Conservative Diary

Electoral reform

16 Apr 2011 19:37:26

ComRes shows the "Don't Knows" increasingly transferring their support to No2AV

By Jonathan Isaby

Tomorrow's Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror both carry the latest ComRes poll on the AV referendum which demonstrates that those who were Don't Knows at the beginning of the year and now have an opinion have virtually all tranferred their support to the No campaign.

ComRes asked the official question, as it will appear on the ballot paper on May 5th:

At present, the UK uses the “first past the post” system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the “alternative vote” system be used instead?

The results over the last four months have been as follows:

                                Jan     Feb     Mar     Now
Yes                            36%    40%    34%    37%
No                            30%    30%    37%    43%
Don't know                34%    30%    28%    21%

The figures have been adjusted to take into account people's likelihood to turn out to vote.

16 Apr 2011 13:28:22

CCHQ launches another offensive in the fight against AV

Picture 6 By Jonathan Isaby

With less than three weeks until the referendum, today sees a variety of senior party figures getting the anti-AV message out there in the media - not least because postal voting is now getting underway:

  • David Cameron himself has written in the Express, reminding readers, amongst other things, that AV is being promoted by the same people who a decade a go wanted Britain to dump the pound and join the euro;
  • Home Secretary Theresa May is interviewed by the Daily Mail, pushing the message AV would not increase participation in the democratic process - but actually risks increasing the number of spoilt ballot papers;
  • Party co-chairman Baroness Warsi is quoted in The Sun warning that AV could lead to compulsory voting in Britain; and 
  • The recently-ennobled Downtown Abbey creator Julian Fellowes uses an op-ed in The Times (£) to highlight the unfairness of how AV counts the ballots of those who vote for fringe or extremist parties four, five or six times.

Meanwhile, CCHQ has produced a glossy new leaflet in the "lifestyle magazine" format (the front page of which is the graphic above) which will be delivered to homes up and down the country from today.

Continue reading "CCHQ launches another offensive in the fight against AV" »

13 Apr 2011 11:38:18

First, Osborne slams the Electoral Reform Society. Now, Warsi complains to its Chief Executive

by Paul Goodman

Sayeeda Warsi has followed up George Osborne's attack on the financing of the Yes Campaign earlier this morning.  Writing to the Electoral Reform Society, one of the Yes Campaign's biggest donors, the Party Co-Chairman has accused it of a "conflict of interest".

She has been "shocked to discover" that Electoral Reform Services Limited (ERSL), a subsidiary company, has been paid at least £12.6 million from local authorities, and that "more shocking still, a significant part of its business comes from the administration of postal votes, including in this referendum".

Continue reading "First, Osborne slams the Electoral Reform Society. Now, Warsi complains to its Chief Executive" »

13 Apr 2011 10:21:39

There he is!

Screen shot 2011-04-13 at 09.32.55
by Paul Goodman


There he is!

Tim recently summarised an FT profile of George Osborne and referred to mine earlier on this site.  He wrote" "Conservative observers say [Osborne] is 'like a submarine, surfacing only to make strategic interventions when he has something important to say, then disappearing for weeks on end."

And this morning, the Chancellor broke cover - before diving back to the depths of the Treasury ocean once again.

His locations were carefully chosen - the Sun and apparently the Daily Mail.  So was his subject - AV, and the financing of the Yes campaign, which "stinks".  Osborne was assailing the Electoral Reform Society for having a conflict of interest, and he found time for a sideswipe at Nick Clegg.

Continue reading "There he is!" »

8 Apr 2011 03:15:31

UKIP gets second preference of one third of Tory members

Tim Montgomerie

In the most recent ConservativeHome survey I asked Tory members to say how they'd vote under the Alternative Vote.

I added some extra filters to this survey to triple check that the survey wasn't being gamed. I only counted the votes of (a) people who were on the original ConHome panel when it was created in 2005 from various Tory membership lists and correctly predicted the outcome of the Cameron/ Davis contest; (b) who still identify themselves as Tory members; and (c) said, this time last year that they were quite or very satisfied with David Cameron. This reduced the sample size to just 505 people*.

Continue reading "UKIP gets second preference of one third of Tory members" »

31 Mar 2011 12:15:21

William Hague launches NO to AV Group to support the No campaign ahead of the referendum

By Jonathan Isaby

Picture 11 An email will have landed in the inbox of many a Conservative this morning from William Hague, inviting them to join the No to AV Group.

