Archive for the 'Tories' Category


First post-grammar school phone poll sees TMay’s ratings slip 4% & CON lead down 5%

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

The new PM’s honeymoon appears to be drawing to a close

One of the dangers of all polling analysis is to confuse correlation with causation. It is easy to attribute polling changes to the last big political development or policy change so I’m not saying that Mrs. May’s decision to reverse her party’s policy on selective schooling is the reason for today’s numbers.

But in broader terms the way the policy came out made her government look less sure-footed than it has been and also opened up some public splits within her party notably Nicky Morgan the sacked Education Secretary. It also appeared to have left Morgan’s successor, Justine Greening, floundering and, of course, pulling out of Question Time at the last minute last night.

Being PM is a totally different proposition that her last job as Home Secretary and she has to be careful when policy is being originated at Number 10 rather than in the relevant department.

It was, of course, inevitable that her initial ratings were going to fade with time and clearly she wanted to stamp her authority on the government with a new policy direction of her own.

The other set of interesting figures in the poll are the Like/Dislike ratings.

Mike Smithson


George Osborne, the modern day Winston Churchill?

Thursday, September 1st, 2016


If Brexit does turn out be an economic mistake then could country turn to the man who warned about the risks of Brexit?

We’ve been here before, a charismatic former Tory Chancellor who warned the country and Tory party against a particular course of action, his counsel was ignored, he was exiled on the backbenches whilst his warnings initially proved to be incorrect.

But in the fullness of  time it was proved Winston Churchill was right and the appeasers were wrong, we might see something similar, if like the appeasers, the Brexiteers initial correct assessments make them act in a de haut en bas manner. Hubris will not go down well with the electorate, especially if the Brexit deal proves particularly sub-optimal for the UK economy.

A minor slowdown could be explained away as part of the normal economic cycle, but a longer and deeper recession is probably George Osborne’s best hope of becoming Tory leader and Prime Minister, like Winston Churchill when the country is in need will they call for the man who was proved right? William Hill have George Osborne at 20/1 to be next Tory leader, I’ve had a bet.

I suspect even Osborne’s many critics would agree with the Churchill comparison, after all after Churchill’s first general election as Tory leader, the Tories lost nearly 200 MPs as Labour took power in a landslide.



Wiping out the Lib Dems might have been Cameron’s greatest strategic mistake as Prime Minister

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

Cable Loss

Picture: The apotheosis of the Tory targeting of the Lib Dems at the last general election.

Why Cameron might still be PM if the coalition had continued after May 2015.

When David Cameron reflects on his earlier than anticipated departure as Prime Minister I wonder if in hindsight he’ll regret his and Sir Lynton’s Crosby targeting of the Lib Dem held seats at the last general election. At the time the 27 Tory gains from the Lib Dems was hailed for its brilliance and stealthiness, whilst the architects of the plan were lauded to the point one of them was awarded a knighthood.

But much like Hannibal defeating the Romans in the early part of The Second Punic War, Cameron may have won some battles but ultimately lost the war (to stop the Tories banging on about Europe.)

So imagine the EU referendum had taken place under another Con/Lib Dem coalition

With Nick Clegg’s greater experience of European Union affairs, Cameron might have obtained a much better renegotiation deal than he achieved. One of Cameron’s great misjudgements in the EU referendum was to spin the he deal obtained as a great deal instead of the reality of it being a middling to tepid deal at best.

If the referendum had happened under another Tory/Lib Dem coalition I get the feeling the Lib Dems would have insisted the franchise for the referendum was much more broader. You could have seen them insisting European Union citizens resident in the United Kingdom and sixteen & seventeen year olds having the vote, I think the former alone would have been more than enough to overturn Leave’s 1.3 million majority.

The Lib Dems might have also stopped some Tory errors  such as tax credit changes, academisation of every state school, and the junior doctors’ contracts that caused David Cameron’s government so much trouble since May 2015. Whilst in coalition, much to the chagrin of the their coalition partners, the Tories appropriated as their own some of the Liberal Democrat policies such as the substantial increase in the  personal allowance as a Tory policy. 

Had Cameron and his government not taken so many unpopular positions since May 2015, far fewer people would have taken the opportunity to use the referendum to give Cameron and his government a kicking.

Instead people wouldn’t be speaking about David Cameron as a latter day Lord North nor would David Cameron’s final ratings with Ipsos Mori sunk to an all time low for him. 

With a majority of only 12, Theresa May is another Tory leader who might find out that the Tory party is composed solely of “shits, bloody shits, and fucking shits” with the knowledge that the last three Tory Prime Ministers have been destroyed/had their Premierships ended by EU matters, coupled with the hunch that those Lib Dem voters who switched to the Tories at the last general election in those 27 seats won’t find Theresa May as electorally appealing as David Cameron, especially in light of her more authoritarian tendencies. All of this might present an opportunity for the Lib Dems to recover at the next general election.

