Stephen Bush over at the New Statesman has written an interesting article about the mountain that faces Labour at the next election. I’ve now had chance to sit down and play with the election results and the picture is as bleak for Labour as Stephen paints – for various reasons, the electoral system has now tilted against Labour in the same way it was tilted against the Conservatives at the last few elections.

Looking at how the vote was distributed at the general election the Conservatives should, on a uniform swing, be able to secure a majority on a lead of about 6%. Labour would need a lead of almost thirteen points. On an equal amount of votes – 34.5% a piece – the Conservatives would have almost fifty seats more than Labour, Labour would need to have a lead of about four points over the Conservatives just to get the most seats in a hung Parliament. The way the cards have fallen, the system is now even more skewed against Labour than it was against the Conservatives.

How did this happen? It’s probably a mixture of three factors. One is the decline of the Liberal Democrats and tactical voting – one of the reasons the electoral system had worked against the Tories in recent decades was that Labour and Lib Dem voters had been prepared to vote tactically against the Tories, and the Lib Dems have held lots of seats in areas that would otherwise be Tory. Those factors have vanished. At the same time the new dominance of the SNP in an area that was a Labour heartland has tilted the system against Labour. Labour had a lead over the Conservatives of 9% in Scotland, but Labour and Conservative got the same number of Scottish seats because the SNP took them all.

Finally there is how the swing was distributed at this election. Overall there was virtually no swing at all between Labour and Conservative across Great Britain, but underneath this there were variances. In the Conservative held target seats that Labour needed to gain there was a swing towards the Conservatives (presumably because most of these seats were being contested by first time Conservative incumbents). In the seats that Labour already held there was a swing towards Labour – in short, Labour won votes in places where they were of no use to them, piling up useless votes in seats they already held.

labourswing

And, of course, these are on current boundaries. Any boundary review is likely to follow the usual pattern of reducing the number in seats in northern cities where there is a relative decline in population and increasing the number of seats in the south where the population is growing… further shifting things in the Conservatives favour.


736 Responses to “The mountain facing Labour”

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  1. @Jim Jam 10.00 am

    My experience on the doorsteps was precisely the same as yours.

    All of that, plus the analysis from Phil H, tells me that a move back into New Lab territory won’t wash in England any more than it will in Scotland. yet it seems to me that all the candidates are from that wing, albeit with Burnham having tracked left a little.

    I was hopeful for Liz K but thought she was pretty dire on Newsnight last night: at the moment I’m afraid that I’m a bit ‘none of the above’

  2. I don’t think Tom Watson is a good choice under any circumstance for Labour Deputy Leader. To me, he always come across pretty anti business, which is exactly the sort of stance Labour don’t need right now.

    Also, there was a lot of personal attention seeking and grandstanding in my view when he was on that Murdoch questioning committee. It almost felt like he had come up with one liners in the mirror the night before.

  3. @AdrianB

    Anyone hoping for the Conservatives to be deprived of their majority as a result of by elections in this parliament may be disappointed as this from the Parliament website shows:

    http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/elections-and-voting/by-elections/by-elections-2010/

    Only three Conservative seats came up between 2010 and 2015. One was held and the other two lost, but under exceptional circumstances to UKIP.

    At the same rate of attrition the Conservatives will still have an OM in 2020 regardless of the by election results. Though the past is no reliable guide for the future.

  4. Rich,

    The job of Deputy Leader is more to keep the party well-oiled and to organise campaigns. Watson would be quite well suited to that as he is respected within the membership and worked his socks off during the GE campaign.

    I’m currently wavering between Burnham and Cooper for leader (haven’t heard much from Kendall) while cursing that Dan Jarvis isn’t standing.

  5. I think the issue with a small majority is a few looneys on the right to causing problems for the Government a la 1992-7.

    Would be the same for Labour with lefty ones if they had a small majority.

  6. Divisive internecine warfare going on at UKIP.

    Does anyone know how those 4m votes will be distributed if they get fed up with UKIP?

  7. Colin – ALL to Labour of course.

  8. How about Jarvis deputy?

  9. Assiduosity’s list of reasons why the Conservatives jumped ahead of Labour without a nationwide Lab-Con swing also highlights nicely the scenario in which the Labour party might reverse that.

