First, we want to dedicate this piece to Gerald Kaufman.
Gerald served his community and country for decades; helping people and causes at home and abroad; including his brave battle for Palestinian justice.
This is a by-election no one wanted.
However, in the wake of the “Soft Coup,” Manchester Gorton provides an opportunity. An opportunity to mobilise one of the largest non-voting blocks in the country. A fight for credibility.
Previously, we analysed the Copeland and Stoke by-elections, showing the impact of non-voters and mitigating circumstances.
Without the unique characteristics of Copeland’s nuclear industry, Storm Dorris, or the Brexit stronghold of Stoke, Manchester Gorton should provide a clear indicator of how Labour is viewed in its traditional heartlands.
But, before we enter “full campaign mode,” we need a brief analysis of voter demographics and campaign opportunities.
Similar to the Stoke and Copeland by-elections, we have calculated non-voter/social media impact, below.
Electorate (2015): 72,950 (42,019 turnout * 100 / 57.6% (turnout percentage))
All votes missed: 30,931 (72,950 – 42,019)
Demographic of eligible vote (2015): Under-34s (49%), 35-54 (31%), 55-64 (9%), 65+ ((11%) (65-74 (6%), Over-75 (5%)).
Social media usage by national demographic (2014/15): Under-34s (44%). 35-54s (33%). 55-64 (11%). 65+ (4%).
We can now divide the total missed votes by eligible votes, then multiply this by social media usage:
Under 34s: 30,931 / 49% = 15,156 * 44% = 6,669 non-voting social media users.
35-54: 30,931 / 31% = 9,589 * 33% = 3,164 non-voting social media users.
55-64: 30,931 / 9% = 2,784 * 11% = 306 non-voting social media users.
65+: 30,931 / 11% = 3,402 * 4% = 136 non-voting social media users.
Over 10,000 non-voters in Manchester Gorton could have been reached by effective social media campaigning, (GE 2015).
In total, 3,435 (51.5%) of the 6,669 non-voting under-34 year-olds were contactable via Twitter and Instagram alone. Additionally, 918 35-54 year-olds could have been reached by the same methods.
37% of adult non-voters check social media several times a day, forming a dependable base of 3,800 non-voters at the last general election, with the highest-grossing posts hitting a further 32% of “once-a-day” users (3,288 non-voters in Manchester Gorton alone).
Part of Labour’s strategy should be to target under-54s via Twitter and Instagram, with a particular focus on the under-34s; the largest social-media-using block of non-voters.
Combined with effective street campaigning, increasing Labour’s majority should be easy.
A result where Labour fails to increase its majority would be more damaging than its reduced majority in Stoke – even its loss in Copeland.
Manchester Gorton is exactly the kind of constituency Labour’s election strategy targets; a constituency with the demographics required for a significant Corbyn victory.
Excluding 2015, Kaufman’s constituency suffered from reduced majorities in each of the last four elections (97 – 10), mainly down to Lib Dem breakthroughs.
However, given a current Labour majority of 24,079, a Progressive Alliance would be tokenistic at best.
Reversing a Green swing of 7% and damaging Liberal vote-shares would renew incentives for a progressive alliance and provide a new framework for marginals.
The Liberals demonstrated their power in Copeland; Labour can do the same in Manchester Gorton.
Despite its huge majority and inner-city focus; a Labour increase of less than 10% would be disappointing; requiring a significant re-think to mobilise non-voters and/or persuade current ones.
A reduced or stagnant majority in Manchester Gorton would question a policy platform favouring cultural diversity, youth and the working-class. It would lend support to the “Soft Coup,” and heap further pressure on Jeremy Corbyn.
A resounding victory would suspend challenges, dispel disunity and send a message to the country: Labour. Can. Deliver.
So let’s embrace this opportunity. Let’s work. Let’s campaign. And let’s deliver a victory Gerald – and Jeremy – can be proud of.
* Workings: 3,735 under-34s use Instagram, 3,134 under-34s use Twitter; ((3,735 + 3,134 = 6,869) / 2 (Twitter and Instagram) = average 3,435)).
823 35-54 year-olds use Instagram, 1,012 35-54 year-olds use Twitter; ((823 + 1,012 = 1,835) / 2 (Twitter and Instagram) = average 918)).