The rise and rise of the SNP?

 

The latest polls from Scotland all show the same picture. The Labour vote has fallen substantially, and the SNP vote has risen in its place. One poll on a small sample (YouGov) goes so far as to show the SNP on 42% and Labour as low as 27%.  This accentuates the move more than others and would mean 43 SNP seats at Westminster to Labour’s 12. This would make the  SNP the third placed party comfortably ahead of the Lib Dems in seats given their current poll position. Other polls point to Labour losses on a more modest scale.

In the run up to the 2015 election I will not be making any of my own predictions of the Conservative result. I take this view for two obvious reasons. I believe a Conservative majority is in the best interests of the c0untry, and is the only way to guarantee the renegotiation and referendum on the EU which I think we need. It can be achieved and is my preferred outcome.  I know that if I made an optimistic projection for the Conservatives it would be written off as self serving and arrogant, and if I made a pessimistic forecast for the Conservatives I would be seen as defeatist and would delight my opponents who would use and abuse it.

According to pollsters and commentators  from here a Conservative majority is clearly  possible, but so are a number of other outcomes. The latest polls showing the SNP doing better are a reminder of the significance of third, fourth and fifth placed parties when they reach a certain level in the polls.  It is important to remember just how many MPs were elected in 2010 from parties other than Conservative or Labour:

 

Liberal Democrat       57

Northern Irish parties    18

SNP   6

Plaid     3

Green     1

Total  85    (13% of seats)

 

If we project this forward, there are some  reasons to suppose on current polls that this number could stay high in the next Parliament. Whilst persistent polls point to a substantial reduction in the number of Liberal Democrat seats, the polls also suggest there could be a substantial gain by the SNP in Scotland at the expense of Labour, and there could be  modest gains by Plaid in Wales.

If the two main parties again only share 565 seats out of 650, this means to have an overall majority one party  has to win 58% of the seats going to the 2 main parties to do so, obviously  more than the Conservatives did last time.  This is possible for either party to achieve, but gaining an overall majority is clearly more difficult when there are so many MPs from other parties. There is also the impact of votes for third and fourth parties on the outcome in close races.

Gaining a majority is also made more difficult for either party where people who would in the past have preferred one or other of the main parties and who wished to help choose between them in a General Election now wish to make 0ther points by voting for other parties. Clearly those voting for SNP know their party cannot possibly form the next UK government, but they may have other reasons for voting for them even in a General Election.

Last time there was only one combination of 2 parties that could command a majority in the Commons. That was a  Con/Lib Dem alliance. If the Lib seats say halve, and if the SNP gain more than  20 seats the position would be different next time if one of the main parties still fail to achieve a majority.  There are permutations where it would take three or more parties to form a government.

As the General Election gets closer some think more people will wish to contribute directly to the decision about whether to have a Conservative led or a Labour led government, by voting for their preference between the main two. This could lead to a majority government offering more stable government and the ability to deliver the manifesto promises. Others think this time more voters will want to make a different point, whatever the impact such voting may have on the balance between the two main parties.

Devolution could become an even more important issue if a Parliament is elected with more nationalist and regional party MPs elected and no overall main party winner. The party which had the best offer on devolution might be the best placed to form a coalition government in such circumstances.

 

 

Update 30.10.14   A further poll today now gives the SNP 54 seats with Labour down to just 4 and Lib Dems 1.

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119 Comments

  1. Mark B
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I said that unless we came up with a better solution to the one we have, and the one currently proposed (Devo Max for Scotland only), the UK will soon be over. To me, this proves that once again, the political class have totally misread the situation and this time, you cannot say you were not warned.

    You referendum will only come about if you have a majority, which I doubt you will. Labour can still be 6% behind you, and still win. And that is because you were more interested in GAY Marriage than you were in making sure that boundary changes were implemented and that postal voting was banned except for the disabled and overseas citizens. A ship of fools !

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      Mark–Agreed–One might have thought that Cameron would have sold his soul for the needed Boundary Changes but No he had other priorities for which he will pay the price and in many different ways

    • Hope
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      It is announced the Lib Dems killed the referendum Bill. A headline that sounds so familiar. I suspect Cameron is quietly pleased. JR, once more trying the Lab V Con card. There is only presentational difference when the EU imposes itself through regulation and directives by quango and direct law. Cameron has gold plated Ed’s energy policy, done nothing about the world health service crisis or staffordshire shame, nothing about the Rotherham scandal etc. Cameron talks a lot but delivers nothing.

      People should compare Cameron’s speech in 2009 about the criminal justice competences going to the EU, highlighted by Hannan today, and the vote to opt back in to the EAW and other competences. We saw this week Cameron’ s bold statement in 2009 about right to recall MPs and cleaning up Westminster for the sham it was. So many U turns, so many failed promises so much talk and such little action when in government. The economy and immigration still in a complete mess. Vote the same, I do not think so.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        Quietly rat, rat and rat again, then throw yet another election. While pretending (near elections) to be slightly less pro EU, green crap and less tax borrow and waste than Labour – that seems to be the only strategy.

        It simply will not work the voters saw through it last time hence the absurd Libdems.

  2. Mark W
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    I believe only very recently I commented here on the likelihood of a Con/SNP coalition or confidence and supply situation.

    Hence why it makes sense for the conservative position to be to offer the most practical Devo to Scotland and get the same after an election for England tied up.

    The largest 3rd party is the obvious choice for a deal. At present the majority between con and libdem is large enough to stop a dummy spitter in the smaller party rocking boats. If the deal was with a 4-5 mp party they could constantly be in a noise making situation and become unstable.

    If there is a conservative majority I would be happy with one change to the current promise. The EU referendum. Parties and MPs become eurosceptic sounding on the approach to a general election but I know that many will campaign for an IN vote.

    Delay the referendum to coincide with a general election. If they’re on the same day that will mean the euro sceptic rhetoric to get elected will nicely help the OUT vote.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      “Delay the referendum to coincide with a general election.”

      I take that to mean:

      “Further delay the referendum to coincide with a general election, but not the next general election, maybe the one after the next, probably in 2020.”

      • Mark w
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

        Unfortunately yes that is what I mean. I would prefer the referendum next May with this general election but there’s no majority in the current house. I would therefore prefer a referendum delayed further than 2017 just to ensure a fair campaign. The result is far more important than the how early it is.

        Obviously I would prefer a majority government to just withdraw from the EU without the waste of time of a referendum but that is a wish too far I guess.

    • gareth robson
      Posted November 5, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      This highlights an urgent need for an emergency law to be enacted, ready to apply to any parliament where no party has an overall majority. Something along the lines of:

      1. Rank the parties by popular vote.
      2. If parties 1 and 2 have a majority, they are the government. END.
      otherwise:
      3. Add party number 3. If parties 1, 2 and 3 have a majority, they are the government. END.
      otherwise a repeat election.

      This would very likely deliver a lab-con coalition government. Germany can make it work (and have done so twice) but could we?

  3. matthu
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    It is becoming increasingly evident that neither of the two major political parties will be able to command a majority on their own after the 2015 GE. What is also now clear is that Cameron is unable to win a negotiation on the EU, voter recall or House of Lords reform with a coalition partner.

    Cameron’s only hope is to secure coalition or minor government with partners who share a lot of the same aims.

    The rational conclusion for the electorate who want to secure the right partner is to forego any thought of first pass the post delivering a single party majority government and to vote for the coalition party (or minor party) most likely to join with either Labour or Conservatives to deliver the future reform of the UK that is needed.

    • Bob
      Posted October 30, 2014 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      @matthu

      “”

      Such as?
      Lib Dems, Labour or the Greens?

  4. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Choosing who to vote for in a general election should not be based on voting for the winner in the manner of a school child choosing to support the most succesful footaball team.

    One’s vote should be seen as an affirmation of one’s opinion on the main issues of the day. If many votes are cast for single issue parties the eventual winners must take notice (greens and UKIP and previously BNP are examples of this).

    If more people went out to vote and looked at the single issue parties instead of staying at home declaring all politicians ato be the same, Westminster would live in fear of the electorate and take note of its wishes rather than holdimg it in contempt and paying lip service to it as at present.

    • DaveM
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      This is the problem though – the main parties DON’T pay attention to the single issues, and their arrogance means that they think the issues don’t matter.

