Archive for the 'David Cameron' Category


The Sunday Trading vote: Dave/Osbo’s problem is not the SNP but the rebellion on the issue by 20 CON MPs

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015


Aside from the EU a developing story at Westminster is the decision by the SNP to vote against the planned changes on Sunday trading that Osborne announced in the budget for England and Wales. In Scotland this is a devolved matter with decisions being made at Holyrood.

Inevitably this will raise the whole English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) debate because of the devolved nature of such a measure.

    But before we get too deep into this let’s remember that the reason that the 55 SNP MPs have any influence is that Cameron/Osborne do not command the support of the full contingent of Tory MPs on the matter.

If there was no threatened Tory rebellion then the measure would have got through the Commons. This wasn’t in the Conservative manifesto and soundings should have been taken in the party before Osborne made his announcement in the budget.

Sunday trading is a hugely controversial issue as we saw in the early 90s when big supermarkets were allowed for the first time to open for a limited number of hours on Sunday.

Governments should be able to get their measures through the Commons with, if necessary, their own MPs alone.

Mike Smithson


How Cameron’s view on the referendum could be decisive

Monday, November 9th, 2015

This is the latest example of the polling I referred to in my post this morning.


If the Times has got this right then the referendum is less than eight months away

Monday, November 9th, 2015

Cameron to say that leaving EU would risk Britain’s national security

The week looks set to be dominated by the EU referendum with a big speech by Cameron tomorrow and reports in the Times that David and George would like the vote to take place as soon as possible with June being seen as the earliest possible date.

You can see their thinking. This will totally overshadow our politics until it happens and longer the wait the more likely that unforeseen events could intervene.

In a speech tomorrow several papers are reporting the message that Cameron will try to get over in what’s being seen as the start of the campaign. According to the Telegraph’s Christopher Hope:

Leaving the European would risk Britain’s economic and national security, David Cameron will say in a major speech tomorrow.

The Prime Minister will say that leaving the EU is “not just a matter of jobs and trade but of the safety and security of our nation”.

I’ve long taken the view, which is backed up by the polling, that Cameron’s recommendation will be absolutely vital and that the side he supports will win.

The reason we are able to have a referendum now is because the Tories won a a majority which I’d argue came about because of the personal appeal of Cameron himself who was able to attract votes beyond his party’s base.

It is that personal premium that he has that those taking the opposite referendum position will have to combat. Even Boris, who is making leave noises this morning, doesn’t have that voter appeal.

Mike Smithson


Exactly ten years ago – the David Cameron David Davis CON leadership live TV debate

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

Davis was deemed the debate “winner” but Cameron went on to an easy victory in the membership ballot

Next month David Cameron will be celebrating ten years as Conservative leader and at this stage in November 2005 he faced what was his last big hurdle before securing the prize – the BBC Question Time leadership debate. It’s a fascinating watch.

My PB report on the post debate YouGov poll noted:

  • Tory members who had watched the programme said Davis won by 45-18.
  • Members are backing Cameron for leader by 68-32. This is down from 77-23 ten days ago. Those members who watched the debate split Cameron-Davis 65-35
  • They rated Cameron as a better Prime Minister by 54-31.
  • Of those members who took part in the poll 57% had watched the debate.

    Davis was rated by 51% as “having substance but not style” while 59% thought that if Cameron was leader the party could make a fresh start. A total of 24% said Cameron was “lightweight “compared with 9% for Davis. On who was the “man of the future” the survey split Cameron 67 to Davis 8.

    The YouGov polling on the leadership election itself proved to be almost spot on.

    David Davis, as we are seeing at the moment, continues to be an irritant to the man who beat him.

    Mike Smithson


    The Blue and the Purple – the threat of a Tory civil war over the EU

    Sunday, October 25th, 2015

    Cameron European

    Antifrank on the potential for a big divide

    David Cameron is a popular leader of the Conservative party.  He has consistently outpolled it, tugging it along in his wake.  His brisk, warm, unideological Conservativism (which is closer to the Christian Democracy found on the continent than to the Thatcherism that has prevailed in the Conservative party for the last 30 years in Britain) appeals to many.

