Thursday 20 December 2012

The Marmite Coalition

Conventional election wisdom says that Labour will struggle to win the 2015 election outright. If they do get the largest share of the vote, they will probably have to rely on forming a coalition with the Lib Dems.

I disagree.

The Labour lead has averaged about 11% for a very long time now, but it is true to say that the incumbent government always makes up ground when the reality of an election hoves into view. Even 15 or 20% leads can melt away to nothing when an election becomes a reality.

But this is not a normal time and normal rules don't apply. Not only do I think Labour will win an overall majority, I think the Conservative party as we know it will struggle to ever win an election again. The Tories know this (even if most of Labour don't) and have employed a host of tricks in an attempt to reverse the trend - reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600, changing constituency boundaries, increasing the vote of no confidence thresholds and no longer making it compulsory to register to vote, would all favour the Tories. As it happens, the first two may never happen anyway, since Clegg withdrew support in exchange for betrayal over Lords reform.

But even if they did, it's too late. As soon as Cameron failed to win an outright majority, despite the worst economic situation for 70 years, a tired Labour party and a hugely unpopular Labour leader, it was clear.

The modern Conservative party as we know it is finished.

It took 13 long years for the public to even think about trusting them again. The scars ran deep. Even when they finally did, they didn't trust them to govern alone and fettered them with Lib Dem concrete boots.

There is a schism at the heart of the Conservatives that has fatally wounded the party. For 20 years, they've staggered on in denial, but the party is divided and nothing has been able to paper over those divisions. So called "compassionate Conservatives" were prepared to compromise dearly held right wing principles in order to govern, but too many will not.

You only have to look at today's media to see their dilemma. It's often hard to tell who hates Cameron more - Guardian readers or Telegraph readers. The right wing press pillory him daily for not being right wing enough, while the left leaning press cry with horror that this is the most right wing government of all time. The Daily Mail and the Telegraph demand "real" Tory policies, but Cameron knows a majority of the public will never vote for them.

Most crucially though, the political landscape has changed in a fundamental way and it will not change back in a hurry. If ever.

For over 30 years, the left leaning vote in the UK has been split. As soon as the "Gang of Four" left the Labour party in 1981, we may as well have taken a gun and shot our own feet. Disgruntled Labour voters would evermore have an alternative. Much as Clegg would deny it now, that is how the Lib Dems were born and right up until the last election, that is how they were seen. People voted Lib Dem for lots of reasons, but few because they were actually Liberals, and even fewer who were comfortable with the "Orange Bookers"

Of course, it's not unusual for the Lib Dems to see a big slump in their support mid-term and they will almost certainly poll more than the scant 10% or so polls have indicated since 2010. But the betrayal voters feel is real. I've lost count of how many people have told me they voted lib dem at the last election and never, ever would again. It's highly unlikely they will win anything like the 57 seats they hold today. It may well be that they could only offer 10 - 15 seats to any future coalition anyway.

For the first time in a generation, left leaning voters only have one place to go. They must vote Labour or risk  a right leaning government.

Right wing voters have no such quandary however. They can give up on the Conservatives once and for all and vote UKIP. If current polls are to be believed, many will do just that. UKIP regularly poll more than the Lib Dems and although this wouldn't necessarily translate to seats won, it will hurt the Tories very much. In many marginal seats it would only take a few hundred voters bailing to UKIP and the seat is lost. Not to UKIP, but lost all the same.

Of course, loyalty and logic may save the day. Natural UKIPpers may yet AGAIN be persuaded not to split the right wing vote, but I don't think they will. There comes a point where logic melts away and strategic voting is not enough. People vote far more with their hearts than their heads. If not, we would never have seen the left vote splinter in the first place.

I think natural right wing voters - the core Tory vote - have seen too many broken referendum promises, too many capitulations to Europe and immigration and crime. They know now that a Conservative like Cameron will never break away from Europe, never give them what they want. This was the last chance saloon.

