Sunday, April 29, 2007

Conservative Predictions for Super Thursday

Overall Vote

Last year the Conservatives achieved 38% of the vote in the local elections. When these seats were last fought in 2003 they got 35%. This year expectations will be higher and the media will be looking for the 40% breakthrough. As the other parties aren't fighting as many seats I am not sure how the share of the vote is calculated.

Excellent result for the Tories - more than 41%
Good result - anything above 39.99%!
OK result - 38-38.99%
Bad result - anything below 38%

Last year the Conservatives made 320 gains in Council seats. This year there are two and a half times more seats up for grabs, so in theory they should be looking for 700 gains plus. However, this ignores the fact that many of these seats are in Labour strongholds and that when the seats were last fought in 2003, it was seen as a good result for the Conservatives. Nevertheless the party needs to look at gaining at least 500 seats to show that there is momentum.

Excellent result - winning more than 700 extra council seats
Good result - winning more than 500 extra council seats
OK Result - winning more than 350 extra council seats
Bad result - winning fewer than 200 extra council seats

My prediction is that the Conservatives will win 40% of the vote, the LibDems 26% and Labour 24%.

Interestingly the LibDems are already making excuses for their likely patchy performance on Thursday. Take this from Stodge on Political

In addition, the LDs are defending a lot of seats (about half our total councillor base) and, given our patchy record on holding seats compared to Labour and the Tories, we will have to make gains to offset inevitable losses. I maintain that to reach Friday evening with the same number of councillors we had on Thursday morning will be an achievement and, to be honest, I’m happy to let the Tory trolls and spinners say what they like. I believe if the Conservatives don’t reach 40% and 500 gains, they can kiss the next election goodbye. If you want benchmarks for the Tory performance, look at 1968 and 1977.
Let's bear in mind that if they don't make any gains this year it will be the second year in a row. It's quite possible that they will lose a lot of seats to the Conservatives which would be compensated for by gaining seats from Labour in the north. At this stage in the last Parliament they were consistently polling 21-23%. They're now on 16-20%. A key test of Conservative progress will be to see how many gains they make from the LibDems.

Another test will be to see how many seats the Conservatives gain in the north. I have no great expectations of winning large numbers of seats in some of the metropolitan areas but we do need to get a foothold on a multitude of northern councils. And the party's press people need to be prepared to give the figures I published in THIS post which show that the LibDems and Labour are actually worse at national representation than the Conservatives. This myth that the Conservatives have no seats in the north must be rebutted aggressively. Just to remind you...
In England there are 19 councils without a Conservative, 38 without a LibDem and
a whopping 68 without a Labour councillor.In Scotland there are 8 councils
without a Conservative, 11 without a LibDem and 5 without a Labour councillorIn
Wales there are 10 councils without a Conservative, 5 without a LibDem but all of
them have a Labour councillor. So the totals are 37 councils without a
Conservative, 54 without a LibDem and 73 without a Labour councillor.


It's difficult to tell what is going on in Scotland. The opinion polls have been bad for the Tories, yet the media have been very complimentary about Annabelle Goldie's campaign. I suspect the shy Tory syndrome is at work again. There are few expectations that the Conservatives will make much electoral headway. At the moment they have 18 MSPs. A good result would be holding on to them all. A bad result would be losing any of them.


After a good start the Welsh Tories seem to have made little headway in the last week. Two polls show Plaid firmly in second place, although Welsh polls are notoriously unreliable. Currently the Tories have 11 AMs. They reckon 15 is the most they could hope to win, with about 19-21% of the vote. However, 13 or 14 is more realistic. As in Scotland, the ridiculous electoral system makes it very difficult to predict.


Rowners said...

I would say quite confidently, Iain, that the Tories will lose seats on Thursday. Annabel Goldie has attracted ONE decent article in the Scotsman that basically admitted she was performing well on the back of: a) Not having to make coalition provisos by automatically ruling out coalition with anyone (real stuff of leadership that) b) Knowing it's a lost cause and therefore saying what she says with relaxed conviction c) She has a good shout at being elected speaker and is playing up to this role.

The big problem, as highlighted in Fraser Nelson's recent article for the Spectator, is that the Tories are invisible in Scotland. They don't even feature on the political agenda here. This is a combination of historical precedent, lack of willingness to feature in any coalition (except the fumbled attempt last year to enter talks with SNP...way too late) and a complete lack of dynamism from the candidates. Remember the farce in Moray? Mary Scanlon? Top of the Highlands list. Without new ideas and talent the Tories in Scotland will, regretably for democracy here, continue to flounder.

Vicky Ford said...

