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« Editorial: Cameron on substance | Main | The week that David Davis didn't relaunch »


Sean Fear

"Where does anyone imagine this 7% are going to go to? "

The front room, UKIP and BNP.

The idea that traditionalist Conservatives will vote for anyone with a blue rosette on really should have been dispelled in last year's Euro elections and Hartelpool by-election.

7% of the voters is about 1.9 million people. Or looked at another way, 2,500 less votes per constituency.

Get rid of these people, and that's a hell of a lot of social liberals you've got to find from somewhere.

James Hellyer

Exactly, Sean. When you consider that we failed to gain around thirty seats at the general election because of drift to UKIP, et al., it's not hard to see that alienating a portion of the party's vote will cost seats.

Mark O'Brien

Some people have pointed out that the core vote strategy has failed. They're quite right. But we don't win elections by getting rid of our core voters. We win elections by tailoring a set of policies and presenting them to people beyond the precincts of Conservative associations in the prosperous south-east. It's surprisingly easy to do that without giving up your principles.

Cllr Iain Lindley

UKIP cost us five seats, at most. In my experience although a good chunk of their vote is former Conservative voters, that chunk is far smaller than many make out, and in my opinion pandering to the UKIP tendency alienates at least as many voters as it brings back into the fold.

For example, I watched intently at the count for the recent Barton by-election here in Salford, and the (reasonable) UKIP vote there came almost exclusively from the most deprived, most Labour areas of the area.

I'm as Eurosceptic as the next man but UKIP's performance is often used as either a trojan horse to push party policy towards withdrawal, or as an excuse for otherwise poor performance.

James Hellyer

Some people have pointed out that the core vote strategy has failed. They're quite right.

Of course, Daniel Finkelstein would tell you that we haven't run a core vote campaign, but rather a "transfusion" strategy (as used by John Howard) by trying to replace the AB voters the Party has been losing by appealing to the blue collar vote through issues like immigration.

Finkelstein that strategy won't work in the UK because CD voters are less inclined to vote, amongst other things (not a problem in Australia where compulsory voting makes the approach far easier).

But anyway, I agree with this:

"We win elections by tailoring a set of policies and presenting them to people beyond the precincts of Conservative associations in the prosperous south-east. It's surprisingly easy to do that without giving up your principles."

James Hellyer

UKIP cost us five seats, at most.

Sorry Iain, but that's wrong. I beleive there were around 28 seats where the combined UKIP/Veritas vote were less than the margin of Conservative defeat. Most UKIP members are disaffected Conservatives. So who else would they vote for?

Sean Fear

It would be helpful if one did not use categorising by occupation (groups A - E) as a substitute for class.

30 years ago, when far more people had manual jobs than now, it was fair to say that groups A to C1 were middle class, and groups C2 to E were working class.

These days, a load of jobs that are working class in status (eg secretaries, people in call centres) are categorised as C1, which implies they're middle class.

My point is that the real battleground for the Conservatives is people on or around average incomes. Appeal to them, and we've won.

Cllr Iain Lindley

Further to my previous post, there were 27 seats where the UKIP (and/or) Veritas vote exceeded a Labour or Liberal Democrat majority over a Conservative. I've dug up a post of mine from elsewhere at the time...

Whilst I do think overall UKIP votes come disproportionately from Conservative voters, I don't think they are overwhelmingly ex-Cosnervative voters. Kilroy-Silk's appeal was even more tailored to the white working-class, and a Veritas candidature may even have sapped more Labour votes away.

I suspect the seats on that which actually would have fallen (where the UKIP vote was a sufficiently high mulitiple of the majority) are Crawley, Gillingham, Harlow, Medway, Romsey, Sittingbourne and Sheppey and Thanet South. That's seven, including one Liberal Democrat seat, which gives a Labour majority of 54 (I think). You could make an argument for perhaps another handful of seats (EDIT: Eastleigh, Solihull, Stroud, Warwick & Leamington, Westmoreland & Lonsdale - looking at the list now)), but beyond that you're in the land of wishful thinking.

I think we're treading a dangerous path if we try to outbid UKIP. There are better and easier ways of picking up 1000 extra votes in a constituency. I don't think anyone could say that they didn't vote for a candidate like Conor Burns because he wasn't Eurosceptic enough!

In any case, we're in a bit of a catch-22 here. It is entirely wishful thinking to think that UKIP will disappear if we adopt their policies on Europe. If anything, bringing their arguments more into the mainstream will increase their support.


"Where does anyone imagine this 7% are going to go to?"

I really hate that attitude - as if any voter can be taken for granted because there is no alternative. What is clear from recent elections is that more and more people don't really care if they vote for a winning party or not: they want their vote to represent what they think, or else not vote at all. If the Conservatives treat conservative views with contempt, then they could lose at least a significant chunk of what they rely on at the moment to survive. It's not even clear to me that for a conservative (small 'c') Gordon Brown is necessarily worse than Cameron.

I admire Cameron for giving it a go - it's up to the rest of us to put it (and him) to the test.

Cllr Iain Lindley

Okay, here are the 27 seats in question (Corby was misreported as the 28th)

Battersea (Lab hold) Maj: 163 - UKIP: 333
Burton (Lab hold) Maj: 1,421 ­ UKIP/Veritas: 1,825
Carshalton & Wallington (LD hold) Maj: 1,068 - UKIP: 1,111
Cornwall North (LD hold) Maj: 3,076 – UKIP/Veritas: 3,387
Crawley (Lab Hold) Maj: 37 - UKIP 935
Dartford (Lab hold) Maj: 706 - UKIP: 1,407
Eastleigh (LD Hold to Chris Huhne) Maj: 568 - UKIP: 1,669
Gillingham (Lab hold) Maj: 254 - UKIP 1,191
Harlow [Lab hold) Maj: 97 – UKIP/Veritas 1922
Hereford (Lab hold) Maj: 962 - UKIP: 1,030
High Peak (Lab hold) Maj: 735 - UKIP 1,106
Hove (Lab hold) Majority 420 - UKIP 575
Medway (Lab hold) Maj: 213 - UKIP 1,488
Portsmouth North (Lab hold) Maj: 1,139 - UKIP 1,348
Romsey (LD hold) Maj: 125 ­ UKIP: 1,076
Sittingbourne & Sheppey (Lab hold) Maj: 79 – UKIP/Veritas: 1,118
Solihull (LD Gain) Maj: 279 - UKIP: 990
Somerton & Frome (LD hold) Maj: 812 - UKIP plus Veritas: 1,531
Staffordshire Moorlands (Lab hold) Maj: 2,438 - UKIP: 3,512
Stroud (Lab hold) Maj: 350 - UKIP: 1,089
Stourbridge (Lab hold) Maj: 407 -­ UKIP: 1,087
Taunton (LD gain) Maj: 573 ­ UKIP: 1,441
Thanet South (Lab hold) Maj: 664 - UKIP (Nigel Farage) 2,079
Torbay (LD hold) Maj: 2,029 - UKIP 3,726
Warwick & Leamington (Lab hold) Maj: 306 - UKIP: 921
Watford (Lab hold) Maj: 1,148 - UKIP: 1,292
Westmorland & Lonsdale (LD gain) Maj: 267 - UKIP: 660

If 75% of the UKIP vote came from former Conservatives, and 0% from our main challenger (an unrealistic situation I'm sure you'll agree), the following seats fall:

Battersea, Burton, Crawley, Dartford, Eastleigh, Gillingham, Harlow, High Peak, Medway, Romsey, Sittingbourne & Sheppey, Solihull, Somerton & Frome, Staffordshire Moorlands, Stroud, Stourbridge, Taunton, Thanet South, Torbay, Warwick & Leamington, Westmoreland & Lonsdale (21)

If 60% of the UKIP vote came from former Conservative, and 20% from our main challenger, which I think is still optimistic but possible, then we would have won the following:

Crawley, Gillingham, Harlow, Medway, Romsey, Sittingbourne & Sheppey, Solihull, Stroud, Stourbridge, Taunton, Thanet South, Warwick & Leamington, Westmoreland & Lonsdale (13), and Eastleigh would have been lost on a knife-edge. I'll be generous and call it 14.

