Ignore the Tory spin machine – winning in Corby and East Northamptonshire will be tough

October 23, 2012 8:35 pm

The Tory spin machine has been working overtime these past few weeks, playing down their chances of winning the Corby and East Northamptonshire by-election.

They’re doing everything they can – even including Lord Ashcroft commissioning opinion polls – to try to show a Labour victory is a foregone conclusion.

It’s just the usual Tory operation, trying to persuade Labour supporters there’s no point voting as the election is already decided, but no one should be under any illusions: we lost this seat in 2010, and winning it back will be a really tough challenge.

Ashcroft’s latest poll claims we have a massive 22 point lead, with Labour on 54% and the Conservatives on 32%.

Three problems: First, this poll suggests the dozen other candidates who have declared so far sharing just 14% between them. Some of them will be lucky to get a hundred votes, but most people would expect UKIP and the Lib Dems – both of whose figures are not usually reflected in constituency polls like this – to be doing better than that.

Second, his figures predict a swing of 13%, in a seat noted for relatively low swings and stable votes. Only once since 1983 has either the Conservative or Labour share of the vote been outside the range of 36 to 45%. Even in 1997, the swing was under 8% compared to a national trend for similar marginal target seats of around 10%.

And third, his analysis is just not borne out by what is happening on the ground.

His claim that the Conservative campaign is conserving resources is matched neither by the reality on the ground where they say they have opened five fully functioning campaign offices, nor by their insistence that every Tory MP campaigns there at least three times.

The truth is that we lost this bell-weather constituency in 2010. Winning it back will be a really tough fight for us and we are not taking anything for granted.

Corby is the main town but half the voters live in places like Rockingham, Oundle, Irthlingborough and Raunds: picture-postcard market towns and rural villages dotted across East Northamptonshire.

Average incomes in these areas are higher than Mid-Sussex and on a par with places like East Hampshire, Woking and West Berkshire. As many people own their home as in places like Huntingdon or South Oxfordshire. When Ed Miliband kicked off Labour’s campaign in Thrapston, the Independent said he’d come to the “heart of middle England”.

But people across the constituency are seeing the impact of the Tories economic failure. Youth unemployment is rising at a faster rate than anywhere else in Britain. Residents are very worried about plans which could see their local hospital lose 515 of its 658 beds and much of their A&E, acute, maternity and children’s services.

We’ve got a first-rate candidate in Andy Sawford. He’s Northamptonshire through and through and a well known community campaigner who has been working his socks off to help local people since being selected a year ago.

And a great team of local volunteers is working hard to take Labour’s positive message to every resident.

But we’ve got a huge job to do to persuade people who backed the Tories so strongly just two years ago and in local elections since. We’ll certainly not be swayed by an internal poll by Conservative strategist and billionaire poll commissioner, Lord Ashcroft doing what the Tories always do.

Please come and help – the Campaign Centre number is 07872 417241.

Ian Austin is the campaign manager for the Corby and East Northamptonshire by-election

  • Amber_Star

    It’s not actually the ‘Tory spin machine’; it’s a proper poll by a respected, registered firm. It’s up to Labour to keep the momentum going regardless of this poll.

  • Mr Arthur Cook

    Spin not, lest ye be spun!

  • PeterBarnard

    I wish you well in Corby, but I am intrigued about ” …take Labour’s positive message to every resident,” given that we seem to be in something of a wilderness regarding specific policies, especially on the economy and what reductions in public expenditure we would have made had we been returned to government in 2010?

    • leslie48

      Suggest you read the recent excellent purple papers – politics reading for adults which cogently and brutally provides intelligent Labour Party members what options they will face in 2015.

      • AlanGiles

        “the recent excellent purple papers ”

        Excellent?. How about this:

        “”On welfare, Cooke argues that Labour’s objective should be‘welfare that is more generous but more temporary’.”

        If you time limit benefits, I am sure that will go down very well with the man or woman over 50 who can’t find a job, or the disabled person who lost their job due to the closure of Remploy (the Coalition merely finishing off the job started by Hain in 2008), let’s face it, the Progress mob, with their pseudo-Tory ideas, and their fair sprinkling of expenses swindlers, was one of the reasons many people feel there is little to choose between the parties.

        • Serbitar

          As far as I can remember (from another LabourList thread) leslie48 was Cool and the Gang about stripping Housing Benefit from the under 25s in order to reduce the deficit faster, so no surprise that he feels a philosophical kinship with Progress.

        • leslie48

          The general point stands : 4 million Brits on ‘out of work’ benefits during Labour’s prosperous and expansionary years BEFORE the 2008 financial crisis began. As Graeme says ‘Labour is the party of work’. In 2015 there will be even more problems on the jobs front, the welfare system & benefit expenditure. 

          As he correctly says ” in the light of these challenges and the likely context facing Labour…the party should consider how it might construct a new pro-jobs agenda on employment, welfare and spending.”