      Not being a politician, I would probably get laughed at by arrogant MPs who would pretend that there are matters I “simply don’t understand” if i was to argue the point to them. Never mind the fact I’ve travelled to, and worked in over 60 countries, brought up 2 kids, lived in 3 of the 4 home countries, and mix with most of the electoral spectrum daily. I was never employed as a researcher in Westminster and therefore know nothing!!!

      The fact is that politicians disregard so-called “protest votes”, not realising that if they were to embrace the single issues that are actually really important to people (rather that just scaring less well educated people by spouting vague nonsense about the economy and the NHS which no-one really understands) they would stand a better chance of a majority. And the importance of these issues – given that the economy and NHS haven’t done too well lately – is magnified, and this has been reflected in Brighton and, more recently in Chatham and Manchester. I wonder whether the R&S by-election will be similarly ignored. Our host excepted from this cynical rant of course.

      What do I know though? The nearest I ever came to the HoC was a visit when I worked in MoD Main Building for 2 years!!

      Reply Contributors to this site should understand just how well organised the pro EU pro global warming theory forces are. An MP regularly receives many campaign inspired emails on that side of the argument but hardly ever anything on the other side. The single issue campaigners are mainly from the Lib Dem/Lab family.

    • oldtimer
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      I think you make an interesting and valid point about “single issue” parties – such as the SNP, the Green party and UKIP. Current polling evidence points to a rise in their shares and a continuing decline in the aggregate share obtained by the Conservative and Labour parties. LordAshcroft, in his polling, has drawn attention to these trends. Of course they are not just “single issue” parties but are predominntly so in voters minds.

      Another characteristic of recent elections has been the role of tactical voting, either to keep a particular candidate/party out or to vote one in. That seems likely to be even more marked in the next GE. The “single issue” parties will benefit from this and it will, and probably does now, terrify some incumbent MPs.

      The third element in recent GEs has been declining turnout. One significant element of reported UKIP shares has been those who said they did not vote last time. If parties like UKIP indeed energise more people tp turn out to vote and this is combined with more tactical voting then we should expect many upsets in the next GE. It seems to me that this is not only possible but likely.

      There is significant disenchantment with the Conservative, Labour and LibDem parties, the Westminster Establishment and the policies they pursue. Expect a political earthquake next May.

      Reply Many polls predict seats based on the assumption of a uniform swing in each seat. I suspect as you say there will be more variable swings with multi party politics making it more difficult to predict. There will also be more MPs elected with under one third of the votes cast.

    • gareth robson
      Posted November 5, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      True – but people might be more likely to vote in the manner which you describe if the voting system encouraged it. Otherwise, people are always convinced that because others will vote tactically, so must they.

      We need the seats to be allocated based on the popular vote.

  5. Mick Anderson
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    This makes it more important to the Electorate for all Parties to declare what their “red lines” are if we are presented with another coalition stitch-up. Any principles the negotiators might have had were forgotten when the wrangling for power started behind closed doors. Instead of Politicians voting themselves a minimum term of Parliament, they should have given the Electorate a referendum on whether we would accept what was being offered.

    We have been very poorly served in many ways by the current Government, and all the guilty parties do is blame the Electorate for not giving them a majority. Imagine if we had a “none of the above” option on the ballot paper….

    • Vanessa
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      We do have a “none of the above” option – it is called spoilt ballot papers. You can write what you want on them and the HAVE to be counted. I cannot think of a better way of saying stuff you all !

      • Mick Anderson
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        I have a suspicion that most British voters are simply too polite to spoil a ballot paper!

        Reply There is no point in spoiling a ballot paper. You have to choose from amongst those who run. If enough of you do not like any of the potential candidates, then put up someone you do like.

      • Bob
        Posted October 30, 2014 at 8:28 am | Permalink

        @Vanessa

        “I cannot think of a better way of saying stuff you all !”

        I can.

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted October 30, 2014 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        The only people to see spoilt ballot papers are generally limited to the election officers and candidates’ agents.

  6. Mike Stallard
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    “…is the only way to guarantee the renegotiation and referendum on the EU which I think we need. ”
    I am a conservative and it breaks my heart to see our vote split neatly between Ukip and the Conservatives, who are determined to kick the whole problem of Europe into the long grass with a referendum in the distant future. Well, once we discount all the froth and the imagined hurts (which are of course spin), we are faced with a Prime Minister who is determined to drift along and also who is very much in favour of staying in. He will, no doubt, pull out every stop as he did in the Scottish referendum. And he may well win – just as Mr Wilson won way back in the Urzeit.
    Then what?
    What we conservatives need is some sort of alliance between Ukip and the Conservatives which, I understand, has been twice offered to the Prime Minister and twice thrown back in their face. That makes me cross.

    If Labour and Mr McCluskey get in – it really is back to the white heat of the technological revolution, complete with four day week and black-outs.

    • Hope
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      In fairness the blackouts fear has been encouraged by the Tories action over the last four and half years and the demented drive for expensive green energy while closing perfectly serviceable power stations. Paying companies to switch off power and others to stand by with diesel generators under STOR. Cameron has gold plated Ed’s policy and is full steam behind the EU c02 emission lunacy. JR has pointed out the folly of his party’s direction on energy, though like so many policy issues they are not listening. Unlike JR., we do not have to be whipped to vote for such stupidty.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        Cameron, at Column 23 here on Monday, reporting on the outcome of the meeting of the European Council:

        http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm141027/debtext/141027-0001.htm#14102711000001

        “Secondly, it is vital that Europe plays its part if we are to secure a global deal on climate change in Paris next year. One problem we have faced in the past is that instead of just setting a binding target on carbon emissions, the EU has set binding national targets on things like renewables and energy efficiency. These diktats on how each country should reach its commitments can pile up costs on our industries, consumers and families who do not want to pay more on their energy bills than they have to, and they create an unnecessary trade-off between cutting carbon emissions and promoting economic growth.

        At this Council, we have chosen a different path. We have reached a landmark commitment to deliver at least 40% reductions in greenhouse gases by 2030, but we have rejected any new binding national targets for renewables or energy efficiency, giving us full flexibility over how we reduce our carbon, allowing us to do so at the lowest possible cost for businesses and consumers. This is another example of where British leadership has helped the EU to step up and meet its international obligations, while at the same time protecting our national interest by keeping energy bills down for businesses and Britain’s hard-working families.”

        The lunacy continues, albeit with slightly modified symptoms.

        • Richard1
          Posted October 29, 2014 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

          On the contrary this is skillful diplomacy. Cameron has paid obeisance to the green religion, as he has to (if he be was to become a ‘denier’ it would be like a Victorian statesman announcing himself an atheist – he’d never hear the end of it on the BBC), whilst at the same time avoiding any specific green obligation for the UK. This commitment would be consistent eg with the UK removing all renewable subsidies and giving the full proper go ahead to shale gas. (The only developed country which has really reduced CO2 emissions is the US, and that due to shale gas despite opposition from Democrats in the federal govt). We aren’t there yet but we might be moving in the right direction. Solar subsidies are gone, no more onshore wind if the Tories win. Can’t be long before wind subsidies go and shale gets the go ahead. On an optimistic view we could have a rational energy policy within 5 years if we get a majority Conservative govt.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted October 30, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

            “avoiding any specific green obligation for the UK”

            Apart, that is, from the specific green obligation to reduce the UK’s emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 40%.

          • Richard1
            Posted October 30, 2014 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

            Reply to Denis Cooper: read it more carefully. The specific obligation is not on the UK its on the EU. That’s the point. If Cameron gets challenged by green zealots he can point to the EU commitment but he doesn’t actually have to do anything.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted October 29, 2014 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

          Indeed what is driving the energy lunacy? Is it corruption, they do not believe it but think their are votes in it or just mad religious people in charge? It is hard to believe that people like Ed Davey actually believe the drivel they spout on the green issue. They must surely have some sensible engineers and physicists to explain it to them. Perhaps they just cover their ears up?

          I am sure their are far more votes in cheap reliable conventional energy and all the extra jobs that ensue. This despite all the BBC propaganda that so few sensible scientist actually believe for a moment.

