Archive for the 'Coalition' Category

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Concern about the economy continues its dramatic collapse – but that could mean it’ll be less of an issue at GE2015

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Don’t assume that voters do gratitude

All the economic indicators in recent months have been positive for the coalition and this is picked up in the July Ipsos-MORI Issues Index where concern about the economy has continued its sharp and quite dramatic fall.

This is the monthly polling that has been carried out in exactly the same unique way for nearly four decades and is regarded as the best measure of saliency. Those sampled are asked entirely unprompted to name with no limit on number the main issues facing the country.

    The big hope of both the Tories and Lib Dems is that the improving economy will be reflected at the ballot box on May 7th next year but will it? Could it be that as the economy declines in importance that it will be less of a vote driver?

The economy was improving strongly by 1997 and the polls had the Tories ahead on the issue. This didn’t prevent the Blair landslide in the general election.

Likewise a grateful nation at the end of the war in 1945 didn’t cast their votes to keep Churchill in power.

Paddy Ashdown who is heading the Lib Dem 2015 campaign is always warning his party that “voters don’t do gratitude”. I’m sure he’s right.

Voting in a general election is a forward looking act not a backwards one and if “being ahead on the economy” is so electorally important then how come the Tories are still behind?

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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For the first time UKIP move into the favourite slot in a Westminster seat

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

South Thanet heading to be a great 3-way tussle

I love Westminster seats battles where at least three parties are in with a shout. The betting on them can be very interesting and chances are that you’ll get longer than evens on the winner.

South Thanet in Kent, won from LAB by pro-EU Tory, Laura Sandys, in May looks set to be the most polled single constituency there is. So far I’m aware of three public polls being carried out which respectively have had LAB, CON and now UKIP in the lead.

Laura Sandys is standing down at the election so there will be no first time incumbency bonus for the Tories. Her replacement on the CON ticket is a former leader of UKIP. Meanwhile LAB will be hoping that the seat will be returned to the red camp after a short absence.

Who knows which way it will go? A Farage candidature could lead to anti-UKIP tactical voting. A lot for him depends on maintaining the momentum of the Euros – something which has faded away in the past.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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Tories drop 5 and UKIP up 3 in this week’s Ashcroft national poll

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Yet again the Ashcroft national phone poll has surprised us. This time with a 5% drop in CON support, 2% drop for LAB and a 3% increase for UKIP. Last week the Ashcroft figures were Con 32%, Lab 36%, Lib Dem 7%, UKIP 14%, Green 6%

This compares with the earlier Populus online phone poll that had the LAB lead moving from zero to 5%. Both are featured in the chart above.

The Ashcroft changes are bigger than the margin of error and this is his first national poll since the re-shuffle.

It is perhaps worth emphasising that neither the Ashcroft national poll nor the Populus online one have been tested at a general election.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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Say hello to the Lilac Tories

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

New cabinet (1)

David Herdson on Cameron’s line-up for GE2015

Squaring circles is part of the business of politics.  One such conundrum David Cameron has to face is how to simultaneously make the party he leads more appealing to centrist floating voters while also attracting back those who’ve defected to UKIP.  On the face of it, those are two incompatible objectives: how can a party move both left and right at the same time?  The simple answer is it can’t; the more complex one is that it doesn’t have to.

There’s been some criticism that Cameron’s reshuffle is mere window dressing.  That if he was serious about the changes then he’d have made them before now, when the government still had serious parliamentary business to get through before the election.  That misses the point.  Cameron is not looking at this parliament; in making the changes now, he has put together his team for the next one.  (In any case, keeping ministers in place while they’re in the middle of something is actually a good thing).

What he’s also done is put together his team for the general election campaign and that’s where the circle-squaring comes in.  Replacing Michael Gove with a woman in her early forties is the most dramatic element of the image management surgery which has left the Tory front bench visibly younger and less male-dominated.

