It seems that the Liberal Democrats want to get in on the action in giving the insensate Labour Party a good old electoral kicking.
Nick Clegg has yesterday signalled a change in resources, directing them at 50 constituencies in the UK where the Liberal Democrats are lying second to the Labour in Westminster elections.
Obviously, as current polls show the Labour Party support is there for the taking. Voters are jumping ship in England to the Conservatives and burning their bridges in Scotland en route to the SNP.
Nick Clegg’s plan is simple. With the Liberal Democrats now taking on the Labour Party where it can, Labour is now subject to a three way squeeze.
And if Labour meets with electoral meltdown in 2010 as expected, the Conservatives, SNP and the Liberal Democrats all stand to make substantial gains.
The political map of the UK could look radically different after the next Westminster election, expected in the summer of 2010.
If the Liberal Democrat plan works the Labour Party might be finished as a political force for decades.
And thats even before the proposed date for the Independence referendum in Scotland!
There were a baker’s dozen seats in Scotland where the Liberal Democrats placed behind Labour in 2005:
Edinburgh North and Leith
Dunfermline and West Fife
Glasgow North West
Rutherglen and Hamilton West
Paisley and Renfrewshire South
These seats above are ranked by their marginality by the result of 2005. The Liberal Democrats pulled off an excellent result in 2006 taking the Dunfermline and West Fife seat from Labour in a by-election.
If Nick Clegg’s Labour attack is to be successful then we would expect at least some other seats to fall to the Liberal Democrats too.
Edinburgh South is the most marginal Scottish seat by the 2005 Westminster election result.
Current electoral calculus prediction:
CON 28.70 %
LIB 22.00 %
A Conservative gain.
As you can see the main beneficaries from Labour and Liberal Democrat vote collapse are the Conservatives and the SNP.
But on current form, there’s really not a lot of difference between the four parties, making Edinburgh East a genuine four-way marginal come the next Westminster election.
It does show the problem for the Liberal Democrats though; their vote is also falling according to the polls. They need to arrest this decline for the plan to work in Scotland.
Take Aberdeen South for instance. 2005:
Electoral Calculus prediction:
A SNP gain.
Again the SNP are seen to rise spectularly, this time enough to take the seat.
But again, the votes look close, and Aberdeen South now looks a four-way marginal too.
The problem for the Liberal Democrats is to try and keep their vote share. If they manage to do that in these constituencies they’ll have a good chance of taking a couple. Winning all these marginals though will take a lot of money; money that would be better spent on better bets where there is a straight Labour – Liberal Democrat fight based on current polling predictions.
But on current predictions by electoral calculus, the Lib Dems won’t pick up any more seats in Scotland; indeed they will lose 3 seats (Argyll and Bute; Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk; Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey). That’s even if they manage to keep Dunfermline and West Fife, or places like Gordon that recently turned SNP at Holyrood. This is a party who recently lost its deposit in Glasgow East, remember?
Trying to keep their vote is one problem. Trying to oust it from Labour voters is another.
The Telegraph has an article on the new Liberal Democrat strategy and a possible list of their fifty seats targeted.
The first Scottish seat on that list is Aberdeen South; as we’ve already seen its not as straightforward as it first appears. Just the Labour to Liberal Democrat swing doesn’t take into account the soaring SNP vote.
No wonder Nick Clegg is campaigning for funds to fight these seats!
Just where is Michael Brown when you need him?