          Reply The energy policy is an EU/UK establishment belief – EU officials, other countries, many academics etc

      • fedupsouthener
        Posted October 30, 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

        Agree. Even though this policy was brought in by Labour this government has had plenty of time to show the stupidity of it all to the public and get it changed for something that works. Deiter Helm gave a speech in the House of Lords the other day and spoke clear and concise sense in everything he spoke about. We have invested in wind power which is unreliable and has caused immense distress to many people living near the damn wind farms and has done nothing to reduce bills. In the meantime fossils fuels are available in abundance and are much cheaper than they were but we have seen bills rise all the time and they will continue to do so in the future. Fuel poverty and debt is on the increase and energy intensive businesses are moving out of Europe. The whole thing is absolute madness and all for the ideology of the Greens. Cameron needs to get his act together instead, he has sacked the sensible Owen Paterson and got Truss in. What a woeful interview she gave on the Sunday Politics show with Andrew Marr. Pitiful and said nothing that made any sense at all.

        Instead of spending over £100 billion on wind we would be far better investing in nuclear and gas to get carbon emissions down (wind cannot and will not do this) if it is important and invest in Research and Development. As Mr Helm pointed out, what’s a few hundred million compared with what we are throwing at wind which simply will not do the job.

        Is this government not sensible enough to realise that eventually we will have to invest in something that does work and pay all over again? It is no good having all this back up when it is so expensive we are pricing ourselves out of any markets.

        This is yet another policy where UKIP seem to have it all clearly understood and Roger Helmer is very knowledgeable about it all and can see the folly of our ways.

        All government does is increase ‘green taxes’ and inhibit growth.

        • fedupsouthener
          Posted October 30, 2014 at 9:23 am | Permalink

          Meant to add to my last post that many people in Scotland are sick of wind farms which are popping up literally everywhere including around places such as Loch Ness and any other party that had stood up to the SNP over this issue would have attracted more attention and respect. Even SNP supporters are fed up with their landscapes and their peace of mind being destroyed in the name of being ‘green’. The only green is the colour of the money involved by way of excessive subsidies for wind developers and landowners. This has set neighbour against neighbour and friend against friend and whole communities to fall out. Would someone please do something and can you John, please tell me why compensation for people living near wind farms has not been hardly discussed. We hear all about compensation for HS2’victims’, people living near an extended airport, shale gas etc but nothing for people like us. We recently tried to sell our home and apart from the people who didn’t even bother to view because of the wind farms the ones that did wanted a 20% reduction in the price because of the view of the turbines. Even the RICS admit house prices are affected and people health is being affected too but still nothing has been done or suggested by government. Poor show!!

    • Timaction
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      There will not be an alliance with UKIP as the membership are opposed to it. Nigel Farage has stated this publically on more than one occasion.
      UKIP is not the Tory Party in exile but has a raft of policies available for viewing on its own website.
      No one can be certain how many MP’s it will gain in the forthcoming election but the British public are quickly learning they are the only party who will stand up for them on all issues.
      The legacy parties have had their chance and have failed.
      The polls are starting to look interesting.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        Hard to see them getting much more than four or five without some deal it will surely be Miliband alone or with the Libdums/rainbow.

        • Hope
          Posted October 30, 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

          Perhaps a Labour Governemnt is the only way to get a true Conservative party ready for in 2020.

          I note Osborne and Letwin, the strategists, voted against real right to recall. How does that stack up with the Tory mantra after the expense scandal?

    • Mark B
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Labour are slowly dissolving, especially north of the border. Cameron and the Conservative Party will be as much at fault for not implementing boundary changes and throwing the 2010 election, as UKIP are for not making any pact with the ‘Toxic Tories.’

      Not always telling the truth, and making false claims and promises, like deficit reduction etc. have a way of coming back at you.

      You only have yourselves to blame.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        Mark–How on Earth were UKIP to make a pact with Cameron thinking as he did that he had the whip hand (yet another misjudgement) and actively slagging them off? He was too busy “modernising”.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted October 29, 2014 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

          “Modernising” and calling them fruit cakes and closet racists.

  7. Richard1
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Did I understand correctly that the Conservatives are now polling ahead of Labour in Scotland?! That would be a very strong confirmation that the sort of whining leftist separatism which we heard so much of from Scottish politicians during the referendum was not representative of Scottish people or their views.

    If leftists can be encouraged to vote Green – and the Greens are far more intellectually consistent than Labour – and people who don’t want a tax borrow and spend Labour govt again but who live in seats where UKIP but not the Tories have a chance vote UKIP, there might be a right wing majority in the next Parliament and therefore an attempt at renegotiation with the EU and a referendum. Perhaps there would even be other benefits such as tax cuts and getting rid of green crap…things could be looking up!

    • Mark B
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      I take my cue from people like, Max Dunbar* but, I think it has more to do with an anti-Westminster feeling and yearning to govern themselves, in or out of the Union, which is driving this anti-Labour sentiment.

      RedEd and all the Scottish MP’s seem to treat Hollyrood as some sort of ‘poor mans’ lower chamber, and not the voice of Scotland.

      To paraphrase, Harold MacMillan; “The winds of change are blowing across these Islands.”

      Trouble is, those in the Westminster Bubble, think it is all down to, ‘Climate Change.’

      * Apologies to, Max if wrong.

  8. Old Albion
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    The party that puts forward the solution to the English Democratic defecit, by the creation of an English parliament, will get my vote.
    (looks as though i won’t be voting at all, at the moment)

    • Richard1
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      English votes for English issues at Westminster does the same thing. Vote Conservative (assuming that is the policy adopted).

      • Old Albion
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        It does nothing nothing of the sort. It’s a fudge.
        I have welcomed EVoEL being discussed and even considered for policy. Not because i think it’s the answer. Simply because it puts English democracy in the public and political eye.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        No, it does not do the same thing; and no, I will not vote for a party which among its numerous other pretences claims that it does.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted October 29, 2014 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

          Denis–Not the same indeed, but solves the problem: the West Lothian question I believe it is called–there is no perfect, symmetrical, solution

          • bluedog
            Posted October 30, 2014 at 10:50 am | Permalink

            ‘there is no perfect, symmetrical, solution’ Wrong. The solution, both perfect and symmetrical, is called a federation.

            Our host seems to reject this possibility, understanding perhaps that in a federation the constitution is sovereign and not the parliament.

    • Richard
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      Old Albion :

      Please do not abstain from taking part in the next GE.

      If you feel there is no party for whom you can vote then please write on the ballot paper “Non of the above”.

      Most politicians simply do not care if large numbers of people do not vote.

      In fact, they interpret a low turnout as meaning that the electorate are so happy with the current state of the country and the policies pursued , so many of which are identical across all the 3 main parties, that they are unconcerned as to which party is in power.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        Totally agree, everyone should vote – fringe party or spoilt ballot to get the message across to the establishment.

  9. Freeborn John
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    If the number of LibDem seats drops then I suspect Cameron would be tempted by a Labour-Conservative coalition. That would be the logical response of any political cartel like LibLabCon to protect itself and keep out new parties of change.

    Reply Certainly not

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      Well LabCon deal would certainly be more in keeping for Cameron, whose real views (judged by his actions) are clearly very little different from Labour’s (green crap subsidies, pro EU, open borders, 299 tax increases, ratting on IHT, daft equality laws, token women/religion/disabled people, a dysfunctional, dangerous, unreformed NHS (as reported again today), endless waste on HS2/3/4 …..)

      Cameron and UKIP have more than enough voter support to win an overall Majority with a sensible deal, but it seems Cameron would just rather lose.
      UKIP are clearly the stop Labour vote over much or the North where most Tories have no chance of winning at all anyway. Cameron will however not do a deal because his DNA is just pro EU, green crap, big government socialism. As we see from the people he appoints. Liz Truss, Ken Clark, Greg Clark, Ed Davey, Vince Cable …… and the ones he fires Owen Patterson or just overlooks JR, Rees-Mogg, Bill Cash.

      That way he can rat yet again and blame it on Labour or anyone else he does a coalition deal with. The idea of Boris Johnson or Teresa May (or many of the others in the running) for leader is hardly an uplifting vision either.

    • acorn
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      I wouldn’t be too dismissive of strange alliances occurring JR, this 2015 election could come up with an odd result. In 2010 and 2005, the Con-Lab share of the popular vote was significantly lower at 32%. Back in the 1950 / 60s that would have been circa 48%. The Lib-Dems have picked up the difference.

