The elusive centre ground

A few of you have criticised me for spending a little time on opposition  parties after the election. This is not a diversionary strategy, but the Conservative government is spending the next couple of weeks finalising the Queen’s speech which will then be the main topic of political debate. In the meantime it is important to consider the state of UK politics now we know more of the views of the voters. I did keep off the opposition parties unlikely to win any or many seats in the pre-election period as I could not see their relevance. I also spared you endless analysis of possible coalitions, both because everyone else was doing that and because I believed the polls which rightly predicted the total collapse of the Lib Dems as a party of MPs. Their collapse meant a victory by one of the main parties was much likelier than most thought, and it later became clear the Conservatives had moved ahead.

Many political commentators and strategists are stuck in a twentieth century time warp. They still believe elections are simple contests between Labour and the Conservatives, that they can be described by a two party swing, and that the one of the two main parties that most closely camps in the centre will win. They believe there are millions of swing voters who want something mid way between so called right wing Conservatism and so called left wing Labour.

Welcome to a twenty first century election. The last one was a contest between six parties, Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat,UKIP, Green and SNP, with other nationalist parties also playing a part. There was an important battle between Conservative and Liberal Democrats in the south west and parts of London, a crucial fight between Labour and the SNP throughout all of Scotland, a battle between Labour and Liberal Democrats in some northern urban seats, and in a few seats a UKip/Conservative battle or a Green/Lib or Lab battle, as well as the traditional Lab/Con marginal seat contests.

On conventional analysis “red tories” and blue labour are the centre ground, along with the Liberal Democrats. UKIP, SNP and Green are left or right according to taste, so they should not score well or be relevant on traditional analysis. Recent results and votes shows how out of date this all is.

I have never myself seen the Liberal Democrats as centrist or moderate. They have an extreme position on the EU, welcoming  any transfer of power or money to Brussels.They have views on energy that are far from the mainstream, favouring dear energy for price rationing to cut people’s usage. They tend to be anti car, when most people rely on their cars for work, shopping and the school run.

Nor do I think it helpful for these same analysts to simply see UKIP or Green as extreme, given how many people vote for them. These parties have strong views that only appeal to a minority, but as noted that is also true of the Lib Dems views on energy and Europe.

I would suggest analysts and commentators go back to the drawing board. We need models of behaviour that reflects our multi party modern democracy, and understands the passions in the politics of identity which lies behind the SNP, Plaid, UKIP and others. In a later post  I will suggest a better way of analysing modern UK politics, and talk about how a party can build a strong voting base. If moving to the conventionally defined centre worked, surely the Lib Dems would have won by now?

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  1. Lifelogic
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 5:22 am | Permalink

    You are quite right on the Libdems with the exception of civil liberties they are just wrong on every issue. On the green agenda this live in some new religious dream world which has nothing whatever to do with real science.

    The Tories need simply to do the opposite of the Libdem’s policy on energy, roads, the EU, cars & transport, the bloated size of the state, state sector pay, regulations, employment regulations, building regulations planning, tax rates and over complexity, HS2 & trains, a fair deal for the English and the Tories will not go far wrong. But is the Tory leadership up to it?

    What we now have is largely a Scottish party SNP and an English party – the Tories. The Tories had better look after England, restore its democracy, control of its borders and get taxes on the productive down to sensible levels (and sensible levels of simplicity). Start with a visionary abolition of IHT.

    • Hope
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:56 am | Permalink

      Cameron ha taken his party to the left. He did not call himself a liberal conservative by mistake, nor did he claim to be the heir to Blair by error either. This was a message to his party which direction he was taking them.

      Despite blogs and replies on renewable energy from JR that might make you think he was against the Climate Change Act, he actually stood and got elected on the Tory manifesto to support it. Rudd will continue to promote this very expensive policy that will cost us all a fortune. Introduced by Miliband on behalf of the EU and further supported by Cameron last October when he signed us up to more EU targets.

      The lefty uneconomic green quackery that you always highlight to us LL. Do not forget Cameron commissioned Alan Milburn and the likes, former Labour MP and minister, to write a report and lead social mobility for him. He could have chosen a Tory!

      Mass immigration continues unabated despite background music from Cameron’s cabinet. Once more, this is not a mistake. It is quite deliberate. Massive house building on rural England because of an immigration crisis not housing crisis. The Tories think it will help GDP, change our society and help integrate our country to the EU by removing resistance to a change in culture. If Cameron stood for Labour it would appear quite normal. Anyone holding a conservative view was ridiculed or given a label as a closet racist, swivelled eye loon or turnip Taliban. Until he wanted their vote. Those who live in rural England made a bad mistake voting for him.

      Reply I have repeatedly made clear my view on dear energy. The Conservative party as a whole has promised to end onshore wind subsidies for new projects.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 8:50 am | Permalink

        ‘The Conservative party as a whole has promised………..’

        Now that one had me scratching my head.


        • Hope
          Posted May 13, 2015 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

          The Tory manifesto States continued support of the Climate Change Act. I saw you on TV highlight how the Tories will implement all its manifesto. You cannot have both ways.

          Your view on HS2 is also in contrast to what you stood for. The manifesto makes it clear it will continue, if you did not agree with it you should have stood for another party or independent. In your reply you are now trying to be very selective with one element of the Act.

          Not good enough JR. Read your blogs and replies to contributors against what you voted and stood for as an MP in your manifesto, which you have subsequently endorsed!

          UKIP were the only party who stood against the Climate Change Act, HS2 and out of EU.

          Reply I voted against HS2 and opposed the Climate Change Act. My personal manifesto has not changed. I remain against them.

      • stred
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        JR. You seem to have held back some of the more critical comments over the past days and have now let them pass. Have you and like thinking MPs being trying to persuade Mr Cameron to commit to a better deal on EVEL or appoint a minister to stand up for the English, as we have no parliament? Or perhaps an energy minister who would put a stop to the coming energy price increases to pay for fluctuating standby, wind and biomass.

        If so, it looks like the usual story from the person who is only in his job today because of voters who hoped for a change.

        Reply I have been especially busy the last week, so longer comments and comments with difficult wording were shelved.

        • Hope
          Posted May 14, 2015 at 7:31 am | Permalink

          There is a contradiction in the Tory manifesto. Osborne is now engaged in the Balanisation of the country using Manchester as the spring board to help the EU turn the UK into regions. The manifesto wants to give England EVEL, Cameron guaranteed his was the party to deliver it, but the Tories are now talking about EVEN or whatever Hagues diluted version is before he left office. I submit EVEL will not be delivered especially if the country is divided into regions!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

        What about offshore wind which is even more uneconomic and the PV nonsense. What about the job destroying lunancy or the climate change act.

        What about employing some sensible engineers and physicists instead of silly amateurs with degrees in history or PPE graduates who simply have not got a clue what they are doing are talking about?

        • Hope
          Posted May 14, 2015 at 7:33 am | Permalink

          They are still shutting down perfectly good power stations and transporting wood from the U.S. across the Atlantic to burn! That is helping the climate as is diesel powered generators to back up wind farms! Brought to you by the Liblabcon cartel on behalf of the EU.

  2. Mark B
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    There is no Left or Right in politics, let alone Centre. Just us and them.

    Us, being the people. With no power to effect change. Them, being those with power, who can make all the decisions and need not bother asking the majority.

    This must change.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:40 am | Permalink

      Much truth in that a vote every five years on the distorted FPTP systems for an MP who will not really say what he really believes & will rat on promises at the drop of a hat is no democracy at all.

      • Jerry
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

        @LL; Nothing distorted about the FPTP system which doesn’t also get distorted under either PR or AV, your point about MPs who will not really say what he really believes etc. is a comment upon the party whip system not which election system is used, those same problems happen under all three.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted May 13, 2015 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

          Well the FPTP system has advantages in tending to give strong majority governments. But is does give more power to the party than the voters. The MPs tend to do what the party wants as it is the party can usually remove them, rather more effectively than the voters.

        • John C.
          Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

          Here’s something that a decent proprtional representation system has in its favour: you vote for the party whose policies you believe in. Tactical voting becomes meaningless, as does voting against somebody. There are no wasted votes.
          The votes when totalled give a fair indication of the wishes of the people. FPTP does not do this, and so is flawed, however familiar we are with it. It is essentially only vaguely valid in a two party system.

          • Richard
            Posted May 13, 2015 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

            I thought that the AV system was an excellent way to combine the advantages of FPTP and PR.

            But it failed to be adopted.

            As an alternative I would like to see the appointed places in the HoL allocated to all political parties in proportion to numbers of votes received.

            Reply Then there would be no cross benchers\ independents

    • Jerry
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      @Mark B; “There is no Left or Right in politics, let alone Centre. Just us and them.”

      Plenty of “Us” got elected and became newly elected “Them” last Thursday, so things should start to change, even more so if there is no right, left or centre politics! If only it was so simple…

    • Narrow shoulders
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      More pertinently there are the law makers and the law followers.

