Saturday, March 28, 2009

Islington South and Finsbury: Tally Ho! Fox Cocks Snook

Lib Dem Voice have declared Islington South and Finsbury a "two horse race". For the avoidance of doubt (dear sock muppets) this is an election-related idiom and does not mean this will actually be an equestrian event. Or even that the Tories - currently a fairly distant third - will not somehow rally and come up on the rail.

LDV think not. But they're also shouting the odds and coming close to declaring victory for their candidate Bridget Fox. Which is odd. Given the ebb and flow and ebb of local government results - including for Fox herself - indicating that 2005 was their high water mark in the constituency. Here's the wiki summary:

Islington was an early stronghold for the Social Democratic Party in which all three sitting Labour MPs defected to the party together with a majority of the Borough Council. However, in the 1983 general election Labour managed to retain the constituency narrowly. The new MP, Chris Smith, was the first MP to come out as gay and was identified with the Labour left, and kept the seat with a slight increase in his majority in 1987. By 1992 the Liberal Democrats had faded and no longer had the former MP as a candidate and Smith managed a five figure majority.

The Liberal Democrat revival in local elections in Islington, which saw them take control of the council in 2000, began to translate to Parliamentary elections in 2001. In 2002, the Liberal Democrats won every council seat in Islington South & Finsbury, and Smith's subsequent retirement and the resultant loss of incumbency made the constituency vulnerable once again in 2005. However Smith's successor, Emily Thornberry, retained the seat with a narrow majority (484 votes) over the Liberal Democrat challenger, Bridget Fox. The seat is now one of the ten most marginal in the UK.
However, in the local council elections a year later, Labour experienced something of a resurgence and won a majority of the seats in Islington South & Finsbury, defeating both Bridget Fox and the then council leader Steve Hitchins.

Here too is the UK Polling Report profile for the constituency. The Lib Dem predictions are altogether barmy, previous and liable to come seriously unstuck.

INCIDENTALLY: Emily Thornberry MP voted to ban Fox hunting. But 52 Liberal Democrat MPs managed an arithmetically miraculous 26-26 split on the matter.


Richard Watts said...

The Lib Dems are desperate to try to pretent that Islington South is only a 2 horse race because this is the only way they will come within 5000 votes of Emily Thornberry this time around. The Lib Dem vote in Islington has always depended on large number of Tories voting tactically. But this tactical voting is increasingly rare. The Tories finished second in the seat in the London elections and I think they will do so again at the General Election.

The swing to Labout in South Islington over the last few years has been substantial because of the unpopularity of the Lib Dem administration that runs the Council. I think Briget Fox is in for her third election drubbing in a row.

Chris Paul said...

I was wondering whether to plump for a modest 5,000 plus or go the whole hog and predict a restoration of a five figure margin. Seems to me that Labour will be OK in seats where we're defending from Lib Dems. And that we could also take seats off them in Bristol, Rochdale, Man Wit and the like.

But the LDV post seems desperate.

John said...

Like in Didsbury West?

Let's face it it IS a two-horse race between Lib Dems and Labour and Emily is running scared. Given that the Lib Dems received a 4* rating from the Audit Commission and the fact that she's probably one of the hardest working Lib Dem ppcs I think it would be astonishing that it wouldn't be a two horse race.

Any further fantasies, Chris?