In return for a donation of at least £15, which will be used towards helping secure a No vote in the AV referendum on May 5th, members will receive exclusive updates and previews of campaign literature and films over the coming five weeks as well as the opportunity to give their input into how the party shapes its campaign against AV in the run-up to polling day.

Click here for more details.

29 Mar 2011 07:26:38

May is going to be an unhappy month for Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems

By Jonathan Isaby

Nick Clegg 2011 petrified The latest polling shows that the Lib Dems should increasingly be preparing for a devastating verdict from the British people on May 5th.

Firstly, it looks like the Alternative Vote system which they are proposing for Westminster elections will be rejected in the nationwide referendum.

ComRes has the No campaign three points ahead (37% to 34% with 28% saying they don't know) when people are simply asked whether they want to see the introduction of AV; and YouGov, when giving a short explanation of AV, has most recently found 47% of people saying No (with 30% backing Yes and 15% saying they don't know).

With the remaining Don't Knows inclined to vote for the status quo, if history is anything to go by (so I am told), the Lib Dem dream of changing the electoral system looks like it will be in tatters for a generation.

And today brings further grim forecasts for the Liberal Democrats in terms of the local council elections which are also happening across most of England outside London on that first Thursday in May.

Continue reading "May is going to be an unhappy month for Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems" »

12 Mar 2011 19:49:21

On the actual AV ballot paper question, the No campaign gains a poll lead for the first time

by Paul Goodman

The last time I wrote about a ComRes opinion poll on AV it was to report that "Yes" had extended its lead.

This evening, the firm finds a "No" lead for the first time.  It says this is the first time a poll has found a "No" lead in relation to the acutal question that will be on the referendum ballot paper.  Here are the figures -

        Jan   Feb   Now

Yes  36%  40%  34%

No   30%  30%  37%

DK   34%  30%  28%

ComRes's figures are adjusted to take into account certainty to vote.   The firm adds that the smallest Yes in lead to date - two points - was reported by ICM on 20 February.

We're still a long way from May 5.  I repeat what I said last time: all to play for.

12 Mar 2011 11:24:44

CCHQ sends out new anti-AV booklet to activists

by Paul Goodman

Screen shot 2011-03-12 at 11.09.56

Tim suggested when CCHQ released its original anti-AV postcards almost a month ago that they evaded a key issue.  "The elephant in the room is power that AV gives to Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats," he wrote.  "The elephant must be put centre stage."

CCHQ has now sent an anti-AV booklet to local Associations.  It's nicely produced and reiterates the main arguments set out in the postcards - AV isn't used in many places, the winner doesn't win, the referendum's a waste of money - but the elephant in room remains resolutely unaddressed.

I can spot one postcard/poster that we didn't put up when they were originally released, and have posted it above.  A link to the whole document can be found here.

10 Mar 2011 06:27:18

Another reason to vote NO2AV: AV is part of the "Europeanisation" of British politics

By Jonathan Isaby

Chris Huhne We have alas not had the chance to vote in a referendum on a European question since before I was born, but voting No in the forthcoming referendum on Alternative Vote will allow us to show that we oppose the Europeanisation of our politics.

And before you accuse me of trying to bring matters European into an unrelated arena, I would ask you to consider the words of Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary and now leading supporter of the Yes to AV campaign (despite having slated AV in the Guardian before the general election, in February 2010).

I have just discovered that the IPPR posted on the internet this recording of the seminar it hosted last October at which Huhne and others discussed the nature of the Coalition and its future prospects.

The fact is that AV would mean that most general elections would result in hung parliaments, which take power away from voters and deliver it into the hands of politicians, who then proceed to negotiate deals behind closed doors, resulting in a government and a programme for which not a single person voted.

But, according to Huhne, this is great, because it makes us so much more European in our politics:

"We are becoming more like every other European democracy. In every other European democracy it is absolutely normal that you have a period after an election result where there is no clear overall majority: you have a period where people attempt to see whether they can reach a common understanding on a programme for government, they come together, the programme for government is signed and sealed... and at the end of the parliament, which is often a fixed term parliament, they part again, they park the achievements which they've made during the period of coalition government and they argue for different visions about the future in the next parliament. And I think that's exactly what's going to happen here."

"In any other European country they would find it totally bizarre that we were taking about this as a problem rather than as absolute normality."

And it didn't stop there.

Continue reading "Another reason to vote NO2AV: AV is part of the "Europeanisation" of British politics" »