Since the coalition came to power, they have divided public opinion in a way I've never seen in my lifetime. You either think they are making the best of a terrible situation, taking tough decisions and being cruel to be kind, or you think they are evil baby-eating-neo-cons who want to asset strip the country and eradicate the poor before 2015. There's little in between. On almost every policy question, just 29 - 30% support the government's position. This is core Tory vote territory and nowhere near enough to win an election.

Lurching further right won't help and sticking with a Cameroonian style fudge won't work. Even if some charismatic Tory appeared to unite the party and lead them to glory, screwing with the NHS can never be undone. The public might forgive many things, but they will never forgive anyone who breaks up the NHS.

The polls have been rock solid for many, many months now. Even the Olympics and Paralympics didn't offer a polling boost despite unprecedented national pride and feelgood factor. I've never seen polls stay so resolutely unimpressed through such hive-ecstasy.

As I've said all along, the cuts won't destroy this government, incompetence will. Cameron cheated the public once, then launched detested policies not mentioned in any manifesto. I am convinced they will not let him or - anyone standing under a blue flag - do it again.


  1. Ah, yes of course the "Dem" in Lib-Dem came from the Labour Party *shudder*.

    Tory's joker in the pack, the affable, cuddly Boris J.

  2. I think you're right that the Tories will struggle to get a majority. My main fear is that Labour won't either meaning a perpetual run of coalitions which can piece their manifesto together in a secret meeting and generally implement things nobody ever voted for. The last two and a half years have been damaging in the eyes of the public because they're seeing policies that they can't remember ever seeing a chance to vote for. I'm afraid of perpetual coalitions but I'm also afraid of a Tory majority and a Labour majority. I don't actually think there's anyone I'd trust to run this country - unless we ran it by internet committee!

  3. Excellent article by Hitchens:

    "Iain Duncan Smith had many faults, but with his doddery, inarticulate diffidence he was actually a better representation of the force and mind of the Conservative party than the fluent, polished David Cameron"

  4. I'm not so sure sue labour still have not been addressing the welfare reform bill in a leadership style by just sitting on the fence

    If the conservatives were to show some compassion to the sick and disabled that on it's own could well secure a conservative win

    i myself would only ever vote for a party that had compassion for others and with regret in my lifetime i have been unable to vote as none of the leaders since 1974 have been worth voting for and i don't see in ed milliband that changing

    A compassionate person like myself not only looks the part but sounds it and you can only do both if you have had a solid family /work grounding in which from the earliest years you have been seen at all times to be in the company of helping of others and that with regret rules all of the mp's and most in the house of lords out

    A compassionate person also has the benefit of a deep understanding of others and their faiths so that they grasp very early on in a conversation of how to bring about the best possible outcome for any given question

    And also a compassionate person is by his or her very nature a very transparent and honest person so at least if a policy for an example may not be to your personal liking you know that it's honest and at all times open to improvement just to smooth out any unforeseen errors that may crop up from time to time

    As i have said above none of the prime ministers we have had since 1974 have ever come close to my ideal so therefore i have decided not to vote as i don't wont to give or set a bad example by voting for people i don't trust at best

    Trust has to be earned but with regret like in so many other countries around the world it is brought by people with money so they can play the power game by getting into power only then to go on and deliver the very worst for the majority of their people

    if in the meantime ed should up his game to show some leadership skills then great but at this time i personally don't see them and with regret i don't think i will but for everyone sake i sincerely hope he can

  5. Interesting point about the Gang of Four - many people really do seem to imagine that the Lib Dems became a major electoral force because of Iraq and the general illiberalism of New Labour.

    But while between 1931 and 1970 the Liberal vote never rose above 11.5%, it hit 19.3% in February 1974 only to drop back down to 13.8% in 1979 due to Jeremy Thorpe's legal misadventures.

    And in 1983 it technically remained at 13.7% - but the SDP gained 11.6% giving their alliance 25.4% - with 90% of their new voters coming from Labour rather than the Tories.

    Now while The Lib Dem vote did decline back down to 16.8% in 1997 meaning that a third of their 1983 support had drifted away even at that low point they did hugely better than the Liberals had done in any election between 1931 and 1974 - and this was because they retained much of the ex-Labour support that came with the Gang of Four.

    While 1983 might seem ancient history over 60% of 2010 voters and 51% of 2010 Lib Dem voters were old enough (45+) to have voted in 1983 - so we are talking about a significant bloc of voters who switched with the SDP, stuck with the Lib Dems even through the Blair years and now must make the final choice on returning to Labour.

  6. I would just like to thankyou for all your wise words and fighting this cruel government dispite being ill yourself. You have helped me get the strength to fight for my own rights jumping numerous hurdles in order to get what should never have been taken away from sick and disabled people. I wish you and your family a peaceful Christmas and hope that the new year brings better things for all who have been affected by this cruel and deceitful government. Thankyou once again. Xxxx

  7. I voted LibDem because Labour had failed to see the problems with the economy (housing bubble) and I knew that the Tories would be worse. Not a mistake I will make again. looking at the polls and some election results I have a feeling that we may see a north-south divide re LibDem voting. In the South-West they may be competing with the big two to win seats. In the north their closest challengers will be the Monster Raving Loony Party. Faced with the absolute certainty of losing their deposits they may choose not to contest in a lot of elections. Once they do this it will affect how they are seen and it could affect their core vote. Who would vote for such a tiny party? The key may be the GP candidates and how well supported they are (and where they choose to stand).

    In terms of this coalition I think 2013 will be significant. The great raft of changes around welfare/benefits will swamp a lot of people and I can see a lot of problems, such as evictions, homelessness, and not a few deaths. I read a lot of articles on the internet and over time I have seen more people getting angry, and a clear increase in the level of that anger. If we do get another 'riot' it could be far greater than the last, and if it involves nearly a million people, then how could they all be imprisoned? The coalition have only survived so far because so many of their victims are vulnerable. Lacking money, lonely and friendless, disabled, or suffering from illness - all these tend to make it difficult for people to protest, but not impossible. We are already seeing the first signs of an increase in crime and people stealing in order to survive, and this is before many of the changes take effect. I expect that from next April we shall see things getting considerably worse, and let's see what happens.

  8. Homer JS you are exactly right. And in the midst of all the riots, you will still hear Dave C shouting "it's all Labour's fault". This government are getting away, literally, with murder.

  9. Trouble is if Labour are elected we'll still get a right-leaning government. They'll simply carry on with the same policies. What's needed is an end to central government and the effective rule of the banking sector, rapidly and openly becoming above the law, and a chosen transient handful of professional looters masquerading as caring politicians. We need a loose federation of local leaders, probably elected by their peers but not on a permanent basis, more on a job-by-job basis. No-one gets the chance to get their snout too deep in the trough that way. They'll need local currencies too issued by locally owned communal banks and backed by local wealth. That's probably the kind of society that would have developed if those pesky Romans hadn't taken us over and brought us all up to think central government was a good thing. We should kick their ideas out and go back to our natural ways.

  10. Britain hit by £10bn tax credit fraudsters, claims Duncan Smith
    Taxpayers have lost at least £10 billion to illicit welfare claimants and fraudsters from “around the world” targeting Britain’s tax credit system, the Work and Pensions Secretary claims.

    1. Tax credits for most families helped a great deal and for the first time in their lives had a small surplus to be able to make ends meet and have a holiday each year

      for Duncan Smith to say otherwise is a wicked thing to have said to try to undermine the lives of those working in slave type of jobs like my wife's for example in catering for the top brass of companies on the minimum wage

      The bottom line is that Duncan Smith hates a vast amount of people from the sick and disabled going through to foreigners and all of the unemployed and it is about time the people of the uk accepted that fact
      Duncan smith’s world is a world of sadness and grief to all he comes across and with no let-up in sight
      He says we have judged him wrong and we will be better off and to trust his judgement the trouble with this is he has no record of honesty or integrity so it a bit difficult to trust someone like this

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