In praise of Matthew Elliott, campaign manager of No2AV
By Tim Montgomerie
The big winner of this election cycle is David Cameron. Conservative HQ was expecting 500 losses in council elections but the party may have added 60 or so councillors to the blue column. The party has gained in Wales (although Nick Bourne, the party's Assembly leader, was sadly defeated). The result in Scotland was disappointing but the Tories were not as badly damaged by the Salmond surge as the Lib Dems or Ed Miliband.
The key explanation for the unexpectedly good result is the No2AV campaign. There are many reasons for the campaign's success and I'll be setting them out in detail in a 5,000 word essay on Sunday morning. The Tories' million pound Get Out The Vote operation saved many of our councillors by energising many more of our voters to go to the polls than in a normal mid-term electoral cycle. I hope the many people who contributed to these operations will forgive me for singling out Matthew Elliott, No2AV's campaign director, for praise today.
Over the last few weeks and months Matthew has been subject to endless attacks from Westminster's chattering class. He was fighting on the wrong issues, we were told. He was too negative. He was wrong to target Nick Clegg. But he has won and he has probably won big. Electoral reform has probably been defeated for a generation. Elliott has fought a campaign that was derided by the Westminster pundits but ruthlessly followed best practice in market research. Not only did he fight a national campaign - difficult enough for any person - he had the skill and basic likeability to lead what could have been a difficult cross-party campaign.
The man who created the influential TaxPayers' Alliance has now helped to save First Past The Post for two decades or more. I want to thank him publicly and acknowledge him as a new star of the centre right. Brilliant job Matthew. I hope you'll be available to lead an In/Out referendum in the not too distant future...