Wat Tyler

I agree the whole story sounds bizarre- why would you deliberately alienate a newspaper with an estimated adult readership of nearly 6 million (according to NRS)? So when I first heard it in Blackpool, I assumed it was misinformation.

But you know, it's in the Times, which means it comes direct from DC's camp. So it must be true.

Or is it? I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that virtually anything new you read about DC is another piece of fantastical spin, in which even bad news for him is spun to hurt his crabby scheming rivals.

I mean, is the drugs deal really an embarrassment for him, or a clever elephant trap for those "old-fashioned" nasty rivals? Assuming he isn't a "recent" user, it certainly looks like he's off scott-free. And if it just turns out to be a couple of joints 20 years ago, he comes out well ahead, with a massive sympathy vote.

And now he's got us in knots over this- is it his plan, or just the nasty men making up yet more stuff to discredit our hero?

You've certainly got to hand it to his media guys- they've done a superb job. And it does a Tory heart good to see much of the media spinning in our general direction again.

But the question remains- is this a good basis on which to choose a leader?

James Maskell

The problem in Thanet South was the rise in the Lib Dem vote. In Broadstairs the Univeristy College has recently become a fully fledged University and with a FE College there as well its full of students which I know find the Lib Dems quite attractive.

Henry Mackintosh

The problem in Thanet South was the grossly unpopular (with the association) Tory candidate. I used to live in Thanet North and while half the association liked Mcgreor, the other half hated him, and more or less all of them were nuts enough to want Aitken back ........

Cllr Iain - ever heard of something called 'turn out'. Some of suspect that *that's* where the UKIP/Europe issue hits us - people who think are wet/hopeless on that issue just don't bother to vote.

Andy Stidwill

Cllr Ian Lindley seems to have forgotten that we actually came third in Watford, behind the Lib Dems.

Daniel Vince-Archer

"The problem in Thanet South was the grossly unpopular (with the association) Tory candidate. I used to live in Thanet North and while half the association liked Mcgreor, the other half hated him, and more or less all of them were nuts enough to want Aitken back..."

I think I read somewhere (possibly on this site) that Mark Macgregor {sic?} was done for by a Norman Tebbit hatchet job. Although I care very little for Tebbit and his outdated opinions, it's hard to feel any sympathy for Macgregor when one considers his alleged role in the downfall of Iain Duncan Smith.

Ronald Collinson

Labour held their core vote despite modernising and an increasingly left wing Lib Dems & nationalist parties

They did, originally, when they felt that Tony Blair would empower them and bring at least some modicum of socialism into British law. Finding that they were wrong, they are now deserting in droves.

Aside from that, I don't see anything very modern about New Labour (apart from their text-speak). There has always been a place in politics for the hypocritical, for the dishonest, and for the power-mad.

It appears that Cameron's evasivness and arrogance has rubbed of on his cheeleaders, like Cllr Lindley.

Now, now. That's not very fair. Cllr Lindley is an eminently sensible chap, and much more polite than a number of the other contributors on this blog. And, much as I dislike Cameron, the story is a little far-fetched.

Then again, if somebody had told me five years ago that Britain's government was about to ban books, I would have thought that that person was mad...

Innocent Abroad

The source of the '25% story' is supposed to be Oliver Letwin.

John Hustings

I just fear that David Cameron is deceiving us by trying to come across as right-wing in many of his pronouncements at the moment, but I do not expect this to last to beyond the point he is elected (which I fear is almost inevitable now). As leader, his pitch will change entirely. Am I the only one who suspects his vague wishy-washy Conservative-sounding statements like "we must support the family"? Am I the only one who suspects such statements will become less frequent as leader?

