Archive for the 'Tories' Category


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.


Guest Post: Summer 2016 might lead to a generational shift in the two main parties

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016


Guest Post by Mortimer

Summer 2016 could prove a watershed moment in modern British politics. April and early-May have already seen the incumbent leadership of the English Conservatives shown up in comparison to Ruth Davidson’s success north of the border, and the old guard of an apparently gaffe-obsessed Labour Party cheered by victory in London yet criticised by the triumphant Sadiq Khan. More pressure on the Conservative leadership is likely if, as the polls currently indicate, the referendum on June 23rd really is in the balance.

Perhaps less obvious an influence to our current thinking is the forthcoming Chilcott report, which is (finally) to be published on July 6th and could focus current thinking on past political problems. Whilst the current core Labour leadership were vehemently opposed to the Iraq War, at least two quite prominent members of Corbyn’s current shadow cabinet held positions in Blair’s cabinet during the conflict: Hilary Benn and Lord Falconer..

Other prominent and not-so-prominent politicians from both sides of the aisle who have been in Parliament since 2001, now veritable veterans of some pretty difficult times in British history, might begin to think it is time for fresh Lieutenants, if not young Generals, to take on the burden. Given that MP selections are made earlier and earlier in the electoral cycle, the end of a bruising referendum campaign and the publication of what promises to be a lengthy report into one of the most controversial parliamentary decisions of the modern era, some might begin to consider announcing retirement from public life in the coming months.

So what might be the impact of this confluence of events? Younger, or at least less experienced MPs will surely come to the fore in summer reshuffles.

If Corbyn is serious about uniting the party, which I’m still to be convinced of, he should call on the skills of Dan Jarvis, and promote the likes of Lisa Nandy and Heidi Alexander, both of whom have only been MPs since 2010/11 and yet outperformed their shadow cabinet colleagues in recent months.

For Mr Cameron, if he can survive at a helm, has fewer younger talents to call upon in his immediate cabinet. That said, Greg Clark has, like Justine Greening, only been an MP since 2005 and both are proven media performers. Michael Gove was in the same intake and proved himself in the limelight yet more in the past weeks. Priti Patel and Dominic Raab joined Nandy and Alexander as new MPs in 2010, and must surely hope for promotion to the full cabinet from Minister of State and Parly Under Secretary positions soon.

Moving on to possible leadership replacements – which it would be foolish to ignore given possible threats to both Cameron’s and Corbyn’s position after two divisive election campaigns – might the more youthful Chuka Umunna be ready to commit properly to a Labour leadership contents this time, or has his star fallen in favour of Jarvis and others?

In the Conservative party, of which I am a member and to which I feel slightly more attuned to both signals and noises, I can’t see an obvious youthful replacement for Cameron, and, let us be honest, the leadership coming with the fully-paid up title Prime Minister leaves less room for such an outsider as he was himself in 2005 triumphing. I’ve been tipping Greg Clark to ultimately replace him for several months, but as the life-expectancy of Mr Cameron’s own leadership appears to be dwindling, I’m more convinced that the middle aged Tory cardinals will elect an older Pope. Michael Fallon has proved himself as a campaigner and seemed to much value as the Major-esque unifier to miss for my book (currently 50/1 as next permanent Tory leader with Ladbrokes), but it is hard to look beyond May at the still generous 8/1 in the same market.



Urgent question. David Cameron’s big mistake so far

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Cameron European

As with any bureaucratic body, the EU pulses to a rhythm of regular meetings.  The EU being a more complex body than most, multiple cycles of meetings are sinuously interwoven.  Most prominently, at least four times a year, the Prime Ministers of the 28 member countries convene for the European Council.  The most vital business of the day is dealt with at these summits.

Anyone with experience of meetings knows that to control the agenda is to control the meeting. The terms of Britain’s renegotiation with the EU had been an important agenda item for successive meetings for some time.  At the December 2015 European Council, the European Council agreed to find mutually satisfactory solutions in four areas of concern at its February meeting: competitiveness; economic governance; sovereignty; and social benefits and free movement.  The stage was set for David Cameron to conclude his deal.

However, in the run-up to the February meeting, the migration crisis became still more pressing than previously.  Far from dying down over the winter months, numbers of migrants to the EU continued in high numbers.  EU member states had been put under unprecedented pressure by the vast migrations of 2015 and if no action was taken there was every prospect that 2016 would prove still more distressing.  Should this crisis be addressed before Britain’s EU renegotiation?

David Cameron did not relent.  He forced the Council to keep up the pace on the renegotiation, coming away with his agreed deal which he then recommended to the British public.  He duly set the referendum date for 23 June.  The migration crisis was left to be addressed at a later Council meeting.

We can speculate as to his thinking.  If the migration crisis was to get worse, it was imperative to hold the referendum before it peaked in the late summer, so that the campaign was not overwhelmed by the chaos and disorder prompted by migration throughout Europe.  By insisting on rapidly agreeing a deal, he hoped to get the vote out of the way first.  It was in truth an implied vote of no confidence in the EU to be able to address the migration crisis.

With the benefit of hindsight, this looks like a serious error for the Remain campaign, for the Conservatives and for David Cameron personally.  By insisting on prioritising his pet project ahead of something that was demonstrably urgent and important, he alienated his fellow EU leaders.  It’s hard to accept that technical arguments about the incidence of social security benefits are particularly critical if you’re trying to work out how to stop half a million pairs of feet tramping across your country in the coming weeks.  That cannot have improved the terms of the deal.

Worse, if David Cameron wanted to persuade the public to remain in the EU, he needed the EU to operate effectively on the pressing subject of the day.  Britain, just as much as the rest of the EU, had a compelling motive to get migration under control.  On this occasion, the statesmanlike thing to do was the politically smart thing to do.

Imagine an alternative history of the last few months in which David Cameron had decided to defer consideration of the renegotiation with the EU until the migration crisis had been solved.  Initially he would have come under more pressure from his more belligerent Leaver colleagues to get on with it, but that would have been background noise only.  The terms agreed in relation to the migration would probably not have been settled until the March European Council meeting, so the budget would have taken place before the Cabinet had divided on the referendum question.  Iain Duncan Smith would no doubt have bitten his tongue, the better to wield influence in the referendum campaign when it was eventually launched.  So the budget would have passed far more smoothly and the government would continue to feel more purposeful.

The next European Council meeting is due in June, so the local election round would have taken place without constant noises off.  With the spotlight on Labour divisions, the Conservatives would have almost certainly done considerably better.  The big political story would be the continuing agonies of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.

Meanwhile, the media would have taken proper note of the sharply diminished number of migrants.  If David Cameron had inserted himself in the narrative of the deal, he would be getting part of the credit for this.

In the meantime, the two rival camps for Leave would still be slugging it out.  The argument was only ended by the Electoral Commission so it is unlikely that it would have ended otherwise.  This could only be to Remain’s benefit.

The deal would still need to be struck, of course.  Would it have been any better than the deal got in February?  David Cameron would have had a legitimate claim for extra flexibility from other Prime Ministers.  But let’s assume that he got exactly the same deal as before and called the referendum over the summer for the end of September 2016.  The referendum would have clashed with much less government business and the slugfest could have taken place without distraction.  The Conservative party would look rather more coherent than before.  And the mood music from the perspective of Remain would sound rather more upbeat.

All this was lost because David Cameron decided to prioritise his own hobby horse.  Right now it looks like a very serious mistake.

Alastair Meeks