Archive for the 'Tories' Category


David Davis moves up in sharply in the betting for TMay’s successor. Now a 27% chance

Monday, June 19th, 2017

What we don’t know is whether there’ll be a vacancy or not

What a totally crazy political period. The Brexit negotiations have started and Mrs. May’s Tories go into Wednesday’s Queen’s speech without a formal deal being announced on whether the 10 DUP MPs will support the blue team and enable the Tories to get a majority at the end of the debate.

In all of this the 2005 CON leadership loser, David Davis, now moves up sharply in the betting.

It could be that TMay, in spite of the huge failure of her GE17 gamble, remains in post and it might be years before the market is settled. Alternatively it could all happen this or next week.

Happy punting.

Mike Smithson


Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it in for May

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

Poor Mrs May, will she even make it as one year as Prime Minister? Meanwhile in Lib Dem news



Picking the nation’s leader. Why the Conservatives are running out of options

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

We’ve been here before. For the second time in less than a year, the Conservatives are on the brink of replacing a leader between elections while in power. Yet right now they are in such a tizz, they aren’t considering some of the critical considerations that such a responsibility entails.

If the Conservatives replace Theresa May, they are not just choosing a new leader for themselves but the nation’s Prime Minister. They will find it unusually difficult to justify replacing Theresa May and remaining in office without a further election. The recent election was fought by them almost exclusively on her merits, to the point that the party’s name was almost invisible on much of the campaign’s literature. Two weeks have not yet passed since the general election and if the nation were to have an entirely different proposition imposed on it for the next five years, voters might reasonably conclude that the government lacked any mandate.

That probably won’t bite in the short term. If we can believe anything in the polls any more, it is that the public have definitively lost faith in Theresa May for now. Any replacement will be accepted as the lesser of two evils. But he or she is going to need to be capable of being presented as a continuity candidate (without the identified leadership flaws) for that.

The Conservatives cannot put forward someone without the credentials to fulfil that role, especially with the Brexit negotiations imminent. If they were to choose anyone with inadequate experience would definitely be placing party or ideology before country.

They would also be breaking a long-established practice when replacing Prime Ministers between elections. As I noted last summer, every internal replacement of an incumbent Prime Minister since the Second World War until that point had been either a former Foreign Secretary or a former Chancellor of the Exchequer or both. James Callaghan managed the full set, having previously been Home Secretary as well. The last Prime Minister to replace the incumbent – other than through an election – who had not previously held one of those roles was Balfour, and he was the last man to hold the title of First Lord of the Treasury without being Prime Minister, during his uncle’s ministry. Theresa May had been a very experienced Home Secretary and so she met the experience threshold as well.

Of the names being seriously floated to replace Theresa May, only Philip Hammond really has sufficient experience to be presented as oven-ready. At a push, you might make the case for Boris Johnson or Amber Rudd, though 11 months’ experience in a great office of state where neither has exactly sparkled isn’t exactly compelling. David Davis looks to be the wrong side of the line to me – even if you treat his role in Brexit negotiations as equivalent to a great office of state, the role hasn’t really got going yet.

Some of the names being wishfully floated are ludicrous. Not only is Ruth Davidson entirely lacking in ministerial experience, she isn’t even an MP. The silliest suggestion so far (in a crowded field) was Isabel Oakeshott floating Graham Brady’s name – not only does he not have a jot of ministerial experience, he would struggle to be recognised outside his own front room. But he’s “sound” on Brexit, so that’s alright.

The Conservatives have been in power continuously for seven years, but when it comes to ministers experienced at the highest level, their cupboard is bare. It seems to me that the Conservatives have three options consistent with their responsibilities to the nation: they can struggle on with Theresa May; they can replace her with Philip Hammond; or they can go into voluntary opposition and pick someone else. Anything else would be an insult to democracy.

Alastair Meeks


The Tories must leave and give Corbyn his chance

Saturday, June 17th, 2017

A tawdry May-DUP deal is not something Con MPs should sign up to

According to the plan, this should have been the week when Theresa May stamped her authority on her government, her Party and the country. A reshuffle to mould her ministers in her image; a Queen’s Speech to tackle the issues she cares about, in the way that she wants to tackle them; and five years in which to do that, to deliver Brexit and to tee up another term. How the gods laughed.

