Labour in key seats retreat

On the day ICM’s monthly poll saw Labour’s lead fall to 3 points, news reaches Uncut of a quiet “re-prioritisation” of the party’s list of 106 key seats.

At Uncut towers, we’ve been hearing grumbles from the field for a while that the flow of resources and help from head office has been extremely variable, with certain seats receiving substantially greater support than others.

Now a Brewer’s Green source has confirmed that a new approach is being implemented, saying “some seats are more key than others.”

Partially, this is the Livermore effect. Labour’s new campaign chief, Spencer Livermore, has been in post for just under two months and is focusing his scarce resources to maximise effectiveness.

But underpinning this reappraisal are two broader developments: first, the increasing effort Labour is having to devote to retaining marginal seats it already holds and second, the party’s flagging performance in the south.

At the last election Labour won 17 seats where the majority was only in three figures. Although Labour’s vote in these seats will undoubtedly be bolstered by defections from the Lib Dems, there is a real danger that anti-Labour supporters of the coalition parties will switch their votes to maximise the chances for a Labour defeat – after all, both the Tories and the Lib Dems will be standing on the same economic record.

In 2011, when Debbie Abrahams won the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election, it was notable that the Lib Dem vote held up, sustained largely by massive switching from the Tories.

If this type of behaviour were replicated at the next election then Labour could face losing large numbers of seats, with shadow cabinet members like Gloria De Piero, who had a majority at the last election of 192, under threat.

Allied to the need to protect these seats has been a growing realisation that Labour is not making the headway needed in some southern seats and that the party’s finite resources would make more of a difference if committed elsewhere, principally in the northern marginals.

The source who spoke to Uncut highlighted Dover, Crawley and Battersea as examples of the types of seats where Labour is struggling.

This doesn’t mean all support for the lower priority list will be withheld, more that they will not get first call on the resources that are available.

The source suggested Labour’s realistic target list is nearer 60 than 106.

In effect, Labour is now targeting a coalition with the Lib Dems following the next election.

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10 Responses to “Labour in key seats retreat”

  1. Danny says:

    A Brewer’s Green source?!

    Was it your cousin’s mate’s mum’s cleaner’s dog-walker who walked past with a Norfolk Terrier and overheard what may have been a senior Labour official but could equally have been the voices in their head?

    I came on here expecting some triumphantism as soon as the poor polling was released. I wasn’t to be disappointed.

    Your source is clearly well-informed. I’m glad they were able to tell you that the LOWER PRIORITY seats would not get FIRST REFUSAL in available resources. This is ground-breaking news. Before I read this, I thought lower priority target seats would be given first dibs on available resources.

    If only they’d bring back Blair, he’d get us a majority. I take it that is the motivation towards these fictions that Uncut peddle every time the Labour lead drops in a meaningless poll?

  2. Tafia says:

    “At the last election Labour won 17 seats where the majority was only in three figures. Although Labour’s vote in these seats will undoubtedly be bolstered by defections from the Lib Dems,”

    Errrm, this omits UKIP and the potential for damage they pose. Will Lib Dems jumping to Labour off-set Labour jumping to UKIP? In the north UKIP are doing quite well at taking Labour support and I have a sneaking suspicion they will do far better than people think in this years Euros and I also think this time their support won’t fade away – people are furious at the main parties and want their say on Europe and they want it guarenteeing.

    Then there’s the other vagueries – Scotland and Wales. Plaid Cymru for instance look an odds-on cert to unseat the Labour incumbent on Ynys Mon.

    Another Coalition, led by either Labour or Tories is I suspect an almost certainty now. I don’t think UKIP will win a seat and I think the Lib Dems face virtual annihilation so any Coalition is probably going to have to include the SNP and/or Plaid Cymru and I suspect either will drive a very very uncomfortable bargain set in stone and with a rigid timetable, especially as they’ve seen how this Coalition worked – or rather didn’t.

  3. swatantra says:

    Blair is a busted flush! Never thought I’d say that but he is pretty much despised and loathed by the general populace, apart from you. Even I, once a blairite, am disappointed; his legacy tarnished by Iraq and Afghanistan. Ok it wasn’t deliberate and things just went out of control and out of our hands.
    The main change in attitude now is the realisation that Labour will not win a majority and will have to settle for a Coalition. And Coalition requires a different mindset, which surprisingly the Tories cottoned onto instantly, but the dinasaurs in Labour will have diffiuculty with, because they are basically arrogant ******s and not willing to share power, believing they have a divine right to rule. Amazing.
    The Coalition may well have got the Economy on track but the People always take it out on Govts that put them through hard times, so its curtains for the Coalition.

  4. Robert says:

    Getting a majority was always going to be difficult for Labour after getting only 29% in 2010, so being the biggest party in a hung parliament will be a very good result in 2015.

  5. steve says:

    “Labour is now targeting a coalition with the Lib Dems”

    This is very sensible. There is no policy differentiation between Labour and the LibDems (give ’em enough ministerial limousines and they’ll agree to anything) so, if it allows resources to be used more effectively and helps to provide Labour with the lion’s share of ministerial limousines, why not plan for a coalition?

  6. Mo says:

    @Danny, a meaningless poll? Polls are an indication of the public mood. There was another poll released by YouGov today also showing a 3 pont Labour lead. EdM needs to come out with some hard-hitting policies soon, the public enthusiasm for Labour is waning.

  7. uglyfatbloke says:

    It’s not unreasonable to expect that UKIP will dent the tory vote and that should have positive outcomes in several constituencies. They will take some votes from Labour too, but not, I think, enough to make a significant difference. At the same time, though UKIP have no traction in Scotland, the gnats certainly do and unless there is a major shift they will take Labour seats – and not just Falkirk where recent events have their own dynamic. targeting a coalition with the glib-dumbs may be a bit optimistic….there may not be enough of them to make the difference.
    At by-elections they can look to pick up tory votes but that will be less common at a GE. Also, a lot of their MPs are from Scotland where their deal with the tories has gone down like the proverbial. If they still have three Scottish seats after the next GE they will have done well. At the last Scottish GE they were (like the tories) only saved from obliteration by the proportional element of the electoral system.

  8. Renie Anjeh says:

    I can’t see a hung parliament but not Gloria de Piero losing her seat. In 2011, switchers from Tories did go Lib Dem but now switchers from the Tories are going to UKIP and there are Lib Dem switchers going to Labour. It would be very disappointing if Chris Oxlade, Will Martindale and Clair Hawkins don’t take their seats in 2015. Something tells me that Will could just about pull it off but others will struggle.

  9. RedShift says:

    This is utter nonsense. As it stands the easier wins (at least the 3 easiest) anyway, are getting less support in my region than the others in terms of staffing commitment, etc.

  10. John says:

    Trouble with Crawley is Labour have put up such a weak candidate. The Tory maj is just a shade under 6,000 so unlikely even a better candidate would win it. Henry Smith appears popular from what I’ve heard. It will be interesting to see if the Tories can hang onto the council in May. Remember this was the seat with a Lab maj of 37 in 2005.

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