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How Safe is a Safe Labour Seat?

The recent shenanigans in the Erith & Thamesmead Labour Party have made this weekend a busy one for Colin Bloom, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate in those parts.

The reports of the shambles, such as you may have been able to discern them among the latest “smeargate” episodes and stories of G20 protestors being allegedly thumped by police officers, have referred to the Thames-side constituency as being a “safe Labour seat”.

Yet how safe is it now? We saw in 1997 so many “safe” Conservative seats fall – could we now see the same now for Labour “strongholds”?

Erith and Thamesmead, with the outgoing John Austin at the Labour helm, returned a respectable Labour majority in 2005 of 9,887. Now, however, feeding the latest ICM polling from the Sunday Telegraph into Electoral Calculus gives us a Labour majority of just 5.53% over the Conservatives – which, on an identical turnout to last time, equates to a numerical majority of a shade over 2,000. We are surely into marginal territory.

Erith & Thamesmead General Election Prediction

Erith & Thamesmead General Election Prediction

That, of course, is applying a uniform national swing to a single seat, but it does mean that less then 3% of the remaining Labour vote has to switch to Conservatives for the constituency to turn blue.

Admittedly, that is probably fairly unlikely of the core Labour vote in a General Election. More likely is that the latest upheavals in the local party will cause Labour supporters to simply stay at home … or perhaps vote Lib Dem or BNP. Even so, less than 6% doing so will see Colin Bloom become the first Conservative MP for Erith and Thamesmead.