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.

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

  1. Ed's Talking Balls


    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:

    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.

  2. 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:

    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…

  3. London IWW

    Good #Tory results give Cameron a 2015 headache | | #UKpolitics #ConDem

  4. 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.

  5. Henry

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

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