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Have Labour been let off the hook?

Posted by Theo Usherwood, LBC Political Editor on June 06, 2014 at 08:12AM

The talk in Newark has been about how close Ukip ran the Tories. Nigel Farage's party came a gallant second they didn't win in the end.
The story continues that while the Ukip candidate Roger Helmer gave the Tory smoothy Robert Jenrick a run for his money.

But all this chatter has let Ed Miliband off the hook somewhat.

The Tories might have a stonking majority of 16,000 from 2010 but not so long ago, way back when in 1997, this was a Labour seat.

For Ed Miliband, if he has hopes for an overall majority next year, he should be increasing Labour's vote share, not watching it slip.

In 2010, Labour's share of the vote was 22.3 per cent. Now it is somewhat lower.

The Tories have as Mr Bryant said thrown the kitchen sink and much more besides in to their campaign effort in the last month.

But then they have seen some product at the end of it they have won the seat.

Back in 1996, Labour won South East Staffordshire from the Tories. A year later Tony Blair won a landslide election.

And if you look at the swings that have preceded general election wins, the omens are no less forgiving. To have won Newark, Labour would have needed a swing of 15.8 per cent.

David Cameron did not even win a majority in 2010 but nonetheless in the run up to that general election the Tories won Crewe and Nantwich with a swing of 17.5 per cent and Norwich North with a swing of 16.5 per cent.

All these numbers may seem slightly baffling. The crucial point is this Ed Miliband cannot walk in to Downing Street by just wooing a few disgruntled Liberal Democrats. The Tories should feel encouraged by the result in Newark.

And 2015? It's game on.