Labour was in a potentially difficult spot at the 2010 general election in Scunthorpe. It was revealed in 2009 that the sitting MP, Elliot Morley, had fiddled his expenses and eventually, in 2011, he spent four months behind bars for false accounting as a result. Despite this, though, Nic Dakin won the seat for Labour with a 2,549 majority – well down on previous Labour majorities. Mr. Dakin didn’t make much headway in 2015, either – he was elected two years ago with a majority of 3,134.
North Lincolnshire Council has been under Conservative control since 2011. In the wards that make up the Scunthorpe Constituency, there are strong Conservative voting areas, but there are strong Labour areas, too. Based on local elections, Labour is in the lead in Scunthorpe. But we know that the way people vote in local elections is different to the way they vote in a general election.
If there is a strong national swing towards the Conservatives from Labour, this seat should be blown away in the wind. I do add one caveat, though. Nic Dakin has been a strong advocate for his constituents working at Tata Steel. History tells us that it is strong local MPs who buck national trends. So who has the Conservative Party selected as its candidate? Very wisely, they have selected Holly Mumby-Croft, a local North Lincolnshire councillor who chairs the Health Scrutiny Committee.
If the Conservatives had selected a candidate from outside the area, I would have said that Nic Dakin could buck the trend. As it stands, I don’t think he will. Thanks to council elections, more and more of his constituents have been voting Conservative. It becomes habit forming. A local Conservative candidate at this general election makes it much easier for them to continue with the habit.