Election campaign

The Westminster departure lounge keeps on growing

Just last week I was boggling at the number of constituencies that are still, four months away from the start of the election campaign, without a candidate.

Now another one has joined the list. Stephen Dorrell has announced he is standing down as Conservative MP for Charnwood. He has held the seat since 1997, and before that represented Loughborough since 1979. His seat is safe Conservative territory and is likely to attract a cartload of hopefuls who have neither the time nor inclination to fight one of the vacant marginals:

Charnwood 2010 result Continue Reading

Election campaign

Labour’s decisive dozen: 12 seats that will show Ed Miliband’s success (or failure)

The 2015 election will not see one party sweep to power by making gains right across the country. Success will be localised. A party might do incredibly well in one corner of the UK, but dreadfully badly in another. An advance in one region may be paralled by retreat in another.

This seems particularly true for Labour, who could end up in office thanks to the most inconsistent election-winning performance by a major political party in modern history.

I’ve drawn up a list of 12 seats that will serve as a guide to Labour’s fortunes, both at the polls and during the campaign.

Each of the 12 represents a particular kind of contest, a litmus test if you like, the result of which will provide a measure of Ed Miliband’s success – or failure.

I’ll do the same for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, both of whom are set for similarly inconsistent elections. But first, here is my pick of Labour’s decisive dozen.

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Parliamentary by-elections

Where next for Ukip?

Despite it proving to be wholly expected, Mark Reckless’ by-election win in Rochester & Strood has re-ignited the Ukip inflation game. After a few quiet weeks, the talk this weekend has returned of “dozens” of gains at the general election and of “political earthquakes” across the country.

Ukip has never been that great at managing expectations but it excels at stoking publicity. That the two cannot be easily reconciled doesn’t seem to bother Nigel Farage and co, but as the 2015 election gets nearer some cool heads are needed in the party to assess realistically which seats it is worth targeting.

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Local elections

A second Ukip defector held their seat on Thursday

It wasn’t widely reported, but a by-election parallel to that in Rochester & Strood took place on Thursday.

Chris Irvine won a seat on Medway council after defecting from the Conservatives to Ukip. Irvine is campaign agent to Rochester MP Mark Reckless, and decided to follow his colleague’s example by standing for re-election rather than simply cross sides. He had previously won the seat for the Tories in 2011. The result is therefore technically a hold rather than a gain for Ukip, and there was also a 5.4% swing from the Tories to Labour:

Medway by-election Continue Reading

Parliamentary by-elections

Rochester & Strood: five reflections

1. The Tories have a new election target

And it’s an entirely winnable one too. Mark Reckless managed a majority in Rochester & Strood of just 2,920. A swing of 3.65% would see the Conservatives take the seat back. This is on a par with the likes of Berwick-on-Tweed, one of the Tories’ tougher Lib Dem targets but a seat that polling suggests they could win. The party has to now find a candidate to fight Rochester in 2015, of course. Given they’ve yet to do likewise in Clacton, this could take some time.

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