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Nigel Farage hints at another Tory defection to UKIP

March 1st, 2015

Today it is being reported

Asked if he was in talks with Tory MPs about more defections, Mr Farage said: “The last time I spoke about this I said I would be surprised if there were not more.

“There is one conversation we are still having. But do you know what – it is not very relevant now. Last year it was a big deal.”

The honourable precedent that Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless have created where defectors trigger a by-election won’t apply this close to the dissolution of Parliament, so I wonder this makes the potential defector is either

i) someone standing down in May or

ii) someone whose majority wasn’t of a sufficient magnitude to guarantee a UKIP victory but a victory of Labour or the Lib Dems in a by-election.

The latter would reinforce the Tory line of “Go to bed with Farage and wake up with Miliband” which the Tories are convinced will win them back some Con to UKIP defectors.

A few bookies have a market up on whom the next Tory MP will be to defect, it might be worth backing Chris Kelly at 21/1 and David Nuttall at 25/1, both fit at least one of  the above criteria, and in Chris Kelly’s case, both.

TSE




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Operation Save Dave is unlikely to succeed

March 1st, 2015

The Sunday Times reports (££)

George Osborne held a dinner with Conservative whips on Monday night to discuss tactics for the days after the vote on May 7.

Two senior MPs revealed that Tory high command is preparing to argue that Cameron has won a “moral victory” if he secures more votes than Ed Miliband — even if he has fewer seats.

In the event of a fragile Labour-led coalition taking power, they would argue that there could be a second general election within months and it would be better to stick with Cameron than hold a bloody leadership contest.

Ministers close to Downing Street say even if Cameron wins the most seats, he is drawing up plans to run a minority government rather than seek another coalition.

Senior figures believe he could keep his MPs onside because going it alone would free up 23 ministerial posts held by Liberal Democrats.

One minister close to Cameron said: “If there is an opportunity to govern without going into coalition, we would seize it.”

The fact such contingencies are being planned by Cameron’s closest supporters is not surprising given the current polling, however moral victories aren’t worth much. The position of many in and out of the party is that Dave’s leadership ends the moment he ceases to be Prime Minister, as the Conservative Party has a history of ruthlessness when dealing with its leaders, as Margaret Thatcher and IDS would attest.

The Sunday Times says at least one former cabinet minister will call for Cameron to quit when the polls close on the 7th of May if Dave fails to finish ahead of Labour.

But the most interesting part of the article is that Cameron is drawing up plans to govern as a minority rather than seek another coalition, you can currently get 9/2 on such an occurrence, which in light of reports yesterday that Nick Clegg is ready to rule out a new coalition with the Conservatives over its plan to hold a European Union referendum, might be a very plausible scenario.

The article also says Michael Gove has been telling the Conservative parliamentary party, that not one Conservative MP will lose their seat, one wonders if Mr Gove will be willing to bet on that, as I’m sure several PBers would be willing to offer him odds on that.

TSE



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Tonight one poll has a 1% LAB lead – the other has them level-pegging

February 28th, 2015

Westminster twlight

The battle is still on a knife-edge

The big message for the Tories as we go into the last two months and a bit is that they need to have emphatic leads across a range of pollsters to be certain of coming top on seats. Unlike previous elections when you could compute these things relatively easily today it is so much hard to state anything with any certainty.

The current assumption is that LAB will lose 20-30 seats in Scotland but very small movements could push that one way or the other. But this could be a mixed blessing for the blue team. A huge LAB collapse would make the SNP extraordinarily powerful and present huge problems for the the Tories – if indeed they remain in power.

This is the latest from Electoral Calculus which takes into account a huge move to the SNP yet still leaves LAB a lot closer to majority territory.



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Marf on the murder of Boris Nemtsov and details of the pre-GE15 PB gathering

February 28th, 2015

camerondemandstransparency (1)

Date for your Diary March 17th at 7pm

The next PB get-together will take place on Tuesday March 17th from 7pm at the Shooting Star in Middlesex Street. As the map below shows this is just round the corner from our normal venue, Dirty Dicks. We are hoping that this will be less crowded and noisy than the pre-Christmas bash. Thanks to Fat Steve for finding the new venue.

