Tuesday 28 February 2012

Majority Strategy

And so the attention of the right-wing media turns to the means of securing an overall majority in 2015. General Elections are not won and lost in the South East. The South East is the least conservative part of the country. It is therefore the part with the highest level of support for the post-Thatcher Conservative Party.

If General Elections really were won and lost there, then there would have been a Conservative Government with a large majority in 2005. In the days when that party used to win Elections outright rather than having to be propped up by someone else, then it did so by winning considerable numbers of seats in Scotland, Wales, the North and the Midlands. The equally ignored battle between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in the West Country and in Hampshire has also made the difference between a majority government and a hung Parliament at every General Election for many years. The consequences of that fact last time might even cause a bit of attention to be paid to the more westerly half of the South next time. But do not hold your breath. Those are all much more conservative places than the South East.

By losing first many and then most of its Scottish, Welsh, Northern and Midland seats, and by failing to hold or regain ground in the West Country and in Hampshire, the Conservative Party first nearly and then actually lost power in 1992 and 1997 respectively. It seems that by 2015, they will have condemned the electorally key areas to darkness long into the morning for much of the year, by having imposed Central European Time with the connivance of a Coalition partner which has already collapsed north of the Wash and is ripe for collapse west of the Solent.

In 1992, only the most obsessive political anorak had ever even heard of Tony Blair. And that was still the case on Golden Wednesday, when the Conservative defeat, and thus the Labour victory by default, became a done deal. Furthermore, the Conservatives’ failure to regain power first at all and then on its own has consisted precisely in its failure to regain those Scottish, Welsh, Northern and Midland seats. By contrast, the Labour gains in the South East in 1997 were just a bonus, and the loss of most of them in 2005 made no real difference. Indeed, only in 2005 did Blair finally influence a General Election result at all. Specifically, he lost Labour 100 seats that any other Labour Leader would have saved. Thus he moved from being a mere irrelevance to being a positive liability.

However, the Conservatives, deprived of any significant parliamentary link with the areas that really matter electorally, entirely failed to register this. Instead, they installed as Leader a Blair clone, because he played well in the South East and in polls with the 34 to 38 per cent of determined non-voters dishonestly factored out.

Buy the book here.


  1. "The South East is the least conservative part of the country."

    I suspect there are more Monarchists in the South East than further North given that a higher proportion of Tories are Monarchists if opinion polls are to be believed.

  2. I find that extremely improbable, certianly within England, where anti-monarchism is very much a London thing.

  3. Hung Parliament. You can bet money on it. Housing segregation and declining loyalty to the two big parties mean fewer marginals means more hung Parliaments. That's the long term trend. I heard 2010's result predicted by a well known Politics academic, at a conferenece in Autumn 2005. 2015 will see stable Con support and not enough increase in Lab support to outweigh the long term factors. Con minority government or Lab-Lib Dem-Plaid coalition.

  4. Labour would never touch the Lib Dems now.