Thursday, 23 October 2008

Labour to hold Glenrothes?

I'll start off with a disclaimer. I've only been to Glenrothes once in the last two months. And that was to attend a wedding in Markinch. So I have no real point of reference for what I'm about to say. But bear in mind that my only trip to the east end of Glasgow during a by-election there was to Celtic Park - and I still called that one correctly (ignore the leadership predictions!).

So here's what I'm going to say: I think Labour might actually win it.
I wrote about Glenrothes the day after John MacDougall's funeral, suggesting that Brown might kick it to November - then hedging and deciding he'd probably call a snap election in September. Quote me (19 August 2008):

"Of course, the other, much touted option is to kick it long - possibly even into November. This has a couple of advantages - not least the opportunity for the economy to turn around, Brown to relaunch, polls to turn, a decent candidate to step forward, a new leader in Scotland to tackle the First Minister."
Now, what has actually happened? Well, the economy has been saved/ decimated (depending on your SNP/ Labour filtered glasses) Brown had his relaunch at Conference, polls are beginning to turn for Labour, arguably Labour have a decent candidate... and, well, they have a new leader in Scotland (though not so much tackling the FM as... well, I don't know.

But surely they are in a better position now to win the seat than they were two months ago? And they might just do it - by around 1,500 votes I reckon. Maybe.

There has been some discussion of the Lib Dem chances - but at 100/1, there's a better chance of John McCain winning the US election. An election, incidentally, which may have more impact upon the people of Glenrothes than the election of their own MP, given the current economic climate.

Maybe Gordon got that one right - maybe people will be more interested in what happens Stateside two days before Glenrothes.

Turnout, I'd suggest, might be considerably lower than we've seen in recent by-elections. But, I think, with 2 weeks to go, I'm leaning towards a Labour hold... but it is a totally uneducated guess!


Jeff 23 October 2008 at 09:25  

I can certainly see the logic but I think the low turnout will hurt Labour's chances rather than boost them. There may still be Labour support in the area but enough to get out in the soggy rain and cast a ballot for Roy? I'm not so sure...

Also, per Luke's blog (Labour supporting)

"The chances of us holding this seat are, unfortunately, minimal.

Labour folk from the PLP down need to get their heads round that so that the 6 November result is not a shock or trauma that drives us back into the kind of panic that existed before Conference, but something that as a professional political party we have anticipated, planned for, and can take in our stride."

Caron 23 October 2008 at 09:57  

It will certainly be a huge story if the Nationalists don't win as they have been the front runners all along.

Indy 23 October 2008 at 09:59  

My feeling as someone who has been there is that it is still at the tipping point. But like Glasgow East, there are a lot of people you speak to who, while not having made up their minds to vote SNP, are saying that they will never ever vote Labour again.

Threatening to gun people down in the streets of Cardenden will not help Labour either!!!

Malc 23 October 2008 at 10:50  


In Glasgow East, Labour still got 10,900 votes on only a 42% turnout. The SNP managed to get 300 odd votes more - but that was a) against the odds and b) just after 10p tax. I'd suggest (as I kinda did) that Brown's handling of the current economic stituation might have a positive impact for them.

If the turnout is down - to say, 35% - and Labour pull in 10,000 votes here, that might be enough to hold on, despite what would be a massive swing away.

As I said, this is a best guess, having NOT been out in the constituency. I know you have. Have you found the constituents engaged with the campaign? The issues?

Malc 23 October 2008 at 10:55  


Yes it will be. But the SNP have not been as loud about Glenrothes as they were about Glasgow East - remember Salmond's saying 3 weeks before it that there would be a "political earthquake"?

The SNP's position as front runners in Glenrothes has been a product of the media and bookies. They were installed at 4/1 ON when the contest was announced! And that's for a party who only pulled in 23% of the vote the last at the last election there.

Yes, expectation was high - but I think more so on the part of the media. I think the party believe they can win it, but only with a huge amount of work...

I'm not writing them off - I just think that the circumstances have changed slightly, and that Brown's tactic of pushing it long to November rather than having a snap election in September may have improved Labour's chances.

Malc 23 October 2008 at 10:57  


Maybe that's why Stephen Glenn is so confident of a Lib Dem victory - if people won't vote Labour and aren't sure of voting SNP then they'll swarm to the Lib Dems! Can't see it myself.

Good to hear from someone who has been out and about and is hearing from people there - but what is your sense of it?

Are they engaged? Do they care that they may bring down the PM if they don't vote Labour? Or can they not name a single candidate?

Jeff 23 October 2008 at 11:02  

I was in the constituency but I just stuck leaflets through doors so I'm as in the loop as you are I guess.

I did speak with some canvassers and they said getting anyone to talk to them was like blood from a stone. Just not interested at all. Not sure which party that would help.

My point was though, if turnout drops, is it not the ruling party that gets hurt as those seeking a change are the ones more likely to go out and make it happen?

From 42% to 35%, is that 7% not mostly Labour? I may well be wrong...

Holyrood Patter 23 October 2008 at 11:06  

I think it is actually a sign of the SNP success that they would be disappointed with severely trimming a labour majority (and they will do that, at the very least)

Malc 23 October 2008 at 11:17  


Maybe, but I'd go the other way with it. In Glasgow East, turnout fell by 6%. The SNP won by 300ish votes. All I'm saying is that if turnout falls, and Labour hold steady over 1,000, it will take a lot for the SNP to win.

Malc 23 October 2008 at 11:18  


Good point and I pretty much agree.

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