Conservative jitters reveal cost to Cameron, Osborne and co of a ‘Yes’ victory

After four recent polls showed the Yes to AV campaign in the lead, a spate of recent articles have highlighted the concern in the Tory party that the referendum may be lost. It appears that David Cameron’s intervention at the weekend showed that the Prime Minister had finally worked out how much he had to lose from a ‘Yes’ vote.

Conservative Home’s Paul Goodman has been banging the drum for a couple of weeks on how a ‘yes’ vote would make David Cameron a “lost leader” but the rest of the Conservative hierarchy appears to have woken up to the problem.

The Sun’s former political editor, George Pascoe-Watson of Portland PR, wrote on Monday:

Mr Cameron is a worried man, I’m very reliably informed. The PM has ordered an emergency push to deliver a “no” in the AV referendum at all costs.

The word has gone out from Mr Cameron – “we cannot afford to lose”. Party chairwoman Sayeeda Warsi is under orders to campaign tirelessly and publicly to get the “no” vote out. And the Premier himself will become visible and vocal. One well-placed source tells me: “The PM has made it clear; there is no question of backing down on this.”

Meanwhile, Michael Crick reported earlier that:

The Conservative high command is keeping a very close tally, I’m told, of how many anti-AV leafets are ordered from Tory HQ by each local constituency association in the run-up to May’s referendum.

The leaflets can be purchased at a cost of just £10 per thousand, I hear, which would work out at about £300 for a whole constituency.

A Conservative source in Downing Street source tells me: “When our MPs in the tea room complain we’re not running a good campaign, we can turn round and say: ‘Hang on, your local party’s only ordered 103 of our leaflets so far!'”

As Channel 4 News’ Gary Gibbon put it on Saturday:

“The argument used to run that losing the AV referendum would be critical for Nick Clegg. Now it looks like losing the referendum the other way could be much worse for David Cameron.

Indeed so bad has it got for the ‘No’ campaign that their campaign director, Matthew Elliot, was forced to test out his strategy online this morning. He suggested that while it was acceptable for the No campaign to attack Nick Clegg, the Yes campaign would have “lost their way” if they started attacking David Cameron.

There are many principled reasons for voting for AV but giving the growth denying, public service destroying trio of Cameron, Osborne, and Pickles a bloody nose has just become a rather attractive unprincipled one to add to the list.

48 Responses to “Conservative jitters reveal cost to Cameron, Osborne and co of a ‘Yes’ victory”

  1. Oasis Caretaker

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  2. Press Not Sorry

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  3. Andrew Fenlon

    RT @leftfootfwd: Conservative jitters reveal cost to Cameron, Osborne and co of a 'Yes' victory http://bit.ly/hgA8uE #YestoAV

  4. Joe Taylor

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  5. Vote For A Change

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  6. Take Back Eurovision

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  7. Make Votes Count

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  8. Writer Actor

    RT @leftfootfwd: Conservative jitters reveal cost to Cameron, Osborne and co of a 'Yes' victory http://bit.ly/hgA8uE #YestoAV

  9. Jeremy Rowe

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  10. Miles Douglas

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  11. Harry R

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  12. Kelvin Owers

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  13. Spir.Sotiropoulou

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  14. Mike

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  15. Julian Bowman

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  16. YES to Fairer Votes

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  17. Labour Yes

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  18. Thomas Venables

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  19. Kevin Peel

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  20. YES to Fairer Votes

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  21. Dovod Poot

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  22. Kevin Peel

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  23. Michael Calderbank

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  24. Alex Brooks

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  25. Robert CP

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  26. Kerry Jenkins

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  27. Ed Watkinson

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  28. sackcameron

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  29. Vote YES to AV

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  30. danbrettuk

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  31. Jessica Asato

    Conservative jitters reveals the cost to Cameron, Osborne and Co of a 'Yes' victory says @leftfootfwd http://bit.ly/eHyVPz #labouryes

  32. oldpolitics

    I think Cameron may secretly be quite happy about the prospect of a Yes vote. He can’t admit that, since it would lead to some of his backbenchers being replaced by Lib Dems. On the other hand, that’s only one class of seat. In the others:

    Labour-Tory Marginals become much more winnable for the Tories, with a tsunami of Lib Dem and UKIP votes transferring over to them.

    Labour-LibDem Marginals become much more winnable for the Lib Dems, with Tories able to line up behind their coalition partners.

    The outcome? A stronger coalition, but with a weaker Tory backbench lobby. Christmas for Cam.

  33. Dylan Lewis

    Conservative jitters reveal cost to Cameron, Osborne and co of a YES victory: http://bit.ly/hyR9k0 #Labouryes

  34. Liam Carr

    I do not agree with oldpolitics that a Yes vote would please the tories. I also doubt that the Tories are a second choice for any Lib Dem who isn’t a government minister.

