November 10, 2017

Conciliatory Tories will win next election

Conciliatory Tories will win next election

Despite pundit predictions, Tom Pridham sets out why, by adopting a more conciliatory campaign strategy, the Conservatives, not Labour, are better placed to win the election. 

The key to the Conservative Party’s victory at the next election lies as much in minimising the Labour vote as maximising its own. Ostensibly, the two main parties sharing over 80 per cent of the vote at the 2017 General Election indicates a high level of confidence in their leadership and policies. However, this figure disguises a high level of dissatisfaction. Indeed, 20 per cent of voters (over 6.5 million people) voted tactically at the last election, choosing the party that had the best chance of defeating the party they found most offensive rather than the one that best matched their beliefs. It is notable that the Conservative Party won more, and a higher percentage of, votes in 2017 than Labour under Tony Blair in 1997. Theresa May managed to increase the Conservative Party vote by nearly six per cent and was yet unable to retain the majority she inherited from David Cameron. Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn secured 40 per cent of the vote – more than Cameron in 2015 – but lost the election. The explanation for this lies in the failure of both to successfully undertake ‘asymmetric demobilisation’.

This is simpler than it sounds. The central element is making sure that one does not anger voters who would not consider voting for you to the extent that they coalesce around your main opponent. It is something both Cameron and Blair did effectively; however the most notable contemporary exponent is Angela Merkel. This is not to suggest that a British leader should copy Merkel. Our more adversarial political culture necessitates a more combative approach. However, the majoritarian voting system that encourages this also maximises the return of successfully minimising your opponents’ vote share. Theresa May benefitted from anti-Corbyn sentiment in the lead up, and early part of, the election campaign. However, as Conservative support gradually eroded, Labour’s support surged. In part, this was due to an energetic campaign from Labour, but much was attributable to the poorly-run Conservative campaign, specifically the framing of contributions towards social care and the suggestion of a free vote on fox hunting. Indeed, a Survation poll in the lead up to the election demonstrated how totemic fox hunting had become. We can therefore view the Conservative vote share of 42.4 per cent as short of its potential, and Labour’s 40% as near the ceiling of what a Corbyn-led party should be able to achieve.

The fact that Labour managed to exceed expectations and run a spirited campaign concealed similar problems. The Conservative campaign was arguably the worst in living memory and yet it still garnered over 42% of the vote. Without the sizeable anti-Corbyn vote this would have been impossible. Despite the vocal character of Corbyn’s supporters, recent approval ratings show that Theresa May is still (marginally) favoured as ‘best Prime Minister’. Consequently, it is necessary not to mistake the passion of Corbyn’s campaign for breadth of support. Another striking fact is the amount of voters – mainly pro-EU remainers – who switched from Conservative to Labour at the last election. It seems unlikely that many of these former Tory remainers have suddenly become favourable to hard-left policies and reasonable to assume that many were registering a protest. Once Brexit has taken place and the issue begins to recede, it seems likely that many, if not all, of these voters could return to the Conservative Party.

Thus, a picture emerges whereby the Conservative Party is somewhat better placed to capitalise at the next election. This is strengthened when one considers the respective strength of each Party’s (unpopular) leadership. While Theresa May is facing seemingly perpetual threats of varying seriousness to her position, Corbyn’s position is secure and his internal rivals have essentially given up, at least in the short term. This makes it likely that Labour will go into the next election with a leader who, whilst inspiring enthusiastic support among some, has a track record of pushing away many. Meanwhile, the precarious position of Theresa May makes it likely that she will not, despite her protestations, lead the party into the next election. The Conservative Party will therefore have the chance to find a leader who is able to both maximise its own vote and minimise Labour’s. Contrary to the prevailing view that Labour will form the next government, the Conservatives stand an excellent chance.

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Tom Pridham
Tom Pridham

Tom Pridham has just completed his MSc in History of International Relations at the LSE having previously been awarded a First Class Degree in History and Politics from the University of Sheffield. Alongside his MSc he worked for Conservative MP Victoria Borwick and is now working as a political consultant.

  • It’s possible it could increase the likelihood of a no deal scenario (currently the best option,) by ensuring that any bad deal Corbyn negotiates doesn’t make it past parliament.