    The Labour party can do little about Lib Dem votes going to the Conservative party. UKIP ‘taking’ votes from Lib Dems and Conservatives is equally not due to Labour policy.

    What will the direction of the Labour party affect?

    * Possible gains from the SNP.
    * Possible swings back in those marginal that swung *to* the Conservatives to defiantly stay blue this time.
    * Possible re-integration of ex-Labour UKIP voters.

    How likely are the above three vote movements under (broad brushstrokes):
    a) a politically correct, metropolitan, smooth operator, ‘New Labour’ style brand;
    b) a man-of-the-people, no bull****, populist, ‘Old Labour’ style brand?

    The Labour party as they currently stand have a more centralising, politically-correct, metropolitan image than either the SNP, Conservatives or UKIP. Indeed, it is has been a sustained line-of-attack from the former and the latter! I can’t help but think that if it hasn’t worked now, going further in that direction isn’t going to help! It might bring some votes from the Lib Dem rump or Green defectors, but how many of them are there and are they really the kinds of votes Labour needs to win over?

  10. Seems my view of Liz K on Newsnight was different to others!
    I wonder whether the political reality we are in now is wholly different to what we are used to such that ‘mountains’ will be different in nature to what went before.
    It was inconceivable that what happened in Scotland could happen.
    It was practically inconceivable for a ruling party to increase their vote share.
    It was inconceivable that a far right party would hurt Lab more than Con
    It was inconceivable that the LDs would lose nearly all their seats

    Yet all these things happened, more or less, together with some other inconceivables.

    And what has happened over the last few years in Italy, Greece etc? More inconceivable changes.

    So I would go along with those who say it’s ‘not inconceivable’ that Lab could be wiped out in England just as it’s not inconceivable that Lab could return an OM next time. I think history has become a very poor informant of what will happen in the future of UK politics.
    s

  11. Rich,

    I suspect that Burnham would be a lot of trouble for the Tories as a leader, not because of his views, but because he’s not your typical politician. Miliband’s problem, in part, was that he fulfilled many of the worst features of contemporary politicians as far as the public are concerned.

  12. More on CVI/SVI comparisons

    There has been a lot of discussion whether it was the right move for the modellers and for the polling community as a whole to place such heavy emphasis on the Ashcroft CVI measure (Constituency Voting Intention) question rather than on SVI (Standard Voting Intention). My own frequently expressed view was that it was unwise and that a better measure would have been a weighted average of the two. (Along with others I had argued that the CVI question created an unrealistic mindset and was therefore likely to produce numbers sharply at odds with natural voting behaviour).

    A few days ago I posted a comment suggesting that I had been forced to change my mind (based on my preliminary calculations concerning the relative projection accuracy of the two measures). Interestingly, members of the ElectionForecast have posted apost-election assessment reaching essentially the same conclusion.

    My own analysis was based on 112 Ashcroft polls published since December 2014. (I didn’t go back further than that because I took the view that real VI shifts prior to that would have distorted the analysis. From December onwards the national polls (notoriously) showed very little movement, and so there is a case for using the Ashcroft figures without introducing an adjustment for drift. Across all polls, I calculated the Euclidean Distance (ED) between (a) the SVI figures and actual vote shares and (b) CVI and vote shares.

    To my surprise the CVI profiles proved to be a more accurate predictor of the actual results. The mean ED across the 112 constituencies was 9.2, and this was statistically reliably smaller (i.e., more accurate) than that for the SVI measure (10.5).

    To test whether a weighted average of the two measures would have done a better job, I ran through a range of weights (from 0% SVI and 100% CVI to 100% SVI and 0% CVI). It emerged that the closer you get to using pure CVI measures the more accurate the predictions were:

    SVI weighting with ED in Col 2

    0 9.24
    0.1 9.24
    0.2 9.27
    0.3 9.33
    0.4 9.42
    0.5 9.54
    0.6 9.68
    0.7 9.85
    0.8 10.04
    0.9 10.25
    1 10.48

    Many commenters have observed that the CVI measure seemed to overstate LibDem vote shares and was partly responsible for the general surprise that they did so badly. This is indeed what happened in the polled seats. However, the SVI measure erred in the opposite direction and in the seats where the LDs were competitive the discrepancy was even more marked than that for CVI. Whilst being numerically more accurate the CVI measure distorted the seat count. It wrongly tipped several seats into the HOLD category. SVI predicted that the LD slump would be even bigger than it was. In doing so it ‘called’ more of the seat outcomes correctly.

