Archive for the 'Theresa May' Category


Theresa’s Tories still being hit by the GE2017 branding gamble

Monday, August 21st, 2017

No post election poll has matched the CON election share which itself was seen as a disappointment

It was noticing the photograph above of the Conservative battle bus at the general election that reminded me what a huge gamble the blue team made at the last election by putting everything on Theresa May.

Notice that on the bus the words Conservative or Tory don’t appear. The election was going to be all about Theresa but as it turned out by polling day this was no longer a positive but a significant negative.

This was brought home to me by a recent conversation with a regular non-posting PBer PB and Lib Dem canvasser who was working hard throughout April May and early June for his party. He noted that in April and early May often when they knocked on a Conservative supporter’s door they were likely to get the response that people will be voting for Theresa. It was she that was being named and not her party.

By the end of the campaign the tone was completely different. When voters specifically mentioned the PM the term they used was “her” who they were defiantly not voting for.

Since June 8th the Tories have yet to poll above 42% which is 1.5% below what they achieved at GE17 and markedly below what most final polls were saying.

Given the way the polls were in early May backed up by superb Conservative local election results you can understand why the “Brand Theresa” strategy was evolved. Unfortunately as people got to know her better her personal rating declined and now they are in deep negative territory.

Can she pull it round? That’s hard to say but it doesn’t look good and the widespread assumption is that GE2017 was her first and last as leader.

Mike Smithson


When TMay apologists try to excuse her GE17 humiliation by bragging about increased CON vote share show them this chart

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

It’s the relationship with the LAB vote that matters

In the run up to the CON conference at the start of October you are going to hear a lot about about how the Tory national vote share on June 8th went up to levels higher than Mrs Thatcher achieved with the implication that it wasn’t quite as bad as might appear.

This is a desperate effort to try to whitewash TMay’s disastrous decision to go to the country three years early and the fact that that under the scrutiny of a general election campaign she became huge electoral negative.

    The increased vote share bragging would have been a big deal except for one simple fact that the apologists try to gloss over – the LAB vote went up by much more.

This was the main reason why the party had 25 net seat losses in England and Wales a figure that was partly ameliorated by Ruth Davidson’s 12 Scottish CON gains.

South of the border the main detriment of seat gains and losses was the CON vote relationship with the LAB share. Only ten of the 572 seats in England and Wales were not won by Labour or the Conservatives.

All this is why it is the CON vote relationship with LAB that matters so much.

The chart, which I’ve presented here in a different form before seeks to look at the relationship between between the two main parties by looking at historical splits in the LAB+CON vote aggregate.

As can be seen on this measure TMay certainly did better than the Tories in the Blair years but worse than David Cameron in both 2010 and 2015.

The big vote move on June 8th was the collapse of UKIP something that was widely thought would help TMay most. It didn’t hence the losses.

Mike Smithson


In spite of her general election humiliation TMay still leads in the “who’d make the best PM” polling

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

Corbyn isn’t seen as an alternative

There’s little doubt that if the general election had been on May 4th, local election day, then Mrs. May would have got her landslide. The general election polling that was coming out at the time with leads of 15%/20% was broadly reflected in the way that the country voted in the range of elections on that day. The build up to that Thursday, and her dramatic visit to the Palace on May 3rd and speech in Downing Street afterwards very much set the tone for the elections the following day.

In the run up to May 4th TMay had leads over Corbyn in the best PM polling of 30-40%. Anything in the general election five weeks later seemed possible.

Party workers in the May local elections were being told on the doorstep that their choice was just “Theresa” – her brand had extraordinary support and went way beyond just the Conservatives.

    Is it any wonder then that Lynton Crosby’s £4m campaign for the Tories advised that making her the main plank of the Tory campaign was the right way to go. She was an electoral phenomenon and he sought to cash in on it.

Unfortunately for the blue team there were still five weeks to go and when TMay faced the serious scrutiny of a general election campaign she moved from being an electoral asset to an electoral liability. Her inability to interact comfortably with ordinary people became more apparent as the days went by and her refusal to take part in a TV debate with Corbyn in the closing stages was a huge mistake as the BES polling has shown.

So in spite of her overall public image taking a battering because of the result it is striking that when pollsters ask ho they think would make the best PM they do not choose Corbyn. He’s only led in one poll since the election.

Mike Smithson


David Davis still firm favourite to succeed TMay while Johnson slips to 5th

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

The latest CON leadership betting

David Davis 18%

Phillip Hammond 9%

Jacob Rees-Mogg 9%

Amber Rudd 9%

Boris Johnson 8%

Ruth Davidson 5%

Damian Green 4%

This is based on last trades on Betfair.

What will ignite this market is any suggestion in the run-up or at conference in the first week of October that a challenge could be mounted to TMay.

Mike Smithson


Ruth Davidson’s Scottish successes saved TMay’s bacon on June 8th but that comes at a price

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

The mathematics of the Tory power struggle

The chart is very simple but illustrates clearly why Scottish Conservative leader feels able to to put pressure on TMay over the PM’s hardline immigration rhetoric.

Davidson is making a pro-immigration argument that’s rarely heard from a Conservative. She says ‘with the country on the road to full employment, potential for growth is facing ever greater limitations’ without the boost from immigrants.

The Scottish Conservative leader attacks May for her “easy slogans” on getting numbers below 100k and comes at a crucial time in the Brexit negotiations.

In many ways Davidson’s approach is at loggerheads with the TMay interpretation of the referendum result making control of migrants a main priority.

    Davidson’s pressure and influence is part of the price the PM will have to pay for their very different performances on June 8th. Theresa May’s gamble ended in failure the scale of which was mitigated by Davidson’s success in Scotland.

