Grant Shapps is becoming the Comical Ali of the Conservative Party

April 25, 2013 12:01 am

The sniping and spinning has already started.

David Cameron is being warned he needs to lose fewer than 400 seats in next week’s Council elections if he is to hold onto the Tory leadership.

Ridiculously overplaying the expectations management game, Conservative chairman Grant Shapps says the Tories must expect to lose 500 seats.

He says the elections are all about a test of whether Ed Miliband has appeal in the shire counties. Shapps is becoming the Comical Ali of the Conservative Party.

The truth is these elections are about the 2,391 individual council seats in 35 local authorities and ensuring they have the best person to represent those areas.

But the pundits and commentators – and let’s be honest, the politicians – will look at the results and try to work out what they mean for the 2015 General Election.

So here is the reality check.

These elections are concentrated in Tory heartlands.

Around 18 million electors can take part. Of these about 11 million are in the Eastern, South East and South West regions. At the last general election 80% of the areas facing local elections this year elected a Tory MP – compared to just 11% electing a Labour MP – making their seats nearly doubly overrepresented and Labour seats massively underrepresented.

In 2009 when the majority of seats were last contested the actual Labour share of the vote was 13% – I think we can safely say we will make progress.

Our total seats won in 2009 was less than 150 and if we can more than double that haul in one go then it shows real progress in the Tory heartlands.

We will show Ed Miliband’s One Nation Message can win us seats in all parts of our country.

But no-one should be surprised if after the results are in, the share of the vote is close between the Conservatives and the Labour Party.

Local by-elections have shown in these areas the Conservative vote has held up better since 2010 and indeed been boosted by a swing from the Liberal Democrats.

A good performance for us would be about 200 net gains. 250 tops.

But the real test is how David Cameron is doing outside his shrinking heartlands.

In key midlands battlegrounds we will see whether David Cameron can hang onto working class voters who felt let down by Labour in 2010.

Let’s see what the people of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire think of Mr Cameron’s coalition after three years.

Let’s see how Labour performs in the key seats we need to win to form a government.

Let us see if they like the idea of giving a tax cut to millionaires while families living standards and incomes are squeezed.

Eastleigh was a warning light to Captain Cameron on his cruise liner that his Conservative party chums are shrinking into their shire heartlands – and even there they are not safe.

I think these elections will start the red lights flashing all over the control panels.

The Liberal Democrats may be shouting from the deck, powerless to control the direction they are being taken.

Yet this week, after campaigning with candidates in Worcestshire, Gloucestershire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Leicestershire, Lancashire,Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire I can tell you, there’s only one place the Liberal Democrats are heading: the rocks.

Tom Watson is Deputy Chair of the Labour Party, and the party’s Campaign Co-ordinator

  • Daniel Speight

    Quite how our political class can give senior positions to likes of Shapps confuses me. He was found out as an internet ‘get-rich-quick’ conman and yet he gets promoted. Maybe spivs are role models today. Even 30 years ago this would be unusual. (Although of course going further back the spiv charge could be laid on Ernest Marples.)

    I would have made this an attack on the Tories except the same attack could be made on many in Labour. Thank god that Bozier had joined the Tories before it came out that he was into teen porn.

    • AlanGiles

      Mr Schapps (or may I be familiar and call him “Mr. Green”?) is a fool and an embarrassment to his own party, but it is a bit rich of Mr Watson to make reference to the “expectations management game” since it is a game played by all the main parties. “let he amongst you without sin…..” and all that jazz.

      I had no idea Mr Bozier had such interests: perhaps he should have taken up the trombone, to give his right hand something else to do :-)

    • AlanGiles

      Mr Bozier has defended himself:

      http://lukebozier.co.uk/has-britain-gone-paedo-crazy-paedophilia-teenagers-and-sex/

      Poor chap: he is so misunderstood! :-)

      • AlanGiles

        I am not sure if the “downs” are for me or Lukey: don’t be shy, let me know. I had no idea BTW that “social entrepeneur” was a euphamism for merchant banker.

        We all know now what he is doing when he isn’t blogging though, but beware, he might come to a sticky end! :-)

    • Alexwilliamz

      Marples – sharples?

      • Daniel Speight

        After his retirement from active politics in 1974, Marples was elevated to the peerage. His life ended in ignominy, however, after he fled the country to escape various legal and taxation difficulties.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Many Tories, particularly younger Tories, see, or used to see, Shapps as a potential future leader for their Party. I am not making this up. This is a fact. How a dishonest cretinous lowlife like Shapps could rise to the position he currently occupies in government is beyond me, although I think his undoubted popularity amongst the Conservative faithful speaks volumes as per its naivety and/or stupidity. Eeek.

  • michae

    Down here in Central Devon and Ashburton in particular, the Lib Dem are not campaigning at all. Not sure if there will be a meltdown in their vote, but I expect to see a much reduced Lib Dem vote in Devon. Where it goes is another thing. Tactical unwind seems to be occurring here, but thats based on a very small sample.No sign of a UKIP bandwagon. Greens are active and will take votes from the left in the wards that they are targeting.

  • Mark

    Has anybody actually checked that he isn’t?

  • Hugh

    So, let’s see if I follow: more than 400 losses would be very bad for Cameron, therefore very good for Labour. Suggeting the Tories should expect 500 losses is ridiculous expectations management; but suggesting Labour should hope to gain about 250 seats maximum is dispassionate political analysis.

    Have I got that right?

    • Alexwilliamz

      Yep there does seem to be a little bit of contradiction there. Similar to the ‘key’ results being in those areas we know the tories are going to do badly in. The point is that any election between now and 2015, will tell us precious little about what will happen then, other than giving the usual axe grinders some ammunition. The real test should be voter turnout, if it continues its downward trend then ALL parties are continuing to fail in convincing the people that they are a) Worth voting for b) offering any kind of hope that they can make a difference.

  • Daniel Speight

    I wonder if my comment was deleted over what I said about Shapps or under pressure from Bozier’s friends. Very interesting. Upsetting Tories is obviously not on.

    • Daniel Speight

      My bet is that it’s the upsetting of Bozier’s mates rather than Shapps that was the problem.

      • AlanGiles

        Yes, probably. The thought of happily married young men with young children crouched at the end of the sofa knocking one out during an episode of “Hollyoaks” can’t be a very endearing picture for any “Right-minded” Conservative :-)

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