This is not the backdrop that Ed Miliband would have wanted for Labour conference. Labour’s poll lead has—according to YouGov—vanished, Damian McBride is dominating the news agenda and there’s talk of splits and division in this inner circle. But, as I say in the cover this week, you can’t write Ed Miliband off yet. He has three huge, structural advantages in his favour.
The boundaries favour Labour: Type Thursday’s YouGov poll, the best for the Tories in 18 months, into UK Polling Report’s seat calculator, and it tells you that Labour would be three short of a majority on these numbers. It is a reminder that if the parties are level pegging, Labour is winning. Indeed, Tony Blair won a comfortable majority with 35 percent of the vote in 2005 while Cameron failed to secure one with 36 percent in 2010.
The UKIP factor: Lord Ashcroft’s mega poll of the seats that will determine the next election showed Labour 14 points ahead in the marginals thanks largely to the effect that UKIP is having on the Tory vote. Now, yesterday’s shambolic UKIP conference suggests that UKIP might well do itself in. But if UKIP keeps even half of its current level of support, it’ll be very hard for the Tories to be even the largest party in the next parliament.
The left is reuniting: When the Liberal Democrats went into government with the Tories, they lost the support of close to 3 million voters. Most of these voters have simply moved into the Labour column. Labour’s own internal polling suggests that the floor on their vote is now 32 percent or so. This means that Miliband is within touching distance of a general election victory before he’s even got out of bed in the morning.
None of this means that Miliband is guaranteed to make it to Number 10. But he is—whatever Labour’s current flaws—in with a better chance than a lot of people realise.