In the past 10 days I have been campaigning in 7 different councils - in 5 of those the LDs are the main opposition today, two Labour. The Labour vote has melted - but not clear where to. My prediction is, yes, the Conservatives will do well where they have worked hard, but BNP and other non main stream parties are picking up votes and the LDs will take some of the Labour vote too. I've seen the LDs retrench into defense, fighting hard to hold seats and not putting the work in we expected for them to make gains - but it seems to all depend on the enrgy of the local candidate. If you believe what you hear on the doorstep, the biggest gainers this Thursday though may be the Won't Vote party. Some of these will be dissatisfied Labour voters. There is a long way still to go until Thursday.

Anonymous said...

A good benchmark for the Conservatives is to compare their current local government strength with that before they last took power from Labour (ie 1979).

It would take 2,000 net gains to get them back to that level, so I think that is the benchmark their performance should really be judged against.

Anonymous said...

Scots, Wha Hae.
Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome to your gory bed
Or to victorie!

Now's the day, and now's the hour:
See the front o' battle lour,
See approach proud Edward's power -
Chains and slaverie!

Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha will fill a coward's grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave? -
Let him turn, and flee!

Wha for Scotland's King and Law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand or freeman fa',
Let him follow me!

By oppression's woes and pains,
By your sons in servile chains,
We will drain our dearest veins
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!
Let us do or dee!

Iain Dale said...

mark p, LOL. you Libdems are really rattled, eh? That is so very desperate.

Anonymous said...

But Mark, once upon a time there was no Labour party and no Liberal Democrat party.

Surely that should be the benchmark.

The Tories simply must win every single seat in the nation for Dave to have a sniff of victory in '09.

Anything else will be catastrophic. Given this, 500 LD losses would be a credit to Rennard's campaigning machine...

Anonymous said...

As Robert Burns said of the 'sale' of Scotland's Parliament to Westminster in 1707:

We're bought and sold for English gold
Such a parcel o' rogues in a nation.

And he was right. The supposed higher state spending in Scotland is probably more imaginary than real whan you look at the total picture, but accepting the popular view for the moment--even then it does Scotland more harm than good, as bloated public sector jobs, wages and pensions make it particularly hard for the private sector to prosper and grow.

Scotland can manage perfectly well without those bribes--indeed it will prosper.

The same cannot be said for the Labour Party.


Praguetory said...

Of course, if the BNP have a good day, the meeja will run that ahead of anything else. I haven't done much canvassing, but feel that Labour will be taking one hell of a hit nationwide.

Mark Senior said...

Iain just to try and clarify , the Conservatives did NOT poll 38% in last year's local elections , they actually polled 35% . The figure of 38-39% was the notional national figure given out by the BBC/R & T . How they calculate this is a bit shrouded in mystery/secrecy but roughly they take a large sample of wards and then adjust the figures by reducing the Others Vote and redistributing it to the major parties and also adjust to allow for there not being elections in all areas of the country every year .
As long as their calculations are consistent from year to year then they are a good measure of how the parties are standing in each year .
Because of the larger number of smaller party candidates this year the Others actual vote will go up from 12.3% in 2003 in England to 15-16% and the Conservatives will be unlikely to actually poll more than 37-38% . The BBC notional figure though should be around 40-41% as you forecast .

Iain Dale said...

Mark P, probably the most useful comment you have ever left on this blog!

David Lindsay said...

The United Kingdom is my country, and no one has the right to take it away from me. The four parts of the United Kingdom are certainly not states, sovereign or otherwise. Rather, the United Kingdom is the state. Sovereignty resides with the Crown in Parliament. Within that, power has shifted decisively to the House of Commons, which has come to be elected by universal adult suffrage. Thus, the People governs itself. The British People. For, in point of fact, there is no other.

And not just legal or constitutional fact. There is no distinctive Scottish (or English, or Welsh, or Irish) ethnic group. There are only local and regional variations, as pronounced within Scotland as between Scotland and anywhere else in these islands. Neither Scots nor Gaelic is Scotland’s predominant language. Indeed, very few Scots speak either at all. Alex Salmond presumes to assure us that “the social Union” will survive, as if it belonged to him. Well, it certainly will survive. But that has nothing to do with him.

The Scottish Parliament exists only by, and pursuant to, an Act of the British Parliament. Its powers are carefully defined and restricted. Only the British Parliament can legislate either for independence or for a referendum on the subject. No British Government would ever introduce either such Bill. The House of Commons would certainly reject independence, and probably also a referendum. And the House of Lords would certainly reject either.

But then, any Labour constituency losses on 3rd May will in any case be made up from the top-up lists. Any swing from Labour to the SNP would serve only to elect several Tories and Liberals. However, in order to keep the Union so safe in future, we need to educate ourselves properly about what it actually is, and isn’t.

