Elections in 2014

After the Christmas and New Year break we should be getting some polling tonight – Lord Ashcroft at least is promising a new batch of research (and perhaps Opinium will start up their fortnightly Observer polls again – YouGov’s daily polling doesn’t start again till Monday).

In the meantime, I’ve updated the site to reflect the elections in the year ahead:

Polls on the European election so far are here, though note the experiences of 2009 when early polls for the European election bore very little resemblence at all to the actual result. We don’t know if it was because people didn’t really consider European voting intention until much closer to the time, or the increased publicity UKIP got in the run up to the European elections, or because the expenses scandal shook things up, but one way or the other UKIP support massively increased in the run up to the European elections in 2009 and polls conducted more than a month or so before were of little use in predicting them.

On the election guide part of the site I’ve also added information on the candidates standing so far (Scotland, North East, North West, Yorkshire, West Midlands, East Midlands, Wales, Eastern, South West, South East, London)

Aside from the locals on the same day as the European election, the other big election is the Scottish Independence referendum on the 18th September (my birthday incidently – what better present can one get for a psephologist than a referendum for your birthday?). Polls on the referendum so far are all collected here.

112 Responses to “Elections in 2014”

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  1. Do the Tories think they can only win the 2015 election by looking after pensioners ?

    They always seem to be the Tories priority group of people, because they are the most likely to vote. If pensioners were found not to use their vote as much as other groups, would parties be as interested ?

    If other age groups want a government that also has policies which are favourable to them, they will have to get out to vote.

  2. If the announcement of pensions is intended to be an election winner I think the Tories could be in for a disappointment. I can’t see any of the other major parties promising anything any different.

  3. Spearmint

    Why would anyone expect the post Clegg Labour floor be 35%? Evidence so far in this Parliament is irrelevant. its the actual vote in 2015 that counts.

    I expect Labour to be 30-32% at the 2015 election or maybe a bit worse.

  4. TOH,

    Bear in mind that doing ‘a little worse’ that 30% means Labour would receive fewer votes than in 2010. I find that idea hard to credit since whatever Ed Miliband’s issues there surely isn’t a way to actually lose votes on last time, especially with LD switchers.

  5. I’m not quite sure why people are saying that the Tories losing 37% of their 2010 vote is a bad thing for them (looking at 2015 at least). Obviously it is bad for them now but surely gives them hope that they get those back and everything is great for them. If that happened then it adds 12% on to their current Ashcroft polling giving a potential high of 42%.

    You can start to whittle away at that fairly easily- maybe 3-4% that won’t come back from UKIP, maybe some Con voters that tactically voted LD in 2010 to keep Lab out who are saying Con now but might do the same next time and a few where some policy or other means they will not come back whatever. Even so the poll suggests they at least have the potential to win them back.

    @ TOH
    We have had this discussion before. Only 2015 will tell who is right but everything says that those LD to Lab defectors are left wing (many voting LD because they thought they were more left wing that Lab) and made up their minds within 6 months of the coalition- most turning back to Lab the minute the coalition was announced and the rest turning back once the first policies were unveiled. The responses to those who defected/returned to Lab suggest they are even happier with Lab than the rest of the Lab voters who never left.

  6. @ TOH

    I agree Labour will achieve more than 32%, because of the votes that have switched from Lib Dems. There are also a lot of public sector (PS) workers according to polls, who may also be persuaded to support Labour. In 2010, I think Labour lost support of some PS workers.

    In regard to the 2015 election, I think Labour and Tories will end up both being around 35%.

  7. @spearmint: they were polling in that range pre UKIP. My, obviously anecdotal, experience of UKIP voters is that a number are previous Tory Labour swing voters ‘Mondeo man’ etc. They hate ‘out of touch millionaires’ viscerally, are concerned about public services and, having voted Labour in the past, are not that terrified of a Labour victory.
    Ashcroft says Tories can win if everyone who voted for them in 2010 does so in 2015 (and 37% say they won’t) plus they win over everyone who isn’t voting for them. And that is now that the brand is rwtoxified. Looking at the statements about what each party stands for, they are right back in the territory Ashcroft described post 2005. The only, admittedly very, bright spot for them is economic competence. But they are piggy backing on the USA who followed exactly the policies they disapproved of. If the USA recovery falters, we go down too.

