Have we been mesmerised by Boris, Crewe and Henley?
During this crazy political period of spring and early summer the sure-fire way of winning political bets has been always to go against Labour. We had Boris’s triumph in London, the Tory gain in Crewe and Nantwich, followed by the Labour lost deposit in Henley. Bet against Labour – pick up your winnings.
Now we’ve got the Glasgow East by election later in the month and judging by comments on the site and the way some of the markets have moved people seem to have been coming to the same conclusion and have been risking their cash on the SNP.
In London, Crewe and Henley I was 100% certain of the outcomes and regarded any bets at any prices as good ones. I don’t have the same overwhelming feeling about Glasgow East.
My first worry is the timing – bang in the middle of the main Glasgow holiday period which surely will affect turnout. We have seen in opinion poll after opinion poll that surveys carried out when a lot of people are away can have skewed results and have been more likely to favour Labour. Could the same factor happen here?
My second worry is my own lack of expertise in Scottish politics. This is totally different from south of the border where the Tory surge has been the main characteristic and that is not likely to apply much here. I just feel a little uncomfortable risking a packet on the basis of little knowledge.
Thirdly I am not over-impressed by the SNP’s ability to fight Westminster by-elections. In Dunfermline in 2006 they started very close to the Lib Dems at a time when that party was going through some serious problems and yet they failed to capitalise. The SNP had a reasonable percentage swing in Livingstone but the turnout was so much reduced that it’s hard to draw serious conclusions.
Finally I’m quite taken by what I’ve read about the Scottish Conservative candidate – Davena Rankin, a Tory trade unionist. At the very minimum she might stop her vote being squeezed which could make it harder for the SNP.