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Second Preferences Mean Little – Except Sometimes 1 April 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Polls, UKIP.
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 As discussed on ConservativeHome, the YouGov survey for The Daily Telegraph identifies some interesting findings on the second preferences of likely voters for the main political parties.  They are summarised in the graphic. Second Preferences

Some have rushed to suggest large numbers of Tory voters (23%) are leaning left, to the Liberal Democrats. False. The Lib Dems are the second preference of everyone who seriously hates Labour, and wants to stop them. If you can’t vote Conservative, they’re the only credible alternative to seeing Labour win (i.e. they’re the only viable second choice).

I expected a higher share for UKIP than 18%, but their recent problems and near zero chance of winning makes them second choice for all but the most serious Eurosceptics. The BNP rank of 12% surprised me, but I imagine its down to protest voting and their higher chances of winning in certain areas such as London, the Midlands and Yorkshire.

With the Conservatives, the second preference statistics are largely irrelevant as they will contest all seats with a good chance of winning in many. The voters therefore have no need of second preferences and tactical voting. The figures for Labour and Lib Dems are more important however, as becoming the second choice controls tactical voting, and is surely the first stage in full conversion to becoming first choice.

In most Lib Dem seats, the Conservatives are the main opposition. And in many Labour seats with Tory opposition the ratio of how the Lib Dem tactical (i.e. second choice) vote splits is the difference between the seat staying red or turning blue. With Labour still ahead 21% to 16%, Cameron will be keen to keep wooing the Lib Dems without upsetting any more Tories. The Conservatives need Lib Dems to significantly prefer a Cameron government to a Labour one, so as to chose to vote tactically (to stop Labour, and to boot out Lib Dem MPs in favour of Tories under the “Vote Lib MP, Get Lab Gov” principle).

The fact Labour voters split 33% for the Lib Dems and just 9% for the Conservatives is worrying, and suggests there’s few more Labour voters to win over. It also suggests the Lib Dems will do well in the Labour seats they’re currently second in, matching their long running council seat shift from rural to urban. Cameron needs policies to win strivers – the people Margaret Thatcher built her landslides on. Cameron must also target non-voters, which are a large constituency needing a home.

Interesting too is the 30% of Lib Dems and 14% of Labour voters who list Green as their second choice. This is a good opportunity for the Conservatives if they get green enough to win them over. It also gives the possibility of a few Green MPs in places like Brighton.


Scottish Elections 2007: An SNP-Tory Coalition? 1 April 2007

Posted by David in Polls.

It’s just five weeks until the Scottish elections, where the Nationalists look set to reach a historic victory. According to the YouGov poll for the Telegraph, the 129 seats will be divided up as follows: SNP 46, LAB 39, LIB 18, CON 18, GRN 5, OTH 3.

The SNP’s support is not however built on support for Scottish independence. Only 28% support independence, including only 65% of SNP voters, while 51% are unionists who oppose independence. This has lead to a cautious approach by the SNP. Once they promised a referendum within 100 days, now it’s within the 4 year term. As the Telegraph reports, the Nationalists have gone all-out to court Middle Scotland, hammering home the message that a vote for the SNP in May will not bring about Scottish independence. Not immediately, at least: there will be a referendum on independence in the first four-year term of a Nationalist administration, probably in year three.

Mr Salmond’s calculation is that by then an SNP government would still be popular and respected, and would also have a track record on which to campaign. “Basically, we can say to people: ‘Look what we’ve achieved with the powers we have, imagine what we could do with more’,” said a source close to the SNP leader.

But this is the key to saving the union: “look what we’ve achieved, imagine what we could do with more”. The public will see the damage the SNP and thus independence will do, and support will fall. The SNP is only popular because they are the only real alternative to Labour, and Scotland is a Labour country that has been abandoned by Labour. As such the other parties must hold their nose and allow either a minority SNP Executive, or – the better option – an SNP lead coalition (this way they cannot blame failings on not having a majority).

It’s not without risk. The SNP may be successful. Or the SNP may cause endless disputes and friction with Westminster in order to boost support for independence. As such any coalition partner, and the Westminster government, must be careful and be seen to be trying to make it work – basically the SNP have got to be seen as the trouble makers, not everyone else, if they take the friction causing root. Currently Labour’s endless scares and smears aren’t helping. Any coalition partner must also have veto on when the referendum is held, to stop the SNP choosing to hold it during a short-term swing in public opinion.

My prediction is the SNP to be the main party with 50 seats, Labour on 32, Conservatives on 20 (there must be some Cameron boost?), Lib Dems on 18, Greens on 6 and Others on 3. With 65 needed for a majority, I see an SNP-CON coalition quite likely. The Lib Dems will be too afraid of the damage being associated with the independence referendum will do, they’re already seen as being very Scottish orientated (and it would be impossible with a Scottish leader really – Ming would be fatally undermined). The same applies for Labour.

The Conservatives however will be desperate for power and to rebuild support in Scotland ahead of the next Westminster general election, and this is the only way to do it fast. They have a problem with being seen as un-Scottish in Scotland, and what better way to boost their Scottish credentials than by governing with the Scottish Nationalists? As known strong unionistsit won’t affect them in England and Wales (and anyway, if Paisley’s DUP and Sinn Fein can go into coalition, why not SNP-CON?), it would be a great propaganda coup (to oust Labour in its Scottish heartlands), and it’s also the way to “stack the dice” against the referendum going in favour of independence.