Of course, that image management only works if those coming in are up to the job themselves, which is something that remains to be seen.  Still, with education and immigration two of the electoral battlegrounds, we can expect to hear more Conservative women’s voices on the TV and radio in the months to come.  Few people will change their vote simply because the minister for whatever is a woman rather than a man (or indeed, any one politician rather than another).  However, the overall public impression of the party is very much affected by those making the case for it and to that extent, it will make a difference.

It should be noted that simply putting a woman in a job, even if she’s competent, won’t necessarily help in attracting women’s votes.  Women voters, as with any group or set of individuals, will still need to identify with the party in question, both in terms of empathy and policy – does the party understand them and the issues they face, and does it have the solutions to those problems?  A woman robo-politician will do no better than a male robo-politician; both appear equally out of touch.

Then there’s the other side of the equation: winning back the UKIP defectors.  The cabinet changes marked a definite Eurosceptic shift; one which should become more apparent once the election approaches and ministers can advocate party policy more and government coalition policy less.  Certainly, Europe is only one reason for the Con to UKIP switchers (if an important one), but again, just as the original defections were rarely prompted by a single policy in isolation but by a cumulative effect over years, so switchback, if it happens, is likely to occur due to the effects at the margin of many events.

It would be wrong to claim that Cameron’s cabinet changes were entirely a marketing exercise.  Some of the old guard left of their own accord and Cameron would not have chosen the team he’ll now have to take into the second term he aspires to if he thought they would then let him down.  Even so, there’s no doubt it’s also been put in place to chase the Lilac Tories; both those of a Blue-Purple persuasion and those who prefer a softer shade to their politicians.

David Herdson



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Harry Hayfield’s Local By-Election Preview: July 17th 2014

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Oban North and Lorn on Argyll and Bute (SNP defence)
Result of last election to council (2012): Independents 15, Scottish Nationalists 13, Conservatives 4, Liberal Democrats 4 (No Overall Control, Independents short by 4)
Result of last election in ward (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Scottish Nationalists 410, 707 (31%)
Independents 421, 807, 125, 361, 222, 58 (55%)
Liberal Democrats 188 (5%)
Conservatives 332 (9%)
Candidates duly nominated: Gerry Fisher (SNP), Kieron Green (Lab), John MacGregor (Ind), Marri Malloy (Ind), Andrew Vennard (Con)

Mabe, Perranarworthal and St Gluvias on Cornwall (UKIP defence)
Result of council at last election (2013): Independents 37, Liberal Democrats 36, Conservatives 31, Labour 8, United Kingdom Independence Party 6, Mebyon Kernow 4, Greens 1 (No Overall Control, Independents short by 25)
Result of ward at last election (2013): UKIP 413 (29%), Conservatives 410 (28%), Liberal Democrats 331 (23%), Independent 160 (11%), Labour 129 (9%)
Candidates duly nominated: John Ault (Lib Dem), Linda Hitchcox (Lab), Karen Sumser-Lupson (Mebyon Kernow), Pete Tisdale (UKIP), Peter Williams (Con)

Colehill East on East Dorset (Lib Dem defence)
Result of council at last election (2011): Conservatives 30, Liberal Democrats 6 (Conservative majority of 24)
Result of last election in ward (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Liberal Democrats 1,066, 765
Conservatives 668, 667
Labour 200
United Kingdom Independence Party 175
Candidates duly nominated: David Mattocks (UKIP), Barry Roberts (Lib Dem), Graeme Smith (Con)

Hookstone on Harrogate (Lib Dem defence)
Result of council at last election (2014): Conservatives 34, Liberal Democrats 15, Independents 4, Liberal 1 (Conservative majority of 14)
Result of last election in ward (2011): Liberal Democrats 1,153 (54%), Conservatives 708 (33%), Labour 257 (12%)
Candidates duly nominated: Pat Foxall (Lab), Phil Headford (Con), Alan Henderson (UKIP), Clare Skardon (Lib Dem)

