Posts Tagged ‘swing voters’

Thanks to Corbyn, I might not vote Labour. Here’s how the Tories could win my vote in 2020

05/02/2016, 03:06:31 PM

by Samuel Dale

I have a confession to make. If David Cameron was Conservative leader in 2020 fighting an election against a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour then I would have no choice. I’d vote Conservative for the first time in my life.

I wouldn’t duck the choice with a vote for Tim Farron’s ludicrous Liberal Democrats. Farron has done nothing to build on some of Nick Clegg’s smart, centrist positioning while detoxifying the party from its shambolic U-turns and dreadfully naïve politics when in coalition.

Nope, it’s Tory or Labour at a general election. It’s about choosing a prime minister and there is no doubt that Cameron is better than Corbyn.

We are all familar with how Corbyn has gleefully abandoned Labour moderates and centrists. His pacifism and masochistic foreign policy, opposition to Trident renewal, business policy, monetary policy, income tax levels and much more beside, make him unpalatable to me.

So how can the Tories capitalise. Cameron won’t be leader in 2020 and Corybn may not be either. The real question for Conservatives is, how much do they want my vote and thousands like it. Blairite, pro-EU liberals comfortable with high levels of immigration and capitalism but worried about inequality. Corbyn has opened the space, can they take it?

The Conservatives have made no secret of their desire to (occasionally) pitch to people like me since their May election victory. It’s not easy to prise away Labour tribalists but are making good progress.


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Conservative voters aren’t evil. They aren’t bad people. We need to listen to why they rejected us

31/05/2015, 09:28:17 PM

by Tom Clements

I hate anecdotes. I hate how people from all parts of the political spectrum use them to highlight their arguments. I hated how Jeremy Paxman used one to eviscerate Ed’s apparent weakness on foreign policy.

But here’s mine.

One of my closest friends was talking to me about Labour’s defeat. He is a stereotypical Labour-Tory swing voter. Wanting social justice but also wanting to do well for himself. He asked me what we offered people in his position. People who aren’t super rich but are, god willing, never going to experience the hardship of food banks or the benefits trap.

He voted Conservative because we had nothing to say to him.

If you were me you might have accused him of being selfish and argued that he should want the same opportunities for the next generation. You might have screamed at him about his inability to see the bigger picture for our society. You might have appealed to his compassion for the working people forced to choose between heating and eating.

But you would have been wrong.

Not that your ideas were wrong or that these aren’t very real concerns that our party should be attempting to tackle. But it is the wrong argument to make.

Of course people don’t want to see the number of food banks increasing or hear stories of the latest inhumane example of a vulnerable victim of the Bedroom Tax. However, they want to be certain that their living standards are going to be protected first.

The voters in England had a choice between a safety first Conservative government, albeit with obvious problems; or a Labour party that was prepared to risk the house on the gamble that Britain wanted a return to Keynes. They made their choice. We ran an election on a message of family finances and the simple truth is that people didn’t trust us with theirs.


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Revealed: Ed’s night-time dash to casa Brand driven by postal ballot panic

02/05/2015, 06:28:36 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Uncut has learned the real reason for Ed Miliband’s sudden night-time visit to Russell Brand’s Shoreditch home: panic caused by the early tallies of postal ballots being fed back to party HQ, from marginals around the country.

Labour is behind and urgently needs to reach out to new voter groups. Russell Brand was a means to that end.

Postal voting started in mid-April. Over 5 million are expected to cast their ballot in this way and over the last week, local teams from all parties have attended postal vote opening sessions in each constituency.

Although the parties are legally not allowed to tally votes at these events, they all do and the constituency teams then dutifully pass their field intelligence back to HQ.

These are not opinion polls results or canvass returns but actual votes, hundreds of thousands of votes, from across Britain. Numbers have been flowing from each marginal to party strategists to give the most accurate picture of the current state of play.

Labour insiders familiar with the latest figures have told Uncut that the picture for Labour in marginal seats, where it is fighting the Tories, is almost uniformly grim.

Seats that canvass returns had suggested were strong prospects for gains are much more finely balanced and those that were close are swinging heavily to the Tories.

The tartan scare is working with the fear of McLabour shifting large numbers of wavering Lib Dems and Ukippers into the Tory column.

National opinion polls and Lord Ashcroft’s last swathe of constituency polling have seemed to indicate a shift towards the Tories recently, but Labour insiders say the effect on the ground in marginals is much bigger than picked up in polls so far.

Labour has already squeezed the Greens as much as possible for votes, and is coming up short. Despite a superior get-out-the-vote operation primed and ready for next Thursday, Labour cannot bridge the gap by organisation alone.

With just a few days to go until the election, Labour desperately needs new voters.

This is why Ed Miliband suddenly changed his plans and went to Russell Brand’s home to be interviewed.


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Reaching out to centrist voters now is good tactics. Strategy it ain’t

23/04/2015, 11:45:50 AM

by Rob Marchant

Happily, Labour has had a very good fortnight. Since my last column, Miliband’s personal ratings have jumped up and the Tory campaign has blundered from unforced error to unforced error. Bookies and polls now put him as neck and neck with Cameron as next PM, not lagging way behind as before.

