[Insert name] can’t win here.

ONE of the most irritating things about the leaflets being stuffed through doors in Hampstead and Kilburn in the run-up to the elections is the ‘so-and-so can’t win here’ tactic. You’ll be familiar with it, it’s the wild claims which usually come with a lop-sided bar graph on the fliers.

It’s irritating because we all know the constituency is a three horse race – look at the polls, look at the betting shop odds. Yet the Liberal Democrats will tell you endlessly that Conservative Chris Philp stands no realistic hope and the Tories will tell you Lib Dem Ed Fordham is already trailing off in a distant third. Voters are too astute to buy into to these coloured interpretations of the contest.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been told the Lib Dems can’t win here. And The Conservatives can’t win here. So, does that mean Labour’s Glenda Jackson is the only one who can win here?  She’s in the same game herself. This is what she said in the Ham & High this week:

“I think the British people are much too sensible to go down the route of a hung Parliament. They have got a very clear choice to make – a Labour government who believe or a putative government that doesn’t.”

This is, on the face of it, a comment on the way the national election will play out but isn’t it meant to be read by voters in Hampstead as: ‘It’s a clear choice between Labour and Conservatives everywhere, so remember: the Lib Dems can’t win here’. It’s a little more oblique than a garish leaflet but it’s the same message underneath.

The trouble for Glenda et al is that experience tells us that when candidates go out of their way to rule a rival out of the race, it’s usually because they are wary they will actually finish ahead of them. Don’t be fooled: All three candidates are more than aware that their two closest opponents can win here.

 it’s often because you are worried they will finish ahead of you.

between me and Chris Philp.

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