Thursday, September 10, 2015


A few weeks ago Matthew Parris wrote a Times column suggesting that the Conservatives can reclaim the positive and optimistic side of politics.

At the time his argument did not produce much reaction, but today there has been a lot more discussion on social media and the MSM as people have noticed some interesting data in an Ashcroft Poll which asked 12,000 voters not just how they were voting but why.

Least surprising result of that poll was that Conservative voters were vastly more likely than those who supported Labour to say that they voted for the party whose leader would make the best PM, the party which would form a more competent government, and so on: The number of Conservative voters thinking David Cameron would make the best PM was thirty-two percentage points higher than the share of Labour voters saying the same of Ed Miliband:

It is worth emphasising that both sets of voters "Trusted the motives and values" of the party they voted for, and liked their promises, but Labour didn't have much else going for them - so much so that "I've always voted for the party" made it into the top four reasons for voting Labour, while "would make a more competent government" did not.


Neither was it surprising that Conservative voters were more likely to believe in economic responsibility while Labour voters were more likely to say that the state should look after everyone.

What was very interesting however is that the poll found that Conservative voters were much more likely to be positive about modern Britain and the changes in modern Britain. Given that thirty years ago was the mid eighties - the height of the Thatcher era - I would not have expected Labour voters to say they would rather be back in the eighties. Socialists certainly didn't like that era at the time.

Yet while Conservative voters, by seven to three, think that things are better now than thirty years ago, a narrow majority of Labour voters think they're worse.

There were similar differences between Tory and Labour voters, if not quite so extreme, on the prospects for our children ...

and an even more marked difference on the rewards in modern Britain for hard work ...

You can see how one might expect people voting for the main party in the coalition government which was running the country might be expected to be a bit more positive about the state of the country but this is something well beyond that.

We are talking about a difference in people's view of the overall social changes covering three decades during which there had been five Prime Ministers, each of the then three main parties had been in power and many of those social trends were not really driven by governments of any party.

As Allister Heath points out in the Telegraph, "despite the substantial improvements to medical technology, incomes and life expectancy of the past 30 years" and "despite the unavailability of so many of the goods and services we now take for granted, the violent strikes, the Brixton race riots, the discrimination, the limited opportunities for women and of course the crippling 11.4 per cent rate of unemployment" a small majority of Labour voters think 1985 was a better time than 2015.

That really is a WTF result.

Granted, we have good reason not to trust opinion polls very much at the moment, but this was a big poll with 12,000 responses, you can look online at the full details of the poll and it appears reasonably representative compared with what actually happened in the election. Plus too many of the results make perfect sense to lightly discard the results which we might not have expected.

So it seems we can conclude that the world is a bleak place to those who think like Team Corbyn.

These poll findings have also been debated at length on Political Betting and elsewhere this morning (my favourite PB post on the subject, from "Morris Dancer," was

"To be fair, the '70s were a good era. Vespasian was probably one of the best emperors."

Lord Ashcroft said of his own findings that they gave signs towards the sort of Conservative party people would not need to be shy about supporting. As he said:

"The Conservative Party can be – indeed, already is – the party for people who are optimistic, open-minded and self-reliant. And now it has an unexpected opportunity to prove that this is the case – and to connect with those who still think the Tories are not for people like them.

"Not only that, it seems to have the intention of doing so. David Cameron promised on the steps of Number Ten to govern “as a party of one nation, one United Kingdom”, and to ensure the recovery “reaches all parts of our country, from north to south, to east to west”.

If he can deliver on that we will have a Conservative Party that not only will people vote for, they won’t be shy of saying so."

Allister Heath's Telegraph article which I linked to above has a similar assessment both of the potential advantages to the Conservatives, if we don't become complacent, of being linked to optimism, and the problem for Labour if they become set in the rut of pessimistic negativity. Some extracts from his article:

"The stark reality is that many Left-wing activists no longer like modern Britain, an outlook which is leading some to lose their humanity. They despise our consumerism, the fact that we want to own our own homes, look after our families and take holidays abroad. They are affronted by the fact that those who work hard can now earn a lot more money, and wrongly deduce from the rise in inequality since the Seventies that life must have deteriorated for most people.

"It’s a classic case of what psychologists call cognitive dissonance. This warps their judgement, and explains the Labour party’s catastrophic embrace of Jeremy Corbyn, a class warrior straight out of an Eighties union demo."

"As to the Tories, they must tread carefully. There is a fine line between optimism and complacency, between a Ronald Reagan-style “It’s morning in America again” approach to politics and Panglossian delusion.
"The Government must redouble its reformist efforts: it must tackle not just spending but also our tax system and our housing crisis. It must do more on welfare and accelerate the liberalisation of the education system.

"The Prime Minister in particular has a great opportunity: the optimist vote is always on the winning side. Mr Cameron needs to retain its trust and show, every day of the week, that he wants to help the aspiring classes help themselves. He can then leave the rest to Mr Corbyn and his pessimistic, depressive and electorally suicidal worldview."


Jim said...

Just on the point about "the state should look after everyone"

I just have never understood that bit, if you follow it logically it just can not make sense. See the "state" gets it money from the people it taxes, the state spends some of that money on some things like services and it also sends some out in benefits to people who its not taxing.

But if there is no money coming in, because everyone is taking out of the state, then there is nothing to give out, and nothing coming in to fund the services. So that means the state would have to borrow it, but no one will lend it as they know the only way the state would repay it and the interest, is to borrow it from someone else, which would mean an ever increasing debt with no income to repay, which of course would crash the entire system.

A very valuable lesson for anyone to learn is simply this

1. The state has no money of its own, everything it has has to be taken from the taxpayer, or borrowed, with the debt on the taxpayer.

2. The state can not spend anymore that it has raised in tax, or borrowed with the taxpayer on the hook for it.

Jim said...

Put more simply still lets suppose we all want a prezzie at xmas, but no one buys any prezzies, then from where do all the prezzies come?, remember there is no santa, much as there is no state money

Jim said...

Any way, back to the plot, back on topic as it were (the only game in town) tha associate membership is DC's plot.
you can call it anything else if you like, but associate membership is what will be on offer. (at least a promise of it "jam tomorrow" style) that is the only card DC has left.
And its that will will (possibly) win him a referendum in 2017, but i have my doubts on the second one, when the status quo is against the YES to adopt vote.

There we go, cards are on the table.