Tuesday, February 03, 2015

The Tories remain in their laager, despite not shifting in the polls

Business leaders like Stuart Rose of Marks and Spencer have been leaping in to the political arena to attack Labour's policy proposals, but it doesn't look as if this is doing much to shift the Tory position.  It has been flat-lining at around 32% for a year now.  Admittedly, Labour too has failed to shift things, remaining a mere 1% ahead of the Conservatives in the first month of this year, despite the high-energy campaigning.

It is more than probable that despite the attention being focused on the election - still over three months away - in the Westminster village, few ordinary voters are taking much notice. The biggest electoral trend has been the increase of the SNP's position in Scotland, which is likely to act to the detriment of Labour, but could cause a significant problem for all of the English parties when it comes to getting English legislation through parliament (a difficulty highlighted today by William Hague's inability to unite the parliamentary party behind his English laws proposal).

The Conservatives can draw little comfort from Labour's position in Scotland.  They remain under threat from UKIP, but more importantly have failed to move their opinion poll position despite concerted efforts to do so and the running of a narrative that seeks to confer on Cameron the benefits of incumbency whilst targeting Miliband as unfit to be Prime Minister.

Adam Bienkov has a piece on Politics.co.uk today analysing the polling situation, and he has this cutting but on the nail comment about the Tory party:

After a year of strong economic recovery and declining trust in Labour and Miliband, any other governing party would expect to be sweeping up support by now. The fact that voters would still rather plump for almost any other party instead, suggests that the Tories have fundamental problems they are simply refusing to face up to.
There are occasionally signs of realisation. The party's continuing low support among the young, ethnic minorities, working class voters and indeed anyone outside the South East of England, have been repeatedly raised by some figures on the fringes of the party. Occasionally these concerns are listened to. Usually they are ignored.
In fact rather than face up to these problems they have instead retreated back to the same electoral comfort zone that has failed to win them a majority for over twenty years. Endlessly banging on about immigration, Europe and welfare have failed to win dividends for the party for decades and yet they continue to do it anyway.
They say madness is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. Well the Tories have been doing the same thing for almost a quarter of a century now and yet still they stand back in amazement when the opinion polls refuse to budge.

This absolutely encapsulates the Tory problem, as I mentioned in an earlier blog post.  Their failure to reach out to a wider electorate remains their Achilles heel, and yet they persistently look to the wrong answer - the belief that they just need to be more right-wing.  How many election defeats will it take for the moderate right to re-group and form a genuinely popular centre-right party?

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