Newark by-election

Yesterday was the Newark by-election, a relatively comfortable hold for the Conservatives over UKIP in second place. When the by-election was first announced there was an obvious risk for the Tories – it was taking place at a time when UKIP would be basking in the glory of a successful European election, there was always that chance that they could have pulled off a surprise victory. In the event it never happened.

I expect to see lots of comment today about what Newark tells us about the state of public opinion. I’ll make my usual post by-election comment that it doesn’t tell us much at all. By-elections are extremely strange beasts that bear very little resemblence to politics as usual. They take place in but one constituency (which may be extremely unrepresentative of the country as a whole), they have no direct bearing upon who runs the country, only on who the local MP is (voters in Newark knew that whoever won, the next morning there would still be a coalition government under David Cameron) and they experience an intensity of campaigning unlike any other contest. Essentally, if voters at a by-election perform pretty much in line with the national polls it doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know, if they behave in a different way then it’s likely because of the extremely unusual nature of by-election contests.

It doesn’t mean that by-elections don’t have an important effect on politics – they do. If UKIP had won or been a closer second it would have continued the “UKIP earthquake” narrative. As it is I think it might start playing into a “UKIP faltering” sort of narrative. That wouldn’t really be fair – it was, after all, a pretty safe Conservative seat and UKIP increased their vote by 22% – but politics is not always fair.

I’ve also seem some comment along the lines of why Labour weren’t in contention, and whether it was a bad night for them. Realistically by-elections do tend to end up becoming a two-horse race – people rapidly identify who the challenger party is and it normally becomes a fight between them and the incumbent; Labour were just a victim of that. Of course, in a different situation Labour could have been the challenger party – Labour would have needed a swing of 16% or so to win Newark, the sort of swing that the Conservatives got in Norwich North and Crewe & Nantwich. The fact is though that we knew anyway that Labour weren’t in that sort of position – they aren’t an opposition that’s tearing away into the sunset, they are an opposition holding onto a relatively modest poll lead. In the present political context, we shouldn’t expect them to be competitive in a seat like Newark.

Finally a brief word about the polling. Survation released a second by-election poll yesterday evening (conducted before the by-election, but released after polls closed), which was almost identical to Lord Ashcoft’s a few days earlier. Both polls had the Conservatives on 42%, both had UKIP on 27% and both were relatively close to the actual result of CON 45%, UKIP 26%. Worth noting in particular is that both polls got UKIP right this time, when previous by-election polling has tended to underestimate their support.


340 Responses to “Newark by-election”

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  1. @Jack Sheldon

    Call me cynical but I always thought this was a PR set up that was always going to end like this.

  2. @ Crossbat
    “A fairly boring no score draw with the limited significance, if any, confined to what didn’t happen. It told us virtually nothing about next year’s general election, although I don’t doubt that the result has bolstered Tory morale.”

    A halved majority and 9% drop in vote share should be pretty disappointing for the Tories after they threw so much at it. Hundreds of visits by MPs, including 4 by Cameron and supposedly 1000 activists on polling day.

  3. @Colin

    It was a by-election, therefore its significance is negligible. Not least because the seat didn’t even change hands.

  4. Reading some of the analysis around Newark, a lot of people are concluding that Lib Dem voters in particular, and Labour voters to a lesser extent voted Conservative to block UKIP.

    Anthony also says above “Realistically by-elections do tend to end up becoming a two-horse race – people rapidly identify who the challenger party is and it normally becomes a fight between them and the incumbent”

    Does that also hold true for a general election? If so, the clear election strategy will be to talk up the UKIP extremist threat “this seat is between labour and ukip, lib dems and conservatives can’t win here” or “this seat is between conservatives and ukip, labour and lib dems can’t win here”. I guess a couple of lib dem seats are still strong enough to make that argument, it seemed to work well in Eastleigh for the council elections at least.

    So I guess that means incumbents stand to gain, as they are most likely to be able to make the argument that they are in the number 1 or 2 position? (except for lib dems of course in most cases)

    So its another Tory government next year then.

  5. There won’t be any UKIP threat by next year.

  6. @ RIchard

    I don’t know, aren’t there enough Labour targets in London and Scotland…

  7. Richard
    “If so, the clear election strategy will be to talk up the UKIP extremist threat “this seat is between labour and ukip, lib dems and conservatives can’t win here” or “this seat is between conservatives and ukip, labour and lib dems can’t win here”.”

    I assume you’re joking about UKIP being extremists, when their best-known policies are to leave Europe and thereby reduce immigration. As this is an opinion held by nearly half the country according to polls it can hardly be described as extremist.

    If you’re right about the strategy, which is basically for the main parties to gang up against UKIP, that is staggering when UKIP haven’t got a single MP yet. Incidentally, I find it interesting that the common view has shifted from predicting that UKIP would get no sets in 2015, to predicting that they will get at least a handful.

  8. @Pete B

    Sorry. I should have said “perceived as extremist” as shown by the polls.

    The very talented Owen Jones has a good article explaining this

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jun/06/analysis-newark-ukip-is-feeling-the-effect-of-protest-votes

    “The national polling explains why. Ukip are supposed to be a symptom of popular anger at the political elite, but – according to an ICM poll in March – they are the least liked and most disliked party. According to YouGov, while 28% of people had a positive view of Ukip back in 2009, it’s now just 22%; and while 37% viewed them negatively five years ago, that has now jumped to 53%. The Ukip vote is dwarfed by the “can’t stand Ukip” vote, and that is a formidable obstacle to them winning a seat.”

    This makes the 2015 election very easy for the main parties to fight – it is easier to fight UKIP than once of the three “they are all the same” parties. So talk up the UKIP threat, and you easily win your seat if you are in poll position.

  9. Allan Christie
    I once gave a talk at Angus College. A woman was introduced to me as a Russian but I doubted this was true and later asked her. She then told me she was an Avar. They swept like the Mongols across Europe but now live in a number of mountainous villages in the Caucasus… and Arbroath

  10. @Richard
    Interesting article by Jones. Even if his figures are correct, that 22% have a positive view of UKIP, this is still hardly ‘extremist’, especially when many more than that support the basic policy even if they don’t like the party. I would class extremist as being say 5% of the electorate – more like the levels of support of the Greens and LibDems.

    Also, if only 22% have a positive view of UKIP, how is it that they polled nearly 26% in a seat which was not considered to be a prime area for them?

  11. Barney

    Was she from Dagestan? If so, surely she could be both a Russian and a Proud Dagestani?

  12. @Pete B

    You can see the ICM poll here. Page 13 has the table where people can rate UKIP from 1-7 between dislike a lot vs like a lot. The dislike a lot column is quite telling and explains Jones’ point quite well.

    http://www.icmresearch.com/data/media/pdf/2014_mar_guardian_poll.pdf

    And the reason why they got more than that? Well in the Euro elections it was turnout. And in Newark I would be guessing somewhere between turnout again (still lower than a GE turnout again) and regional differences in the level of dislike which you can see in that poll table.

    Basically UKIP supporters have been more likely to turnout to vote in the elections to date.

    I should add the caveat that I am a complete amateur at all this stuff and my conclusions are often completely wrong!

  13. @ Pete B

    “Also, if only 22% have a positive view of UKIP, how is it that they polled nearly 26% in a seat which was not considered to be a prime area for them?”

    I suspect though figures could both be true fairly simply:
    i) the 22% is a national figure, and UKIP are still better liked in Newark than in other more urban areas of the UK.
    ii) Some of the people voting for them may dislike the alternatives as much or more.

