Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally

Shadow Conservative Party comes second in Eastleigh by-election


Surge: UKIP leader Nigel Farage

Surge: UKIP leader Nigel Farage

The UK Independence Party (UKIP) have caused a seismic shift in British politics by pushing the Conservative Party into third place in the Eastleigh by-election yesterday with UKIP’s share of the vote surging from 3.6% to 28%.

The Liberal Democrats, despite their previous MP facing jail and their party being embroiled in a sex scandal, still managed to win the election, albeit with a reduced majority of 1771. The Yellow Peril really are a formidable machine when it comes to fighting by-elections, and for those involved in grassroots politics, local council elections too.

But today’s story is actually not the Liberal Democrats, it is the catastrophic result for the Conservative leader, David Cameron. Frankly, the chickens have come home to roost. Politcos like me have being saying since Day 1 of this useless Coalition, that David Cameron is most likely to become the first Conservative leader ever to LOSE two General Elections in a row.

Mr Cameron and his Notting Hill chums (Osborne, Gove, Hunt) have taken over the Conservative Party and convinced themselves that all they need to do to win a General Election is to suck up that bit more to the Left by banging on about wind farms and gay marriage and all will be well. Wrong!

The Left (Guardian-reading types, teachers and nurses etc) are NEVER going to vote Tory. All Cameron’s strategy has done is force the Conservative base to desert the Party in their droves. Many are now voting UKIP and many more are refusing to deliver leaflets or canvass for the Conservative Party. This toxic combination has resulted in the governing Party being pushed into third place only taking a quarter of the vote.

I truly believe this is not a protest vote scenario. The Conservative leadership does not understand its core supporters, neither their members (significantly depleted in numbers) or millions of potential Tory voters. Were they so stupid as to think by promising an In/Out referendum on the EU UKIP would be neutered? Dave and George really don’t get it – the Tory base care about much more than Europe: the economy, immigration, education, defence, crime and order etc. Where are the policies to lift the economy out of meltdown? Why is immigration still wildly out of control with most of Europe seeing Britain as a place which will roll over and pay out benefits the moment the immigrant steps off the boat? Why are we sacking our soldiers but still giving money to mad dictators to buy private jets?

And UKIP aren’t just taking disaffected Tory votes. They took votes yesterday from Labour and the Liberal Democrats too. It was uncanny timing that when I was driving home from the gym this morning, in Socialist Ipswich, I was stuck behind a car with a “Vote UKIP” sticker in the rear window.

David Cameron is now in big trouble. It is not outside the realms of possibilities he will be disposed by his MPs before the General Election in 2015. It’s not as if there is something on the horizon to bring good fortune for him. The economy will continue on a downward trajectory as you can’t fight against the laws of economics – there is NO MONEY left – and the County Elections take place in May in England and Wales, with many Conservative councillors expected to lose their seats with perhaps UKIP picking up tens of seats across the country.

This result in Eastleigh is so momentous I am now prepared to stick my neck out and explicitly state what I have been implying for the last three years: the Conservatives will lose the General Election again in 2015. Cameron will be disposed shortly afterwards (his consultancy firm is probably already on the drawing board) and we will have either a Lib/Lab Coalition or a Labour majority, which, frankly, won’t feel much different to the Government we have now. This means, locally, Ben Gummer will not win in Ipswich and in all likelihood (Labour internal squabbling aside) David Ellesmere will be the next MP for the town.

It could have been all so different but David Cameron failed the first test of political strategy: make sure you lock in your core vote before reaching out to the wider electorate. He didn’t do this either because he detests his own supporters or he is incompetent. As Nigel Farage put it overnight when asked about the Conservative Party’s woes: “Traditional Tory voters look at David Cameron and ask “Is this man a Conservative?” and they conclude no he’s not. That’s the problem they’ve got”.

Author: gavinmaclure

IT professional; political blogger, former Conservative councillor

6 thoughts on “Shadow Conservative Party comes second in Eastleigh by-election

  1. Gavin all Eastleigh showed was that the Lib Dems remain brilliant at ground campaigns, that the best ground campaign wins, that UKIP have learnt how to do ground campaigns, that the Tories still can’t do decent ones, and that NOBODY WANTS TO VOTE LABOUR.

    UKIP got votes from the anti politics brigade. They took votes from all parties and none. That shows this was a protest vote – just as it was in Corby, Rotherham and other seats.

    The other protest vote was Respect, of course, and that too showed that people weren’t prepared to trust Labour.

    For the official opposition to score just 4,088 votes in a by-election when both the two parties of the Government dropped significantly in the vote doesn’t look great for their chances in 2015. Maybe we spend too much time listening to the Westminster bubble media, not enough time talking to real people, who are still really angry with Labour and think Ed Miliband is a joke.

  2. Agree with a lot of this Gavin but I do think that we will see the difference between Labour and this coalition. Ed Miliband really thinks that Labour lost because it was insufficiently left wing. Labour will give it to us good and hard if they get in.

  3. If you heard the desires of Peter Tatchell, appearing for Labour on AQ the other day, you’d have been horrified. The way to sort out this mess (which he denies was caused by Brown) is apparently to tax everything. Tax the rich, tax polluters, tax the banks, tax sugary drinks, tax holidays, taxes taxes everywhere.

    The coalition have at least brought in some tax cuts – the 10k personal allowance, the stamp duty on AIM investments, the fuel duty freeze. The personal allowance cut is the sort of sensible move Tory Chancellors have always made, but the in three years it’s been brought in over, inflation has taken most of its effect.

    The stamp duty move could well be a massive stimulant to the AIM. The reverse move, made by Gordon Brown to cover all share transactions, gutted our pensions industry. This could potentially be one of the most important changes in the long term.

    And of course the fuel duty freeze is an anti-inflationary measure, because increasing fuel costs increases the cost of transport, so it follows that NOT increasing fuel costs prevents those increases. Of course a cut would have been welcomed, but it’s pretty expensive…

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