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Category archive for: Conservatives

Why the established parties are in trouble on immigration

By Matthew Goodwin

Which political party do voters back on immigration?

It is a question that has been asked during many election campaigns in the past and one that has influenced the strategies of the main parties. Ever since the 1960s, the most popular answer given by voters was the Conservative Party.

Historically, the centre right has held a strong advantage on this issue, being seen as the party that is most likely to deliver on what consistently around seven in ten voters want to see; a reduction in the level of immigration into the country. Despite concerns among some Tory ‘modernisers’ about possible reputational damage, the simple reality is that the Conservative Party has traditionally remained closest to public opinion on this issue and has been rewarded accordingly.

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Will Nigel Farage win Thanet South?

By Matthew Goodwin 

After by-election victories in Clacton, and Rochester and Strood, Ukip is now hoping to establish a larger presence in the House of Commons. With little over five months to go until the general election, and aside from these two seats, Ukip’s top prospects in May 2015 include seats like Boston and Skegness, Castle Point, Thurrock, Great Yarmouth and Great Grimsby. Another seat that is firmly on the radar is the Kent seat of Thanet South, where after much deliberation Nigel Farage has decided to stand.

But last week the assumption among Kippers that Farage will join Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless on the green benches was challenged by a constituency poll from Lord Ashcroft. It painted a bleak picture for Farage. In sharp contrast to the 44 per cent lead that Carswell enjoyed in the first poll in Clacton, or the 9 per cent lead that Reckless had in the first poll in Rochester and Strood, the snapshot suggests that in Thanet South Farage might not even be looking at victory.

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House of Cards and other Conservative Fictions?

By Steve Fielding

As the party associated with maintaining the status quo, Britain’s Conservatives have historically been more comfortable using popular culture to advance their ends than their supposedly ‘improving’ rivals on the left.

When mass democracy arrived in the interwar period Conservatives therefore saw the potential in using fiction to promote their ideas. The party produced stories, one of which ‘A New Jack the Giant-Killer’, featured an evil gnome called ‘Discontent’ preaching Socialism.  At the same time, Conservative cinema vans toured the country showing short films, which dramatised its propaganda. Some Conservatives even considered buying a cinema chain and producing movies with sympathetic themes.

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Ukip Supporters have a Strong Bond with the Party

By Matthew Goodwin 

Is Britain’s two-party system really about to crumble? This question was the title of an academic paper that was written back in 1982. Like many other observers at the time, the academic Ivor Crewe had been captivated by the sudden rise of a new challenger to the main parties: the Social Democratic Party. The SDP’s surge was truly astonishing; it won a string of parliamentary by-elections, attracted more than two dozen defecting MPs and was soon polling ahead of all the other parties. At one point the SDP was on more than 50 per cent.

At first glance the scale of the SDP’s insurgency makes the contemporary rise of Ukip seem much less impressive. Ukip has only two seats in the House of Commons, continues to average only 16 per cent in the opinion polls and you would be hard pushed to find a serious commentator who thinks that Nigel Farage’s party will attract more than 20 per cent of the vote at the 2015 general election. Ukip also remains prone to public relations disasters and is a polarising force. A new poll by YouGov this week indicated that around one in four voters would struggle to remain friends with a Ukip supporter. Continue reading Ukip Supporters have a Strong Bond with the Party

Police and Crime Commissioners – Two years on: Are there lessons for designing devolution?

By Francesca Gains and Vivien Lowndes

Two years ago the forty one directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners for England and Wales took office, swearing the oath of allegiance and beginning a new era of policing governance.  The way the Commissioners have developed their responsibilities and set local policing priorities has attracted considerable controversy and debate.  In a little over eighteen months their current term of office is due to end, with fresh elections timetabled for the spring of 2016.  But the future of the Commissioner role after this date is very uncertain.  Following a review of the new arrangements for the Labour Party by Lord Stevens, the Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, announced in her speech to the Labour Party Conference that Labour would seek to abolish the directly elected Commissioner role.  Meanwhile under George Osborne’s devolution deal with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (announced at the beginning of November), the responsibilities of the current Greater Manchester Commissioner would be taken over by a new directly elected mayor by 2017.  This is a model that could well be replicated for other city regions or areas seeking combined authority status. Continue reading Police and Crime Commissioners – Two years on: Are there lessons for designing devolution?

