham resident, Will Wallace, of Interel. He writes:
Bright orange triangle signs are popping up in house fronts. The empty shop has been taken over. Bar charts of dubious veracity are adorning leaflets. The ‘super local’ candidate is in place. Potholes are being mentioned. We know what this means… The Lib Dems smell a by-election upset in classic Conservative Home County territory of Amersham and Chesham this month, following a strong local elections showing a few weeks ago. Some hubris and campaign tactics for sure but the politics and communications here in the next few weeks may be indicative of whether the Tories can keep riding the old blue wall and the new blue wall together and ultimately whether we have a Conservative government for the next decade or not….
Simply put, this government relies on England and the unseasy coalition of Northern towns, Southern suburbs and the rural rest. The Southern element has received less attention as of late and there are signs of some Tory retreat in such places. Many traditional Conservatives are deeply uncomfortable with the current big state, English nationalism. But without the classic southern seats, the Party risks its own coalition splintering which is so badly afflicting Labour in reverse right now. Seats can fall not to just Lib Dems but also become highly fractured and let Labour in as well much like New Labour successfully captured much of southern England…These Conservative heartland areas are changing both demographically and issues wise – HS2 has frustrated people here but is grudgingly accepted now (the battle is on mitigation not construction), Brexit (the area was 55:45 in favour of Remain but changing demographics as professional classes increasingly move out from SW postcodes to the area are extending that lead) and the biggest fear is on house building on the Green Belt. That requires slightly different politics for a new electorate in new times.
I’ve been saying for weeks that the LDs at 20/1, which is what they were, was one of the best political bets arround at the moment. That, on Betfair, is now down to 15/1 which I still rate as a good bet.