      All the law makers, with the possible exception of UKIP, want more laws, larger government and to consolidate their power base. This is inherently left wing.

      Your party today is proposing legislation to stop people thinking a certain way. Easier to just stop access to our shores for these types. As identfying these types requires more resources and laws a general closing of the gates is more use

      • Narrow shoulders
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 8:14 am | Permalink

        Swift repatriation of those encouraging poisonous thought is to be encouraged. If the deportee claims to have no state or even purports to be British then I understand there is a place between Syria and Iraq that might find a use for them.

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

        Number one priority – repeal of the Thought Crime laws and reform of the political police and activist judiciary.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted May 13, 2015 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

          I agree fully but it will not happen under May and Cameron will it.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted May 13, 2015 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

            Theresa May will not even allow advocates of free speech into the UK.

        • zorro
          Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

          and full, unfettered investigation of alleged parliamentary paedophiles – not a ‘conspiracy theory’ Mr Cameron…..


    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      Especially if we revert to two parties soon they will be regarded as Left and Right but this isn’t terribly helpful. Much less is the idea there is a meaningful Centre between them. It’s as if people think that Left on a clock face is 9.00 Right 3,00. That would be bad enough but thinking that any kind od Centre exists at Noon is hopeless. More likely on some kind of average the Centre (if there is one) could be at 1,00. I was taught at School that analogy is the weakest form of argument and I reckon it certainly is here,

  3. Jerry
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    “Many political commentators and strategists are stuck in a twentieth century time warp.”

    Indeed, but then so are many right-wing voters (especially some readers who comment
    daily on this site), always harking back to a period that the majority lost favour with almost exactly 25 years ago give or take a few months!

    • Edward2
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:16 am | Permalink

      But not you I presume Jerry.
      Your views are always so modern and correct.
      As you regularly inform us.

    • Narrow shoulders
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 8:10 am | Permalink


      The most prominent characteristic of those on the right is the desire to be left alone to get on with their life, free from regulatory interference and unnecessary taxation. Quality of life has not improved greatly in the last 25 years but government certainly has become larger and more intrusive.

      I know which I prefer.

      • Jerry
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        @Edward2; I might prefer if we were, politically (and socially to some degree…), back in the 1950s but I accept that times move on, I don’t usual keep bashing on everyday about Macmillan and “Never having it so good” etc. unlike how some do with regards Thatcherism and ‘real Tories’ (what ever they are)….

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        Indeed technology & manufacturing efficiency has advanced hugely but government has just enlarged to tax & largely waste all the proceeds of these efficiencies largely on completely pointless drivel, over regulation and things often of negative value to the public. Living standards have not improved anything like as much as they should have done.

      • zorro
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

        larger and more intrusive, but dare I say less relevant to our lives….. I am thinking of the internet and technological advances. Just think what we can do know compared to 25 years ago. We can berate our MP in almost real time (can’t we John?) and give him/her a piece of our mind. We can hold government services to account far more cheaply and economically. This drives improvements, and they have to be responsive. A lot of governmental systems may see this as a threat (even our own at times) but it puts the more able on a more equal footing with regards to access than we were in the past. Think about sorting out incorerect care bills for elderly relatives and how that could be a byzantine nightmare in the past…. now if you know what you are doing you can get things done.

        Unsavoury activities can be more easily exposed as our political class is finding more and more….. This is good, very good….. Long may it continue!


        • Jerry
          Posted May 13, 2015 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

          @zorro; “Just think what we can do know compared to 25 years ago. We can berate our MP in almost real time (can’t we John?) and give him/her a piece of our mind.”

          Indeed, but we can also so easily isolate ourselves into a clique of similar thinking folk via the internet and thus end up congratulating each other upon ever ‘more correct’ (perhaps, even extreme) ideals and solutions to our real or perceived problems because of ever greater sycophantic praise received from the others in the clique! 🙁

          • zorro
            Posted May 14, 2015 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

            Just like political parties then!! 🙂

            No fear of us falling into group think particularly from you Jerry! Don’t forget to like my post 😉


    • Max Dunbar
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Most of our experience and influences were formed in the twentieth century when we were young so it is hardly surprising if people from all political viewpoints tend to look back to that eventful era. It made us what we are today.

  4. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Interesting that UKIP and Greens have “strong views” and LibDem is “extreme”. If you put yourself at the centre of the political universe that could seem true. Every Brit I have spoken over the last year thinks a little differently about you. 🙂
    The Netherlands has long had models which reflect multiparty democracy to the public. The earliest and still one of the best is “Kieskompas”, googling it for images gives a quick illustration.

    • acorn
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:05 am | Permalink

      “Political Compass” has been indicating ideological movements for over a decade now. It is interesting to note that its current nearest to the “centre-ground” is the SNP. There are no occupants of the right – libertarian quadrant anymore; the Lib Dems used to be in there. Alas, everyone is a Neo-Liberal now. The Social Democrats have left the planet.

      “These days inequality, though greater, is less of an issue in the general shift to the right. Fewer than a third of the voters now believe in a helping hand to the least well-off”.

    • Hope
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      Jerry,PVL, Good to have EU trolls back. Presumably the rules prevented you commenting during the election?

      • outsider
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        Dear Hope, Thanks to Mr Redwood’s rules and painstaking moderation, there are no abusive “trolls” commenting on this website. That is why I read it.

      • Jerry
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

        @Hope; “Jerry,PVL, Good to have EU trolls back. Presumably the rules prevented you commenting during the election?”

        If the best you can do is accuse people of using sock-puppets, simply because you do not like their comments, that says far more about you than anyone else. Also you might have missed the little fact that this site is owned and paid for by a Conservative party member, of actually if anyone is trolling this site it’s the UKIP supporters with the “please don’t support the Conservatives” type of comments!

      • Mondeo Man
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:06 pm | Permalink


        Peter had the good manners not to comment during the run up to our elections.

        He’s not a troll but a high quality commenter. I doubt that the rules would preclude any discussion of that sort.

    • F.Cunctator
      Posted May 14, 2015 at 6:56 am | Permalink

      Heaven forbid that the UK should ever come to resemble the Netherlands, which appears tone some sort of Trojan horse as far as European culture is concerned.

    • petermartin2001
      Posted May 15, 2015 at 12:55 am | Permalink


      Welcome back after your leave. I’ve been meaning to ask you what you think of Holland’s trade surplus – or more accurately current account surplus. According to Wiki it stands at 10.35% of GDP.

      Your first reaction is that it must be a good thing. Right? Even though the SGP limit is 6%. So Holland is in breach of EU rules too. It’s not just France, Italy and Greece etc.

      There tends to be an assumption that a surplus is good and a deficit is bad. But isn’t it also true to say that Holland does run a deficit? A deficit in the trade of goods and services. Is that a good thing too?

      If I raise sheep and you raise pigs (or maybe that should be grow daffodils and tulips- but never mind) would you think it was a good idea to always swap 5 of your pigs for 4 of my equally valuable sheep and take an IOU to make up the difference? Would that be good business on your part? In addition to depriving yourself of real things, you’d be simply accumulating so many IOUs that in the end, I simply would not be able to repay them.

      Is there a general awareness , would you say, that these surpluses, run by Holland , Germany and others, are at the root of the debt problem in the EZ? The richer countries are accumulating IOUs that the poorer countries cannot possibly repay.

  5. alan jutson
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Do not entirely agree with your analysis John.

    I think the Conservatives did better than expected, because the polls suggested they would do worse than feared.
    That Labour may just creep in with SNP and LibDem support, and a with UKIP perhaps taking a few votes away from the Conservatives, it put us at risk of a government run by idealists instead of half sensible people.

    Run the election again, knowing how people voted, and I am sure the result may be a little different.

    Having said the above, I and many of our friends simply could not understand why Labour and the Conservatives were neck and neck in the polls, given the hopeless policies of Labour.

    Anyway we are where we are thank heavens, and I look forward to the Queens speech to include all of the manifesto pledges made.

    Mr Cameron has no excuses now, so let us see how he really thinks and performs.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:44 am | Permalink

      The Tories did better than they deserved given Cameron’s silly Libdem agenda, as the alternative of Miliband/SNP was totally unpalatable to the English.

    • Hope
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      Nationalism won the day. English people were not going to have an insignificant Scottish politician ruling the country by default when only Small minority voted for her. They already saw how Cameron, Miliband and Clegg caved into demands a few months earlier with our taxes and were definitely not going to let dopey politicians allow that happen.

      This is why the politicos have not told the truth about giving away the sovereignty and independence of our country by stealth to the EU. They connive, create false stories and deflect the truth from appearing. Nothing it too low for them to stoop to prevent our countrymen knowing they are giving away all major policy issues for Brussels to decide. In my view, treacherous people who are who are not fit for office. If they cannot be open with the public or are ashamed then they should not do it.

