Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Why are the Tories having so much trouble connecting with voters?

Only 9% of people think that that Osborne has made them better off compared to where they were under Labour

If the Tories were hoping that the better economic news that has come out recently would change public perceptions about them, then they were wrong. The table above is a collation of data from a poll taken by Comres yesterday and it was about attitudes of the public toward the current Conservative led government. The findings read ominously for Tories, who were hopeful that the economic turnaround would spark a revival in the polls for David Cameron and his party. For David Cameron, it has done- He regularly polls higher on leader ratings than Ed Miliband- But his party are still languishing and last year was unique for being the first year since 1995 that the Tories have not had a lead over Labour in any opinion poll all year. Why are they having such problems connecting with voters?

 For starters, the economic recovery has not been equal. This is a recovery that has been led by a Housing boom rather than any serious consumer led recovery. This has led to a vast improvement in fortunes for businesses and many multinational corporations, but for most working people, they have seen their wages fall in real terms. The opposition Labour Party has been making the argument about the "Cost of living crisis" and this has struck a tune with the public, who are seeing their wages fall and living costs increase, despite attempts by the coalition to deflect blame back onto Labour by repeating their "Labour got us into this mess" pitch.

Another big reason is the traditional perception of the Tories as being "The nasty party." This is a deep rooted problem that is unlikely to go away anytime soon. It goes back to the Tory problem of not being able to win in Northern Cities, and this is a problem created by Margaret Thatcher. Her "De-Industrialization" policy wiped out the Tories in Scotland, and ensured that they would struggle to win in Northern Cities, because the North was hit the hardest by her policies. Even now, many people remember Margaret Thatcher and feel completely betrayed by the Tories.  Many of these people will never vote Tory ever again, and it has led to a perception that they are "The Nasty party." It is why David Cameron and Boris Johnson regularly outpoll their respective parties, as the Tory brand is seen as being "Toxic" and at general election time, most voters tend to vote based on whether they want a Socialist Government or a Conservative Government, rather than on personalities, as they do in the London Mayoral Contest. Even amongst elderly people after their promise to protect pensions for them recently, alarmingly, the Tories are still regarded as being nasty, as shown by this poll:

This obviously makes the task for Labour much easier, as due to their past reforms they are seen as being "Compassionate" and the Tories are seen as being "Nasty" whether rightly or wrongly.

So, in the end, will the Cost of Living crisis win the economic argument, or will the economic boom and business community support for the Tories win it?
The truth is, I simply dont know.

There is only a year and a half to go. We will find out soon enough.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The dilemma for Lynton Crosby and the Tories: Labour can win with a much lower vote share than the Tories- A problem that not even Lynton Crosby can resolve

The reality is that on this projection Labour would gain a small majority, firstly because the Sinn Fein MPs in Ireland do not take their seats in the UK Parliament

The Tories have a major dilemma which the Labour Party do not, which puts them at an immediate disadvantage. It is a dilemma that not even Lynton Crosby can do anything about. The problem is that Labour is so much more efficient at getting voters out to vote for them for a variety of reasons.

One of the major reasons is the constituency boundaries. Labour seats on average contain 2000-3000 less people than Tory constituencies. This is because the last time constituency boundaries were significantly changed was in 1997, just before the Tony Blair landslide. The constituency boundaries have remained relatively unchanged since then. The Tories last year attempted to redraw constituency boundaries and decrease the number of MPs to 600 from 650, which would have led to a net increase of 12 Tory MPs and a larger decline in the Number of Labour and Lib Dem MPs. Unsurprisingly, these proposed boundaries were slammed by Nick Clegg as being "Unconstitutional" and the Lib Dems voted against the proposed changes in retaliation for Tory support for the NO2AV campaign during the referendum campaign in 2011, which put those ideas to bed. Thus, for the next general election at least, the Conservatives are at an immediate disadvantage.

The big driver of the so-called "Bias" toward Labour in FPTP is that LAB voters are generally more reluctant to turn out where the outcome is not in doubt, particularly in Conservative and Labour heartlands. Where it does matter, in the marginals as we’ve seen election after election after election, the Labour machine gets its vote out and is particularly skilled at securing anti-CON tactical votes from potential Liberal Democrat voters (And next time possibly from UKIP voters) This explains the disproportionate fall in Tory support in key marginals, which puts far more seats at risk for the Tories than it would be on a uniform national swing. What do the Tories do? The aborted boundary plan would have added about 12 seats to the party total which would have helped some way, but only so far.

