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Westlake Legal Group > Green Party

Lord Ashcroft: My new Scotland poll. Yes to Independence takes the lead.

Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC is an international businessman, philanthropist, author and pollster. For more information about his work, visit www.lordashcroft.com and www.lordashcroftpolls.com.

In the wake of Boris Johnson’s visit to Edinburgh last week, I polled Scots to measure support for a second independence referendum and to gauge opinion on independence itself. I found a small majority in favour of a new vote – and the first lead for an independent Scotland for more than two years.

I found 47 per cent agreeing that there should be another referendum on Scottish independence within the next two years (Nicola Sturgeon has demanded a new vote by 2021), with 45 per cent disagreeing.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-08-04-at-22.08.17 Lord Ashcroft: My new Scotland poll. Yes to Independence takes the lead. SNP Scottish referendum Scottish Labour Scottish independence Scottish Conservatives Scotland Ruth Davidson MSP Richard Leonard MSP Nigel Farage MEP Nicola Sturgeon MSP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Corbyn MP Highlights Green Party Europe EU Conservatives Comment Brexit Boris Johnson MP   While more than nine in ten Conservatives oppose a referendum, a return to the polls is favoured by more than one third of 2017 Labour voters, more than half of EU Remain voters, and by more than one in five of those who voted No to independence in 2014.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-08-04-at-22.09.52 Lord Ashcroft: My new Scotland poll. Yes to Independence takes the lead. SNP Scottish referendum Scottish Labour Scottish independence Scottish Conservatives Scotland Ruth Davidson MSP Richard Leonard MSP Nigel Farage MEP Nicola Sturgeon MSP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Corbyn MP Highlights Green Party Europe EU Conservatives Comment Brexit Boris Johnson MP   Asked how they would vote in such a contest, 46 per cent said they would vote Yes to independence, and 43 per cent No. Excluding those who say they don’t know or wouldn’t vote, this amounts to a lead of 52 per cent to 48 per cent for an independent Scotland. This is the first lead for independence in a published poll since an Ipsos MORI survey in March 2017, and the biggest lead since a spate of polls in June 2016, shortly after the UK voted to leave the EU.