  • Boobsy6 Returns

    As long as the Tories allow the media and Labour attack dogs to bite and bark at them they will look weak and poorly lead. Attacking Corbyn, also, is pointless. The guy cosies up to terrorists and his shadow cabinet hate whites, the working, the rich, those who strive etc etc yet at no point has this lost them a modicum of momentum in their campaigning. Attack the policies and also the news outlets that provide adoring acceptance of such drivel. For example…why are we still paying tv taxes to be lectured by the BBC as to how to live our lives? Channel 4 too…why do they get assistance from the government? A leader who doesn’t come across as a retarded granny will also help…and no let’s not replace her with the equally useless “I am a woman but really have a penis” Amber Rudd.

  • Paul Robson

    I take your point. There is also the issue of the snowflakes learning what the 1970s were actually like. They seem to apparently think it was some sort of golden age of plenty, that Mrs Thatcher destroyed out of sheer spite. I’m old enough to remember it, but not by much and I’m in my mid 50s, which is part of the problem.

    However, the damage that Corbyn/McDonnell could do would be spectacular. They’re admitting to gaming the pound collapsing, and I don’t doubt they’ve gamed exchange controls and so on. The problem is, unlike the 1970s things can change in minutes – look at the response to Sunderland in the Brexit vote. Vast amounts of capital will be gone if Corbyn wins before the sun comes up. Given the accuracy of the “big poll” it may even be gone by 10:10 pm.

    I actually think if Corbyn does win Brexit doesn’t matter. It’s like worrying about a wasp when there’s a herd of rhinos stampeding towards you.

  • It would be a shambles, but an unproductive one. On any normal day, I’d think it the least bad option so the Tories could regroup in opposition and get a proper leader installed, but Brexit is the complicator. If we leave the negotiations to Corbyn, we’ll probably end up agreeing to the entire country becoming a massive refugee camp or something!

  • Paul Robson

    Can you imagine it ? The lefties whinged about the deal with the DUP ; Labour would probably end up having to do a deal with the SNP, Greens, PC, LibDems, and of course, possibly the DUP, all of whom would want their pound of flesh.

  • Andrew Mitchell

    One of the reasons for the support for Corbyn was because those moronic advisors told May to campaign in labour held area’s, thus she turned up to protesters, while at the same time Corbyn stuck to campaigning in labour areas and thus turned up to cheering fans, think what this said to on the fence voters? Corbyn was allowed to say they had a “fully costed” manifesto, yet nobody from the Tory’s challenged this BS line, why didn’t they ask “how much for the free universities, how much for nationalising the water companies, the national grid, the railways and the post office? Fully costed my arse!
    If the Tory’s want to win the next election then they must support Mrs May and attack labour, when May see’s through Brexit her support will grow, already many are saying that she has been attacked from all sides, blamed for things that have nothing to do with her and yet, she’s still standing, people always admire a ballsy under dog, and their starting to support her.

  • 100

    Quite

  • 100

    again, ill give you a small clue where new Conservative voters come from…
    [Young people growing up]
    The only other possible alternative would be erm …Mars ??

  • 100

    Your analysis is critically flawed.
    Im sure i don’t need to point out the absurdity of your statement, but ill give other readers a clue….
    …[Young people age & become old people at roughly the same rate as old people “die off” ]

  • 100

    You clearly missed the fact that May and her team changed flow mid- election by uturning on several key policies in order to chase the Labour vote and still managed to lose her majority.
    The centre ground is already over occupied and to suggest moving further towards pink policies and rejecting core conservative values is not only seriously naive but already a proven strategic fail.
    The country is crying out for serious political integrity and commitment instead of bargain basement vote chasing deceit.
    A true conservative platform is the recipe for success in this stagnant climate of no voice and no choice poltics.

  • Fubar2

    the old liberal in your twenties/conservative by your forties analogy playing out….

  • Fubar2

    Interesting theory.

  • Fubar2

    Its a brave article to publish. I’d like to think that it was true, but there are two dangers. One, you can never account for the “surely they’d never do that… would they?” factor – ie Major’s surprise win in 1992 and Trump’s win last year and Two, it will potentially make the tories more lazy and complacent than what they already are. It potentially says to them that no matter how bad they are that the public really wouldnt hold their noses long enough to vote for Corbyn. Thats a dangerous assumption to make.