I mean, what do we do if he doesn't end up "supporting the family" in his policies? I think he figures that once he gets the leadership we would not want to ditch him easily, because we've done so too often in the past. There's a craving for unity within the party. But at what cost?

This Andrew Peirce article may have little substance to it, but it does voice some of my fears concerning Cameron: namely, that I'm not convinced he's a true Conservative. We know very little about what he believes. He seems to be more of a Blairite-pragmatist than a 'conviction' politician. The former are the type of politician I fear most.

I also fear that, even though I do not read the Daily Mail, the reference to alienating Daily Mail readers probably means me. And probably a large proportion of conservatives (basically all social conservatives). But if this is his plan, then he obviously does not want to let on, and so he makes statements which present himself as supporting traditional institutions (as Tony Blair does, and look what contempt he shows for the family in actuality).

Either way, I am extremely nervous about the prospect of a Cameron leadership.


Has this been confirmed?Is it likely? i dont think so.I wouldent be suprised if this was yet another non-story hyped up to try and de-rail David Cameron,and frankly along with the drugs issue the whole thing is pathetic.No wonder the public have a low opinion of us,with this amount of in-fighting and stupidity.

Jonathan Sheppard

Why is any story against DC a smear? Does that mean the negative coverage Davis got post conference was also a smear. This is politics in the real world. The press will have a pop at you if you are the front runner. You have to learn to live with that.

Fox and Clarke arent getting attacked as they arent seen as front runners (at least not at the moment). Newspapers are in the business of selling newspapers, and Cameron is news at the moment.


I do not read the Daily Mail but am a party member and suspect if this story is true that my vote may be the sort that is considered expendable.

As things stand at the moment my voting preferences are Davis, then Fox and Cameron as a last resort. I would never vote for Clarke.

Davis's campaign has its weaknesses but the Cameron campaign simply does not resonate with me. His secretary sent me a copy of the speech he made some time ago, the one that caused a bit of a stir. I was not impressed. What struck me then and what strikes me now about his website is what he does not say rather than what he does. The Cameron brand is being sold very hard but I am not sure what the product is and so I find it hard to believe in the brand. I do not get that dissonance with Davis even if the sales promotion may not be as slick.

I like to consider myself quite liberal if not in fact a libertarian. Indeed I should be natural territory for the so called modernisers but again and again I find myself recoiling from them. In part it's the apparent absence of (clear cut) policies. Also as mentioned there is a sense the proposition is being over-sold if not force fed by a friendly media. And finally one cannot get over the sense that no matter how hard they try, they seem to comprise an unrepresentative clique.

The suggestion that they are happy to lose certain votes seems very unwise. The party already has UKIP to contend with without losing more votes. The party can do without its own version of the SDP split.


Interesting post, esbonio.

Unless a "core voter" objects to a more human approach to politics, and an instinct to like and trust British people rather than judge and alienate them, then there's no reason for that core voter not to back Cameron.

David Cameron is a Eurosceptic by any useful measure, wants flatter taxes, less regulation, and greater autonomy for schools and hospitals. He supported the Iraq war. He believes in strong borders and social cohesion.

Being the poster boy for the Daily Mail will not win us the election. Besides, they'll like him fine when it's him or Brown.

James Maskell

Daniel, yeah that was basically it. Tebbit called McGregor a "destructive force" about 10 days before the vote. McGregor went into hiding and didnt carry on fighting the election. I doubt he'll stand again in Thanet South.

James Hellyer

"Unless a "core voter" objects to a more human approach to politics, and an instinct to like and trust British people rather than judge and alienate them, then there's no reason for that core voter not to back Cameron."

What if a "core voter" doesn't like meaningless (yet vaguely patronising) soundbites?


What if a "core voter" doesn't like meaningless (yet vaguely patronising) soundbites?

Still no reason not to back Cameron.

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