  6. Mondeo Man
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    75% of the population did not vote Tory – in this regard they only appeal to a minority too. Of the 25% that did vote Tory many really wanted to vote UKIP but were scared by the Lab/SNP prospect.

    The triumphul Cabinet table thumping was insensitive to this fact.

    Reply. You have invented this figure. There may well have been voters who voted tactically, voting for their second favourite, but this could have reduced as well as boosted Conservative support. You would need to poll a good sample of all voters and all parties to discover the extent of tactical voting. UKIP support turned out to be in line with the later polls.

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:11 am | Permalink

      There is nothing extreme about wanting an Australian style points system or a referendum on Europe.

      One of the most liberal countries on Earth already has the Australian type points system and denying the people a referendum on the creation of a superstate is what we should call extreme.

      Nick Clegg went into freefall after debating with Nigel Farage and the Greens did unto themselves with lack of preparation and coherent policy.

      UKIP were not in a different league and the votes reflect it. They cannot be ignored.

      • Hope
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 8:11 am | Permalink

        JR all appear agreed the polls were out. Secondly, MM is correct that Tories only had about 36 percent of the vote, therefore 64 percent did not want them. Jiggle as much as you like, but you cannot get away with saying and writing one thing then get elected on something completely different. If you are in doubt read your blogs about energy and EVIL. Then read your manifesto.

        Any reasonable person would think you were against the Climate Change Act. Which is completely different from your manifesto which supports it.

        Reply Any individual party candidate can use the election to show where they disagree or wish to amend their party’s manifesto. I made my views on energy and English votes quite clear, and will speak and act accordingly.

        • zorro
          Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

          Reply to reply – To be fair to John, I think that he is consistent with his views on English issues and green guff. He is also a Conservative but that does not mean that he has to agree with Cameron’s husky loving ideas or mojo……. However, Immigration needs to be tackled properly….. no fig leaves to cover his embarassment now. You will have to spend to save to sort out the immigration mess and not overload public services or the tax credit system.


      • Mondeo Man
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply

        I couldn’t find Denis Cooper’s original comment and my figures were a memory of that.

        As I recall the Tories toock around 35% of the total of those who voted – which worked out at 25% of the total of who *could* have voted.

        The Left were broken up into disparate groups including some in UKIP (which Denis divided up evenly between Labour and Conservative)

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:46 am | Permalink

      Tory/UKIP could command nearly 50% of the vote in England but Cameron preferred to ape the daft policies of the Libdems who were deservedly decimated.

      • CdBrux
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 10:10 am | Permalink

        Maybe in part having policies that appealed to the ex Lib Dem voters helped to persuade them in enough numbers to lend their support to the Tories?

        Politically the objective in 5 years is to get more seats next time, and that starts now. So policies need to be bearing in mind how to do that. There are 3, possibly 4, main groups of people to consider, not listed in any order of importance:

        1. Retaining the many seats gained from the Lib Dems
        2. Reversing losses in London to Labour
        3. Converting North West / North East / Midlands second places to first and consolidating narrow first places in those areas
        4. Being a unionist fiscally sound alternate to SNP in Scotland – there are many seats where Tories were second, maybe distantly, but ambition should be to get some of those into play

        I suspect to do well in all of those needs a careful balance of policies and, critically, economic progress and a credible leader emerging for the next election.

        “Blue collar” conservativism may bea bit of a sound bite, but it could also be quite perceptive if carefully defined.

      • zorro
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

        That is certainly the case under PR…. However, this result is good for one thing…. no more fig leaves for Cast Elastic!…. You can run David, but you can’t hide 😎


    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      Interestingly, the British Polling Council has launched an investigation into why the final opinion polls were so wrong, and from its announcement here:

      it can seen that in fact they were not badly wrong for UKIP, as JR says.

      Across eight polls the average prediction based on fieldwork conducted between May 3rd and May 6th was 13.0%, while the actual result was 12.9%.

      Of course it is flukish that they were quite that close, but it does seem that while over the previous six months or so the concerted campaign of vilification of UKIP by the old parties and the mass media had stemmed and then turned back the rising tide of support for UKIP – I expect those responsible will be proud of their disgusting handiwork – that had largely run its course by the start of the short campaign and UKIP held its remaining ground right up to polling day.

      In contrast the noticeable errors were the underestimation of Tory support by 4.2%, two or maybe three times the margin of error which might be expected for the average of eight polls, and the overestimation of the support for Labour by 2.4% and (less significantly) the overestimation of the support for the LibDems by 0.9%, leading to the suspicion that a few per cent of electors who had been minded to vote for those parties responded to the intense scaremongering about the SNP by switching to the Tories.

    • John C.
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      One of the arguments which I presented earlier against our present system. No-one actually knows the number of people who voted for each party, because of the Great Game of the Tactical Vote. And let’s be honest, in most cases people vote with a party in mind, and often with the leader of that party in mind, rather than for a particular candidate.
      Always excepting yourself, Mr Redwood!

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 14, 2015 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      11,334,576 votes for the Tories from an electorate of 46,424,006 = 24.4%.

      We don’t know how many of those people who ended up voting Tory would really have preferred to vote for UKIP, and nor do I think that it will ever be possible to establish that with any certainty. Even if somebody could be bothered to take a large sample of those who said they voted Tory that would not necessarily be the same as a large sample of those who actually voted Tory, given that it is a secret ballot and there are those around who would lie about it for various reasons, and then it would be necessary to ask those people whether they would really have preferred to vote UKIP, and then it would be necessary to take that much smaller sample who said that they would really have preferred to vote UKIP and ask careful questions to probe why they supposedly changed their minds when it came to actually casting their votes.

      We do know, with the usual caveats but redoubled, that in October 2014 the opinion polls had UKIP on about 18% support, but by polling day that had been reduced to 13%:

      which means that something like 1.5 million people who had intended to vote UKIP last autumn changed their minds; and we can also see from that chart that this decline was spread over more than six months, it was not a sudden collapse as polling day approached.

      What we don’t know is why, or for that matter how, they changed their minds; but given the sheer volume of mud that was being slung at UKIP, day after day, with the enthusiastic co-operation of almost all of the mass media, it would be surprising if none of it was sticking. Even though some UKIP members reassured each other that it wasn’t, in fact it was helping to increase support for UKIP.

      The same thing will happen before the “in-out” referendum on the EU, which as I say could well take place on May 5th next year to coincide with elections in parts of the UK that are somewhat more supportive of EU membership.

      Anyone who dares to put their head above the parapet and campaign for “out” will have to expect a campaign of demonization, and possibly physical assault, by the “in” side, led by Cameron, because that is the vile way that politics are now conducted in this country.

  7. Mondeo Man
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:12 am | Permalink


    UKIP were in a different league and the votes reflect it. They cannot be ignored.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:36 am | Permalink

      UKIP, when people are able to vote freely, as in the EU/MEP elections are the largest party. Many of the votes the Tories secured this time were UKIP voters holding their noses and voting Tory to stop Labour or Libdems.

      It will be a complete disaster if, as looks quite likely Cameron get no serious concessions at all, grants a biased referendum and the UK votes (using BBC, EU, CBI Cameron etc. propaganda to the fore) to say in.

      reply. People always vote freely. They did not want a UKIP government, but did want to send a strong anti EU message in the Euro elections

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:50 am | Permalink

        “People always vote freely” – well in a sense yet. But given the FPTP system they know that often a vote for other than A or B is wasted, so they vote to stop B not for the C or D they really wanted.

        They vote for the least bad of the two that could win it their constituency. The Tories won due to this.

        • Ken Moore
          Posted May 13, 2015 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

          Agreed the Tories were the least bad option – voters held their nose over broken promises on immigration and voted blue out of fear for the alternative..

          My fear is that Mr Cameron and others may interpret this result as an endorsement for the doctrine that ‘elections are won on the centre ground’ .

          They won despite Cameron’s Blairesque social engineering, high spending , meddling blueprint.
          Cameron failed to squarely defeat ‘the worst prime minister in living memory’ and for a while it looked like a socialist hardliner was going to beat him this time.

          The party could have been saved all this discomfort simply by having a leader more in tune with traditional Conservatives and not the unpopular Lib Dems.

          So lets have less of the back patting of Cameron and lets get real – Cameron like Blair was lucky: without the dip in oil prices and an economic tailwind the result could have been different…
          To win in 2020 Cameron needs to be kept on his toes TODAY.. he cannot afford to take for granted his core vote anymore..

          • zorro
            Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

            Let me make a prediction – Cameron won’t be there in 2020 (quite easy)…. Let me make another….. Cameron will not be PM when the referendum is scheduled and if he is not, it might not take place….


          • John C.
            Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

            Seems absolutely on the ball.
            People will choose a centre party vote when the alternative is fairly evidently to the Left. We have not had the chance to vote for a clearly Right-leaning party for a generation (with the exception of UKIP, and many UKIP voters must have voted Tory not out of conviction but out of the belief that every vote counted to keep a Leftist party at bay).

