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Category archive for: Conservatives

Iain Duncan Smith resignation: flesh wound or more serious blow to Cameron?

Written by Tim Bale.

If there were a Richter Scale of Political Resignations, then prime ministers such as Margaret Thatcher, Harold Wilson and Harold Macmillan would register at the very top – on nine.

Big beasts such as Conservative Chancellor Geoffrey Howe and Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine would register at about seven. Iain Duncan Smith’s departure, on the other hand, would probably score around six.

The work and pensions secretary’s departure is the sort of earthquake that would only inflict slight to moderate damage on solid structures but is capable of causing more severe problems for less stable edifices. Unfortunately for the Conservative Party, at least in the run up to the EU referendum, it fits all-too-easily into the latter category . Continue reading Iain Duncan Smith resignation: flesh wound or more serious blow to Cameron?

Winners and losers in George Osborne’s spending review

Written by Peter Taylor-Gooby.

George Osborne always plays the role of the smiling conjurer who pulls the rabbit out of the hat and steals the scene with aplomb. In his 2015 spending review and autumn statement, the surprise announcement was that cuts to tax credit will not be as stringent as expected – although housing benefit claimers are the losers. Concealed within the chancellor’s hat are cuts of more than 50% in grants to local government and tense optimism about the growth, employment and pay forecasts on which everything depends. Continue reading Winners and losers in George Osborne’s spending review

Cameron’s Conservatives aren’t sticking to the centre – they’re moving rightwards

Written by Eunice Goes.

Until this week’s tax credits debacle, the Conservatives have performed exquisitely the role of the reasonable and pragmatic English party that swears by its faith in “whatever works”.

So far, under the leadership of David Cameron (though the chancellor, George Osborne, can claim the role of co-author), the Conservatives have done a remarkably good job of presenting themselves as the guardians of the hard-to-define political centre ground. The party’s greatest achievement has been to dress an ostensibly right-wing agenda in the soft clothes of a well-meaning, reasonable and pragmatic centrism stripped of ideological excesses.

Cameron has recently claimed that the Conservatives as “the party of equality” and few quibbled with him. Similarly, when the chancellor said the Conservatives were “now the party of work, the only true party of labour”, he was mostly commended for his audacity. Continue reading Cameron’s Conservatives aren’t sticking to the centre – they’re moving rightwards

Tax credits showdown: for once, public opinion may be with the House of Lords

Written by Louise Thompson.

After a week of anticipation and a tough three-hour debate, the House of Lords finally voted on the government’s controversial plans to cut tax credits for 3m households. Rumours abounded that a vote against the government would trigger a “constitutional crisis”, and Conservatives warned that the prime minister would simply pack the upper chamber with Conservative peers should the lords veto the plans.

In the end, the house defeated the government not once but twice, delaying the plans until the chancellor can find a way of compensating those affected by the cuts.

It’s not uncommon for governments to be defeated in the House of Lords, and this government is especially vulnerable there. Unlike the House of Commons, where David Cameron has a majority of MPs, the presence of more than 150 crossbench peers in the House of Lords means he has no working majority. He has already been defeated several times over the past few months. Continue reading Tax credits showdown: for once, public opinion may be with the House of Lords

Explaining Cameron’s Confrontational Approach to EU Reform

Written by Nathan Jones.

In his speech to the Conservative Party conference on 7 October 2015, David Cameron described the UK’s role in Europe thus, ‘We don’t duck fights.  We get stuck in.  We fix problems.  That’s how we kept our border checkpoints when others decided to take theirs down.  It’s how we kept the pound when others went head first into the Euro.  Because we do things our way.  We get rebates. We get out of bailouts … Britain is not interested in “ever closer union” – and I will put that right’.  By contrast, in a joint speech to the European Parliament on the same day, the leaders of France and Germany, Angela Merkel and François Hollande, outlined their vision for an ever closer union, using the immigration issue to justify their case.  Merkel pointed out that, ‘In the refugee crisis, we must not succumb to the temptation of falling back into national action. Quite the contrary, now we need more Europe’.  Hollande argued that ‘We need not less Europe but more Europe. Europe must affirm itself otherwise we will see the end of Europe, our demise’.  Both leaders also emphasised the need for a more integrated eurozone to strengthen Europe’s power. Continue reading Explaining Cameron’s Confrontational Approach to EU Reform

Cameron plays to the faithful, teases on succession and skirts around the big issue – Europe

Written by Wyn Grant.