Ledbury (Con defence) and Leominster South (Con defence) on Herefordshire
Result of council at last election (2011): Conservatives 30, Independents 14, It’s Our County 9, Liberal Democrats 3, Labour 1, Greens 1 (Conservative majority of 2)
Result of last election in ward (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Ledbury
Conservatives 1,403, 1,129, 1,033
It’s Our County 1,287, 1,013, 809
Liberal Democrats 526, 456, 437
Labour 481
Candidates duly nominated: Allen Conway (Con), Paul Stanford (UKIP), Terry Widows (It’s Our County)

Leominster South
Conservatives 787, 427
Independents 660, 233
Greens 268, 240
Labour 247, 160
Candidates duly nominated: Jennifer Bartlett (Green), Emma Pardoe (Lab), Angela Pendleton (Ind), Liz Portman-Lewis (UKIP), Wayne Rosser (Con)

Airfield on King’s Lynn and West Norfolk (Green defence)
Result of council at last election (2011): Conservatives 42, Labour 13, Liberal Democrats 3, Independents 3, Green 1 (Conservative majority of 22)
Result of last election in ward (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 782
Greens 386
Labour 354
Independent 283
Candidates duly nominated: Jonathan Burr (Green), Geoff Hipperson (Con), Sebastian Polhill (Lab), Bob Scully (UKIP)

Cowley on Oxford (Lab Defence)
Result of council at last election (2014): Labour 33, Liberal Democrats 8, Greens 6, Independent 1 (Labour majority of 18)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Labour 626 (52%), Green 276 (23%), Conservative 196 (16%), Liberal Democrats 115 (9%)
Candidates duly nominated: Artwell (Non Party Independent), Hazel Dawe (Green), Katherine Harbourne (Con), David Henwood (Lab), Ian McDonald (UKIP), Prakash Sharma (Lib Dem)

Church Hill on Redditch (UKIP defence)
Result of council at last election (2014): Labour 17, Conservatives 9, United Kingdom Independence Party 2, Independent 1 (Labour majority of 5)
Result of last election in ward (2014): UKIP 665 (35%), Lab 615 (32%), Conservatives 433 (23%), Greens 80 (4%), Liberal Democrats 79 (4%), Independent 26 (1%), Independent 14 (1%)
Candidates duly nominated: Isabel Armstrong (Ind), Lee Bradley (Green), David Gee (Lib Dem), Len Harris (UKIP), Kathy Haslam (Con), Nina Wood-Ford (Lab)

* Apologies for the lack of local authority information. On Monday something went wrong with my internet connection which was only rectified late last night. Normal service will be resumed next week.



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First post-reshuffle poll has the public backing Cameron over Gove

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

What’s marked here is the readiness of those polled across the spectrum to back Cameron. Also note the contrast between the Gove doing good job numbers and the reshuffle finding. You would expect them to be closer.

My view on this remains – it was a smart move by the PM which will, at the margin, have a positive electoral impact in the blues favour.

Meanwhile Clegg’s got a Twitter hit on his hands



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How the Evening Standard is reporting the July 2014 Ipsos-MORI poll which has no change in LAB lead

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

This is from Joe Murphy’s Standard report:-

” Ipsos MORI found just 22 per cent of the public say they like Mr Gove, while 54 per cent dislike him. A derisory 11 per cent think he has what it takes to be a prime minister, while 66 per cent say he does not.

The findings come from the final opinion poll taken before yesterday’s dramatic reshuffle when Mr Gove was demoted from Education Secretary to a new role combining Chief Whip and as “Minister for TV and Radio”.

It will fuel the belief that the minister was downgraded for becoming “toxic” to voters, but also beg a question whether he is the right person to front the Tory pre-election campaign.

Mr Gove’s ratings are worse than other big hitters whose jobs have involved them in major controversies. His policies at Education were liked by 25 per cent but disliked by 51 per cent — a two to one margin against.”



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The re-shuffle continued:-

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

John McTernan sums this up brilliantly