Archive for the 'Tories' Category


If the Tories do win more votes than LAB but get fewer seats then let there be no bleating about the system being unfair

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

That’s the system that they campaigned hard to retain in 2011

If current broad poll trends continue and some of the CON-Ukip shifters return then it is likely that my 8/1 bet that that Tories will win most votes but come second to LAB on seats will be a winner.

Broadly the 2010 LD switchers to LAB are staying relatively solid and the returnees could boost the CON aggregate national vote share as we get closer to polling day.

The chart above shows what happens to the GE2010 results if you divide national vote shares by the number of seats won. The second tab shows the %age of the seats won. So CON came out with 47% of seats on 36% of the UK vote is is far from being unfair if you think that aggregate national vote shares are relevant.

    But the system we have is first past the post elections for individual MPs, not for parties or a PM, in each of the 650 seats. Nowhere does the relationship between national party aggregates come into the equation

That was the system that the Tories campaigned so hard to retain in the 2011 referendum and that’s the system that’s likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

The Tories had the chance during the 2010 coalition negotiations to opt for a fully proportional system but resisted it.

That’s fine but please no bleating if as a consequence of the UKIP surge GE2015 produces a result that appears to be unfair to the blues.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


Was Theresa May on manoeuvres and did it cost her SPAD her job?

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Today’s front pages don’t make great reading for the Tories, and in particular Theresa May or Michael Gove.

The Sunday Times reports (££)

The row exposed deep rifts within the cabinet. Two cabinet ministers accused May of running a “tiresome” and “obvious” leadership campaign, picking a fight with Gove to boost her hopes of succeeding Cameron if he fails to win the next election.

“She’s like the date from hell,” one cabinet minister said. “She sidles up to you and asks if you would like to get together to discuss the future of the party. She’s very obvious about it.”

Sometimes one of the great indicators of whether a party is going to lose office shortly is that cabinet ministers start positioning themselves for the Leadership election that will follow a defeat.

If we start seeing more shenanigans like this from other Ministers, we can infer that senior Tories are not expecting to be in power post May 2015, bet accordingly.



Locals 2014: Afternoon update – The UKIP fox is in the Westminster hen house

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Like opinion polls, it is wise not to focus on one or two councils, but look at the broader picture.

Often success  equals performance minus anticipation, using Rallings and Thrasher’s projections for the locals, of Lab 490 gains, the Cons and Lib Dems 220 and 350 losses respectively, and UKIP to make 80 gains, so far it is a great set of elections for UKIP as they have impress results all over England, and for the coalition parties an as expected, and as good as Rallings and Thrasher were predicting for Labour.

This has led to some Labour MPs to go criticise their own side, but Labour has some impressive results,  especially in London, that should be used to calm the nerves.


There has been talk of an electoral pact between the Cons and The Kippers from some Tory MPs, I think the Sun’s political editor has it right.

The other party that maybe happy as well, the Greens, especially on Sunday when the Euros are out.

Finally the bookies take on the results so far.



Remember that even Tony Blair with all his magic was never able to lead New Labour to victory in the Euro elections

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

The closed list PR system has never worked for the red team

The Westminster polling above is from May 1999 when Tony Blair’s New Labour was riding high and William Hague’s Tories were struggling to make an impact. At the time those sorts of 20%+ poll leads were common place and, as we all know, two years later New Labour went on to win a second huge landslide victory only a few seats down on 1997.

Yet success in the closed list PR system used since 1999 for the European elections always eluded Tony Blair in spite of his extraordinary record in general elections.

    If Blair was unable to do it in the most clement of conditions for his party then is it any wonder that EdM’s Labour is going to struggle?

For Labour has always had a challenge getting its supporters out to vote when the government of the country is not a stake.

On top of that the red team is facing the Lynton Crosby campaign which has superb message discipline and a coherent and easy to understand proposition on an EU referendum. Compare that with the muddle of last week’s Labour PPB which didn’t even touch on Europe.

An added bonus for the Tories is the voting confusion for potential UKIP backers caused by the party, “An Alternative in Europe – UK Independence Now”, that appears at the top of the ballot in all but one of the English regions. When I first saw this on the list I was confused. At this stage it is hard to quantify the impact but it could be quite significant and this won’t be picked up by the polling.

Electors could fill in their postal forms at home or cast their votes on the day wrongly believing that they have voted for Farage’s party.

My view is that the Tories are in with a good chance.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


UKIP is taking SIX times as many votes from the Tories as it is from Labour

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

In no way are the purples as big a threat to LAB as CON

There’s consistent talk at the moment of UKIP being a bigger threat to LAB than CON. This is a point that Mr Farage wants to hammer home on virtually every occasion.

Yet quite simply this is not supported by the data. Just look at the chart above based on data from the month’s biggest poll, the Populus/FT March aggregate with a sample of 16,424

Because of the sheer size of the aggregate sample we can draw firmer conclusions from the subset findings than in individual polls with samples between one and two thousand.