David Cameron gave a confident, upbeat, often passionate address to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester. There were jokes galore – on his feelings towards Ed Balls and even his recent run in with Michael Ashcroft. There was so much laughter that you’d be forgiven for thinking it drowned out the important details. But the truth is, those important bits remained largely unspoken.

Cameron reiterated his commitment to “one nation” Conservatism and outlined quite a radical social agenda, but he is more moderate than most of his party. This has been an asset for him with voters but he has learned to keep it light in front of his own people. Continue reading Cameron plays to the faithful, teases on succession and skirts around the big issue – Europe

Notes from the Tory fringe, where everyone is playing nicely – for now

Written by Tim Bale.

Welcome to the Tory Party conference in Manchester – as ever a curious mix of the nerdy, the nutty, the nasty, and the nice and normal.

The latter (apologies to anti-austerity protesters everywhere but it’s true) are in the majority. That’s of course if you don’t count the lobbyists and the exhibitors – the paid smoochers and sponsors. There are more of these, some grumble, than there are actual delegates.

But whatever else this is, it’s clearly the annual gathering of what seems well on the way to becoming Britain’s (or at least England’s) natural party of government once again. Continue reading Notes from the Tory fringe, where everyone is playing nicely – for now

Conservatives in Manchester: Cameron presents fruits of his labour to eurosceptic party

Written by Michael Emerson.

Since his re-election in May 2015, David Cameron has devoted much of his time to trying to advance his “renegotiations” with the EU. We know that Cameron has been holding one-on-one talks with the leaders of all other EU member states and he is now meeting his party in Manchester to report on his progress.

But we have very little substantive information about the content of these meetings. The reason for this approach is evident enough. Cameron needs to placate his eurosceptic Tory MPs with the argument that he is in delicate negotiations to secure an important new settlement on the terms of the UK’s EU membership ahead of the referendum to be held no later than 2017. Continue reading Conservatives in Manchester: Cameron presents fruits of his labour to eurosceptic party

He has a beef with David Cameron, but who is Lord Ashcroft?

Written by Tim Bale.

Britain is still reeling from the allegations that surfaced about the university antics of its prime minister, David Cameron. The claims, made in a forthcoming unauthorised biography of the PM, are the work of Conservative peer Michael Ashcroft and journalist Isabel Oakeshott.

Ashcroft has said he has a “beef” with Cameron, after being passed over for a cabinet position, but he denies the book is his form of revenge. So who is this troublesome Lord? And why do his claims hold so much sway?

Ashcroft is not just some rich guy who has it in for David Cameron. He has a long history in the Conservative Party and can claim, with some justification, to have had a significant influence on the direction it has taken for more than two decades. Continue reading He has a beef with David Cameron, but who is Lord Ashcroft?

The UK electoral system now decisively favours the Conservatives

By Tim Smith.

In the wake of the largely unexpected Conservative election victory, it was said that pollsters and political scientists had a lot of explaining to do after so many incorrect forecasts.  However, this author correctly predicted that the Liberal Democrats would do worse than was assumed , and also that the electoral system might well favour the Conservatives for the first time since 1987 which also turned out to be the case.  In this blog piece I will explain what has happened and the consequences for the next election.

At this election the two-party bias (or skew) in the electoral system moved from a pro-Labour bias of 54 seats, to a pro-Conservative bias of 48 seats, meaning that if the two parties had won the same number of votes, the Conservatives would have won 48 more seats than Labour.  The table below shows the decomposition of factors that result in this bias.  These can be obtained algebraically using Brookes’ decomposition method, as adapted by Johnston, Rossiter and Pattie. For a full explanation of the factors please re-read this entry.

Continue reading The UK electoral system now decisively favours the Conservatives