      The FPTP voting system degenerates, over time, into a two party contest, like back in the 50s. It is very hard for voters pissed off with a Punch & Judy parliament, that may as well be on another planet; to change a heavily biased outcome.

      The share of seats for both Conservatives and Labour is markedly higher than those parties’ share of the popular vote – 57 per cent of the vote between them got 89 per cent of the seats.

      Then UKIP gets zero seats with nearly a million votes and the Greens get one seat for a quarter million votes. The BNP got 10% more votes than the SNP! BNP got no seats while the SNP got six.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        In the case of the SNP the FPTP system still worked against them, but it was partly counteracted by their votes being concentrated in just the 59 seats in Scotland. Only 1.7% of the votes cast across the UK but 19.9% of those cast in Scotland, however leading to only 10% of the seats.

    • Mark B
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply

      1) The Conservatives and Labour came together during the war.

      2) Merkel had to form a Government with her bitter rivals, as her natural allies were destroyed.

      3) You’re not in charge, he is, and your too loyal to go against him.

      4) If the alternative is stale ineffective Government, which bad for the nation, would you put your tribal political views before country ? I mean, it is not as if the Lib Dems are any much different from Labour, now are they ?

      Reply I put my view of the national interest – and my view of my voters’ interests – before party.

  10. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Today’s article ,highlights the sort of psyche in political competition. If you are positive about your allegiance a charge of arrogance will be directed at you, if pessimistic you will be seen as a loser and easily dumbed down. Politicians may understand the damning attitude problems rife in politics, but do they understand, when they come to debate in the commons , the same power- crazy tactics used in every day professions?
    If I negate all my past experience , forget medical texts , content of syllabus and examinations and say the present methods of learning, without much medical content is superior I am more likely to get a good post.If I deny the truth and the past and in effect lie, will be seen as serving a certain sector to its best interests. This is not a good basis for neither human development nor social development.
    There is in life constant change, yet the opinionated who like to charge others with being self opinionated ought to look at themselves.We need an opinion to vote. A vote is not a group task , it is an individual underlining of a present perspective . Polls may give some sort of indication of the votes ahead yet the individual who does vote often twists and turns their perspective up to the last minute that cross is put on the ballot paper.The one who shouts the loudest does not control the vote.

  11. Ian wragg
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    There’s still 26 weeks for CMD to throw the election. I see you are still deluded enough to think the liblabcon will run away with things. Most people think there will be some very disappointed MP’S after the results are declared. People are very angry and it will show.

  12. Alan Wheatley
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Re: “I believe a Conservative majority is in the best interests of the c0untry, and is the only way to guarantee the renegotiation and referendum on the EU which I think we need. It can be achieved and is my preferred outcome.”

    I am pleased to see a preference stated. But I have a problem extracting a clear meaning from the words used: “and” between “renegotiation” and “referendum”, followed by “it”. From previous posts I take this to mean that THEY, “renegotiation” and “referendum”, can be achieved.

    I also have a problem with “outcome”: “renegotiation” and “referendum” are steps in a process towards an outcome. That is unless one is cynical enough to believe that they are in fact intended by the Conservatives as no more than outcomes, being used to show that something is being done to address people’s concerns while the hidden agenda is that in the end nothing of any consequence changes.

    The real outcome, the thing that really matters, is what follows from the result of the referendum. And in that respect I do not find any preference expressed.

    Apologies to all for this pedantic approach to language, but everything to do with the EU is regularly so clouded in obfuscation and miss-information that anything of value has to be crystal clear.

    Reply I have been very clear in the past. I will vote for Out unless the UK secures a new relationship based on trade and political co-operation which restores our democracy.

    • Richard1
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      I have just watched a clip of you debating with Count Lamsdorff the German MEP on the Daily Politics. Its an interesting exchange – for those who missed it, JR made the point that the £1.7bn extra EU charge is a retrospective tax on UK citizens & the Count said its just application of rules which the UK govt has already agreed to, and were well aware of. The Count made an interesting point I wasn’t aware of: if there is an opening up of a debate on EU subs, there will be a discussion on a direct EU tax. But this seems to me an excellent idea. Those countries such as the UK which arn’t in the Euro and arn’t committed to it should of course pay a very low EU tax as we dont need to make transfers to the suffering Eurozne areas, whereas those countries which are in the federal currency zone must of course pay a high EU tax. An EU tax would have the added advantage that people could see exactly what the direct cost of membership is. The Govt should suggest this to our EU partners as a way through the funding impasse.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

        Have you Tories learned NOTHING over the past four decades?

        If it was agreed that the EU could directly tax its citizens, thanks to Major for that betrayal, then the tax would be controlled by its Parliament.

        • Richard1
          Posted October 29, 2014 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

          The point is a direct EU tax as an alternative to payments by the UK govt would need to be negotiated. It could be a good way of reducing payments for the UK, not being in the euro, whilst at the same time making the direct cost of EU membership very clear. Major skillfully secured opt outs from the 2 worst aspects of the Maastricht treaty, the single currency and the social chapter.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted October 30, 2014 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

            A direct EU tax would inevitably be determined by the EU Parliament, anything other than that would be condemned as undemocratic, it would not be a matter for negotiations between national governments. If as a Tory you still can’t see that coming a mile off then that helps to explain why your party has got us into such a godawful mess, despite all that supposedly skilful negotiation of the Maastricht Treaty by John Major. Perhaps you have forgotten that among the many other concessions he made to get that so-called “game set and match for Britain” was one which the present Tory leader was bitterly complaining about only a few months ago, giving the EU Parliament the power to determine the composition of the EU Commission including its President. Now you want to give the EU Parliament even more power, the power to tax us all directly. I find it hard to believe that you have really learned so little from past events.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      JR you (and almost everyone) now knows that Cameron (in the highly unlikely event he gets a majority) will get nothing but a transparent fig leaf or two from the EU. He is not even asking for any real & substantial changes as he made clear & as you too must well know.

      His heart, soul and DNA are just not in it. He would rather accuse UKIP of being closet racists and say vote UKIP get Labour, but he is no better than Labour. He played the political game at the last election with his lying deception & ratting and thus threw the last sitting duck election. He seems very determined to do a repeat John Major and bury the party yet again. Perhaps for several terms or even bury it permanently.

      etc ed

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

        A victory for Cameron and UKIP (about 46% combined support) is clearly there for the asking, but Cameron simply does not want to ask.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted October 29, 2014 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

          Lifelogic–Too late with him: he has burnt both his boats and his bridges on that subject; but still at least conceivable (I do not say likely) that he gets hit by a bus thus allowing a Right Wing get together

          • Lifelogic
            Posted October 29, 2014 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

            Led by whom, no one stands out and too many in the Ken Clark wing for anyone sensible to be elected?

        • sjb
          Posted October 29, 2014 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

          “That is not necessarily the case – parties do no own their voters. If two parties agree to stand to together it doesn’t follow that their voters will go along with it. The usual voting intention in the poll showed Labour four points ahead of of the Conservatives, but with UKIP on 18%. Asked how they would vote with a Conservative/UKIP pact the Labour lead grew to six points. The reason is that only about two thirds of current Conservative voters would back the joint ticket – some would flake away to Labour or the Liberal Democrats, others wouldn’t vote or aren’t sure what they would do. At the same time only just over half of UKIP supporters would follow their party into a deal with the Tories, others would go to Labour, find an alternate “other” party or not vote. This probably paints an artificially bleak picture because many of those don’t knows would hold their noses and vote for the joint-ticket, but it should still serve as an antidote to those thinking a pact is a panacea to Tory woes.”
          Source: http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/9031

    • Chris S
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Reply to Reply

      We will both be voting to leave, then.

      It’s become increasingly obvious that Brussels will never agree to us having control of our borders back.

      The renegotiation, while necessary to demonstrate to waverers that leaving is our only option, is therefore doomed to fail. Cameron now seems to realise this when he said it’s their last chance to keep us in.