    On its own AV will not defeat the Tories in the next election. The Labour party is in need of strong leadership and active membership for this. Getting behind the Labour leader Ed Miliband on AV will make the party more coherent and stronger at National level.

  35. oldpolitics

    Liam, you can dispute my opinion, but the views of Lib Dems are clear. Offered a forced choice between Labour and the Tories, those who expressed an opinion to YouGov split 76% for the Tories, to 24% for Labour.

    http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/YG-Archives-Pol-Sun-results-100111.pdf

  36. Alan W

    oldpolitics – Of course only 8% of YouGov’s sample actually said they intended to vote Lib-Dem, which suggests a lot of their more leftish supporters have already abandoned them entirely. Hardly surprising, given the resolutely right-wing character of the government, that those few who remain are mostly yellow Tories like Clegg.

    Unfortunately I doubt if either a Yes or No vote will prove fatal for the coalition. For all their huffing and puffing, I don’t believe the Tory right will ever pull the plug on a government whose economic policies amount to a Thatcherite wet dream. And as for the Lib-Dems, it must be abundantly clear to them that an early election could only mean political oblivion.

    Personally I find the whole AV referendum impossible to get excited about. I probably will vote yes, but I haven’t made up my mind.

  37. oldpolitics

    ” a lot of their more leftish supporters have already abandoned them entirely. Hardly surprising, given the resolutely right-wing character of the government, that those few who remain are mostly yellow Tories like Clegg.”

    Exactly. In other words, the Tories need AV, because they’re relying on those lower preferences, but we don’t, because the left-winger are going to give us their first preference.

    By my maths, applying this to yesterday’s YouGov poll, we can take Labour’s 6% lead, add in 3% from the few remaining left-wing Lib Dems, and 2% from the Greens, taking the lead up to 11%. The Tories then get the other 7% of the Lib Dems, and 6% from UKIP.

    That leaves the Tories 2% ahead in the average constituency.

  38. Will Straw

    One other link to add to this interesting discussion is from the Herald “AV ‘Yes’ will hurt Coalition, says Tory Minister”: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/politics/av-yes-will-hurt-coalition-says-tory-minister-1.1088869?localLinksEnabled=false

  39. Mr. Sensible

    “There are many principled reasons for voting for AV but giving the growth denying, public service destroying trio of Cameron, Osborne, and Pickles a bloody nose has just become a rather attractive unprincipled one to add to the list.”

    It could equally be argued that voting ‘No’ may give the same to Clegg for propping this up…

  40. Alan W

    oldpolitics – I appreciate the case you’re making. I did find myself thinking along very similar lines after seeing the results of the Oldham by-election.

    However, this kind of scenario, where the coalition effectively becomes an electoral pact, could also hit Labour under first-past-the-post, via tactical voting. Although the effects might be magnified somewhat by AV, it’s the de facto electoral pact itself that is the main danger.

    Ominously I noticed after the Barnsley result, Clegg did actually use the phrase “national government”. Given how the government seems intent on taking us back to the 1930s in so many other respects, this perhaps was not just a slip of the tongue.

  41. oldpolitics

    Yeah, I can see that they could achieve a similar result by fighting a coupon election, but

    a) At least that would be honest and up-front, and make it easier for Lib Dems who disagreed with the coalition to break away and stand independently.
    b) I think it would be harder to get Lib Dems to back ‘Coalition Conservatives’ outright than to give them their second preferences.

  42. Kevin Richards

    AV vote rundown so far RT @leftfootfwd: Conservative jitters reveal cost to Cameron, Osborne and co of a 'Yes' victory http://bit.ly/hyR9k0

  43. Steve Rudland

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yes or No, the coalition has a lot to lose in the AV referendum http://bit.ly/hyR9k0 Interesting take on Cameron's

  44. marjorie narey

    RT @leftfootfwd: Conservative jitters reveal cost to Cameron, Osborne and co of a 'Yes' victory http://bit.ly/hyR9k0 #political #blog

  45. Plymouth City UNISON

    Best reason yet 4 voting FOR AV: http://bit.ly/hgA8uE. It's an Anti Cameron Vote (ACV)! via @trurojoe @leftfootfwd #AV Pls RT

  46. Plymouth City UNISON

    As well as being more proportionate, here's another reason to vote #Yes2AV: http://bit.ly/hgA8uE

  47. Imogen Caterer

    RT @cityplymUNISON: As well as being more proportionate, here's another reason to vote #Yes2AV: http://bit.ly/hgA8uE

  48. Paul Sandars

    RT @cityplymUNISON: As well as being more proportionate, here's another reason to vote #Yes2AV: http://bit.ly/hgA8uE

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