Instead, May demonstrated – and continues to demonstrate – that while she’s perfectly capable of handling the business of government, she’s hopelessly inept at the politics and PR of government. Unfortunately, the various aspects can’t be separated, nor can any of them be ignored. Not if a PM wants to last in office anyway.

The evidence of the tin ear of May and her inner team to dealing with the politics and PR of running a government and party is already huge. Ministers need to be treated with respect, not only because that is their due out of position but because they hold independent power as substantial figures in Westminster. Instead, they were belittled by a pair of over-mighty SpAds. Journalists need to be humoured with stories, anecdote and copy. Instead, they were locked away from the action during the election and not allowed to even hold the microphone when asking questions. How unsurprising that they didn’t see or report things favourably. The excess of control and the desire to hide from any perceived risk is the antithesis of leadership and betrays a deep lack of self-confidence. And if May can’t be confident in her abilities, why should anyone else?

Not that the failings ended with the election. The human touch was again lacking in handling defeated MPs and – most obviously to the public – in not meeting those who have lost everything in the appalling Grenfell fire, exacerbating the problem by citing ‘security’. The Queen went.

It should be obvious now to Tory MPs that this is part of a pattern; that the behaviour is not just a bad run but is characteristic of May’s way of working and is not going to change. As yet, we know little of the DUP negotiations but again, where is the involvement of other ministers or of the parliamentary party? There is no collegiality; there is no recognition that the smallest rebellion puts her majority at risk. If left to run by themselves, events will ensure that May cannot serve for long. It would be far better to pre-empt that inevitability by not undermining the Northern Ireland process by so overtly aligning with one side, by not undermining the case for fiscal responsibility by agreeing to whatever the DUP come up with (and, consequently, by having to find several dozen times as much to satisfy Barnett consequences for the rest of the country), and by keeping control of events.

Which is to say that May must go.

However, what then? Whoever is leader of the Tories still faces the same parliamentary arithmetic. If the DUP are spurned, the government has no reliable majority. The answer is simple: it too should go. Jeremy Corbyn has already indicated that he is ready to form a government; he should be allowed to do so.

In some ways, Corbyn lost the election: he won fewer votes than the Tories and he won fewer seats than the Tories. In another way though, he won. The argument for fiscal responsibility was lost. This was admittedly partly by default through the unwillingness of May to allow Hammond any airtime or to endorse Osborne’s policies but all the same, the country again believes in magic money trees. And it will continue to do so until it is proven that such trees are not magic but poisonous.

Corbyn should therefore be given time to enact his policies and the country given the chance to judge. The Tories remain in a position where they can block an early election, which can easily be justified through to next May at least on the grounds that the public neither wants nor needs a new election and that Labour should get on with the job they asked for, and can block any legislation that would be too difficult to reverse.

Is this a high-risk strategy? In some senses, yes – giving the ground to your opponent always is. On the other hand, if the choice is between an unstable Labour minority government now and a potential Labour majority government elected after a zombie Tory minority government stumbles and falls in 18 months to two years, it’s a question of the lesser of two evils.

And the lesser evil is Corbyn, now.

David Herdson


Life comes at you fast these days doesn’t it Mrs May?

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

Watch what Theresa May told George Osborne when she sacked him.

For all future party leaders, I have a bit of advice for you, be nice to the people you meet on the way up, because you’ll eventually meet them on the way down, when you need them the most.

Just watch the video above where George Osborne tells us what Mrs May told him when she sacked him last July. Instead of having a very good and loyal ally, she made a needless enemy. She really is a dead woman walking, the lack of substantial change in the reshuffle confirms it, she is a Prime Minister in office but not in power.

Nemesis really does follow hubris, particularly in the world of politics.



All you need is Gove, Gove, Gove is all you need Mrs May

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Mrs May needs not only a Willie, but also a Sir Keith Joseph

If Mrs May wants to emulate the success of Mrs Thatcher, I’ve said before she needs a Willie,  but assuming Mrs May wins a majority on Thursday, what this campaign has exposed is that she needs better support and advisers, as ‘the vision thing’ is lacking, as exemplified by the disastrous announcement of the social care changes that led many opponents to characterise it as a dementia tax whilst many Tories wondered if Nick Timothy was a Labour sleeper agent. A good policy brain is essential to be a successful Prime Minister as Mrs Thatcher acknowledged about Sir Keith Joseph.

So who is best placed to come up with the vision thing, I’d suggest Michael Gove would be the ideal person for that. As a former Chairman of the think tank Policy Exchange he be good at wonkery, and his tenure as both Education Secretary and Justice Secretary showed he was willing to be radical, in the latter role earning praise from Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform.

There would be controversy about bringing back a tainted Gove into government, last summer Ben Wallace, currently Security Minister and ally of Boris Johnson, wanted to go all Game of Thrones and perform a penectomy on Michael Gove so Mrs May might be thinking Gove will tear us apart, but she shouldn’t.

Gove as noted above apart from being a thinker, is electorally successful as one of the architects behind Vote Leave, so it would be useful to have him back in the tent. Because Brexit will dominate the next Parliament, but as a believer in Thatcherite free market economics, he’d reassure those Tories alarmed by Mrs May’s Ed Miliband lite policies. Despite his falling out with Cameron, Gove back in government would also reassure the Cameroons that Mrs May won’t trash the legacy of Cameron.

However there is history between Michael Gove and Mrs May and her staff, whilst the focus during this campaign has been on Nick Timothy, the other joint Chief of Staff Fiona Hill was forced out in 2014 when Gove and May clashed  when they were Education Secretary and Home Secretary, can Mrs May move on?

Whatever the result on Thursday, the election that was set to strengthen Mrs May is set to diminish her, to ensure that diminution need not be permanent if she gets in a better team, Michael Gove in the cabinet will enhance the government of Mrs May, she should bring him back, if she doesn’t it is clear she’s sticking with her current Chiefs of Staff, who have failed her so spectacularly this campaign.



Suddenly this election becomes a lot more difficult to call – maybe not a CON landslide after all

Sunday, May 21st, 2017


Will TMay get her landslide or could the result be a lot tighter?

The launching of the Conservative manifesto on Thursday has changed the whole narrative of this election.

From a situation where the only real outcome that appeared possible was a very substantial Conservative majority, certainly more than 100, we now have the first post manifesto polls with the gap closing sharply.

It was very bold of the Prime Minister and her team to include items within the manifesto that were not going to appeal to large numbers and would be controversial. The thinking appeared to be that having this there with the specifics spelled out would make things easier to enact and implement after the election.

What were particularly bold were the measures that seemed to hurt that key Conservative voting group, the oldies – a segment who have been sheltered from many of the welfare cuts that younger generations are having to deal with. This was a very clear signal from Mrs May that she was going to be different.

The exemption of Scotland from the ending of winter fuel allowance for wealthy pensioners looked very tricky. Also closing down other areas of public spending such as free school meals for the for the 4-7 year olds hasn’t polled very well at all.

    Maybe this is all part of Lynton Crosby’s cunning plan? Those 20%+ poll leads could have impacted on turnout and he needs the perception to be that this is close.

    The message that’s going to key voters in the marginals is that if the Tories lost just six seats then Mr. Corbyn could end up as PM. But Project Fear GE2017-style needs the numbers to back it up.

It has been widely assumed for months that Mr. Crosby has some hard-hitting ads such as reminding voters of the Birmingham IRA bombings all ready for this moment. These will of course highlight the stances at the time of Mr. McDonnell and Mr. Corbyn.

At least the final two and half weeks are going to be much more interesting than appeared likely.

Mike Smithson


Philip Hammond looks as though he’s for the chop following the June 8th landslide

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

What was scheduled to be a Conservative event to attack the LAB manifesto has set off all sorts of speculation about the Chancellor, Philip Hammond.

Theresa May was asked twice to back her Hammond and both times she managed to avoid the question in a manner that suggested that she was not happy with him. As the clip above indicates they looked very uncomfortable together on the platform.

It is very dangerous, as Margaret Thatcher would have attested, for Chancellors and the Prime Minister to be publicly split.

No doubt we’ll see betting markets up so. I’d bet that he’ll be out in the post election re-shuffle but it is hard to see who would replace him.

Mike Smithson