      • bigneil
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

        reply to reply to reply – What would happen if the money was just stopped being paid, the borders were put up -and Brussels ignored? -it seems to me they realise we want out -and are hell bent on bleeding us dry before we go. Any common sense politician can surely see this situation is totally 10 million % unsustainable, throwing £millions to the EU, while importing thousands of people who are only coming here to freeload – and at the same time, making cuts to such as the police etc – (etc ed) -Quite seriously john -I’m glad I’m nearer the end of my life -this country and nation is being destroyed -DELIBERATELY.

    • Hope
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      Honorable position because of what you have said to date. Nevertheless, you are a very small minority in your own party. It is like peeing in the ocean.

  13. alan jutson
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    The rise of the smaller Party’s is a natural outcome of the failure of those larger and more traditional Party’s, who have swapped power for years by trying to bribe the electorate with their own money, but failing their core supporters.

    The smaller Party’s may just have a few policy ideas, but they are real and meaningful to their supporters and others who are simply looking for a change.

    Most of us do not want the government to be forever in our lives, taking our money,
    spending it inefficiently, borrowing in our name, and then trying to bribe us with it.

    Perhaps its time for a minority Government to give it a go (Mr Camerons big mistake)
    Then at the next election we may all have a better idea as to where they really do all stand, given we would have a voting record of 5 years to go by.

    Perhaps also time to stop using the whipping system, and let Mp’s vote according to their real views (and that of their constituents) instead of being simply lobby fodder, playing follow my leader.

  14. agricola
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    It is only by reading between the lines that one senses that UKIP might be lurking there come May 2015.

    I await the outcome of English votes on English matters, now somewhat overshadowed by the amount we owe the EU. This seems to be moving from outrage to pay up and shut up. Cast iron will has turned to flexible lead in the alchemy of politics.

    The promise of a referendum, the last lifeboat on the Titanic, is not supported by duplicitous Clegg, so it’s election winning potential is unlikely. Knowing CMD’s Europhile tendencies he is perhaps relieved by Clegg’s refusal to support a referendum.

    As to devolution, I thought that was supposed to be sorted well before the General Election. Nothing was thought to stand in the way of it after the three party vow. It was not conditional on sorting the ensuing shambles in England.

    My prediction for May 2015 is that we will arrive at a coalition between the Conservatives and UKIP which with the hasty retirement of CMD will facilitate a proper Conservative Government, rather than the choice of three socialisms we have at present.

    • Man of Kent
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Yes please!

      And if it comes with the repeal of the Climate Change Act [UKIP policy] and the

      restoration of Owen Paterson then we would be making real progress

      • fedupsouthener
        Posted October 30, 2014 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        Man of Kent, couldn’t agree with you more. The Climate Change Act is the biggest rip off this century. Get rid of Elizabeth Truss and get Owen Paterson back. At least UKIP understand what a destructive piece of legislation this is.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      agricola–I fervently hope you are right–but pity that so much done by Cameron is irreversible in practice even with him well out of it

  15. JoolsB
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    John,

    There is also a strong possibility that the Scots will only vote SNP for the Holyrood elections and as usual still send their army of Labour MPs to Westminster ‘to keep the Tories out’. It’s win win for the Scots with their two votes and lose lose as usual for the English who are deliberately denied the same voting rights as the Scots, Welsh & NI, by all two and a half main parties, i.e. a second vote to choose their own separate legislature.

    Your party has gone very quiet on EVeL and I hope they are not now assuming they can park it in the long grass and hope the Scots will do their job for them by voting out the Scots Labour MPs. Whatever the outcome of the Scottish vote, it is more urgent than ever to stop Scots, Welsh & NI deciding who governs England. If as predicted above, the SNP gain more seats at Westmintser, it could mean the SNP holding the balance of power in a hung UK parliament, something every bit as unpalatable and unfair to the English as the status quo.

    • Oli
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      Well said.

      The English issue has gone rather quiet for something so fundamental. I for one have not forgotten and it will be the single most important voting issue for me at the next GE.

      While the likes of Nicola Sturgeon get to spout-off their anti-UK anti-English tribal calls-to-arms, England has no voice to speak for its people. EVEL should be regarded as a starting point, a bare minimum on the path to an English Parliament.

  16. Bob Dixon
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Cameron is the problem. He is the best of a very poor bunch. He could have done so much better. But from time to time he makes big mistakes. The coming General Election will not solve our problem with the EU. That will be a great shame.

  17. They Work for Us?
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    I understand Nick Clegg is not going to support an EU referendum bill and that it is dead in the water.
    Nicola Sturgeon has asserted that their should be a double majority requirement for the UK to leave the EU withe EACH “nation” having to vote for this change as well as the majority of the UK population
    Time I think to put these nations back in the box and if necessary go their own way.
    Major policy decisions should be by referendum with te majority having their way.
    Time also to state that politicians are employed by the electorates and as such must carry out their majority view and not just represent it and then vote for something else.
    Politicians can no longer be left for 5 years to do as they like because they know best.
    Few MPs are people of sensible principle (JR excepted).

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      Under Schedule 5 of the Scotland Act 1998 relations with the EU are a UK-wide matter reserved to the UK Parliament, as Sturgeon knows perfectly well. But unless somebody takes the trouble to put her very firmly back in her box, to adapt your apt phrase, she may get many people in Scotland to believe otherwise.

    • fedupsouthener
      Posted October 30, 2014 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      We would have been better off letting Scotland have their precious independence!

  18. John E
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    The trouble is that so few people can find it in themselves to vote positively for either Cameron or Miliband. It becomes a choice between the lesser of two evils or voting for any credible protest alternative.
    I predict some Green gains next time – I can see them picking up some of the collapsing LibDem vote.
    My best hope would be for a short lived coalition of some sort followed by another General Election where the two main parties can offer fresh leaders.

  19. Gary
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    The SNP is booming out of righteous anger over broken promises made in a panic by the UK govt to Scotland. Apparantly, many changed to voting no based on those promises.

    The Scots were fools to blow their chance.

    • Chris S
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      No promises have been broken.

      Whether or not their MPs and supporters in England are happy about it, the Coalition and Labour are sticking to their agreement and the timetable.

      It’s a bit rich for the SNP to start accusing them of breaking promises when none of the self-imposed deadlines have been reached yet.

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted October 30, 2014 at 1:32 am | Permalink

        Promises made allegedly by one group of politicians to another.

  20. Chris S
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    I’m beginning to think that the first past the post system has reached the end of its useful life.

    The likely outcome in 2015 is that UKIP will get many more votes than the LibDems yet obtain only a fraction of the number of seats. Similarly, an academic on Newsnight last night predicted that the Conservative party would achieve the largest number of votes but Labour would get the largest number of seats.

    What would happen if Labour tried to form a government with the SNP, for example ?

    Labour would have no majority in England and the SNP, if they stick to their principles, would not vote on English matters. How could Miliband get a budget through the house in these circumstances ?

    I prefer the simplicity of FPTP and the clear outcomes it achieves but the next election is going to be very messy. I think we should now start to look at PR together with EVEL.

    In that way, the small c conservative concensus in England will hold sway here and give us a chance of achieving long term economic success without periods of disastrous Labour administrations that set us back years. In the meantime, Scotland and Wales will be free to follow their socialist preference and see where that takes them.

    As long as England is not obliged to subsidise them !

  21. Peter
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    The election will be a watershed moment. Increasing isolation from the EU and a realisation within the British people that the time has come to leave. UKIP will attract more MPs and former MPs, now removed, and the party will become the actual if not the official opposition My guess is that whatever happens next year, UKIP will win an outright majority in 2020.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Peter–If only you were right but I think it a bit hyperbolic to hope for an outright majority as soon as 2020–Mind you a 100 or so seats would not be all bad

  22. Atlas
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Given the SNP’s strong wish to be in the EU, the political dynamic will get even more interesting if the Conservatives form a majority government but with a greatly increased representation for the SNP in the House of Commons. I can forsee either another Independence Referendum or maybe even just a declaration of Independence.

    • John Robertson
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

      Poor Scots, if the SNP get independence then the SNP rhetoric of anti “Westminster” because rules are made outside of Scotland, will change to “Brussels”. They will continue the nationalist agenda. Thankfully England is not as nationalistic.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted October 30, 2014 at 1:36 am | Permalink

      A declaration of independence by the SNP would precipitate civil war in Scotland and is therefore very unlikely. However, another independence referendum in the near future is almost certain if Sturgeon wins the Holyrood election in 2016.