One third of Labour voters, a majority of EU Remain voters and 18 per cent of those who voted No to independence last time round said they would vote Yes. Again, more than nine in ten Tories said they would vote No, as did just over one in ten of those who backed independence in 2014. A majority of voters up to the age of 49 said they would vote Yes, including 62 per cent of those aged 18 to 24.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-08-04-at-22.11.04 Lord Ashcroft: My new Scotland poll. Yes to Independence takes the lead. SNP Scottish referendum Scottish Labour Scottish independence Scottish Conservatives Scotland Ruth Davidson MSP Richard Leonard MSP Nigel Farage MEP Nicola Sturgeon MSP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Corbyn MP Highlights Green Party Europe EU Conservatives Comment Brexit Boris Johnson MP   Overall, a majority of Scots thought that if a second referendum were to be held, the result this time would be an independent Scotland. Only three in ten – including just two thirds of Conservatives and fewer than half of 2014 No voters – thought Scotland would vote to remain part of the UK. A further 18 per cent said they didn’t know.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-08-04-at-22.12.08 Lord Ashcroft: My new Scotland poll. Yes to Independence takes the lead. SNP Scottish referendum Scottish Labour Scottish independence Scottish Conservatives Scotland Ruth Davidson MSP Richard Leonard MSP Nigel Farage MEP Nicola Sturgeon MSP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Corbyn MP Highlights Green Party Europe EU Conservatives Comment Brexit Boris Johnson MP   More than six in ten Scots – including 38 per cent of 2017 Conservatives and two thirds of Labour voters – said they think Brexit makes it more likely that Scotland will become independent in the foreseeable future. Indeed, more than half of 2014 No voters think this is the case, with 32 per cent of them saying it makes independence much more likely.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-08-04-at-22.14.09 Lord Ashcroft: My new Scotland poll. Yes to Independence takes the lead. SNP Scottish referendum Scottish Labour Scottish independence Scottish Conservatives Scotland Ruth Davidson MSP Richard Leonard MSP Nigel Farage MEP Nicola Sturgeon MSP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Corbyn MP Highlights Green Party Europe EU Conservatives Comment Brexit Boris Johnson MP   Just over half – including a majority of Labour voters, nearly one in five Tories and two thirds of EU remain voters – say Brexit strengthens the case for Scotland to become independent.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-08-04-at-22.22.36 Lord Ashcroft: My new Scotland poll. Yes to Independence takes the lead. SNP Scottish referendum Scottish Labour Scottish independence Scottish Conservatives Scotland Ruth Davidson MSP Richard Leonard MSP Nigel Farage MEP Nicola Sturgeon MSP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Corbyn MP Highlights Green Party Europe EU Conservatives Comment Brexit Boris Johnson MP   Nearly half (46 per cent) of all Scots agree with Sturgeon’s claim that a No Deal Brexit would be disastrous for Scotland, including half of Labour voters and nearly one in five Tories. A further three in ten (including most Conservatives) think the risks have been exaggerated but there would be some difficulties.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-08-04-at-22.23.54 Lord Ashcroft: My new Scotland poll. Yes to Independence takes the lead. SNP Scottish referendum Scottish Labour Scottish independence Scottish Conservatives Scotland Ruth Davidson MSP Richard Leonard MSP Nigel Farage MEP Nicola Sturgeon MSP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Corbyn MP Highlights Green Party Europe EU Conservatives Comment Brexit Boris Johnson MP   Asked what their preferred Brexit outcome would be, most 2017 Conservative voters backed Boris Johnson’s position that the UK should leave the EU on 31 October, with or without a deal – though one in five said they would be prepared to wait longer than October for a better deal, and nearly a quarter said they wanted to remain in the EU. Remaining is the most popular outcome, though favoured by only half of all Scots.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-08-04-at-22.24.35 Lord Ashcroft: My new Scotland poll. Yes to Independence takes the lead. SNP Scottish referendum Scottish Labour Scottish independence Scottish Conservatives Scotland Ruth Davidson MSP Richard Leonard MSP Nigel Farage MEP Nicola Sturgeon MSP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Corbyn MP Highlights Green Party Europe EU Conservatives Comment Brexit Boris Johnson MP   Scottish voters are closely divided as to whether – if it were not possible to do both – it would be more important for Scotland to remain part of the UK, or to remain in the EU. While 43 per cent would prioritise the Union, 45 per cent would prioritise the EU. While Conservatives and SNP voters were leaned heavily as one would expect, Labour voters were split: 46 per cent would choose the UK, 40 per cent would choose the EU, and 14 per cent say they don’t know.