What are the trends in the key marginals?
One of the key elements that “did” for the Major government in the post 1992 period was the collapse in house prices and the whole spectre of negative equity. For the value of someone property is one of the key determinants in how well or badly they view their personal economic futures.
These things can have a lasting impression. Even in the 2005 general election campaign Labour was able to use the negative equity story of the previous decade as a stick to beat the Tories.
If you have a lot of equity stored in your property’s current value then things like your personal pension provision don’t appear to be as big an issue. Upto only a few months ago how often did you hear people say that they hadn’t got much of a pension to look forward to but the “profit” on the property would see them through. How are they feeling now?
It’s worth recalling that things don’t change overnight and it might be several years before prices return to 2008 levels. Thus the house price boom of the late 1980s reached its peak in July 1988. Prices did not return to the levels reached in that month until early 1999 – more than a decade later.
These things operate very much on a local and regional level so what are we to make of the table from today’s Daily Mail, reproduced above, showing some of the worst property price black-spots.
Just take that list on compare it with the top 200 Tory seat targets, listed here on UK Polling Report, and you notice immediately that many of the places worst hit are in towns where Labour is on the defensive.
Thus taking Blackpool as an example, with a 28.2% fall off and the worst listed. This has two LAB>CON marginals: Blackpool North and Cleveleys which is Tory target number 77 and falls with a 4.65% swing. Then there’s Blackpool South which is Tory target 169 and which Brown’s party would lose on an 8.85% swing. If seats like the latter are lost then Cameron is in landslide territory.
My guess is that Labour will find it easier to hang on in places where house prices have not slumped as much.