I say again, The United Kingdom is my country, and no one has the right to take it away from me.

Giles Marshall said...

'Ridiculous electoral system' Iain? It's the 'ridiculous' electoral system in Scotland and Wales that allows the Tories to claim so many seats these days. Under good old FPTP we'd have 3 seats in Scotland and just 1 in Wales. Not exactly a dynamic return!

Anonymous said...

dave lindsay
the democratic choice of people can take and give what they want ..they took canada and ozzie to independence and they can do so with scotland too

but did you notice on telly tonight annabelle goldie dscribed herslf not as a tory but a SCOTTISH conservative

Anonymous said...

"annabelle goldie dscribed herslf not as a tory but a SCOTTISH conservative"
I am a Scottish Conservative but you can call me a Tory and I won't be offended!

Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised you gulped at the 1979 comparisson Iain :-) But seriously - why isn't 1979 a reasonable benchmark to judge Tory progress (or lack of it) by?

Anonymous said...

The bigger observation is that this election will redraw the political map. The Conservatives will have a breakthrough and will do better at the General Election.

But, remember in all great victories the seeds of defeat are sown.

Looking at the melt-down in Scotland and the number of seats falling to the Tories then the future for the Labour and Lib-Dems can only be a merging of the parties. It may take another couple of elections for them to be forced into this, but happen it must. This is the strategic threat/opportunity that the Tories (and upcoming Labour leaders) must address.

Anonymous said...

No one is pushing the case for a Tory England and how well it would do without a Labour Scotland or Wales.

Chris Paul said...

This is already two thirds of the Tory gains in England (750) predicted by a Tory on Political Betting 10 days ago and almost in line with my prediction in response. Labour will be taking seats off Lib Dems in the North (five in Manchester last time, 4 plus a defection) and I think they will slump and Ming could be toast.

For those not bothered to click through Sean Fear predicted 750 Tory gains, 850 Labour losses, Lib Dems static, 100 gains for eg BNP and Greens.

My prediction is 450 Tory gains, 480 Labour losses and 80 small party gains. With 50 seats lost by the Lib Dems. In England.

In Scotland the changed system almost automatically loses Labour 100 council seats btw.

Anonymous said...

"I'm not surprised you gulped at the 1979 comparisson Iain :-) But seriously - why isn't 1979 a reasonable benchmark to judge Tory progress (or lack of it) by?"

What percentage of the vote did the parties get then? It might have been that the Tories did better on a similar percentage share due to boundaries, different concentration of the vote etc. Plus Labour had to have a little chat with the IMF, something Brown hasn't had to do.

David Lindsay said...

Reality, only the Parliament of the United Kingdom can legislate either for independence or for a referendum; if an SNP-led Scottish Administration tried to hold such a referendum, then it would undoubtedly be ruled 'ultra vires' by the courts at the behest of some super-rich Unionist, even if no party were prepared to bring the case. And the Parliament of the United Kingdom will never so legislate. That's all there is to it.

Canada and Australia became independent by those means, I might add: because Westminster chose to legislate to that effect. It will simply never choose to legislate to the effect of Scottish independence.

And why should the continued existence of my country, the United Kingdom, be determined by a referendum held only in Scotland? England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are no more states (even non-sovereign ones, as in America, Australia or Germany) than a finger or a gall bladder is a human body. They have no legitimate right of secession. Not least, as I have set out before, there exists no distinctively English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish ethnic group.

Nor, you should note, does any more than sixty per cent of North Sea oil (or very much North Sea gas at all) fall within Scottish territorial waters, since the border runs from south-west to north-east. Nor was there ever the slightest possibility that a British Government would agree to independence on anything less than a permanent 50/50 split in oil revenue, enforced by naval blockade if necessary.

And nor has Scotland the slightest hope of EU membership while there is breath in any Spanish or Belgian Prime Minister's body, or for that matter while the UK remains a net contributor to the EU budget.

All in all, it's looking pretty bleak for the SNP, isn't it? Add in the fact that an SNP victory is psephologically impossible, that support for independence itself has now reached the pre-Braveheart level of a mere twenty-three per cent but is still in decline, that the SNP is utterly riven between a neoliberal intelligentsia and a Hard Left activist base, and that it only contains one serious politician.

If the SNP ever delivered independence, what would then be the point of the SNP? And if the SNP fails to deliver independence even this time, then what has ever been the point of the SNP? Either way, what is the point of the SNP?

Blamerbell said...

15 seats would be a stupendous result for the Tories in Wales. Can't see it happening.

. said...

I predict 13/14 seats in Wales.