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-08-04-at-22.25.33 Lord Ashcroft: My new Scotland poll. Yes to Independence takes the lead. SNP Scottish referendum Scottish Labour Scottish independence Scottish Conservatives Scotland Ruth Davidson MSP Richard Leonard MSP Nigel Farage MEP Nicola Sturgeon MSP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Corbyn MP Highlights Green Party Europe EU Conservatives Comment Brexit Boris Johnson MP   More than half of Scots said there should be a second referendum on EU membership, including 69 per cent of SNP voters, more than half of Labour voters and one in five Conservatives. Should this take place, 67 per cent of those giving an opinion said they would vote to remain.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-08-04-at-22.27.15 Lord Ashcroft: My new Scotland poll. Yes to Independence takes the lead. SNP Scottish referendum Scottish Labour Scottish independence Scottish Conservatives Scotland Ruth Davidson MSP Richard Leonard MSP Nigel Farage MEP Nicola Sturgeon MSP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Corbyn MP Highlights Green Party Europe EU Conservatives Comment Brexit Boris Johnson MP   As for Boris Johnson’s first week as Prime Minister, while nearly half of Scots said they expected him to do badly, a quarter of those said he had done better than they had anticipated.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-08-04-at-22.28.07 Lord Ashcroft: My new Scotland poll. Yes to Independence takes the lead. SNP Scottish referendum Scottish Labour Scottish independence Scottish Conservatives Scotland Ruth Davidson MSP Richard Leonard MSP Nigel Farage MEP Nicola Sturgeon MSP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Corbyn MP Highlights Green Party Europe EU Conservatives Comment Brexit Boris Johnson MP   While only just over one third of 2017 Conservatives they expected him to do well and he had, a further one in four said they had had low expectations but been pleasantly surprised.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-08-04-at-22.29.15 Lord Ashcroft: My new Scotland poll. Yes to Independence takes the lead. SNP Scottish referendum Scottish Labour Scottish independence Scottish Conservatives Scotland Ruth Davidson MSP Richard Leonard MSP Nigel Farage MEP Nicola Sturgeon MSP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Corbyn MP Highlights Green Party Europe EU Conservatives Comment Brexit Boris Johnson MP   Compared to other politicians, Boris Johnson ranks relatively low among Scottish voters – though still above Nigel Farage, Jeremy Corbyn, and Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard. He scores well below Ruth Davidson, both among Scots as a whole and, to a lesser degree, 2017 Conservatives.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-08-04-at-22.30.15 Lord Ashcroft: My new Scotland poll. Yes to Independence takes the lead. SNP Scottish referendum Scottish Labour Scottish independence Scottish Conservatives Scotland Ruth Davidson MSP Richard Leonard MSP Nigel Farage MEP Nicola Sturgeon MSP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Corbyn MP Highlights Green Party Europe EU Conservatives Comment Brexit Boris Johnson MP   Asked which of the two most likely candidate would make the better Prime Minister, 29 per vent of Scots named Johnson, 23 per centnig said Corbyn, and nearly half said they didn’t know. Fewer than four in ten 2017 Labour voters said they thought Corbyn would make the best Prime Minister.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-08-04-at-22.31.07 Lord Ashcroft: My new Scotland poll. Yes to Independence takes the lead. SNP Scottish referendum Scottish Labour Scottish independence Scottish Conservatives Scotland Ruth Davidson MSP Richard Leonard MSP Nigel Farage MEP Nicola Sturgeon MSP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Corbyn MP Highlights Green Party Europe EU Conservatives Comment Brexit Boris Johnson MP   Despite this, when forced to choose, Scots said they would prefer a Labour government with Corbyn as Prime Minister to a Johnson-led Conservative government by 57 per cent to 43 per cent. A quarter of Labour voters said they would prefer the latter, as did the same proportion of SNP voters – perhaps calculating that this circumstance held out the best prospect of independence for Scotland.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-08-04-at-22.31.55 Lord Ashcroft: My new Scotland poll. Yes to Independence takes the lead. SNP Scottish referendum Scottish Labour Scottish independence Scottish Conservatives Scotland Ruth Davidson MSP Richard Leonard MSP Nigel Farage MEP Nicola Sturgeon MSP Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Corbyn MP Highlights Green Party Europe EU Conservatives Comment Brexit Boris Johnson MP   3Those who voted SNP in 2017 are the most likely to say they will stick with their party in a new general election. They put their mean likelihood of turning out for the party at 88/100, compared to Conservatives’ 71/100 chance of voting Tory again; 2017 Labour voters put their chance of voting the same way in a new election at just 56/100. Some Tories were tempted by the Brexit Party (their mean likelihood of voting this way being 35/100), and some by the Lib Dems (26/100). The SNP, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens all held some appeal for Labour voters. In terms of overall mean likelihood to vote for the party, both Labour and the Tories ranked behind the SNP, the Lib Dems and the Greens, whose score was boosted by an average likelihood of 55/100 among 18-24 year-olds.

Full data tables for the survey are available at LordAshcroftPolls.com.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The Boris bounce: where are the votes coming from, and where might more be available?

As you’d expect on the Sunday after a new Prime Minister takes office, there are a raft of new polls out in today’s newspapers, each trying to judge what impact Boris Johnson’s arrival in Downing Street is having on the electorate.

The four polls vary in various details beyond being from different pollsters – some include different lists of parties (Greens or no Greens), some are based on more recent fieldwork than others and might therefore pick up the effects of more news about the new Government, and they each test rising or falling vote shares by comparing back to differently dated previous polls, ranging from earlier this week to all the way back to the start of June. Here are all the details:

ComRes

Conservative: 28 per cent (+3)

Labour: 27 per cent (-1)

Liberal Democrat: 19 per cent (+2)

Brexit Party: 16 per cent (-3)

Green: 4 per cent (-1)

Poll undertaken Wednesday 24th – Thursday 25th July. Changes compared to 16th July.

YouGov

Conservative: 31 per cent (+6)

Labour: 21 per cent (+2)

Liberal Democrat: 20 per cent (-3)

Brexit Party: 13 per cent (-4)

Poll undertaken Thursday 25th July – Friday 26th July. Changes compared to 24th July.

DeltaPoll

Conservative: 30 per cent (+10)

Labour: 25 per cent (-1)

Liberal Democrat: 18 per cent (+2)

Brexit Party: 14 per cent (-10)

Poll undertaken Thursday 25th July – Saturday 27th July. Changes compared to 1st June.

Opinium

Conservative: 30 per cent (+7)

Labour: 28 per cent (+3)

Liberal Democrat: 16 per cent (+1)

Brexit Party: 15 per cent (-7)

Green: 5 per cent (-3)

Poll undertaken Wednesday 24th – Friday 26th July. Changes compared to 5th July.

There are few things to note.

First, the Conservative vote is up in each poll. Which you believe, +3, +6, +7 or +10, is up to you, but the presence of a shift in the same direction in the findings of each company is hard to ignore.

Second, the Brexit Party appears to be being squeezed, with changes in their vote share of -3, -4, -10 and -7. Watch how closely those match the Tory rise in each respective pollster’s results.

Third, the Liberal Democrat vote is essentially unchanged across the board: +2, -3, +2, +1. They gained a new leader this week, just as the Conservatives did, but Jo Swinson appears not to have changed their standing much at all as yet.

Fourth, Labour is essentially unchanged, too: -1, +2, -1, +3.

So what we’re currently seeing is not a single, two-sided race, as is traditional; nor a simple free-for-all melee in a country which has become a four-way marginal.

Rather, there are two electoral contests underway. The Conservatives under Boris Johnson are squeezing the Brexit Party, to try to reunite the old Vote Leave majority for getting out of the EU. At the same time, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are battling over territory which is varyingly lefty and Remainy.

In the former contest, Johnson’s early days show some promise, but in the latter it appears Labour are unable to win back the votes they lost to the Lib Dems, while Swinson is in search of a moment to cut through to further eat into, and maybe even overtake, the Labour vote.

Each race has one new participant within it, which makes both unpredictable and subject to potentially swift change as voters get to know the new leaders. While the Conservatives have made early progress, any actual seizure of voters from the Brexit Party at the ballot box is for obvious reasons dependent on actual results in delivering Brexit. By contrast, Swinson inevitably had difficulty cutting through in the media in a week dominated by Boris Johnson, but as the only female leader among the four top parties, and the youngest leader too, she has a clear chance to differentiate herself if she gets and seizes the opportunity. She must be hoping hard for a TV debate along the lines of the one that created Cleggmania in 2010.

The final thing to consider is that while these early stages of Johnson’s leadership involve a battle for votes with the Brexit Party, there’s nothing confining the Prime Minister to that conflict forever. If – and it’s not a small if – he can really squish down Nigel Farage’s vote, or somehow form a pact with him, then he can turn, secure in his Brexit flank, to focus more fully on Labour. The nightmare scenario for the Opposition is one in which they lose Remainer and moderate left ground to the resurgent Liberal Democrats and Leaver plus working class ground to the Conservatives.

In a four-way contest, currently divided into two skirmishes, the race is on to find who will be trapped fighting two opponents at the same time.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Damian Flanagan: What drives the Conservatives’ underlying problems? For answers, ponder our exile from the cities of the north.

So why am I even writing about this secretive group of no-hopers? Because they happen to be called “The Conservative Party” – and it currently runs the country. Also, I happen to be one of them, having recently taken over the running of the newly reformed Manchester, Withington Constituency Conservative Association.

The position of the Conservative Party not just in Manchester, but in cities across the North of England is so dire that it is probably beyond the imaginings of people in the rest of the country and certainly seems to be a blind spot for Conservative Campaign Headquarters. There hasn’t been a single Conservative councillor elected in Manchester for over 25 years, and until two years ago, the council was a hundred per cent Labour, with no opposition whatsoever – leading to zero scrutiny of any Council policies.

In the recent local elections,t he Conservatives sunk to a new low in Manchester, attracting just 6.5 per cent of the vote, half that achieved by both the Greens and Liberal Democrats, and barely 1/9th of the 58.8 per cent achieved by Labour.

