I was reading today's SNP news releases and was struck by a point made that it's now 60 days since Michael Martin said he was stepping down - and we still don't have a date for the election to fill the casual vacancy in Glasgow North East. On any measure this should be a seat that Labour thinks of as ultra-safe, so why has the ballot not been called yet?
What is Labour afraid of?
Could it be that Labour is now not confident of holding onto any seat anywhere? Norwich looks like the Greens might overtake them as well as the Conservatives, leaving Labour coming third in a seat where they took 44.9% of the vote in 2005, we took them out in Glasgow East - which was a seat that was almost as safe as North East - before falling away a wee bit in Glenrothes.
Brown's record hasn't been good:
Sedgefield 19/7/07 - Labour hold, vote share down 14 points, majority down almost 20 points
Ealing Southall 19/7/07 - Labour hold, vote down 7 points, majority down 10.5%
Crewe and Nantwich 22/5/08 - Conservative gain from Labour - 17.6% swing
Henley 26/6/08 - Conservative hold, Labour vote down almost 12%
Haltemprice and Howden 10/7/08 - Labour didn't stand (which, of course, means that David Icke got more votes than Labour)
Glasgow East 24/7/08 - SNP gain from Labour - 22.5% swing
Glenrothes 6/11/08 - Labour hold, vote up 3%, majority down 10%, swing to SNP of 5%
With that kind of record and all the polling suggesting that Labour could lose any kind of election you can understand why there's a reluctance in the Brown bunker to put his neck on the line. Even with us fine chaps in the SNP losing the first candidate we selected (the fine James Dornan, who will throw his weight behind the campaign nonetheless, I would imagine) and having to rerun our selection process (ended last night - David Kerr is our candidate, I'll bet I'm first to tell you), Labour is still hiding behind the sofa afraid to come out in case the Daleks are on the telly.
It's a bit daft, really, but Labour's afraid to call the election in Glasgow North East.
If I may quote Ms Alexander *ahem* "Bring it on".
Mind how you go.