On specifics Davidson wants May to drop her longstanding insistence that overseas students be included on immigration something that’s been widely criticised by universities because it undermines their income base and their efforts to attract the most able students.

A Spectator email has noted that Davidson’s move seems to “echo that of the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, who has also previously cast doubt over the government’s goal of reducing net migration to below the 100,000 target”.

Could this be part of what Rudd and Davidson discussed during their private meeting in Glasgow last week?

Mike Smithson


The Tories needs to resolve divisions soon because divided parties struggle at election time

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

One of the things that we know from previous elections is that parties that are seen to be divided can get punished by the voters. That was John Major’s fate at GE1997 after five difficult years of one split after another.

The current situation, as seen in the recent YouGov polling illustrated in the chart and touched on in this week’s podcast, looks challenging and could be hugely problematical if there is the need for an early election. This, of course, is something that’s made more likely with the current Commons arithmetic. That just 8% of the sample and only 15% of CON voters felt able to describe the the party as “united” is extraordinary.

What’s really striking about the poll is that when this was asked two weeks before GE17 43% said the thought to Tories were united with just 29% against. That’s a whopping turnaround.

Public splits are going to be magnified simply because of the threat to the government’s position.

Labour, as we’ve seen in the reaction within the movement to Corbyn’s weekend comments on BREXIT on the Marr show, is nearly as bad but interestingly there’s been a huge effort in the past few days to create a semblance of a unified position. I put that down to the Corbyn’s comment being poorly prepared for the Marr interview.

There’s a great article by Marie Le Conte on Vice news about the current state of thinking within the blue team and how a before the recess senior Tory figures were briefing against TMay only a few yards away from where the PM was standing at some events. It is here under the provocative heading “An Insider’s Guide to Tory In-Fighting”.

My view is that the Tory splits will continue as long as the leadership position remains uncertain.

Mike Smithson


Why there’ll always be a reason why the time’s not ripe to depose Theresa

Friday, July 21st, 2017

Nick Palmer suggests she could be around for longer than predicted

Like many observers, I have the clear impression that most Conservative MPs feel that a change of leadership is needed before the next election. As many have observed, challengers are mainly inhibited by the sense that whoever challenges may not win, and the potential leaders would rather have May than a possibly successful alternative blocking their own chance at the top. At any moment, there could be a deal between two of the factions sufficient to trigger a leadership challenge – all the main contenders could rustle up 50 letters to achieve that if they worked at it.

But…when? What is the process that makes it happen? Parliament now disappears for two months, appearing only fleetingly in September before packing up again for the conferences. It’s likely, though we can never be sure in these turbulent times, that politics will be fairly quiet for a bit, with nearly all the main actors scattered around the world.

What about September? Well, say you’re a Tory MP. You come back refreshed, still concerned about the polls but largely out of touch with any ongoing plotting. Do you instantly sign a letter to force May out? No. You have a think, talk to colleagues, consult your constituency association. Two weeks pass quickly, then you’re off again.

What about the Conference? Well, that’s a good time to meet lots of potential fellow-plotters. But it’s a terrible time to launch a challenge. “Here’s our Prime Minister, speaking about the year ahead for Britain, and by the way we’ve decided this week to get rid of her. Enjoy the speech anyway.” No.

Of course, she might decide to resign voluntarily. But she’s stuck through a pretty nasty period. Why would she suddenly leave after a quiet one, with the Conference giving the chance to reboot her leadership?

What about after Conference? What, in the middle of substantive Brexit talks? It’s clearly against the national interest AND the party interest. It would look both frivolous and self-centred.

What about when Brexit talks end? If they fail altogether, maybe, but the EU doesn’t do failure, it does fudge. Given any sort of deal, it will be presented as the best result available, with a tricky transition period to get through. Time to have a leadership election? Not really. Rather, they’ll try to argue that actually they’ve got a very good deal.

So I can’t see that there’s a natural time to change before 2020. If Labour is then 20 points ahead in the polls, the party might finally move, in desperation. Otherwise, quite likely not. Theresa May is the Tory leader, even though most MPs might still wish she wasn’t (and if that reminds you of any other parties, life is full of ironies). Get used to it.

Nick Palmer was Labour MP for Broxtowe, 1997-2010


Leadsom might not ever have a better chance of becoming PM than the 2016 leadership race that she flunked

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Her withdrawal then was a great disservice to the party

It is being reported that Andrea Leadsom is ready to stand if there is move within the parliamentary party to try to anoint a successor to GE2017 failure, TMay, without the necessity of going through a full fledged leadership contest.

The Tory leadership election system dates back to William Hague’s days in the 1997-2001 parliament with the final choice being made by via a members’ postal ballot from a shortlist of two agreed by the party’s MPs.

A year ago Leadsom had, through a series of well documented freak circumstances, made it to the final two and was all set for the next leader and PM to be decided by members’ ballot.

However she pulled out of the contest after an unfortunate interview with Rachel Sylvestor of the Times when she appeared to suggest that she was better qualified to be leader because unlike TMay, she was a mother.

    Leadsom’s decision meant that TMay got the job by default and was never tested fighting for the support of party members – an experience, I’d suggest suggest that would have prepared her better for leading the party at a general election.

May would have had to go through hustings meetings with Leadsom, TV debates and tough probing interviews – all things that the very private Mrs May finds hard to deal with. It would have been much harder ducking out of Woman’s Hour in a leadership contest than as an incumbent PM.

But the overall experience would have honed her up and made her more cautious about calling a general election.

Given what we now know about how the PM performs under such electoral scrutiny there’s also a possibility that TMay might not have beaten Leadsom who did well for her side in her public appearances during the EU referendum.

You can get Leadsom at 20/1 on Betfair to be TMay’s successor.

Mike Smithson