The Tory electoral position is weak – they’ve just admitted it

27th November, 2012 12:14 pm

The Tories are around ten points behind in the polls, but they still display an admirable amount of bluster. They stride about the Commons as if they owned the place (although they did that in opposition too). Most still (publicly at least) refuse to countenance the idea that in 2015 Ed Miliband could be Prime Minister. They puff out their chests at the idea. They snort.*

And of course, despite their bluster, they’re right to say that Labour’s position is not as strong as it appears. This week we’re defending three “safe” Labour seats in by-elections and there’s a credible threat in two of them. But – tellingly – it’s not the Tories we’re worried about. It’s not mainstream parties at all. It’s Respect and UKIP – the parties of the fringes. The parties of disillusionment with politics.

UKIP are of particular interest to the Tories. The widespread belief is that all of their voters are Tories who got lost somehow on the way to the ballot box, and if only Cameron could woo them back into the Tory fold, there’s a parliamentary majority to be won.

Tory vice-chairman Michael Fabricant went one step further yesterday, when he advocated a formal pact with UKIP ahead of the next election. According to Fabricant:

“The Conservative Party might well win the 2015 General Election on our own.But a pact with Ukip on clear terms could deliver 20 extra seats.”

There are a few leaps of faith for the Tories here. To deliver 20 extra seats would require the vast majority of 2010 Tories to stick with the party, and for the vast majority of 2010 UKIP voters to switch to the Tories on masse. In my experience the electorate are rarely as compliant as such a strategy would require. (Although of course, the same could be said for Labour’s apparent Labour+ 2010 Lib Dems strategy for 2015).

What Fabricant has really shown is the desperation in the Tory ranks. For once, the mask has slipped. To take a punt on working with UKIP, with no gaurantee of success (and a potentially party splitting EU referendum surely added to the mix) seems a remarkable gamble for 20 seats.

A pre-election pact is a sign of weakness, not strength, for the Tory Party.

More remarkable still are attempts by Downing Street to claim that Fabricant’s pact plan isn’t official party policy. They may have forgotten, so I’m happy to remind them. Michael Fabricant is the Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party with responsibility for campaigning. Arguing that he doesn’t speak for the Tories is ludicrous, even by the standards of Downing Street denials.

Perhaps most interesting for Labour people is the simplistic way in which the Tories talk about UKIP and their voters. They talk about them as if they are aggrieved that they are “splitting the vote”. It’s the way Labour once spoke about the Lib Dems. But as we found out to our cost, these parties that infuriate you and “split your vote” can often turn out to be very different from the simple caricatures we have of them. One day the Tories will discover that about UKIP too. And that the only way to win isn’t to form a pact.

It’s to win over their voters.

* – in fairness there are a number of Tories who take the Labour threat seriously, but pragmatic, reality-based Tories appear to be a rare breed at present.

  • NT86

    The Tories’ problems are far deeper than UKIP taking their votes. Of course UKIP’s votes in 2010 was a contributory factor in preventing them from winning a majority, but is there much evidence that they wooed over Labour vtters/ Many labour voters probably stayed home or went Lib Dem, because no matter how disillusioned they were with their party, I couldn’t see many of them wanting to vote Tory.

    • aracataca

      Good point NT. My guess (and it is a guess) would be that the number of switches direct from Labour to Tory was comparatively small in 2010. In 2015 this trend is likely to continue (IMHO) while the collapse in the Fib Dem vote could be pivotal for Labour.Two caveats however, the Tories and the Fibs might not stand against each other in crucial seats and the Fibs might stand as ‘Independents’ as we’ve witnessed in the most recent elections.
      By the way Mark surely only Rotherham is really at risk this week?

  • Charlie_Mansell

    On the subject of the Euro elections, UKIP have polled 16% and 17% in the past two. They do well already and may not rise as much as people think. What is happening is their domestic election polling may be catching up with their Euro scores as they become the new party of protest in the gap opened up by the Lib Dems vacating it. We may see this in Middlesbrough and Rotherham on Thursday. In 2014 there is a good chance of the Lib Dems polling just 8% (based on their declines in London and Scottish list elections) and coming 5th behind UKIP and the Greens. Assuming Labour picking up a lot of that decline it will only require a 3% further swing to Labour from the Tories from the disaster of 2009 to top the Euro poll in 2014. That would be psychologically good for Ed and the Party (though we ensure we avoid any 1999 Hague hubris) a year before the 2015 General election. Perhaps the party should be developing its message for those elections (domestically in particular) to make the most of them, rather than just assume it is UKIP’s election?

  • Serbitar

    Fabricant’s ‘Crown Topper’ is as daft as the brain beneath it!

  • Serbitar

    Fabricant’s ‘Crown Topper’ is as daft as the brain beneath it!

  • Serbitar

    Fabricant’s ‘Crown Topper’ is as daft as the brain beneath it!

  • Serbitar

    Fabricant’s ‘Crown Topper’ is as daft as the brain beneath it!

  • Serbitar

    Fabricant’s ‘Crown Topper’ is as daft as the brain beneath it!

  • Serbitar

    Fabricant’s ‘Crown Topper’ is as daft as the brain beneath it!

  • kb32904

    Anthony Wells has written a post today wrt this claim of Fabricants and the number of seats lost to UKIP.

    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/

    One paragraph from his comment says

    “This is nonsense of the highest order, but however often the argument is knocked down it refuses to lie down and die. At the last election there were 21 seats where the number of votes that UKIP got was larger than the number of extra votes the Conservatives needed to win. Where the argument that UKIP cost the Conservatives up to 40 seats comes from is beyond me, if every single UKIP voter has instead voted Conservative they would have got 21 more seats, no more”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Graeme-Hancocks/1156294498 Graeme Hancocks

    There is an excellent piece on the “myth of the 20-40 seats” claimed by Fabricant by Anthony Well in UK Opinion Polling website, which I would urge anyone to look at. Whilst UKIP take votes disproportionately from the Tories than Labour or Libdem, a sizeable number of UKIP voters were (and never would be) tory voters. The reality is that UKIP may have/may cost the tories between 1-5 seats.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Graeme-Hancocks/1156294498 Graeme Hancocks

    There is an excellent piece on the “myth of the 20-40 seats” claimed by Fabricant by Anthony Well in UK Opinion Polling website, which I would urge anyone to look at. Whilst UKIP take votes disproportionately from the Tories than Labour or Libdem, a sizeable number of UKIP voters were (and never would be) tory voters. The reality is that UKIP may have/may cost the tories between 1-5 seats.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Graeme-Hancocks/1156294498 Graeme Hancocks

    There is an excellent piece on the “myth of the 20-40 seats” claimed by Fabricant by Anthony Well in UK Opinion Polling website, which I would urge anyone to look at. Whilst UKIP take votes disproportionately from the Tories than Labour or Libdem, a sizeable number of UKIP voters were (and never would be) tory voters. The reality is that UKIP may have/may cost the tories between 1-5 seats.

Latest

  • Europe Featured News Case for the EU is “stronger than ever” – Benn

    Case for the EU is “stronger than ever” – Benn

    Hilary Benn has today evoked the last Labour government’s successes on climate change and African debt relief in a heartfelt plea to persuade Britons to vote to stay in the EU. Benn, the shadow Foreign Secretary, highlighted the “moral interest” in European nations coming together to prevent conflict and tackle climate change and poverty. In a series of personal comments he also described his own transformation, from voting to leave in the last referendum, in 1975, to forming the belief […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured The Common Good What might be the path to Labour victory in 2020?

    What might be the path to Labour victory in 2020?

    Karin Smyth MP chaired the most recent meeting of Labour for the Common Good group in Parliament – this is her report. You can read all reports of the meetings here. There was a sociological dimension to last May’s crushing defeat. The biggest transformations in the structure of British society since 2010 – an ageing population and an employment shift from public to private sectors – swelled the numbers of voting categories which have traditionally been cold towards Labour. And so […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Trade Union Action Week Unions I love unions. Why doesn’t everyone else?

    I love unions. Why doesn’t everyone else?

    I love unions. Of course I do – I started my apprenticeship in 1989 and joined the trade union on my first day. As a young electrician, I joined the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union without thinking twice. Every single one of my fellow apprentices joined too. It was a journey which, over the course of the 20th century, millions of young men and women took: leave school, go to work in the local heavy industry (in my case […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Reed warns over threat of further electoral slump amid council funding fears

    Reed warns over threat of further electoral slump amid council funding fears

    A Labour shadow minister has warned against assumptions that the party’s vote has “hit the bottom” and told colleagues they must speak up for England to a greater extent. Steve Reed, shadow minister for local government, said Labour must learn more from major councils which had managed to be “credible, relevant and win elections”. Reed, a former Lambeth council leader, also warned that the party leadership “feels out of touch”. “I wish the Labour party could speak for England in […]

    Read more →
  • News Maria Eagle accuses Cameron of breaking Leveson promise

    Maria Eagle accuses Cameron of breaking Leveson promise

    Labour is seeking to force the Government to proceed with the second part of the Leveson inquiry after Ministers suggested it was on the brink of being dropped. Maria Eagle, shadow Culture Secretary, accused David Cameron of breaking a promise to set up an examination of misconduct in the press and police, which was due to follow the completion of criminal investigations triggered by the phone hacking scandal. Today Eagle said Cameron is “reneging on this promise as though he […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit