A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Poll of the marginals

Today's must-read for political anoraks (even if its publisher is now owned by Lord Ashcroft) is the PoliticsHome detailed poll of over 200 marginal constituencies.

Last year's report made boring reading as Labour was doing so badly that almost every seat read "Con gain".

This year the poll was taken before 21 September, i.e. before our conference, but Labour had already recovered to just an "awful" position from a "cataclysmic" one so you begin to see some differentiation around the regions, and work out where we might need to refocus our political messages and policies and organisational efforts in the few months left before the General Election in order to hold the maximum number of seats:

  • The overall projected Tory majority is down from 146 to 70.
  • Labour is staging something of a fightback in terms of below average swing in London, Scotland, the North West, the North East, West Yorkshire and in seaside towns, which were an important set of 1997 gains.
  • The regions where the Tories look set to make most gains are the south outside London, the East Midlands, the West Midlands and Wales.
  • The Tories are not making much headway in Lib Dem held seats.
  • Nor are the Lib Dems projected to make many further gains off Labour.
  • Our incumbent MPs continue to have a personal vote bonus, making it more difficult for the Tories to take seats where the Labour MP is re-standing.
  • Although anti-Tory tactical voting has broken down (Labour supporters will vote tactically for LDs but not vice versa), there is no evidence yet of anti-Labour tactical voting.
  • The factors determining voting behaviour in marginals are primarily the values and priorities of the parties (cited by 45%) not policies (cited by 21%) or the party leaders (cited by only 12%).
  • Key issues this year for marginal seat voters are the economy (49%), health (35%), law and order (28%), unemployment (26%), education (24%) and immigration (23%). Unfortunately hardly anyone in the kind of seats that will determine the election considers priorities to be some of the issues close to Labour activists' hearts such as housing, poverty, civil liberties, transport and the environment. That's not to say we don't need good policies in these areas - we just shouldn't assume they will have a big electoral impact.
  • The electoral impact of the expenses scandal seems to have been minimal.
  • Despite the Ashcroft funding of marginal campaigns, the public in marginal seats report almost as much Labour campaigning contact as Tory (my hunch is we actually still have a better grassroots organisation - supported by anecdotal reporting of a shortage of Tory volunteers on polling day in council by-elections).
  • The credit crunch has increased fear that the Tories are a risk, are only for the rich, and will slash public services.
  • Particularly good individual seat poll results for Labour are: hold Hammersmith, gain Bethnal Green & Bow from Respect, hold Dagenham & Rainham, hold Ealing N, hold Feltham & Heston, hold Harrow W, hold Blackpool S, hold Great Yarmouth, hold Southampton Itchen, hold Blackburn, hold Stretford & Urmston, hold Sunderland C (believe it or not this new seat is a marginal!), hold all 4 marginals in Cumbria (I assume this is if we don't scrap the Trident submarine replacement, which is built there), hold Birmingham Hall Green, hold City of Durham, hold Leicester S, hold Liverpool Wavertree, hold Oldham E & S, hold Cardiff W, hold Clwyd S, hold Delyn, hold Llanelli (I am surprised Blaenau Gwent was not polled - YouGov's Peter Kellner is predicting that Labour's Nick Smith will gain it from the current independent MP), hold Aberdeen N, hold Aberdeen S, hold Dunfermline & W Fife, hold Edinburgh N & L, hold Kilmarnock & L, hold Renfrewshire E, hold Stirling.
  • Particularly worrying "deep attack" Tory projected gains are Tooting (Labour since 1945), Poplar & Limehouse (a 3-way marginal with Respect), Thurrock (only previously lost once since 1945), the two Walsall seats, Stoke South (Labour since I think 1935), Wolves NE, Coventry NW, Bridgend (only previously lost once), Gower (Labour since I think 1935), Wakefield (ditto), Ashfield (Geoff Hoon's seat, only ever lost in a byelection before), Nottingham E, Leicester W, Derbyshire NE, Bassetlaw, Great Grimsby and Scunthorpe (affected by the Elliot Morley expenses scandal?).
  • The poll has the Greens gaining Brighton Pavilion. I am sure this will delight their "pluralist Labour" friends in Compass, who have twice had the Green candidate speak at their events.

You can read the full report here: http://page.politicshome.com/documents/2009ElectoralIndex.pdf


Anonymous Arnold said...