  23. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Test to see if cat on keyboard has wiped out my half-written comment or submitted it.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      The latest polls from Scotland (((((**&&&<<>>>>>>>>>>

      Meow ! Meow ! Feed me, Daddy !

      PURRRRRRRR !!!

      Reply, Looks like your cat did, Denis Cooper

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

        Oh, now I have somebody impersonating me, and it’s not the cat doing it.

  24. DaveM
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    This is a fun game – trying to second guess the British public!! Aside from the French, probably the least predictable electorate in the world.

    It’s almost a given that a 10 point lead in the polls means absolutely nothing in a GE anyway. Nothing counts until the votes have been cast.

    The result of the devolution discussions at the end of November will have a huge effect on how people will vote in the GE, particularly if JR and his allies publicise it well. (The SNP support [at least partial] devolution for England do they not?) And will also have an effect on possible coalitions – Con/SNP/UKIP/Plaid? (with no CMD). That would be interesting, and would certainly make the UK Govt look very federalist, particularly if devolution starts happening in earnest (which I am optimistic about).

    The most curious thing is that people in the HoC and the media are still talking about the Libdems within the same bracket as Con and Lab, and talking about UKIP in the same bracket as the Greens and Plaid Cymru. Wrong way round methinks. (See yesterday’s Independent for yet another opinion poll – UKIP are closer to Lab/Con than LibDems have been for years according to that one; I would question the poll’s commissioner if it hadn’t been in the Independent.)

    The LibDems’ only lifeline is their peers, who won’t last forever.

    Interesting blog today John – and even more interesting events to come in the near future. Times they are a-changing.

  25. Sam
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    I think any Conservative/Ukip coalition would be an extremely bad idea. Despite a surge in popularity with one section of the electorate, Ukip are pure poison to others. Similarly, the generic floating protest vote that Ukip currently holds would melt away once it was in government. The support that has transferred to Ukip from the BNP would also prove disappointed by the realities of grown-up politics, and I would expect another quasi-fascist party to emerge. Against the background of falling support for both coalition parties, they would have to differentiate themselves as the 2020(?) election drew nearer. You could expect defections from the Tory wing of the Conservative party as the latter attempted to draw towards the centre. The result could well be two deeply unpopular right wing parties facing a very large and temporarily united left wing alliance under Labour’s banner.

    I care about this country, so I do not want Labour to win. But it is hard to see how stable a Labour government or Labour-led coalition would be, facing the deficit without a plan for it, dealing with a deeply unpopular EU with no approach other than meek appeasement, and led by the widely ridiculed Ed Miliband.

  26. Tad Davison
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    However much one tries to break this down, predict the likely outcome of the 2015 election, or extrapolate what they will from the latest polls, one thing is abundantly clear – the people are fed up with the old two-party system that has let them down so badly.

    As I consider myself to be amongst their number, and have lost all faith in the main Westminster LibLabCon especially, I suggest it is down to the cynicism and the spin. The way we are governed is deplorable. The way we are lied to, equally so. At the heart of the matter lies a diseased and festering political system that seeks to distort the truth for the most dubious of reasons to get us into unjust, unnecessary wars, and a foreign federal United States of Europe without proper reference to the people. I do not trust the Conservative party or any other main Westminster party to change direction and the credibility gap is now too wide to be bridged. If the polls show anything at all, given Mr Cameron’s record, he is certainly NOT the right person for the job, nor is Miliband or Clegg.

    The Tories still persist with their claim that only they can give the people a say on EU membership by offering a choice in a referendum should the people trust them once again. That is not the case. Were people to vote UKIP in sufficient numbers, we could finally reverse the madness that has brought us to the point of inescapable absorption into the EU mire where our nation state would become little more than a region in an all-powerful, undemocratic monolith that is free to impose its will at its whim. Absorption that has been bought about in the most disgraceful and deplorable way by stealth and subterfuge by people who will say anything to get their vote, even if it means very careful wording and phraseology. This is what people are angry about, and why they are turning away from the big three in their droves.

    And who can blame them!

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  27. Bert Young
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    I support the view that the Conservatives led by Cameron have little chance of securing a majority in the next Parliament . Cameron’s stated support for the EU is at the heart of the matter together with other issues like “gay marriage” for which he will never be forgiven . He may rant and rave publicly about all sorts of things before the vote , but , whatever he says and does will not convince me . The EU and immigration are the bottom line when voting – the promise of a referendum is “woolly” and will not count . Putting these facts together will give UKIP the 100 seats that are forecast and make them the force to be reckoned with in the management of the country .
    If Cameron had taken heed of his Backbenchers a couple of years ago , got rid of Ken Clarke at the time and influences like him , he might have the credibility he seeks now . The position taken now where the Coalition counts for nothing , could have been the prevailing factor then , as it is , Lib/Dem bashing is read as nothing more than pre-election riff raff .
    I , like most readers , take heed of Opinion Polls and am heartened when they accord with my own thinking and horrified when they don’t . I am more inclined to be influenced by the mature , experienced and plain spoken individuals like Norman Tebbit – only recently he mentioned that “Cameron seems to be listening to his Backbenchers” – another way of saying “he ought to have done this some time ago”.
    An arrangement with UKIP is the only guaranteed way forward for the Conservative Party ; pundits have suggested that the present Party system is defunct having reached the point of drastic reform , I agree with the reasoning behind this . The Labour Party in Scotland is dead and the SNP are the only force there . We face exactly the same degree of change and orderly respected minds are now required to put it together and make it happen .

    Reply The non SNP parties still account for the majority of the vote in Scotland, but they are split. Similarly the Eurosceptic forces in the UK are probably a small majority but split.

  28. Matt
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that UK politics has traditionally about statism, and the political parties formed and/or evolved around the case for a bigger state versus the case for a smaller state. One side argued that things would be better overall if people were left with more of their own money, and the other argued that things would be better if more of everybody’s money was pooled to serve the common good. Nobody was pushing for absolutism for either approach and the decision on who to vote for was down to whether one wanted to push society in one direction or the other.

    Scotland had another big thing in their politics. Should they remain part of a larger state, or go out on their own.
    Then came along european federalism and the entire UK find ourselves facing a similar question to that which Scotland had long since been dealing with. In this case, do we want to be part of a new super-state being formed on mainland Europe or not? This time the state is in the process of forming and we don’t know exactly what it will look like and that’s a little scary. On the other hand we’re starting to forget what things were like before it came along and that makes pulling out a little scary too. Many people are desperately trying to hang on to some kind of safe ground where we stay forever half in; but that’s only possible now because the super-state is half-formed, so as much as we might want it, it’s not really available.

    UK politics is gradually responding to this essentially existential crisis by re-drawing the traditional big vs small state battle lines into new independent vs european battle lines, but the established political parties are stuck straddling these lines. Any party which can’t settle on one side of the line will either be torn apart by internal battles or become increasingly irrelevant.
    Once this battle is won, one way or another, we shall be back on the old battle lines and the pro/anti-statist debate will be restored to its traditional place at the top of the political agenda. Until then our politicians will find themselves, as the old curse goes, living in interesting times.

  29. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    There are certain attitudes as much as policies of the SNP which have appeal south of Scottish borders. In SNP ranks but also in northern England there is a call to extend their electorate.

    The Labour Party abandoned its socialist-like appearance and thoroughly exorcised the spirit which allowed it to come into existence and continue to thrive.
    Most of its old members ceased activities, many feeling betrayed resigned. This self-inflicted withering decay and decline to a political compost heap, enables the Greens to grow in areas of anti-authoritarian sentiment. Also UKIP to raise its transient spectre, whilst the LibDems have seen it their patriotic duty, and get into government, by cutting the throat of their own “fine traditions of Liberalism ” as far as they were ever fine, ever traditions, and ever anything like liberal.
    If the Conservative Party relishes not the prospect of recycling into rainbow parties and coalitions then it needs to sport an ideology which the electorate can see. Make appeal to real departments of voters.

  30. Know-Dice
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I notice that the (SNP new leader ed) this morning says “UK withdrawal from EU ‘must have’ four nation backing”

    I distinctly remember being English NOT having a vote on Scottish independence yet this was an issue that certainly would affect the “four nations”.

    Oh how they twist and turn…

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      She’s wrong, it’s a UK-wide matter reserved to the UK Parliament.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted October 29, 2014 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        She is grandstanding of course–Soon they’ll be asking for Independence

    • DaveM
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      If she’s talking about the Scottish Parliament voting on it, then that will only work if there’s a vote from the Welsh Assy and Stormont and the non-existent English Parliament. So it has to be done in the current HoC to ensure parity. Therefore it will have 4 nation backing. Wouldn’t worry too much about Sturgeon with regards to the EU referendum.

  31. Roy Grainger
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    You are right to point out the importance of smaller parties – I read that the Conservatives are already lining up their bribes to get some of the Northern Irish MPs on board.

    The SNP are an interesting case, their generally left-wing tax-and-spend agenda should mean they are natural allies for Labour but of course locally they are bitter enemies (as always with the left their internecine disputes are often pursued more intensely than those with their political opponents). The Conservative offer of full fiscal devolution over matters such as income tax go further than Labour want and could be attractive – however the SNP is opposed to EU withdrawal. If the SNP choose to prop up a minority Labour government the English voters will revolt.

  32. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    I’m not going to repeat all the detail in a previous comment, here:

    http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2014/10/21/the-nhs-is-not-a-great-election-issue-for-labour/

    and instead summarise by saying that in 2010 the Tories needed on average 4.7% more votes than Labour to get an MP elected, but because between them they won only 87% of the seats the Tories did not get an overall majority even though they were 7.3% ahead of Labour in share of the votes cast.

    We can only guess how either of those factors will play out at the next election until the results are available for analysis.

    The 4.7% pro-Labour anti-Tory bias in the electoral system was not necessarily all down to unequal constituency electorates, some argue that it does a party no good to pile up huge numbers of votes in its safe seats but not fail to get enough in marginal seats, and on average the Tory party is more severely afflicted by that than Labour.

    Perhaps JR can confirm that because the LibDems refused to allow the boundary review to be implemented the constituencies boundaries will be exactly the same in 2015 as in 2010; but of course with continuing shifts of population that does not mean that the number of registered UK parliamentary electors in each will still be the same, let alone that they will have the same distributions of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, etc.

    that the introduction of individual registration may shrink the total number of registered electors by about 10%, with a strong suspicion that many of those being removed never even existed, but astonishingly that will not take effect until 2016.)

    So it may be that in 2015 the pro-Labour anti-Tory bias will be less than 4.7%, but on the other hand if the same processes which led to its emergence have continued, as seems more likely, then in 2015 that hurdle which the Tories must jump will be higher.

    Similarly the overall effects that other parties will have is not easy to predict.

    The LibDems have lost about two thirds of the support they attracted in 2010, and are clearly heading for a major reduction in the number of seats they win; if they lose 40 of their present 57 seats then more of them will go to Labour than to the Tories, making it more difficult for the Tories to beat Labour overall; but some may go to the SNP and a few may go to UKIP, and to the extent that happens it will make it easier for the Tories to beat Labour but do nothing to help them get an overall majority.

    Likewise while it might delight foolishly short-sighted tribal Tories to see Labour being smashed by the SNP in Scotland, that would do nothing to help their own party win an overall Commons majority and would increase the risk of the Union breaking up.

    And so inevitably to UKIP, where many of the same foolishly short-sighted tribal Tories still cling to an outdated conventional wisdom that every UKIP supporter is just a poor little Tory sheep who has strayed and can be persuaded or cajoled or bullied back into the fold, even as more and more journalists belatedly begin to drop that idea and accept that UKIP is now hurting Labour as well as the Tories, and to a comparable extent, with the corollary that bashing UKIP could only bring a slight net benefit to the Tories in their contest with Labour, even if they succeeded in bashing it to death.

  33. James Matthews
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Only peripherally on topic, but thank you Mr Redwood for speaking for England at the NLGN debate last night. Not a bad result, given that a large majority of the voting audience earned their livelihoods directly from local government, including a number of NLGN employees. It would have been a very courageous act (in the Sir Humphrey sense of the adjective) for that latter to vote against the views of their Director.

  34. Elliot Kane
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I think the next election will be the least predictable in living memory, honestly.

    The SNP may make major gains in Scotland, and UKIP may do the same in England, but neither is certain and both possibilities could turn out to be phantoms. Anger at the political classes now may give way to fear of a Conservative victory (Scotland) or a Labour victory (England), causing both parties to haemorrhage votes.

    The Lib Dems may be obliterated, or they may do their usual job of holding on to their bases, losing support everywhere else but holding on to most of their MPs. I doubt it. I fully expect most to lose their seats, but it is possible.

    The EU will also play a pivotal role. If Cameron appears strong against the recent unreasonable demand for money, he may sweep to victory on a boost of renewed confidence in his leadership; if he talks a good fight then surrenders supinely, he may as well give the keys to Number Ten to Ed Miliband right now. But on the other hand, Miliband keeps making unforced errors and is no-one’s idea of a potential Prime Minister. It would also help Cameron if he sets out under what conditions he is prepared to campaign to leave the EU. Failure to do that will cost him, as many and perhaps most believe, rightly or wrongly, that he will never willingly campaign to leave, however Britain may be abased and abused by the Eurocrats. No-one wants a Prime Minister who will put other nations’ interests before that of Britain. Obviously, however, this is a serious problem for Ed, too, who won’t even promise a referendum, despite most of his party wanting that.

    The reason that I and, I suspect, many other people, too, will not be voting for either Cameron or Miliband is simply that neither is fit to govern, and both are committed Europhiles (Please note that is ‘and’ not ‘because’). I want Britain to once again look to the whole world, not to one declining trade block which is crippled by the ineptitude of its governing classes.

    If Cameron is truly serious about getting his referendum bill through, let him put it to the Commons and dare them to vote it down, regardless of Lib Dem attempts to kill it behind closed doors. That will tell me he is serious. Then, perhaps, I will think again. My vote is very much up for grabs if I am persuaded, but will not support a Europhile, nor one who does not seem serious in his efforts to give us an in/out referendum. Right now, I see no dedication from Mr Cameron at all.

    I would vote for Boris without a second thought. Beneath the clown mask dwells a very serious, very capable politician. Cameron, I fear, is entirely the reverse.

  35. NickW
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    What will make the outcome of the next election unpredictable is tactical voting which is considerably encouraged by sustained campaigns of vilification such as the one we have recently seen against UKIP, whereon the whole of the UK media united to vilify one party; a party which came first in the Euro elections. We can expect that to be repeated in the General election, despite the obvious and permanent damage it does to the reputation and commercial interests of the organisations concerned.

    The tactical voter is more or less completely dependent on the opinion poll for guidance, and as we have seen with the poll that announced “Unprecedented support for continuing membership of the EU”, these polls should no longer be considered as an accurate reflection of public opinion, (if they ever were), but as a means of manipulating public opinion. The customer tells the pollster what result is required and the pollster duly obeys.

    The electorate is considerably better informed than they once were and are very well aware that sheep get regularly fleeced and end up in pies. People will make up their own minds and will be much less influenced by insulting smears and manipulation by bent polls.

    In 2010 I had to hold my nose when I supported Cameron, (even when face with Brown as an alternative), and what I have seen since has more than confirmed my worst fears. I won’t be making the same mistake again.

    It would be a refreshing change if the electorate voted for parties they supported rather than against those they dislike. What tactical voting has predictably given us is three parties that nobody actually likes.

  36. Vanessa
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I find it completely unacceptable that we may have a coalition with the SNP. We all know they hate Westminster and to think they will be helping to make laws for England is utterly wrong.

    • formula57
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      No, for surely the SNP in coalition would be helping bring about a bright future for England, always supposing that the key “red line” policy that the Conservatives must insist upon the SNP accepting in return for coalition would be Scotland leaving the Union as soon as may be practical. I have every confidence that the wily Cameron could negotiate that.

      Of course, it may be said that such an outcome would see unjustly rewarded the voters of Scotland who recently proved themselves so unworthy of Alex’s leadership but then the sun does not only shine upon the righteous.

    • Max Dunbar
      Posted October 30, 2014 at 1:47 am | Permalink

      I wouldn’t worry too much, but the idea of Nicola Sturgeon getting into bed with David Cameron is an amusing one.

