Archive for the 'David Cameron' Category


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


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

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

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 in the past and lives there


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!!!



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

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016


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


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

Monday, September 12th, 2016


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


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


Wiping out the Lib Dems might have been Cameron’s greatest strategic mistake as Prime Minister

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

Cable Loss

Picture: The apotheosis of the Tory targeting of the Lib Dems at the last general election.

Why Cameron might still be PM if the coalition had continued after May 2015.

When David Cameron reflects on his earlier than anticipated departure as Prime Minister I wonder if in hindsight he’ll regret his and Sir Lynton’s Crosby targeting of the Lib Dem held seats at the last general election. At the time the 27 Tory gains from the Lib Dems was hailed for its brilliance and stealthiness, whilst the architects of the plan were lauded to the point one of them was awarded a knighthood.

But much like Hannibal defeating the Romans in the early part of The Second Punic War, Cameron may have won some battles but ultimately lost the war (to stop the Tories banging on about Europe.)

So imagine the EU referendum had taken place under another Con/Lib Dem coalition

With Nick Clegg’s greater experience of European Union affairs, Cameron might have obtained a much better renegotiation deal than he achieved. One of Cameron’s great misjudgements in the EU referendum was to spin the he deal obtained as a great deal instead of the reality of it being a middling to tepid deal at best.

If the referendum had happened under another Tory/Lib Dem coalition I get the feeling the Lib Dems would have insisted the franchise for the referendum was much more broader. You could have seen them insisting European Union citizens resident in the United Kingdom and sixteen & seventeen year olds having the vote, I think the former alone would have been more than enough to overturn Leave’s 1.3 million majority.

The Lib Dems might have also stopped some Tory errors  such as tax credit changes, academisation of every state school, and the junior doctors’ contracts that caused David Cameron’s government so much trouble since May 2015. Whilst in coalition, much to the chagrin of the their coalition partners, the Tories appropriated as their own some of the Liberal Democrat policies such as the substantial increase in the  personal allowance as a Tory policy. 

Had Cameron and his government not taken so many unpopular positions since May 2015, far fewer people would have taken the opportunity to use the referendum to give Cameron and his government a kicking.

Instead people wouldn’t be speaking about David Cameron as a latter day Lord North nor would David Cameron’s final ratings with Ipsos Mori sunk to an all time low for him. 

With a majority of only 12, Theresa May is another Tory leader who might find out that the Tory party is composed solely of “shits, bloody shits, and fucking shits” with the knowledge that the last three Tory Prime Ministers have been destroyed/had their Premierships ended by EU matters, coupled with the hunch that those Lib Dem voters who switched to the Tories at the last general election in those 27 seats won’t find Theresa May as electorally appealing as David Cameron, especially in light of her more authoritarian tendencies. All of this might present an opportunity for the Lib Dems to recover at the next general election.

If Labour does come to its senses and replaces Corbyn soon, by 2020 it might well be that David Cameron will be the only Tory to have won a general election, and a majority in the last twenty eight years, something his critics within the Tory party might wish to reflect on.



Cameron is going, Johnson has been in hiding and Labour faces civil war. So who will lead Britain?

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Dave Quit

The country has voted for change but the future is unclear. Leadership is needed writes Keiran Pedley

Last Thursday’s Brexit vote was truly an historic event in our country’s history. The consequences for British politics will take time to play out. Right now the country is tense. Since David Cameron’s resignation Friday morning there is a political vacuum at the heart of power and sense of uncertainty in the air. Only a fool would predict with any degree of certainty what happens next.

No turning back

However, it is probably best to conclude that we are indeed leaving the EU. That ‘out means out’. Some on the Remain side have sought to challenge the referendum result. David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, has suggested that parliament should overturn the result. A petition to rerun the referendum itself has cleared 3 million signatures and counting. Clearly for some accepting the result is proving difficult.

But they should accept it. EU leaders have and they are demanding a swift divorce. Almost 17.5 million voters backed leaving the EU last Thursday – a million plus more than backed Remain – at a turnout of 72% (eclipsing the 66% turnout at last year’s General Election).  Remainers may justifiably be angry at some of the tactics used by the Leave campaign. However, voters have clearly delivered a message that they want change and that mandate has to be respected. Suggestions that Leave voters represent the ‘lizard brain of Britain’ are patronising and unhelpful. The voters have made their feelings known. All efforts now should be focused on what comes next rather than rerunning last Thursday’s referendum. We have to move on.

Enter Johnson (or May)?

How successfully we do so will depend on who becomes the next Prime Minister and the deal they can deliver. The early signs are that Boris Johnson is favourite. Having led the Leave side to victory and seemingly won the backing of Michael Gove he will take some stopping. However, the former Mayor of London does face significant challenges. He now needs to come up with a coherent vision of what Brexit looks like that satisfies Leave voters and wins over Tory MPs. If he doesn’t, Theresa May could yet emerge as an alternative unifying ‘safe pair of hands’. He may even end up challenged from his Right. The odds are in Johnson’s favour but he does have serious questions to answer on free movement and the common market – questions we can only assume he has been carefully considering during his period of silence this weekend.

Labour in meltdown

Meanwhile the Labour Party faces its own existential crisis. One of the striking features of the Brexit vote was how vast swathes of so-called Labour heartlands ignored the party line and voted Leave. Staunch Labour areas in Wales, Yorkshire and the North-East overwhelmingly backed Brexit. This trend was aptly demonstrated in Ed Miliband’s Doncaster where 69% voted Leave. The truth though is that this trend was seen all across the country in Labour areas.

Some Labour MPs now fear that the party could face a post-Brexit wipe-out in these areas much like the party experienced in Scotland last May. This has led to a concerted effort to remove Jeremy Corbyn as leader over the weekend, with a series of coordinated resignations designed to force him to resign. The plan being to replace him with a unifying figure that can carry the party into the General Election that is assumed to be coming soon. Time will tell if this coup attempt is successful. The loyalty of Corbyn’s support among party members will surely be crucial – though Labour MPs may hope to take the decision out of their hands. Depending on what happens next, Labour could end up in government or facing oblivion and we cannot be sure which.

Who will lead Britain?

In the meantime, the country faces a worrying vacuum in political leadership. One can only hope that it is filled soon. Whoever leads the UK out of Europe faces a daunting to-do list. Voters have clearly voted for changes in immigration policy but what changes and can they be delivered without leaving the single market and the economic challenges that would bring? More importantly, how does the next Prime Minister keep the UK together when Scotland and Northern Ireland voted Remain and Wales and England voted Leave? Moreover, how can we bring those voting Remain and Leave together when they have such different visions of the country’s future? Can we avoid descending further and further into the bitter and divisive politics that were such an unpleasant hallmark of the referendum campaign?  These are tough questions without even considering the inevitable ‘unknown unknowns’ that governments so often face.

Perhaps these seemingly conflicting objectives are impossible to achieve. Choices will have to be made. In which case the next 2-3 years will be some of the most rancorous and turbulent in post war British political history. However, let’s close on a more optimistic note. This uncertainty won’t last forever and our country has faced major crises before and come through the other side. It is possible that the shock of last Thursday is bringing undue panic. That a recession can be avoided. We will do a deal with the EU. This country does have a future. It is possible that a unifying leader may yet emerge and lead the country through this difficult time. In short, Brexit doesn’t have to mean disaster.

Nevertheless, it would be foolish to ignore the scale of the challenge our country faces in the coming weeks, months and years – let’s hope that the current generation of political leaders is up to the task.

Keiran Pedley presents the / Polling Matters show and tweets about politics at @keiranpedley