Archive for the 'Tories' Category


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


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


Post-reshuffle leadership betting: The new Foreign Secretary comes into the picture

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

The Ladbrokes 14/1 looks good value

The big winner in the reshuffle is, undoubtedly, the new Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, who, with Theresa May, have been my long term bets at longish odds for Cameron’s successor. I got him originally at 41/1 and overnight I’ve put more on at 16.5 on Betfair and 14/1 with Ladbrokes

This looks a great price for someone who now occupies one of the three great offices of State and would be in an ideal position to compete if GE2015 goes against the Tories and we have an early leadership election.

    There’s a great rule in Tory contests – long term favourites never get it. Just ask John Major, William Hague, IDS, and David Cameron who all were elected in spite of not being favourite.

I got Cameron in September 2005 at 11/1.

One thing that Hammond has got going for himself is his back story which might fit the mood next May. He was state school educated followed by Oxford and a successful career in industry. After failing to win in 2015 with one old Etonian in charge would the party really choose another?

Hammond’s also older, 58, than the current crop of party leaders who all got their jobs while in their early/mid 40. This I’d suggest, will be seen as a strength if the Tories do lose power.

He would have been Treasury Secretary in May 2010 if the Tories had won a majority and is now into his third cabinet role since the general election.

You could see a leadership contest being fought out by Boris, Theresa, Osborne and Hammond. If he got through the first stage, the parliamentary party election, he’d do well in the final run off members’ ballot which is restricted to the top two from the MPs process.

His chances, of course, are very much dependent on a Tory defeat at GE2015.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


The Reshuffle

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Looks like the big political news of the day isn’t the Blues taking the lead with the gold standard of UK polling, but the reshuffle David Cameron is currently undertaking.

The big news is William Hague standing down as Foreign Secretary.

The interesting move will be who replaces him? Rumour has it will be Philip Hammond, in the past Hammond has said he would vote to leave the EU, which earned a rebuke from the PM. Perhaps this is a way of getting back votes from UKIP?

One of the other interesting moves has been the cull of the Law Officers, in particular Dominic Grieve, my hunch is that this is part of the Conservative plans to employ a harder line on Justice and the ECHR, in the past Grieve has warned leaving the EU or the ECHR would imperil “the economic, physical and ethical well-being of the UK”

This seems odd the day UKIP fell below 10% with ICM to become even more Euro-sceptic.

This appears to be a wider reshuffle than was anticipated, keep up to date with it here.

Dave should remember, the last Tory PM to move their Foreign Secretary to Leader of the House was toppled as PM a year later by that former Foreign Secretary, Dave must hope history doesn’t repeat itself.

Update I

There’s also a number of other MPs alongside Hague who have announced this evening their intention to stand down as MPs at the next election, this would make the Tories chances in 2015 harder, as the incumbency bonus goes in these seats.






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