    They have to do the one thing that all Tory leaders that have come since Thatch have failed to do. And thats to sell a compelling vision, a compelling structured, visionary leadership. I can’t personally see May and her current team doing that. Arguably, Corbyn and McDonnell are doing so, so far as their target audience are concerned, no matter how much I disagree with it.

    I really wouldnt be surprised if Corbyn gets in, much as it pains me. If he does, he’ll last less than five years before McDonnell and Co elbow him aside and the damage that his party, in its current form, will do to the nation in that time is incalculable. What the current tory party needs to do is start finding some damned backbone and start fighting back, start throwing some of this stuff back at Labour and (pardon the pun) get some momentum behind them, instead of being terrified of their historical shadow.

    The only person who I can see who has the calm assurance, the methodical approach, who has the air of gravitas about him is JRM. But, I dont truly believe he’s ready yet. He might be the right candidate, but at the wrong time.

    Either way, it doesnt really bother me who gets in, I have nothing to lose, personally. I dont have a house, I dont earn much, I dont have kids going through education, no mortgage, there isnt an awful lot that Corbyn can threaten me with that I havent lost already. But there are tens of millions out there who would very much have something to lose under a Corbyn administration. Key thing is, when push comes to shove, will whoever the Tory leader is be able to motivate their core vote enough to keep him at bay or will the core vote implode in the same way that Brown’s did in 2010 when he lost 90 seats, the biggest Labour seat loss since the 1920s? Only time will tell.

  • Wrythe Pudding

    Dear Prez, I do hope you’re enjoying Mr Lindsay’s desperately ignorant ramblings in my direction !!

  • Whatever you say, bud. Whatever you say!

  • Wrythe Pudding

    I pity your repeatedly ignorant and prejudicial attitude towards myself, I really pity you for such mind-numbing blinkeredness.

    I happen to have worked in either the North-East of England or Yorkshire throughout the last 25 years having only moved north from much further south for an initial few months of work – the social friendliness I found in this new area for my life back in the mid-1990’s remains a core element of why I now have no plan to return to my roots.

    My pals include a retired Tyneside trade unionist, a Scouser in the media who’s been settled in West Yorkshire even longer than my own relocation and a London broadcaster whose entire family tree is Celtic-based (historical tribe rather than current football).

    Any of those I’d respect as a potential Prime Minister if they’d chosen that career path instead of their own respective ones.

    What a pity you appear hilariously unable to at least respect my meritocratic view of the world through your permanently prejudicial eyes and mind.

    PS … even if the Conservative Party’s membership has never elected a female leader, a much bigger (and more important) membership, namely the nation’s electoral register, has voted a female Conservative leader the winner of its Parliament’s most seats on 4 separate occasions (1979, 1983, 1987 and 2017).

    How many times has the nation’s electoral register voted a female Labour leader as the winner of its Parliament’s most seats ?

  • I did answer your first question. I can indeed provide that information. But I am far too professional to do my hawking on here. If you are open to commissioning me, then feel free to email me: davidaslindsay@hotmail.com.

    Of course that is why you think that Angela Rayner is unfit to be Prime Minister, whether in general, or against whoever it is that you would prefer. At least have the courage to defend what is so very obviously your view that working-class and Northern people (not interchangeable categories, by the way) ought not to be in politics.

    Oh, and again I point out that the Conservative Party’s membership has never elected a woman Leader.

  • Wrythe Pudding

    Mr Lindsay, would you please care to explain where I made any reference to Angela Rayner’s accent within my total dismissal of her credibility as a future Prime Minister ?

    For your information, it doesn’t matter to me in the slightest whether she has her actual North-West England accent or, for examples, a Scottish, Devonian, Cockney or cut-glass Home Counties accent.

    She’d still be a clueless plank regardless of the accent in which she’s betraying her ineptness.

    I judge people entirely on merit in any particular circumstance, not by their region, race, gender, religion or any other potentially discriminatory tangent.

    Trouble is, allegedly “independent” political activists like yourself can’t wait to play something like a regional accent card as a cosy shield for your inability to cope with other folk having different views to your own because they’re approaching many situations from a different angle than your own blinkered one.