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted May 15, 2015 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

            zorro, my own predictions are that the referendum will take place, it will be rushed through on May 5th next year, and that Cameron will be there leading the case for “in”, and that hardly any of the MPs we have just elected will be arguing for “out”, and that the “out” side will have a hard time.

      • Jerry
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:08 am | Permalink

        @LL; UKIP do well at the EU elections because those election are a mish-mash using PR, many peop0le vote for three different parties simply because they think they have to use all their votes), not even for the candidates (who are then chosen after the election via the party list system here in the UK), of course second and third ‘also-ran’ parties are going to do well how ever popular or not they are – it could be said that the second and third parties (if any) are the chosen from the rest as the least worst options!

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted May 13, 2015 at 11:47 am | Permalink

          “many people vote for three different parties”

          Apart from in Northern Ireland where STV is used voting for more than one party means that you have spoiled your ballot paper.

          I’m sure you can produce evidence that “many” people did that, Jerry; although it certainly won’t come from this polling area, South Bucks, which came up on a quick google search:

          “Spoilt ballot papers

          Want of official mark: 0

          Voting for too many candidates: 12

          Voter can be identified: 2

          Unmarked ballot paper or void for uncertainty: 30

          TOTAL VOTES: 17,787”

          You’re just making stuff up, Jerry, and silly stuff at that.

          Reply Only a few people in each seat bothered to go and vote to spoil their ballot paper. It is a waste of time to do so, as the vote does not count. I have seen None of the above, or a line through all, but only a small number. As I always say, if the large array of candidates on offer was not to your liking, then pout up a candidate you do like. Some here cannot grasp the point I make – it is best to join a major party with the hope of winning, and to influence it in the direction you want. None of us agrees with all our party says or does.

          • zorro
            Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

            ‘Some here cannot grasp the point I make – it is best to join a major party with the hope of winning, and to influence it in the direction you want. None of us agrees with all our party says or does…’

            As I said elsewhere, this is why John does not join UKIP – a perfectly understandable point of view if you listen to him and see where he is coming from.


            Reply Conservatives can now legislate for a referendum on the EU. 1 UKIP MP could not do so.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:56 am | Permalink

        Reply to reply.

        John, most sensible voters of UKIP never thought they would actually get into government and many of us didn’t think the Conservatives would get a majority. While many of us are happy they have done so, we will only remain so if Cameron is actually brave enough to become a true Tory again and bring back Tory values. What others are saying on this post is that by voting UKIP many of us wanted to send a signal to the present government that many UKIP policies are what we want to be considered and perhaps veer towards. Particularly on the subject of the EU, control of our borders, energy, grammar schools etc. The current situation regarding African ‘refugees’ is worrying. We all know that they will be brought into Europe (maybe not the UK at first) but once they get European citizenship they will then be free to move into the UK which is where many say they are aiming for. There is nothing wrong with the way Australia runs it’s immigration policy and we should consider this but of course we know we can’t all the time we are in the EU!!

        When are our politicians going to make this issue clearer to the electorate as a whole?

        As for the big fuss over Farage’s return. He has been asked, if not pleaded with to return by the rest of the team and I am sure many members will want him back too. Plain speaking is more of what we need.

        • Mondeo Man
          Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

          The big fuss over Farage’s return is a sign of how badly others want him out of politics altogether.

          • Jerry
            Posted May 13, 2015 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

            @Mondeo Man; Not at all now, we want Farage to stay (for a long time) as he is the one damaging UKIP!

            The bloke said that he keeps his word, well if that’s his word… Announce his resignation, then within 30 seconds announce that he might re-apply for his old job (after having had a summer break) when the vacancy is filled in four months time, then two days later it’s announced that the Nat-Exec of the party has pursued him to withdraw his resignation – in short, he and he alone has made UKIP a single four letter word that starts with “J”, whilst the third letter being “K”….

            Now of course, not helped by infighting between their single MP and the parties NE, regarding just how many publicly funded members of staff the MP should employ compared to how many he thinks he actually needs to do the job, I predict there being an independent rather than UKIP MP taking his seat before long if this omni-shambles carries on!

      • Hope
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 8:14 am | Permalink

        That is your conclusion not a fact. People did not want the Scottish tail wagging the Engliah dog because they had seen what a weak insipid negotiator Cameron is ie coalition agreement, the veto that never was, paying more of our taxes to the EU and throwing vast amounts of cash over Hadrians Wall. The public had to be the political backbone that Cameron lacks!

      • Narrow shoulders
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 8:24 am | Permalink

        I agree with this reply. The electorate always votes for the outcome it wants hence variations in local, European and General election outcomes.

        If the electorate had wanted UKIP in government that is what would have happened. However the Conservatives can not bank on support remaining with them, I believe the electorate will evolve and move away from the main parties whose record on delivery for the mainstream is poor.

        Your party has three years where tribalism can be discarded before campaigning starts for next time. Please use them wisely, independently of EU and for the benefit of the majority

        • Mondeo Man
          Posted May 13, 2015 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

          I didn’t want (or expect) a UKIP government.

          But I felt I had a duty to Nigel Farage – he deserved better than to be abandoned.

          I also felt that I had a duty to my country. For the UKIP threat to be a real one we must be prepared to carry it out.

          I don’t care if UKIP is a one-man-band or is disorganised – or if it has scandals just like every other party has. UKIP is an opinion more than it is a party and an opinion which has otherwise gone unheard.

          The extent to which the Tory press exhorted readers to ditch UKIP because of the SNP threat must not be forgotten.

  8. Sandra Cox
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Talk of left, right and centre is a red herring.

    In my opinion, the majority of voters in the election were looking for representatives who will put their country and its citizens first.

    I could never look upon the united states of Europe as my country. At one time I would have said my country was the United Kingdom, but having had a complete overdose of Scottish and Welsh nationalism, I and the patient, generous English have had enough.

    Unfortunately for David Cameron, his MPs and the media, the English, belatedly, are waking up to the fact that the word England does not exist in the vocabulary of many people in positions of power.

    Like the EU, our new government, and its co-conspirators, including many on the opposition benches, are attempting to wipe England off the face of the earth. They do so at their peril!!

    “… They were not easily moved,
    They were icy-willing to wait
    Till every count should be proved,
    Ere the English began to hate….”

    The Beginnings
    Rudyard Kipling

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      My favourite poem Sandra! And well said. Your words are very accurate and poignant. You saved me writing a long post.


    • CdBrux
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      I think it’s rather unfair to include the Welsh alongside the Scots in the ‘Nationalism’. Plaid did not advance, Tories gained 3 seats (IIRC), and UKIP does quite well there.

      Most, if not all, Welsh people I know (left or right) care very little for the SNP.

  9. alan jutson
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Post election, has anybody else really taken exception to the rapid vilification of Labours policies.

    We have had a succession of high profile Labour people including, Blair, Mandelson, Campbell, Lord Sugar, David Miliband, as well as Chuka, Tristram Hunt, Cooper, and a whole range of other senior Labour MP’s and members saying that they knew the Labour policy was absolutely wrong, and that it was economically illiterate and would not work, let alone appeal to the people.

    Yet all remained silent to put Party above the Country, perhaps in the hope that they would also get the benefit of some personal power.

    I wonder if any of them gave any of this feedback pre election, were they silenced by the Unions, by Miliband, by Miliband supporters (did he actually have any).

    Frank Field (who I rather like) made some very sensible comments after the election, as did a number of other MP’s, were their views ever taken into account ?

    I would suggest that Labour Mp’s should look very carefully at who is putting themselves up for Leader, this time around, and exactly how much power the Union’s should have in such a choice.

    Why am I concerned ?
    Because every government needs a sensible and strong opposition to hold them to account.
    Not a rabble of idealists, Nationalists or self serving people who think of the Country and the electors last.

    • Excalibur
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Rubbish, Alan Kick them while they are down. Great to see them fighting like ferrets in a sack. The Left would be even more unsympathetic were the position reversed. These ideological extremists have transformed the demographics of England to gain political advantage. I shall not forgive them for it. Let them wallow in their discomfort.

      • alan jutson
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 10:49 am | Permalink


        I have no doubt that the left extremists would be crowing from the rooftops had Labour won.
        Indeed some of them will be having demonstrations soon because the Conservatives won.

        But the majority of the population are not like that, the extremists only represent a tiny minority in this Country.
        Most of us are the near silent majority.

        Perhaps I should have been a little clearer in my point.

        Many Senior Labour supporters, members, shadow ministers, past ministers and MP’s were keeping silent (against their beliefs) because they wanted power at almost any cost, putting self and Party, before Country and electors.

        I find the stink of this sort of hypocrisy alarming.

        Just shows how far Party before country is suffocating our so called democracy.

        I still feel any government needs a strong opposition to challenge it, but of course a sensible one, not made up of people who are serving themselves first, second, and third.

        • Excalibur
          Posted May 13, 2015 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

          Point taken, Alan. And of course you are right.

      • Hope
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        Alan, I too thought Frank Field had a good reply. I saw him speak once, very measured and considered thinker, as was Charles Clarke.

    • A different Simon
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      Chuka was not slow to tar UKIP with the “racist” brush .

      The moment he played the “race card” he irreversibly gave up the opportunity of being a strong role model for black kids .

      He had a chance to be colour blind but instead chose to tell the minorities that they are victims .

      I will be disappointed if Labour choose another London based middle class leader . They need to drag someone off the back benches because they have nobody on the front benches .

      • alan jutson
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 10:52 am | Permalink


        They just need someone who is sensible and normal, who has lived a life before politics, and who can connect with, and listen to real people.

        Chuka would be a waste of time.

      • Hope
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        The white van man will not support Chuka Isbiza!

      • Mondeo Man
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

        If a person behaves in a racist manner then they are guilty of crime in this country.

        And in this country we have a moral and legal obligation to presume innocence until guilt is proven beyond reasonable doubt.

        In the absence of enough information to call the police and to press charges no-one should be calling anyone else a racist – and that includes David Cameron, who I believe was the first to do it against UKIP.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      My not-particularly-political wife recounted that she had listened to Woman’s Hour during a car journey yesterday and she was singularly unimpressed by some woman we’d never heard of until recently when her name popped up a potential leader of the Labour party, she came across as being so vague and incoherent and generally useless that it was impossible to imagine her as our Prime Minister having serious discussions with Obama and other international figures; but two female SNP MPs were also interviewed, and they did impress her.

  10. Douglas Carter
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    I would personally side with Lord Tebbit over his deconstruction of the term ‘Centre Ground’. He prefers to aver to ‘the Common Ground’. Postures that the majority of the electorate take up which will be a mix of both left and right wing views, and postures that the old descriptions of left-and-right have not caught up with. However there are some views becoming mainstream due to the refusal of the traditional left or right to battle them properly – like the screaming insanity of the more egregious of the Green lobby and their ruinous intentions.

    David Starkey – speaking to the Bruges Group if memory serves – once identified ‘the Centre Ground’ in specific constituency terms. He identified them as the two singular UK (English, in fact) constituencies which returned a pro-vote over AV in 2011. Islington and one of the Brighton constituencies. There is neither credit nor credibility in chasing the approval of these most unrepresentative of voters. Pursuing ‘the Centre Ground’ under those specific terms is fool’s gold.

  11. Ian wragg
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Meanwhile Longgannet and Killingholme power stations are due to close despite today’s topic on Bliar Broadcasting being El Ninio setting us up for a possibility coldest winter in decades.
    An energy minister approved by the Greens
    What could possibly go wrong
    I see Italy has started dishing out documents to the boat people no doubt to facilitate their passage to England and a taxpayer funded life

    • Hope
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Why should Italy put up with mess started by Cameron and Hollande! If I were Italian I would insist the UK and France take the lot.

    • Mark
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      I was very alarmed to see the new SoS at DECC declare she had “not a cigarette paper of difference with Labour”. Perhaps she think that Rizlas give off plenty of heat and light when the wind doesn’t blow.

    • Mark
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      I was very alarmed to see the new SoS at DECC declare she had “not a cigarette paper of difference with Labour”. Perhaps she thinks that Rizlas give off plenty of heat and light when the wind doesn’t blow.

  12. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    “Things Can Only Get Better” by D:Ream (and that didn’t)

    At the cost of that……almost catastrophic and still heading south, nose down!

    I thought UKIP (Farage) was a major source of sensibility in the UK political loony domain. And we were allowed to hear him via the truly destructive BBC.

    Unfortunately, its going to be a long wait and loss of taxpayers money/loans to detect anything contrary to the last 15 years of disaster.

    I did not think UKIP could govern…just like that. I was hoping that they might be allowed to better what is expected from the SNP (and the rest) at least.

    My upcoming performance markers: (stuff that won’t go away… like strikes)

    EU renegotiation
    Paris CO2 bloat

    Panorama…cannot make my mind up about the purpose of that really? Anyway, you got an airing…sort of?

  13. Alan Wheatley
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    In the New Labour era were not the LidDems and Labour seen to have switched ground?

    Further, a party of the centre (assuming that in practice there is such a thing) can be seen to be extreme by those who, viewed from the opposite direction, are even more extreme!

    Better to avoid the “ground” and concentrate on the quality of the argument.

  14. Roy Grainger
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    “I did keep off the opposition parties unlikely to win any or many seats in the pre-election period as I could not see their relevance”.

    As I have commented before their relevance is that they modify the policies of the main parties. They are not parties who seek to govern but are pressure groups for special interests. They have been notably successful. Do you think the Tories would have promised a 2017 referendum or Labour to “control immigration” without UKIP ? The Greens also seem to have been successful given the appointment of Amber Rudd as “UK Climate Secretary” (a bizarre job title incidentally).

    Reply. Yes, the Conservatives promised a referendum thanks to the pressure from around 100 Conservative MPs. There were no UKIP MPs at the time to support us.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      reply to reply,
      You just can’t get your antipathy to UKIP out of your system can you?
      It is clear that UKIP did have an influence, even without MPs, as your party was losing support to them in the country. Just to remind you that in October 2011 your leader exercised a three line whip on you to vote against an EU referendum. He won that vote. Do you really expect us to believe that he would have changed his mind without the threat of UKIP?
      If you really want to see this country throw off the shackles of the EU then you had better realise where your allies are and who might be the real opponents.

      Reply As one who voted for a referendum, and who then had meetings with Mr Cameron to urge a referendum, I can assure you there were no reps of UKIP present and we did not discuss UKIP

      • Hope
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        Cameron was too scared to debate Farage on the EU. Too scared of Salmond to debate Scottish referendum, too scared to debate the election with Miliband. Despite his taunts to Brown over the same thing. JR, with respect he is not interested in your views. If he was you would be in cabinet and he would not ask former Labour ministers to write reports for him! He is concerned about UKIP, hence his back track to ask for votes.

      • Ken Moore
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

        The fact that Mr Cameron had to be ‘urged’ to hold a referendum demonstrates what a wooden headed leader he is. He needs others around him with ears to the ground and working political compasses – unfortunately he sees these individuals as ‘outsiders’ preferring to hold company with his own.
        Without this much repeated promise it is doubtful whether the election would have been won by the Conservatives.
        So all this talk about how the Conservative ‘rebels’ have promised to be ‘loyal’ fills me with dread. Being a loyal means standing up for what is right in the long term interests of your country and party.

        Reply We have worked hard to secure a Conservative government, as our only chance of a referendum. Against the odds and against the advice of many on this site we now have the prospect of an In/Out referendum. I intend to be loyal to the government bringing us such a vote, and delivering many of the good policies in the manifesto that I support. Why would a group of Conservative MPs less than a week after an election win wish to express dissent or disagreement ?

        It would be nice – but unlikely – if all those who urged me to join UKIP to get elected, and all who told me I could not achieve a referendum by staying with the Conservatives, now showed some gratitude that we will get a referendum.

        • Narrow shoulders
          Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

          I am grateful Mr Redwood. However it is disingenuous to suggest that Mr Cameron and his trusty (highly political) sidekick Chancellor were not swayed towards your argument by the hoardes of potential Conservative voters heading over to support UKIP in 2012. The party may have had no parliamentary power but you must concede it performed admirably as a pressure group.

          I look forward to 2018 post referendum when UKIP brings similar pressure to bear over Grammar schools. There will always be a need for single issue parties so the electorate can really send a message.

        • Ken Moore
          Posted May 13, 2015 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

          Why would a group of Conservative MPs less than a week after an election win wish to express dissent or disagreement ?

          If I was in a car that was driven recklessly, narrowly avoiding an accident , yet I managed to emerge unscathed I would be having serious words with the driver straight away.

          The list of Mr Cameron’s self inflicted wounds brought about by his reckless implementation of defunct Blairism are too many to mention here.

          My remarks were not personal to you Mr Redwood – I recognise I view politics through the prism of the news networks…it seemed like Mr Cameron was being promised an easy ride.
          I instinctively worry when politicians all seem to agree even if they are batting on the same side.
          The election was won but Mr Cameron’s compass remains broken and only constant dissenters in the party, with wiser heads, can steer him back to reality. I never thought you believed the guff about ‘divided party’s lose elections’.

          I am grateful for the referendum – for both the hard work of you and other Conservatives and to UKIPers that often had to put up with vile/unpleasant treatment from left wing bullies and some sections of the Tory party.

          Whether my gratitude will be vindicated by a fair appraisal of Mr Cameron’s ‘renegotiation’ followed by a free and fair vote remains to be seen. My feeling is that Cameron will have a ‘game set and match’ Major moment, declare a hollow victory then bamboozle the nation into staying in.