  37. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Unless the Conservative Party is prepared to put a precise number on the acceptable number of net immigrants per annum, with all that that implies, it probably won’t win back many UKIP voters. You would think that, since the Conservative Party believes that immigration has been double what is should be since 1997, a seventeen year period of zero net immigration might be the answer. I would be prepared to make a nod in the direction of businesses and our ageing population and accept 30,000 per annum for the time being.

    It looks like the Conservatives’ best hope of a return to office is a collapse in Labour’s vote, with them losing votes to the SNP in Scotland and UKIP in England.

    As for a Conservative minority government tolerated by the SNP, what is needed is a little rough wooing – unless you accept English votes on English issues, you get no more devolution. To be fair, most Westminster SNP MPs have abstained from voting on English issues. It is Scottish Labour MPs that are the problem.

  38. adams
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Well done John . Not one mention of UKIP regarding the next election . I wonder why ?
    Liebour and the ex Conservative Party are on the skids and not before time .
    Go to church and pray that you will still get support from the diminishing “I always vote Conservative ” crowd .

    Reply The piece is about the composition of the House elected in 2010 which contained no UKIP MPs.

  39. English Pensioner
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    What you are ignoring is “the elephant in the room” – UKIP.
    Every poll seems to give a different answer as to what is likely to happen, but it seems to me that the showing of UKIP at Rochester and in the Yorkshire Police Commissioner election could be a major influence the next election. If they do well, there seems no doubt that this would attract many additional voters to their cause which would upset the calculations of both Labour and Conservatives.
    Talk by the government about reducing immigration has proved to be just that, simply talk. The news today that many thousands of asylum seekers have been “lost” by the Home Office will do nothing to help the Tories.
    Another factor which could affect the Tory chances is the possibility of power cuts this winter. This would be seen by many as being the result of the “green” policies being pressed on us by the EU combined with government incompetence, as any cuts would not be the result of either industrial action or a natural disaster but, to the public, simple government failure.
    What I fear is that we are going the way of a number of continental countries where there are so many parties that it is difficult for the government of the day to get a majority to achieve anything, a situation which has been made worse by the decision to have fixed length parliaments.

    Current national polls show SNP and Lib Dems in 3rd and 4th place for seats at the next GE.

    • libertarian
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      English Pensioner

      “What I fear is that we are going the way of a number of continental countries where there are so many parties that it is difficult for the government of the day to get a majority to achieve anything,”

      Please don’t fear this, its the perfect solution under our currently democracy free system. A government unable to do anything would be the the very best solution we could have

      Reply A coalition of several pro EU parties would be able to complete the transfer of our democracy to Brussels.

  40. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    JR, please could you oblige us with a technical explanation of how (not why) the LibDems have killed off the Wharton/Neill Bill for an EU referendum in 2017?

    Why is it necessary for a Money Resolution to be passed in this Parliament to approve expenditure on a referendum which may or may not be held in the next Parliament?

    Reply That is the rule of the House. The money resolution usually goes through automatically once a bill has been approved, as it is implied by the bill which has just been debated.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 29, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      Well, I find from the House of Commons Library Briefing on this Bill that it’s also the rule of the House that in the case of a Private Member’s Bill the government will table that money resolution, even if the government opposes the Bill, and as the LibDems are part of the government it seems they are breaking that rule. But it seems absurd that a Bill can be prevented from proceeding to the committee stage in this Parliament because what the Bill says about meeting the costs has not been endorsed by a separate resolution, and especially when by the nature of the Bill those costs could only arise during the term of the next Parliament which might in any case decide not to proceed and so repealed the Act.

      Reply That is the position. Ask the Lib Dems.

  41. BobE
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    If Ukip get 100 seats then we may see some real action

    Reply You need 326 seats to be able to do something!

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted October 30, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      Reply to Reply–You don’t change much do you? Nobody said it would be easy or quick and to get to 326 one has to get to or through 100 first. How is your history of UKIP doing–haven’t heard too much about that recently?

  42. John Robertson
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Labour really messed up in the way they set up devolved parliaments in 1998 and it’s coming home to roost. I have watched a lot of the Holyrood debates as it can be entertaining. One thing I was surprised at years ago was just how anti UK and “Westminster” the Labour MSP’s were and are. They jumped on Alex Salmonds’ phrases and tried to make them their own.

    Even after the referendum result Scottish Labour still have not twigged that the majority there support the UK and didn’t want independence by the back door which is what they want.

    If that wasn’t bad enough for them the national Labour party are sticking to an anti English policy that the Conservatives would be well to exploit.

    Probably like a lot of other people around the UK I didn’t want devolution anyway. It’s so far down the road that we have to have it and English only MPs voting on English matters (not the way they did it for Wales and Scotland).

    My understanding is that the taxes that are devolved are taken out of Barnett, if England devolved 40% of taxes then the UK subsidy also stops with than, a double hit for Wales and Scotland. If I understand it right.

  43. matthu
    Posted October 30, 2014 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    Daniel Hannan reports what David Cameron had to say on the subjet of the European Arrest Warrant:

    “The third area where we will negotiate for a return of powers is criminal justice.

    We must be sure that the measures included in the Lisbon Treaty will not bring creeping control over our criminal justice system by EU judges.

    We will want to prevent EU judges gaining steadily greater control over our criminal justice system by negotiating an arrangement which would protect it.

    That will mean limiting the European Court of Justice’s jurisdiction over criminal law to its pre-Lisbon level, and ensuring that only British authorities can initiate criminal investigations in Britain.” [Emphasis added by Hannan]

    No doubt that rebel MPs will want to adopt Westminster tactics (a la LibDem) to prevent the EAW being settled before the coming by-election?

    Reply We cannot stop the government tabling the necessary motions. With Labour support they have the majority. It is therefore not like the Referendum Bill.

    • matthu
      Posted October 30, 2014 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      I thought there were other Westminster stalling tactics that could be brought into play here. I mean, there are 30+ vetoes that we are popting back into. How much debate is allowed for each veto?

  44. Max Dunbar
    Posted October 30, 2014 at 2:28 am | Permalink

    It will be interesting to see what sort of tone Sturgeon sets when she takes over the reins from Salmond.
    To date, the signs do not look promising. If her actions as leader follow the very bellicose rhetoric that she has used in the past then the omens are very worrying. A number of recent changes and developments in Scotland should give pause for thought to those who value free speech and the rule of law based on the democratic rights that we have hitherto taken for granted in Scotland.
    Arming the police routinely conveys a certain message to the public on the street, amalgamating the police forces in Scotland in to one centralised command and control operation is alarming and the fact that both the police and judiciary come under the auspices of one minister also gives cause for concern.
    The SNP is a party that brooks no dissent within its own ranks and this attitude, whilst maintaining party discipline, extends to the area of the UK that is unfortunately within its current jurisdiction.
    We have no opposition in the genuine sense of the word in Scotland. The Labour Party have had a succession of colourless leaders and the Party is moribund and lacking ideas. Having been dominant for so long it simply cannot work out how to proceed in opposition; it has no experience in this area on which to draw. In other words, Scotland has been run as a one party state for decades and will, effectively, continue to be run as such. The difference is that the SNP, although equal in cunning, are far more dangerous and ruthless than Labour.
    UKIP supporters should take note as your party is the ideological enemy of the (left wing? ed) SNP. The venom of the separatists will be reserved almost exclusively for UKIP at the Holyrood elections in 2016 because UKIP will stand a far better chance of winning seats at that election than at the forthcoming contest in 2015. The SNP will do its best to (defeat ed) any party that it deems to be unacceptable etc ed
    Jim Murphy is the only Labour politician who could save the Party in Scotland and provide some measure of real opposition to the SNP. He had the guts to go on the street where it mattered and he has the respect that that engendered. He also has the potential, as a Catholic unionist, to help heal the sectarian divisions which opened up during the referendum campaign.

  45. zorro
    Posted October 30, 2014 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    ‘Update 30.10.14 A further poll today now gives the SNP 54 seats with Labour down to just 4 and Lib Dems 1.’….

    What does that tell us about the validity of the Scottish referendum result? More than a few are starting to question what was going on during the voting. I hope Comrade Stalin’s maxim wasn’t in play…..

    zorro

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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