There is a new ComRes poll in tomorrow’s Independent, with topline figures of CON 36%(-3), LAB 25%(+3), LDEM 19%(+1). Others are collectively on 20%.

The topline figures would appear to show a swing back towards Labour – the 11 point lead is still enough for the Conservatives to secure an overall majority, but is the lowest Conservative lead since the end of last month. However, it’s important to note that ComRes have made a substantial change to their methodology this month.

Regular readers will know that ComRes used to use a method of past vote weighting that was quite confusing, and which seemed to result in them weighting to different targets each month. That’s now gone, and they are now weighting recalled past vote to a target made up 75% of the last general election result, and 25% the average of ComRes’s last 12 polls. My expectation is that this should result in some more consistent, less volatile figures.

ComRes’s new past vote weighting should on paper be almost identical to ICM’s method. Note that this doesn’t mean ComRes’s methodology is entirely comparable to ICM’s – there are still important differences. ComRes use a “squeeze question” to coax intentions out of people who don’t give a voting intention, ICM don’t. Secondly, ICM then rellocate 50% of don’t knows to the party they voted for in 2005. ComRes reallocate don’t knows to the party they identify with (and, as far as I can tell, they re-allocate all of them).

Other questions in the poll included which party people trusted more to “decide where spending cuts should be made” – 31% said the Conservatives, 21% Labour and 14% the Lib Dems, so pretty much in line with voting intention.

UPDATE: Full tables are here.


97 Responses to “Tory lead down to 11 with ComRes”

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  1. ‘ALEC

    I don’t know, but I get the feeling a lot of senior Tories don’t like Cameron. ‘

    Umm- Perhaps because Cameron’s young and is attempting to connect with the centre ground and not rely on Tories who use public money to clean out their moat?

  2. @Jack – I think its more down to his habit of forcing decisions without discussion and running the show with a select central clique. This mirrors first Blair, then Brown. Its a recipe to get out of touch very rapidly, and leads to lack of widespread loyalty – ‘it wasn’t my idea in the first place’ – once things go wrong.
    As for your moat comment – although I’m not defending the fellow, that money was never paid, whereas a serving shadow minister was deemed to have avoided paying £25K CG tax but keeps her seat and front bench post. This is why Cameron upsets people – if you’re his friend you’re OK, but if you’re not its back to the shires for you. It also displays his total lack of principle, which is another issue altogether.

  3. MARK SENIOR.

    I actually don’t believe a YES vote in the Lisbon Treaty would be worse for the Conservatives than a NO vote,indeed i think a YES vote may be better for the Tory’s,in respect to winning the GE.

    Cameron has said a NO vote would then trigger a UK vote if & when he becomes PM.

    The problem however if there is a NO vote,Lisbon may well be axed,then UKIP voters have no reason to vote Tory at the GE,indeed they may be more relaxed about the occupant of #10 being from the Labour Party after the GE as they have what they want the end of the LT & they want to continue to sifen off Tory Voters.

    More than this however they want to matter they want a scrap with the British Government & stay in the headlines,harder if the Government is Euro-skeptic.UKIP have to stay in the headlines to matter

    IF THE IRISH VOTE YES:

    This may well concentrate UKIP minds,if Labour win a 4th term,the chances of getting any powers being returned to Westminster and a Euro-skeptic tone from the new elected Government or especially the media would be ZERO..

    In fact they would find it almost impossible to get much attention at all from the mainstream media if Labour are returned with a ratified LT.

    In the event of a YES vote UKIP voters may well conclude they would rather have a Euro-skeptic Government than a Pro-EU Labour Government.

    Also UKIP may get more attention & sympathy within a Conservative Government even if the official Tory line dosn’t admit it.

  4. @ Alec
    “There will be embarassments on this, (as there already is within the UK gay community) and I list this as another sign of poor strategic judgement on Cameron’s part.”

    …..or perhaps a sign of determined principle on EU membership , combined with a refusal to pander to every single issue minority rent-a crowd that takes to the streets…?

  5. @Colin – don’t be silly. Apart from the fact that gay people quite correctly have rights just like the rest of us, and are not a ‘minority rent a crowd’ but ordinary people who have to fight against completely unwarrented discrimination (and persecution if the Polish People’s Party have their way) you’ve misunderstood entirely the origin of this policy.