          Reply In the last Parliament when I and many of my colleagues were in disagreement with the coalition we were more likely to make strong representations in private. This is going to be even more true now we have a Conservative government. Public silence will not always mean passive acceptance.

    • DaveM
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      To reply;

      Come on Mr R, the 100 or so MPs of which you speak were helped hugely by the pressure from the Ukip votes in the council, county, and EU elections as well as the opinion polls. In that regard Ukip helped massively by giving the electorate a voice and allowing them to send a message.

      And although you and your fellow back benchers brought the direct pressure, it could concievably have been kicked into touch without the Ukip “protest votes” to point towards.

      Reply Sometimes it helps to have been in the meetings and heard the discussions that formed policy. An endless string of UKIP defeats in General and by elections does not exert any pressure. The two defections happened after we had changed policy, and they did lead to unusual election victories, but one was reversed shortly after at the GE.

      • DaveM
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        OK you win – I give up!!

        • Ken Moore
          Posted May 13, 2015 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

          It seems to me absurd to suggest that at a time when UKIP were on the march and expected to gain millions of votes (which they did), this did not exert any pressure on Mr Cameron.

          In this case,either Mr Cameron is a poor political strategist or he has utter contempt for those whose views are aligned with UKIP.

          Reply The more immediate issue for Mr Cameron was votes in the Commons

      • DaveM
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        In fact, I don’t give up!

        The point being made is that Ukip gave the electorate an anti-EU voice at the ballot box (albeit in elections that “don’t really matter”). A vote for the Conservatives would not have been interpreted by the EUphiles in your party as an anti-EU pro-referendum vote, rather as a seal of approval for whatever they were doing at the time.

      • Mondeo Man
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply: The public appetite for getting out of the EU was clearly demonstrated by the rise of UKIP.

        Why aren’t you in the cabinet ? I am bothered about this. And I DO thank you for your individual effort.

        PS, I’m also bothered that the referendum is towards the end of 2017 – three years away. And all the pro EU scare mongering. And how much everything is enmeshed.

        For all Theresa May’s claims that we will not be taking in quotas of refugees we all know that we *will* be taking them in via the back door. Once they claim asylum elsewhere they are ours if they want to come here.

        Three years.

        UKIP will grow stronger because you just won’t be able to stop the bad news coming – though with the silencing of Peter Hitchens I’m not so sure.

        I’m not saying that your party caused it but 13 years of Blair didn’t manage that !

        • Mondeo Man
          Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

          PPS, Why 2 1/2 years to a referendum ?

          A Scottish referendum wasn’t in the 2010 manifesto but appeared pretty quickly. It was at least as econmically risky given the state of things at the time.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      That would be around 100 Tory MPs who were either beginning to fear for their own seats, specifically, or beginning to fear for the seats of colleagues, generally; colleagues who they knew they needed to have in the Commons to give their party a majority so that it could form the government, and in some cases open up the chance of ministerial office. Not that I am imputing any questionable motives to yourself, JR; as apart from anything else your own seat was safe, and I don’t suppose you expected to regain a ministerial position under your present party leader, more fool him for not being willing to make use of your talents.

      Reply Some have mixed motives, but why cannot you accept that a good number of us are Eurosceptics by belief – not because we think it is a good career move

    • JoeSoap
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply
      I think UKIP has been and will continue to be a force for holding this government’s feet to the fire over the next 5 years. The figure 12.6% should be ringing in your ears. 4 million votes. They could be yours or they could be added to, dramatically, if your lot drift. A good start but the the jury’s out.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted May 14, 2015 at 7:13 am | Permalink

      By that logic UKIP’s agenda-setting pressure must have had no influence at all on Labour promising to control immigration. It is just not credible.

  15. ChrisS
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Where is the centre ground ?

    Like it or not, at its most basic, politics is about money.

    You can’t do anything without raising money and that inevitably means misappropriating citizen’s cash.

    The argument is always about who to take the money from and in what proportion.
    Most reasonable citizens would accept that a certain amount of taxation is necessary and that most people should pay something, however small.

    Unfortunately governments of all political persuasions have got it into their heads that they need to do far more than the basics and, as any state-run organisation is intrinsically inefficient, the cost is always high. As a result all political parties are forever scrabbling around to raise as much money as possible from every conceivable source in the hope that they can con the electorate into thinking they are being robbed of less of their money than they actually are.

    What other explanation could there be for having both income tax and national insurance in the 21st century ?

    I am not wealthy in terms of income so I don’t have a vested interest in the level of income tax rates but it seems to me that to charge someone 40% of even 50% of their income in income tax as well NI and then tax them a further 20% on almost everything they buy is immoral. It’s daylight robbery.

    Furthermore, the proportion of income tax paid by the top 1%, 5% and 10% is totally out of proportion in terms of fairness while at the same time even the present government is committed to taking millions of people out of tax at the bottom end. Those millions of people on less than £12,500 will then have no vested interest in keeping government spending in check and they all have a vote. Those at the top end have no recourse if they feel aggrieved and their only option is to move abroad. Could you blame them ?

    I would therefore argue that none of the current political parties in the UK occupies the centre ground let alone be on the right of centre :

    They are all profligate spenders of other people’s money and that puts them firmly left of centre.

    • petermartin2001
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Id say it was more like “…. at its most basic, politics is about” economics .

      Money is important in economics, of course, but economics isn’t really about money per se. Money is something we rely on for the economic system to function. Its the functioning of the economic system that provide us all with the necessities of life.

      We can’t eat money. But we can eat what it will buy. Money won’t grow crops. But money will pay the wages of those who do grow the crops. So conceivably we could have a moneyless economy. If everyone did the same thing as they did now, but for free, then we’d be just as wealthy even though no money would be involved. But that’s just a thought experiment and its not likely to happen for real any time soon.

      • ChrisS
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        From the point of view of the voter it is almost always about money and not economics.

        Whether we like to think we are above the grubby business of hard cash, in the privacy of the voting booth most people will place their vote with the party that will give them the best outcome in terms of their wallet and therefore living standards. If they are non-taxpayers they will almost always vote for increased spending because they have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

        That is why it’s both vitally important and fair that any increase in government spending impacts negatively on as many people as possible who have a vote. The reverse would obviously also be true.

        Unfortunately even this Conservative government is doing precisely the opposite. In the end, it will cost them power.

        • petermartin2001
          Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

          “most people will place their vote with the party that will give them the best outcome in terms of their wallet and therefore living standards.”

          That’s fair enough of course. Except they need to consider why their wallet isn’t totally empty. Where do all those pounds come from?

          The answer, of course, is government spending. No government spending = no money in your wallet. Unless its counterfeit! That’s as true for taxpayers and it is for non-taxpayers. As true for private sector workers as public sector workers.

          It’s also true that government taxes them out of our wallets. So if they tax them away too quickly, our wallets are leaner. If they tax them away more slowly they start to put on a little weight.

          Lean wallets = recession.
          Fat wallets = too much inflation.

          Governments need to strike a sensible balance.

          • Edward2
            Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:03 am | Permalink

            Should read “no government printing = no money in your wallet”
            Government spending, is a different thing.

          • petermartin2001
            Posted May 15, 2015 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

            Different? How? For a net importing country like the UK, there is only one way that the money we see in the economy gets into the economy and that is by direct Government spending.

            So counting up all the cash, and all the bonds, (both just slightly different types of IOUs) it issues, any currency issuing Government has always to be in debt. It can’t have, or receive more back in taxes than it has created to start with. It is simply impossible.

            Reply This silly theory constantly ignores the private sector and the role of banks

          • petermartin2001
            Posted May 16, 2015 at 1:18 am | Permalink

            The role of the banks and the and other financial institutions in the private sector is fully recognised in this not-so-silly theory.

            Yes, they can create what, depending on how we define the term, we call money ( ie asset/liabilty pairs). However, whereas the assets fairly rapidly disappear overseas to pay our net import bill or disappear as taxes paid to government the liabilities remain in the economy. How else can we explain the huge build up of private debt in the economy?

            It’s private sector debt which is the real problem but all our emphasis is on public sector debt which only half as much as a percentage of GDP.

            I try to avoid coming on to your blog and arguing, at least too strongly, against any political policies of which I may disapprove – I don’t think that would be good manners. But, we all need to understand how our really economy works. It doesn’t work at all like most people think it works. Only then can we know what the real possibilities are from either a left or a right perspective.

  16. Ian wragg
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Interesting comment in our local paper. Despite being normally a staunch Liebor area, they Tory and UKIP votes exceed Liebor by 3000.
    If CMD had shown a bit more blue he would have had a massive majority

  17. agricola
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Lib/Dems are not the centre ground. They were left of centre, possibly more left than New Labour in 2005. Milliband went even further to the left with an added sense of incoherence, making one think that the Lib/Dems were nearer the centre. Truth is the Lib/Dems did not know exactly what they were. There was a streak of fanciful idealism in the membership and the reality of governance in Clegg and some of his colleagues that did not add up.

    To define the centre ground I think you must look at what the British, historically stood up for. Anti slavery, female emancipation, universal suffrage, religious (in?)tolerance, anti ambitious power blocks in Europe, anti Fascism, equality of opportunity at home and a belief in charity. Generally we recognise unacceptable human behaviour. I accept that there have been many hiccups on the way and that there will be many more to come.
    This is why we find it unacceptable to (accept too many? ed) immigrants, etc

    Having defined where the voters are, any political party needs to set out it’s stall to appeal to them, hence the soaring popularity of UKIP. Always bare in mind that to carry out a political programme a successful economy is the first essential component. No amount of idealism can overcome a financial shambles. Something I suspect Greece is discovering.

    The failure of Labour and the Lib/Dems was that there was always a question of financial competence, and they studiously ignored the aspirations of the people. Their dogma driven refusal of a referendum on the EU was a shining example.

    The same danger could beset the Conservatives. The people still feel they have been ignored on the main questions that affect them. The indivisible subjects of immigration, our sovereignty as a nation, and the intrusion of an all too frequently alien force, the EU., into a way of life that we have evolved over many centuries. If the forthcoming referendum is open, honest, and not warped by the intrusion of big business, the BBC, or the EU itself, and in the final analysis is a clear in or out question, then the Conservatives might survive it. If it is a fudge of indefinable renegotiation then you could find yourselves in the same position as Labour and the Lib/Dems today.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      The Greek government has been reduced to using money held in an account with the IMF to make its last loan repayment to the IMF. As that account has been described as an escrow account it’s not clear to me how that has worked. However I still hold that some kind of fudge will be found to keep Greece in the euro.

      Reply Effectively they have taken out a low interest IMF loan to meet the IMF repayment. The ECB, the IMF and Germany do not yet want to pull the plug on Greece. Greece is mainly kept going by ECB emergency funding.

  18. Matt
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I find myself constantly complaining about the right/left terminology.
    To me we have many big questions and they do not fall comfortably.
    Furthermore many strongly socialist parties and movements are described in the media as “far right” and that is just nonsense.

    1. Bigger or smaller state (left=bigger, right=smaller)
    2. Individual liberties and responsibilities (left=less, right=more)
    3. Entitlements (left=more, right=less; rather tied up with 1 I suppose)
    4. Defence spending (left=less, right=less)
    5. Localism (all over the place, but probably more of a “right” thing)
    6. Law enforcement (right=more, left=less)
    7. Immigration (I have no idea)

    Using 1 as the primary definition, which is what I tend to do when I have to; far right would be a classical anarchist and far left would be a communist.
    How then does a group like the BNP get classified as “far right” given their policies on labour law and state spending.

    The right/left divide was reduced to nonsense some time ago.

    • petermartin2001
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      You could try this test? This throws some light on your BNP comment.

      I’d be interested to know how others shape up. I’m (-0.8, -0.9) BTW!

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

        I’ve done the test on that site previously on more than one occasion. I have to say that this time I didn’t really recognise it as being the same test, but once again I came out very close to the centre of their grid, just slightly left (-0.75) and slightly libertarian (-1.59).

        I hope this link will work to show where they think I’m now positioned with respect to the different parties:

        which to me shows that it is, maybe always has been, nonsensical.

    • oldtimer
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      I think you are right about meaningless labels. They have been, in many instances, created, massaged and distorted to “frame the debate” as some one once said. It is much clearer to state positions on specific issues than to pretend that generalisations have much if any meaning. For example, I thought that UKIP`s energy policy, which included repeal of the Climate Change Act, was clear and sensible; it is neither helpful, useful or accurate to describe this as “left wing” or “right wing”, not least because it was originally passed into law with the support of all the main parties across the political spectrum.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        Bang on!!

    • CdBrux
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Have a look at Political Compass website, may provide some inetersting areas for thought!

  19. Bert Young
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    The Political scene has changed and JR is right to point this out . There is now a disproportionate representation at Westminster that many bloggers have referred to ; obviously this has to be rectified . Scotland has emerged with 56 voices ; they must not be allowed the impression that their proportion is fair and should be recognised as such .

    Thank goodness there is now a majority Government able to speak and act with authority ; the blurred politics of the past 5 years was harmful to our society leading us nowhere . If the Queen’s Speech highlights the winning manifesto , I for one , will be delighted .

  20. Bill
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    I think the old way of plotting political parties on a graph with horizontal and vertical axes has some merit. On the vertical axis, we have democratic vs non-democratic or, if you like, hard-line vs consensual and on the horizontal axis we have the normal left/right options, where left involves public ownership and the right private ownership. Thus in the 1930s, we might have had a Labour party that had very similar views to Soviet Union on public ownership but which differed in respect of the importance of democratic non-violent means.

    On the other hand, I think there is also merit in distinguishing between social conservatism and fiscal conservatism. Thus the Cameron option has been to go with fiscal conservatism while weakening social conservatism: thus he accepts that the nation’s financial books have to be balanced but he also accepts many of the multi-cultural social attitudes that were once only associated with the Left.

    For people who are socially conservative (e.g. in respect of the importance of traditional marriage), it is a shock to find that the conservatives are not really conserving what appears to be fundamental.

  21. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    I notice you omitted the UKIP/Labour battles such as Heywood and Middleton. You really must stop thinking of UKIP as just a threat to your party.
    More importantly, with the promised EU referendum you need to recognise your allies. We had a taste of things to come on Newsnight last night when your colleague John Baron was set up against three avid EU supporters two of whom weren’t even from the UK (one a former Italian Prime Minister and EU Commissioner) and Evan Davis who had no compunction in showing the pro-EU bias of the BBC . John Baron put up little resistance and sounded as though he was more interested in keeping Cameron happy than putting forward a Eurosceptic case.

  22. Atlas
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    “The elusive centre ground”. Is this as elusive as “Scotch Mist”? – which seems to have taken a more concrete form recently!

    I still do not trust Cameron over the EU one bit. I trust, John, that you will hold him to account – and ensure no Strawman renegotiations.

  23. Javelin
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    I think the centre ground wound expect corporates to pay their fair share of tax.

    I certainly don’t want corporate directors even trying to influence the EU vote unless they start paying their own taxes. I wound like to see any director who comes out as pro EU declare their own personal tax position and that of their company.

  24. Kenneth
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, your phrase ‘conventionally defined centre’ is at the heart of the problem.

    Those that provide this definition tend to be those with access to the most powerful media.

    Appearances by politicians on broadcast media may balance out, but we must not forget most other invitees, and the broadcasters themselves, are riddled with socialists.

    Thus, the calibration of politics by these commentators is skewed to the point that their definition of the centre is halfway between the first administration of Monsieur Hollande and the USSR.

    This constant hum corrupts any of us that consumes this media (most of us) leaving many to feel a sense of shame for voting for a true centrist political party, hence the polling failure.

    What is scary is the prospect that many were not just shamed into lying to pollsters, but were shamed into actually voting for a different party than they would have, had it not been for this propaganda.

  25. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    It’s a long time since I accepted the common media depiction of the LibDems as being the party of moderation, positioned somewhere between Labour and the Tories, drawing upon and improving their better ideas while rejecting their more extreme views. In fact they would find it impossible to maintain that public pose without large sections of the mass media, and especially the broadcast media, and then especially the BBC, agreeing to promote them on that false basis rather than exposing their extremism.

    So as far as I’m concerned eight LibDem MPs are eight too many, just as one LibDem MEP is one too many, and similarly with all their local councillors, I would much prefer to see them completely removed from the political scene.

    I have in the past cautioned tribal Tories that they should not necessarily share that view and celebrate the collapse in support for the LibDems if most of that support simply switched across to Labour, tending to consolidate the leftish anti-Tory vote on just one party rather than having it split between two parties, but it seems that for the moment UKIP and the SNP have largely solved that problem for the Tories by eating into support for Labour and dragging it down towards their level and finally even lower.

    It’s just a pity that while the SNP has been amply rewarded in terms of the number of their candidates who won seats UKIP has not been so rewarded, indeed as I pointed out in a lengthy and detailed comment which JR was kind enough to publish here:

    the rewards have instead gone mainly to the Tories, with the flawed FPTP system having worked as strongly in their favour with the existing constituencies used in this general election as they had hoped it would work in their favour with the revised constituencies which they had proposed but the LibDems had blocked.

    One cannot conscientiously oppose moves to equalise constituencies on the grounds that doing so would exacerbate the systemic bias in favour of the Tories and against Labour shown in this election, but on the other hand the Tories can no longer conscientiously try to justify their proposals on the grounds that they would remove a systemic bias against them and in favour of Labour when it took 40,290 votes for Labour candidates to get one of them elected while the Tories needed only 34,243 votes per MP elected.

