Conservative Defence List

These are the hundred and fifty Conservative seats with the lowest percentage majorities. This does not necessarily mean they would be the most vulnerable Conservative seats in practice, nor that they are the seats the Conservative party will be putting the most effort into defending.

1. Derby North Majority 41 (0.1%)
2. Gower Majority 27 (0.1%)
3. Croydon Central Majority 165 (0.3%)
4. Vale of Clwyd Majority 237 (0.6%)
5. Bury North Majority 378 (0.8%)
6. Morley & Outwood Majority 422 (0.9%)
7. Plymouth Sutton & Devonport Majority 523 (1.1%)
8. Thurrock Majority 536 (1.1%)
9. Eastbourne Majority 733 (1.4%)
10. Brighton, Kemptown Majority 690 (1.5%)
11. Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale Majority 798 (1.5%)
12. Bolton West Majority 801 (1.6%)
13. Telford Majority 730 (1.8%)
14. Weaver Vale Majority 806 (1.8%)
15. Lewes Majority 1083 (2.1%)
16. Plymouth Moor View Majority 1026 (2.4%)
17. Bedford Majority 1097 (2.4%)
18. Lincoln Majority 1443 (3%)
19. Thornbury & Yate Majority 1495 (3.1%)
20. Twickenham Majority 2017 (3.3%)
21. Peterborough Majority 1925 (4.1%)
22. Cardiff North Majority 2137 (4.1%)
23. Corby Majority 2412 (4.3%)
24. Waveney Majority 2408 (4.6%)
25. Warrington South Majority 2750 (4.6%)
26. Kingston & Surbiton Majority 2834 (4.7%)
27. St Ives Majority 2469 (5.1%)
28. Southampton, Itchen Majority 2316 (5.2%)
29. South Thanet Majority 2812 (5.7%)
30. Keighley Majority 3053 (6.2%)
31. North Warwickshire Majority 2973 (6.3%)
32. Carlisle Majority 2774 (6.5%)
33. Torbay Majority 3286 (6.9%)
34. Halesowen & Rowley Regis Majority 3082 (7%)
35. Crewe & Nantwich Majority 3620 (7.3%)
36. Erewash Majority 3584 (7.4%)
37. Hendon Majority 3724 (7.5%)
38. Ipswich Majority 3733 (7.7%)
39. Sutton & Cheam Majority 3921 (7.8%)
40. Broxtowe Majority 4287 (8%)
41. Stroud Majority 4866 (8%)
42. Bath Majority 3833 (8.1%)
43. Calder Valley Majority 4427 (8.2%)
44. Northampton North Majority 3245 (8.3%)
45. Blackpool North & Cleveleys Majority 3340 (8.4%)
46. Pudsey Majority 4501 (8.8%)
47. Sherwood Majority 4647 (9.1%)
48. Amber Valley Majority 4205 (9.2%)
49. Yeovil Majority 5313 (9.4%)
50. Hastings & Rye Majority 4796 (9.4%)
51. Colne Valley Majority 5378 (9.4%)
52. Bristol North West Majority 4944 (9.5%)
53. Harrow East Majority 4757 (9.7%)
54. High Peak Majority 4894 (9.7%)
55. Stockton South Majority 5046 (9.8%)
56. Northampton South Majority 3793 (9.8%)
57. Boston & Skegness Majority 4336 (10%)
58. Norwich North Majority 4463 (10.2%)
59. Stevenage Majority 4955 (10.3%)
60. Enfield, Southgate Majority 4753 (10.4%)
61. Cannock Chase Majority 4923 (10.5%)
62. Nuneaton Majority 4882 (10.6%)
63. Morecambe & Lunesdale Majority 4590 (10.6%)
64. Dudley South Majority 4270 (11.2%)
65. Finchley & Golders Green Majority 5662 (11.2%)
66. South Ribble Majority 5945 (11.3%)
67. Worcester Majority 5646 (11.3%)
68. Colchester Majority 5575 (11.4%)
69. Rossendale & Darwen Majority 5654 (11.5%)
70. South Swindon Majority 5785 (11.7%)
71. Cheadle Majority 6453 (12.1%)
72. Cheltenham Majority 6516 (12.1%)
73. Berwick-upon-Tweed Majority 4914 (12.2%)
74. Preseli Pembrokeshire Majority 4969 (12.3%)
75. Pendle Majority 5453 (12.3%)
76. Portsmouth South Majority 5241 (12.5%)
77. Dover Majority 6294 (12.6%)
78. Brecon & Radnorshire Majority 5102 (12.8%)
79. Reading East Majority 6520 (12.9%)
80. Warwick & Leamington Majority 6606 (13%)
81. Scarborough & Whitby Majority 6200 (13%)
82. Aberconwy Majority 3999 (13.3%)
83. North Devon Majority 6936 (13.3%)
84. Wells Majority 7585 (13.3%)
85. Crawley Majority 6526 (13.4%)
86. Vale of Glamorgan Majority 6880 (13.4%)
87. Rochester & Strood Majority 7133 (13.6%)
88. Gloucester Majority 7251 (13.7%)
89. Great Yarmouth Majority 6154 (13.8%)
90. North Cornwall Majority 6621 (13.8%)
91. Reading West Majority 6650 (13.8%)
92. Stourbridge Majority 6694 (14.5%)
93. Chipping Barnet Majority 7656 (14.5%)
94. Milton Keynes South Majority 8672 (14.7%)
95. Elmet & Rothwell Majority 8490 (14.7%)
96. Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire Majority 6054 (15%)
97. Hazel Grove Majority 6552 (15.2%)
98. Camborne & Redruth Majority 7004 (15.2%)
99. Battersea Majority 7938 (15.6%)
100. Montgomeryshire Majority 5325 (15.7%)
101. Redditch Majority 7054 (16%)
102. St Austell & Newquay Majority 8173 (16.2%)
103. Eastleigh Majority 9147 (16.5%)
104. Gravesham Majority 8370 (16.7%)
105. Oxford West & Abingdon Majority 9582 (16.8%)
106. South Basildon & East Thurrock Majority 7691 (16.9%)
107. Milton Keynes North Majority 9753 (16.9%)
108. Cleethorpes Majority 7893 (17.5%)
109. Watford Majority 9794 (17.5%)
110. Loughborough Majority 9183 (17.6%)
111. Clwyd West Majority 6730 (17.7%)
112. Shrewsbury & Atcham Majority 9565 (17.7%)
113. Chippenham Majority 10076 (18.2%)
114. Canterbury Majority 9798 (18.4%)
115. Kingswood Majority 9006 (18.7%)
116. Stafford Majority 9177 (18.8%)
117. Harlow Majority 8350 (18.9%)
118. Shipley Majority 9624 (19%)
119. Chingford & Woodford Green Majority 8386 (19.1%)
120. Isle of Wight Majority 13703 (19.5%)
121. Castle Point Majority 8934 (19.7%)
122. Filton & Bradley Stoke Majority 9838 (20.1%)
123. Bosworth Majority 10988 (20.5%)
124. Basingstoke Majority 11063 (20.9%)
125. Bexleyheath & Crayford Majority 9192 (21.1%)
126. Kensington Majority 7361 (21.2%)
127. Rugby Majority 10345 (21.2%)
128. Maidstone & The Weald Majority 10709 (21.4%)
129. Rochford & Southend East Majority 9476 (21.7%)
130. North West Leicestershire Majority 11373 (22.1%)
131. Forest of Dean Majority 10987 (22.2%)
132. Gillingham & Rainham Majority 10530 (22.4%)
133. East Devon Majority 18531 (22.4%)
134. North Swindon Majority 11786 (22.5%)
135. South Derbyshire Majority 11471 (22.6%)
136. Mid Dorset and North Poole Majority 10530 (22.6%)
137. Burton Majority 11252 (22.8%)
138. Monmouth Majority 10982 (23.1%)
139. Beverley & Holderness Majority 12203 (23.1%)
140. Portsmouth North Majority 10537 (23.2%)
141. North Thanet Majority 10948 (23.3%)
142. St Albans Majority 12732 (23.3%)
143. Newton Abbot Majority 11288 (23.4%)
144. Solihull Majority 12902 (23.5%)
145. Dartford Majority 12345 (23.6%)
146. Hornchurch & Upminster Majority 13074 (23.7%)
147. The Wrekin Majority 10743 (23.7%)
148. Putney Majority 10180 (23.8%)
149. Uxbridge & Ruislip South Majority 10695 (23.8%)
150. Tamworth Majority 11302 (23.9%)
Comments - 474 Responses on “Conservative Defence”
  1. It’s going to be very very close either way, that much is for certain.

    But if Sinn Fein get five MPs again or however many, they won’t go to Westminster as they are abstentionist.

    I think in the end we’ll see some sort of minority govrnement in the short-term, be it Tory or Labour. I just don’t see how we can really have another coaltion TBH.

  2. I think you’re underestimating the power of inertia. If the election produces a result where Tory and LD ministers are able to just carry on as before with their red boxes and limousines we might find that they suddenly find themselves in agreement with each other and the coalition continues.

  3. I’m going to throw this one out here since this has become a debate on the entire outcome of the election.

    I think the debates make a big difference on the polls, as we saw in 2010. I really think Cameron will rip apart Ed having watched the PMQs…

  4. Do you personally think that the Lib-Con coalition will actually continue Andy?

    I don’t think they will, that’s my view, though I could well turn out to be wrong and you right.

  5. Going back a few posts…

    I agree with “The Results” that s/he has every right to post on here but it is entirely true that the post s/he made earlier was very bland and without a lot of meaning.

    It gave a set of %ages which are hardly any different to what the polls are currently showing. In other words it defies just about every pointer of historical precedent going.

    But in fairness The Results is not the only person guilty of that on this site. A number of people have insisted that swing back theory cannot apply this time because this parliament “is unlike any other”. Well, you can say that about every parliament.

    What disappoints me is the continuing inability to think out of the box and to recognise what the underlying poll ratings on leadership qualities and economic competence are saying about how the polls will likely change between now and next May.

    Simply regurgitating what the current polls are saying and calling that a “prediction” is superfluous. However, at least some of you are not doing that – for example, a couple of you have indicated that you think it will be close in terms of parliamentary seats – well that is surely an acknowledgement that you now accept that the Tories are like to end up a good 3 or 4 points ahead of Labour in the popular vote (which is, itself, a significant swing back compared with the current position).

  6. look, we all know where various posters are…you think the tories will win the popular vote and most seats…some people think the tories will win the popular vote and labour the most seats, while others think labour will outpoll the tories and get most seats….

    let’s just leave it at that…you can’t force people, robin hood, into adopting your thinking. i prefer the baxter electoral calculus approach, and think his site will show labour as the largest party…i don’t think actual % vote share is relevant, as that isn’t what determines the actual number of seats in the house of commons.

  7. ‘Simply regurgitating what the current polls are saying and calling that a “prediction” is superfluous’

    Correct. The problem is people want to use the polls to support their hopes and fears rather than anything else.

  8. If someone’s account is clearly aligned to a political party like Robin’s is perhaps we should take whatever they say with a pinch of salt.

    How do people actually get it so that it clearly shows which party you’re in when you comment?

  9. Robbie: after you log in, there should be a tab on the left hand side for extended profile.

    As for Robin’s profile choice, I actually have a lot of respect for those who nail their colours to the mast on this site: doing so makes it MORE difficult for them to make an unduly partisan prediction, and the end result tends to be that those people produce insightful contributions. Once I have chosen how I’m going to vote in my constituency I will do likewise.

  10. “But in fairness The Results is not the only person guilty of that on this site.”

    But he is the only one who does this 100 times per day. As well as the banality and repetition, it is the sheer volume of The Results postings which is so tiresome. Very commonly there are hardly any other commentators’ names on the Recent Comments bar. It is no doubt because of these daily piles of horse dung that we do not often get to hear the expert insights from the likes of Pete which used to make this site so good. Such people no doubt feel they have better things to do than post on what increasingly resembles an autistic therapy group site.

    There should be a policy of moderating out excessive posting, excessive repetition and sheer banality. Someone on here advised me a few months ago that perhaps Vote UK was now a better place for the kind of discussions we had here in the old days, before the site became infested with the problems it has today. I have resisted switching over for sentimental reasons as I have been posting here since the site began in 2006, but I don’t see another option as The Results and his ilk refuse to take comments on board and the moderation policy continues to permit what is effectively spamming the threads with crap.

  11. Please stop having a go at me. I’ll admit I’m not perfect, all right but stop going on about my posting style.

    I post here because I enjoy the site and I enjoy hearing other people’s views about polling and psephology, am I not allowed to be a part of that?

    I am sorry but who are you to tell me who I am or what I do, I’ll do as I see fit and that is my decision to post on here because I enjoy doing it. If you’ve got anything against me, why not just air it on here for the whole world to read eh?

    I would stop posting on here for a while but I instantly come here looking for new information about candidates, by-elections and predictions and so on, so often I’ll still post in response. I am offended by your use of the term autistic therapy group- that is shocking and I think you should withdraw that term, and I think you know why.

    Trust me, it’s not me who’s making this site unreadable at the moment Hemmelig…

  12. “As well as the banality and repetition, it is the sheer volume of The Results postings which is so tiresome.”

    But not as tiresome as HH’s self appointed role as board police.

  13. I look forward to chatting with the regulars from here over on Vote UK. This will be my final post here.

  14. Without wanting to sound sanctimonious (like a Lib Dem) I do think that these ad hominem attacks are a bit unfair.

    However, I agree with H.Hemmelig that posting on this site does seem to have got somewhat tedious recently, mainly because of repetition and stating the absolute obvious. I ask for forgiveness if my ramblings have fallen into that category.

    Nonetheless, we must ensure that the level of discourse here does not sink to the personally abusive levels of the old Spectator ‘Coffee House’ wall.

  15. …..and I’m sorry to hear that you’re leaving, H. Hemmelig. The site will be poorer without you. I hope you reconsider in due course.

  16. It’s like this site has grown it’s own little community haha

  17. “Do you personally think that the Lib-Con coalition will actually continue Andy?
    I don’t think they will, that’s my view, though I could well turn out to be wrong and you right.”

    I don’t know. The only point I was making was that if Tories and LDs have enough MPs to carry on with the coalition they might surprise even themselves with a new-found ability to get on with each other. Sometimes the attraction of holding onto power can sweep all other problems away.

  18. my honest belief is that the con/Lib coalition will continue but I don’t have a vast understanding of how it works.

    I think that combination could fall 4 or 5 seats short , the greens and UKIP could get that? I don’t really understand exactly how it works.

  19. I am sorry to hear that H Hemmelig is leaving. It will be a great loss to the site and although I hope that he will reconsider his decision, I understand his reasons for leaving.

    I haven’t posted here for that long but I have noticed that people have disappeared from here during my time on the site. I hope that this trend will not continue as I found many of the contributions on the archived 2010 site to be very informative.

  20. ”I don’t know. The only point I was making was that if Tories and LDs have enough MPs to carry on with the coalition they might surprise even themselves with a new-found ability to get on with each other. Sometimes the attraction of holding onto power can sweep all other problems away.”

    @AndyJS
    I’m not so sure about that I’m afraid. I think it would prove to be very unpopular indeed in the long-term, and the electorate would continue to give both parties a kicking in the polls. I’m not saying it won’t happen, just that if it does happen, it probably wouldn’t be best for the country as a whole.

  21. “My honest belief is that the con/Lib coalition will continue but I don’t have a vast understanding of how it works.”

    I don’t see how that can be likely given the scale of the Lib Dem collapse so long as Scotland votes no and the election is fought on the same boundaries. Never mind “swing back,” if you look at the cross-breaks for YouGov’s national polls there’s been comparatively little direct swing from Conservative to Labour in the first place. Most of Labour’s gain in vote share has been from the Lib Dems and I can’t see why those voters would switch back in large numbers.

    In order to form a viable government (not even the most favourable option) the coalition parties need to net lose 37 or fewer seats between them. If the Lib Dems lose fewer than 10 seats directly to Labour, Nationalists and others they can consider themselves to have got off very very lightly, on current trends. That leaves 27 Conservative losses required to make a continued coalition unviable.

    Andy JS produced this helpful spreadsheet of Labour targets sorted by the ratio of the Lib Dem vote share to the Conservative majority.

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0At91c3wX1Wu5dE0wZTMyZW1nYko1TE15MDVJVF8zYXc#gid=0

    Looking at the first 27 names on that list it only takes you into the territory where the Conservative majority is a quarter of the Lib Dem vote share. If a quarter of 2010 Lib Dem voters switch to Labour in those seats, then Labour gains those seats even before you take into account potential Conservative loss of vote share to UKIP.

    This is the axiomatic problem for the Conservatives and the coalition. In order to maintain the status quo they have to basically stand still, in order to build on that (possibly for an overall majority) they need to make gains, and neither of those things seem likely.

  22. ”I don’t see how that can be likely given the scale of the Lib Dem collapse so long as Scotland votes no and the election is fought on the same boundaries. Never mind “swing back,” if you look at the cross-breaks for YouGov’s national polls there’s been comparatively little direct swing from Conservative to Labour in the first place. Most of Labour’s gain in vote share has been from the Lib Dems and I can’t see why those voters would switch back in large numbers.
    In order to form a viable government (not even the most favourable option) the coalition parties need to net lose 37 or fewer seats between them. If the Lib Dems lose fewer than 10 seats directly to Labour, Nationalists and others they can consider themselves to have got off very very lightly, on current trends. That leaves 27 Conservative losses required to make a continued coalition unviable.”

    @Hannah I agree entirely with all that.
    It just seems highly unlikely. If anything, I would say personally that there’s more chance of the Lib Dems going into coalition with Labour, though I do hope we have a single party government whatever happens.

    I think the Lib Dems will definitely lose more than 10 seats to Labour and others, it’s difficult to see really how they can’t I agree. As a result, I can’t see how a much reduced Lib Dem party in numbers at Westminster would be able to shore up the Conservatives again if they are short of a majority but finish ahead of Labour in seats.

    ”This is the axiomatic problem for the Conservatives and the coalition. In order to maintain the status quo they have to basically stand still, in order to build on that (possibly for an overall majority) they need to make gains, and neither of those things seem likely.”

    Exactly. Both parties look set to decrease in vote share, and I think the Lib Dems are probably on for a pretty bad fall in vote, possibly down more than 10% in the popular vote. And the Tories might lose about 2-3% if there isn’t enough of this ‘swingback’ by 2015, so the fact is, it looks as though that for both coalition parties, they’ll both lose net seats and votes, and I should think on that basis they’d be most unlikely to carry on in coalition together, I just can’t see it happening again between 2015 and 2020.

  23. Well, I can. I think it is conceivable at least that the Tories and the Lib Dems will together win 325 plus seats. I’m not saying that this is a firm prediction, but it certainly well within the viable range of possibilities in 9 months time.

  24. @Chrishornet
    ‘Although in response to Graham’s points, 1966 and October 1979 are examples where a party either in minority or with a wafer thin majority did well during the campaign.’

    In both cases – March 1966 and October 1974 – the Labour lead was well short of what polls were predicting at the beginning of the campaign.

  25. Robin: I think we are likely to see quite varying results both with regard to region and some particular constituencies.
    I think swingback is less relevant because clearly much of the LibDem vote will not swing to the Tories.
    Also the Tory vote wouldn’t be swing back as they have been fairly static and there is no real evidence that Labour voters are likely to move to them in the north in particular.
    Indeed they don’t have a majority today because of both regipnal difference and because there appears to be a ceiling on their possible support.
    We also don’t know what impact Ukip will have but it seems more likely to affect the Tory vote overall.

  26. I would estimate that there is about a 10% chance of the conservative/liberal democrat coalition continuing after 2015…

  27. according to electoral calculus if an election was held TOMORROW:

    con majority- 13%
    lab majority- 61%
    Con/Lib coalition- 5%
    Lib/Lab coalition- 11%
    Lib majority- 0%
    Lib choice of coalition- 0%
    No overall control- 10%

    This government has been tough on the people and when that happens it’s fair to predict that the opposition vote will decrease coming up to the election. Here’s my odds for 2015-

    con majority- 22%
    Lab Majority- 19%
    Con/Lib- 20%
    Lib/Lab- 29%

    okay basically my point is anything could happen…

  28. especially seen as that prediction only added to 90%…

  29. The other 10% is no overall control. That was it.

  30. @Robbie

    It’s interesting that you’ve put a Conservative overall majority as 3% more likely than a Labour one (and 2% more likely than a continued Lib-Con coalition). In order to get an overall majority the Conservatives need to make a net gain of 19 seats. Presuming they don’t lose a single seat, which do you think those 19 seats are likely to be and why?

  31. If you look at the lib dem defense you’ll find that there’s a lot of seats there that a doomed to fall to tories.

    A labour majority would requite them getting a net profit of 62 seats, I highly doubt that. Even if an election was held tomorrow that’d be wishful thinking and if history does repeat itself , I think the tories will go into 2015 with a solid 3 point lead or possibly more.

    But both are possible, right now any assumptions cannot be made for sure…

  32. The Liberal Democrats are certainly vulnerable to the Conservatives in many seats but he general consensus seems to be that they are unlikely to lose anywhere near 19 of them, and if they did it would be an appallingly bad night for them. Nevertheless it’s not out of the question. However if they did it would be through losing some votes to abstention, some to Greens and Nationalists, perhaps, but mainly to Labour. This in seats where Labour are largely moribund (<10% in most cases and even <5% in some) with a disproportionate number of incumbent MPs with positive personal votes, and a tradition of tactical voting.

    In order for this to lead to a Conservative OM, the Conservatives would have to lose few or no seats directly to Labour. This would require Labour to simultaneously not squeeze the Lib Dem vote at all in Lab-Con marginals (look at the tiny majorities at the top of this page), seats where the Lib Dem vote is much softer with no incumbency and where the tactical considerations are in the opposite direction.

    Meanwhile, a Labour OM is far from guaranteed but is achievable if they squeeze the 2010 Lib Dems really hard, there's some small swing directly from the Conservatives and UKIP saps the Conservative vote further, all very possible.

  33. SURE THAT the lib dems drop votes to labour, yet they may hold on to more seats than people think,
    dont forget in 2010 they lost a few seats, but did show a small increase in share of the vote,
    labour have a base of approx 29% and i think they are more than sure to increase that share, conservative vote is going to suffer a little under pressure from ukip, or put another way it’s up for grabs. also do the lib dem party members want to continue with the tories, er i think they would make overtures to labour, kind of political whores.

  34. Sorry to post here- don’t know where else. (May be there should be general, general election thread available. ..such as….’General Election -Overall’)

    Since the GE campaign started in earnest today I thought I would offer my prediction. I did a few hours work on this and used 4 sources of information which I weighted. A little unusual and not entirely scientific but I have attempted to pull together 3 sources of opinions plus any polls.
    ————————————————————————————————————-
    Prediction for GE2015: as things stand now.
    The following was arrived at using:…. % weighting given
    ASHCROFT polls where found…………………………35%
    electionforecast.co.uk. votes share predictions..25%
    bookmakers & exchanges markets ………………….25%
    electoralcalculus.co.uk votes share predictions..10%
    my own judgements. ………………………………………..5%

    CON…278……..-24
    LAB. ..300…….+45
    LD……..27……..-29
    SNP…..18…….+12
    UKIP……4………+2 (Clacton/ThanetS/BostonS/Thurrock)
    PC………2……….-1
    GRN……1 (hold)
    SPKR….1
    ??……….1. (Watford)
    NI……..18

    The 1 seat ?? WATFORD is so close using the three sources (that is: they contradict/disagree) I cannot separate a winner.

    There 43 seats that are very close and the winner has only just been ahead using the information I have applied. For examples:

    Cheltenham, Nrth Devon & Portsmouth S. Southport. LD HOLDs
    Dudley S., Great Yarmouth…..CON HOLDs
    Northampton Nrth, Nuneaton, Southampton Itchen..LAB GAINs
    All Glasgow seats – LAB except GLASGOW NORTH – SNP

    Any, or all, of these 43 seats could go to another party that I have selected of course.

  35. BBC NEWS: “The Labour, Lib Dem and UKIP leaders will ask broadcasters to press ahead with general election TV debates even if David Cameron refuses to take part.

    Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage have written to Mr Cameron saying it would be “unacceptable” for the prime minister to refuse to appear. Mr Cameron has said he will take part only if the Green Party is included.
    The leaders said they would call for an empty podium to be provided “should you have a last-minute change of heart”.

    I don’t think the broadcasters will empty chair the PM – if they tried would it be allowed by the Electoral Commission?

    Is a 5/4/3/2 format possible acceptable to all?

    My own view is that they will not go ahead – the Conservatives will not allow Farage to further steal their votes without Labour losing some to Greens. They still think the 2010 debates lost them the GE2010.

  36. The interesting thing is, how much harm will it do him politically? I guess not a lot. If you’ve already decided to vote Tory, it’s not going to make any difference.

  37. Empty chairing the Prime Minister in a TV debate would clearly be illegal under election coverage rules, and frankly the broadcasters would not dare to do it, for fear of reprisals should the Tories be re-elected. Internet debates are a greyer area, though leading blogs etc are also subject to election coverage rules now.

    The parties know all of this perfectly well…instead of demanding an empty chair, the other parties should have written to the Electoral Commission saying they have no problem with the Greens appearing in at least one debate, thus calling Cameron’s bluff.

  38. I think the most likely scenario is now no debates.

  39. ‘The interesting thing is, how much harm will it do him politically? I guess not a lot.’

    I think it will do him damage – not because he won’t be able to state the Tory case on the main issues in the election, modst of us will now that bu the time of the debates, but because it looks like he’s a bottler, has something hide and isn’t ‘man’ or even decent enough to defend his government’s record – which is essentially what he will be doing for much of the debates

    I think that’s precisely the sort of thing that will put off potential swing voters voting Tory

    The othger oarties should definitely call his bluff – although it probably suits them to portray Cameron as the staller

    Yet another issue where leadership from Mr Cameron has been totally lacking

  40. It makes Cameron look slippery and untrustworthy. A 2 minute Google search is all it takes to remind voters that Cameron is the one who was calling loudest for debates in 2010, which Brown to his credit accepted.

    Constantly prioritising short-term expediency over the longer-term good in decisions like this seriously undermines the key plank of the Tory campaign, ie “the long term economic plan”.

  41. Absolutely

    It again shows how massively out of touch he is not recognising the political damage his refusal to take part – which is obviously how the other parties are portraying it – could cause

    Like so many of these things, Cameron has maximised the damage caused as eventually he will have to climb down and agree to take part

    And it’s not as if with the economy now recovering he doesn’t have a narrative

    He clearly does and this saga merely underlines, as does his feeble response to UKIP, Cameron’s complete lack of leadership qualities

  42. “Empty chairing the Prime Minister in a TV debate would clearly be illegal under election coverage rules”

    HH – is that definitely right? I would have thought that as long as the invitation has been made to all (in a fair and reasonable way), if one declined to attend then there would be no offence by the broadcaster in proceeding?

    Whether they would want to and/or be nervous about it is a whole different question of course…

  43. Given the stance he took in 2010 it would be very hypocritical for Cameron to shun them now. Despite that, however, he can still cite the PMs who declined – without suffering the threat of ‘an empty chair’. Blair declined three times – Major did the same in 1992 as did Thatcher in 1987,1983 & 1979. I am not sure that the Broadcasters could justify going ahead without Cameron given that they failed to do so on those earlier occasions.

  44. “HH – is that definitely right? I would have thought that as long as the invitation has been made to all (in a fair and reasonable way), if one declined to attend then there would be no offence by the broadcaster in proceeding?”

    I think you’re right that it’s not an open and shut case. However in today’s litigious and risk averse world, that would most likely result in broadcasters’ lawyers advising against holding debates, just to be safe.

    “Blair declined three times – Major did the same in 1992 as did Thatcher in 1987,1983 & 1979.”

    But both Thatcher and Blair were completely consistent. They never wanted a debate and never took part in one. Cameron wanted and took part in debates when it suited him politically, and is refusing when it is not in his interests. Major’s conversion to debates in 1997 can be seen as utter desperation – no-one can begrudge him that given how terribly his own party treated him.

  45. The problem with empty-chairing Cameron is it makes the debates look, well, pointless.

    Every one of the key players in this discussion are doing what they perceive to be in their own best interests:
    Ed Miliband needs to gamble to try and raise his personal ratings.
    Nick Clegg’s got absolutely nothing to lose.
    Farage just wants as much airtime as he can get.
    The Greens obviously want the publicity as well.
    Ed and Nick don’t want the Greens if they can help it ’cause they might damage their own chances
    (UKIP couldn’t give two hoots whether or nor the Greens are involved).

    The broadcasters think they’ll get good viewing figures, and probably hope it’ll keep them relevant in an internet/social network election.

    Cameron has by far the most to lose by taking part (Brown of course was doing so badly in the polls last time that it was worth the risk).
    Cameron’s decision may be a short-term tactical mistake, in terms of taking heat from turning it down, but I think it’s strategically the right thing to do (I think I got that the right way round).

    Agreeing to the debates last time around was probably the right thing to do in the short term in order to appear open, and to try to exploit Cameron’s positive personal ratings.
    However in the end I think they were a strategic mistake because it gave fuel to the Lib Dems (even if that petered out somewhat in the closing stages).

  46. ‘Thatcher and Blair were completely consistent. They never wanted a debate…’

    I think I’ve read Thatcher did want debates at some point, but was talked out of it. Might be wrong.

    ‘Cameron wanted and took part in debates when it suited him politically, and is refusing when it is not in his interests’

    Everyone now, bar Cameron, wants the debates because it suits them politically. If it didn’t then they wouldn’t want them. That’s politics… and it’s logical even if it’s not ‘pure’ democracy.

  47. Debates without the Prime Minister are very unlikely to take place IMO as no-one would be interested in watching them.

  48. People keep rubbishing the idea of Cleggmania, and I think they’re thinking about it wrong. Yes, the Lib Dems only did one point better than they did in 2005. But they did about six points better than they were polling before the debates.

    Anyway, debates. I actually think if Natalie Bennett took part she’d do relatively poorly, and Miliband could turn it to his advantage by pointing out some of their loonier policies (negotiating with ISIS) while presenting himself as the reasonable, centre-left option who won’t make impossible promises.

    However, she’s not a hope of being included in TV debates (though she might be online).

    As for Farage, I find it hard to believe there are still many people who have yet to experience his blokey, man of the people stuff so I suspect he can’t soar that high from a debate. I have no doubt it would give them a boost and probably harm Cameron though.

    Clegg looks as though he can’t fall further, but only about half the current LD VI say they’ll definitely vote for them. He really really shouldn’t want this, as he might get his voters nabbed by either a centre-leaning, Farage-dodging Cameron or a liberal centre-left Bennett-blocking Miliband.

    Cameron could do himself some good if he can rally round moderate voters (particularly LDs) to support his party against UKIP where they’re a threat. If Miliband and Clegg do badly, he could emerge the winner. But on balance, it’s quite high risk for him at not a huge potential for reward.

  49. “Agreeing to the debates last time around was probably the right thing to do in the short term in order to appear open, and to try to exploit Cameron’s positive personal ratings.
    However in the end I think they were a strategic mistake because it gave fuel to the Lib Dems (even if that petered out somewhat in the closing stages).”

    That’s a very common view but I do not think it stands up to scrutiny. The Cleggasm took a lot of votes from Labour in marginal seats which the Tories were able to win as a consequence. The unwinding of this vote back to Labour will win them most of these seats back in 2015.

    It’s perfectly possible that Cameron would have got even fewer seats in 2010 without the debates because Lab-LD switching would have been lower.

  50. I agree and it’s not as if he won’t be seen or heard. He’ll be filmed campaigning, interviews, morning press conferences (if they still have them). I suppose it might put off some floating voters but that would be purely on their opinion of him for not agreeing to the debates. There are the Tories’ manifesto, their record in government, your opinion of the other leaders and their policies – plenty to go on.

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