    Oh, by the way, it didn’t surprise me in the slightest that you made no worthwhile/specific attempt to answer the last part of my previous post, preferring instead to take an ignorantly prejudicial bite at the earlier part.

    At the risk of simply wasting this site’s bandwidth I ask you again, are you able to inform all the readers of this site of any media outlets who’ve actually been willing to pay for any of your freelance journalism in the last few months (maybe even the last few years). ?

  • Yes.

    And again, you prove my point. You could never conceive of voting for a party led by someone with a ghaaastly accent, so you think that the whole country thinks the same thing, and, like you, assumes that your preferred leaders do not have accents at all, but do have “special skills”. By the way, the Conservative Party membership has never elected a woman Leader.

  • Wrythe Pudding

    The idea of the Labour Party actually getting round to the mid-to-late-20th Century political idea of having a female leader is what’s really preposterous, never mind such a breakthrough moment for it happening to occur via as daft a plank as Angela Rayner.

    For goodness sake, she makes even Rebecca Long-Bailey appear slightly competent.

    Even Theresa May would be prepared to go into a TV-debate against Ms Rayner, let alone any sort of combative Tory leader looking forward to exposing to the nation’s voters just how cluelessly unfit Ms Rayner would be for the role of Prime Minister.

    By the way, Mr Lindsay, self-styled “freelance journalist and independent political activist”, are you able to inform all the readers of this site of any media outlets who’ve actually been willing to pay for any of your freelance journaliasm in the last few months (maybe even the last few years). ?

  • Point proved. You just don’t understand anyone who doesn’t get a certain sort of public school humour, or consider it remotely appropriate as the basis of a Prime Minister’s entire personality.

  • I think the absolute best Corbyn can hope for is a minority, in which case it’ll be a shambles as the man can’t even get on with his own party.

    The next election is the Tories’ to lose. If they ditch their lame duck leader, get one who can steer us to a reasonable Brexit and show some degree of economic competence and willingness to govern, we can avoid the Jezzapocalypse. But only they can decide that.

  • Mojo

    Tom, this is interesting, however New Statesmen is quite left leaning. I am a UKIP member and activist and we have been collating where our membership has lost most drive. It has been the Labour heartlands where the majority of our votes were gleaned in 2015. We were also doing very well in the bi elections, including Stoke Central until Labour activists turned up. We noticed a real fear amongst voters who had previously been very happy to talk to us and promise us their vote. I was on the ground in Stoke and I experienced first hand some of the violence. I also experienced a real wish for change and yet somehow the fear of Labour was too strong. We all have confidentiality in the voting booth but some people were so worried they said they had decided not to vote. It was quite upsetting. This is an aside I know, but our UKIP figures show most of our membership went back to Labour at the last election. I have not seen this reported anywhere else.

  • The next Leader of the Labour Party will be Angela Rayner. Everyone loves her, and the idea of her being beaten, on the votes of normal people, by Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg is simply preposterous.

  • ale bro

    smaller government – I wish the tories were offering that! smaller government can be a winning strategy, but no uk political parties are on board.

  • Tom Pridham

    Yes it involved managing relationships with suppliers, managing stock, ordering, managing staff, dealing with demanding customers etc whilst maintaining a through knowledge of the product. I hope that puts my other experience in context. Anyway – back to work this time.

  • Hampsteadpinko

    Any job demanding relationship building within and without your employers is worth having.
    My own relationship with the wine trade is as a consumer, and I’m still (enjoyably) learning!

  • MikePage

    I think it’s simpler than specific policies. As people grow into independent adulthood they want to exercise those new abilities. Many begin to think and operate as family units with their own children rather than children that need looking after. These and other factors contribute to a gradually shifting worldview in favour of smaller government.

    Another argument might be: when young people vote Left, what do you think they are rebelling against – if not their parents?

  • Tom Pridham

    No, just curious. Thought it would be worthwhile asking. I had a different career pre-university – working in restaurants and the wine trade. Not as ‘constructive’ perhaps but I hope it counts as a real job?

  • Hampsteadpinko

    I run a building company in North London.
    Refurbishments, extensions, fit-outs – we do it all.
    Taking bookings from next April if you’re interested?