There are also plans for overnight May 7/8 – details soon.

shooting star



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LAB’s just reignited pensions as a battleground

February 28th, 2015

David Herdson says the tuition fees funding proposals could be skating on thin ice

Elections are won on perceptions as much as realities: competence, trustworthiness, whether a person or party is ‘on my side’, and so on. It’s therefore brave of Labour to propose funding a cut in university tuition fees from taxes raised on pensions. In doing so, the unintended consequence of opening up a policy front on what ought to be a relatively strong policy subject for them may be to divert it instead to a much weaker one.

Labour’s record in government on pensions was not a happy one. Part of this was accident – longer life expectancy and lower yield rates were largely generational or global events – but part was not: Gordon Brown’s raid on pension funds in his first two Budgets. That act did not of itself kill off final salary pensions but it did accelerate the trend. As a result of the declining returns, many middle-class voters have lost out. For Labour to revisit pensions as a tax source invites comparisons with 1997/8, particularly given Ed Balls’ positions then and now, and also given the propensity of the Middle class and middle aged to vote.

Where the Tories and Lib Dems can attack – beyond basic economic trustworthiness – is on the reduction in the size of an individual’s maximum overall tax-free fund to £1m. Obviously it would be a mistake to go on that specific: £1m sounds like a lot to ordinary people and the technicalities of having to explain why it’s not will turn most voters off. In fact, it would affect many workers on comfortable but not massive incomes such as many public sector workers paying higher rate tax. “Does Labour plan to raid your pension again?” could be a potent slogan.

For the time being, it doesn’t matter; there’s enough mileage for the government in the fees story itself what with richer former students benefitting most from Miliband’s message. Labour may dispute that and will in any case be keen to remind voters of the Lib Dems’ perfidy on the subject, though it may be optimistic of Labour to expect an exemption from the voters in respect of politicians’ pledges when so many voters see the main parties as ‘all the same’.

What’s also worth asking is whether the fees policy will actually change votes. We know a huge number of voters switched from Lib Dem to Lab in 2010 and we also know that virtually none have gone back, so who is the policy aimed at? Not those who’ve gone on to UKIP presumably given the small numbers there in the 18-25 age group. likewise, not those who’ve gone SNP given the different arrangements in Scotland. Lab-Green switchers is possible but trying to outflank the Greens on tax and spend is like the Tories trying to outflank UKIP on immigration (though perhaps not the best time to mention that topic).

Which is why the unintended consequences of the policy could be far more significant than the effects of the proposal itself.

David Herdson



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The biggest source of Farage’s support in Thanet South: non voters at the last election

February 27th, 2015

There’s little doubt that one of the great successes that UKIP has had has been in engaging within the political process those who have never, or not recently, used their vote.

The above breakdown is from the latest Survation South Thanet poll illustrates this well. Because of the way the firm presents its data we are able to quantify the non-voting element.

A big question with non-2010 voting support is whether their backing can be relied on as much as those who do generally turnout for elections.

My reading of the data is that UKIP are ahead but not be the 11% margin that the headline figures pointed to.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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Marf on Jihadi John and the afternoon round-up

February 27th, 2015



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If the boundary changes had gone through the result of GE15 would be less of a cliff-hanger

February 27th, 2015

Did old-Etonian Jesse Norman cost his party the election?

On July 11th 2012 David Cameron was seen to be having a furious row with his fellow old-Etonian, Jesse Norman, who had just led the successful backbench revolt against planned House of Lords reform.

Cameron knew very clearly what this meant. The boundary changes, which it was calculated would give the Tories an extra 20 seats over Labour, were almost certainly not going to go through.

Not so long afterwards Nick Clegg confirmed that his party would not vote for the final implementation of the plan thus scuppering something on which the Tories had been placing a lot of hope.

    It had been blindingly obvious that undermining this reform would lead to this outcome yet Mr. Norman had pressed ahead and membership of the upper house continues to be by preferment – as Mr Straw reminded us on TV on Monday night.

Just think how in the current tight political situation what those 20 extra MPs would do to the Tory position?

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble