Why Cameron can't win a majority in 2015
By Paul Goodman
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- Conservative faliure among ethnic minority voters. In 2001, these numbered one in ten. By 2050, that figure will be one in five. Only 16% per cent of them voted Tory in 2010. The Conservative Party is facing demographic marginalisation. I have made the same case before (try here and here) and Gavin Barwell did so over the last two days on this site here and here.
- The right is split. It is simplistic and misleading to argue that UKIP draws all its support from former Conservative voters - see Lord Ashcroft's research and my previous pieces - but the evidence suggests that this is increasingly so. I find it hard to see UKIP being squeezed back down in 2015 to the 3% it won in 2010.
- The left is united. Respect has failed to fly in Labour seats and the BNP has crashed to earth there. Left-wing Liberal Democrat voters have deserted to Labour. The political geography is thus the opposite of that of the 1980s, during which the SDP split from Labour, helping to ensure two landslides for Margaret Thatcher in 1983 and 1987.
- Labour gains from the distribution of the vote. According to Peter Kellner, the proposed boundary changes would have left the party needing a 4% lead over Labour to win a majority. Without it, a 7% lead is needed. I believe that is unattainable if Labour keep most of the voters they've taken from the Liberal Democrats, which they will.
Simon Cooke on Twitter points out a fifth factor - the decline of party campaigning on the ground. He is right to remind me that while Labour lost the air war in 2010 it was quietly winning the ground war with a little help from its friends in the unions. Here is his view.
Solutions? I agree with the basic thrust of Tim Montgomerie's Strong and Compassionate programme for machine, policy and message. But something else is needed - the release of the natural Conservative majority in England by re-balacing the devolution settlement. Something Tim has also begun to explore.
And I don't see that happening before the referendum on Scotland's future takes place. In the immortal words of Mona Lott, "It's being so cheerful as keeps me going". ConservativeHome poll respondents agree: only 12% expect David Cameron to win a majority next time round.