Archive for the 'Tories' Category


Why you should be backing Jeremy Hunt as next PM

Monday, June 29th, 2015

slip 2

A betting slip from a few days ago.

Despite their very best efforts, Labour wasn’t able to weaponise the NHS to their advantage or damage the Tories on the NHS in the election campaign (nor in the run up to the election.) The NHS is an issue that has been traditionally perceived to be one of Labour’s strongest areas, Labour’s failure to make the NHS an election issue says a lot about Hunt’s abilities as a Minister and to deal with his opponents & the media, something which is a pre-requisite for any successful party leader.

At the time of writing, the best price you can get on Jeremy Hunt as next Prime Minister is 50/1 with Corals, when Sajid Javid’s best price is 14/1, then in my opinion, there’s something wrong with Hunt’s price, as I think both should be similarly priced and Javid’s price is about right.

Another advantage for Hunt is, that the NHS is one of the very few government departments that has its budget ring-fenced from cuts, and is expected to receive increased funding, so whilst other ministers struggle with departmental spending cuts, Hunt’s department, which is arguably the most high profile public service government department, won’t be dealing with such issues, which should theoretically help him politically.

If Andy Burnham, as expected, does become the next Labour leader, then Hunt can point to his his record vis-à-vis Burnham why the Tories should elect him leader. The fact that Andy Burnham couldn’t use the NHS to Labour’s advantage, especially after the widely criticised Lansley reforms, is a story for another thread. No wonder a few weeks ago, Jeremy Hunt publicly declared that he wanted Andy Burnham to become Labour leader.



The most important result on May 7th

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Why David Cameron might be grateful to Mark Reckless defecting

Whilst it might be accurate to say every constituency result on May the 7th was important, the result in Rochester & Strood might be the one that has most impact in this parliament. Anything that helps, to borrow LBJ’s maxim, about keeping the Eurosceptics inside the tent pissing out, rather than outside pissing in, is good for the Tories, Cameron and the continued life of this government.

Given the way the scheduled In/Out referendum has dominated events since the election (and will continue to do so, even after the result, particularly if it is a small victory for IN) and the smallness of his majority, defections to UKIP or scandal would be the major causes for that majority to be wiped out, as the health of Tory MPs in recent years has been exceptionally good (it is nearly a decade since the last Tory MP died of natural causes whilst in office, and only one in the last sixteen years.)

The chances of further defections to UKIP were reduced by Mark Reckless losing, and not only did he lose, but it was a very comfortable victory for the Tory candidate Kelly Tolhurst, I’m not sure many MPs will want to join Mark Reckless in potentially being a minor footnote in history, pour encourager les autres as they say, particularly if the current contretemps in UKIP end in Douglas Carswell leaving UKIP.

The odds on the year of the next General Election are available here, 2020 is at 2/5.




Boris reminds us once again why the normal rules of politics don’t apply to him

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Last night it was reported

Boris Johnson’s relationship with the capital’s black cab trade has become further troubled after the Sun and Daily Mail newspapers released a video showing the mayor of London on his bicycle telling a taxi driver “to f*ck off and die – and not in that order”.

The exchange in Islington, north London, was caught on camera by a passerby.

The driver, one of many black cab operators furious at the way Transport for London, overseen by the mayor, has allowed Uber drivers to undermine their trade shouted at Johnson: “You’re one of them mate. That’s what you are. One of them.”

The footage shows Johnson replying: “Why don’t you f*ck off and die, why don’t you f*ck off and die – and not in that order.”

The cabbie then drives away yelling: “Yeah bollocks, I hope you die.”

If most other politicians had done this, we would be writing their political obituaries this afternoon, but Boris can get away with this, just compare and contrast the reaction when Andrew Mitchell said pleb to the Downing Street police officers.

It is things like this that encapsulates Boris’ popularity, that other politicians just don’t have, and whilst I expect someone other than Boris will be the next Tory leader, it makes me reluctant to rule him out entirely. If the Tories are behind in the polls at the time of the Tory leadership election, I suspect we’ll see polling that Boris as leader gives the Tories a lead/the largest boost of all the contenders, as we saw in the last parliament, partly because of incidents like this.

The only way this incident could have been any more Boris was if he swore at the taxi driver in Latin. Given that he read Classics at Oxford, I’m sure Boris would have studied Catullus 16 and could have found inspiration from that opus.



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.