Oldham by-election: how furious will the Tory right be if the Lib Dems come third?

Mike Smithson over at PoliticalBetting asks this morning, “why are Labour talking down the Tories in Oldham East & Saddleworth”? His contention is that Labour must be bonkers to downplay the Tories’ chances.

His thinking is: a) Labour will win, unless blues switch to yellows; b) the blues think so, and are therefore lining up behind the yellows; c) the reds must be stupid to encourage more blues to give up hope.

He quotes Iain Wright, Hartlepool MP and by-election gaffer, talking down the Tories – essentially to say, “what’s this guy doing? This strategy is mental”.

Now Mike knows more about betting markets than most. But something doesn’t smell right.

Iain Wright is not a fool. Yes he’s got a twinkle in his eye and boyish looks – but under that cheeky chappy persona is an experienced politician who won a brutal by-election himself.

At the last election, Oldham East and Saddleworth became an old school three way marginal. The Lib Dems a shade over a hundred votes behind Labour with the Tories in a not so distant 3rd place. With the national trend seeing the Lib Dems falling to pieces, in some polls down as low as single figures, why do we assume their vote will hold up in Oldham? More importantly: how were the Conservatives convinced that it was the Liberal rather than Conservative candidate they should throw their weight behind?

On the ground, the Liberals, and their disgustingly smug candidate appear to be tanking, big time – and the by-election looks to be coming down to an old fashioned punch up between Labour and Conservative.

This isn’t the consensus view. The Independent has a nice little story today about the (Conservative) international development secretary, Andrew Mitchell, following his leader’s direction and dishing out some much needed by-election aid to the Lib Dems:

Mitchell, the Conservative international development secretary, is believed to have called on his party to do everything possible to help the Liberal Democrats beat Labour in the 13 January contest.??The by-election was discussed when the Cabinet reviewed the Coalition’s strategy for 2011 on Tuesday, The Independent has learnt. There was a brief ‘political session’, without civil servants present, at the end of the cabinet’s weekly meeting.

But in trying to protect their lickspittle sidekicks, have the Tories got this one wrong?

If the Lib Dems crumble into third and the Tories are there or there abouts, what will the base – and more importantly the Tory right – have to say? Mike’s question of strategy falls not on Labour’s lovable rogue leading male – but on big Dave himself.

What is sure is that Labour candidate Debbie Abrahams is the only one who will work to stop the Tory-Lib Dem government’s aggressive ideological programme of cuts.

If you can spare some time to help Debbie in the campaign, call 07872 417249.

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2 Responses to “Oldham by-election: how furious will the Tory right be if the Lib Dems come third?”

  1. zahidf says:

    Guess it depends: Labour going to play dog whistle politics with race again?

  2. Speedy says:

    If Labour thinks the Lib Dems will come third….then it is a good idea to use the stats of the previous election and the poor decisions by the Tory leadership to not throw proper weight behind the campaign to talk down the possibility of a Tory win.

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