  14. @Pete B
    I predict UKIP will win zero seats at the GE for the following reasons:

    (a) they’ll be a high turnout (70% plus). UKIP will and have struggled where turnout is high. They mat have the most committed voters but that’s not enough;
    (b) women. UKIP’s message at a national level is not popular with women. Even in Newark, a conservative old fashioned sort of constituency, women would not vote for UKIP;
    (c) many marginal seats (the only winnable seats in 2015) are in urban areas. UKIP struggle in urban areas;
    (d) UKIP is likely to be strongest in safe seats. This is not a winning strategy.

  15. It’s true that the Newark result was a little bit boring. But just pause to see how far the political landscape has changed in a year.

    It’s now boring and slightly disappointing for Ukip to get over 25% of the vote and below 20% would have been portrayed as a disaster for them. No one’s talking about three party politics anymore, In fact the LibDems are rather desperately talking about ‘an era of four party politics’ and ‘the four main parties’ in the hope that they are still included.

  16. @PeteB

    “As this is an opinion held by nearly half the country according to polls it can hardly be described as extremist.”

    Errmmmmm….. looking across the ideological gamut: NSDAP was elected by popular vote in 1933 in a free and fair election; not extremist? The Ayatollahs revolution in 1979, popularly supported then and now; not extremist? Castro in 1959 Cuba, popular for decades; not extremist?

    The fact that a party is well supported doesn’t mean that it isn’t extremist; it’s perfectly possible that the electorate IS extremist.

  17. @Mr Beeswax

    UKIP cannot talk of being a major UK party until and unless they win some Westminster seats. Low turn out elections are not comparable with GEs.

  18. MOG

    ” it’s perfectly possible that the electorate IS extremist.”

    But that does depend on what aspect of government they are expressing an opinion on – and who is deciding that the epithet “extremist” is appropriate.

    In other places, the Icelandic people might be considered “extremist” by turning the creation of a new constitution over to the people. For a country that continues to argue that a codified constitution isn’t necessary, and that sovereignty resides with the “Monarch in Parliament”, that must sound like dangerously extreme democracy!

  19. @SPEARMINT
    “I regret the need to keep repeating this, but Labour under Gordon Brown fought seven by-elections in Labour-held seats and won four. ”

    Although two of those four were held within a month of Brown becoming PM, during his “bounce” period.

  20. @Old Nat
    Take a little look at the Wikipedia entry for Dagestan and you’ll realise that being a “proud Dagestani” is fairly problematic – even for the Avars who are the dominant ethnic grouping (despite being divided into 15 sub-groups speaking quite different languages). There are about 30 indigenous ethnic groups in an area 2/3 the size of Scotland (and just as mountainous) and they’ve never got on very well. If only they each had their own Wee ‘Eck!

  21. So… the Queen’s Speech. To what extent does the stuff they got planned play to salient issues in VI revealed in polling?…

  22. The like/dislike figures are:
    Conservative: 30/49 (-19) 18 Neutral
    Labour: 36/40 (-4) 21 Neutral
    LibDem: 20/54 (-34) 23 Neutral
    UKIP: 19/58 (-39) 1 Neutral

    UKIP’s negatives aren’t much worse than the LibDems’ position. They’re not great, granted, but it is worth noting that /nobody’s/ score is positive. Moreover, UKIP does have obvious wells of support (they are the second most-liked party among DE voters and barely in third among DE voters). It is also worth noting that some demos have very low “like” numbers in general, suggesting that a significant number of voters in some groups are voting for the party they hate least, not one they actually like.

    ===============
    @Miserable Old Git:
    In most of those situations, you didn’t have a free election…the 1932/33 elections in Germany were filled with street violence. The July ’32 election was the “free and fair” high-water mark for the NSDAP (at 37%); in November they fell back to 33%. They got about 44% in March ’33, but that was amid widespread violence and intimidation. In the other cases, your examples involve displacing one non-democracy for another via non-democratic means (Iran was a single-party state, while Cuba’s situation was dubious at best). I’m sorry, but a guerilla movement succeeding doesn’t imply widespread popular support. Street riots and mass protests don’t, either…just ask folks in Thailand.

  23. (In my previous post, the UKIP line should read:
    UKIP: 19/58 (-39) 15 Neutral

    Also, I probably should have added “Don’t Know” to “Neutral” as an exercise since both are expressions of a lack of a strong opinion…UKIP had a higher Don’t Know score than the other three (7% vs. 3-4% for the others). It seems possible that some folks who would register “neutral” in the other cases fell back on “don’t know” for UKIP.

  24. ROGERH

    @”There won’t be any UKIP threat by next year.”

    I disagree.

    Newark gives indications that there might be.

  25. @ Jamie,

    We’ve had lots of examples of oppositions failing to win elections – Foot, Kinnock x 2, Hague, Howard.

    We have. The problem is, most of those Parliaments don’t look much like this one, polling-wise. Hague and Howard never had a sustained poll lead. The Falklands War and the formation of the SDP clearly had a huge impact on the 1983 election, and Thatcher’s resignation clearly had a huge impact on 1992, so we have to throw those two samples out- in neither case did the Opposition have a consistent lead after the pivotal event of the parliament.

    So the only valid comparison we have for an opposition losing after a sustained poll lead like the one Miliband has enjoyed is Kinnock 1.0. That gives us a sample size of three for our comparison (Kinnock 1.0, Blair and Cameron), and since Miliband’s doing better than Kinnock but worse than the other two, the historical comparisons basically give us no information at all.

  26. @ Neil VW,

    It’s a fair point. Glenrothes was in November 2008, though, when Gordon Brown was deeply unpopular and the Tories were ahead by about 10 points in the polls. The Conservative candidate nevertheless managed to lose half the Tory vote share, not to mention his deposit. (And lest we attribute this to the fundamental ABTness of Scotland, the Lib Dem also lost 10% of the vote, and this was back when people still liked the Lib Dems.)

    By-elections just aren’t representative, especially not by-elections in safe seats where the official opposition is not perceived to be the main challenger.

  27. A lot of nonsense is being written about UKIP’s potential. They have significant genuine support, which has increased significantly in the last 2 years. However, they have an effective ceiling of 30% in most areas due to antipathy towards them, egged on by the media who inaccurately portray the party itself as racist. In general, that is not enough to win in a FPTP system. They do have a slight chance of winning a seat at the next GE in a few Con-Lab marginals where their “ceiling” (due to varying demographics) exceeds 30% and anti-UKIP tactical voting is less likely – an example would be Thurrock – but I would be surprised if they win more than 2 seats (and zero is more likely).

    However, neither UKIP nor the LDs are likely to have much impact on the actual result of the 2015 GE, which will essentially be a straight fight between Lab and Con. The only contribution the LDs will play will be to supply a lot of “low hanging fruit” for Con/Lab (and in Scotland SNP) to pick off.

    Unless Scotland votes YES and Scottish representation is effectively excluded at Westminster until actual secession occurs, Lab are on course to be at least the largest single party. They have been helped by the treachery of the LDs in torpedoing the boundary changes, originally trumpeted by NC as making a fairer voting system (another U turn by the modern Vicar of Bray). IMO, if Lab don’t win an outright majority, they will run a “minority” administration, as there won’t be any other significant minority party with more than 15 seats or with kindred views with whom they would wish to form a coalition.

  28. @Daodao

    Your analysis seems very sound to me. I don’t think the UKIP leadership themselves hope to win more than a handful of seats at the next GE. Nevertheless, if we look at the recent example of the SNP and our own Labour Party longer ago, it’s possible for a party to come from nowhere to become a leading player over the course of a few election cycles.

  29. @Daodao

    UKIP could have a significant impact because it’ll take more votes from the Tories than from Labour in 2015. Sometimes that may be enough to deny the Tories a seat.

  30. @ Barney Crockett

    It is almost certain that the Avars of the Caucasus mountain and those that dominated the Carpathian basin and the Balkans before 800 CE are unrelated.

