Was it something I said?
The previous post was an interesting exercise in letting the blog write itself. I should have guessed it might provoke a few comments.
I've been away in Kent again over the Bank Holiday then snowed under with work, so apologies for the lack of posts.
Whilst I was otherwise occupied I was pleased to see David Cameron swerve off to the right in a re-run of William Hague and Michael Howard's dog whistle core vote strategy, Gordon Brown doing the right thing re. Iraq, and the great Denis Healey giving a barnstorming interview.
The Guardian's ICM poll on Monday - analysed here - included some fascinating data on regional trends since the 2005 election, based on all their polls since Brown became Leader:
Scotland and Wales, CON 18%, LAB 36%, LDEM 13%, OTH 33%.
North, North-East, North West: CON 26%, LAB 47%, LDEM 22%.
East Midlands, West Midlands, Eastern: CON 40%, LAB 37%, LDEM 17%.
South-East, South West: CON 48%, LAB 28%, LDEM 19%.
London: CON 34%, LAB 48%, LDEM 15%.
The basic story seems to be Labour regaining ground compared to the last General Election in London (heavily - welcome home Guardianistas), the North and Midlands, but losing ground to the Nats in Scotland and Wales. The worrying region is the South, with Labour up a little but the LDs collapsing to the Tories. This is good news in Lab vs LD marginals like Oxford East, doesn't matter much to us in the rural South West seats that are LD vs Con but could be a problem in Con vs Lab marginals if it means the Tories are squeezing the LD vote. I guess we need a county by county poll to really work out the impact - for instance in North Kent where there are 7 or 8 marginals there is so little Lib Dem vote to squeeze that this should not be a big factor.
I think we do need a Southern Strategy though. The person who has looked into this in most detail is John Denham MP. His speech to the Fabians in May that I've linked to is essential reading for anyone in the Labour Party who is serious about us being the one truly national party that can win in every region. If I was Gordon Brown I would be getting Denham and Dorset South MP Jim Knight working on a set of messages and policies and Party regeneration for the South ASAP. Hopefully he already has.