If Labour does come to its senses and replaces Corbyn soon, by 2020 it might well be that David Cameron will be the only Tory to have won a general election, and a majority in the last twenty eight years, something his critics within the Tory party might wish to reflect on.



The fight to be next CON leader and PM: The race begins

Monday, June 27th, 2016


We’ve just got details of the Conservative leadership contest. The plan is to start it immediately and have Cameron’s successor in place on September 2nd.

The process will be the same as the one used in the 2001 and 2005 elections. MPs will hold a series of ballot until a final short-list of two is agreed which will then go to the party’s 150k members.

Nominations will close on Thursday then MPs will vote every Tuesday & Thursday until a shortlist of two is agreed. That will then go to the members’ postal ballot. So the first results will come a week tomorrow.

The fact that this is being truncated is said to help Johnson because it will leave less time for an ABB (Anybody But Boris) to emerge.

Mike Smithson


Bunco makes the case for Liz Truss as next CON leader and PM

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

Liz Truss

She’s behind you! Boris needs to look over his shoulder

A couple of months ago I promised OGH that I’d write a piece on why I thought Liz Truss would be the next Prime Minister. With other things to do and three years to 2019, I put it on the back burner but events mean I need to nail my colours to the mast.

She’s not an obvious choice and certainly not in the front runners but we need to remember that, in the Conservative Party, he who wields the knife never wears the crown. So we need to look in the second rank and Truss ranks alongside Crabb, Hammond, Morgan, Harper, Soubry, Stewart, Truss, & Fallon for the longer-shot who may offer value at the bookmakers.

Back in 2009 when PB had a Channel Two, I wrote a series of guest articles over three weeks about how she was selected from my ringside seat with direct access to the participants.These were: All Trussed Up and Nowhere to Go; We’re Going Into Extra Time; and Cinders Shall Go to the Ball

The circumstances of her selection in South West Norfolk were a torrid and bruising time played out in the national media complete with snidey remarks on Have I Got News For You. Playing to metropolitan prejudice about life in Norfolk, the selection got caught up in a national controversy about All Women Shortlists, Cameron Cuties & Open Primaries as a method of doing away with the smoke-filled-room appointment of Parliamentary candidates. The old buffers and blue-rinses hated the modernisation.

The media lapped up each new twist and turn raking over details of her private life characterising the debate as one between the Cameron modernisers and the Golf Club Turnip Taliban with Jeremy Paxman’s credibility as a neutral commentator on Newsnight was undermined when it was revealed that he was a regular *SHOOTING PARTY* guest on ‘Turnip Taliban’ Leader Sir Jeremy Bagge’s estate near Downham Market.”

A lesser person would have walked away. But she didn’t and insodoing has since won the admiration of local people for her grit, determination and plain talking. It was no surprise to those who saw her at first hand when she became one of the first 2010 intake to reach Cabinet rank, albeit to the poisoned chalice of DEFRA, the graveyard of many political careers

But why does this qualify Liz to be leader?

Her selection demonstrated her personal and mental toughness. Her background growing up in in Paisley and in Leeds, attending a Comprehensive before carving a career as an economist is as much a story of ‘The British Dream’ as the untried Stephen Crabb’s rags-to-riches tale.

DEFRA is the department with most contact with Brussels so she has more experience at dealing with the EU at first hand and has developed an enviable reputation for getting the British view accepted from an evidence-based perspective, which hasn’t always endeared her to the pressure groups, who prefer to make emotional arguments unsupported by fact. Brexit is going to require experience and guile if we’re to get the best deal and she’s served her apprenticeship here.

She founded the Free Enterprise Group of Conservative MPs and is soundly ideologically on the right, which will play well with the members and, whilst being a Remainer, has been measured in her interventions during the EUDebate and has avoided the vitriolic and divisive mud-slinging indulged in by others. She’s had a good war even if she ended up on the losing side.

She’s a woman and many in the party think that the Conservatives need to change the perception that the party is all about men of a certain age. And the party needs to look forward to 2020 and beyond. That she is from a Northern left-wing household and has made her own way can only help the Party shake-off the Bullingdon labels.

So for me, Liz Truss should be more widely considered. I don’t know whether she’ll put her name forward. But I hope she will. The combination of Northern Grit, Economic Soundness and experience in hand-to-hand fighting in Brussels ticks all the boxes. That she is a deep political thinker is the icing on the cake.

Bunnco – Your Man on the Spot


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