In 2005 there were a mere 405 votes between Nigel Griffiths and the Liberal Democrats in 2005. Labour had already lost the Scottish seat that takes up most of the Westminster constituency to Mike Pringle, he went on to increase his majority in 2007. Therefore these quotes from local Labour party members in Edinburgh South make interesting reading:
One Labour Party insider said: "This decision is just typical of Nigel. That is why he will leave no legacy in South Edinburgh. He has put the party in a very difficult position by making his entire campaign centre on his personality. He was a policy-free zone. If we lose Edinburgh South, everyone will know who to blame: Nigel Griffiths."It appears as if Labour are already preparing the way for an inevitable loss of the seat. They are already apportioning blame. The picture above is a larger that life picture of the MP that adorns his constituency office. Hardly surprising with such iconography that it's corner position is known by some locals as the Kremlin.
Another local member added: "He has obviously been working on this for some time, and has now dumped the local party in it before an election."
So with Nigel out of the picture all eyes are turning to who? I think the only logical answer is Fred Mackintosh for the Liberal Democrats.
The Tories of course are yet again talking up their chances in this seat. But they did the same in 2005 and threw everything including the kitchen sink at this seat and came a lowly third. In 2007 even with the man who eventually became their list MSP who had stood in 2005 their vote on top of what they called strong performances by David Cameron and local activity only rose by 0.6% the Lib Dem vote rose by 2.9%.
I love the fact that Gavin Brown's website from 2007 is still live.
Instead of using bar charts that show data the Tories tried to use actual figures based on electoral calculus figures of a universal swing to count for Edinburgh South. Back then they said (actual return in May 2007 in red):
Share of the vote
Labour - 28.98% 29.1%
Conservatives - 26.14% 17.2%
Lib Dems - 21.39% 35.0%
SNP - Not worthy of mention 18.8%
Therefore the Labour insiders quoted above are clearly preparing themselves for a Fred Mackintosh win on May 6th. It's not all down to Nigel being a policy free zone, it is also because Fred has been to parts of the constituency that haven't seen a Tory candidate on their doorsteps in recent times, if at all. The Tories as in 2005 think they can rely on their heartland parts to the West of the constituency leaving out some of the tougher areas.
Fred doesn't take the people of Edinburgh South for granted, nor does he neglect them. Indeed many of the people in locations overlooked by the Tories still remember how the Conservatives ruined Scotland and didn't care. So Annabel Goldie's recent comments about how David Cameron and reign in Downing Street without Scotland will just bring back echoes of that.
Nigel may well have dumped the local Labour party in it, although it would appear that the local people were already making their mind up that Nigel would have to go. He lost 6% of his vote in 2005 and that was before the additional scandals of the last few years.
So even Labour in Edinburgh South are looking towards a Fred Mackintosh win there by the sounds of things, lining up their excuses already.