Good Tory results give Cameron a 2015 headache

What the 2011 Local election results show is that Cameron will not be able to erode the Labour lead by 'calling voters home' - Ed Miliband's lead may be small but hard to shift

The Westminster conventional wisdom – that Ed Miliband’s Labour Party is not doing well enough – appears to be based on two contradictory notions. The first is that Labour needs to build a larger opinion poll lead than its current typical 4-5 per cent,  as it will gradually erode before the next election. The other is that the Tory vote is holding up – as evidenced by last week’s election results. But if, in effect, the Tories have not lost any votes to Labour, it’s hard to see what erosion can take place.

Both opinion polling and the local election results provisionally point to the same picture: Labour has picked up votes from the Liberal Democrats, but not from the Conservatives. So, for example, from the findings of the latest Ipsos-Mori monthly poll, we find that almost 20 per cent of Liberal Democrat voters have gone over to Labour, only 3 per cent of Conservatives have. In fact, 5 per cent of Lib Dem voters have gone over to the Tories.

 

 

This would seem to be borne out by the 2011 local election results, which showed large gains for Labour by historical standards, the Liberal Democrats being decimated. Meanwhile, the Conservative actually added councillors – which you would expect if some Labour-aligned voters who backed the Liberal Democrats at the 2010 general election have ‘come home’, allowing the Lib Dem vote to fall below their Conservative challengers.

So if Cameron is to claw back those four to five points, it’s not going to come from Labour – who are either voters that stood with the party through the nadir of 2010, or are former Lib Dem voters, presumably unhappy with the decision of Nick Clegg to go into the coalition.

How the votes churned will only be fully understood after weeks of analysis. However, the prime minister’s best bet appears to be for the Lib Dem image to shift left, so his junior coalition partner can bring back some of those former voters, and may even leave their right flank vulnerable to the Tories. But that seems impossible under the leadership of the current deputy prime minister. Which suggests a very odd scenario:

It’s in David Cameron’s best interest that the Liberal Democrats dump Nick Clegg before the next election.

28 Responses to “Good Tory results give Cameron a 2015 headache”

  1. Chris Wimpress

    RT @leftfootfwd: Good Tory results give Cameron a 2015 headache: //bit.ly/jwLFJB by @DanielElton

  2. Max Brockbank

    RT @leftfootfwd: Good Tory results give Cameron a 2015 headache: //bit.ly/jwLFJB by @DanielElton

  3. Colleen Wiltse

    Good Tory results give Cameron a 2015 headache: Meanwhile, the Conservative actually added councillors – which y… //bit.ly/klqSwG

  4. Hitchin England

    RT @leftfootfwd: Good Tory results give Cameron a 2015 headache: //bit.ly/jwLFJB by @DanielElton

  5. Lise Fontaine

    RT @HitchinEngland: RT @leftfootfwd: Good Tory results give Cameron a 2015 headache: //bit.ly/jwLFJB by @DanielElton

  6. Anon E Mouse

    This article should be used as an illustration of all that is wrong with Labour activism.

    1. Despite the unpopular cuts more individual voters voted Tory than Labour.
    2. Labour has 25% of it’s MP’s from Scotland – which it just comprehensively lost.
    3. Labour couldn’t even secure a majority of seats in Wales where again the Tory vote went up.
    4. Ed Miliband is the least popular of the three party leader leaders and Labour is financially bust.
    5. Labour have a dire poll rating – Blair was 21% ahead without the cuts at this point.
    6. In four years the economy will have turned round. The banks will be sold and tax cuts will buy the voters.
    7. Middle England will never vote Labour under Miliband – look at the electoral map in the South East.
    8. The forthcoming boundary changes will primarily hit the Labour strongholds.
    9. Labour has lost over 5 million voters since 1997 and had it’s worst election results last year since 1931.

    Oppositions do not win elections – governments lose them and the history shows since 1923, that no opposition without a 10-14% lead has a chance. The only reason Labour made large gains (but not 1200 gains as predicted) was because the Tories thrashed them previously – they were starting from a low base. In any event the Tories increased their share of the vote and gained 4 councils – unbelievable. Also you have not noted the councils here that were drawn by straw – all went to Labour but don’t count.