Labour has had a good week, with Murdoch exposing himself as a two-faced liar and Brown proving once and for all that he is better suited to be P.M. than 'Lord Gaga' Cameron. The gloss has just been taken off the Tory Sneerfest by the 'Yes' result in Ireland. I hope the commentators who made such an issue of Brown's health now turn their attentions to Cameron and his party's position on Europe.

5:31 pm, October 03, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of the more surprising projections seem to come from applying the swing from marginals in a given "region" to all seats in that "region".
Ignoring that (and ignoring the whole Ashcroft thing) interesting stuff, though constituency polling and marginals polling has tended to be pretty dreadful in the past (and not just in Britain).

6:52 pm, October 03, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A lot of the more surprising projections seem to come from applying the swing from marginals in a given "region" to all seats in that "region"."

Yes, for ex Slough is projected as a Con gain even if Labour vote in local and Euro elections in the last few years held up decently compared to other seats.

8:15 pm, October 03, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's still awful though and a Tory mnajority of 70 is probably a) more realistic and b) more desirable for Cameron himself. Anything more and he risks wasting it and having too many unknowns, as per Blair in 97.

9:22 am, October 04, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

control house prices

Home ownership remains just a dream for many people
House prices should be regulated to allow more people to buy their own property.
Availability and affordability.
Several years of soaring house prices have left many would-be first-time buyers unable to afford a property.
Economists have said that average house prices are now beyond the means of people on average incomes in nine out of 10 towns.
first-time buyer numbers were at their lowest level since 1981.
High house prices represent an "illusion" of wealth that result in higher costs such as insurance.
"A person only realises the wealth if they sell their home then the 'wealth' is gone when they buy another one unless they move away," Mr Goodall explained.
The best way for raising the overall standard of living in Britain, is to control the biggest financial burden in people's lives - housing.
MPs and property organisations should start a debate on what measures to take to control house price inflation, using government regulation if necessary.
"Regulation is a free tool for the government that costs nothing financially,"
Limited supply of land and rising demand through a booming population means that prices will continue to soar.
"With one hand people work to raise their standard of living but lose with the other as the cost of finding a home increases.
"Also if people earn more and perhaps both partners work, demand push increases and so do prices and people are back where they started."

12:35 pm, October 04, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Gorgon factor must be costing Labour at least 5 points in the polls.

Lose that liability, with someone like Darling who does sorries well, and Labour could be back in hung parliment territory.

There isn't much past Cameron. Osbourne is congenitally Tory Boy. The others are all so physically ugly - is there anything more awful than Pickles staring out at you.

The downside of a fightback leaving a parliament hung is that the Lib-Dems will demand PR. Labour will never see power again.

1:39 pm, October 04, 2009

Blogger Merseymike said...

Its really difficult to tell exactly what is going on in all these individual seats, but generally there does seem to be a particularly high turn against us in the Midlands. However - I have a feeling that this could also be the area where the BNP and UKIP vote is larger than average and that won't necessarily help the Tories

2:07 am, October 05, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maidstone by-election


Jim Jepps (London) 02 October 2009
Just to let people know on Lukes Blog we came third with a strong 21%.

LibDem 702 (46%)
Con 393 (26%)
Green 317 (21%)
Lab 102 (7%)

Turnout 23%

The Labour party is dying come and join the greens and fight the Tories with a living party!


2:08 pm, October 05, 2009

Blogger Neil80 said...

Some Geektastic figures. Maybe a Labour comeback is possible? We know that a week is a long time in politics. The issue is people want Labour out but aren't sure if they can stomach the Tories who can't help but show their ugly side the closer they get to power.

Cameron certainly never set out to really transfrom the party from the grasss roots up. A look at many of the PPCs shows some pretty horrible right-wingers among their number. Surely an achillies heel in the project to shed the 'nasty' tory image.

But, I can't help but think that the ultimate loser in all this is democracy. Surely PR is now a necessity.

9:56 pm, October 05, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When is your polling going to report that people will not vote for Labour because of Brown.

He's gotta go.

11:41 pm, October 06, 2009

Blogger Chris Paul said...

There is a hell of a lot wrong with the PHI marginals methodology. Sent them a media enquiry re these crinkles a week or so ago. But no replies. Will blog before too long.

1:37 pm, October 17, 2009


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