Differential LAB turnout and tactical voting are what does for the Tories and the signs are that these could happen again.On my calculations, if the ashcroft polls are seen as the norm, Labour could win a majority despite being 2% behind in the vote share, and will remain the largest party until the difference becomes at least 5 clear percentage points. The percentage needed for even a tiny outright Tory win would be 10-12 points ahead of Labour- I.e to even remain the largest party next time, the Tories actually need to improve on their 2010 performance.

Does this make a Tory majority impossible?

But it does make it extremely unlikely, which in political terms means pretty much the same thing.
Whether or not the Tories come out as the largest party is another matter entirely.

Friday, 17 January 2014

The fall of the British National Party.

BNP Leader Nick Griffin posing with a Nazi flag

Despite BNP claims to be the "Party of the moderate right", and accusing the BBC of Marxist/Communist propaganda and lies, the truth about the BNP is there for the general public to see. It calls itself a "White nationalist" party, and its leader Nick Griffin is frequently pictures standing next to White Power or Nazi flags/Swastikas, and Nick Griffin recently attacked the European Commission for not taking action against Greece after the Greek Parliament had banned the blatantly Neo-Nazi organization Golden Dawn. The party is, admittedly, "Moderate" compared to the extremist National Front party, which calls for forced repatriation of foreigners and non-whites, but "Voluntary repatriation" as is proposed by the BNP is no better.

In a recent EU election poll, it was found that the BNP polled at 0%- Strikingly, because all of their voters last time seem to be switching to UKIP. This change is devastating and may mean that Nick Griffin will lose his seat at the Euro elections, and, just to rub it in his face, he may lose his set to the benefit of Afzal Khan, a British Muslim candidate for Labour who has campaigned extensively against the BNP. What has caused this incredible BNP collapse?

 For starters, as mentioned in the introduction, a major factor has been the popularity of UKIP. When the BNP used to win Council Seats in areas such as Burnley and pushed hard in Oldham a decade ago, this was during a time of extreme disillusionment with the Labour Party. The Iraq War was ongoing, and the popularity of Labour PM Tony Blair had declined significantly. Consequently, many people to the right of centre and many working class voters, who did vote for Tony Blair in 1997, decided that they could no longer trust the Labour Party and defected to the BNP. During times of great national crisis or hardship, the influence of the far-right is often at its strongest, as people look for somebody to blame. Immigrants are easy targets- For the vast majority of Brits, who read and believe what they see in the Murdoch Media, which constantly vilifies immigrants and foreigners, it is very easy to believe that immigrants, Muslims, and Romanians/Bulgarians are the source of the problem, rather than Britons themselves. For years, the BNP were the strongest Anti-Immigration voice for the fascists and extreme Right-Wingers, as well as disgruntled, disillusioned, and disenfranchised Labour, Tory, and even Liberal Democrat voters. Then came UKIP, soaring on a popular wave of Anti-Immigration,Anti-Foreign, and anti-EU sentiment. Because UKIP claims (ostensibly)to be a "Non-racist, Libertarian party" in its constitution, this made sure that the party was not marginalized or stigmatized in the same way that the BNP has been, allowing it to grow beyond the 8-10% that was the peak of the BNP's national support, and allowing it to pick up some Labour, Tory, and Lib Dem voters who were sceptical about supporting the BNP because it was openly fascist. For this reason, UKIP is polling strongly in places where the BNP never has and never will, such as fiercely Conservative Lincolnshire and Kent. This has led to many former BNP members and supporters quitting the party to join UKIP, which explains the highly publicised scandals involving UKIP candidates and councillors that frequently come out in the newspapers.

Another big factor is the fact that Labour are in opposition, and the Labour Party's popularity is currently high. There is significant evidence to suggest that the BNP's support is highest when the Labour Party is struggling in the polls. Since the Labour Party is in opposition it then picks up some anti-establishment Labour voters who would otherwise protest vote for other political parties, including the BNP, during mid-term elections if Labour were in government.

All in all, this is very bad news for the British National Party. UKIP are now replacing them as the voice of the Far-Right, and it now looks extremely unlikely that the BNP will pick up the 8% of the vote needed for Nick Griffin to hold his European Parliament seat. Not holding the seat would have dire consequences-Nick Griffin is personally bankrupt and funds his party by using European Taxpayers money and their expenses. If he loses his seat, it is likely that the BNP may collapse completely due to bankruptcy, and could shrink to a shadow of what it was, just like the National Front. Only time will tell if fascism really is on the decline.

Friday, 10 January 2014

European Parliament election 2014: Predictions.

The Far-Right and Eurosceptics are set to make massive gains across Europe.

 Many people I know have asked me to do a prediction on what I think the overall result for the 2014 European Parliament elections will be. Now, because I am a pollster,I do not like to do "Predictions" without good, solid opinion polling data to back my arguments up. Hence why, although it did take me a long time to do the calculations, and it was extremely difficult finding polling data for some EU countries, I have (Eventually) managed to compile a list of which European Parties I think will gain the most seats. All of the projected polling is based on data from various different sources and various different polling companies, and so cannot be guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
After all, it is a prediction (Although a jolly good one based on facts.)

You all should hold me to account after the next EU elections if I have got these predictions entirely wrong!

European Parliament 2014 Composition:

1st party: Socialists

Leader: Martin Schulz
Seats last time: 184 seats (25% of the vote)
Seats predicted: 281 seats (31.3%, +97)
Socialist parties likely to gain seats: Labour Party, SPD, Spanish Socialist Workers Party, Labour Party (Ireland) Socialist Party (Portugal) Labour Party (Malta)
Parties likely to lose seats: Parti Socialite, Czech Social Democratic Party.
Swing: +6.3%

The Socialists were hammered in 2009, as most of the European socialist parties were coincidentally in government this time. However, since many of the Socialist parties are now in opposition, and since many people see the European Elections as a time to protest vote for fringe, extremist, or opposition parties, I can see the Socialists gaining a lot of seats, with most of the Socialist parties leading the polls in their respective countries. Martin Schulz will undoubtedly be a happy man.

2nd party: European Peoples party.

Leader: TBC
Seats last time: 270 (36% of the vote)
Seats predicted: 189 (24%, -81)
Parties likely to gain seats: CDU/CSU,  Fidesz, Union for a Popular movement, Democratic Union of Catalonia
Parties likely to lose seats: Austrian Peoples party, Citizens for Europe development of Bulgaria, Union of the Centre (Italy), Social Democratic Party (Portugal)
 Swing: -12%

The EPP has a problem. That problem is that many of its constituent party's are in government, the exact opposite problem that the Socialists have right now. A likely vote for extremist parties in many areas is also undermining the EPP vote. The vote share that the EPP could get remains highly variable. The only party in the EPP that is almost certain to gain seats is the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) in France.

3rd Party: European Alliance for Freedom

Leader: TBC
Seats last time: 0 (New Party)
Seats predicted: 63 (15.5%, +63)
Parties likely to gain seats: National Front (France) Party for Freedom, Vlaams Belang, Freedom Party of Austria, Northern League (Italy) Danish Peoples party (Denmark) Jobbik (Hungary)
Swing: +15.5%

This is the bloc of parties that is likely to cause the European Union the most problems it has faced in a long time. The alliance was created in late 2013 when the leader of the National Front, Marine Le Pen, and De Wilders from the Party for Freedom agreed to create a new alliance of fringe, far-right, and extremist parties that are Eurosceptic. The UK Independence Party and the AFD (Alternative for Germany) refused to join the new alliance, because they are seen as being more moderately Eurosceptic. It is this European Party which will in all likelihood make major gains this May, and cause big questions to be raised about the European Project as a whole.

4th Party: ALDE- Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

Leader: TBC
Last election: 84 Seats (11.4% of the vote)
Seats Predicted: 57 seats (8.5%,-27)
Parties likely to gain seats: N/A (Insufficient polling data)
Parties likely to lose seats: Liberal Democrats, Free Democrats (Germany)
Swing: -2.9%

Since Europe is becoming increasingly angry and nationalist, the strongly Pro-European tone struck by the ALDE parties will not strike a cord with the electorate as it did in previous elections. I expect the Liberal Parties to get battered.

5th Party: European Conservatives and Reformists

Leader: TBC
Last election: 54 seats (7.3% of the vote)
Projected seats: 40 seats (6.3%, -14)
Parties likely to gain seats: Civic Democratic Party (Czech Republic)
Parties likely to lose seats: Conservative Party, Justice and Development Party (Turkey)
Swing: -1%

David Cameron's pet project was his new Conservatives and Reformists EU group, but he was disappointed when there was little enthusiasm from other European Parties. Neither the Tory Party not Recep Tayyip Erdogans Justice and Development Party are doing particularly well in the polls at the moment, and both are in government in their respective countries, so I would expect both to lose some seats.

6th Party: Europe of Freedom and Democracy:

Leader: TBC
Last election: 32 seats (4.2% of the vote)
Projected seats: 38 Seats (5.6%, +6)
Parties likely to gain seats: UKIP
Parties likely to lose seats: N/A (Insufficient polling data)
Swing: +1.4%

Here are the so-called "Moderate" Eurosceptics. It was widely expected that Mr Farage would join Marine Le Pen and her Eurosceptic/Fascist alliance, but he did not, so good for him. The EFD should do well in the elections.

7th Party: The Left

Leader: Alexis Tsipras
Last election: 35 (4.8%)
Projected seats: 26 (4.5%, -9)
Parties likely to gain seats: Die Linke (Germany)
Parties likely to lose seats: N/A (Insufficient polling data)
Swing: -0.3%

The far left parties are not expected to do particularly well, particularly since angry, nationalist Europe seems to be shifting toward the right a lot more because of anti-EU sentiment. Still, I expect them to largely hold their own.

8th Party: The Greens

Leader: TBC
Last election: 55 (7.4%)
Projected seats: 20 ( 4.1%, -35)
Parties likely to gain seats: N/A (Insufficient polling data)
Parties likely to lose seats: N/A (Insufficient Polling data)
Swing: -3.3%

The Greens have much the same problem as the Liberals- The electorate of the EU seem to have moved away from Liberal issues and are leaning toward the right, wanting to see action on immigration and free movement. They will take a hit, but will survive.

Others: Non Inscrits/Independents.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Wythenshawe and Sale East by-election- Opportunity for UKIP, A tricky test for the reds.

The sad and untimely death at the age of 60 of the popular former minister, Paul Goggins, creates what could be a tricky by-election defence for Labour and an opportunity for UKIP. For in spite of all the good polling the party has yet to win a Commons seat. In fact the best it has ever done in a Westminster election was the 27.8% in the high octane contest at Eastleigh last February. By-elections don’t come round very often and UKIP needs to be totally committed to the fight in a way that they weren’t in South Shields in May filling the vacancy created by David Miliband’s departure. Major UKIP donors were not convinced about South Shields and there was a reluctance to put the money in. For Labour there’s a problem. Wythenshawe and Sale East is one of those heartland seats which, not to put too fine a point on it, it takes for granted and puts very little effort into. The Tories, who in the 1960s had the MP, have now all but given up with the result that turnouts are pitifully low. At general elections the parties just go through the motions. What is interesting is that UKIP polled well above their national average of 2.1& in this seat. If their current polling is anything to go by, this could get extremely tricky for the Reds. It’s low vote outcomes in heartland seats like Wythenshawe and Sale East which are a main reason why the electoral system seems biased to the red team. This means that there is nothing like the machine in place that you get in a marginal. Thus if it’s like South Shields there’ll be very limited data records which, as the yellows showed in Eastleigh, are the platforms on which wins can be based. If the parties could only get 54% out to vote at the general election then the chances are that we’ll see turnout in the 20s. Thus the threshold in terms of votes for victory will be quite low. If UKIP can manage to build on the 7.3% that the party and the BNP secured last time then who knows. What’s absolutely certain is that a UKIP by-election victory would totally change the media narrative. It seems likely that UKIP will be the undisputed challenger to Labour in the red strongoholds, since it tends to pick up a lot of disgruntled white working class voters in traditional Lab strongholds.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Tory party defectors are making the task of victory even tougher for Mr Cameron

More than a third of voters who supported UK prime minister David Cameron in the 2010 election would not vote for his Conservative party if an election were held tomorrow. The polling confirms the trend that the Tory Party has suffered a significant decline in popularity since the last election. The opinion poll finding, which highlights the uphill battle facing the Conservatives in 2015, comes from Lord Ashcroft’s latest round of research on the party’s electoral prospects. The former Conservative party Treasurer and pollster warns Downing Street that it must attract a “bigger coalition of voters” if the party is to have any hope of governing after the next election. The polling found that 37 per cent of 2010 Conservative voters –dubbed “defectors” –would not support the Tories in an election tomorrow. Half of those said they would shift their support to the eurosceptic UK Independence Party. The defectors significantly outweigh new supporters –“joiners” –making it more difficult for Mr Cameron to win in 2015. Only six per cent of those polled were joiners. Twenty-three per cent said they would stick with the party in 2015. “An overall majority looks as elusive as it has throughout parliament,” wrote Lord Ashcroft in his research, which was published on Saturday. “To win one, the Tories needs the votes of everyone who supported them last time, plus everyone who is even prepared to think about doing so the next time. Unfortunately, a lot of people in the first group are not currently in the second.” However, Lord Ashcroft urged the party not to be distracted from the task of winning new voters by the Ukip threat in the run-up to the European elections in May. “Pundits will be preoccupied by how well Ukip do, and at what cost to the Conservatives. But the Tories must keep their eye on the prize. “Whatever tactical moves they make to minimise losses in an election that many people regard as inconsequential –and therefore an opportunity to cast a cost-free protest vote –must not be at the expense of building a coalition of voters that could give them a majority at Westminster.” Mr Cameron has in recent months sought to counter the Ukip threat by appealing to more traditional Conservative voters with promises of an EU referendum in 2017, a tax break for married couples and with his tough rhetoric on immigration. But modernisers such as Andrew Cooper, No 10’s former director of strategy, are adamant that the prime minister must not retrench to core-Tory territory and instead try to attract younger, urban and ethnic voters to build support for the future. Meanwhile, UKIP are polling at 16% in the latest Ashcroft poll- The highest level that they have polled since July. UKIP polled ahead of Labour in 2nd place in the South East (24%) and look set to make big gains at this May's European and Local council elections. The latest poll results will also give some hope to the red team, as it found that 2/3rds of UKIP voters are former Conservative voters. The equation for Ed Miliband is fairly simple- He does not even need to win over any Conservative voters. All that he has to do is keep hold of the Lib Dems who have defected to his party, and retain his core vote.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Nick Cleggs EU gamble: Is it a good idea to portray the Liberal Democrats as the most Pro-European Party?

Nick Clegg attacks UKIP

This week, Nick Clegg came out strongly in support of Britain's role in the EU, saying that voting UKIP would wreck the economy, in an obvious attempt to reach out to former Liberal Democrat protest voters who may plan on voting for UKIP at the next European Elections this May. Clegg argued that a UKIP win in the next European Elections would panic businesses and reduce investment in the UK, as businesses would then have to contend with a Conservative Party that may switch even further to the right than they currently are in the event of a UKIP win, and Britain would then be flirting with exit from the European Union.This is the first serious campaigning ahead of May’s elections which are now less than five months away.
In this way, Clegg attempted to portray himself and his party as the main opposition to Nigel Farage. Is it a good idea for the Lib Dems to take such a Pro-European approach?

I think that it is. Clearly, given his party’s current Westminster polling position and its record of doing poorly in these elections, the LDs could struggle even to win a single MEP. There is also the possibility that they could finish fifth behind the Greens. In his New Year message Clegg says: "UKIP want out. The Conservatives are flirting with exit. And Labour don’t have the courage of their convictions on this." The Clegg argument is that a strong vote performance by UKIP in the election will send out the message to business that Britain is less than fully committed to the EU which could make it more cautious about investing in the country. A big UKIP vote could undermine the recovery, and also most likely would shift the Conservative Party even further to the Right, and have more draconian Conservative policies that have previously been blocked by the Lib Dems.

The Liberal Democrats have a record of doing extremely poorly in these elections, and given that they are running at an all time low of 8% in the opinion polls, Clegg and his party have nothing to lose. The big question is whether this niche approach, going for the continously shrinking Pro-European segment of the electorate, will help improve what would otherwise probably be a disastrous Liberal Democrat result. The only problem for Cleggs attempts to prevent a UKIP win is that the voters most likely to vote for his party in this election, are former Lib Dem voters who are leaning toward Labour, reducing the chance of a Labour win (Who are 1st in the polls) and increasing the chance of a UKIP win, who are 2nd.
Perhaps he would better serve his anti-UKIP campaign by keeping his mouth shut.
Nick Clegg ponders his parties European Election prospects