Archive for the 'David Cameron' Category

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Tomorrow is the third anniversary of David Cameron winning a majority, here’s a few charts for your perusal

Sunday, May 6th, 2018

TSE



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The day of the husky?

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

Picture credit : WWF

One of David Cameron’s early and later much-derided moves was to go to the Arctic to be seen hugging a husky: I hope it won’t be seen as partisan to say that few of us felt that Cameron had a deep-seated love of huskies: we were all clear that it was symbolic. He was detoxifying the Tories – not just about harsh efficiency, but caring about the environment too.

Ultimately, though, the environment was seen as a second-order issue. Sure, if you asked people if they cared about climate change and pollution, they’d express an opinion, but they generally wouldn’t switch their votes over it. What mattered was the economy, the NHS, immigration and a general impression of competence – and we can now add Brexit.

So why are the parties suddenly working so hard on environment and animal welfare issues? Michael Gove has frankly astonished most people on the green side of politics with a series of speeches and commitments which go beyond lip-service and show a genuine understanding of the way that apparently disparate issues like climate change, pollution and factory farming interact. I know lifelong environmentalists who were blown away by this speech.

Meanwhile, the Labour animal welfare manifesto last week was Christmas come early for the animal movement, and had a media reach (defined as everyone reading/viewing media that reported it, obviously with duplication) of a mind-boggling 230 million. (Disclosure of interest: in my cross-partisan job I’ve had a lot of direct contact with both parties over these initiatives.)

There’s a reason, and it’s not only a sudden rush of green idealism. The parties have fought each other to a standstill on the big issues. The economy? The deficit has gone from urgent crisis to “Is that still a thing?” in public consciousness. Brexit? Clearly difficult and not really under British control. The NHS? In crisis for so long that many people have lost confidence that it will be fixed. Immigration? The Tories aren’t doing much, Labour doesn’t want to do much, UKIP has imploded. Competence? Much of the public doesn’t rate anyone on that score. So the parties are locked at about 40% each with no sign of movement.

Consequently, they’re starting to look at traditionally second-order issues as a way of shifting the dial. Housing, the environment, animals, student fee reforms: perhaps undecided voters will feel that there’s not much to choose on the big issues, so let’s go for the party that seems to have some new ideas on other things.

Like Cameron’s huskies, these ideas aren’t just about the subject, though unlike the husky stunt they have some genuine content. They’re also about shifting the image of parties to be seen as movements that take an interest in a wide range of subjects. And, not least, they’re a way for Ministers and Shadow Ministers in traditionally less-reported areas to gain real attention with innovative thinking.

That’s not a bad thing in our fast-changing world. Expect more of it.

Nick Palmer

(Nick Palmer was Labour MP for Broxtowe 1997-2010. He now works on animal welfare issues on a cross-party basis.)



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How the Tories are still paying the price for Cameron’s failure to win a majority in 2010

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

The coalition concessions continue to shape Britain’s politics

On May 11th 2010, my birthday as it happens, David Cameron was able to enter Downing Street even though he’d failed to win a majority as a result of the coalition deal with Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems.

Two aspects of the Tory concessions required to make that happen are still very much in place – the Fixed-Term Term Parliament Act and the doubling of the number of LD members of the House of Lords.

The former played a big part in April when TMay announced her general election move putting a date more than seven weeks on. According to John Rentoul in the Indy this was set so far ahead in the expectation that Labour wouldn’t back the election call. In the event of this happening the plan was for an amendment to the FPTP act to be pushed through both houses of Parliament specifically stating that the date should be June 8th.

Arguably that extraordinarily long campaign and the greater exposure it put on Mrs May was one of the reasons why a renewed majority was not forthcoming.

The second coalition concession more than doubling the number of LD peers from just over 50 to more than a hundred still dominates the political arithmetic in the upper house.

The intention had been that this move was to create temporary cover for the situation for the period leading up to the reform of the the Lords which both the Tories in 2010 and LDs were committed to.

Lords reform did not happen because of the Tory back bench rebellion and the LD peers are still there.

The Salisbury Convention that the Lords should not stand in the way of a government implementing its manifesto commitments doesn’t apply because of the failure of TMay to retain a CON majority.

Getting the EU bill through is going to be even more difficult because of what Cameron had to agree to in order to get Gordon Brown out of Downing Street.

Mike Smithson




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Nine days to go to the by-election and a report from on the ground in Witney

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

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William Hill latest prices

Do the betting odds have it right?

Witney is a safe Tory seat was made ultra safe by the relatively equal division between Reds and Yellows plus the bonus of having the PM as MP. Last time out Labour thumped Lib Dems in the undercard. In the referendum Remain won 54-46.

The constituency can be divided into three rough blocks

Witney and Chipping Norton – Con v Lab

The fringe of Oxford (Woodstock, Charlbury) Con v LD

Carterton (Armed Services) and the villages – solid Tory

This geographical division partly explains why neither Labour or Liberal Democrats have successfully squeezed the other’s vote. Labour has recovered in Witney since 2010, bucking the trend and holding 2 council seats with increased majorities earlier this year.

One of these councillors, Duncan Enright is Labour candidate having stood in 2015. He has a good reputation locally for campaigning. Liz Leffman for the Yellows stood in Witney in 2005 and in a target seat in 2010. She also has a good reputation for dogged persistence and getting results once she adopts a cause.

