Despite some polls showing double digit leads earlier in the week, Labour lost their former stronghold of Glasgow East to a massive 22.54% swing to the Scottish National Party. The lead was just 365, following a recount. The Tories finished 3rd, swapping places with the Lib Dems. Alex Salmond will be happy.
Now finishing fifth in Henley was bad for Labour, losing Crewe and Nantwich a bigger blow, but surely to lose the solid Labour seat in Glasgow is the biggest blow of the lot. Brown will again be under pressure, repeating this sort of performance across Britain would see a total wipeout for Labour. But what is the answer?
The Blairite triangulation can work when you are on the up, positioning yourself in the centre to draw in support from all sides. But when your stock is down your broad ‘coalition’ also loses votes to both sides, so where do you move to win them back? The last few big government announcements have been copies of Conservative policy, which seems like a strategy to target middle England swing voters. But on the other hand the core Labour vote must hold up. With the SNP to the left in Scotland, Labour may be left relying on their Unionism to hold up any vote there.
This is before we mention funding. The Labour party is bankrupt. The biggest backers are the Unions, who have been happy to take what scraps they can to have a Labour party in power, but now sense that Brown is weak. Not only have there been a series of strikes, but no doubt secret pressure applied via the lever of funding.
So how can Gordon Brown please Unions for money, to spend on a campaign to both woo Scottish voters from the SNP and English voters from the Tories? He probably can’t. And a Conservative England and SNP Scotland would bode well for independence, if only Dave Cameron wasn’t such a committed bloody Unionist!