The chink in LAB’s armour in South Shields – it has never had to try hard there in the past

April 22nd, 2013

After its defeat in 1992 Labour went to great lengths to ensure that it would not lose a fifth successive general election.

A key part of the strategy was a ruthless approach to targeting. So seats that were beyond the party’s reach were simply ignored and seats in Labour’s heartlands which were certainties were also put into that category.

That meant that little effort was made to build up organisation where it wasn’t necessary. Why devote any effort because it would divert resource from where it really mattered – the marginals that it needed to take off the Tories.

My reading is that Labour in South Shields has nothing like the organisational strength as it has where I live, Bedford, a key target for a gain from the blues at GE2015.

The only problem with this approach is if there’s a midterm by-election where the government of the country is not at stake. The vulnerability was shown at Bradford West in March 2012 when Respect unexpectedly won.

I’m not sure, however, if Ukip in Shields poses anything like the threat that George Galloway did last year. I do think, however, that Farage’s party is getting more skilled in the by-election arena and looks set to get a good result.

    What they could exploit is the perception that Labour takes the voters there for granted – something that’s illustrated in the vacuous LAB campaign material featured above.

The PaddyPower power bet on them winning more than 18% of the vote looks great value.

Mike Smithson

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