I rather agree with Mike Smithson
. The heady days of Crewe, London and Henley have led lots of people, including the politics home
panel, to assume that the SNP are going to win it, and that mere inconveniences like a 13,000 majority can be ignored. Well, maybe. But it's worth recognising that this is one of Labour's safest seats; that at any other time we would be saying that a monkey with a red rosette could win it.
That being so, it's probably judicious to enter into a bit of expectation management. If Labour do win this back, as by all measures and in all ways they should, it will be spun as a turning-point for Brown - proof that things are going his way again. Since it is almost a certainty that the Labour share of the vote will fall, and possibly fairly far, all the opposition parties should be running with the line that this is a very safe seat, and that the message for Brown should be a reduced vote and so forth. That way, anything other than an increased/equivalent Labour vote can be portrayed as a setback, while if the SNP did pull one out of the bag, then it starts to look like game over.
Labour have become rather bad at expectation management, for the simple reason that reality is starting to outstrip their worst predictions. When it's used properly, however, it's an effective way of making sure that your message becomes the first draft for the newspapers.