Archive for the 'Tories' Category

h1

“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




h1

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




h1

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




h1

UPDATED: Just 5,688 of Rochester’s 70k+ electors took part in the Tory primary and the winner got it by less than 1%

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

The earlier Spectator report proved to an underestimate

I said beforehand that a 15% participation rate would be good given the time pressure. So to fall short of that by such a margin does not bode well for the Blue Team.

It really shows the lack of interest that voters there have in the party and doesn’t bode well for CON prospects in the election proper on November 20th.

I just wonder whether this will be the spur for LAB to take Rochester seriously.



h1

CON hopes are based on the LDs flourishing in LAB-CON marginals but not in CON-LD ones. The opposite is the case.

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

GE2015 will see the return of big time tactical voting

Because so much has been going on politically in the past few days very little attention has been paid to the latest round of marginals polling that was published by Lord Ashcroft last Sunday afternoon. The focus was on Lib Dem seats and the chart above is based on Lord A”s aggregate data from 17 separate polls.

We’ve talked so often before about the collapse of the Lib Dem vote providing the main boost to Labour in its CON targets. This polling shows what’s happening in seats the Tories need to win but where LAB has little interest.

The big figures are that the coalition partners are level pegging on 32% each which represents a swing from LD to CON since GE2010 of just 2%. This is the best performance by Clegg’s party in any polling and will give heart to his beleaguered party as delegates gather in Glasgow for their party conference – an event that had to be put back from its usual mid-September because of the IndyRef.

With current Lib Dem seats it is very hard to find common trends. In some places they are doing poorly while in other defences there is a CON to LD swing since GE2010.

    The most interesting feature and one that will concern Tory planners is that the polling shows that once again LAB voters are ready to switch to stop the Tories. 22% said they’d do so in this latest round.

That’s based on looking at the two-stage voting intention question which Lord A uses. An initial one and then a second asking responders to focus on their particular seat. So we can see from the data the scale of change.

That the LDs might be winning back some of this vote is critical because much of the Lib Dem success in previous CON battles has been down to persuading LAB voters that their best interest lay in switching.

With relations between the coalition partners inevitably getting worse as we get nearer to polling day the easier it will be for the Lib Dems to win over more tacticals which is why I’m expecting the party do do better in terms of seats than even the latest Ashcroft polling suggests.

Expect the very public spat this week between Theresa May and Nick Clegg to be amplified in Glasgow. That helps the yellows.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter




h1

Memo to the Tories: Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgement

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Since the defection of Mark Reckless to UKIP, I’ve not been surprised at the opprobrium heaped at Mark Reckless from the Tories, mostly because of his timing and his assurances that he wouldn’t defect.

The above tweet, shows the depth of the anger, the thing that should concern the Tories, is the anger and hate is flowing from the very top of the party.

Last night it was reported that David Cameron had used some very salty language when talking about the defector Reckless 

The Prime Minister toured the regional receptions getting steadily more pumped up in his anger about Reckless’s duplicity. Rumour is rife the words ‘effing Reckless’, ‘fat arse’ and ‘dick head’ were blurted out in various versions of a tub-thumping turn by Cameron. The Tories are going to fight Rochester hard – that was very clear by the time the PM arrived at Conservative Home’s late night reception for the 1922 Committee. By then Dave was in full blown Mr Angry mode, telling activists and media types that Reckless would be punished.

Boris Johnson, last night chipped in with a speech, that was largely reported as him saying  ‘Tories who defect to Ukip are kind of people who have sex with vacuum cleaners’

There’s a danger these could be seen as attacks on UKIP voters, the voters the Tories need to win to ensure they win the Rochester & Strood by election and the 2015 General Election.

Ken Clarke’s comments yesterday will not have helped either, he said Farage had “absorbed the BNP vote” and “taken on board BNP followers. He said there was “a nasty undertone” in Farage’s movement. “He does attract elderly male people who have had disappointing lives,”

That said, were another Tory MP defect either today or tomorrow, thus overshadowing David Cameron’s speech, then I expect the opprobrium heaped upon them, will be on another scale than that which has been aimed at Mark Reckless so far.

So my advice, Keep Calm Dave, and focus on winning.

TSE



h1

Let’s end this lazy assumption that UKIP voters are just Tories on holiday

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

The numbers show that this is simply not the case

You read and see this all the time both inside the Westminster bubble and out of it. Ukip voters, so the pervasive narrative goes, are simply ex-CON voters who can, if Lynton Crosby plays his cards properly, be seduced back into the fold thus providing the blues with the platform to secure an overall majority next May.

Thus the following is a statement that many might find hard to comprehend because it runs right across this current thinking

    Even if the Tories were able to win back half their UKIP defectors it would add barely 1.5% to current vote shares.

The reason why that doesn’t sound right is that one of the basic widely perceived “facts” of modern politics does not stand up to scrutiny.

Just look at breakdown in the pie chart above of current UKIP support in the marginals based on the latest data from Ashchroft polling. 2010 CON voters form only a quarter of UKIP support in the key LAB-CON marginals. If the Tories were able to win back half of them that would make up about one eighth of the kippers – and one eighth of the 13% UKIP figure in this polling is not going to make that much difference.

We see the same broad breakdown in standard national polling yet somehow so many cling to this “belief” so central to any analysis of GE2015.

Let me say that I, like so many others, have been guilty of making the wrong assumptions about where UKIP support is coming from.

Trying to win the kippers back is certainly something that the Tories should be doing but there are far far fewer ex-CON voters to be “swung back” than is widely assumed.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter




h1

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