  • Tom Pridham

    May I ask what you do?

  • Hampsteadpinko

    Ah, Tom, alas I have a proper job in the construction industry and need to keep paying wages, taxes, and VAT.
    I fear the nation’s finances may collapse without my contribution.

  • Tom Pridham

    Well – a short bio is standard on blogs. A CV is for work. I look forward to reading an article from you soon.

  • Hampsteadpinko

    For the record, Tom, a longer bio might be useful. Especially if you are looking for work.

  • fred finger

    If the tories end up with a EU exit deal that the British citizens think is rubbish; they are toast.

  • Tom Pridham

    All true – and she still got 42.4%… I do not actually think it would take much to win. Anyway – back to work! And for the record – double check someone’s background before making assumptions on the basis of a two sentence biography. Very best, Tom

  • Hampsteadpinko

    Is there some sort of Tom/Nick thing going on here?
    You’re both frantically up ticking each other. Hope the room isn’t getting too hot!

  • Hampsteadpinko

    Reasonable points Tom, but I suspect that the useless advisers she had in Downing Street destroyed Tory chances.
    The moment she talked about taxes on death to pay for social care, the moment she proposed giving children free breakfasts instead of lunches betrayed a complete failure to understand about school environments, and, without wishing to echo Leadsom, a somewhat disastrous small-minded person in my view, May showed she understood nothing about children and their place in families and a wider society, and the social necessity that children need to learn how to relate to each other and others from different backgrounds at mealtimes.
    So, much to do. Focus! Discipline!

  • Hampsteadpinko

    Susan – I was asking how you determined why my comment – about the author’s experience – was irrelevant.
    Your name doesn’t give much of a clue.

  • Tom Pridham

    In fairness, the reference to ‘conciliation’ was not my title. But I think it’s also important to point out, as I believe I did, that the Tories could very easily win an election with the same share of the vote. The main problem is ensuring that fewer anti-Tory votes go to Labour as well as holding up the Tory vote. May, in fairness, and as pointed out, got more votes than Blair. This often gets overlooked.

  • Hampsteadpinko

    Your point is?
    ‘Nick’ could be Theresa, Pritti, or Susan.

  • Tom Pridham

    I mean at least you put your real name

  • Nick

    Well where I come from,Nick usually means Nick.

    But you can call me Steve if you want.

  • ale bro

    that’s where the tory members are putting their party registration slips

  • Hampsteadpinko

    Tom, the point about the views you have expressed is that they are not new or surprising.
    Provided the Tory party and government do not implode then I hope we may assume that the sheer hypocrisy (McDonnell’s pension in a tax haven), the lies (we will abolish student loans), and the expenditure madness (renationalise rail, mail and everything in between), will eventually put paid to Corbyn’s chances.
    But this doesn’t require conciliation, does it?
    It requires a determined and focussed fight against the distortions of the truth that Labour is now so good at, and evangelising about the benefits of a successful mixed economy, and also a level of restraint and decency from those greedy companies and executives that give capitalism a bad name.
    And it requires Boris Johnson to keep his flies and his mouth zipped shut at all times, for the sack of ferrets that comprise the Cabinet to speak with one voice and not, randomly, express their very own and irrational views about Brexit and ………………… well, everything under the sun.
    In short, discipline will always overshadow the weakness of weak and wobbly Theresa.
    Hopefully these comments might be helpful.

  • Nick

    Ahh Tom LOL! .What a polite way of telling Wrythe Pudding to shove his comments where a monkey shoves it’s nuts.

    😉

  • Nick

    Garbage.

  • Hampsteadpinko

    Who are you?

  • Nick

    Your post is irrelevant.

  • Nick

    Excellent article which says what many of us are thinking but as at times I can be a bit impatient,I would like to see sooner rather than later,the demise of Corbyn and his far left acolytes.

  • Tom Pridham

    Also – if you have any comments or constructive criticism about the content of the above, rather than your perception of me from a two-sentence bio, I’d be very interested to hear.

  • Tom Pridham

    Well I had a six year career before going to university. If you are genuinely interested, I’d happily tell you all about it!

  • Hampsteadpinko

    Glad to see that Mr Pridham’s extensive work experience encourages him to seek work as a political consultant.
    Better for his future career prospects that he do a decade of real jobs rather than sidle round the edge of politics.

