Archive for the 'Tories' Category


The fight to be next CON leader and PM: The race begins

Monday, June 27th, 2016


We’ve just got details of the Conservative leadership contest. The plan is to start it immediately and have Cameron’s successor in place on September 2nd.

The process will be the same as the one used in the 2001 and 2005 elections. MPs will hold a series of ballot until a final short-list of two is agreed which will then go to the party’s 150k members.

Nominations will close on Thursday then MPs will vote every Tuesday & Thursday until a shortlist of two is agreed. That will then go to the members’ postal ballot. So the first results will come a week tomorrow.

The fact that this is being truncated is said to help Johnson because it will leave less time for an ABB (Anybody But Boris) to emerge.

Mike Smithson


Bunco makes the case for Liz Truss as next CON leader and PM

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

Liz Truss

She’s behind you! Boris needs to look over his shoulder

A couple of months ago I promised OGH that I’d write a piece on why I thought Liz Truss would be the next Prime Minister. With other things to do and three years to 2019, I put it on the back burner but events mean I need to nail my colours to the mast.

She’s not an obvious choice and certainly not in the front runners but we need to remember that, in the Conservative Party, he who wields the knife never wears the crown. So we need to look in the second rank and Truss ranks alongside Crabb, Hammond, Morgan, Harper, Soubry, Stewart, Truss, & Fallon for the longer-shot who may offer value at the bookmakers.

Back in 2009 when PB had a Channel Two, I wrote a series of guest articles over three weeks about how she was selected from my ringside seat with direct access to the participants.These were: All Trussed Up and Nowhere to Go; We’re Going Into Extra Time; and Cinders Shall Go to the Ball

The circumstances of her selection in South West Norfolk were a torrid and bruising time played out in the national media complete with snidey remarks on Have I Got News For You. Playing to metropolitan prejudice about life in Norfolk, the selection got caught up in a national controversy about All Women Shortlists, Cameron Cuties & Open Primaries as a method of doing away with the smoke-filled-room appointment of Parliamentary candidates. The old buffers and blue-rinses hated the modernisation.

The media lapped up each new twist and turn raking over details of her private life characterising the debate as one between the Cameron modernisers and the Golf Club Turnip Taliban with Jeremy Paxman’s credibility as a neutral commentator on Newsnight was undermined when it was revealed that he was a regular *SHOOTING PARTY* guest on ‘Turnip Taliban’ Leader Sir Jeremy Bagge’s estate near Downham Market.”

A lesser person would have walked away. But she didn’t and insodoing has since won the admiration of local people for her grit, determination and plain talking. It was no surprise to those who saw her at first hand when she became one of the first 2010 intake to reach Cabinet rank, albeit to the poisoned chalice of DEFRA, the graveyard of many political careers

But why does this qualify Liz to be leader?

Her selection demonstrated her personal and mental toughness. Her background growing up in in Paisley and in Leeds, attending a Comprehensive before carving a career as an economist is as much a story of ‘The British Dream’ as the untried Stephen Crabb’s rags-to-riches tale.

DEFRA is the department with most contact with Brussels so she has more experience at dealing with the EU at first hand and has developed an enviable reputation for getting the British view accepted from an evidence-based perspective, which hasn’t always endeared her to the pressure groups, who prefer to make emotional arguments unsupported by fact. Brexit is going to require experience and guile if we’re to get the best deal and she’s served her apprenticeship here.

She founded the Free Enterprise Group of Conservative MPs and is soundly ideologically on the right, which will play well with the members and, whilst being a Remainer, has been measured in her interventions during the EUDebate and has avoided the vitriolic and divisive mud-slinging indulged in by others. She’s had a good war even if she ended up on the losing side.

She’s a woman and many in the party think that the Conservatives need to change the perception that the party is all about men of a certain age. And the party needs to look forward to 2020 and beyond. That she is from a Northern left-wing household and has made her own way can only help the Party shake-off the Bullingdon labels.

So for me, Liz Truss should be more widely considered. I don’t know whether she’ll put her name forward. But I hope she will. The combination of Northern Grit, Economic Soundness and experience in hand-to-hand fighting in Brussels ticks all the boxes. That she is a deep political thinker is the icing on the cake.

Bunnco – Your Man on the Spot


What would David do?

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Dave No 10

Far too little consideration has yet gone into what the referendum result will mean for British politics, even though it is now just a few days away.  If the polls are right – big if – Leave will win.  It’s time to consider what that might mean.

David Cameron’s authority would be dust.  He has staked everything on the referendum and if Leave win he would have lost.  While many Conservative members remain well-disposed to him, including many who support Leave, he would have lost the biggest political battle of his life, defeated on argument.  He would have failed to lead and he would have failed to persuade.  He would have no credibility to negotiate terms of exit.  Whether or not he remained Prime Minister, power would lie elsewhere.

So, all other things being equal, he would depart the stage – either of his own free will or with the heavy encouragement of his most dedicated Parliamentary opponents.  So should we expect a next day resignation?

