Archive for the 'Tories' Category


Three years after being touted as Iron Lady 2.0 Liz Truss (33-1) is well placed to succeed Dave

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

New Statesman July 2012

Might the comprehensive school girl from Leeds make it to the top?

Cameron’s comments today about how long he might remain in the job have inevitably set off speculation about who will replace him.

My long term bet, at 50/1, has been Liz Truss – who was one of the first of the class of GE10 to get a place in the cabinet. That was very important stepping stone. She’s now at 33/1.

I’ve long taken the view that whenever Cameron stood down the party would not replace him with another old-Etonian and former member of the Bullingdon Club. My guess is that the party would seek someone with a more modest background and one who looks good is Environment Secretary Liz Truss.

A critical element, as we saw with Maggie, is having the ambition to make it to the top and my reading of Liz Truss is that in the right circumstances she might just put herself forward.

You can just see her breaking through the Theresa May – Boris duopoly to stake a claim.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Nigel Farage hints at another Tory defection to UKIP

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

Today it is being reported

Asked if he was in talks with Tory MPs about more defections, Mr Farage said: “The last time I spoke about this I said I would be surprised if there were not more.

“There is one conversation we are still having. But do you know what – it is not very relevant now. Last year it was a big deal.”

The honourable precedent that Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless have created where defectors trigger a by-election won’t apply this close to the dissolution of Parliament, so I wonder this makes the potential defector is either

i) someone standing down in May or

ii) someone whose majority wasn’t of a sufficient magnitude to guarantee a UKIP victory but a victory of Labour or the Lib Dems in a by-election.

The latter would reinforce the Tory line of “Go to bed with Farage and wake up with Miliband” which the Tories are convinced will win them back some Con to UKIP defectors.

A few bookies have a market up on whom the next Tory MP will be to defect, it might be worth backing Chris Kelly at 21/1 and David Nuttall at 25/1, both fit at least one of  the above criteria, and in Chris Kelly’s case, both.



The Next Tory Leader betting

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Given the current polling and lack of time and opportunities for the polling to change, it is likely Cameron and the Tories in a little under three months time will be out of Downing Street, which in all likelihood means there will be a vacancy at the top of the Tory party.

The current favourite is Boris Johnson, in past Tory leadership elections it has been profitable to lay the favourite. Another reason for laying Boris will be if the Cameron project is seen to have failed, it is unlikely the Tory party will elect another Old Etonian, Bullingdon member.

For largely the same reasons it might be prudent to lay George Osborne, as he will be seen as the continuity Cameron candidate, more crucially, he will forever be associated as the architect of the omnishambles budget of 2012, from which the Tory poll ratings have never really recovered from.

So who to back? The value may have gone out of Theresa May, but you can still back Philip Hammond at 14/1.

If the Tories do lose power in May, a lot of Conservatives will see reuniting the right as the way to power in 2020. Who better than Philip Hammond, who has said in the past he would vote to leave the EU and has also said gay marriage caused a real sense of anger to attract back the UKIP defectors?

If you fancy an outsider, and the Tory Party does have a history of picking as leader someone who was long odds only a few months before they became leader, Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid may be the way to go and they can be backed at 33/1 and 16/1 respectively.

The odds on the next Tory leader are available here.



At last somebody’s talking about an area that could be decisive – the LAB-CON ground war capability gap in the battlegrounds

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

The grassroots collapse that threatens the Tories

In the article David Cameron’s former chief of Staff, Alex Deane, makes this observation and predictions about the general election:

“”The basic scenario in this Parliament has been clear for a while and remains unchanged in 2015: UKIP up, dividing the right, Lib Dems down, uniting the left.

This becomes stronger as the election nears, because Labour’s ground game with unionists, volunteers and activists is far better than the Tory machine, which has been hollowed out at a local level – no amount of solid by-election campaign efforts can plaster over that collapse in the grassroots when facing the challenge of a general election.

The ground war and the need to have skilled and motivated volunteers out there working for you is something that always seems to get by-passed in political coverage. Yet with turnout levels down in the 60s from the 70s that we saw 20 years ago, is even more significant now and if LAB is really stronger than CON could be decisive.

As far as possible whenever I assess a seat I try to get information on the organisational capabilities on the ground of the leading contenders. The Westminster bubble seems to focus on leaders and policy issues and never gets itself into this area which is a reason why I am highlighting Mr. Deane’s comments.