  • ale bro

    that’s part of the problem – it’s very hard for someone in their twenties to get a mortgage for a family home these days.

  • ale bro

    that’s a good question! at the moment there’s no answer to where the new tory votes will come from. thatcher had policies to increase home ownership – this would be a good place to start. Help to buy is a load of interventionist nonsense that supports the demand side, but not the supply side.

  • MikePage

    We are past Peak Corbyn. That was obvious as soon as he lost the GE. Then if – as many assume – McDonnell succeeds him, I can’t see that improving Labour’s popularity. He doesn’t even bother pretending to be likeable.

  • Ian Walker

    But as younger voters get older, they replace the older voters who die. It’s amazing what kids and a mortgage can do to your outlook…

  • MikePage

    Then where do Tory voters come from (we were all young once)?

  • Tom Pridham

    Thanks for your comments. In answer to your assertion that Pro-EU Tories did not switch to Labour, there is in fact some evidence that they did (in spite of your entirely valid point that Labour campaigned to respect the result of the Referendum just like the Tories). This article I think provides good background and analysis: https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2017/09/why-did-so-many-voters-switch-parties-between-2015-and-2017

  • Tom Pridham

    You are indeed correct. In fact I wrote about this a while ago: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/conservatives-tories-young-people-win-election-a7840871.html

  • Tom Pridham

    Thank you for your comments ‘Wrythe Pudding’. Apologies that you are not impressed. This was more intended to make the point that the Conservative Party stands a better chance at the nest election than is currently implied by the prevailing narrative. I am glad we are both of the same opinion that there is a significant ‘anything but Corbyn’ sentiment. If you have any substantive constructive criticism or thoughts on what else could be added, do please get in touch. Tom

  • ale bro

    tory voters are older than labour voters, so more tory voters than labour voters will die before the next election. this makes it harder for tories to win, unless they pick up some younger votes. it’s hard to see this happening as the tories don’t have policies that appeal to the younger members of society.

  • Mojo

    I think much of this article is correct. But to assume that pro EU Tories switched to Labour seems totally wrong. During the election both Tory and Labour were the two Parties who campaigned on respecting the referendum and committed to taking us out the EU. The parties who were unabashedly for Remain suffered near on wipeout. This tells me that many UKiP supporters reverted back to Labour as they just could not Support Tories. All the figures before the GE showed that Labour had lost more supporters to UKIP than the Tories had. The West Country was a LibDem stronghold but had a large number of UKIP supporters during 2015 election. The South West was also a strong Leave area and chose to support the Tories in the last election. UKIP have seen their biggest support diminish in the labour heartlands because Labour promised to honour the referendum.

    I suspect the 2022 election will throw another spanner in the works. UKIP do not fill the media pages much but they are regrouping in lots of areas. The Labour Party has disgracefully reneged on its promises to the old heartlands so I suggest many will either not vote or vote for an alternative party (never Tory). The Conservatives are not in melt down, but they are fighting themselves over who wins the ear of the PM and therefore gets to shape policy. The country is actually fed up with the mediocrity of the Conservatives and I suspect it is really only London and the university towns who are still supporting an even worse opposition. This will not go on much longer. We are so busy politically naval gazing that we miss the fact that Merkle cannot get a Government together, Macron is fighting the unions, Spain is in turmoil, Italy may elect an anti EU government and the visegrad countries are beginning to create an anti EU forum to stop Germany and France dictating the agenda. I suggest there is a chance that the EU will create the framework for a total reassessment of politics on this country.

  • Wrythe Pudding

    Thanks Mr Pridham for 4 waffle-laden paragraphs that can be entirely summed up as follows (and which anyone even vaguely interested in politics, let alone reading a site like this, knows already) …

    If the Tories approach the next General Election with more voter-friendly appeal (both in terms of leadership and policies) than they displayed 5 months ago, they’ll wallop Corbyn because there’s still plenty of “anything but Corbyn” sentiment ready for collection.

    (Goodness knows who even consults you, never mind pays you, for political advice Mr Pridham if your 4 stodgy paragraphs above are a prime example of your alleged talent in this sphere.)

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