Election campaign

Dudley South: another Tory MP in a marginal seat stands down

Conservative MP Chris Kelly has announced he is not standing for re-election in Dudley South.

The seat is 74th on Labour’s target list. Kelly’s departure certainly won’t harm Labour’s chances, and it’s the sort of constituency the party will need to win if it wants form a majority government.

Kelly has been an MP only since 2010, when he won the seat from Labour’s Ian Pearson on a 9.5% swing:
Dudley South 2010 result
His majority is 3,856. Labour needs a swing of a little over 4% to take back the seat.

Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield, tweeted that Chris Kelly is the ninth Tory MP elected in 2010 to announce they are not standing in 2015. All of them are apparently in marginal seats – six in the top 42.

Meanwhile, as is now surely to be the case whenever an MP reveals they are not seeking re-election, Kelly was asked if he intends to join Ukip. He replied that he isn’t, but wished Douglas Carswell “all the best”.

With just over eight months until polling day, Tory Central Office must now begin yet another hunt for a new candidate to parachute into one of its key seats.

Labour chose its candidate to fight Dudley South, Natasha Millward, back in May 2013.

Opinion polls

August poll round-up: the surges, bounces and slumps go on holiday

Despite the month proving to be anything but a silly season when it came to news, all four parties have ended August with their polling averages pretty much unchanged.

Labour is up just 0.1 percentage point from July on 36.4%; the Liberal Democrats are down 0.1 percentage point on 8.2%; and Ukip is also down just 0.1 point on 13.2%.

Only the Conservatives have shown bigger movement. Their average for August ended up at 33.2%, 0.5 percentage points up on July:
Opinion polls March - August 2014 Continue Reading

Election campaign

Douglas Carswell’s defection to Ukip: six consequences

1. Ukip does well only when it is in the headlines. Like all small parties, it needs as much publicity as possible to give the appearance of momentum. Ukip hasn’t had this since the Newark by-election in early June; its share in opinion polls has slipped accordingly. But now the party is back in the headlines and will remain so until the by-election in Douglas Carswell’s constituency of Clacton is held.

By chance or design, this period will coincide with party conference season. An opportunity for the main parties to concentrate solely on firming up strategies and firing up supporters has been undermined, and Ukip has ensured it will be present at each of the conferences if not in person then definitely in spirit.

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Election campaign

Seven narratives are shaping the campaign. Which (if any) will turn out to be right?

It used to be so simple. We didn’t know exactly when an election was going to take place, so we didn’t have people counting down meticulously until polling day.

And because we had no countdown, we had no need for narratives: giant arcs of conjecture and analysis, furnishing every event as a means to an end and placing each announcement, poll and rumour inside a grand multi-purpose context (or conspiracy).

I’ve counted no fewer than seven narratives that are currently unspooling their way to the general election. There are probably more. How many have you spotted – and which one (if any) is right?

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Election campaign

Ukip to ‘throw the kitchen sink’ – but in the wrong places

Nigel Farage has repeated his promise/threat to stand down as leader of Ukip if his party fails to win any seats the election. He made the remarks on being confirmed as Ukip’s candidate for Thanet South, where he is hoping to overturn a Conservative majority of 7,617.

Farage’s vow could mean that by this time next year three of the four main parties will be in the middle of choosing new leaders. Farage, Clegg and Cameron/Miliband may all resign or be voted out within months of the election, depending on the scale of their respective party’s losses. Only the person who becomes prime minister will be safe.

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Scottish referendum

Scotland can start voting from today

The first postal votes for the Scottish referendum have been sent out. During the next few days over 700,000 will be sent in total: a number that represents almost a fifth of Scotland’s electorate. For these voters, the referendum campaign is more or less over. They have until 3 September to make their decision and return their ballot paper. Then they will have to wait, along with the rest of us, a further 16 days before learning the result.

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Lincolnshire & Humberside: a Lib Dem-free zone

For the next stage of my tour of the electoral map, I’ve split the giant Yorkshire and Humber region in two more manageable chunks. And before we go any further, yes: I know Humberside no longer exists. Its former borders are still used by the Boundary Commission to divide up constituencies, however. It is these seats, plus those in Lincolnshire, that I’m dealing with here; I’ll tackle the rest of Yorkshire later.

What makes this particular collection of constituencies intriguing is not so much what’s there, but what isn’t there. Or more precisely, who isn’t there. It’s a Lib Dem-free zone. The neighbouring region of East Anglia is also divided between just two parties, but in that instance it’s the Conservatives and the Lib Dems who share the spoils. Here it’s a Tory-Labour split, with the Tories in the majority:
Lincolnshire & Humberside

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Election campaign

The West Midlands stays at home

As expected, Labour won Thursday’s by-election for the post of West Midlands police and crime commissioner. And as expected, the turnout was pathetic.

Just 10.22% of those eligible to vote took part in the contest. The figure for the previous election in 2012 was 11.96%. I suppose we should be grateful it didn’t slump into single figures this time round. Even so, the backing of one in ten of the electorate is hardly a thunderous endorsement, either for the victor or the position of PCC.

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