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Tories turn election guns on Northfield, but Labour mustn’t be fooled into relaxing in Edgbaston

Tories turn election guns on Northfield, but Labour mustn’t be fooled into relaxing in Edgbaston

🕔03.Jun 2013

The 2015 General Election will be remarkable because, we are told, this will be the first time that the Conservative party has not selected Edgbaston as its primary target in Birmingham.

Tory strategists have decided that Northfield represents a better bet for defeating a Labour MP, in this case Richard Burden, who will have held the seat for 23 years by the time of the election.

Taken on face value, this represents an important change of tactics and is also a tacit admission of defeat, since the Conservatives have been battling unsuccessfully since 1997 to defeat Labour’s Gisela Stuart in Edgbaston.

Everything that could be thrown into the fray has been thrown in and Birmingham city councillor Deirdre Alden came close in 2010, but Mrs Stuart duly held on for her third successive victory.

On paper, though, Edgbaston remains a better bet for the Conservatives and Labour would be well advised not to stand down its troops just yet.

The swing required to take Edgbaston at the next election is wafer-thin compared to Northfield. Mrs Stuart will be doomed if the Tories were to manage more than a 1.5 per cent swing, while Mr Burden could survive anything up to a 3.5 per cent swing in Northfield.

So no one should be fooled into thinking that the Tories have forgotten about Edgbaston.

They are yet to select a candidate for 2015, Deirdre Alden has said she’s not interested in a third attempt, and you have to suppose that, since a local approach has failed in the past, this could be prime territory for a ‘parachuted-in’ big name, particularly if the economy is showing signs of recovery thereby boosting the government’s popularity.

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