  8. Over the last 2 years, the “Labour isn’t far enough ahead at this stage” mantra has been regularly wheeled out.

    Well now HERE’s a thing. Over the last 40 years, only ONCE has a party won a GE without having once being ahead in a poll 16-18 months before the GE.

    That once was early 82, before the 83 GE, so unless Spain invade Gibraltar, I guess we can disregard that one as telling us anything about GE15.

    So, presumably the “Lab isn’t far enough ahead” line has now reached the end of its period of applicability?

  9. Great post SHEVII-agree with both opinions expressed in it.

  10. On the pensions issue, I suspect this is really a bit of spin, more than anything else. The hidden element here, which I am surprised hasn’t been picked up on, is that the whole point of the triple lock idea was to counter the concerns that pensions would be devalued by switching the inflation link from RPI to CPI. This is something the Tories appear to have got away with.

    The 2014 increase of £2.97pw is based on the September 2013 inflation figure of 2.7%. This is now the CPI figure, whereas the corresponding RPI figure was 3.2% – a full half a percent higher. This means that as a direct result of Tory policy changes, pensioners next year will be £28.64 worse off.

    I’ve done a little spreadsheet work, and it turns out that if we assume the same CPI/RPI figures held true in the future, by the time we get to 2020, a single pensioner would be £200 pa worse off, with a total loss for the full 5 years on the next Parliament of £634.61.

    Of course, this is a simple assumption, and it may be that some rises are based on earnings if they are higher than CPI inflation, and there may be situations where RPI is lower than CPI, so the above illustration isn’t guaranteed by any means.

    However, the 0.5% divergence is historically low – since the CPI was first calculated in 1996, from then to 2010, it has been approximately 1% lower than RPI on average every year. If we applied a 1% RPI differential from 2013, the pension losses by 2020 would be £402 pa with the total 2015 – 2020 loss just short of £1,300. The generally higher RPI figure also means that it is less likely that average wages will be higher than the now redundant RPI figure, making it more likely that pensioners will be worse off because of Cameron’s government in the next parliament.

    There are some reasonably arguments why CPI is more appropriate for pensions calculations than RPI, but it isn’t clear cut. CPI is a geometric mean, rather than an arithmetic mean, so is bound to increase more slowly statistically speaking anyway. The constituent elements of the two indices are the biggest factor though.

    My conclusions are that the triple lock is a bit of smoke and mirrors, designed to hide a major ongoing reduction to pensions, and that Labour and the media are insufficiently intelligent to work this out.


    @” the USA who followed exactly the policies they disapproved of”

    You must have forgotten the tax increases and spending cuts imposed as part of the deficit reduction plan agreed between the White House and Congress.


    I would say the stories are quite similar on both sides of the Atlantic.

  12. @toh – can’t understand the blinding hope overriding the clear evidence that maintains the Tories will do better than they did in 2010. Historically and polling evidence states this is a no hoper.

  13. Colin

    “You must have forgotten the tax increases and spending cuts imposed as part of the deficit reduction plan agreed between the White House and Congress.”

    Tiny cuts and tax increases.

  14. @Shevi (& @Colin) – I understood though that Ashcroft is saying that many of those 37% lost 2010 Con voters are not now in the ‘considerers’ group – in other words, they will not now even consider voting Con.

  15. @ ALEC

    You should email Robert Peston to see whether he agrees with your analysis on Pensions.

    I think you are onto something and that the latest policy annoucement may not be as positive as it first sounds.

    As Norbold suggested earlier, it is probably just stating what will happen anyway. With a £1.5 trillion debt, I cannot see actually increasing pensions will be a priority. The interest on the debt will be a growing part of government budget and DWP will not be given a higher spending allocation.

  16. Colin

    I’m sure you WOULD say that the stories on either side of the pond are similar. I’m not sure that the facts would say that though.


    But the Tory strategy is now very clear. Forget the absolute levels and focus the message on the current rate. By that measure, my team (Donny Rovers) were the stronger team at the end of yesterday’s cup match, because they scored the last goal. Unfortunately, they were already 1-3 down at the time…

  17. @ Alec

    I’m a bit puzzled by how this switching pensions once retired would work. The way I understand it the personal pension pot is used to buy an annuity at current market rates and there must be all sorts of complex annuity calculations and hedging/insurances going on which is difficult to unravel at a later date. The pot of money isn’t there once the annuity is taken simply to be passed on. Also judging on past history and increased life expectancy there is only one direction annuities are going so the minute you have lived 5 years from retirement the rate is likely to be worse.

    A lot of pension advisors will help people find the best deal when they reach retirement and amalgamate different pension pots into one with bigger buying power. Of course they will take a cut which might make going down that route more marginal but I’d have said this is the place where those type of options should be made more transparent so the pension rules are simplified such that it easy for you to take a pension pot and choose your own annuity rather like you would when you search the banks for the best savings rate.

  18. How likely is it that Labour will seek to appeal to younger voters by – at least partially – reversing Osborne’s decision to bring forward the raising of the retirement age to 2020?
    The Brown Govt had intended doing this sometime in the mid-2020s – a pledge to put it back to cica 2023 would probably have a lot of appeal.

  19. In my dinosaur opinion, there should be a state pension option. Both when saving and when drawing an income. It should be capped (i.e. tax efficient to provide a pension up to £50000 say, but not a vehicle for the rich to avoid tax on more than that). At the moment we have the new state flat rate pension replacing the old basic and versions of SERPS and we are going the route of private pensions with employer input…but I can already smell the rip-offs and ovecharging and company collapses ahead.

    The problem is, everybody would use a taxpayer backed option(hence getting rid of competition) and any pot would be stolen for tax cuts by passing Governments. How to avoid that? Not sure but must be possible.

    Then again all private pensions are already backed by the Government in the from of welfare if you have no provision.

  20. @ Alec

    I missed that (37% of 2010 Tories not considering voting Tory now) so thanks.

    However I do have my doubts either about the polling question presentation or on the replies. I would be very surprised if that many people who had voted for any party at the previous election would now not consider it at all (perhaps less so in the unique LD case in this parliament). It does maybe suggest though that the UKIP vote is far more solid than many of us suspect.

  21. @Shevii – I haven’t heard about that one, but I assume it’s an attempt to keep open some market competition once you’ve bought the annuity. At present, the window of opportunity to buy the annuity is very limited, meaning that you are largely at the mercy of short term market factors when you actually make the choice of annuity as a one off choice for the rest of your life.

    In theory, post purchase switching should be quite straightforward. Your pension provider can supply details of how much value is remaining following your annuity purchase, pretty much as they currently do for your pension plan at present. If there is a market provider giving a better income for the transfer value, switching would be beneficial.

    In reality however, finance institutions will want to place barriers to switching and make life difficult, and I suspect that there would be a lot of ways to improve things first, before getting involved in such complex elements. The reality is that the average pension pot on retirement is around £25K, and much less for women, so dealing with what people can save for retirement would be my first choice.

    I would prefer a system of tax relief that abandons the 40% relief rate and limits tax relief to a more reasonable level (eg once your pension fund is large enough to buy a private pension of say £25K pa you get no more relief) and use this money to provide higher relief rates to those on very low earnings. This will save significant taxpayer costs in the future by lifting the poorest out of pensioner benefits.

    One other point on annuities – they don’t just go down. Life expectancy is only one factor. Anticipated returns is the other biggie, and once interest rates and bond yields start to rise, annuity rates will climb, although it’s likely they will still be lower than in the past.

    Deal with city charges. Capping all charges via a threat to remove pension tax relief from poorly structured pension funds would be a cost free way to increase pension returns by 30%, if we ensured the same level of charges as they have in countries like the Netherlands. In effect, the taxpayer is funding the city bonus pot by enabling them to continue to sell very poor value products because we all get 20 – 40% tax relief on the investment.

    In a proper free market no one would dream of investing in private pensions as they are such carp products – it’s only the government distorting the market that props up the city, and the city fill’s it’s trousers with the results.

  22. @colin I have not, that is 2013 and the reason why their recovery might falter and take us down. If there is even a hint of reduction in stimulus the markets crash. We have piggy backed on USA recovery despite our austerity policies. If the USA goes into austerity mode, our recovery might crash

  23. @Graham – doubt there is any mileage for Labour in reversing pension age rises. How many voters under the age of 30 think about their retirement, and how will Labour explain where the money will come from? Living longer means it appears sensible to extend working careers.

    @Nickp – my view is that abandoning SERPS/SP2 is a big, big mistake. As final salary private schemes disappear, this remains the last avenue for normal employees to build up an earnings related guaranteed retirement income, which cannot be removed by government. I think it is extremely important to have at least part of the state pension entitlement linked directly to earnings, especially since the benefits of SP2 are skewed to significantly benefit very low earners.

    What is needed are ways to enable workers on low incomes to build up sufficient pension incomes. Anything that is based on a direct financial contribution (eg private pension schemes) cannot do this, as low earners have less to save. Osborne is establishing a system where if you work poor, you die poor, with the switch to CPI and flat rate pension compounding the problem.

    Long term, this will cost the taxpayer more, as poor pensioners are expensive to maintain – unless we just let them die when the weather gets a bit nippy.

    All state spending around pensions needs to be focused on providing maximum assistance to those people who are working on lower earnings, to ensure that they are encouraged to work full working lives yet can build up sufficient pensionable income to mean they have a reasonable prospect of a relatively comfortable old age, without being an undue financial burden on future taxpayers.

    I do not believe this is an expensive path to take – it need cost no more than we currently spend, and save money long term – but it would involve tackling head on those who believe that the state should generously fund the pensions of high earners, regardless of financial circumstances or of the plight of the low paid.

  24. shevii

    I’m not quite sure why people are saying that the Tories losing 37% of their 2010 vote is a bad thing for them (looking at 2015 at least). Obviously it is bad for them now but surely gives them hope that they get those back and everything is great for them. If that happened then it adds 12% on to their current Ashcroft polling giving a potential high of 42%.

    I’ve just done a calculation based on page 6 of the Ashcroft tables making the assumption that every single 2010 Tory voter, including all those now saying they will vote UKIP etc or won’t vote or don’t know, all vote Conservative in 2015 and so do all those currently saying this. But I’ve assumed that all the other Parties won’t retrieve any of their lost voters to other Parties or to DKs etc.

    Under these highly unrealistic assumptions you get the following VI figures:

    Con 41% (40.6)

    Lab 36% (35.9)

    Lib Dem 7% (7.4)

    UKIP 9%

    Nats 4%

    Green 3%

    Put the decimal point figures (in brackets) into Anthony’s swing calculator and you get “Hung Parliament, Conservatives 8 seats short”. That is the scale of the problem the Conservatives have.

  25. @ Alec

    The article I was talking about (and thought you were too) is number 2 story on the DT front page at the moment.

    Agree with nearly all of that. The only bit I disagree with (and even then you made the point about insurance companies putting in a built in penalty for any transfers) is that a transfer value exists. I don’t really know how these things work so I could be wrong but I don’t see how they would calculate a transfer value once you start taking an annuity although I guess there would still be a market value to taking over an annuity as in “yeah, I’ll take over that annuity if you give me so much money”.

    I totally agree with your general comments on pensions- it seems to me because of tax relief and employers contributions it is a “good” deal for an employee to be in one but it also gives the pension companies a large pot of money to siphon off before it becomes a “bad” deal for the employee. I’m sure if it were possible to take that money put into a pension scheme and just put it in a bank bond you would do much better. Certainly the last 10 years or so this is definitely true, albeit unusual times.

  26. “The only, admittedly very, bright spot for them (The Tories) is economic competence.”

    I would suggest the ‘economic competence’ issue, when put to people in polls, is being dangerously misunderstood. Few – if any – people are able to assess economic competence. Economics, said to be a science, has a dreadful record at predicting the economic events that most affect us. Indeed, the one secure prediction this science could reasonably make is that economic science will continue to fail to predict those things, economics, on that level, being history, not science.

    Economic competence is (by and large) measured according to the criteria that most suit the measurement-taker. Thus, people who answer polls to the effect that the current government is more economically competent than the current opposition mean simply that, yes, indeed, there has been moderate growth after a long time – something we didn’t need the polls to tell us. They would answer the same question in a different way if the criteria were changed; and the opposition’s emphasis on living standards – and the effect this has had on polling generally – suggests the general public is well aware of that.

  27. Sorry, just above, I was responding to the interesting post by Chatterclass. Sorry, CC.

  28. @Alec
    ‘– doubt there is any mileage for Labour in reversing pension age rises. How many voters under the age of 30 think about their retirement, and how will Labour explain where the money will come from? Living longer means it appears sensible to extend working careers.’

    But Labour in office did respond to Adair Turner’s proposals by suggesting that the retirement age be raised to 66 in circa 2025. It was Osborne who brought it forward to 2020. Why would it be so wrong for Labour to revert to something closer to their original proposals? After all, they would be able to cite Adair Turner and others in support!

  29. @ Roger Mexico

    Thanks. It’s nice to have people on here who can work out accurate info based on my lazier comments!

  30. So, in summary.

    Everything the Tories do is terrible. All Tories are stupid and venal. If it wasn’t for the Tories the country would be doing just fine. They are doomed. Noone in their right mind would vote for them. It doesn’t matter if Miliband gets discovered molesting an underaged goat, Labour are guaranteed a victory in 2015. There will never be another Tory government.

    Have I got it about right?

  31. neil

    At last, you are beginning to understand.

  32. TOH [on VI]

    ” Evidence so far in this Parliament is irrelevant.”


  33. neil a

    Is that what I like to call “irony” ?

  34. It’s not irony, r&d, it’s a completely accurate summary of the current situation which I 100% agree with and I’m just glad the British public have at last discovered the truth.

  35. On a serious (polling) note, Neil A, it is a unique set of circumstance that creates a perfect storm in favour of Ed M:

    both other major parties in Government in Coaltion;

    UKIP; and

    all the factors that might favour Con favour UKIP more.

    So, irony aside, no it really doesn’t matter now what the Tories do, they are going to get trampled in 2015. Maybe they could have done differently in the first two years, we’ll never know.

  36. @Neil A

    Using hyperbole to over inflate the supposed claims of others is… Not a nice tactic.

    The polling has been steady. The seat prediction models are pretty clear what the expected results would be. With a collapsed Lib Dem vote share moving to Labour, to be largest party of a coalition in the next government the Conservatives have to out perform 2010.

    In 70 weeks there will be a new government formed from elections. Possibly quite a bit sooner.

    Talk of “these are just mid-term” blues is now over.

    Talk of “plenty of time for improvement” is now over.

    Talk of “people will change their minds closer to the election” is now over.

    Now is the time when the conservatives have to show they can build up a momentum to over-take Labour, not merely tread water. So far they are yet to demonstrate that, and it is hard to see where the momentum comes from.

    There is a Damocles sword hanging over this government, where the Lib Dems could decide to pull the trigger on early elections any time between now and may, Campaigning has already started. All the parties are now preparing to fight an election imminently. But public sentiment seems to have been made of quick setting cement, and it’s going to take more than a pick axe and shovels to upset the foundations of the next election.

  37. LEFTY

    Interesting graph-thanks.

    Have you got a more up-to date version?

  38. Im increasingly mystified why anyone thinks that the tories can win in 2015. This belief seems to rest on either a ‘hunch’ or the ‘fact’ that ‘labour should be more ahead if it hopes to win’.
    The first factor we can dismiss.

    The second plank of the argument seems to rest on the electoral facts of the last tory administration of 79-97. During this period, the tories won four elections in a row with over 40% of the vote – between elections polls would shot tory support dropping, often giving labour strong leads. However, come election day, these swing voters would come back to the tory fold (most spectacularly in 1992).

    But we are not in that world anymore. The tories managed to get just under 37% of the vote in 2010. Since then the polls have showed them pretty consistently averaging in the low to mid 30s – and this has been reflected in the local election results.

    Labour meanwhile has gone from a dismal 29% in 2010 to a consistent polling in the high 30s.

    Applying 79-97 logic would suggest that 5% of tory voters have switched to labour, and one could reasonably predict that a high proportion of them may swing back – as they did in 83, 88 and 92. Polling some 5% below their general election performance is nowhere near as deep a hole as thatcher and major faced at times in the past – in other words, a serious case of mid-term blues – but certinaly not fatal.

    Even using this logic though, the tories would still need all of those ‘swing voters’ to swing back and – seeing as they fell short of an overall majority in 2010 – they would need to increase their vote share – something that historically proved very difficult for incumbent governments to do (the tories never managed it between 79 and 92 – in fact its not happened since 1974).

    But of course the tory -labour ‘swing voter’ scenario is not where we are. The tories have not lost a significant proportion of votes to labour – they have lost them to UKIP. The nearly 10% rise in the labour vote has come from the collapse of the lib dem vote. So to win the tories need all of their 2010 vote – plus significant number of voters who didn’t vote tory in 2010 – and haven’t since 1992 – if ever. And that is just to remain the single biggest party in hung parliament – never mind winning an OM.

    So to answer this problem the tories have to ask why people did not vote tory in 2010 despite a lot of factors in their favour (unpopular government with every appearance of being on its last legs and in aftermath of an economic disaster). I would say the answer is a deep mistrust of the tories as the ‘nasty party’ particularly in the north of england, scotland and amongst BME groups. But it would seem the ‘detoxification’ programme has gone into reverse with a Lynton Crosby inspired focus on immigration and welfare. The recent polling of teachers suggesting that labour leads the tories 57-16 is telling as well – a finding likely to be repeated accross many other public service workers – a significant chunk of the elecorate and although always more sympathetic to labour, not at anyhting like this extent.

    Another misconception people make is that the significant poll ratings for UKIP are all potential tory voters – the evidence suggests that they have taken votes from all the three main parties as well as the ‘dont vote’ types – suggesting that UKIP now occupy the protest vote territory vacated by the lib dems.

    So to win the tories need to significantly increase their vote share on 2010 by reaing all their lost votes and winning over the sort of people who didn’t vote for them in 2010 (like minority groups and pubic sector workers) whilst not loosing their anti-immigrant/anti welfare/ traditional value core voters to UKIP.

    Meanwhile labour merely needs get around 35% of the vote to become the single biggest party – maybe 37% for an OM.

    All the evidence suggests that labour’s first target will be met easily and an OM certainly achievable.

    All the evidence suggests that the tories face a huge challenge that would require a near politcal miracle to pull off.

  39. In the last 30-odd years there’s been elections where large late mid-term opposition leads have collapsed, and then the incumbent ends up with a healthy lead on election day. Then there’s been 2005 where the lead did not move that much. So the pattern we can infer from previous elections is that there is no pattern. Each one is unique. But when a party’s position is fixed for a while, then it tends to stay pretty much fixed.

    There’s been a slow overall drift away from Labour (with ups and downs) but little to suggest that they’re in for another clear defeat. If they do shift away from Labour, where are they going to go? UKIP (possibly) Conservatives (won’t be many) LD’s (highly unlikely) or Stay at home (who knows).

    The other thing is I think Labour will do no worse than 1987, although nowhere near as well as 1997 in terms of swing – if the Cons can’t get a majority with 37% to 29% then they sure won’t get one with 37% to 32% –
    they’d get another coalition at best, good luck getting that EU referendum through.

  40. NickP: I think we are in unknown territory. No party has ever got back in after 1 term out, no party in power has ever increased its majority. Liberal vote has split the left, considerably, since formation SDP. UKIP now splitting the right.
    But, this will be the nastiest most negative election ever fought. Media overly Tory supportive. Other voices gagged (gagging bill, plus now even local authorities to be gagged by Pickles) etc. Labour very short of cash and in a battle with the unions. Labour more manpower/ others more cash.
    Etc etc.
    Who can mobilise most effectively on the doorstep? That’s where the election will be won or lost. All parties know it.

  41. @JayBlanc,

    Talk of “these are just mid-term” blues is now over.

    Talk of “plenty of time for improvement” is now over.

    Talk of “people will change their minds closer to the election” is now over.

    I don’t actually agree with you on any of those three at all. Of course you will simply dismiss me as a useful (to the Tories) idiot, but hey-ho.

  42. @Chatterclass,

    I don’t actually believe that doorstep politics is all that effective in reality. I think elections are won and lost on television (in general transmission rather than party political broadcasts) and with broad brush “capturing the mood” policies (the energy price freeze being a good example). I don’t even think newspapers are that important. Poster campaigns can have an impact, if they hit on the right broad brush issues and amplify the core messages.

    The next election is going to be “fairness” vs “economic recovery”.

  43. Anthony,

    Thanks for the Euro-region candidate pages.

    However as there is no general Euro-election page, I’ll put a comment in here: I think the next Euro-election could well be the first where the order of parties by seats won does not follow the order of party by votes won. There has always been some disconnect – witness the 11 seats the LibDems get for 13.8% compared for the two for the Greens for 8.1%.

    But even with large losses for the Tories and large gains for UKIP I still think a result like 21 Tories (but third in votes), 20 Labour (2nd by votes), 16 UKIP (largest by votes) (and 6 LibDem, 4 Nats and 3 Greens) could well be on. This presumes the Tories can stay top in SW and SE and can translate this into extra seats, while UKIP’s advantage in the Midlands, East, NW and Y&H cannot be translated into seats while Labour (and Nat) strength in NE, Wales and Scotland together with the small sizes of the regions prevents UKIP seats there.

  44. Hi Neil A,

    “I don’t actually agree with you on any of those three at all. Of course you will simply dismiss me as a useful (to the Tories) idiot, but hey-ho.”

    “The next election is going to be “fairness” vs “economic recovery”.”

    Idiot? Come off it. You’re in some kind of a mood though, with a dash of wet Sunday desperation thrown in. The weakness of the ” “fairness” vs “economic recovery” ” line of thought, however, is that the “economic recovery” bit is going to be very hard to demonstrate to a public that knows what that phrase means to them.

  45. I wonder when we’ll be considered out of midterm. I’d put it as September, when after the Scottish referendum there’ll be clear blue* water ahead and we’ll be steaming towards election day.

    *or red, orange, purple, yellow or green

  46. @Colin,

    I will admit that between the Ashes and the Gooner victory over the Spurs I am not in the best of moods. It doesn’t help when I pop in here for some discourse to find the usual wall-to-wall analysis of why the Tories are pathetic losers who haven’t a snowballs chance in Hell.

    As for what people perceive amounts to “economic recovery” that of course will be the subject of the thrusts and parries of the coming battle. Tories will try and portray some of Labour’s agenda as “unfair” (with the usual Daily Mail back catalogue of grips) and Labour will try and portray improving economic data as “not a proper recovery”. But that will still be the battleground.

    I still believe that, for most people (and certainly for most people who have a decent likelihood of voting and are remotely susceptible to persuasion) steady growth figures, continuing low interest rates and improving employment figures are likely to make themselves felt somewhere in their sphere of awareness (if not personally, then amongst family and friends, and/or in the physical effects in their area).

    Of course, there are plenty of reasons why it could all go wrong as Alec is wont to point out. People’s optimism seems to be getting ahead of reality, so indebtedness may become a factor. And of course the recovery is very dependent on the fate of other large economies, particularly the EZ and the US.

    But as AW’s previous article points out, improving economic news appears to have already cost Labour 3 points in VI and significantly narrowed the lead. If, hypothetically, the economy continued on the same course and VI followed it, that could suggest a Labour VI of around 36% this time next year, with the Tories only slightly trailing. There would then be four months available for the Tories to try and pull ahead. I am not suggesting that they will, but I get exasperated at the constant, cod-scientific assertions that they definitely can’t.

    That the Tories could emerge from the next GE with the most seats remains perfectly possible, albeit not the most likely outcome. I do agree that an overall majority would be near-miraculous.

  47. Hi Reggieside,

    “All the evidence suggests that the Tories face a huge challenge that would require a near political miracle to pull off.”

    Detailed post! I won’t say good post – even though it was good really – because I don’t like ganging up. The Tories’ detoxification problem, I would suggest, arises because the weight of opinion in their party doesn’t think it needs to be detoxified. By and large it does (it offers) what it says on its neo-liberal tin.

    Tories come on here, who are good company and think deeply, but give every impression of being, well, small ‘c’ Tories. Conservatism of their kind represents a party that might well believe in the ‘rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate’, but which also believes in one society. My history is deficient, I know, but Tories in that tradition go back a long way, surely? They gave us the Factories Act a long time ago. It’s a conservatism that does (whether I like it or not) have a deep-seated appeal in the British psyche. Neo-liberalism it is not.

    The Tories had no polling appeal in the Blair years because they were clearly neo-liberal. Cameron seemed to be saying to the electorate that he wasn’t one of those people. He was given a ‘grudging’ chance to prove this in 2010, when Brown’s government wobbled. He has, however, led an administration that has proved itself exceedingly neo-liberal. So how can he hope to convince the electorate for a second time that in reality he is a small ‘c’ conservative? And if he can’t do that, how can he hope to tap into those small ‘c’ conservative leanings – where they exist – of the British electorate?

  48. @ Everyone

    Whilst I would dearly like to go with the apparent consensus that it’s all over for the Cons, I’m yet to be convinced.

    I confess I’m far from an experienced reader of poll entrails as so many of you here – rather fascinatingly – are: I’m just a dumb Labourite with sour memories of 1992 etc.. My sense is that there is still everything to play for. No party, with the possible exception of UKIP, has a narrative that really grabs anybody, and there’s a possibility one might emerge out of strategists or events.

    I’m also a bit cynical about how people make their minds up. Being a Londoner I’m only too aware of the Boris factor: nobody can seriously argue that he’s achieved anything much and in terms of competence and vision he’s a very pale imitation of Livingstone. Of course he has the utterly slavish devotion of the Evening Standard but the real factor here is he looks silly, makes people laugh and pretends not to be political.
    CF Farage (pretty similar)
    CF Miliband (nerd, geek, panda eyes)
    CF Balls (aggressive, bumptious, every atom political)
    CF Cameron (no Boris but has that head prefect aura)

    – or did have – I thought Cameron on Andrew Marr this morning came over as rather rattled and nervous. If I’m right and that continues I think Neil A’s hopes will crumble.

    I know Boris is unlikely to have much relevance to a GE but it was a bit of a shock in the Ashcroft poll to see in what high esteem he is still held, even by Labour supporters.

  49. @graham – what Labour did or didn’t say about pension ages isn’t relevant here. In the spirit of UKPR, the only relevant issue is what voters think. I’m almost certain that voter under 35 will see the promise of retiring a year or two earlier in perhaps 40 years time as an irrelevancy when it comes to choosing who to vote for for the next 5 years.

    On the wider pensions issue, in the same spirit I think this is a good move by Cameron. The media don’t understand the issues clearly, so the ‘triple lock’ sounds good to them – Cameron is promising to protect pensioners.

    As a straightforwardly factual statement, he has done no such thing while in office. The CPI switch meant that the pension rise in 2011 was fine for the basic pension element, but using CPI for S2P and pension credit meant these parts lost 1.5% in value. In 2012 the whole state pension system lost 0.4% when the switch was also applied to the basic pension, with a further 0.4% loss in 2013 and now 0.5% in 2014.

    Overall, this means that under his government, the basic state pension is now worth exactly £52 pa less than it would have been. The losses are compounded by the reduced uplift on the S2P and pension credit elements, with the early 1.5% loss meaning these elements have suffered particularly badly. Pensioners are now significantly worse off as a result of this government’s decisions, with the poorest pensioners hit the hardest.

    However, I think this is all good politics. Thanks to high inflation, Cameron was able to give large cash ‘rises’ to pensioners. Of course, these are no such thing – they don’t increase the value of pensions, just keep it stable, but it sounds good.

    Voters don’t rush off to research the internet and construct excel spreadsheets, so won’t appreciate that pensioners are worse off under Cameron and getting steadily poorer.
    Talk of triple locks sounds good, and it is true that pensions have not been cut as much as benefits, which also sounds good.

    The media don’t seem to be able to use the internet nor a simple calculator, so Cameron won’t get any trouble from razor sharp interrogators like Andrew Marr, who ask him why he is protecting pensioners and attacking benefit claimants (note from Tory HQ – Thanks Andy for doing our job for us) instead of asking why the government is claiming to protect pensioners when it’s actually making them worse off.

    And from Labour, they also won’t be challenged. Much as Ed might like to campaign on reductions in pensions, the first question to be thrown at him will be how would you pay for it, and I rather think that Labour feel they have little to gain in the pension age cohort in terms of attracting new supporters, but will be quietly pleased that Osborne is doing a bit of useful dirty work for them by cutting pension costs.

    Taken together with some of the painfully slow moving but potentially useful reforms Steve Web is talking about on private pensions, overall I think Cameron has played pensions smartly in polling terms, if basically dishonestly. That’s not his fault – if the opposition and media aren’t up to pointing out some simple facts, then bully for you.

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