Right tactic, wrong target: Tories can’t beat Reckless with carpet bagging claims

By Philip Cowley

You don’t want to vote for him. He grew up in London and went to Oxford, to study politics (of all things). He’s worked as a banker and as a political researcher. And he only moved here to become an MP, the swine.

This is the message being delivered to voters in Rochester and Strood on a leaflet being pushed through their doors ahead of the by-election taking place in the constituency on November 21. The leaflet is from the Conservative Party and it takes aim at Mark Reckless, the MP who defected to UKIP earlier this year.Reckless tactics?

It’s easy to mock the leaflet and plenty have. Reckless has held the seat for the Conservatives since 2010 and the party seemed to have been content to put him forward as their candidate again in 2015 had he not switched sides.

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The significance of Rochester and Strood

By Matthew Goodwin 

Less than two days from now we will witness the latest and most likely the last parliamentary by-election before the 2015 general election.

The by-election in the Kent seat of Rochester and Strood follows the defection of Conservative MP Mark Reckless to Ukip –who is the second MP to defect to the Eurosceptic party. Reckless has followed his former colleague and friend Douglas Carswell, who at a by-election last month in Clacton won almost 60 per cent of the vote on a 44.1 per cent swing as a Ukip candidate. Together, they have brought experience and publicity to the insurgent Ukip and handed its leader Nigel Farage a useful response to the ‘wasted vote syndrome’ that tends to affect minor parties in the British system –once voters you conclude that you cannot win under first-past-the-post it is incredibly difficult to convince them otherwise.

Rivers and swarms: how metaphor fuels anti-immigrant feeling

By Caryl Thompson 

In a recent interview with Sky News, the UK defence secretary, Michael Fallon, described British towns and communities as “swamped” by migrants, a controversial phrase he was later forced to retract. And while it’s easy enough to dismiss this as a sad glimpse into a politician’s personal views, Fallon’s language fits right into a rhetorical war that’s been waged on immigrants for decades.

The language used by politicians to depict migrants obviously influences public opinion – which, as surveys suggest, currently demonstrates high levels of opposition to immigration even though public perceptions of immigration figures are often inaccurate and exaggerated.

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Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box: A wonderful book of political well-I-nevers is launched today

By Philip Cowley and Rob Ford

Today sees the launch of a Specialist Group project that’s been over a year in the making. The plan, hatched by the Elections, Public Opinion and Parties specialist group, was to get elections and electoral behaviour researchers to each write a short, punchy essay on their area of expertise. The result is Sex, Lies, and the Ballot Box, which we have edited, which is launched tonight and published tomorrow.

It is not – absolutely, categorically not – an introductory textbook. There are plenty of such books on the market; indeed, several of our contributors have written such books. It isn’t a compendium or an atlas, but a series of thumbnail sketches, each introducing an aspect of elections and electoral behaviour.

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The representation of women in politics, addressing the supply side: Public attitudes to job-sharing parliamentarians

By Philip Cowley Dr Rosie Campbell 

Job shares – in which two or more people working on a part-time basis share the same fulltime position – are an increasingly common form of employment. A 2012 BIS survey found that job-sharing was available to 43% of employees.  One group currently not able to job-share in the UK are elected politicians – but there are moves afoot to change this.

This new article (£), just published by the journal British Politics, sets out to see what the British electorate’s reaction to such arrangements might be. It finds no great support for the introduction of job-sharing candidates but nor does it detect overwhelming opposition. Just over a third of respondents were in favour of job sharing or said they would support job share candidates; just over a third took the opposing position; and around a quarter said that they did not know.

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