Friday, November 07, 2008
Byelection Result Confounds Experts
Well, I was wrong, and delighted to be so. I assumed the consensus, widely shared in the press and by pollsters, not to mention top blog, Political Betting, knew what it was talking about, as is normally the case, to be fair. But instead of a narrow loss Labour won Glenrothes by a reduced but still healthy majority of 6,737 on a good turnout of 52%. John Curtice from Strathclyde University on Today this morning, judged it was cut-backs by the local SNP council which proved decisive. It now seems clear that the SNP is now perceived in Scotland as 'the establishment' and their honeymoon is now over.
So it's a famous victory for Gordon Brown, vindication too, for his decision to campaign in the constituency, something prime ministers almost never do at byelecrtions. But winning here clearly meant a lot to Brown and his gamble has paid off. This means he has avoided a disastrous 'three on the trot' byelection losses and a consequent return to the travails of the late summer when Westminster hummed with plots to dethrone him. His modest recovery, occasioned by the financial crisis, will now continue, though turning around those generally dire polling positions will take more than a bit longer. The SNP polled close to the 14000 they had predicted but Labour somehow managed to deliver an amazing extra 6000 votes.
I always tell my students that politics is an exciting subject to study simply because it's so of the moment and often so unpredictable. Pollsters might groan at another miscalculation, but I celebrate the surprise factor and am glad Labour has at last had a piece of good electoral news, the first for maybe two years.
good work there with the prediction, Skipper.
Many local factors in play up there in addition to the national/world economic factors. And perhaps the try-and-please-everyone economic policy of the Scots Nats might not be so easy during an economic downturn. Up until now they've had it easy: blame problems on Labour, take credit for any success.
It seems unlikely that Labour will hang on to any Southern (non-London) seats come the next election, unless Gordon pulls some rabbits out of various hats.
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