    Many, but not all.  His leftwing opponents outside his party are predictable.  Less predictably, he has drawn out an unremitting hostility on the traditionalist right, particularly in his own Parliamentary party among older MPs.  Prime Ministers always accumulate enemies among MPs whose careers never took off or were abruptly curtailed.

      This Prime Minister has accumulated them almost exclusively on one wing of his party.  He has found that he can make do without the services of David Davis, Liam Fox and Owen Paterson. Only Iain Duncan Smith from the traditionalist right has so far lasted the course in Cabinet.

      Following the establishment of the coalition in 2010, he established a Cabinet in the image of Nick Clegg and himself.  When the Conservatives gained their overall majority in May 2015, rather than taking the opportunity to accommodate the traditionalist right of his party, he chose to stick with the same balance.

    In the euphoria of the election victory, most Conservatives did not notice this.  But the traditionalist right remains firmly out in the cold.  David Cameron keeps his friends close, as has been widely remarked upon.  He clearly does not believe in keeping his enemies closer.

    This would not matter much ordinarily.  They can conspire against David Cameron as much as they like but while he remains popular in the wider party with a secure support base on the left and centre of the Parliamentary party and the enthusiastic gratitude of the 2015 MPs, the traditionalist right would be reduced to guerrilla attacks on very specific subjects in tacit co-operation with the real opposition parties.  I expect that David Cameron could live with that quite happily.

    These are not ordinary times.  The landmark event of this Parliament is likely to be the EU referendum.  On this, the traditionalist right of the Conservative party will fancy themselves to be the intellectual leaders of the Leave campaign.  They will also expect to exert a lot of influence on many of their Parliamentary colleagues.

    For many years the Conservative party was split into three camps: Europhiles; Eurosceptics and the undecided.  The Conservatives are now split into two camps: on the one hand those for whom the EU referendum is the biggest political decision since the Reformation – as, unbelievably, Owen Paterson has described it – and who can talk and think of nothing else (“the live-and-breathers”); and, on the other hand those who heartily wish that the whole subject would just go away (“the pillow buriers”).

    David Cameron is a founder member of the pillow buriers.  In his first conference speech as Conservative leader, he told his party that they had alienated voters by banging on about Europe.  He is now going to bang on about Europe for a couple of years or so.  On his own analysis, this does not sound like a promising strategy for his party to follow.

    The Conservative party is currently in a holding pattern.  Before David Cameron announces what his renegotiation has achieved, it suits neither side to prejudge the outcome (even though we could probably write down long lists of Conservative MPs who will be Remainders and Leavers with a fair degree of accuracy today).

    So both sides politely stress the need to see what can be achieved while using subtle inflections to suggest what they consider the likelihood or otherwise of David Cameron bringing home sufficient bacon.  In the meantime, every political topic is seen through a prism of EU membership.  We haven’t yet had an EU referendum angle on the tax credits reforms, but give it time and I’m sure someone will find one.

    But this is where the traditionalist right’s loathing of David Cameron matters.  They don’t like him and they sure as hell don’t trust him.  They think that he is going to rig the vote against them and they’re determined not to let that happen.  So far they have sniped at him over the wording of the referendum question, kept pawing at whether and to what extent the government will go into purdah during the referendum campaign and are now calling for him to suspend collective Cabinet responsibility on the subject of the EU referendum.  They are approaching these subjects in the same way that the Americans approached discussions with the Iranians over the nuclear talks, with the same complete absence of any goodwill.

    What will happen once the renegotiation is announced?  The live-and-breathers will declare that the renegotiation is nowhere near good enough.  David Cameron will commend it with measured but palpable enthusiasm.  Then the pillow buriers will need to reach their decisions.

    In this respect at least, they will be very representative of the wider British public.  The public aren’t enthusiastic about the EU and some aspects of it enrage them.  Equally, they have a general sense that it probably gives benefits to Britain that they don’t fully appreciate.  Whether national identity or perceived economic interest wins out will be a personal decision for each pillow-burying Conservative MP, depending in considerable part on temperament and the extent of their desire to show loyalty to the party hierarchy.

    Such MPs will not wish to see the party split over the question of EU membership and will work hard to avoid such an outcome.  The challenge that the Conservatives are going to face is to ensure that the live-and-breathers keep their passion on a short leash.  Words are easier spoken than unspoken and aggressive hostility is likely to be met with the same.  It is easy to see how bitter civil war could break out with no one really wanting it.

    There are undoubtedly more pillow buriers than live-and-breathers, but the live-and-breathers are quite numerous enough to create havoc if they get out of control.  Will the Conservatives have enough self-discipline to keep their ranks under control?  I guess there’s a first time for everything.  The smart money must be factoring in the high likelihood that by the end of the referendum campaign some Conservatives will not be on speaking terms.



    Doing “Best PM” comparisons between Corbyn & Dave is like asking US voters to choose between Obama and Trump

    Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

    We all know that David Cameron is not planning to remain as prime minister after the next general election. So the choice will between Corbyn, unless he’s replaced in the meantime, and AN Other.

    So why is it that pollsters, and presumably their media clients who agree to the form of questioning, continue with best p.m. ratings that include the current prime minister? The findings really don’t have any relevance to the next big election battle in the UK.

    Thankfully, in its latest poll, Opinium has chosen to put some other options in as well although they still have included Mr Cameron.

    This is very much on the American model that we are seeing at the moment as the two main parties go through the process of choosing their nominees for next year’s White House Race. Many pollsters are putting forward to those sampled a huge range of possible options to try and test the water as to which of the leading contenders would be a better choice.

    The findings can have a significant effect on the nomination process itself. Those that are doing well are, understandably, going to do their best to try and highlight this the ahead of the primaries.

    The Opinium poll tested three choices as CON leader in its latest survey as well as Cameron. The findings are in the chart above.

      The most surprising one, I’d suggest, is how poorly George Osborne is doing against Jeremy Corbyn. Given the very negative reaction that there’s been to the new Labour leader Osborne, surely, should have been polling substantially better than Mr Corbyn as best PM.

    Clearly, at the moment, Osborne is being hit by much of the response to his tax credit move which is proving to be unpopular within his party as well as in the country.

    Things have to change for George. He cannot go into a conservative leadership contest with him still just level pegging with the Labour leader.

    Mike Smithson


    David Cameron’s popularity – the reason why we are having an EU referendum and the reason why LEAVE is likely to lose

    Monday, October 12th, 2015

    The reason, of course, why we are having an EU referendum is that the Conservatives had such a stunning and surprise victory in the general election. One of the key factors in that, I would argue, is the personality and popularity of David Cameron himself.

    Without the “Cameron premium” then it’s likely that the Tories would not be in power and able to decide.

    Just look at the polling above which was taken just before the general election. This is the regular Ipsos “like him like his party tracker” and as can be seen Cameron was enjoying a fairly big lead over the Conservatives. This is in sharp contrast at to Ed Miiband whose personal numbers were a long way behind the totals saying they liked LAB.

    So whatever Cameron is doing or saying in relation to the coming referendum I believe will be absolutely crucial. If he himself is recommending acceptance then I think REMAIN will win.

    Look at this other polling from YouGov of which magnifies the point. On the first question leave is 3% a head. To the second question relating to David Cameron REMAIN has a big margin.

    Mike Smithson


    What we don’t know is whether the CON leadership contest will take place before or after the general election

    Thursday, October 8th, 2015


    The leadership uncertainty remains

    One thing that David Cameron made very clear in his speech is that he is going to continue as leader right up to the general election. That, of course, assumes that there will be no dramatic event that would cause a move before then.

    The intention, of course, was to take some of the wind out of the sails of the inevitable leadership speculation that has continued throughout the conference. To an extent he probably succeeded.

    The question remains, though, is will his replacement be selected before the general election or will that happen afterwards?

    There are good arguments for going with either option. If Cameron plans to have this taking place before the election then at least voters will know who the party is putting forward for Prime Minister. The choice will between the new person and a Corbyn/Jarvis/DMillband/Another led LAB?

    If Cameron decides that the selection should take place after the general election then it could raise all sorts of difficulties in terms of electors not knowing whom they are actually voting for as prime minister.

    My sense is that Cameron will probably opt for the latter course if he is able to do so. He will want the kudos of a third General Election victory.

    We also know that Cameron is more popular than his party and him leading at the next election could probably attract more support than the new person. Maybe we are talking about a Conservative contest taking place in late 2020 or early 2021.

    Whatever the longer it will be before the contest the greater the chance of a surprise.

    Mike Smithson