Is Ukip a threat to Labour in the north?
Before I get back to the Riga summit, a footnote to Philip Collins in the Times, who is making an argument today that goes to the heart of how you see the Labour leadership contest and the task ahead.
Is Labour facing an existential threat in Northern seats from Ukip that could eat at a heartland just as the SNP has in Scotland?
In the general election, Ukip came second, as he points out, in 44 Labour seats. But they’re quite a long way off Labour’s tail in most of these.
They are more than 30 per cent off the Labour candidate (often around 10,000 votes) in all but seven by my tally – apologies if I missed any.
I make it eight seats where they are second and within 30 per cent of the winning Labour candidate, and these are (with actual percentage off lead in brackets):
- Dagenham (11 per cent)
- Heywood and Middleton (11 per cent)
- Hartlepool (17 per cent)
- West Bromwich West (22 per cent)
- Doncaster South (25 per cent)
- Bolton South East (27 per cent)
- Hull East (29 per cent)
- Doncaster North (29.8 per cent)
There are, it looks to me, four Labour seats where Ukip are within 30 per cent but in third place:
- Wrexham (22 per cent)
- Bishops Auckland (23 per cent)
- Great Grimsby (24 per cent)
- W Bromwich E (29 per cent)
And on a different story in today’s papers, I hear that the Lib Dems are going to get only two working peers in the coming list, so reports of all those defeated or retired folk turning them down were a bit optimistic perhaps.
Ming Campbell and Alan Beith are thought to be the front-runners for the slots, assuming Charles Kennedy, as an ex-leader, doesn’t want one.
Lib Dems say they believe that the Tories might be planning scores of Tory working peers and were spotted working on the lists before the general election.
David Cameron and Nick Clegg are said to have agreed they would not be putting together a dissolution honours list.
Follow @GaryGibbonBlog on Twitter