    In sum, I would argue that there is a case for continuing to prioritise the CVI measure despite the problems it introduces. Neither measure was very accurate I predicting the unexpected behaviour in the Lab/Con marginal. But in this sense they were no worse than any other public measures.

  13. ASSIDUOSITY,

    Interesting observation on Bush. American politics is very much impacted by our take on class — everybody thinks they are middle class, and race — white working class voters vote Repuiblican becuase of complicated legacy of race in the USA. Finally, cultural and religoius issues, abortion, gay marriage, etc., play a big role in America. You add all that to the fact that George W. Bush, though he has an elitist background, very cleverly preented himself as a regular guy. So, Bush, who is a very clever politician, though no so clever on matters of policy and government, had options not available to a British conservative leader. Still, Camneron made did seem to expand a bit beyond his core base in the GE. He was helped by running against EM, who is not very strong a projecting an effective image. DC did project strength and competence and had a very clear message — don’t let the coalitoin of chaos wreck the economy. that was clear to me 3,000 miles away. A focus on a potential leaders background, rather than on their ability to craft and present a message to a wide spectrum of voters, would hurt Labour. While I like EM, it is hard to know how, either in terms of background or presentational skills, he was a sensible choice for Labour in 2010. Hope they do better this time.

  14. If Yvette Coopers interview on Radio 4 TWATO today was representative of her politics then I suspect that the public would reject her even more forcefully than Milliband.

    Full of the usual formulaic left wing terminology, she might have stepped out of the 6th form debating room.

    Peoples worries on immigration was racism ! Nationalism has to be challenged (but only English nationalism apparently) !

    Basically if you’re white and English then you’re in her sights and she doesn’t like you !

    I cannot imagine that anyone in the Labour party grassroots would want someone like this running the party for the next 5 years, although the Students Union probably love her.

  15. The fact that MPs, like policeman, are getting younger should presumably mean we see fewer by-elections in this parliament than in e.g. the 1970s.

  16. * police officers.

  17. @GUYMONDE

    “I was hopeful for Liz K but thought she was pretty dire on Newsnight last night.”

    “Seems my view of Liz K on Newsnight was different to others!”

    No. I agree with you. I thought she was completely hopeless.

  18. @Unicorn

    It would be instructive if you could compare the single CVI question asked first in the ITN South West LD seats poll with the aggregate SVI and aggregate 2nd stage CVI Ashcroft polls of the same seats. (Assuming that Ashcroft polled all of the seats).

    I am pretty sure that the approach of asking CVI on its own will be shown to have been closer than either Ashcroft measure.

  19. @Guymonde

    I think that characterisation of UKIP as a far-right party is unhelpful.

    People voted for UKIP in large numbers because of:

    * A feeling that immigration/integration was uncontrolled;
    * Opposition to EU membership;
    * A desire to display their “anti-Westminsterism”;
    * A bundle of assorted broadly socially-conservative and politically- and economically-libertarian other policies.

    roughly in that order, I would estimate.

    An idea that the abolition of national borders is fundamentally left-wing because of the ideals behind the ‘Internationale’ is probably very-much out of kilter with the average voter’s understanding of the political spectrum. I would hazard that the average voter understands (whether or not you agree that it is true) that open borders favour large corporations, the upper and upper-middle classes and anyone looking for a takeaway on a Friday night. Likewise, I imagine that they would feel that open borders most harm the working classes and those most dependent on public services. Whether they would classify immigration controls as “far right” is maybe dubious.

    Do you think that the ex-Labour voters all turned out for UKIP because they felt that they had undergone Damascene conversions to far right politics, or because they thought that UKIP policies chimed with their broadly left-wing sensibilities?

