Well, this is a lot harder than I thought it would be. This time last week, I was very confident Cryer would make it. A couple of things have shaken this opinion somewhat. Firstly, the terrible week for Labour, especially over the war. This will mean some voters who would have held their noses and voted Cryer (either because of the BNP or because, in spite of all, she opposed the war) will now not do so. The best chance for Cryer was a higher turnout than last time. I still think it might be up, but not by enough to make it easy. Secondly, and on the flipside, people have been reminded just how awful this government is, and however much Cryer has tried to distance herself from it, the publicity of the last week will simply swamp attempts at independence.
So, latest news and speculations:
1) The Tory groundwar finally got going last week. They're attempting to shore up the Ilkley core vote. But no-one new seems to be voting for them. They're not pulling anyone from Labour or the LibDems. As I suspected, Cryer's team have barely been seen in Ilkley, which is a very bad mistake. Oxenhope might be the swing bit of the constituency.
2) The BNP have been seen outside of Keighley just once since the election started. They've basically stayed on the estates where they know they're strong. Griffin's work with the national party has also been distracting (the ground team is weak, to say the least). They've tried to spread some rumours to boost the result, but it's not getting them very far. I still can't see them improving on their total local government vote from the 2004 locals.
3) Cryer seems to have given up. There's a lot of machinations going on with the BritAsian vote in Keighley, pressure from many quarters, which are frankly impossible for me to read. But the lady herself doesn't seem to be giving the proverbial toss.
4) Again, contrary to initial predictions, postal votes will have a role to play. Rumours are that there are quite a few from Ilkley itself, as well as from Keighley, so we might be seeing them split between the parties.
5) The LibDems have had a good local campaign (and not only cos they've been the only party willing to talk to me), taking unexpected votes from Labour in Keighley, and votes from the Tories elsewhere. As I think I've tried to describe before, this effect might help rather than hinder Labour. If more votes leave the Tories than leave Labour (to BNP or LD). Labour keep the seat.
What can we say?
Well, a lot depends on turnout. If turnout is down, the Tory core vote does come out, and the BNP get anywhere near the number of votes they got in the last local elections, Cryer is toast, unless the LibDems really massacre the Tories, which I can't see happening. However, I think the presence of the BNP, the hatred for Blair and hard final pushes from both main parties will see turnout hold up where it was last time (unlike nationally, where it will be down), which leaves a lot up in the air. Last time out Cryer got 48% of the vote, which is a lot more than many of her colleagues.
If Labour lose the seat, it's pretty obviously a bad result for them. The only blessing will be if there's a big BNP turnout. THis will potentially mean an easily spun line in the next election to get out the anti-BNP vote (twisted, I know, but it's something of a bright side).
If the Tories don't win, it's a disaster for them. They need to, they have the best conditions to do so in this constituency. If the LibDems double their vote, the Tories are really in trouble (and this might become a three-way next time).
The LibDems will be looking to double their share of the vote, to get back to where they were in the early 90s. Anything less than 15% of the vote's not good news for them, as it suggests they've got little to build on.
And, finally, if the BNP get less than 3,000, it's a terrible night. If they get around 4,500, they've done okay, but they've shown they can't build their numbers, and that's not good news. If they get more than 6,000 or around 15% on a 70% turnout, they've done really well, and they might be able to push on to more success next time.
So, okay, stop beating round the bush Bertie...Final predictions 2005: Turnout--60-65%. The Tories will lose a couple of %age points to the LibDems, but the rest of their support will remain steady at around 37%. The LibDems will increase to around 15%. The BNP will get about half that. Which means that Labour are left with around 39% of the final vote (losing 3% or so to the LibDems and 5% to the BNP). There's a couple of points worth of error in there. Look for LibDems to hit 7,000, BNP 3,500, Cryer by 1,000 or so. If the turnout drops to 60% or below, she'll lose. Incidentally, the bookies are rather more certain than I am.
Which will, I'm sure, be spectacularly wrong (and if I was a bit more of a wimp I'd have gone 'too close to call'). Given that Cryer's fate will be all about turnout, predicting a negative is very difficult. I tend to feel that few new people will be tempted to vote either Labour or Tory by this campaign.
Frankly, she doesn't deserve to win. Vote Tory Boy. Vote LibDem. Just get her out.
Oh, and the result is due in around 1.30am, barring re-counts. I'll be ready for your brickbats over my lack of insight afterwards, though I'm in London getting a new tattoo all day Friday, so mea culpa's won't come till Saturday at the earliest. And then it'll be back to the usual rubbish on this site.
And go on, nationally, Blair by 80. Current rumours are he might lose the popular vote. Don't see it happening, but he might only win by 1 or 2%.