"Everybody knows," said a grizzled party worker at Labor headquarters, "that Ebbw Vale will vote Labor and that Torquay will vote Tory. It's the doubtfuls like Hammersmith that'll decide the general election." The Tories felt much the same. "Labor got nearly 12 million votes in 1945," said one of them. "We got nearly 10 million. A million of the 'floating' vote in the next election could turn the tide in our favor . . . That's why Hammersmith is important."

The general election was not due until next year, but last week in...

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