  31. @Couper

    If he does pull it off then Cameron has played it very well. The ECR (European Conservatives and Reformists) could have put forward their own candidate but seem to have realised that as they had no chance of winning most seats it was best to leave it to Cameron et al. to try and undermine the candidate of whichever centrist group came out on top.

  32. @ Chrislane

    “Good Evening all, after a chess triumph in 75 moves.”

    I think triumph should be put into perspective. I once played a chess game down the pub and got beaten in 5 moves.

    The Guardian making a big editorial about tactical Tory voting in Newark and how everyone hates UKIP based on a little bit of dubious commentary from the losing and winning parties there and the fact that Andrew Sparrow found one voter who was doing it (I actually like Andrew Sparrow’s commentary as he seems very even handed and reports facts but his observation seems to have sent the Guardian editorial team into assumption overdrive).

    Obviously I don’t know whether there was tactical voting or not but it doesn’t ring true unless some of the UKIP candidates comments in his previous life really did turn people off to that extent. Be nice to see an Ashcroft poll prove or disprove this theory.

  33. During the later stages of the campaign support for UKIP was slightly eroded, by about 2%, but support for Labour went down by 9% while support for the Tories went up by 9%. OK so as always the results of the two opinion polls are subject to margins of error, but I don’t think it can be just coincidence that the fall for Labour and the rise for the Tories over the last week or so of the campaign were of similar magnitudes.

    This is the numerical evidence to back up the anecdotal evidence that there was tactical voting to try to make sure that UKIP was stopped in its tracks, a reverse which the anti-UKIP mass media could then report as the end of the UKIP insurgency. Of course the bad performance of Labour and the surprisingly good performance of the Tories are reported as if they were unconnected facts, when in reality there is a straight connection between the two, with tactical voting by anti-UKIP Labour supporters nearly doubling the majority achieved by the Tory candidate.

    If UKIP is to ever do better than coming second in UK parliamentary elections it is going to have to find ways to defeat the collusive efforts of the other parties to make sure that it is always blocked.

    Here are the data:

    First Survation poll, fieldwork May 27-28:

    http://survation.com/newark-by-election-poll-survation-the-sun/

    Tories 36%
    UKIP 28%
    Labour 27%
    LibDem 5%

    Second Survation poll, fieldwork June 2-3:

    http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Newark-poll-2.pdf

    Tories 42%
    UKIP 27%
    Labour 22%
    LibDem 4%

    Actual results of election June 5:

    Tories 45%
    UKIP 26%
    Labour 18%
    LibDem 3%

  34. I have to say that there has been a fairly strong meme on Facebook, at least amongst my friends (who are mostly to the left of me, although not an especially radical bunch), that basically amounts to a “Stop UKIP” campaign. It’s not expressed in that way, but at the time of the elections I saw quite a lot of status updates and comments about “going out to vote to stop UKIP” and trying to work out how best to defeat them. There was even some willingness expressed by LOC people to hold their nose and vote Tory if that was what was required (although there are very few areas where that is the choice, and in the Euros d’Hondt makes the calculation pure guesswork).

    For a certain section of people I think UKIP is basically seen as “The New BNP”. That’s probably completely unfair, but it does seem to motivating some people, and not necessarily to support Labour.

    I know my personal experience is not polling evidence, but I think it’s more than one voter in one newspaper article.

  35. Newark doesn’t tell us that much – to the extent it didn’t contradict anything we didn’t know before. The collapse of LibDems vote to these extents we are seeing are beginning to take on an ominous quality which might have longer term implications in so far as any collapse of their vote in LIbDem/Conservative marginals to this extent might help the Conservatives reach a working majority otherwise impossible….

    Still the Conservative Party have safely negotiated the rapids of EU and Newark – once the Scottish referendum is safely past them they are as well placed as they might hope to be – and they seem to have carefully negotiated the benefit of taking credit for the boomlet now underway leaving their LibDem allies floundering….regardless of how noe views the GE or party allegiance -its neat politics IMHO…..

  36. It still seems most of the UKIP effect is confined to how many votes they will drain off and from whom, much more than how many seats they will win. Especially, if someone is trying to form some sort of coalition, considering that there are more natural allies for the two largest parties to choose from. Why spend time negotiating with a party that will not get you past the majority bar, and you really don’t agree with?

    That the LD’s may well have lost half their seats and are generally disliked by most of the electorate (otherwise, presumably they would be voting for them) will not stop them being a prime candidate for inclusion in another coalition. It’s not as if they have much more support to lose at this point anyway.

    I think around 30% in the right place can win a seat, but the circumstances have to be just right (eg, a close marginal to start with). I understand that UKIP are going to seriously target 30-40 seats. Beyond that is probably a waste of their time and resources.

    For what it is worth, my thoughts on the GE
    result has for some time been Labour around 5-10 seats short of an OM. Not quite short enough to make a formal coalition a necessity, but too many short to avoid a lot of horsetrading.

  37. Until we have PR then voting is an obstacle course of who you want, who you don’t want, who you think will win, is the particular election vital. is the seat even remotely winnable and so on.

    In other words its rubbish and we can read very little from Newark that we didn’t already know.

    Come 2015 UKIP “may” win two targeted seats, the LDs will do poorly and the Tories won’t get above their low top.

    Ergo Labour will win as the “least worst” option.

    Their mantra should be:

    “We’re not as bad as the other buggers.”

    At least it would be honest.

  38. JOHN MURPHY

    @”Newark doesn’t tell us that much”

    It tells us what Farage says it tells us-that the significant proportion of UKIP Euro voters who said they would also vote UKIP in a Westminster election, meant it-at least on this occasion .

    General Elections may be another thing & the UKIP effect in given marginals yet something else.

    But the first & most important question was always-will UKIP’s Euro support suddenly melt away in a Westminster election?

    At Newark it didn’t. That isn’t good news for Cons -is it ?

  39. @Colin

    A by-election is not a ‘Westminster election’ in any meaningful way because no one is electing a government. Those voters who do turn out won’t necessarily vote the way they will in a General Election.

  40. ROGERH

    I think I acknowledged that-so that you wouldn’t need to mention it :-)

  41. @Gray

    The like/dislike figures are:
    Conservative: 30/49 (-19) 18 Neutral
    Labour: 36/40 (-4) 21 Neutral
    LibDem: 20/54 (-34) 23 Neutral
    UKIP: 19/58 (-39) 1 Neutral

    I don’t think UKIP were included in that fascinating YouGov poll, commissioned by IPPR, in 2011, showing the “toxicity” levels of the major parties, but these figures are consistent with that poll, albeit with the LibDems paying the painful price of governing in coalition with the Tories.

    I think I’ve tended to be a bit of a lone voice on UKPR on this issue, but I think these sorts of polling findings are crucial to understanding how and why opinion has flowed in the way it has these last four years or so. The Tories are still carrying heavy “toxic” baggage that Labour doesn’t have to bear, thereby putting a lower ceiling on their potential electoral support. Surely this goes to the heart of their persistently anaemic poll ratings and poor election performances, despite 18 months of pretty good economic news and calm political weather for them?

    Put simply and crudely, there seems to be a stubbornly high proportion of the electorate who just can’t bring themselves to vote Conservative. The evidence of this has been all around us for nigh on 25 years. May 2010 lit it up in very bright lights.

    An, by the way, nothing that happened in Newark last Thursday disproves this theorem in any way at all.

  42. @ Dr Cooper @ NeilA

    Fair points from both of you. I’m not saying what I think is definitely right but I would like to see Ashcroft style polling before I believe the tactical voting scenario was more than a handful of voters.

    I could easy put the higher Con vote and lower Lab vote down to turnout. There was no desperate reason to go out and vote Labour as they weren’t going to win.

    Mr Nameless might be able to tell us how strong the Labour knocking up campaign was on the day but clearly it would have been dwarfed by the Tory campaign.

    If the Tories had 1,000 helpers on the day, they probably had enough people to do a Bart and Lisa “have you voted yet, have you voted yet” all day long on each individual Tory voter who needed persuasion to get to the polling station.

  43. A couple of friends went down on the day but I had an exam so couldn’t make it. As far as I can tell they had a decent turnout of volunteers but utterly overwhelmed by a thousand Tory canvassers. Labour’s efforts seemed to be mainly focused around the town as well, the rural areas were probably not worth the travel time.

    Bart and Lisa? “Hey four eyes, vote Jenrick! Hey beardo, vote Jenrick!” http://img705.imageshack.us/img705/2613/sideshowbobrobertsmort2.jpg

  44. “I think I’ve tended to be a bit of a lone voice on UKPR on this issue, but I think these sorts of polling findings are crucial to understanding how and why opinion has flowed in the way it has these last four years or so. The Tories are still carrying heavy “toxic” baggage that Labour doesn’t have to bear, thereby putting a lower ceiling on their potential electoral support.”

    Excusez moi monsieur le Batty mais j’ai been banging on about high bottoms and low tops for ages.

    My theory is better than yours as it also mentions that great British double entendre “BOTTOM”.

  45. Mr Nameless

    You should post under your own name. In years to come, when you are Mr BIG in politics, nobody will be impressed when we say:

    “Oh yes, we knew Mr Nameless when nobody else had heard of him.”

  46. “the Labour knocking up campaign”

    Oo-er Missis.

  47. “Put simply and crudely, there seems to be a stubbornly high proportion of the electorate who just can’t bring themselves to vote Conservative. The evidence of this has been all around us for nigh on 25 years. May 2010 lit it up in very bright lights.
    An, by the way, nothing that happened in Newark last Thursday disproves this theorem in any way at all.”

    @ CrossbatXI

    See as a reader more than a contributor to UKPR I have long followed and subscribed to your theorem about the “toxicity” of the Cons holding them back in polls and GE results….BUT actually I think what we might have seen in Newark is that this could (could) now start to be diluted…because we have a new party of “toxicity” on the block. That is if what we are hearing about non-Tories tactically voting in an ABUKIP fashion is true.

    I actually think Newark points the direction of how the Tories can recover from the doldrums they have existed in since 1992. Without much changing their positioning they can park UKIP to the right of them and thereby appear a more moderate option to the voting public. They even still have the option of swallowing up the remaining Lib Dem voters who hanker after a very moderate centrist right party.

    All of these options will remain for them after GE 2015 when what might assume a return to opposition (should it occur which I am still assuming) could yet further revive their popularity. (eg. Con was more popular in 2001 than 1997, more popular in 2005 than in 2001, and more popular in 2010 than in 2005).

    Somebody upthread said this was very smart politics and I am inclined to agree.

  48. Just an aside (the Newark thing is so passé) I was intrigued to discover how many around the G7 table (amplified with the two EU reps and Biden) were OK with English the other night. My guess was that most were. I know little about the Italian PM Renzi nor the Japanese PM (I don’t even recall his name, they do change so often). Merkel gave a very pleasant sounding speech to Parliament a while back but I wondered if her English was perhaps more a passive understanding. I also wondered what Cameron can speak had he been required to, probably some French? I didn’t wonder about Obama and Biden, the Pax America imperators, although I don’t know really.

    Anybody know the answers?

  49. @Howard

    “I know little about the Italian PM Renzi nor the Japanese PM (I don’t even recall his name, they do change so often).”

    I can’t recall the Japanese PM’s name either, but I heard somewhere that the last bit of it ends in “….nomics”.

  50. @GRHINPORTS [Why oh why such a complicated moniker]

    Yes but,does the Tory party show any signs of doing it, and could they do it without ructions or defections to UKIP? As I understand it there are not many Ken Clarkes in the party these days but a lot of Dan Hannas.

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