Size discrepancies of police force areas put Labour at a disadvantage

To emerge as the winner, Labour will need to outperform its current poll position

Share
Related Topics

Labour could match its current 10-point lead in the opinion polls – yet still emerge as the apparent loser in the first police and crime commissioner elections being held tomorrow throughout England and Wales.

Click HERE to view graphic

At the last general election, Ed Miliband's party was ahead in 12 of the 41 police force areas. The party certainly hopes to win all of these. Meanwhile, there are another eight areas – our "good Labour prospects" (see graphic) – that the party would also win if the 7 per cent swing implied by the national polls was replicated locally. That, however, would still leave Labour with just 20 police commissioners, one short of the 21 that would be in Tory hands.

Labour is disadvantaged because police force areas vary tremendously in size. Metropolitan areas such as the West Midlands and Greater Manchester, where the party is strongest, contain up to four times as many voters as some of the smaller, more rural areas, such as Gloucestershire and Suffolk.

To emerge as the undisputed winner, Labour will need to outperform its current poll position and capture some of our "Labour hopefuls". However, some of these, such as Gloucestershire, Norfolk and Suffolk, pose a severe challenge – Labour needs as much as a 12 per cent swing and to emerge from having come third locally in 2010. Much may rest on Labour's ability to capture the somewhat easier pickings of Bedfordshire and Warwickshire.

Yet how far these elections will reflect the national picture is uncertain. Although not as plentiful as the Conservatives hoped, 54 Independents have put up the £5,000 deposit needed to stand. According to an Ipsos-Mori survey, more than half of voters are minded to choose a non-party candidate, though this may be voters expressing an anti-politics mood to a pollster rather than a firm intention for the ballot box.

Meanwhile, both the Liberal Democrats and Ukip are only fighting 24 of the 41 areas, while in Wales Plaid Cymru is sitting out the election entirely. Labour will hope to profit from Plaid's absence, while the Tories will fear losing out where Ukip is standing – even though under the supplementary vote system (where voters can make a first and a second choice) defectors to Ukip could still give the Tories their potentially crucial second vote.

But with one poll suggesting that as few as 15 per cent are certain to vote, nobody can be sure who will win or lose from the anticipated low turnout. Indeed, the biggest loser tomorrow could simply be those who hoped these elections would enhance Britain's democracy.

John Curtice is Professor of Politics, Strathclyde University

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Network Security Engineer, CCNP

£200 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Network Security Engineer, CCNP Lon...

SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teacher required with Early Years...

C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

Day In a Page

Read Next
High and mighty: Edinburgh Castle and city skyline  

i Editor's Letter: We're coming to Edinburgh

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Members of the community farming group at work in their community fields near the town of Masi Manimba, Bandundu Province, DRC.  

The five biggest myths surrounding overseas aid

Billy Hill
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?