I don’t know whether his assessment of the state of the Tory grassroots is accurate generally but in the super-marginal where I live and vote my assessment is that LAB is in a better position than CON.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Boris might be a CON election winner but it could be that he just gets over-stated in the polls

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

Look at what happened with his 2012 election

Hills have cut their odds for Boris Johnson to be the next Prime Minister from 8/1 to 6/1 second favourite behind 4/5 favourite Ed Miliband. This seems weird because just about the only chance there is of a vacancy occurring is if Cameron wins the election when he’ll remain at Number 10.

The mayor’s big opportunity will most likely come if Dave loses or he decides to step down in a few years time. In the case of the former Mr. Miliband would become PM.

There’s another factor that might worry Team Boris – how the polls over-rated his chances, in come cases by big margins, in the last mayoral election.

At the moment this doesn’t matter but you can bet that his opponents will circulate data like in the chart above if there is a leadership contest and Boris runs for the job.

Mike Smithson

Since 2004 – The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


“The next CON leader will not be a white man” – Tory insider

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Theresa May up 4% in ConHome party members’ next leader survey

The comment in the heading for this post was made to me at a recent social event by someone I regard as a leading Tory insider. It certainly has a ring of truth about it given that the two contenders currently being talked about are Theresa May and Sajid Javid, the culture Secretary.

This conversation took place before the latest ConHome findings from its regular party member surveys. Theresa May, as can be seen, is on the up and cabinet newcomer, Javid, is rated highly.

In national polling an area where the Tories and David Cameron are almost always rated poorly is when voters are asked about which party/leader will be “best for people like us“.

If the party has to leave government after May 7th then expect a lot of soul-searching over what went wrong and why, against someone perceived as being weak, Ed Miliband, they failed. It is in that context that May or Javid will stand a good chance.

Remember that the glory days for the party, the late seventies an eighties, the leader was a woman from a modest background.

Of course if David Cameron is still PM then there will be no immediate contest in prospect and Theresa May’s time will surely have passed. She is 58 years old.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


There’s no evidence from the constituency polling of a first time bonus for CON incumbents

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

This is NOT something that the blue team can rely on

One of the great hopes for the Tories just five months from the general election is that in the key battlegrounds with LAB, those where they won in 2010, incumbent MPs standing again will enjoy a bonus. Some commentators have put this at as much as 3% and then sought to do seat calculations based on this applying to every CON defence.

It is certainly true that first time CON incumbents standing again at GE10 did better than their party overall by an average of 1.8%. There was also a similar bonus for LAB first time incumbents but not on the same scale.

For this coming election we have something that has never existed before – a vast number of single seat constituency polls where a two stage question has been put. The first is a standard voting intention question – the second asks respondents to think specifically about their own constituency and the candidates who are likely to stand there.

This is aimed at teasing out possible tactical factors as well as incumbency elements.

What is striking going through each seat poll is the difference this can make. What I’ve done in the chart above is go through all the CON-held LAB facing polling from Lord Ashcroft over the past four months and counted up the changes the second question has and in which direction.

    Overall the Tories did a bit worse on the seat specific element but not by that much. My reading is that incumbency benefit is vulnerable to tactical voting which can sometimes negate it.

So it is hard to conclude based on the evidence there is that there is a first time incumbency bonus. It is certainly NOT something that sitting CON MPs are going to benefit from as of right.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


The great CON Rochester primary mystery – how the reported turnout of 4,000 became 5,688

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Why aren’t we getting the full numbers like in Totnes in 2009?

The first news that all was not well with the CON Rochester primary was this report, now not on the Spectator site, from the usually well informed Isabel Hardman.

An hour or so later were told that “Kelly Tolhurst wins Tories’ postal primary Rochester & Strood with 50.44% to Anna Firth’s 49.56%. 5,688 ballots returned.”

That was an odd way to present the figures. Why not , as in the 2009 primaries, give the full numbers with the total of spoilt papers? The fact that we are not getting this detail raises my suspicions.

    Could it be that Hardman’s original 4,000 figure was the correct number of valid votes and that it was decided to present the outcome as being a little bit better for the party by talking of the number of ballots returned with the actual candidate totals presented as percentages.

If the turnout is based on number of valid votes then 4,000 would make it about 5.3% not the 7.5% that talking about ballots returned suggests.

Given the controversy surrounding the whole election and the primary itself it would not be surprising if Rochester voters hostile to the Tories spoilt their ballots before popping them in the return paid envelopes and posting them.

It would have been far better for the party to have come clean about the actual numbers last night rather than allow these questions to be raised.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble