Archive for the 'Tories' Category


Is this the Old Etonian you should be backing as next Tory leader?

Sunday, June 14th, 2015

Can Zac do what Boris has done and become the favourite to be the next Tory leader?

One of the main challenges for the Tory Party at the next election is holding on to all those voters dubbed the Blue Liberals in the marginals and the previously Lib Dem held seats which are now Tory seats. Without David Cameron, that challenge becomes harder, but who best to appeal to those voters?

Zac Goldsmith could, he’s well known for his environmental policies, which could appeal to these voters, the Tories could resurrect their old slogan of Vote Blue, Go Green with Zac as leader. In his constituency, he has turned a Lib Dem majority in 2005 of over 4,000 in to a Tory majority of over 23,000 last month, so he knows how to appeal these type of voters.

Being the son of Sir James Goldsmith, he could appeal to the Eurosceptic/UKIP voterrs, particularly after a bruising EU referendum campaign for the Tory Party. He could also appeal to those None of the Above Voters, by highlighting his work trying to get his recall bill to become law.

As both David Cameron and Boris Johnson have shown, being an Old Etonian is no hindrance with the electorate, at the time of writing, the best odds on Zac Goldsmith being the next Tory Leader was 66/1 with Ladbrokes, were he to become the Mayor of London next year, those odds would tumble.



The trade union member who could be the next Tory leader

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

George Osborne praising Robert Halfon’s campaign for cheaper fuel.

I’ve always thought the next leader would be someone associated with George Osborne, he declined to run in 2005 and he probably will not enter the next Tory leadership election, and prefers to be the éminence grise for another Tory leader. Sajid Javid seemed to be best placed in such a scenario, but perhaps, there is another, the man who was Osborne’s Parliamentary Private Secretary prior to the election, Robert Halfon, who must be one of the very few Tory MPs to be a member of a trade union.

Some of Halfon’s policies are the sort you don’t normally associate with the Tory party, in 2012, he wrote a pamphlet entitled “Stop the union-bashing” where he “set[s] out to debunk the myths and misunderstandings about the relationship between the Conservative party and trade unions and conclude[d] that the two could become ‘soulmates.’ In 2013 he talked what sounded like the language of Ed Miliband by talking about a windfall tax on energy companies who he saw as charging too much to their customers.

A few days ago he talked about his boldest idea

Robert Halfon, the MP for Harlow, has said the Conservative party should change its name to The Workers’ Party. He told the Sun the party had “an incredible opportunity” to claim the mantle of championing workers’ rights from Labour, and turn the party into “the modern trade union movement for working people”. Their tree logo – which replaced the older torch – could now be exchanged for a ladder, he suggested.

“We are the party of the ladder, it was Churchill who first said that,” said Halfon. “The ladder symbolises everything we’re about . . . It’s not just leaving people to climb up it themselves, we hold that ladder for them. Labour on the other hand are the party of dependency and the welfare state, and that’s why they didn’t get in.”

He added: “When we knock on people’s doors, I want people to know we are on their side – on the side of the workers, that we are the workers. The Labour Party have demonised us, and unsuccessfully as it turned out – as 11 and a half million people still voted for us.”

He’s also a very good campaigner, in 2013, he cost the Treasury 1 billion pounds, with his campaign on lower fuel duty,  Halfon also has the advantage of being recently appointed Deputy Chairman of the Tory Party, which should give him regular unfettered access to Tory activists and members, who ultimately have the final say on who will be the next Tory leader. He also has an interesting way of campaigning as this video shows, which explains his increased majority.

One of the perceptions for the current Tory party is that they are out of touch with most voters due to their backgrounds, electing Robert Halfon would repudiate that line instantly given his background and make it difficult for the opposition parties to attack Halfon in the same way they’ve been attacking the current leadership of the Tory party.

It will be very hard to attack someone who is the son of immigrants, a trade unionist with a disability, non Oxbridge educated guy as an out of touch Tory, especially in light of some of the policy platforms he has set out.

At the time of writing, only four bookies have odds on Robert Halfon as next Tory leader, with Ladbrokes offering the best price of 50/1.



Mr. Cameron might rue the day that his party was reluctant to embrace the reform of the House of Lords

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

The numbers look potentially tricky

A key moment in the last parliament was in July 2012 when CON back-bench rebels voted down a timetable motion on the Lords Reform bill thus making it highly unlikely that it would get through the house. A few days later Cameron pulled the plans completely – a move that led to Mr. Clegg pulling the plug on boundary reform.

So the upper house remains unreformed something that could be tricky for the government as it tries to move forward with its legislative programme. In the last parliament the coalition’s numbers made the task much easier. Now things might be different.

There’s a good article by UCL Prof Meg Russell on the challenges that might lie ahead. For although the LDs were almost totally smashed on Thursday the party still has 101 members of the Lords, who are there for life, and this could present obstacles in a whole series of ways.

She notes that the band of LD peers has “swelled impressively over time – in his 10 years as Prime Minister Tony Blair appointed 54 Lib Dem peers; in the five years 2010-15 David Cameron appointed a further 40.”. She goes on:-

“..So the Conservatives are in a relatively weak position in the Lords, holding less than a third of seats. The government can readily be defeated by various combinations of other forces – including Labour, Liberal Democrats, Bishops and Crossbenchers. These last two groups vote less frequently than party peers, and also do not vote as a block. So the key group is – once again – the Liberal Democrats. They are now numerically stronger than before, and following recent events are badly bruised. Despite having worked until recently alongside the Conservatives, their instincts may now often be to vote with Labour. The Lords has traditionally taken a stand on constitutional issues (recall the climbdowns forced on Blair over restricting trial by jury, detaining terrorist suspects, and introducing ID cards) – so we can expect clashes over the government’s plans to repeal Human Rights Act, reform parliamentary boundaries and hold an EU in-out referendum, where Labour and Lib Dems will readily find common cause…”

Of course Cameron could try to appoint dozen of new CON peers to bring the numbers into line but as Prof Russell points out the Tory manifesto had a commitment to address the size of the chamber and to have any effect a large number would have to be appointed.

Mike Smithson


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