  20. @rich – I disagree and would be interested for an example where Tom Watson is anti-business unless your equating anti-NI as anti business? I think he would be an excellent choice and balance up a moderate leader like Blair and Prescott did so expertly

  21. Anthony

    A very interesting article. As I said a few days ago now it takes more votes to elect a Labour MP than a Conservative MP. At GE2010 Conservatives secured 307 seats and Labour 258 seats and at GE2015 there was a 0.35% Con/Lab swing meaning Labour should have gained 7 seats from Con thus reducing to Conservative lead over Labour from 49 to 35 seats. However for the reasons you state Conservatives extended lead over Labour to 99 seats. Therefore Conservatives are 64 seats better than UNS would have given them.

    I agree with so many posters we might as well now forget UNS as being relevant in election forecasting now and we need either regional polling and/or marginals polling and/or constituency polling as Lord Ashcroft compiled.

    What we await from Conservative government is whether they reduce seats to 600 and equalise electorate within seats or maintain the 650 and equalise electorate within seats.

    Then we await Boundary Review findings. I note you believe Conservative position may be enhanced by it. I would have thought that Conservatives may not get the “boost” or uplift in notional seats previous boundary reviews including the abandoned one in 2013 provided.

  22. @Popeye

    I think you missed out a general protest vote which might have normally gone to the Lib Dems but for the fact that they wanted to protest against them too.

    I wonder how much support UKIP would have managed if they looked like they might have been in a position to enter government.

    It’s only when people know that it won’t have real consequences that people feel they can register a protest vote.

  23. I have had another thought about Conservative economic messaging, which also ties into ideas of economic security.

    The messaging is that austerity is necessary due to very high indebtedness and that not doing it could lead to a rise in interest rates.

    I suspect the reason it resonated in middle England is precisely that many are up to their eyeballs in personal and mortgage debt and would face severe problems if interest rates were to rise. There are things that could cause that to happen which have nothing to do with economic recovery (such as the bond market going wrong).

    This is a big risk to both the economy and, more importantly from the point of view of politics, the Conservative’s messaging.

    Could a rise in interest rates be the Tory’s tuition fees?

  24. Smithy

    That would be a replay of the Blair years that could work.

  25. I’d assumed that was kind of bundled under the third point, Thoughtful.

    It might be interesting to know how the reasons for UKIP votes differed across the country (if at all). Clearly many people voted UKIP along the eastern seaboard when they thought they might actually get in. If UKIP votes were largely a protest (confident of not really getting a UKIP MP) in the North East or South Yorkshire, say, maybe we would expect a relative drop-off in support there in the places where they are now in second place?

  26. @GUYMONDE – sorry but I think many of these were perfectly conceivable:

    It was inconceivable that what happened in Scotland could happen. TRUE, although forecast for some time

    It was practically inconceivable for a ruling party to increase their vote share. MAYBE UNLIKELY BUT NOT INCONCEIVABLE

    It was inconceivable that a far right party would hurt Lab more than Con NO, FAR RIGHT PARTIES IN HISTORY HAVE OFTEN TAKEN VOTES FROM LEFT AND RIGHT

    It was inconceivable that the LDs would lose nearly all their seats NO, ACTUALLY EVEN THE LIB DEMS THOUGHT THIS WAS LIKELY 12 MONTHS AGO, ALBEIT WE THOUGHT THINGS HAD IMPROVED NEARER POLLING DAY

  27. @peterelectionfollower

    I agree. If the current distribution of voters greatly favours the Tories, then a reappraisal of boundaries is unlikely to favour them still further. Even though making inner city seats larger would probably mean that.

    And we should bear in mind that the pro-Tory bias almost certainly arose from a freakish set of electoral circumstances that are unlikely to occur again.

    My guess is that we have learnt that constituency bias is something that cannot be easily estimated in advance. It would need us to accurately predict VIs on at least a regional basis, which at the moment, it seems we cannot do.

  28. I have carried out an analysis of the change in gap between Labour and Conservative votes in each constituency. i have also divided constituencies into Metropolitan (those that are in Metropolitan boroughs + Greater London) and others.

    Of the 100 constituencies where labour increased this gap only11 were in non-metropolitan areas

    These were in “best performance for labour” order
    Cambridge
    Welwyn Hatfield
    Nottingham South
    Halton
    Nottingham East
    Hull North
    Exeter
    Leicester East
    Middlesborough
    Lancashire West
    Nottingham North

    Of the 100 best performance for the Conservatives only 9 were in Metropolitan areas these were again in best performance for the Tories

    Elmet & Rothwell
    Halifax
    Hendon
    Kingston & Surbiton
    Pudsey
    Solihull
    Twickenham
    Battersea
    Coventry NW

    From this I would conclude that in general the Metropolitan areas are becoming even more left leaning and the non- metropolitan areas trending to the Tories.

    The battleground for the next election is not a matter of winning votes in the North or South. It is who gets the Non-metropolitan vote out.

    Hope this adds something to the discussion .

  29. CHRIS MALTHOUSE

    Thanks, that is very useful.

  30. Labour may have a mountain to climb, but Brian Donohoe won’t be taking part in elevating their chances. :-)

    IRVINE’S former MP says he’s glad he can now tell his ex-constituents to “f*** off” – after they booted him out.

    http://www.irvinetimes.com/news/kilwinning/articles/2015/05/14/531890-donohoes-fourletter-farewell/

  31. @ Gareth Hartwell

    I think the point Guymonde was making is valid or at any rate I’m still in agreement with him despite your comment.

    Your specific points are a kind of convenient cherry-picking:

    No-one foresaw Labour’s defeat in Scotland 5 years ago although most of us did by 6th May.
    On 6th May very few people saw the scale of the Lib.Dem. wipeout .

    Guymonde qualified ‘inconceivable’ with ‘practically’ when it came to the Tories gaining votes because this had been unheard of for a century or more as was pointed out on this blog again and again throughout the last five years.

    Conventionally in the UK parties like UKIP are assumed to hurt the Tories because their voters state Con as second preference.Hence that too was assumed to be likely to be the case by most if not all commenters here.

    Much perhaps hinges on this word ‘conceive’ I can conceive that the Tories,,divided during the European referendum and reviled for wrecking the economy will win no more a handful of seats in 2020.

    I can conceive that UKIP disintegrate, the economy grows rapidly and the Tories win 550 or so.

    Likely neither of these will happen but whereas in 2010 we thought we knew all the rules and trends and took them as fixed, 2015 demonstrates we did not. Anything can happen perhaps and those mountains that Labour,the Lib Dems and UKIP have to climb may well turn out to have been mole-hills to someone such as yourself commenting on the 2020 result.

    The underlying trend arguably since 1974 has been for more and more voters to be less fixed in their views and combined with FPTP this means we have to consider the possibility of wild swings in election results in the UK much as we’ve seen elsewhere in Europe.

  32. ” It might bring some votes from the Lib Dem rump or Green defectors, but how many of them are there and are they really the kinds of votes Labour needs to win over?”

    In England, Greens added 3% to their vote total.

    If they hadn’t, and Labour captured most of these, it might have made a major difference on Con majority chances.

    It’s just one of those areas where once you have five parties with even small vote shares to potentially lose and redistribute, you can see how large swings can potentially happen in the right circumstances.

    Much, much more fluid than the old fashioned two party FPTP swing.

  33. CHRIS MALTHOUSE

    That was very interesting analysis. It seems to me Labour have always failed in rural areas in particular and the only opposition to Conservatives in these areas was the Lib Dems who collapsed. So if Labour are to have a chance they need Lib Dems to come back strongly.

  34. To come back on to boundary changes.

    This is partly triggered by the comments on Metropolitan vs non-Metropolitan seats above.

    People assume that seat equalisation will hurt Labour. I have suggested that there is some double counting of Tory advantage going on here.

    Most obviously, a lot of the damage to Labour would have been caused by the very large increase in size of Scottish and Welsh seats. Well Scotland is no longer a factor, and the Tories are doing well in Wales. So knock off several seats of gains there.

    I then took a look at London.

    The average seat size in England is 72400. In London, the average size is 74000. What is more, the average electorate for Tory seats in London is 70900, whereas the average size of electorate in Labour seats is 75900. All these figures are rounded to the nearest 100.

    Therefore, boundary changes under seat equalisation could in fact deliver more seats to Labour in London.

    I have not crunched the numbers for other areas yet.

  35. @ Catoswyn

    Yes that’s true but the last election exaggerated that fact. It would be interesting if someone could carry out a similar analysis on the 1974 and 1992 results which had similar results in terms of seats won. I am sure this is a long term trend.

    Seats like where I live Rugby, have moved from being generally held by Labour to being a seat that the Tories should win in anything but a bad year for them.

  36. The UKIP situation is fascinating,it reminds me when Kilroy silk broke away to form veritas,now it may not have been from UKIP but an embryo of UKIP.
    Now I could shed some light on this situation.I know some UKIP people/supporters who were absolutely convinced they would get 10-15 seats,they were very vocal on social media.I went to a UKIP public meeting in Thurrock and it was like a cup final winning parade.They were 100% convinced they were winning Thurrock,I cautioned some of my UKIP voting friends ,that I felt 1 or 2 seats would be par,the responses were aggressive to say the least,suffice to say,I have now fallen out with people who have had meltdowns over what has happened.
    Now if this is how the UKIP leadership (they are close to their supporters) has reacted,then they could split apart.Carswell may return to the tories ;0
    The Farage thing is plain daft.
    The thing is where do their votes go ? Clearly the way DC is acting appears far more right of centre than expected by many,so Bluekippers have a home,so that is about 35% say,the rest were Labour supporters and this is where Labour has hope of getting these supporters back in the North,but how will it attract these guys ? Go further left,start talking tough on immigration ? This is going to be Labour’s problem ,these disaffected UKIPpers could just become non voters or even some go Tory if they continue on this path.
    All I know from whom I have had dealings with from UKIP,they are very very angry about what has happened

  37. @CHRIS MALTHOUSE

    I would also note that those Labour areas that you categorize as non metropolitan are nevertheless mostly industrial in terms of employment and some are fairly typical Labour seats.

  38. CATOSWYN

    Or – Labour have to begin to have a real presence in rural areas. There’s sometimes an assumption that ‘rural’ and ‘farming’ are the same thing but there’s a lot of rural poverty and a lot of different issues – eg. transport. Labour needs to move into those areas and present an alternative if they are to progress there.

  39. @Popeye/Gareth H

    I’m not really saying that any of those things were IN FACT inconceivable – because by and large they happened. I am merely saying that amateur psephologists (and probably professionals) held the view that they were inconceivable.
    I am then segueing from that to a view that many of the incontrovertible truths, unclimbable mountains, inconceivable events that may continue to be talked of here may in fact be nothing of the sort.

    And Popeye, I have no problem with your analysis about UKIP motivation. Round here the ones I came across were split between those with BNPish resentment of immigrants; those who think the country is going to the dogs, as exemplified by gay marriage; those with Mrs Duffyish worries about public services (and housing in particular) being unable to cope with population growth; and those who think the mainstream parties don’t care about them and are all the same.
    I’d say the first two categories would largely have come from right wing parties and the last two from Lab or LD. I doubt many of them would see right or left wing as very relevant but from their manifesto it’s pretty clear UKIP are a party well to the right.

  40. @RMJ1

    Yes but the point is that metropolitan Labour is becoming even more Labour and the rest of the country (relatively) less so. Labour are doing well in there heartlands and with the “metropolitan” elite, whilst the rest of the country is drifting to the right.

    By the way – I am intrigued why Labour did so relatively well in Welwyn/Hatfield. Is there a negative Grant Shapps factor?

  41. To return to my London theme.

    Seats with electorates over 85,000:

    Croydon North (L)
    East Ham (L)
    Holborn & St Pancras (L)
    Ilford South (the largest at a whopping 95,000) (L)
    West Ham (L)

    Seats with electorates below 65,000

    Bexleyheath and Crayford (C)
    Chelsea and Fulham (C)
    Cities of London and Westminster (a tiny 61,000) (C)
    Eltham (L)
    Enfield Southgate (C)
    Kensington (61,300) (C)
    Leyton and Wanstead (L)
    Putney (C)
    Westminster North (L)

    Some of those Tory seats are islands in Labour oceans, such as Cities of London and Westminster. Also, since the last boundary review, a lot of those posher seats will have more non-UK residents.

  42. @ Old Nat

    To use a phrase much favoured by Mrs Thatcher, Mundell is probably a bit wet for modern Tory tastes. At university he hung around the edges of the SDP bandwagion and seemed quite at home, although he seems to have had this largely airbrushed out of his history.

  43. MAURA
    Or – Labour have to begin to have a real presence in rural areas. There’s sometimes an assumption that ‘rural’ and ‘farming’ are the same thing but there’s a lot of rural poverty and a lot of different issues – eg. transport. Labour needs to move into those areas and present an alternative if they are to progress there.

    __________________________________________________

    Oh I wish. The SNP have proved that its perfectly possible to appeal to both rural and metropolitan areas. However I note I saw Alex Salmond looking quite at ease leaning on a gate during a cattle auction talking to farmers. I struggled to locate a Labour MP in my head who would quite manage it.

    You ae right that its not all about farming. However on the farming point they are basically businessmen. Usually Conservative. There are lots of practical ways to address the way you approach them.

    The second major group…. usually targeted by the Lib Dems are ‘villagers’. Labour traditionally has very little to say to them.

    In 2010 I always remember Labour’s offering was around ‘increased access to the countryside for the population’. At the time I sank my head into my hands.

    Anyway, hidden rural poverty is certainly an issue. If Labour went to the countryside just with this though there would not be enough votes to carry them.

  44. @Alec

    If you assume that every single Green voter voted for Labour instead then, if my maths is correct, Labour would have won the following extra twelve seats:

    (From Con)
    Bedford, Brighton Kemptown, Bury North, Croydon Central, Derby North, Gower, Morley and Outwood, Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, Telford, Weaver Vale.

    (From Lib Dem)
    Leeds North West.

    (From Green)
    Brighton Pavilion.

    That is the maximum impact possible from Labour taking a Green-friendly direction.

  45. Colin
    ““I watched the Andrew Neil interview with Liz Kendall & was surprised how impressed I was with her.”

    I watched her on Newsnight with Evan Davies, last night.

    She didn’t answer one of the questions put to her, but instead answered the questions that she obviously thought she should have been asked but wasn’t.

    Got to make her the ideal leader, hasn’t it?

  46. BILL PATRICK

    I would expect the Tories would be delighted if Andy Burnham became the next Labour leader. They would remind the voters repeatedly that Mid Staffs happened on his watch.

  47. Not Liz. Lovely lass but…. for me she is too anodyne.

  48. Popeye

    I think it was probably the redkippers in New Addington and Fieldway wards that did for Labour in Croydon Central.

  49. I don’t think we disagree Guymonde, the point I was attempting (and maybe failing) to make was that the UKIP manifesto maybe isn’t that relevant in defining the party! All of the rest of the policies (which might be right-wing biased, but more socially-conservative than economically-conservative as a whole) don’t seem to have been very relevant at all compared with immigration and the EU. I would guess that they were much less important than protest voting, even.

    So in that sense all I was trying to say is that UKIP are only really far-right if you see controlled immigration and EU pullout as necessarily far-right policies, and more importantly if they are seen are far-right policies by the electorate (as opposed to left-wing issues of worker bargaining power, or green issues of overpopulation, or whatever). Those are really the only two policy areas that define UKIP.

  50. None of the current Labour candidates leaps out as a ‘solution’ candidate. As TOH says Andy Burnham, much as I like him generally, has history that could be very negative. Yvette Cooper will always be known as ‘the woman with balls’ , Liz looks too lightweight so far, T Hunt IS a Conservative in all but name so far as I can tell etc

    Still, leaders evolve I suppose. Will have to choose someone or other.The pressure to be the ‘new face’ who ‘saves the party’ is a little too much for anyone to be honest.

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