    The fact is until Labour start to be positive and realise WHY they lost the election last year and stop these stupid articles they are doomed to opposition. I remember people on this very fine blog actually arguing that the UK should vote for Gordon Brown – it’s madness.

    Labour’s current standing has never been worse (in respect of Scotland primarily) and until the contributors here realise that these articles are a MAJOR part of the problem. The Lib Dem’s are not the problem for Labour – with only 57 seats at the last election they never were.

    if there was an election tomorrow morning the Tories would win and Labour would go bust – no one would bankroll them.

    If Labour activists continue with this type of delusional spin and lies it will only benefit the government and doom the party to opposition. Does no one here want the re-election of a Labour government?

  7. Ed's Talking Balls

    If the results have given Cameron a headache, then I doubt he’ll be requiring any paracetamol any time soon!

    I mean, seriously. Who in their right mind could claim that the results were anything other than an unexpected boon for the Conservatives? A hugely dominant win in the referendum and even the peculiar bonus of small gains at council level.

    If Cameron can achieve that with a struggling economy and a vociferous (sometimes violent) anti-cuts campaign, then one can only wonder how his party would fare in a benign/prosperous economic climate.

    I’m not saying that will necessarily happen, incidentally, but if by the next election the UK has returned to solid growth and tackled inflation and unemployment, Labour will look ridiculous and the Tories will be vindicated. In such a scenario, it’s very difficult to envisage anything other than a Conservative majority, particularly if the coalition can address the absurd boundary prejudice in our system.

  8. Martin McGrath

    Ipsos-Mori on LD 2010 voters: 27% would still vote LD, 20 Labour, 6 other, 5 Tory, 35 not certain to vote. Ouch! //bit.ly/j1X1E8

  9. PJD

    1. Despite the unpopular cuts more individual voters voted Tory than Labour.

    I’ve not seen any exact figures on this but as there were no local elections in Scotland, Wales, London, Durham etc then this would have skewed the results in the Tories favour. The BBC’s projected national share had Labour 2% ahead.

    2. Labour has 25% of it’s MP’s from Scotland – which it just comprehensively lost.

    But that was for the Scottish parliament. I doubt Labour would have done as badly if it had been a General Election.

    3. Labour couldn’t even secure a majority of seats in Wales where again the Tory vote went up.

    It was a better result for Labour in Wales than 1999, 2003 and 2007.

    4. Ed Miliband is the least popular of the three party leader leaders and Labour is financially bust.

    He is also the least known leader, time is on his side as it was for Clegg and Cameron from 2005-2010.

    5. Labour have a dire poll rating – Blair was 21% ahead without the cuts at this point.

    ~40% is not dire! Blair was 21% ahead for several resons, one being the Tories had been in power for 16 years by 1995 and were very unpopular by then.

    6. In four years the economy will have turned round. The banks will be sold and tax cuts will buy the voters.

    Maybe, time will tell.

    7. Middle England will never vote Labour under Miliband – look at the electoral map in the South East.

    It was mainly blue in 1997!

    8. The forthcoming boundary changes will primarily hit the Labour strongholds.

    Yes, but I don’t think it will give the Tories the boost they hope it will. Labour’s vote is by chance quite effectively spread to maximise it’s seat winning ability.

    9. Labour has lost over 5 million voters since 1997 and had it’s worst election results last year since 1931.

    They did worse in 1983 and arguably 1987. If you are looking at raw total vote then since 1945 the Tories had only done worse in 1997-2005.

    It is unlikely that the Tories can win a majority at the next GE unless they get more than 37% of the vote, unless Labour and the Lib Dems are both on 26% or thereabouts which isn’t likely.

  10. Anon E Mouse

    PJD – The sooner the official opposition in this country stop making excuses for poor performance and start getting real the better.

    I only mention those items above after seeing Andy Burnham (election coordinator) on Sky yesterday spinning away. People like Cameron the best out of all the current leaders, followed by Clegg then Miliband.

    Contrary to Gordon Brown’s assertion about the economy, Boom and Bust has not been abolished by Labour and when the economy has turned round, which it will, the Tories will win outright.

    Labour activists need to step back and ask themselves if Ed Miliband is as big a beast as Charles Clarke, Alan Johnson, John Reid or even his brother.

    The union dinosaurs forced the wrong candidate onto the party and until people get rid of him there is no hope – the polls show it. Even without the cuts Blair was 21% ahead at this point after he got the leadership. Without reaching out, being inclusive and changing the leader there is no chance…

  11. Daniel Pitt

    Good Tory results give Cameron a 2015 headache: //bit.ly/jwLFJB #ConDemNation

  12. John Baxendale

    Anon E Mouse – wouldn’t it be better to respond to PJD’s point by point rebuttal of your argument, instead of just repeating your own rhetoric? These are important issues, and I would really like to know why you disagree with what seems to me quite a persuasive analysis.

  13. Colleen Wiltse

    Good Tory results give Cameron a 2015 headache | Left Foot Forward: What the 2011 Local election results show is… //bit.ly/mt14cm

  14. RedfishUK

    Anon E Mouse – you seem to think that somehow the worst is over for the Tories. That by announcing their cuts everyone will somehow move on.
    I don’t think that is the case. It is unsurprising that the coalition is unpopular in the North, Wales and Scotland where public sector jobs make up a higher percentage of the jobs available. Those working in the public sector are frightened and demoralised and the cuts haven’t happened yet. Fortunatley for the Tories figures on Thursday theyhad very few elected representatives to lose (funny how no one thinks it is strange that a major political party can have no councillors in some of the UKs major cities just because they are in the North?)
    Once the cuts take place a second wave of voters will be affected those that use the services and these will be more widely distributed, when schools and hospitals are hit by cuts and crime increases as the number of Police falls the Coalition will take a hit.

    At the end of the day it will be the economy (stupid or not!) you may think that Osborne’s plan will work, I tend to agree with Will Hutton’s excellent article in the Observer yesterday – //www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/may/08/will-hutton-economic-policy-wrong I don’t think Osborne can deliver the growth the UK needs to move forward.

  15. Anon E Mouse

    RedfishUK – The governing party increased its showing at council elections in the face of unpopular cuts – it is pretty remarkable.

    I agree it’s the economy stupid but I also happen to believe in economic cycles – four years from now the banks will be sold off and the goodies dished out.

    The situation in the North and Scotland has always been the same – my grandfather was a Labour councillor in Manchester and said if they put a monkey up in a red shirt it would win so it’s not surprising.

    What is surprising is Scotland and that must have Labour wondering how to handle it. Alex Salmond is simply too good a politician for Labour to deal with – particularly without a decent leader or cabinet at Westminster.

    Where are the John Reid’s and Charles Clarke’s I ask because without them they have no chance. Who could compare Ed Miliband with Tony Blair or David Cameron – he isn’t in their league I’m afraid.

    I’m a Clegg supporter as it happens but Blair could inspire – people were walking on air in 1997 for weeks. Miliband just depresses and once the economy turns round, which historically it will he’s done for…

  16. Ed's Talking Balls

    RedfishUK,

    You state that morale in the public sector is low and, of course, I can understand why. But there’s surely equal concern, if not greater concern, among those in the private sector. The link below goes some way to explaining why this is so:

    //www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13329634

    As for the coalition’s unpopularity in the North, I think it’s unrealistic to put that down to public sector cutbacks. The Tories have suffered in the regions you mention for quite some time now and, to be frank, I reckon many voters up there wouldn’t vote blue no matter what policies were put forward. As for your point about it being strange that a major political party can function despite being conspicuous by its absence up North, I would say the same is true of Labour down South. Strange, I suppose, but I can’t see the electoral map changing drastically overnight.

    I’m not sure the coalition will take a significant hit when the cuts begin to bite. It all depends on how it is handled. If the NHS fudge is anything to go by, there’s cause for pessisism. Yet I am optimistic about further changes to the income tax threshold, I hope the coalition keeps its nerve on housing benefit reform and wholeheartedly support the free schools policy.

    Ultimately, you’re right that it’ll come down to how the economy fares. But I would say that if the cuts don’t lead to, for example, spiralling crime figures/lower literacy rates/higher mortality rates in hospitals etc, and more popular policies are put in place over the course of the term, this would put the Conservatives in the driving seat come the next election.

  17. Anon E Mouse

    John Baxendale – I’m not ignoring you I just can’t find where the statement about the Tories polling more than Labour came from – I thought it was here:

    //www6.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2011/04/20/the-tories-reach-post-election-high-with-mori/

    But that’s just the latest Ipsos-MORI pre-AV vote showing Labour and the Tories neck and neck. The number is correct and I will find it. Many of the other remarks from PJD were his opinion is all…

  18. London IWW

    Good #Tory results give Cameron a 2015 headache | //ow.ly/4QitH | #UKpolitics #ConDem

  19. Henry

    Interestingly, YouGov’s Sunday Times poll have 40% of May 2010 LibDem voters going over to Labour (8% to the Tories). That’s around 10% of the entire voting electorate.

    Last week, Labour did appallingly in Scotland, but clearly made very solid progress in England & Wales, whatever spin the Tories put on their ‘unexpected’ success (largely a result of the LibDem collapse.

  20. Henry

    Anon: John Curtice (in the Telegraph) has Labour on 37%, Tories 35% & LibDem on 15% last Thursday. Labour were clearly ahead.

  21. Anon E Mouse

    Henry – They may be leading even given the margin of error but even despite Ed Miliband’s obvious limitations they are not far enough ahead.

    If an election was called tomorrow Labour would lose even if they could afford to fund a campaign. 2% is not ahead enough. It couldn’t be better for Labour at the moment with the cuts yet Blair lead by 21% at the same time as leader.

    Miliband’s a dud just like Brown was and the Labour Party need to ditch him and get his brother in place. I’d vote for David Miliband because he looks and acts like a leader and so would other people…

  22. PJD

    A recovering economy between elections is not necessarily a good predictor of who is going to win the next one. Just as John Major!

    Comparing Miliband’s position to Blair is bogus. Ed is up against a year old government. You can perhaps compare his to Hague in 1997/8. Going back to 1979/80 is problematic as Foot didn’t take over from Callaghan until Oct 1980 – well over a year after losing the election. Before that you would have to go back a long way to find another comparable situation to Ed Miliband’s.

    Anon E Mouse – yes some of my comments were my own opinion, but others were factual 3, 5 & 7 in particular.

  23. Anon E Mouse

    PJD – Governments lose elections – oppositions don’t win them.

    Point 3 – But not good enough in Wales. The Tories increased their seats there as well and if Labour can’t win in their heartlands, as Scotland has shown they clearly can’t, they are doomed.

    Point 5 – You misunderstand sir. 40% is not dire but their lead is not good enough and it is within the margin of error ahead – that’s why I mentioned Blair’s lead. The lead isn’t good enough.

    Point 7 – It was mainly blue in 1997. It still is. the point links to my heartland remarks. 25% of the Labout MP’s are Scottish – lose that block and you finish the party once and for all…

  24. Thomas Boyd

    Labour lost Glasgow Anniesland by 7 votes to the SNP.
    I hope Labour support more powers for Scottish Parliament
    in the UK.

  25. Daniel Elton

    Well done on @fabians and @YouGov catching up on @leftfootfwd's analysis of @Ed_Miliband's new voters from a year ago! //t.co/GkyfFBoU

  26. Shamik Das

    Well done on @fabians and @YouGov catching up on @leftfootfwd's analysis of @Ed_Miliband's new voters from a year ago! //t.co/GkyfFBoU

  27. Richard Darlington

    Well done on @fabians and @YouGov catching up on @leftfootfwd's analysis of @Ed_Miliband's new voters from a year ago! //t.co/GkyfFBoU

  28. If psephology is destiny, Cameron will be forced further to the right | Left Foot Forward

    […] Good Tory Results give Cameron a 2015 headache 9 May […]

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