Tory sleaze?

Yesterday I had a post up on PoliticsHome looking at some of the recent Phi5000 results, specifically Caroline Spelman’s ratings.

Since the first revelations about her once paying her nanny from public funds came to light her ratings have slumped. There’s nothing particularly surprising about that, bad news story leads to negative perception about that politician. The question is whether it is damaging the wider party, and the answer appears to be yes. Comparing the figures for Spelman to the figures for how people see the Conservative party itself it’s clear that at the same time as “nannygate” broke, the proportion of people seeing the Conservatives as “corrupt” rose from 21% to 26%, and has stayed up. It is perhaps unfair to blame it all on her, it was about the same time that the Tory leader in the European Parliament resigned, but it still doesn’t look good.

13 Responses to “Tory sleaze?”

  1. Frankly, I think we have got away with it pretty lightly – but there could be more damage to come if these stories and cases don’t stop.
    Spelman should be sacked.

  2. General poll figures seem to be holding up though so I wonder if this really matters. Is it a case of absolute values being important or just relative ones? Next to Labour they’re still generally favourable, but I guess disapproval of politicians of all parties might lead to a lower turnout which would benefit the current government.

    I wonder whether we’ll see anything from the Ray Lewis affair and (less likely) the Oliver Letwin thing.

    Still, I suspect while Gordon Brown is running around telling people to save food to save money it won’t make a huge difference – it’s hardly a strategy to inspire families struggling to make ends meet that the government have it all in hand.

  3. “it’s hardly a strategy to inspire families struggling to make ends meet” . Sorry,Jon H, but I think a report showing that families waste £420 a year on unused food is actually quite a good thing.

    Also, Brown is encouraging people to take personal responsibilty by advocating a bit more meal planning. If we are indeed moving from “big” government to localised, personalised decision-making, it’s a strategy that is in tune with the polls.

    As long as the corrupt ones continue to get fired, I don’t think there’ll be much mileage, as we’ve come to expect it by now.

  4. The question is, do people thinking a party is corrupt make them less likely to vote for it? One might intunitively think ‘yes’ but the evidence does not tally, with Labour winning in 2005 despite a wide reputation for corruption. Of course, people probably thought the Conservtaives were just as bad.

    People always think the Liberals are the least corrupt party- if it was a big issue, surely voters would flock to the least sleazy and least corrupt party. I think the deeper truth is that people believe, and are fairly comfortable with, the idea that most mainstream parties and politicians are corrupt to lesser or greater extents.

    Surely the electorate of Italy knew Bellisconi was corrupt but they still voted for him!

  5. Today’s article by Jackie Ashley in the Guardian (see link below) sums up the Tory sleaze, and also the hapless Boris positions, really well. Basically she thinks internal contradictions within the Tory tent will unravel but not until after they have won the next GE, as voters are so fed up with Labour and their poll lead too large for Labour to come back from.


  6. As always we must wait and see what effect the ‘sleaze’ has on poll ratings.

    Of course what forms peopls opinions is the result of a mixed picture of issues and it take a while for the accumulation of publicity on a subject to stick to one or other party.

    The 10p tax debacle took about three weeks to feed though wage packets after it became law at the start of the tax year and began to hit the poll ratings of Labour, and it has taken more than a decade to ‘decontaminate’ the tory brand on a variety of issues, so I suspect a trade-off between the least-worst aspects is currently in play in the public mind when we come decide for ourselves.

    As I’ve said previously the growth in the DK/other statistic is the significant factor which best shows the hightening disillusion regarding standards in public life – up from 1-3% at the start of this site’s record to 10-11% currently.

    I think it would be informative for Anthony to start showing the status of UKIP/Green/BNP popularity or at least differentiate between other and don’t knows in this light – the politicians might then have some real data with which to inform a practical response.

  7. thomas – don’t knows are not including in the “other” score anyway, it is solely minor parties. Don’t knows are either excluded entirely (in MORI and YouGov polls) or partially excluded and partially assumed to be voting for the party they supported in 2005 (ICM and Populus).

    I’ll try and collate numbers, but from a brief look at don’t knows there doesn’t seem to be any obvious trend. In YouGov polls around 13-14% normally say don’t know

  8. Thanks Anthony, I think that’d be great.

    Complete exclusion of DKs/others (and equally their aggregation or use of equivalent weighting) discounts this factor far too easily in my view, which lets the parties of government and opposition off the hook.

    It is a similar argument as that regarding turnout, as both can only offer any conclusions when calculations are measured over a long enough timescale.

    Are there any offers of insight as to why the total polling share of the 3 major parties has fallen so far in 15 years except as a result of sleaze?

  9. I wonder to what extent the issue of “Tory sleaze” in particular has been hyped up by the media in general now that the Conservatives are serious contenders to govern the country and that Labour under Gordon Brown has recently hit such depths in the polls? Had Labour still been in the lead now as they were a year ago this issue would probably be the least of David Cameron’s worries.

  10. I think a report showing that families waste £420 a year on unused food is actually quite a good thing.

    Perhaps we need to look at use by / best before dates that supermarkets put on. working in the food industry, I am aware that the dates are put significantly lower so the dates come and go and consumers will throw them out and buy new thus spending more.

    Also, heard a report today that one govt department threw out 20 tonnes of food waste last year. Sounds like the govt should practice what they preach

  11. Andy, I’m not sure that this is something that can be hyped by the media, or indeed that the media are able to initiate campaigns wholly themselves.

    The facts are the facts and incompetence or incoherence will out as events process through the cycle.

    If Boris hadn’t become mayor Ray Lewis wouldn’t have come under scrutiny.

    If the government hadn’t passed the FoI act it wouldn’t have been forced to release details of expenses etc etc.

    There is never any valid excuse for the blatant abuse of public office or public money, whether by elected or unelected officials – it is all part of making society more accountable.

    So whether it is the MoD or the person in charge of compliance to the regulations (Spelman) it is in both our and their own interests to enforce the rules to raise the standard of the game.

  12. Is there a PC-euphemism for fraud? We have MPs demanding consistent punishment for benefit misclaims, yet have rejected transparency in their expenses in a recent vote. And the benefit fraud figures (according to Michael Dunne, MP) were reclassified to suit the Government’s agenda!

    Spelman should go, and Hain should be fitted-out for a prisoners uniform. Will it happen, I doubt it. Do I care, or am I just fed-up with the whole sorry bunch of under-performers? You guess….