The most amazing thing about the Crewe and Nantwich by-election is the sheer amount of column inches it has generated in the national press. As a by-election veteran (I confess, I haven’t gone to this one), I’m used to fighting the great fight in eminently winnable seats (which of course, we went on to win) and yet have the media completely oblivious to the fact right up until the day before polling day when they finally get around to sending a monkey up to see what is going on.
Not that I’m complaining, mind. The more they ignore a by-election in the run up, the bigger the splash on the front pages when we win. The fact that the Tories are being presented as a near-certainty will dampen the impact if they win and make them look silly if they lose. The fact that Labour’s dirty by-election tricks are finally getting a good airing is also gratifying, although it is a shame it is being presented as a one-off when they play this game every single fucking time.
What is bizarre is the way journalists keep calling it a “safe Labour seat.” Dunwoody only had a 7,000 majority and when you’ve been an MP as long as she has, most of that will be down to a personal vote. I don’t know the area’s political history but the Tories have completely eclipsed Labour in local government.
If the Tories had had as good a prospect as this to fight during their doldrums in 1998, it would still have been amazing if they had gone on to lose.
Make no mistake: this by-election is for the Tories to lose. If they can’t win this, they will be back to where they were last summer. I’m not making any predictions either way here, but let’s not kid ourselves about them having a massive job ahead of them, eh?