Well anything is possible. The uber talented chanteuse Ms Cheryl Cole could be walking down my street right now to ask me out for a hot date. Frankly that is more likely than Labour losing a seat that has never been anything but Labour. But miracles can happen. Hang on… there is someone at the door.
Pizza delivery. Wrong address. Not Cheryl. Drat.
The results last time were Labour 52%, Tory 22%, Lib Dems 14%, BNP 7%, others (not including UKIP 5%). Following Rotherham and the national trends my assumptions would be:
Various others including the BNP and the Lib Dems get 10% between them. The Lib Dems will come somewhere between 5th and 8th on another night of abject humiliation for Nick Clegg. The BNP will not achieve much. At least Clegg’s memory these days seems to be so poor when it comes to hearing painful news (Rennard, Huhne, Hancock) that he will soon be able to forget about leading his party to another electoral caning.
The Tory vote will slump. Call Me Dave has done his utmost to piss off traditional Tories (I am amazed that there were so many in South Shields, wherever it is, last time) and voters will tactically switch to the best placed party that might just run Labour close, i.e. UKIP. The Tories will get 10% of the vote ( + or – 3%). I suspect the – is more likely than the + - it will be a dire night for Call Me Dave as May 2nd also sees local elections in which the Tories will get thrashed. There will be stacks of very angry ex Tory councillors on May 3rd.
And so on the face of it, if the Labour vote held steady then that would see UKIP on 30% and Labour on 52%. But….
South Shields looks to be the sort of grim Northern shit hole that Labour takes for granted. Its voters there are working class and one suspects that their views on immigration, Europe and a range of other issues are not exactly the sort aired by Ed Miliband and his pals at Islington dinner parties. Besides which this by election is caused by Dave Miliband pissing off to New York to earn loads of wonga. Talk about treating your poor constituents with contempt. That makes the circumstances a touch unusual.
And so my guess is that there will be some shift from Labour to UKIP (as there was in Rotherham and Eastleigh) and also from Labour to “not voting at all as you are all wankers.”
UKIP has nothing to lose here. If it gets 30% and comes second (from nowhere) that is a triumph. But I have a sneaking feeling that it could do rather better than that. It is currently 17-1 to win and I am tempted to have a tiny flutter. Anything is possible. Hang on... is that the doorbell I hear ringing again?