Labour’s surprising by-election victory in Glenrothes this week is the first indication that Gordon Brown’s political fight-back is beginning to work.
The Party – which only a few weeks ago looked set to lose the seat in spectacular fashion – defied the odds and romped home with a majority of 6,737.
The candidate, Lindsay Roy, proved to be an excellent campaigner too. A street-fighter with impeccable local credentials and a strong grasp of the issues, Roy proved adept at winning over sceptical voters and shoring up the base.
And on this occasion, the Prime Minister led from the front. Defying convention, he visited Glenrothes twice during the election campaign and Sarah Brown visited over seven times. The victory will be a boost to their morale.
Labour opted for a long campaign. This proved an effective strategy. The Party, which had suffered in Glasgow East because of poor organisation and low voter identification, had time to organise effectively. As we have just witnessed in America with Barack Obama’s victory, the importance of grassroots organisation should never be underestimated.
Secondly, Brown’s handling of the economic crisis undoubtedly played a part. Of course, it helps that he is a local lad, but voters recognised that in an economic downturn what they wanted was a safe pair of hands and Brown has proved adept and assured.
Labour activists on the ground said from the start that the mood up in Glenrothes was good. Party campaigners outweighed SNP activists by a significant margin. The mood and the atmosphere was all good for Labour and attempts by the SNP to work Obama’s message don’t seem to have come off.
Of course, we mustn't get carried away. A bounce is different from a sustained lead and there is more for Labour to do. Let's wait until the local and European elections next Spring to see if there has been a reversal.
However, as Nick Robinson’s blog notes, today politics is all about momentum. Labour’s victory has given Brown a huge boost. It has given the Party north of the Border a huge bounce.
Could the ‘Big Mo’ - as the Americans call it - be with Labour again?
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