The final piece of this recovery in both results and performance, last weekend, was a quite unexpected outreach programme from Labour to the centre ground, of which more later.

After the last election, the new prime minister, formerly known for his husky-cuddling and his “greenest government ever” shtick suddenly remembered his back benchers and became, for the most part, a much more traditional kind of Tory.

Nowhere has this been more evident than in his Europe policy, where he essentially caved in to the more rabid Eurosceptic elements in his own party, in the hope of stemming the flow of voters and defecting MPs to UKIP. If, as some are predicting, UKIP ends up the election having lost Thanet South and with merely a couple of MPs, he will surely look back on this decision to pander to their agenda as one of the utmost folly.

That game is not only dangerous for Britain, it is poor internal politics for Cameron: after all, his (almost universally pro-EU) big business backers can hardly be delighted at the prospect of an EU referendum. But in any event, it is not hard to paint the Tories as having lurched into a right-wing caricature of themselves.

On the other hand Miliband, for the majority of his tenure as leader, has often given the impression of being more mindful of his party at large than of the electorate outside, with the result that Labour’s policy agenda has mostly languished in its comfort zone on the soft left. There was one brief flicker of hope that Labour would once again embrace a broad church, around the time of Miliband’s 2013 “One Nation” conference speech: but in policy terms One Nation turned out, for the most part, to be a slogan, and little more.

Politics is a lot like the game of squash: those who dominate the centre of the court tend to dominate the game.


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Labour’s swing voter problem

02/07/2012, 07:00:22 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Over the past 2 years a myth has taken hold within the Labour party: the fable of the lost 4 million working class votes. Votes that Tony Blair secured in 1997 which Labour had lost by 2010. The Unite political strategy mentions it and this factoid has been a staple at the union conferences this summer.

The implication being  that Labour needs to recast its platform to attract these missing supporters rather than chase after pesky, centrist swing voters. It is the core vote strategy, reborn.

For those that can remember Labour in the early 1980s it is all eerily familiar, right down to the same wilful ignorance on the evidence.

At the last election, YouGov’s eve of vote poll – which successfully predicted Labour and Tory vote share to within 1% – identified the Tories as the most popular party among working class voters: 32% of the social demographic C2DE backed the Tories, 31% Labour and 26% Lib Dem.

Given that the Tories were the preference for working class voters, it seems fantastical to believe that moving further to the left will magically win a majority of this group.

But evidence and logic do not seem to be highly regarded qualities among Labour’s myth-makers. The story has taken hold and the absence of voices challenging such nonsense is tantamount to intellectual self-harm.

The renewed emphasis on the core vote seems to be driving a decidedly half-hearted attitude to swing voters for Labour. The mood music from the party’s leaders continually reiterates the desire to move on from triangulation, emphasis on the centre ground and New Labour’s campaigning approach.

It might sound good at the podium, and even feel good in the warmth of the applause. But outside of Labour audiences, in the real world of voters, the electoral damage is already becoming evident.  It might seem strange to say this given the polls, but when looking at actual votes in real elections the danger signs are already apparent. The recent London elections shine a light on Labour’s lack of progress in winning back territory held by the Tories.

London provides a unique electoral laboratory because it held local elections on the same day as the general election in 2010, and then mayoral and assembly elections this year. In both cases, the ward level data is available which enables a unique comparison of how millions of voters have shifted their views over the past two years based on real elections rather than snapshot polls.

Labour’s current lead in the opinion polls is stable at almost 10% and the party needs a swing from the Tories of roughly 5% to form a government.

For Labour to be on track to move into government, in the London election, the party should have won a comfortable clean sweep of Tory wards where a swing of 5% was required. Ideally Labour would have won wards requiring a swing of upto 8% to come near to the current poll lead and ensure a solid working majority.

But it didn’t.

In London, research by Uncut reveals that there were 61 wards held by the Tories vulnerable to a Labour swing of 5%. Taking the assembly elections as the best comparator to 2010 (rather than the mayoral election which was more driven by the personalities of the candidates), Labour managed to win in 31 wards.

This means that Labour failed to take 49% of the marginal wards it should have.

Granted, London does not define the position around the country, and there are specific regional factors, but this result does provide an indication of what is likely to be happening elsewhere.

Despite the government’s omnishambles, Leveson, the recession and the budget, Labour missed out on half of its ward targets against the Tories.

In comparison, in wards already held by Labour, the party went from strength to strength. The average increase in Labour vote in Labour wards was 13%. Lots of votes there.  Shame none of them are worth much under first past the post.

If anything comparable were replicated at a general election, despite the current poll lead, Labour would fall substantially short of government.

This is the true result of the myth that has taken hold in the Labour party. Large national poll leads and an incompetent government cosset the party and keep us happy in our comfort zone. But when voters go to the polls in real elections, swing voters aren’t swinging.

The base is motivated. It’s turning out and small Labour majorities are becoming landslide leads. But marginal Tory wards are staying just that. Tory.

Atul Hatwal is editor at Uncut

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