With such strong local campaigners standing the Tories responded by also fielding a local councillor, barrister Robert Court. All his predecessors had been head office apparatchiks – Douglas Hurd, Shaun Woodward and Cameron. The Green candidate is Larry Sanders, brother of Bernie. UKIP are very weak and were unable to get their candidate to the one hustings being held.

The Lib Dems have drafted in the full election team and have been helped by not being distracted by national conferences. Labour are relying on a local effort. Duncan Enright’s Twitter feed shows mainly friends and family out with him whereas the Lib Dems have come from all over the country. The Tories seem to be doing their usual thing – apparently unimpressive and yet still the clear favourites.

The scale of the Lib Dem effort means they are likely to regain second place. After years of not being heard, it is clear they are being listened to once again by the voters. However, they have not gained ownership of the key local issues – the closing of a surgery in Witney, Doctor’s waiting times and traffic on the A40. They are doing the playbook but it lacks emotional connection.

Witney is not posh, much of the constituency and the town itself is lower middle class Tory. The Chipping Norton set don’t live in Chipping Norton, but in the villages, where it is very select – plenty of celebs, too many to list.

The likely outcome? The Tories remain clear favourites. The Lib Dems by virtue of the scale of their effort are likely to regain the silver medal spot, but will be prevented from making a major challenge by the residual strength of Labour’s support in Witney town itself. Duncan Enright is a strong local candidate and it is difficult to win the constituency without winning the town of Witney where the Lib Dems are historically weak.

John Wheatley who has been a regular poster to PB.com in the past and lives there



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This Have I Got News For You trailer accurately sums up the rapid and frankly unexpected changes in UK politics in the last four months

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

And the new series starts on Friday with Nick Clegg as host!!!

TSE



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The boundary review is so favourable to CON because Cam/Osbo defied the Electoral Commission to fix it that way

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

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The former Top Tory Two have left TMay a great legacy

There’ve been two major changes to the electoral system that the Tories have brought which have combined together to make the boundary review so favourable to them.

The first is the introduction of individual voter registration which has had the effect of seeing that millions of names on the electoral roll had initially been lost. The second is the introduction of equal sized constituencies.

The big question was when you set the initial voter count for your starting point for the boundary review. The Electoral Commission wanted that to have been the end of 2016 to allow the initial impact of individual voter registration to have sorted itself out.

Cameron/Osborne insisted that this should be December 2015 which means that voter numbers used for the boundary calculation are something like 2m short of what they are today. The seats most affected are those with large numbers of younger people who have been most hit by the registration rule changes.

This went through Parliament in October 2015. There was an attempt in the Lords to keep to the Electoral Commission timetable but that failed by 11 votes due to what appeared to be a whipping cock-up on the Labour side.

There were two votes. The first on the amendment was a defeat for the Tories. Then, inexplicably, on the amended motion some LAB peers appeared to have slipped away and the Tory move got through.

Now those behind the overall plan are gone and Mrs May is the beneficiary.

Mike Smithson




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Cameron quits the Commons sparking off the first by-election in a CON seat since GE2015

Monday, September 12th, 2016

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Hard to see anything other than comfortable CON hold

Cameron has announced this afternoon that he’s going to follow Tony Blair – the last former successful general election winner to stand down as an MP shortly after stepping down as party leader and PM.

So we now have the first Westminster by-election in a CON held seat since the general election. The numbers from May 2015 are above.

Although the overall outcome is hardly in doubt it does raise some questions. Who will be the CON candidate? This is a seat that had had done big beasts in the past and there will be a massive fight to get the blue selection.

How are LAB going to do? Will they hold onto 2nd place or could we see them squeezed by either UKIP or the LDs. The yellows have done reasonably well here in the past and have been having an excellent run in council by-elections.

This should be seen by Farron as a big chance to build some momentum following their dismal GE performance.

It will also be the first by-election for UKIP’s new leader who’ll take over later in the month. Could the hot favourite for that post, Diane James, put herself forward here?

Whatever it is great to have a by-election in a non LAB seat.

Mike Smithson




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Mrs. May’s new PM ratings honeymoon is bigger than Thatcher’s, Cameron’s or Brown’s, but smaller than Major or Blair

Friday, August 19th, 2016

Putting the current ratings numbers into a historical context

With a lot of the non-LAB leadership politics discussion being on May’s polling honeymoon I thought I’d look back at the old MORI ratings to see how other new PM’s were doing at this stage in their occupancy of Number 10.

To its great credit Ipsos MORI keeps excellent historical records and has a whole section devoted to old polling data. So compiling the above has been easy.

Interestingly Mrs. Thatcher was only scoring a net 2% positive satisfaction rating in August 1979 which is the first rating recorded after her success in the election three months earlier. Even in June 1982 when she was basking in her Falklands triumph she only had a net positive of 23%.

At the end of her era John Major recorded the second best new PM ratings on record – a net 46%. This dropped rapidly in the years ahead as he sought to keep the party together over Europe and fight off the accomplished Tony Blair. The new Labour leader’s opening ratings in June 1997 top just about everything a net 59%.

Brown was a net plus 20% two months in after taking over from Blair in June 2007. Cameron, as can be seen scored a net +23% a couple of months after becoming PM.

All saw declines as the years went by and no doubt May will experience the same.

Mike Smithson