Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Labour hits panic button in Sunderland by-election
Yesterday I wrote about the possibility that Labour's dominance of Sunderland politics could be cracking. Their performance in the Sandhill by-election was somewhat lacklustre and I was hoping that the Lib Dem performance would show an improvement on the distant 4th place we got in the ward last year. I wasn't quite expecting any political earthquakes, but a few political earth tremors was a reasonable expectation.
I did say to other Lib Dem campaigners in the ward yesterday when I was helping to deliver election letters that what we needed was for Labour to slag us off in their last minute leaflet. That would give the voters the impression that the by-election was a battle between Labour and the Lib Dems with other parties simply playing the role of spectators. Always useful for squeezing the other parties and picking up soft Labour supporters.
Labour have very kindly done what I hoped and, indeed, have gone one step further. They have hit the panic button by producing a fake Focus full of all sorts of attacks on the Lib Dems, done in such a way that it is so utterly obvious that it is produced by Labour and not by us. It means they have laid their cards on the table regarding who they believe are the challengers (in a ward which last year saw Labour on 1200 votes and the Lib Dems on 90).
Labour need something positive to appeal to their own voters. Their previous election leaflets lack that in this by-election. They simply attack opposition candidates generally for not supporting their cuts. That doesn't strike me as the way to win, and it rather contradicts the contents of the fake Focus. So, Labour's manpower in the ward today has not been used to tell voters why they should vote Labour, it's been used to tell voters that the Lib Dems are a credible threat to them.
And that's going to make this an interesting battle tomorrow. I'll be there is give our candidate Stephen O'Brien a helping hand.