    If those two numbers had been equal, Labour would have won 22 of the seats which were won by the Tories and while the latter would still have been the largest party by far they would not have achieved an overall majority.

    • ChrisS
      Posted May 13, 2015 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      I believe that this reversal in the number of votes required to elect a Conservative and Labour MP has only happened because of the loss to Labour of seats in Scotland where the number of votes required to elect an MP is very much lower than in England .

      Under the proposal to equalise boundaries and reduce the number of MPs to 600, Scotland would have lost 9 seats out of 59. A much higher proportion of the total number of MPs than would disappear than in England.

      Reply The Conservatives won a majority! If Labour had taken all the seats in Scotland Conservatives would still have won a majority.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        In the years before the 2010 general election the Tories moaned that the system was inherently unfair to their party because on average Labour MPs were elected in constituencies with smaller electorates. It was pointed out then that this was only one factor, and the geographical distribution of support was much more important.

        In the event the 2010 general election resulted in Labour winning just 6 more seats at the expense of the Tories than would be justified on a strict proportionality between seats and votes. In this general election, with the same constituencies thanks to the perfidy of the LibDems, that small bias in favour of Labour has flipped over to a much bigger bias in favour of the Tories, who now have 22 seats which should have gone to Labour on the basis of strict proportionality between seats and votes. Moreover it is estimated that with the new constituencies the bias in favour of the Tories would have been even greater, equivalent to 33 seats. Of course all this ignores the fact that the bias against UKIP was a hundred times greater, with 3.9 million votes needed to get one MP elected.

        I recall that during the AV referendum Cameron went on about Usain Bolt and how the ridiculous AV could lead to some other runner winning the race even though Bolt crossed the line first, itself inaccurate because it would have been even though Bolt had been in the lead earlier on.

        However the more significant but less noted fallacy in such sporting analogies was that whoever had won that race would not have won it on the “winner takes all basis” we use for elections to Parliament, as the next man across the line would have got a silver medal and the one after him a bronze medal; and indeed if you go back to the horse racing origin of the term “First Past The Post” the winner only takes about half of the prize money, with the rest distributed among other runners in a descending order even down to a small portion for the horse that came tenth.

        That is the critical flaw with our FPTP electoral system, that it is based on the extreme principle that “winner takes all”, and that is why inequality of the constituencies is a relatively minor flaw and why the apparent bias in the system can flip over from being pro-Labour to being pro-Tory when the same constituencies are used in two successive general elections.

      • ChrisS
        Posted May 13, 2015 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

        Reply to Reply

        Of course you are right that the party won its majority through English seats and very welcome it was too.

        After reading Dennis’ comment, I was only giving a reason why, on this occasion, it surprisingly took less votes to elect each Conservative MP than each Labour member. The reverse has usually been the case because Labour has always taken the majority of Scottish seats in recent elections and the country is so over represented at Westminster.

  26. Gary
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    “We need models of behaviour that reflects our multi party modern democracy”

    you have that completely back to front. We need a democracy that is possible in a modern society. Why are you so scared of direct democracy, why is party democracy your premise ?

    multi party democracy is a dinosaur from an age when people were cut off completely from Westminster.

  27. Bill
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    I agree that the voting system may need to be looked at again.

    With regard to the core values of parties, it seems to me that in addition to the criterion of public v private ownership which was so salient in the 20th century, we need also to look at the public v private employment. The Europhile notion is really a notion in favour if gigantic bureaucracies. The Labour party likewise is now supported by big unions which function in the public sector and, in contrast to the old days when Labour was the party of male manual workers, we now have a party of female bureaucrats.

  28. lojolondon
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    John, your comment : “Many political commentators and strategists are stuck in a twentieth century time warp”.
    These are the MSM elite – the pampered journalists of the Biased BBC. I would like to point out that the BBC is, in terms of their charter, meant to present unbiased views, both sides of the story, and as a good public service organisation, should largely reflect their customers’ views, ie. those of us who pay them £6m a year in the hated “TV Tax”.

    Now, bearing in mind that the (mostly) Eusceptic parties, UKIP and the Conservatives, won 10m votes between them, one would expect the BBC particularly to reflect their listeners views, but since the election, almost every hour there has been weeping and wailing from the BBC – how voters were ‘scared’ into voting Conservative, how they ‘aren’t well read enough to understand all the facts’, what a pity it is that Labour have lost, and that it is unfair that UKIP have so few seats with so many votes, but after all it is a really good thing.
    My point is that the ‘political commentators and strategists’ are clearly deluded, viewing the situation from a very abnormal position, and so can be entirely disregarded when making Conservative plans for the future.

    Reply I thought Conservatives polled 12million and UKIP 4m, making 16 million.

  29. The PrangWizard
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Just wish to say that for me all seems to be going very well so far.

  30. JoeSoap
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    The Libdem position is the ultimate one in naivete.
    Next perhaps Labour, where there are the manipulators and manipulated – where is the new “business friendly, wealth-creation-friendly” leader going to emerge from? Not a great deal of noise in that room. I note Alan Sugar has run a country mile away now that there are no easy spoils there.
    Conservatives have a motley mix of the naïve, well meaning, well placed and wise.

  31. Jon
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    That is an interesting call John and there is a similar seismic shift being noticed in research conducted by the employee benefits industry.

    I’ve not made the connection until your post as I was confused as others were by the polling done prior to the GE. The young in particular have far more crasp of the debt and future public expenditure issues over the long term than the older generation. This is more profound in the more educated groups. The result of the researches show them to have little confidence in the ability of the State to provide for them and so are more individualistic rather than collective. They are rejecting the Unions more as well. They are in effect, more independent thinking looking to provide more for them selves privately than on a collective basis.

    I see this as a positive thing as perhaps many on here may believe, that they are right and that relying on the State is a bad move for those who are younger. The actual results of the GE do bear this out now. As an industry we are having to adjust to this mix of groups that there are now. I think you are right that the political commentators and the like need to research more and realise that the state of play is more mixed with a change already well under way. Good post.

  32. Jon
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Following on from my last comment about the changing attitudes of the workforce one of the fastest growing workforce groups is internationals. Largely professional, on the younger side and prepared to work anywhere in the world but with the initial intention of returning home later in life. Of the global workforce in this category the UK accepts a large number, more if we could get the balance right of those from the EU and those out with. They don’t aspire to collective state funded benefits in old age either. In employee benefits we could do better for this fast growing sector but again it’s a further shift in the old political norm.

  33. margaret b- jones
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    I am not convinced that research methods in politics are accurate and polls ..well! who do they get their information from.

  34. Iain Gill
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:27 pm | Permalink


    I agree with everything you say on this.


  35. Max Dunbar
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    Imagine the Scottish election result in England.
    In other words a ratio of 56 to 3 for one particular party over the combined representation of 3 for three other parties. Doesn’t bear thinking about does it, but that is what we have in ‘progressive’ Scotland. In fact, rather ironically only one of the three parties in opposition in Scotland (power in the UK) could be remotely classed as holding views that are different in any meaningful way from the other two plus the 56. This is what our election system has come up with although just half the voters voted for the 56.
    Next year the Scottish elections will provide a better and more representative balance of MSPs. If we had FPTP at Holyrood that would certainly give us plenty to worry about. As it is, the SNP nightmare that has been spawned by the General Election is a concern not only for Scots but for the entire UK population. However, it is very fortunate that the election result defied the pollsters predictions for the UK as a whole.

  36. Max Dunbar
    Posted May 13, 2015 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    I would prefer to describe it as convergence rather than center ground because convergence can be achieved from markedly different generalised political positions of Left and Right. For example, George Galloway articulated the case for the maintenance of the UK with arguments that could have come from the Right but his position was clearly a Left-wing one. The ideological justifications for these arguments differed but they met at a point of agreement or convergence.

  37. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 1:48 am | Permalink

    You omitted to mention Labour/UKIP contests in the North of England. UKIP are capable of attracting working class votes, just as Enoch Powell did. Mind you, the traditional working class is smaller now. However, I think that we may see examples of UKIP taking Labour seats at by-elections.

  38. Robert Taggart
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    The ‘Centre Ground’ – is that ‘piece of land’ not so overcrowded as to be ‘unstable ground’ ?
    The Tories and UKIP should continue to ‘stand to one side’ – if only to keep a ‘firm footing’ !

  39. Alexis
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t agree more.

    The Lib Dems are by no means moderate or centrist. Their enthusiasm for the EU, and Big Brother style EU policies, does not indicate a love for Liberalism or Democracy either.

    Press cliches such as ‘lurch to the right’ or ‘veer to the left’ are also meaningless in 2015. What is a ‘lurch to the right’, really? I don’t think any journalist could pin it down, beyond some vague idea that Right Wing equals Bad.

    21st century politics has a much richer texture: it has long ceased to have a direction.

  • 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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