    Cameron came up with the idea of forming a new EU grouping during his leadership campaign. It was a short term tactical move to shore up his support among Eurosceptic Tory MP’s at a time early in the campaign when he was concerned that this group had identified Davis as their prefered candidate. It was a snap judgement based purely on base self interest, and determined principle came nowhere near the thought process, and if you are honest (like you usually are) I think you would agree. The outcome has been highly embarrasing for the Tories, and will continue to be so. Even their own side describe the move variousy as ‘madness’, ‘illogical’, ‘ill judged’ etc.

    Even before he gets into No 10 Cameron now has a track record of snap decisions that unravel later, and it’s clear that he is modelled on Blair – government by headline, with not a single principle in site.

  6. Colin – before anyone posts to accuse me of being a raving red, some choice quotes below taken from Simon Heffer in todays Telegraph I picked up after my last post. He seems to agree with me.

    “Mr Cameron very much likes things that are suggested to him by the focus groups with which he remains obsessed”

    “He has certainly become used to acting without too much consultation, and implementing solutions to problems as he sees fit rather than as a group of eminent people in his party see fit”

    “No doubt, Mr Cameron expects, when and if elected, to continue what he has been quite good at so far, and allow image-management to conceal a piecemeal approach to governing. If so, it won’t work. Such things never work, and they certainly won’t at a time when the country is in the most catastrophic economic state.”

    I’m glad the Telegraph has caught up with me – I’ve only being saying these things on for the last 2 1/2 years.

  7. @ Alec

    I quoted the new grouping’s position statement & principles above.

    I agree with them all-I can’t actually see anything “anti-EU” within them-can you?

    Your assertion that the formation of the Conservative & Reformist group was a “short term tactical move” is just an opinion.
    You may be quite wrong-it may have been a principled determination to stand by the Principles now enunciated by the group.
    Yes there are some uncomfortable bedfellows at the start-but we shall see if the Group’s Principles attract others over time. I my view the Principles represent the view of most EU citizens ( as opposed to EU politicians & Beauracrats)about the sort of EU that they want.

    I have no problem with homosexual people -or anyone else-demonstrating peacefully-but why does a given politician , or any politician, have to join them?

  8. I think people are realising what “small government” will mean and thinking about it. Part of Blair’s appeal in 1997 was that he was regarded as a fairly safe bet – not changing too much and not returning to the dark days of high income tax.

    In contrast, the public is now being offered the chance to choos a drastic change towards much smaller government. And all the “cold turkey” that that entails

    Not only is this risky, it’s also being proposed by someone who actually takes personal advantage of very big government when it comes to his own mortgage expenses.

    He could of course make the gesture and ease the burden on the taxpayer by taking the capital he raised when he took out that mortgage in 2001, and paying it off.

  9. @Colin – its not just me saying these things – the really biting criticism comes from within his own party. Government at all levels is about working with others to get what you want, and the response to Cameron amongst idealogically close potential partners from the major EU states – big future allies – is very telling, and vey negative.
    No one buys the ‘point of principle’ argument on this – Cameron swung mid stream during his election campaign as the softer line on Eurpoe wasn’t working. Just like he made noises about being inclusive but now wants UKIPs votes back. Simon Heffer got it right – beliefs and principles form a backbone of a party that supports you when times get hard. New Labour surgically removed their principles and have now as a result collapsed in an unedifying heap. The Tories will do the same in due course.
    Steve Bell in the Guardian portray’s Cameron as ‘Dave the Jellyfish’ – so transparent you can’t see him. It’s very apt, and will resonate more and more as time passes.

  10. Alec,

    Heffer is not “a senior Tory” nor does he represent the views of senior Tories. He is a grumpy old man with a bee in his bonnet about Cameron.

    One can debate Cameron’s management style, but the average voter is more interested in firm and effective leadership, not how inclusive or consensual the leader is among the (shadow) cabinet.

    While things may change in future, there is currently no evidence of any splits over general policy direction, as opposed to minutiae. Nor are there any obvious focal points for dissent from the leadership.

    You cite Europe as a potential issue. But I doubt that this will be so unless / until the question of Britain leaving the EU altogether comes up. Even then, I think you will find the party more united (and in line with the general public) than was the case in the 1990s.

    As to leaving the EPP, MEPs who have been in Strasbourg too long do not represent the views of the party rank and file. The howls of outrage (and scurrilous slurs on smaller parties in the new grouping) have far more to do with members of the pro-EU establishment being affronted by the temerity of the Conservatives in challenging their cosy set-up than any question of Conservative principles.

  11. In 1997 Labour was approaching 60 percent in some polls. As the General Election approaches the party in power always improves.

    The tories had their best showing in the summer of 2008 before the economy tanked. In summer of 2008 tories were consistently ahead by over 20 percent and were polling in the mid 40’s. It is obvious the electorate has bought into the labour fear mongering about tory cuts. During a crisis the electorate is much less to change and in that sense the economic crisis helped brown. He went from down as much as 28 percent in the summer of 08 to only down 1 percent by the fall of 08. The economic crisis even with labour’s massive spending have been a net positive for labour. The tories were at their peak before the crisis in the summer of 08.

    The expenses scandal hurts the tories the most because a section of the voters on the right are absolutists and they will vote for the smaller parties and won’t vote for the tories because they view all the major parties as damaged by the expenses.

    My prediction is there will be a hung parliament and gordon brown will refuse to give up power. It is legal that he can hang on to power in a hung parliament.

    I don’t see the tories getting a majority. They have no chance.

    The tories polled at 37 percent in the local elections in 2004 while they polled at 38 percent in 2009.

    The difference from 2004 is the tories are better in marginal seats and labour is weaker.

    I see no way where this election isn’t a hung parliament.

    With boundary changes the tories are at 214 seats and they would have to gain 112 to get a majority and I don’t see that happening.

    I see the tories falling short of even 300 seats.

  12. A hung parliament is certainly a strong possibility – it has to be when a party has to gain 100+ seats, whatever the polls.

    My most likely guess (and hope) is the Tories will find those extra few points for that overall majority over the coming months.

    But the other unknown is if there’s some economic recovery. I’m sure Labour will play the spending cuts card hard – whether it’s successful remains to be seen.

  13. Dan: if you really “can see no way where this election isn’t a hung parliament” then you have very strange spectacles! The Spread Betting has 66% C Maj, 26% Hung, 8% Lab Maj.

    This time last year the WMA was 46:26:17 now it’s 38:24:18. My guess is that the 8% who went away from the Tories will come back. And there is also the real possibility of a further Labour collapse and the Lib Dems getting close catching them. But let’s see.

  14. The Lib Dems could be facing near wipeout in the South West, analysing the County Council election results.
    Lib Dem posters who always insist a Tory recovery (if it lasts) will not hit Lib Dem seats I think need to re-think their forecasts.

  15. @Paul HJ – Deep concern among backbenchers over Cameron’s selective approach to expenses abuses has been widely reported. There are also clear signs of resentment regarding Osborne’s primacy and Cameron’s dependence on a select few advisers. The EU issue has also upset many, with the main arguement being the loss of influence within the EU. At the moment these things don’t matter, but any leader that tries to govern their party from the top down finds in due course that there comes a time when you need deep and loyal friendships. Cameron doesn’t think long term, and has made some significant errors.

    Although I don’t subscribe to Dan’s view, Cameron has a problem. Any party claiming to have changed, needs to change and stay changed. Blair did this ruthlessly. Cameron never settled on what the change was, and has switched tack depending on circumstances, issues, photo calls etc. Twelve months ago no Tory would have claimed that being on 38% 11 months out from the GE, regardless of Labour’s position, would be what they wanted. When the dust settles over Labour, probably after the GE, Cameron will realise that his support is much more fragile than he needs, and when times get tough his reserves of credibility will run out quickly.

  16. Joseph Rowntree Foundation has calculated that due to rising price of fuel, food and public transport that the cost of living for those on a low income has risen by 5% this year.

    This situation is very unlikely to change over the coming twelve months and thus it is a lot less likely than Labour’s position will improve.

    It seems to me that Brown’s reputation is now in complete tatters. Surely only the most gullible will believe is claim that spending will continue to rise. He even stated that in 2013 there would be a rise of zero, eh!?

    By the beginning of September I expect something like the Cons 41/42, Labour 23/24, Lib Dems 19/20.

  17. Looking at the underlying issues questions on the past few polls should make uncomfortable reading for the government. More people expect a Cameron government, more people trust Cameron/Osborne on the economy, more people trust the Conservatives to make the right decisions in government, Labour’s lead on the public services is around 2% according to the ICM poll (which for Labour is devastating).

    I think the headline figures are all well and good, but now the shadow election campaign has begun, these figures seem more interesting and more indicative of where the debate will go. If the Brown/Darling trust ratings start to rise, then it will be game on, if they continue to flatline or fall then it looks like game over.

  18. Alec,

    There is a fundamental difference between the positions of Blair in 1994-97 and Cameron from 2005 to date.

    Blair had to contend with a party whose core policies and values had been rejected decisively. Slick presentation, while helpful, was clearly not enough, hence his radical break with the totems of the party.

    While Conservatives had suffered three successive defeats, extensive polling revealed that this was far more to do with “image” than the underlying values – the proof being the number of policies which were positively received only to be rejected when they were identified with the party.

    Cameron had to fix the image (which I believe has generally if not fully been achieved), but as has often been commenetd on – there has been no “Clause 4 moment ” – for the simple reason that there is no Clause 4 equivalent to be ditched. The nearest there is/was to this is the general misconception that Conservatives are ideologically opposed to public services and want to cut spending for the sake of cutting – hence the controversial pledge to “share the proceeds of growth”.

    Perhaps one can argue that dumping that pledge means that the “change” has also been dumped, but I think that is to misunderstand the pragmatism that is a core part of Tory values (ideology is an inappropriate description for Conservative principles).

    What was appropriate in 2005-06 is not appropriate in 2009-10 since circumstances have changed. The counter-part to changing tack as you put it, is that Cameron is proving himself adept at adjusting to changes in the political and economic climate. You may call it opportunism – others may say it shows flexibility.

    Unlike Blair, who basically used the Labour party as a vehicle for his own advancement and cared not a jot for its people, traditions or values, Cameron is a true Conservative, and all his policies (however unpopular some may be in some parts of the party) are rooted in values and principles which can be recognised as conservative.

    As to Cameron’s relationship with Osborne; surely the evidence of the past thirty years is that the country is better served when the PM has the loyalty and support of the Chancellor – and vice versa.

  19. NEW SCOTTISH POLL

    TNS/STV
    Holyrood constituency vote

    SNP 39%
    Lab 32%
    Con 12%
    LD 11%

    Details: see SNP Tactical Voting blog

  20. Note: TNS-BMRB is the new name of TNS System Three. They are a BPC member.

    TNS-BMRB/STV Politics Now
    Sample size: 997
    Fieldwork: 23-29 June 2009
    (+/- change from TNS System Three/Sunday Herald 28 April 2009)

    Holyrood – Constituency vote (FPTP)

    SNP 39% (+7)
    Lab 32% (-4)
    Con 12% (-7)
    LD 11% (+2)
    oth 7% (+3)

    Holyrood – Regional vote (AMS)

    SNP 39% (-1)
    Lab 29% (-1)
    Con 10% (-3)
    LD 12% (+2)
    Grn 5% (+1)

    Projected Number of Seats:

    SNP 57 (+10)
    Lab 43 (-3)
    Con 11 (-6)
    LD 15 (-1)
    Grn 3 (+1)

    Q1 Since the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999 do you think it has achieved a lot, a little or nothing at all?

    A lot 20%
    A little 53%
    Nothing at all 15%
    Don’t know 12%

    http://news.stv.tv/scotland/106228-majority-of-scots-recognise-holyrood-achievements/

    http://www.tns-custom.co.uk/_assets/files/VOTING_INTENTIONS_POLL.pdf

  21. “Unlike Blair, who basically used the Labour party as a vehicle for his own advancement and cared not a jot for its people”

    how on earth that gets through beats me.

    Blair’s policies in 1997 were fairly few – largely they were to do with hiking public investment so that we no longer had marches every week-end calling for the NHS anducation services to be rescued. However they were policies.

    Sometimes POaul says intelligent disagreeable things. That one however porobably showed the mask slipping. Propaganda.

  22. I certainly can’t agree with Dan who thinks that there is no chance of a Conservative overall majority. Clearly if the current polls are correct there is very real chance of one. On the other hand why NBeale, who actually uses the WMA statistics in every single post that he (or she?)makes but in whose heart beats a real tribal hatred of the Labour Party, thinks that the polls will return to last year’s figures is far from clear to me. It would be a surprise to most psephological and political commentators if Labour actually went further behind the Conservatives on the average of the polls than the current position of 14% or so. The question is whether Labour can narrow this figure down. There’s no magic answer to this and a lot of the guesswork here is simply down to wishful thinking. We just don’t know.

  23. Something happened yesterday that it seems to me has passed the media by.

    Brown said we could not have a spending Review, as Growth forecasts can’t be made by the Treasury with any accuracy during the recession.

    However Brown said a couple of days ago after the OECD & Mervyn King critisised labour for not having a debt reducution plan,that Treasury Budget figures showed Economic Growth would reduce debt.

    With the 10% gaffe and the Royal Mail fiasco taking the spotlight i think the bigger story has passed the media by.

    Team Cameron from what i can tell has Brown bang to rights on this top of all issues the deficit

  24. John TT,

    My point re Blair’s relationship with the Labour party is that he was not rooted in the Labour movement in the way that his predecessors (Smith, Kinnock, Foot, Callaghan, Wilson etc) were. There is ample evidence that he was as much disliked by traditional Labour members as he was by the opposition parties.

    Many people in the Labour party accepted Blair as a necessary evil since he delivered the electoral success which had eluded them for so long. That does not mean that they loved him or were loyal to him. Equally, this distance appeared to be mutual – hence the need for traditional Labour figures like Prescott to act as his bridge to the membership.

    I never said that Blair had no policies. But many of the policies most closely identified as “Blairite” could as easily have been adopted & implemented by LDs or even Conservatives (with a bit of tweaking). Had the SDP succeeded in the mid 80s instead of drifting until being subsumed by Ashdown’s Liberals, then there is a fairly high probabibility that Blair would have switched parties to eventually become the first SDP PM. It is a measure of Blair’s political astuteness that he calculated that the SDP would fail and that he would be better placed to succeed via the Labour Party.

  25. many of the policies most closely identified as “Blairite” could as easily have been adopted & implemented by LDs or even Conservatives (with a bit of tweaking).

    That’s some tweak to go from vouchers and tax breaks for private health customers to a commitment to raising spending to the EU average.

    The clause 4 moment for Cameron came in one of his first speeches as leader – “the NHS will remain free at the point of need”, and although he might be able to weasel his way out of it by defining “need” as “only very basic provision for the poorest”, that would be at his peril.

    In 1997 the Tory ideology of small govt and tax breaks for private provision was rejected.

    If their elected reps, like Cllr Paul, have not learned that, then there’s every chance the public might find out and reject them again.

  26. “Something happened yesterday that it seems to me has passed the media by.”

    RICH-I’m not so sure. The media seems to have picked up on Brown’s mangling of his own stats, and the failure to produce forecasts I think ,simply feeds into the growing disbelief.

    Anatole Kaletski -usually a supporter-is scathing in the Times today.

    What has escaped attention though is Brown’s finessing of “ever increasing spending”. He tried to focuss on pre-recovery in PMQs ( ie no commitment about post recovery), and in the Robinson interview on the train yesterday actually said he “didn’t care” about programmes that had “no purpose or contribution”.

    His problem is that in trying to finesse, and head off criticism, his narrative just becomes unintelligible-as Kaletski says-everyone knows spending has to be curtailed ( though one wonders when taxation will rear it’s head.

    Labour are clearing the decks for a twelve months GE campaign:-
    Dumping controversial stuff ( ID cards); Dog whistles to the core vote & backbenchers ( British houses for British workers & ditching Royal Mail privatisation; Dog whistles to the Middle Class ( “Customer entitlements” in Education & Health, Denham appealing for less “egalitarianism” !)

    Brown’s hope on the economy must be that we are still in recession, but clearly about to emerge from it at the time of the GE-his finessed “investment vs cuts” line might just have appeal then.

    His problem is how “clearly” & who will believe him-hence Cameron’s attack on his veracity.

  27. I really think we have to get away from comparing Tory poll ratings this year with their ratings at previous high points. We clearly have a new situation, whether temporary or permanent, of a much larger than usual “others” vote. I haven’t heard a single person suggest that this 20% others figure is going to generate any actual seat gains for UKIP, BNP, Greens or others. Therefore the 650 seats will still get divided up between the “usual suspects”, even though their total vote shares may be smaller. So 38% in “today’s money” may well be worth 42% in “2004 money”.

  28. COLIN-I hope you’re right.

    NEIL-A

    I agree ,if both main parties go down by the same amount,their isn’t really a story.

    For instance ComRes polled the Tories at 30% a little while back,i may be wrong but Labour went down into the teens in that poll & even on 30% Cameron would have been PM.

    I do hovever expect most of the UKIP vote & BNP vote to return to voting Conservative(UKIP) & Labour(BNP) at the GE.

    If this does happen then it will be a big win for the Conservatives.

    Because of the respective size of the BNP/UKIP votes if around the same percentage,say a 3/rd of their respective vote went back to the main parties at the GE,the Conservatives would be laughing.

  29. “though one wonders when taxation will rear it’s head.”

    It has.

    VAT will go up to 17.5% and top rate of income tax up to 50%, with a little dig in the ribs of the banks if they try anything fancy to protect their “talent” from the horrors of poverty.

    IHT has raised its head too.
    CGT on second homes as well.

  30. John TT

    “The clause 4 moment for Cameron came in one of his first speeches as leader – “the NHS will remain free at the point of need”, ”

    Has it ever been even posited as a Conservative policy that this would not be so ? Reiterating a policy that has been generally accepted for decades is hardly a rejection of a party “totem” in the way that Clause 4 was.

    What has tax relief on health insurance premiums got to do with an NHS free at the point of need ? The former is a demand management policy and has nothing to do with the latter which is about supply (other than reducing the amount required).

    I remember trying (vainly) to explain to a Labour supporter in the 1980s that not only is “free at the point of need” not in the least inconsistent with enabling people to make their own provision if they so wish, it does not even require the state to “own the means of production”.

    At least Blair understood that the role of the state was to ensure that provision was available, and it is not necessary for the state to own and operate all public services in order to achieve that. Unfortunately the dinosaurs in the Labour party who had not accepted that revocation of Clause 4 really did mean that the state did not need to own the means of production blocked or diluted the necessary reforms.

    Small government is not about cutting services. It is about limiting the role of government to enabler instead of provider since the track record over decades and many countries is that, in general, the government, like any monopoly, is not a good provider of services.

  31. Well all I can say is that’s going to be good news for Labour if adopted as Tory policy.

    If tax breaks for private health insurance (and presumably private education) are back on the cards, great. Vive la difference. It will be rejected.

  32. I don’t at all have a tribal hatred of the Labour Party – some members of my family are lifelong Labour voters and others I’m sure voted Labour in 1997 – though I didn’t FWIW.

    I am concerned that there should be an effective functional opposition in the UK and would not weep if that were the LibDems.

  33. The main question seems to be just how long the anti-mainstream mood will continue. It could be a real turning point in British politics if it does persist in the medium to long term.

  34. @Neil A

    You make a good point.

    From here on (indeed it happened at the General Election of 2005), it may well require a much smaller % of the electorate to support a party in order for them to form a majority government.

    Much was made of this when Labour won – on such a low % in 2005 – and I suspect much will be made of it again should the Tory party form a majority on a vote of only 38%.

    Although as others have pointed out, if ‘Other’ voters do indeed “return to the fold”, the Conservatives may well end up achieving something like 42%.

    A lot less than a generation ago. But the norm these days perhaps?

  35. DAVID IN FRANCE

    I was quite surprised when i looked up the 1997 GE,just to check the share of the vote

    Blair only got 43.2% of the vote, i always thought he got much more.

  36. @Rich

    Indeed.

    But the malaise goes deeper than 1997.

    In fact no party has taken office since 1966 with more than 45% share of the vote.

    Considering that the country has undergone substantial majority governments since that time – of both colours; that’s quite an indictment of the FPTP electoral system.

  37. Rich,

    Apart from share of the vote, Blair won fewer votes in 1997 than Thatcher did in 1979. Moreover, in 2001, he was returned with a 165 seat majority on fewer votes than Kinnock won against Major in 1992, and in 2005 Blair retained a majority of 60 with fewer votes than Kinnock did in 1987 when thatcher had a majority of 100.

    The indictment David refers to is not so much the FPTP system, as the collapse in turnout since it peaked at 33.6m votes in 1992.

    Since the big decline in votes occurred between 1997 and 2001, the danger for Labour is not just that people who voted for Blair in 2005 vote otherwise – or not at all – in 2010, but also that many of the millions who did not vote in 2005 do so – for parties other than Lab.

    Despite the current mood against all parties – I believe that turnout at the next election will be higher.

  38. Paul H J,

    Your comment is very interesting and enlightening.

    Blair won fewer votes than Thatcher. And, of course, in the 18 year interval the number of those eligible to vote must have increased by at least one million.

    Although I think it is fair to say that the Tories must take most of the blame for this. Luring people into self-indulgent indivdualism leading to the inevitable boom and bust, mired in sleeze, obsessed and divided over Britain’s place in Europe many lost faith in the Tories.

    Blair offered a ray of new hope. But partly due to the often at times truly pathetic opposition of the Tories New Labour gradually lost touch with reality to the extent that they are now so far up their own arse they have become completely detached from the common person in this country. It is like they are playing a SIM computer game with souless characters and a rubbishy A.I. But reality will be calling soon on the day they must finally allow the people to have an election.

    For the first time the Tories are providing Labour with decent opposition. And I’m confident that the Tories will reap the benefits of this in terms of increasing the number of their votes significantly.

    However, it could easily be that the fall in the Labour vote will be so great that overall the turnout will be lower. It depends on the level of passion and determination to see Labour booted out. It also depends on who is leading Labour at the next election. Both of these are uncertain at present.

  39. Paul

    I tend to agree with you about the turnout,i believe there is a underlying anger building against Labour.

    That dosn’t mean that all those angry voters will vote for the Conservatives,but as you say they don’t have to.

    The fact that the Tory’s took Wales in the locals was astonishing,massive jubilation in the Conservative Party was real as they had no idea that would happen.

    People forget ,England did not vote Labour in 2005,Scotland gave us a 3rd term labour Government,the writing was on the wall in 2005 in England ,Labour just refused to read it.

    As for David’s point,i disagree totally,FPTP has given the UK stable Government,1979-2009 just two different Governments,if the system did not work we would not of had that.

    Compare the UK system with PR in Italy,i believe they have had some 50 Governments since WW2.

    FPTP system is not perfect,but neither is Democracy itself,it is however the best system we have.

    The point about Scotland voting Labour for the last 50 yrs,makes me indecisive on Scottish independence,i am a Conservative Unionist,however i am now & always have been first English.

    I know if the Scots went their own way,the Conservatives could really banish Socialism from England in 10-20 yrs,and i tell you that appeals to me very much.

  40. Rich,

    Please do not blame Scotland for the UK having a Lab government. This is an oft-touted myth but it is rubbish.

    There have been only three occasions when Labour had a majority at Westminster without holding a majority of seats in England: 1950; 1964 and October 1974.

    In 1950, Lab had an overall majority of 17, but was behind Cons in England. However, they were fractionally ahead in terms of votes (both at 48.8%). While Lab did have a majority of seats in Scotland (37/71), their lead over Con was just 6 and would not have given them a majority in Westminster. This was achieved on the back of a large lead in Wales.

    In both 1964 and 1974 the overall Lab majority was just 3. Moreover, in Oct 1974 Lab actually won more votes in England than Cons despite winning fewer seats.

    In each of 1997, 2001 and 2005 Lab won a majority of the seats in England (as well as in Scotland and Wales).

    The real difference in 2005 as compared to 1997 and 2001 was that although Lab won 286 seats to 194 Con (LD 46, 2 others) in 2005, it did so with fewer 65k votes than Cons gained (C = 35.7%, Lab 35.5%).
    Average votes in England per MP in 2005 were:

    Lab: 8.050m / 286 = 28,148
    Con: 8.115m / 194 = 41,830
    LD: 5.201m / 47 = 110,660

    This is where the discussion about Labour bias in the system comes from. Personally, I suspect that this may unwind rather fiercely next time, and we could see Lab lose a greater share of seats than votes to leave it behind Cons not just in votes and seats, but also with a higher vote/MP.

    My guess (and it is only that) is that England will pan out at around:

    Lab: 7 m votes – 125 seats = c56k votes/MP
    Con: 9.5m votes – 370 seats = c26k votes / MP
    LD: 5 m votes / 35 seats = c143k votes/MP

    We may even see Lab lose its majority in terms of seats in both Scotland and Wales – though that is a far cry from saying that Cons will win most seats, still less a majority, in either. But even if Lab do retain majorities in Scoltand and/or Wales, it will certainly not be on the scales seen in the past. That will be crucial to giving Cons democratic legitimacy across the entire UK (including NI where Cons will have at least 1 seat – possibly 3-4).

  41. Re my previous post, if we assume 2.5m votes for others to give 24m votes in total (broadly in line with recent elections) that gives vote shares for England of:
    Con: 39.6%
    Lab: 29.2%
    LD: 20.8%
    Others: 10.4%

    Current polls (and Euro/CC election results) suggest that the Con/Lab lead in England will be greater than that.

    One can argue with the distribution of seats, but even if we assumed that Lab only lost c100 seats to retain 180, and reduce Cons to 315, they would still end up with a higher votes/MP ratio at c39k vs c29k.

    (Note that this would leave Cons requiring at least 10 seats in Scotland and Wales to have an overall majority).

    In summary, FPTP may amplify the parliamenatry majority of the winning party, but it rarely delivers the “wrong” winner based on underlying result.

  42. With the attention now on Osbornes and Tory Peers expenses, watch the lead over Labour go into freefall and the disatrous consequence in the Norfolk by election, the greeen party will collect extra votes from the Tories and jostle the outcome around ,will they get enough votes to actually win or push Labour into 4th place.
    With The Conservatives and Labour still getting the unfair share of the media coverage in the TV news ,the Sun and other newspapers ignoring the LIberal Democrats they are sticking at 19% as soon as the general election is called their share will go up as always perhaps to 23/24%
    The chances of a balanced outcome is still on the cards.

  43. Personally after listening to Michael Portillo and looking at the opinions recently which also includes looking at Labour’s opinion polls after the 2008 conference when Brown gave that speech to talk down a political coup plus the fact the expenses scandal is now dieing down my prediction for the 2010 election will be as followed:-

    Lab 34%
    Con 40%
    LD 18%
    Others 9%

    I don’t really have an argument to pitch this but just my instict but my argument for this is because come the general election campaign and this is only if David Cameron keeps on splashing out policies which I believe is rather short-beer tbh with the British public, the election excitment will all get under way they will be a lot of media coverage about the policies, record etc. and looking at it Labour will seem to pick up some dillisuioned voters who feel more attached in terms of policies with Labour which will give them enough to hold itself as a creditable opersition but not enough to stop the conservatives becoming the largest party. Like i said I have no argument just a guess really. It’s what i would put with the bookies.

  44. Andy’s prediction is very close to what I’ve been predicting for a very long time.

    I have been slightly revising my Labour figures down, however, from about 33% towards 30-32%.

    I would hope the Conservatives go slightly above 40, as I want them to win.
    Your LD and Others figure looks about right aswell. I actually think if Labour recovers some voters who are anti Tory and worried, whilst simulaneously the Tories do well, then the LD figure could logically fall below the 17.2 of 1997.

    But there do seem to be a certain number of voters who go LD when Labour’s figures go very low, and it is actually in the Conservatives interest that Labour stays higher, as it’s bad for the Tories if the credibility of the LDs is raised.

  45. Yeah i completely agree with Joe James B I mean i am talking as a Labour voter but you have to be pratical about this and I will just have to berry the hatchet and admit Labour’s campaign will be dead from the start.

    The New Labour project is simply running out of steam, ambition and well if you draw the policies between both Labour and Tory, these no real ideological difference between the two so some Middle England voters will look at this and think well who am i going to trust more to keep taxation low, cut spending, repay the debt etc. They both might aim to do that but the Tories will be seem to have the ‘record’ to show to get them voters.

    I believe it wont be until Labour re-invent itself from the structure of it’s party which even I admit is far from being democratic and representative to party members and also a change in policy and direction. Labour has simply no new policies to base itself with and it might be until Labour starts using ‘green’ policies, restoring it’s old labour ethos in terms in putting social justice and equality through the distrubtion of wealth etc. til it starts seeing itself as electable.

    But yeah, at the moment their is such a anti-labour government in politics, the public are just tired with Labour and want change so they will see the Tories as that change. Again, i agree with Joe that come the election people who say they would vote green, lib dem will be told by the Labour propaganda machine during the election about the ‘bad-old’ tory years which is now becoming rather cliche and just old now even as a supporter. If the Lib Dem go below 20 i think it will start a chain reaction of lib dem voters who will hit home the idea that the lib dems are just simply a wasted vote and not creditable party to become a serious party.

    So yeah, in general Labour <35, Tories 40(ish), Lib Dems <19 thats how i see the election results.

  46. Can’t see what specifically would make Labour rise above 30% again!

    Those amongst you who cite a “feeling” seem to me to have not come to terms with the idea that Labour may be over.

    Likewise, I’m yet to meet anyone who’s mad keen to vote for the Tories – even tactically! Same goes for the lib dems.
    They’re tired of all three and want a change from all three!
    Tory is still a dirty word in many places; Lib Dems are still regarded as a party for minorities, and Labour as incompetent nest-feathering control-freaks.

    The general vibe seems to be that all the main three are a wasted vote… that the pervading vibe is don’t bother voting, or vote for a minor party if you can be bothered.

    I reckon (give or take a couple of percent):

    Tory 35%
    Labour 25%
    Lib Dem 15%
    Others 25%

    out of a turnout of about 45%…

  47. Putting these figures into the seat converter for a General Election the Cons would have 323, Lab 238 and Lib Dems 58 meaning that the Cons would be the largest party in a hung parliament but short of a majority by 3.

    It is interesting that there doesn’t have to be much change in the percentage of votes for the three main parties (Lab +1, Lib Dem +1, Cons -2) from the current WMA for the Conservatives to go from a majority of 64 to being short of an overall majority by 3. This obviously assumes that ‘Others’ will remain around 20% which seems pretty unlikely.

    However does a fall in the ‘Others’ support necessarily mean a rise in Conservative support at the expense of Labour and the Liberal Democrats? If so, why?

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