HERE’S an interesting document generated down at Conservative campaign headquarters at Millbank, mischievously passed my way this week. Created by Tory strategists for rank and file members, it sets out what the party needs to do to in constituencies where it currently doesn’t have an MP. Given the grandstanding in north west London already, you might have guessed that the new Hampstead and Kilburn seat is right up there in the ‘Seats In Our Sight’ list for the Conservatives.
Apologies for the quality of the scans, but have a squint (see below). This handout appears to show that the party’s number crunchers think candidate Chris Philp needs a hefty double digit swing to unseat Hampstead’s sitting Labour MP Glenda Jackson. In fact, the required swing listed in this memo is even bigger than the one thought to be needed by George Lee, the Tory challenger to Frank Dobson in Holborn and St Pancras.
Philp, the memo says, needs a 12.25 percent swing away from Labour, while Lee needs a slightly smaller 12.11 percent swing. Those kind of chunky deficits are usually only made up during landslide, sea-change general elections where a party is soundly drummed from office.
The swingometers used here of course are unlikely to take into account the Lib Dem threat through candidate Ed Fordham to Jackson in Hampstead and Kilburn. Labour and the Lib Dems could for example split a large share of the vote, in doing so open up the path for Philp to win through. The Greens, with Bea Campbell now on the election trail, could also play a part in that division.
Philp has also been buoyed by a suspected lead in recent public opinion polling by YouGov. Nevertheless, as he tries to establish himself as the candidate most likely to defeat Jackson, he surely can’t be happy that internal documents like this could potentially leave readers thinking he is off the pace.