          I fear anyone thinking otherwise is in cloud cuckoo land.

          • AlanGiles

            The problem with a lot of academics and pseudo-intellectuals which Progress supporters  revere so much is that they have never lived in the real world, the world, to use the old phrase of the man (or woman) on the Clapham omnibus. Many of them went straight from Oxbridge into “research” work and think-tanks and the usual career progression usually through knowing the right people.

            On the point of time limiting benefits – what do you do when the entitlement runs out, you live in an unemployment blackspot, and are of an age or have some condition, physical or mental, which makes you unattractive to employers?.

            It’s the same lack of thinking that blights Duncan-Smith and his absurd “two children” landscape. As others have pointed out, what happens if you have a child and then produce twins, or have triplets?

            We would all like to see full employment again, as we had towards the end of the fifties and into the sixties, but the world has changed – computerisation has seen to that, and however many long-winded papers such people produce, things will not change just because they say so.

            It’s all wishful thinking and sloganizing and I am afraid anybody who falls for all this guff are the ones living in cloud-cuckoo land.

          • AlanGiles

            The problem with a lot of academics and pseudo-intellectuals which Progress supporters  revere so much is that they have never lived in the real world, the world, to use the old phrase of the man (or woman) on the Clapham omnibus. Many of them went straight from Oxbridge into “research” work and think-tanks and the usual career progression usually through knowing the right people.

            On the point of time limiting benefits – what do you do when the entitlement runs out, you live in an unemployment blackspot, and are of an age or have some condition, physical or mental, which makes you unattractive to employers?.

            It’s the same lack of thinking that blights Duncan-Smith and his absurd “two children” landscape. As others have pointed out, what happens if you have a child and then produce twins, or have triplets?

            We would all like to see full employment again, as we had towards the end of the fifties and into the sixties, but the world has changed – computerisation has seen to that, and however many long-winded papers such people produce, things will not change just because they say so.

            It’s all wishful thinking and sloganizing and I am afraid anybody who falls for all this guff are the ones living in cloud-cuckoo land.

          • AlanGiles

            The problem with a lot of academics and pseudo-intellectuals which Progress supporters  revere so much is that they have never lived in the real world, the world, to use the old phrase of the man (or woman) on the Clapham omnibus. Many of them went straight from Oxbridge into “research” work and think-tanks and the usual career progression usually through knowing the right people.

            On the point of time limiting benefits – what do you do when the entitlement runs out, you live in an unemployment blackspot, and are of an age or have some condition, physical or mental, which makes you unattractive to employers?.

            It’s the same lack of thinking that blights Duncan-Smith and his absurd “two children” landscape. As others have pointed out, what happens if you have a child and then produce twins, or have triplets?

            We would all like to see full employment again, as we had towards the end of the fifties and into the sixties, but the world has changed – computerisation has seen to that, and however many long-winded papers such people produce, things will not change just because they say so.

            It’s all wishful thinking and sloganizing and I am afraid anybody who falls for all this guff are the ones living in cloud-cuckoo land.

      • Serbitar

        As bad as he is even senescent Iain Duncan Smith, trawling around for £10 bn worth of of further welfare cuts, would consign the “Purple Papers” to the bin.

      • Serbitar

        As bad as he is even senescent Iain Duncan Smith, trawling around for £10 bn worth of of further welfare cuts, would consign the “Purple Papers” to his bin.

      • Serbitar

        As bad as he is even senescent Iain Duncan Smith, trawling around for £10 bn worth of of further welfare cuts, would consign the “Purple Papers” to his bin.

      • Serbitar

        As bad as he is even senescent Iain Duncan Smith, trawling around for £10 bn worth of of further welfare cuts, would consign the “Purple Papers” to his bin. And with his plan to limit child benefit to the unemployed we know that IDS is: “Tough on children and tough on the causes of children”.

      • DavePostles

        Oh dear, I’m still struggling with the little books of fairy tales issued with The Guardian a couple of weeks ago. Now you expect me to be intelligent enough to understand the Purple Book. I do like the colour, though. Perhaps I’ll ask my wife to read it to me. BTW, she looks really chic in purple. Perhaps I’m excused, however, since, as well as not being intelligent, I am not a member of the LP – or perhaps I’m not intelligent enough to rejoin now.

      • PeterBarnard

        As far as I am aware, leslie48, the “purple papers” are just ideas floated by a group of people ; certainly, they are not – officially – “Labour’s positive message.”

        They have as much authority vis a vis Labour Party policy as the ideas of “Blue Labour” (and any other colour that may have surfaced in the last two years or so).

  • Pingback: No One Nation In Corby - Guy Fawkes' blog

  • http://twitter.com/ActuarialChris Chris Grove

    I know this is petty but really surely people can spell check these things? Bell-weather is not a word, it’s bellwether…

  • http://twitter.com/huwsilk Huw Silk

    Textbook bit of expectation management

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