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.