Furious campaigns for the marginals

Election campaigners are focusing their firepower on a handful of key constituencies, reports Emily Hohler.


Ed Miliband: out campaigning in the marginals

"This is the quietest general election Ican remember, locally at least," saysPhilip Johnston in The Daily Telegraph. "The real battle is being fought for afew thousand votes in around 80 marginals mainly in England." These constituencies are being "bombardedwith election literature and subjectedto a steady stream of political heavyweights".

With the polls static, "electoral micro-management is critical and big data' give parties a spookily close-up analysis of who needs to be won over". More than half of Britain's 650 seats are deemed "safe" and so receive "desultory attention" while the big existential national issues are being brushed aside to make "offers" (with other people's money) to win over "specific interest groups". "Call me old-fashioned, but didn't governments once go to the country' not a part of it?"

The Labour-Tory marginals are by farthe biggest group and will probably have the most significant impact onthe shape of the government, but given that neither party is likely to gain an absolute majority, "the other battleswill decide the junior coalition partners", says Gavin Jackson in the FinancialTimes. Labour is fighting "on two fronts": against the Tories, mostly in ex-industrial Midlands constituencies, and against the Scottish National Party (SNP).

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The biggest threat to the Lib Dems is the Conservatives in a set of affluent seats, while the Conservatives face a challenge from Ukip in many of their more working-class seats along the east coast. But there are signs the Tories are luring back Ukip supporters by campaigning on fears of an alliance between the SNP's Nicola Sturgeon and Ed Miliband, says Sam Coates in The Times.

The Tories have more reason to be confident now about the "all-important marginals" than a month ago, says Matthew D'Ancona in The Guardian. "In as much as the national opinion polls are a useful guide to such a fragmented political landscape", two out of three of the weekend polls showed the Tories still in the lead. Incumbency, and an economic recovery that has "created as many jobs as this one", are a "powerful force".

David Cameron is right not to panic. "He doesn't need every single beneficiary of the recovery to vote for him." He just needs enough pencils to "hover for long enough in the polling booth, as voters decide, at the only moment that matters, that this is no time for change".

Combining the most recent estimates of the top ten polling companies, the Tory lead over Labour has widened slightly, says John Rentoul in The Independent on Sunday. However, "run the numbers through the hung parliament decision tree" and they point to a Labour minority government ruling "vote by vote" with SNP support. Statistically, "it's a tie" between Labour and the Tories, James Endersby, managing director of Opinium, told Rentoul. They would "do well to be negotiating with the smaller parties behind the scenes".

Emily Hohler

Emily has extensive experience in the world of journalism. She has worked on MoneyWeek for more than 20 years as a former assistant editor and writer. Emily has previously worked on titles including The Times as a Deputy Features Editor, Commissioning Editor at The Independent Sunday Review, The Daily Telegraph, and she spent three years at women's lifestyle magazine Marie Claire as a features writer for three years, early on in her career. 

On MoneyWeek, Emily’s coverage includes Brexit and global markets such as Russia and China. Aside from her writing, Emily is a Nutritional Therapist and she runs her own business called Root Branch Nutrition in Oxfordshire, where she offers consultations and workshops on nutrition and health.