Tuesday, 14 January 2014
Is the show already over for C&A Labour
One of the skills of a campaigner is knowing which fights are worth fighting, where the cause is lost and where the effort is simply surplus to requirements.
Thankfully politics is a human business, full of normal human emotions, hopes and dreams. Hence candidates of all parties, who are emotionally involved, are the worst possible judges of how a campaign is going or the most likely outcome.
Everyone in my position faces the frustration of candidates in difficult seats who genuinely believe that with "one more push" they will pull off a surprise victory, matched only in irritation by their counterparts in rock solid seats who demand additional resources, refusing to accept the electoral reality that their historic 78% vote share probably means that they are not going to lose (and if they do, the bloodbath must be so great it's no point worrying about it!)
Often candidates and activists can only keep themselves motivated by believing the "one more heave" theory.
Take Chatham and Aylesford for example with it's 6,069 majority. Labour, in their hearts, probably believe they are in with a shout. "If Tracey Crouch could only win by 6,000 at a time when Labour was really unpopular, what chance does she have next time...? they must tell themselves, conveniently forgetting that the Conservative majority is more than twice as large as Labour scored in their halcyon 1997 election when the swept all before them.
But, in those vulnerable silent moments when they switch off the bedroom lights and dark thoughts are no longer protected by the warmth of day, Labour's C&A strategists must fight to keep the harsh political realities from sapping their hopes.
They know that Tracey Crouch's incumbency bounce takes her majority to over 8,000.
They know that the loss of Jonathan Shaw's personal vote reduces their 2010 vote share by a further 5%.
They know that at the 2013 county elections they didn't come close to winning Malling North (and with the PV included they couldn't even win in Snodland, which was once their local base).
They will remember that at the same time in the last electoral cycle, Conservatives won Luton & Wayfield for the first time in 40 years with a record swing.
They will know from their own research that Tracey Crouch is polling substantially ahead of the Conservative Party and has higher name recognition after 4 years than the previous Labour MP had after 13.
And they will know that despite it being mid term, Tracey's personal popularity resulted in C&As Christmas raffle raising over £3,000 - from hundreds of small individual local donors, the majority of whom were not party members. Something they must dream about when they wait in hope for the next Trades Union donation.
Yet still they must struggle on, the triumph of hope over experience. After all, Chatham & Aylesford is on Labour's list of target seats, even if it is at number 103.
Well, not according to the well written and influential "Labour Uncut" blog, which under the headline LABOUR IN KEY SEAT RETREAT wrote,
Which must be a bitter pill to swallow for C&A Labour who were 103 on the list, and now appear to have fallen off the bottom.