The chart shows the breakdown of the current UKIP vote based on the responses of 1,368 current UKIP voters to question of what they said they did last time. As can be seen the lion’s share belongs to those who voted CON at the 2010 general election. They comprise just under 44% of the total while 2010 LAB switchers represent just over 7%.

It is true that UKIP gets a lot of support from the C1,C2 and D demographic groups but not, if you analyse the data, from that many who voted Labour in 2010.

Things could change but for the moment it is the blue team which has been most hit by the rise of Farage’s party.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


The Shapps Tweet ad could be as damaging as Liam Byrne’s “there’s no money left” handover note

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Both resonate because they reinforce perceptions

We all remember the famous Liam Byrne hand-over note in May 2010 telling his successor at the Treasury that there’s no money left. That struck home because it touched a widespread view of the LAB approach to public spending.

The Grant Shapps Tweet poster is damaging because it touches directly on the Tories’ big problem – that they don’t relate to large sections of the population. The use of the word “they” in the poster simply tells the world that the Tories see themselves as something apart.

A mistake.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Will the Tories stop talking about Europe after May?

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

eu flag

When being in touch becomes being out of touch

Ed Miliband’s non-promise of a referendum this week may have been designed to do several things.  It could have been a reassurance that a future Labour government wouldn’t repeal this administration’s European Union Act 2011, though it would modify it and that modification could be significant.  It could be a half-hearted effort to join the In-Out debate.  It could have been an effort to confirm his pro-EU credentials.  But all these seem a bit weak.  From Labour’s point of view, the biggest benefit could have been setting the Tories off again.

As Mike has pointed out on many occasions, Europe ranks relatively lowly in most voters’ concerns.  Seeming obsessed by the subject has done the Conservatives any amount of damage from the late Thatcher era onwards.  On the other hand, the Conservative position is of itself a relatively popular one: a looser relationship and an In-Out referendum both have substantial support.

How that balance plays out comes down to that earlier point.  With the European elections in only a couple of months, it’s entirely relevant to be campaigning on the EU.  After all, it’s not just the Conservatives but Labour and the Lib Dems too who’ve been promoting their position, never mind UKIP.  It’s whether the Conservatives make an obsession out of a virtue that’s likely to determine how the public view it.

All successful election campaigns will be based on a small number of key messages.  Too many and the focus becomes lost and the public confused; too few and you look like a one-trick pony, a party of protest not of government.  If the Conservatives are sensible, they’ll make plenty of play about their European policy now, when it’s relevant, and then keep it quiet after the vote.  Those who strongly support the policy will have heard it, as will those are vehemently opposed; those who aren’t much bothered will decide on different topics.  In each case, Europe will no longer determine their vote.

However, that’s also true in reverse.  The Conservatives’ strongest card is the economy, assuming that Osborne delivers two gimmick-free budgets, designed reinforce an air of confidence and competence, and assuming that the recovery avoids any domestic bumps for another year.  Even so, campaigning relentlessly on that topic will only deliver so much, particularly as the fruits of the policy are only just showing and even then, not to everyone by any means.  Again though, no party can afford to be simply technocratic.  Other messages, including softer ones, need to be in the mix too.  Europe has a part to play in that policy set, particularly now while it’s relevant.

The question is whether the Conservatives will be able to flick the ‘off’ switch after May.  I’ve long been expecting the Blues to finish third and polling behind UKIP would cause much soul-searching, with all sorts of unsolicited, meant-to-be-helpful suggestions.  Resisting those suggestions, and indeed that whole debate, will not be easy but may well make the difference between success and failure in 2015.

David Herdson

p.s. I do wonder whether Ed Miliband is secretly a member of Better Off Out.  His offer of an In-Out vote on future treaty changes would be by far the most likely mechanism to secure a British exit.  If countries like France, the Netherlands and Ireland can reject treaties, then surely Britain can.  Trying to bully the electorate into something they don’t want by threatening to take away something else may well backfire spectacularly.  It’s precisely why the Yes campaign in Scotland are so keen for No to lay out an alternative, to change the vote into one between two options, rather than for or against one (and why No will refuse).


On this day exactly two years ago YouGov had CON in the lead on 40pc

Friday, February 28th, 2014

How it looked for the blues before the rise of UKIP & Osborne’s March 2012 budget

At the end of February 2012 the Tories were still getting the benefit from the after-glow of what became known as the “Veto-gasm” – the polling boost that followed from David Cameron’s famous Brussels veto.

The positive mood was seen in the betting. In mid-January 2012 the Betfair price on a CON overall majority tightened to a 41% chance while Labour was rated at 28%. Things looked good.

Then we had March budget which seemed to produce one problem after another and within weeks the Tory poll position slumped.

This was the prelude to the the UKIP surge which continues to have a major impact on the political environment.

Labour edged up into the 40s but have edged back a touch and now with YouGov remain pretty solidly on 39% or thereabouts. The LDs continue to poll in the 8% – 10% range.

The most interesting feature in the chart above can be seen in the change tab. That tells the story of the past two years.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble