Regular readers will know that I have often complained about surveys claiming to show that an issue or policy stance will make people more or less likely to vote for a party. I’ve written about it previously here, here and here.

Polls like this are very popular with pressure groups and political campaigns because they inevitably end up suggesting that the issue they are campaigning on is really important and will swing votes, and MPs better listen to them and do what they say or they’ll lose their jobs. The problem is people don’t actually behave like that – we know from academic studies that people don’t vote on single issues, they vote on broad things like party identification, perceptions of party leaders, perceptions of competence, economic trust, party image and so on. Individual policy stances play into these things, but to reduce the complex drivers of voting behaviour to polling questions purporting to show that “If party X follows policy Y then 14% of people won’t vote for them” is simplistic and naive.

I won’t recite at length why these questions give such misleading data, but there are a number of reasons. Firstly respondents use them to indicate support or opposition to a policy or a party regardless of whether it would actually change their vote. Secondly it gives false prominence to a single issue, when in a real election campaign that issue would be considered alongside other important issues like the economy, leadership perceptions, party competence and so on. Thirdly people simply aren’t very good judges of what drives their own decision making. Working together these produce results that overestimate the impact of single issues on voting intention.

Yet, it is a question that people eternally want asking – and keeps provoking rather silly news stories, full of hyperbole about gay marriage dooming the Conservative party. Hence it is worth trying to do it sensibly.

In the Sunday Times/YouGov poll this week they first they asked what three or four issues would be most important to people in deciding their vote at the next general election. It’s still simplistic of course, and still depends on people understanding the drivers of their own voting intentions when they don’t, but at least it doesn’t give an issue false prominence.

Asked this way, 56% say the economy will be an important issue in how they vote, 42% immigration, 36% health, 28% unemployment and so on down to gay marriage, of which 7% of people say it will be an important issue in deciding their vote. This includes 5% of current Tory voters and 5% of 2010 Tory voters.

Of course, not all these people who care about the issue are necessarily opposed to it. YouGov asked those 7% who said gay marriage was likely to be an important factor in deciding how they voted whether it would make them more or less likely to vote for a party – 54% said more likely, 44% less likely. In other words three and a bit percent of voters claim they are more likely to vote for a party that supports gay marriage, three and a bit percent claim they are less likely.

Looking just at Tory voters, that 5% of Tory voters who say it will be an important issue in deciding their vote are mostly people who would be less likely to vote for a party that supported it… but this still equates to just 4% of Tory voters – that is, about 1 percentage point of their current 34 percentage points of support. Hardly a huge election winning or losing issue.

Even this is likely to be an overestimate of course, because as I said at the start of the post, people aren’t very good judges of what drives their voting intention and individual issues aren’t actually much of a driver of voting intention; party identification, competence, the economy, leadership perceptions are the sorts of things that actually drive votes. On top of that, gay marriage is very high up the news agenda right now – I expect it will be a far less high profile issue in 2 years time. It also ignores whatever positive impact the issue might have.

In terms of a direct effect, my guess is that, by the time of the next election, gay marriage will have negligible impact on Tory support. Potentially more important is the indirect effect – whether, on one hand, that it adds to perceptions amongst traditionalist voters that David Cameron does not understand or reflect their views or, on the other hand, helps build perceptions that the Conservatives are a more modern and tolerant party that is at ease with the modern world.

Things like this are almost impossible to measure in polls, but are probably far more important. My own view is that Michael Ashcroft is right on this – in terms of impact on party perception Cameron may or may not have been right to come down the route of pushing gay marriage, but now he is here he must continue. Changing his mind won’t convince his detractors that he actually agrees with them, it will just make him look weak, while fatally undermining whatever positive impact it has on making the Conservative party look more tolerant and in tune with modern Britain (that said, I’m far from convinced that it is having a positive impact on that front, because the impact of David Cameron supporting gay marriage risks being cancelled out by the impact of right-wing Conservative backbenchers opposing it).

Meanwhile YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 41%, LD 12%, UKIP 8%. The mid-week Sun polls clearly suggested the referendum boost was on the wane, but these figures suggest it hasn’t completely gone yet.


357 Responses to “What impact does gay marriage have on voting?”

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  1. @ Ashley

    Labour will be an afterthought like they have been for much of the past 100 years in the South and South West.
    ——————
    You’re getting a bit carried away, are you not? We don’t have yesterday’s YG tables yet, so let’s look at Thursday’s.

    Rest of the South (excluding London):
    Tories 41%
    Labour 33%
    LibDem 14%

    So, Labour support in the ‘Rest of the South’ is more than double the LibDem’s & that’s before any Huhne effect.

  2. Woah!

    Labour lead at 15 – Latest YouGov / The Sun results 4th Feb – CON 30%, LAB 45%, LD 11%, UKIP 9%; APP -38

  3. Unusual in the extreme to see such wild day-to-day variations from YouGov.
    However, the underlying average looks OK for Labour at the moment.

  4. Good Morning All.

    A surprising poll; people must not get too excited. The minus 38 Approval is high, and the more significant of the numbers think. Lab needs 45% to be sustained if they have a good chance of winning power in two years time.

  5. Does anybody know how many Lab/Lib/SNP/etc MPs are against gay marriage?
    New Statesman has reported that 8 Lab MPs are against it, but they’re the only ones that have come out of the closet.

    The vote should pass relatively easily, but I’m just trying to figure out by what sort of margin.

  6. socal

    “I thought people were far too harsh on David Laws. As far as I’m concerned, no harm, no foul. Yes, he technically broke the rules but he paid more in order to break the rules. And he did so in order to maintain his privacy, which I may not personally like but I respect and defend his right to. ”

    You are mistaking his defence (partly accepted by his “peers”, but not tested in court) for truth. He did not have to claim any expenses, he is a millionaire and nobody would have pointed an accusing finger because there was no claim. The argument that he could have made another dodgy second home claim and claimed more is completely specious.

    The rules has been specifically changed to disallow reclaiming rent paid to partners. So your interpretation that he mad the claim to hid that fact that he had a male partner is easliy disproved by the fact that he could have just not made a claim at all. The alternative reading, that he hid the fact that he was gay so that he could continue to claim the money, is far harder to dispute. He could argue that he didn’t need the money, but then …why claim it?

    Sorry, no. Nobody was “harsh”, he has got away with something that I, as a Civil Servant, would have got sacked for (i.e. sacked for good, not a week off) and what’s more, there would have been police involved.

  7. TINGED FRINGE.
    Good Morning to you.

    When the Bill on Gay Rights is passed, we will then go to a new phase when priests in my church will be challenged in the courts after they have been refused a gay marriage.

    By the way, until about 1970 our final hymn at Mass was often: Lord for tomorrow and Its needs do not pray… Help me Lord to be gay just for today.

    Maybe the prayers are being answered.

    There is sometimes a clash between equality and liberty, and this is being played out here.

  8. the latest 60+ voting intention on yougov is

    Con 31
    Lab 40
    LD 7
    UKIP 17

    And the 60+ group is slightly over-represented. Perhaps the economic rules? The split over gay marriage? The high UKIP figure seems to suggest the referendum promise hasn’t charmed the crustier voter.

  9. chris

    “There is sometimes a clash between equality and liberty, and this is being played out here.”

    Freedom to hate? I think we left-footers are perfectly free to carry on being small minded and divisive, but when we carry out legal functions of the state we will be expected not to discriminate.

    Of course the good ol CofE are legally obliged to do just that!

  10. @Chrislane1945

    “The minus 38 Approval is high”

    surely ‘low’?

    I’m not trying to be pedantic, I’m just not sure of the point you’re making there [except to be cautious about a single poll, of course, which seems it can’t be stated enough]

  11. Ozwald is right. There is no necessity for Labour to be consistently above 45% in the polls. A considerably lower share of the vote than that would be needed to win a general election, and quite a bit lower than the party’s current rating in the polls. There is no automatic rule that the governing party will recover such-and-such a percentage as the election nears; that depends on a number of factors, most of all the economy. If the electorate can’t see any evidence that Osborne’s policies are working or have worked by polling day, then Labour will win even if they don’t have 20%+ leads in the polls consistently before that. The rise of smaller parties, beside, will make such large midterm leads much less common in years to come.

  12. More to the poine, it doesn’t matter what the polls say at all until the actual election. Then a 15% Lab lead would be curtains for the Tories (and 45% would herald a very tidy Lab majority indeed).

  13. Good morning Barnaby
    “The rise of smaller parties, beside, will make such large midterm leads much less common in years to come.”

    Good point. I am no fan of UKIP but I do wonder whether they might replace LD as the natural third party.

  14. @TINGEDFRINGE:
    Which MPs will be voting which way:
    http://www.c4em.org.uk/support-for-equal-marriage/

    The 60+ section suggests to me that this is a bit of an outlier, I would guess yougov lead is at around 12ish, but will probably never find out at today’s vote may or may not effect voting intention.

  15. I haven’t seen the details, but Tory unity is being reported as a key factor in some papers, with only 10% seeing the Tories as united. This may well be the underlying story, and the reason why I (unlike the perennially surprised @Chrislane1945) am not remotely surprised by this opinion poll.

    I would join him though in cautioning against reading too much into one poll, but if this is representative of poll movement, I would put that down to the fractures appearing all across the Tory party, beginning with the ill thought through Europe speech.

    That crystallized right leaning Tories to start making demands, which I don’t think directly affects VI as Europe is a low salience issue. The gay marriage issue is clearly news, but again, I seriously doubt this issue has any real salience for most people, but we have two issues, both badly misjudged by Cameron, which have both opened up the prospect of party splits.

    Ed is having an unbelievably easy ride – even easier than his most ardent supporters could have possibly managed. It’s increasingly looking like the Tories have completely failed to learn the lessons from the 1990 – 97 period and are happy to hand Labour power in 2015.

    The Tory Playbook;
    1) Pick an issue that no one cares about
    2) Make it a matter of deep principle and get really worked up
    3) Rip into your colleagues about it
    4) Lose next election and spend the next 5 years blaming those ‘socialists’ for everything from the economy to the weather.

    Time for a few stiff G&T’s and for everyone to calm down. You’re handing the country to a Labour party, unproved and not yet ready for power.

  16. @ Tinged Fringe

    “Does anybody know how many Lab/Lib/SNP/etc MPs are against gay marriage?
    New Statesman has reported that 8 Lab MPs are against it, but they’re the only ones that have come out of the closet.”

    As long as JM isn’t one of them, I’m happy. I’d be crushed if he voted against. You know, if Labour wanted to be real jerks about this. They could simply not show up for the vote, let the motion be defeated so that Cameron has absolutely nothing to run on come 2015. Then once in power in 2015, show up, vote yes and be the government that gets to take historic credit for enacting marriage equality.

    @ Nick P

    I take it there’s no rule of lenity?

  17. CHRISLANE1945

    45%etc…

    Spot on if I may say so….more likely that its some variation around 42-3% You Gov tend to show…

  18. Good news from retail sales in January – according to the BRC these increased by 1.9%.
    We’ve also got market wobbles in Spain and Italy, with commentators suggesting the political situation in both countries means the Euro crisis isn’t over, and the US government is suing Standard and Poor’s over their pre crash credit ratings of duff investments.

  19. @ Chris Lane

    “When the Bill on Gay Rights is passed, we will then go to a new phase when priests in my church will be challenged in the courts after they have been refused a gay marriage.

    By the way, until about 1970 our final hymn at Mass was often: Lord for tomorrow and Its needs do not pray… Help me Lord to be gay just for today.

    Maybe the prayers are being answered.

    There is sometimes a clash between equality and liberty, and this is being played out here.”

    Praying to be gay? That sounds like Mitt Romney wanting to be Latino. Gays just have it so easy and so do Latinos.

    There is no clash between equality and liberty. If you play in the public sphere though, you have to play by the public’s rules, not your own. I’m no expert on English law but I still don’t have any idea under what law, someone would bring a suit against a priest for refusing to marry them. I honestly don’t. Under what statute or rule of common law could any plaintiff do that? What’s being suggested here is a straw man and a scare tactic.

    Btw, when the District of Columbia legalized same-sex marriage (three years ago), the bill doing so was signed in a church.

    @ Alec

    “The Tory Playbook;
    1) Pick an issue that no one cares about
    2) Make it a matter of deep principle and get really worked up
    3) Rip into your colleagues about it
    4) Lose next election and spend the next 5 years blaming those ‘socialists’ for everything from the economy to the weather.”

    Lol, very true.

    Still marriage equality is something that helps Cameron and the Tories. Long term, this is going to have a major benefit for the Tories even though short term it may not have an effect. He can look across the pond and realize that there is a short term benefit to being rabidly anti-gay and a major long term detriment. The Tories aren’t a rabidly anti-gay, Christian fundamentalist party. By doing this now, they cannot be attacked as an anti-gay party. They can stand to win back some constitutencies or become competitive in some constituencies that previously had been written off. If they can beat back Labour, they can win a majority by demolishing the Lib Dems in the Lib Dem-Tory marginals.

    For Cameron, he gets the historic recognition that comes with this. This is his legacy as Prime Minsiter. If he goes out after one term because of his horrendous economic decision making, that he won’t be remembered for. But he’ll have secured his place in history for having done this. Yes, he gets backlash from the traditionalist elements within his party. But that won’t be enough to stop this from taking place nor it will it be enough to undercut what he does. Nor can it be reversed.

  20. @ Nick P

    “Freedom to hate? I think we left-footers are perfectly free to carry on being small minded and divisive, but when we carry out legal functions of the state we will be expected not to discriminate.

    Of course the good ol CofE are legally obliged to do just that!”

    I agree with you. There is a freedom to hate but it’s personal to the individual. A person’s freedom of hate is not an affirmative right that they may exercize to the detriment of others (I don’t understand this reasoning, it’s bizarre but it seems to be something that Europeans and a small minority of right wing Christian fundamentalist Americans believe in).

  21. Incredible numbers for over 60s in this poll :-

    VI-31/40

    Disapprove-68-the highest disapproval by age category.

    Given this group’s supportive numbers for :-
    Better off in EU / Cuts necessary / Labour to blame for cuts/

    What could have given rise to the dramatic change in VI & net approval?

    Same gender marriage?
    or
    An error in the Poll ?

  22. DANNY SWEENEY
    “The 60+ section suggests to me that this is a bit of an outlier, I would guess yougov lead is at around 12ish, but will probably never find out at today’s vote may or may not effect voting intention.”
    Hold on. Many of us have another thirty years in which to find out.
    Besides, it would be as well to remember the words of the old song, “Thank Heaven for little old Labour supporters, for little Labour supporters get older every day,” I think it went. I’ve asked AW before, what effect on VI demographic movement has at both ends of the age pyramid, and think we may be witnessing it; and will do so further if a Labour government lowers the voting age.

  23. Agree with Oborne in DT this morning.

    It was the first thing which occurred to me when CH said he was resigning as an MP.

    He has dropped DC & NC right in it. & PO is spot on with :-

    ” Never in British political history has a minor traffic offence produced such spectacular consequences.”

  24. Interesting moment last night. On University Challenge, there was a question asking who said in 2006 that Ireland’s experience showed the art of the possible in economics. The answer, of course, was GO. Paxman made some condescending remark about the answer being “The Great George Osborne”.

    The point was that there was laughter from the audience.

    Which got me thinking. How do politicians and parties come back after they have lost credibility?

    I recall TV comedians in the mid-70s only having to mention the name “Dennis Healy” to elicit a guffaw. Even as a kid I remember wondering how someone who was clearly a national laughing stock could possibly be successful in a forthcoming election. Even after the notable economic upturn by late 77, Healy was still seen as a joke figure by many.

    I wonder if Osborne has blundered into the same territory? He now has several years of dreadful economic performance on his record, and has had a glib excuse each time the appalling figures emerge (snow, rain, Royal Weddings, Bank Holidays, EU, Labour, etc, etc). Eventually, even non-political obsessives will start to associate the name with failure and evasion. I wonder if he’s gone beyond the tipping point where he can not now emerge as a credible politician regardless of future performance? Last night’s titters suggest so.

  25. @Socal – “Still marriage equality is something that helps Cameron and the Tories. Long term, this is going to have a major benefit for the Tories even though short term it may not have an effect. ”

    I would entirely disagree – I really don’t see this as having any benefit for the Tories. I would agree that it removes a negative, but it only partly removes a rather nebulous sense of them being ‘the nasty party’. I really can’t see gay marriage shifting any votes in either direction, and while they are seen negatively in a suite of social issues, the people they think they might attract with this measure will still remain unsupportive.

    This isn’t to say I disagree with the measure, but purely in terms of politics, I wouldn’t have done this in Cameron’s shoes. I think he is mistaken on two levels.

    Firstly, we know that he and his advisers were very keen on aping Blair, and Cameron has always searched for his ‘Clause 4’ moment. I think he thought this could be it. The trouble was, Blair picked a really significant issue, and did it when he was in opposition and his party desperate for power. Such opposition as there was was muted and was easily reconciled with the need for unity.

    Secondly, Cameron misjudged his party. Trust levels in him have never been great from the faithful, and he has never worked on his relationship with his party. Blair could also be accused of this up to a point, but his simple answer to that was ‘I’m a winner’.

    The truth of the matter is that gay people form no mare than 4 – 6% of the electorate (sourced from New Scientist) and I suspect that many of them are already fixed in their voting habits. If we are being honest, gay marriage, and gay rights in general, are issues that people care very little about (so long as we’re not seeing massive discrimination and suffering). The issue won’t swing votes, now or in the future, but what does swing votes are displays of party disunity.

    As the impression of disunity is entirely divorced from the causal issue, Cameron has nothing to gain from gay marriage but everything to lose, in my view.

  26. COLIN
    “” Never in British political history has a minor traffic offence produced such spectacular consequences.””
    I suppose Emily Davidson’s death in the 1913 Derby might be a contender.

  27. In the light of Alex Salmond already planning the Independence Celebration party can I suggest a scenario.

    2014 Narrow Yes vote for Independence
    2015 Labour Government elected in the UK
    2016 Labour Government elected in Scotland.

    I doubt there will be a yes vote but who knows however, the other Two outcomes are fairly likely as currently the Labour lead is 15% over the Tories and 21% over SNP.

    What then?

    Would Governments from the same Party elected independently both North and South of the Border and that campaigned vigorously against a Yes vote be enthusiastic about proceeding to break up the Union?

  28. @Colin – “What could have given rise to the dramatic change in VI & net approval?”

    The VI figure looks suspect, or a blip.
    I could be wrong, but I’ve often been struck by how the 65+ group are the generally best in terms of VI for the Tories, but also most disapproving of the government, Cameron’s performance etc.

    On the otherhand it’s quite touching how the 18-24s will say “we’ll never vote for them in a million years, but they’re ok, they are doing a good job.”

  29. JOHN PILGRIM

    Having briefly looked at the ED history:- it wasn’t a “traffic offence” , and its legacy is controversial.

    Meanwhile we wait to see if Oborne has a point. I suspect he does & DC/NC will not relish this by election.

    Labour can only gain by it-whatever the result.

  30. BILLY BOB
    “On the otherhand it’s quite touching how the 18-24s will say “we’ll never vote for them in a million years, but they’re ok, they are doing a good job.””
    I really hadn’t heard that. Is it when they want to touch their old Tory uncle for a tenner?”

  31. BILLYBOB

    Who knows?

    It could equally well be an expression of frustration & exasperation over same gender marriage, in an age group which will usually need time to come to terms with rapid & fundamental change in their social & civic landscape.

  32. @John Pilgrim

    It’s not entirely clear if EWD intended to die when she approached Anmer, she had a return ticket after all. There was a huge public outpouring of grief after her death, and it might have led to something. But then the Great War started and everything changed.

    It’s interesting to think how the WSPU terrorists would have been viewed nowadays…

  33. Services PMI back in positive territory (51.5)- a few other minorly positive surveys around suggesting the early signs from Q1 are that we may just avoid triple dip and bad headlines for the government.

  34. @John Pilgrim

    I would advise any impecunious teenager to take a more nuanced line:

    “Gawd this coalition are an absloute shower, hardly any better than the other lot, eh gramps?”

  35. @Paul Croft – as new Thread Monitor, I assume you have some influence with the God like Anthony. If so, have a word with him about @Shevii. I’m the PMI Information Distributor around here, and have been for some time. To have this young upstart step forward and try to take over this vital role is a sign a pure ill discipline and lack of organisation on this site.

    Something must be done!

  36. @Steve
    I’m not sure where you are getting your 21% lead for Labour over the SNP from, but I assume it may be a Scottish sub-sample of a Westminster VI poll.

    I would add two caveats – firstly sub samples are notoriously fickle – often showing wild swings and are then trumpeted by one side or the other.

    Secondly, Scotland has always voted more for Labour than the SNP at westminster, so those figures arnt surprising, and wont necessarily translate to Holyrood.

    My gut feeling on the ground is that the SNP are still ahead for Holyrood, but maybe by not as much as they were in 2011. On the polling so far, nothing to sugegst that support for indepedence is growing, and it has been consistently in the 30% +/- 5% range for some time. Most people I know have already made up their mind – one way or another.

  37. Colin/JP

    “” Never in British political history has a minor traffic offence produced such spectacular consequences.””
    I suppose Emily Davidson’s death in the 1913 Derby might be a contender.
    _____________________________________________

    How about Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s chauffeur taking a wrong turn into a Sarajevo dead end, then backing out onto the high street against all traffic regulations?

    Gavrilo Princip was so incensed at this flagrant breach of traffic etiquette that he decided to take the law into his own hands, with consequences that, arguably, were the equal of Huhne-gate.

  38. Never in the field of posting has so much been read into one 15% poll by so many, the sound of crowing in a non partisan way of course is overwhelming.

  39. COLIN
    Emily.
    I agree, almost as inappropriate as GO’s reference to the Huhne affair, and not so droll as his parody of Churchill’s “Never in the history……” I guess he did not anticipate quite its consequences. I rather think running out on the course was an offense, but can’t find it on the books, and that she most certainly, brave girl, intend to die; but her matyrdom for the cause of women’s votes still resonates and was around in the Labour Party’s positive discrimination in candidate selection in the 90’s, still evident and working its way through as the male chauvinists wither on the vine.
    BILLY BOB
    Thanks. I like your acne’d adolescents’ weedle better; well worth a kindly chuckle and fiver, anyway.
    What they do when they get the vote, though, could be of serious long-term consences.

  40. Sorry – reword: “she most certainly did not intend to die”

  41. aahg God -of serious long term consequence……

  42. do we have a likely date for the glorious eastliegh bunfight yet?

    I think with both coalition parties tearing lumps out of each other it def increases the chances of labour or an independent stealing it on 30 odd percent of the vote.

    I agree with Oborne that they should agree not to contest each others seats – in fact im surprised this was not in the coalition agreement.

  43. @NickP

    “Freedom to hate? I think we left-footers are perfectly free to carry on being small minded and divisive, but when we carry out legal functions of the state we will be expected not to discriminate.”

    Will you be advocating the binning of ethnic origin forms in job applications then?

    They are, by their nature discriminatory, as they are used for positive discrimination. That is one of dozens of ways that ‘the left’ discriminate. Female quotas being another?

    Bother ends of the Westminster spectrum are frankly in tatters, and looking at comments online today regarding the gay marriage issue, it is no surprise. The (online posting) population of England is no different. Neither seems to have much regard or respect for the other.

    I think this issue will be fun for many on the left, but this issue will not go away lightly. It messes with peoples’ fundamental beliefs, and such things should be made light of. It does seem that politics by media is here, and here to stay. Where the biggest issue in the papers is what motivates a politician’s long-term plans (in the past, many could poo-poo a matter, safe that the electorate would move on to some other issue).

    What next? Daily, online referenda, where people vote one way on Monday, then change their minds and vote back on Friday?

  44. Sorry SocalLiberal, you’ve lost me. Who’s JM? Do you mean Jim Murphy?

  45. Someone commented that EM was having an incredibly easy time in opposition.For the sake of balance one could say that so did Cameron with an
    Adoring press hanging on his every word,rubbishing his opponents and never
    Taking him to task for HIS lack of policies.Plus of course a government that had run out of steam and riven by dissent.

  46. @ Alec

    Lol- but I am a substitute Green and when PMI hasn’t been delivered within 15 mins I think it’s fair for the sub to step in :-)

  47. Alec

    Not often I disagree with you, but I think I do over Cameron’s position on gay marriage.

    I agree that he is going to be hit by party disunity on the issue. But I suspect that this is a price that the Tories have to pay for their long-term survival. Cameron knows that the party’s core demographic is (literally) dying. The old “conservative” core is slowly ageing and dying out. And the Tories have not connected with younger voters to a sufficient extent to replace the traditionalists that they are losing.

    So this is a long-termer. It’s a part of a necessary long-term re-positioning for the party if it is to avoid oblivion in the not-too-distant future. May not be sufficient, but it is certainly necessary.

    In the meantime, you may well be right that the Tories will rip themselves apart for no benefit over this. But I don’t see the obvious alternative path for them that doesn’t re-double their problem a few years down the line with a still further shrunken core.

    In some ways, the Tories existential problem is even worse than Labour’s in the 80s. Then, Labour had been hijacked by incomers. So Kinnock’s Bournemouth speech was an obvious (albeit, brave) and necessary step on the road back to credibility. The Tories’ problem is that their party is still the party it always was. Still controlled at grass-roots by the people who always did control it. They haven’t changed. It’s the world outside that has moved and leaves them looking irrelevant to an increasingly (socially) liberal electorate. And because the core is unchanged, Cameron cannot go for the big-bang Bournemouth strategy without destroying his party. So he has to go for the glacial erosion option. Which leaves him with grim-faced internal opposition at every step. Not a good place to be.

    There’s a related debate going on in the USA, where the Reps are trying to come to terms with the fact that their country had become urban, liberal and multi-ethnic, whilst they appeal to rural, conservative whites. (Broad-brush, but that’s the big first-order picture.)

  48. statgeek

    “Will you be advocating the binning of ethnic origin forms in job applications then?

    They are, by their nature discriminatory, as they are used for positive discrimination. That is one of dozens of ways that ‘the left’ discriminate. Female quotas being another?”

    Complete tosh. The ethnic origins is for monitoring purposes. There is no postive discrimination such as you describe.

    Quite extraordinary to hear you suggest that there is. Astonishing.

  49. @Turk,

    You’re quite right. In fact only once since the poll was released has anyone used the word “outlier”.

    I am refraining from weighing in, for fear of the usual sanctimonious groupthink response.

    To paraphrase the standard AW warning – Let’s wait to see what the next few polls tell us…

  50. New Thread. This is not a drill. ;-)

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