Debunking some election myths
Myth 1: Mike Smithson of politicalbetting.com claims (http://politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2010/01/26/why-we-need-more-polls-of-the-marginals/):
"Both big parties, though they won’t admit it, are no longer pumping extra resource into seats held by Labour where the 2005 majority is less than 4%. It’s the seats above that which are key and where, surely, polling efforts should be focused."
Not true. I've got a reasonably good knowledge of where Labour has full-time organisers deployed and where canvassing is being focused - I doubt Mr Smithson has as he is a Lib Dem. I can assure him no Labour seats are being given up on - some of the most full-on campaigners in the Party are MPs in seats with majorities of less than 4% and are pushing ahead all guns blazing. There are even some seats that went Tory in 2005 - Bexleyheath & Crayford and Putney spring to mind - where dynamic candidates (in these cases Howard Dawber and Stuart King) are running well-funded, highly professional campaigns that are causing real headaches for the Tory MPs they are up against. The reality is that Labour has to hold seats with a majority under 4% to retain office - we'd be no more likely to under-resource those seats than to publicly concede the election now - and why write off the seats where we have made the most long-term investment in campaigning and have the best canvass data?
I have a suspicion Labour's doorstep canvassing-focused grassroots campaign is going to cause the Tories with their reliance on Ashcroft-funded glossy literature and billboard posters some nasty surprises. Meeting your MP or PPC has been proven by political scientists to have far more impact on propensity to vote than any number of airbrushed pictures of a national leader.
Myth 2: Iain Dale (and Jonathan Isaby) claim (http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2010/01/mps-with-defeat-in-their-eyes.html) that 46 Labour MPs in Tory target seats are standing down because "They all expect Labour to lose." But I've looked at the list of 46 and 25 of them are going for fairly normal reasons of either ill-health or reaching somewhere near or past pension age; one (Dr Stoate) feels new rules on second jobs will stop him practicing as a GP; three were so implicated in the expenses row their positions were untenable; and three are former senior ministers who resigned and thus effectively ended their parliamentary career paths. That accounts for 32 of 45 so the theory begins to look a bit of a load of old twaddle. I could just as easily write that the large number of Tory MPs standing down - 36 - is because they are scared Cameron is going to lose and they'll have to spend another four years in opposition.