Brace ourselves for Glenrothes
It was good to see Sarah Brown campaigning in the Glenrothes by-election yesterday - following her introduction to Gordon's conference speech she is clearly seen by voters as a major asset to Labour.
At my own rather more humble level in the Labour Party, my partner Linda did some phone canvassing for the by-election campaign yesterday and reported a high level of Labour support. Apparently the key local issue cited to her was "bucket collections" (which translates for those of us South of the Border as rubbish bin collections). Labour Candidate Lindsay Roy seemed to be personally known to the majority of electors she spoke to because of his high profile as a local head teacher.
But although we have a great candidate, and are clearly putting the work in, and there are anecdotal accounts of good canvass returns that I have heard from Linda and others, having spoken to people with a strategic overview of the campaign I am sorry to say that I have to chuck a bucket of cold water over the flames of optimism.
The overall picture from the doorsteps of Glenrothes is that Labour and the PM are a lot more popular than we were at the time of the Crewe and Nantwich or Glasgow East by-elections, but that this is being trumped by the continued electoral honeymoon of Alex Salmond's SNP administration in Scotland. The chances of us holding this seat are, unfortunately, minimal.
Labour folk from the PLP down need to get their heads round that so that the 6 November result is not a shock or trauma that drives us back into the kind of panic that existed before Conference, but something that as a professional political party we have anticipated, planned for, and can take in our stride.