The “Others” Are Out There 22 December 2006

Posted by David in Conservatives, Polls, UKIP.

In my post “Don’t Fight A War On Two Fronts, Mr Cameron” (13th December 2006) Iexpressed an interest in this month’s YouGov poll, after Populus had rated the Greens at4% and UKIP at 2%.As I said then, “Populus hasn’t traditionally shown high scores for minor parties, that’s usually YouGov, however all pollsters are showing the othersincreasing. It will be interesting to see the next YouGov poll, as they are my favoured company and give higher minor party figures. Their last poll gave the Greens, UKIP and the BNP 3% each (Populus at the time gave UKIP 1%).”

Now we have that December YouGov poll. Whilst it’s bad news for the Greens (down to 1%), UKIP is static at 3% and the BNP up to 4%, equal to the combined SNP/PC vote.

Previously there had been speculation that the Greens could split the Labour and Lib Dem vote, delivering a Conservative government. With their poll ratings back to normal, it looks like the 3-4% Green poll shares were just a blip caused by the heavy media focus on the environment or a simple statistical error. If it’s the first however, a savvy Conservative campaign strategist could focus on the environment not to gain votes but to split the Lib Dem vote in the Greens favour, electing Conservative MPs.

According to ICM, just 19% of Conservative voters and 16% of Labour voters would consider voting Green, both within each others margin of error. Damage would be fairly equal to both parties. A Green focus could however be lethal to Lib Dems, as 30% of their voters declared they would consider voting Green.

Conversely, a Labour government could allow Europe to become an issue to cause Conservative splits. This I feel is less likely, due to the unpredictable nature of Eurosceptic voters. Whilst most die hard UKIP are former Conservatives, only 14% of current Tory voters would consider voting UKIP, only just ahead of 9% of Labour voters and 8%of Lib Dems considering it. An EU focus would drive voters to UKIP from all parties, but also to the Conservatives.

Cameron has really got to close his ‘home’ flank from UKIP raids. This is the tactic of other successful parties internationally, but sadly it seems to be getting missed.

Don’t Have A War On Two Fronts, Mr Cameron 13 December 2006

Posted by David in Conservatives, Polls, UKIP.

As I have expected for some time, polls are showing a gradual rise of the “others”. The Independent reports on it, as does Anthony Wells. The latest Populus poll for The Times states Conservative34% (-2%), Labour 33% (nc) & Liberal Democrats 19% (-1%). The Greens are given 4% and UKIP 2%. It is unclear what the BNP polled.

Populus hasn’t traditionally shown high scores for minor parties, that’s usually YouGov, however all pollsters are showing the “others” increasing. It will be interesting to see the next YouGov poll, as they are my favoured company and give higher minor party figures. Their last poll gave the Greens, UKIP and the BNP 3% each (Populus at the time gave UKIP 1%).

Cameron has got to be careful. The Cameronians have believed that Tories have no where else to go, or won’t want to risk Labour winning, so will always vote blue. This view has been put across to me by several MPs. They are wrong. As the Bromley by-election showed, they can and will stay at home if they see no difference between New Labour and “Blue Labour” – a UKIP term getting known by more and more of the general public.

I do not want to see a Labour government caused by the centre-right splitting. It is up to Mr Cameron to see that it doesn’t. I equally don’t want to see Blue Labour. Again rectifying this is up to Mr Cameron.

He cannot go on fighting a war on two fronts. He must learn from other parties across the globe, where they have moved a few select single issues to the right/left (depending on their own ideology) to stamp out competition on their ‘home’ flank. A referendum on the EU would do this easily, but he must do it soon or risk failure.

“No Policy A Good Policy” Says Public 24 May 2006

Posted by David in Polls.
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A rather unusual event today has been the sudden lead taken by Cameron's Conservatives on certain 'issues'.

The party has lead most voting intention polls for some time, and leads today's ICM/Guardian offering by 4 points (LAB 34%, CON 38%, LIB 20%). Under Gordon Brown as leader it's 8 points (LAB 31%, CON 40%, LIB 19%).

But it is the later questions which reveal the damage done to Labour by recent events, particularly last month's Triple Whammy Wednesday of foreign criminals on the lose, Hewitt heckling as a sport by nurses and Prescott's affair. Those surveyed were asked irrespective of who they might vote, which party is putting forward the best policies on each issue.

Conservatives lead Labour by 2% on the NHS, 2% on education, 12% on law & order, 18% on asylum & immigration, and 4% on tax & public services. Labour retains small leads on the economy, Europe and terrorism. Some of these, the NHS in particular, once had huge Labour leads.

But what's unusual is that, as yet, Cameron hasn't put forwards any policies. They all await the conclusion of the policy reviews – unlike Blair who announces his nuclear policy before the reviews concluded. Obviously, no policies a good policy then – probably right too. What is obvious is that people are wanting less government interference in their lives. We await the policies from David Cameron and hope, they are sensible. Please, no more regulation, tax or EU madness.