On this occasion all things aren’t equal.  There is a general expectation that the financial markets might well take fright in the short term if Britain votes Leave.  A steady hand would be needed on the tiller to guide the country through that: replacing the Prime Minister in the midst of that would make the crisis that much worse.

So the Prime Minister seems unlikely to resign on Friday – whatever else David Cameron is, he feels the responsibility of public duty and he would stay in office long enough to ensure that there any short term crisis is dealt with.  If a short term crisis indeed erupted, his internal opponents would probably stay their hands for the days or weeks required for him to steady the ship.  If they do not, “this is no time for a novice” would be as effective a line for David Cameron in 2016 as it was for Gordon Brown in 2008.

The effect of this would be to kill the momentum in the short term to eject him from office.  So if not then, when?

All the fundamental reasons why David Cameron would be in office but not in power would remain.  So when would he go?  My guess is that he would not wish to hang around pointlessly but that he would wish to secure an orderly succession to someone who he respects.  All the smoke signals suggest that if he has only one wish left about his successor, it will be that his successor is not Boris Johnson.

How best can David Cameron do this?  One of Boris Johnson’s main drawbacks is his lack of ministerial experience.  On the assumption that he cannot be kept out of Cabinet after a Leave victory, that drawback disappears within a few months.  So there is a closing window of his lack of credibility.

So despite the pressure probably being off David Cameron immediately after the referendum, I would still expect him to hand in his notice as soon as the threat of any immediate crisis has passed, with a view to a new Prime Minister taking over at the party conference.  If Leave wins, prepare for a changing of the guard.

Alastair Meeks


The real winner of the debate last night

Friday, June 10th, 2016

To outshine Boris is a real achievement, at 33/1 Andrea Leadsom is still value to be Cameron’s replacement.

To overshadow Boris Johnson in a TV debate, is an achievement very few have managed. For that alone she should be worth backing. Her pre political career is something that will appeal to many, especially if the country wants someone who isn’t considered to be a career politician.

Going back to the debate, with Boris you always had this nagging feeling he was only doing it purely to become Prime Minister, as some of his past comments show, he’s not a long standing Brexiteer. Whether you were a Remainer, Leaver, or Undecided, Leadsom came across as someone authoritative, and self assured in what she was saying, as the man who backed her at 90/1 put it succinctly.

She’s also earned the admiration of many for calling out some of Nigel Farage’s more controversial comments, a few days ago she very publicly said Farage’s comments on the potential of sex attacks by migrants in the event of a Remain victory were “outright blatant scaremongering.”

If Leave are going to win this referendum, they need to utilise Andrea Leadom further, she comes across as a principled and honourable person, without the nasty tone some Leavers display that repels voters, that might explain the many occasions Nigel Farage has failed to become an MP.

As of last night she was 33/1 to be next Tory Leader with Bet365, take it, that price won’t last, whatever the result of the referendum, Andrea Leadsom has enhanced her reputation, even this Tory Remainer was impressed to the point were I would not be unhappy were she to be Cameron’s replacement.



Michael Gove’s very big night out

Friday, June 3rd, 2016


ConHome leader June 2016 next leader survey

Last night on Sky News we saw the current Tory leader, tonight shall we be seeing the next Tory leader? My betting strategy says no.

Tonight Michael Gove, who has led the ConHome readers’ vote to be next Tory leader for the last three will be putting the Leave side on Sky News. Whilst I have many doubts about the ConHome polling, not least because it offers a range of options to the ConHome readers, when the reality is the Tory membership will be presented with just two choices determined by the Parliamentary Conservative Party, and the more methodology sound YouGov polling from March has Boris winning the Tory leadership race.

The other reason I would be laying Gove is that he polls quite appalling with the public. Prior to the last general election Sir Lynton Crosby told David Cameron to demote Gove as Education Secretary and move to him the political equivalent of the attic, Chief Whip, because he was toxic with voters because of his poor ratings with the public. 

A few months ago, the polling found Gove had the same net unfavourable ratings as Jeremy Corbyn, I would think this type of polling would deter Tory MPs and the Tory membership from electing Gove as leader, but when the Tory party is obsessed with the European Union, it leads to bad leadership results, as evidenced by the time they elected Iain Duncan Smith as leader.

As a Labour supporter told me a few weeks ago, he was hoping for Gove to replace Cameron, his hope was that in the Kingdom of the blind, the swivel-eyed man is King.

Last night David Cameron gave a confident and polished performance, which is what you would expect from someone who has been doing these type of events since he became Tory leader in 2005, Michael Gove doesn’t have that experience, but with these type of events, the aim isn’t so much as to do well, as it is not to give a bad performance, or a soundbite your opponents can use, such as Ed Miliband denying the previous Labour government had overspent during the Question Time event during last year’s general election campaign.

So even if Gove does well tonight and avoids any gaffes, he’s still someone I will continue to keep on laying in the next Tory leader/PM markets. I don’t wish to sound like I have a downer on Michael Gove, as Justice Secretary, he’s done a very good job so far, he took on the likes of Philip Davies and made a very passionate case for rehabilitation of prisoners in this video, which is worth watching.

I just don’t think Gove is an election winning leader, and I think the Parliamentary party thinks so too. I believe Gove will be the Kingmaker rather the King in the next Tory leadership race, which might very well officially start three weeks today.


In this week’s PB/Polling Matters show, there is also an interesting segment on Michael Gove ahead of the Justice Secretary’s appearance on Sky tonight (25.25 minutes in), the audio only version is below


Fear and loathing in the Tory Party. Whatever the result of the referendum, the Tory party is looking ungovernable

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

If Labour had a decent leader, they’d be leading by at least double digits in the polls right now.



Ex-Treasury minister & Brexiter, Andrea Leadsom, is having a good war and should be given a bigger role

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016


She’s starting to look like a possible leadership contender

A new YouGov referendum poll published overnight has both sides level-pegging – a marked change from last week’s 4% REMAIN lead. It is a sharp reminder that this could be very close and reinforces the big polling story of this election – the huge divide between phone and online.

If it is a very tight outcome then there will be enormous pressure on David Cameron and we could have a new CON leader and PM within a few months. The question for punters is who?

Of the Tory Brexiters IDS, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling and, of course, Boris Johnson have been the most prominent but I don’t think any have done their leadership prospects much good. Boris has been all bluster and he’s seen a sharp decline in his position on Betfair. As to the others it is hard to see Michael Gove as a leader although he has wide support within the party.

    The one who is impressing most at the moment is Andrea Leadsom the former Economic Secretary to the Treasury and now climate change minister of state.

She became an MP at GE2010 after a very successful career in the city. During the LIBOR scandal in 2012 she made a name for herself with some of her cross-examinations on the Treasury committee and for criticising George Osborne. On Monday’s Newsnight EURef discussion she was the lead for her party and showed how hugely effective she can be

She comes over as a fearless and powerful communicator and should be given a bigger role in the LEAVE campaign which is so dominated by men. She was state school educated and a graduate of Warwick.

I’ve had punts on her overnight as next CON leader a PM at longshot odds at up to 90/1.

Mike Smithson


A post Brexit vote recession could cost the Tories the next election

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Brexiteers are in danger of being blamed for the next recession even if it has nothing do with Brexit

On one side we have, inter alia, the Prime Minister, the Chancellor, and the great and the good, from the IMF, the OECD, NIESR, The Bank of England, and their Governor, Mark Carney, who the polls suggest is political Kryptonite against Leave, forecasting Brexit as being somewhere from very bad to a visit from the Four Horsemen for the UK economy.

On the other side you have Leavers like Tory Priti Patel who said “The EU-funded IMF should not interfere in our democratic debate … It appears the chancellor is cashing in favours to [Christine] Lagarde in order to encourage the IMF to bully the British people.” Some Leavers say the Treasury’s figure that every household would lose £4,300 was a bargain, another said the ‘insecurity [of Brexit] is fantastic’, whilst another prominent Leaver said publicly he would would welcome the economic apocalypse of Brexit, and would be delighted to provide free accommodation to the Four Horsemen whilst they visited the UK*.

So the meme that Brexit is bad for the economy has been effectively seeded, and a stand alone UK recession in the short term after a Brexit vote could see that meme germinate in a way that is not optimal for the Tories, especially if a Leaver succeeds David Cameron.

In various polls, the voters generally sees Brexit as the worst option for the economy, and for them personally, than remaining in the EU, even in the polls that have Leave ahead, so it is easy to see that seed has been planted in the minds of voters.

At the last general election two of the Tory Party’s strongest assets were David Cameron and their stewardship of the economy, they will be fighting the next election without the former. A post Brexit vote recession means they could be fighting without the latter asset too. 

Sometimes perceptions matter more than the facts, Leavers shouldn’t complain, we saw it how badly the ONS report on National Insurance figures was reported this week, as this tweet  and this article show.

The events of Black Wednesday helped in part to keep the Tory Party out of power for thirteen years, and the legacy of the 2008 credit crunch has the contributed to Labour losing the last two general elections.

When the voters can blame the government for an avoidable economic disaster, they don’t forget it. They know politicians don’t have the ability to abolish boom and bust, that’s why for example the Tories didn’t lose the 1983 and 1992 general elections, which came shortly after/during recessions. 

As the mantra goes, oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them. Labour could say a post Brexit vote recession was foretold, and the Leavers ignored their warnings, even if the recession is a normal cyclical recession. 

Inadvertently the Tory Party may have salted their own electoral ground during this referendum campaign, it’s almost like if after The Third Punic War, The Roman Republic had accidentally salted Rome instead of Carthage.


*That last one isn’t true, but with the way this campaign is going with talk of armed conflict if we leave and the EU being like Hitler, it is entirely possible for someone to say something that outlandish in the remaining forty days of this campaign.