The opposition to Labour in Manchester now consists of three Liberal Democrat councillors (who recently complained that the council was too “right wing”). There is also not a single Conservative councillor on the councils in Liverpool, Sheffield, Leicester, South Tyneside, Gateshead, Newcastle…

So why should people elsewhere care about this? If Northerners like Labour so much, shouldn’t they just be allowed to get on with it?

You could argue that the local elections were an aberration and that people were venting their frustration with the Brexit stalemate in Westminster, that two unrelated issues – local government and national government – were being conflated.

Yet the crisis over Brexit and the full-scale retreat of the Conservative Party from many cities in the north of England are profoundly connected.

Think back to the last time that the Conservative Party enjoyed thumping majorities of over 100 in the House of Commons and was able to act decisively. You have to go back to Margaret Thatcher and the 1980s, a time when the Conservatives still had MPs in urban constituencies in places like Manchester, had a considerable group of representatives on the council there and could appeal to voters in northern cities.

Since being rooted out of those northern cities in the 1990s, the best the Conservatives have been able to hope for are slim majorities in general elections, leaving them highly vulnerable to party divisions over Europe.

Having the vision and doggedness to produce policies that re-engage with the inhabitants of places like Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Leicester, Tyneside and Newcastle has seemingly not been in the mindset of anyone in the Conservative Party. That needs to change urgently.

The fact is that the Conservatives have for over 22 years been incapable of ruling without the support first of the Liberal Democrats and now of the Democratic Unionists. Parliament has been paralysed, Brexit frustrated and finally the Conservatives went begging to Labour for agreement with their policies. All these things are intimately connected to the fact that there has not been a Conservative councillor elected in Manchester for 25 years.

Imagine, though, that the Conservatives were to declare their determination to win back these “lost” Northern cities, starting by setting up a permament office in Manchester and sending some of their best people to find out what exactly is going on and to find a solution to the ingrained antipathy to Conservatives. Supposing we were to make it a marquee policy that we will not, as Conservatives, accept the age-old, north-south wealth divide – why should we? There is no reason whatsover why the north should be poor.

Let’s commit ourselves as Conservatives to those neglected northern cities by taking radical measures: offering tax incentives for companies to set up there and moving government departments north – the relocation of sections of the BBC to Salford and the creation of Media City there has been transformational in the economy of that area.

Let’s commit ourselves to the end of failing, inner city northern state schools which trap many children in a cycle of ignorance and poverty for life, and demand that minimal standards are met instead, and that we will closely monitor and put in targetted resources to these areas until that happens.

Imagine if people in the North began to think of the Conservatives not as the “Nasty Party” only concerned with their own interests and support base in the south, but rather as the visionaries who lifted them, once and for all, out of relative poverty and offered unprecedented opportunities, rediscovering the entrepeneurial drive and world-beating heritage of these post-industrial cities.

In Manchester, the populace are constantly told, over and over, that the source of all problems are “Tory cuts”. It is a matter of almost existential, religious belief.

The local governments of such cities as Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Newcastle – cities which once led the world as centres of invention and industry – tend to focus on a culture of welfare. There is little sense that a spirit of enterprise, self-reliance and sense of public good is required to guarantee a prosperous future: it’s this compassionate and engaged Conservative vision that the North needs to rediscover.

As Conservatives, we need to support and nurture such a vision. But we are not going to manage it as a London-centric organisation that just views the cities of the north as largely unwinnable provincial backwaters.

The Conservative revolution that needs to begin in cities across the North should also transform the Conservatives nationally. The Conservatives cannot be merely a party of the South and the countryside: it must strongly engage with the interests and concerns of England’s northern cities.

Many people think the great irresolvable fault line in British politics lies between Britain and the EU or else on the border of the Irish Republic. But delve further into what exactly is causing the underlying weakness and reliance on coalitions in Conservative governments, and you will see that it is the long Conservative exile from the cities of the North which is a chief cause of what is stopping the UK advancing forward with decisiveness and unity as a nation.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Judy Terry: Suffolk is no longer a safe haven for the Conservatives

Judy Terry is a marketing professional and a former local councillor in Suffolk.

Conservatives are supposed to be the party of competence, effective fiscal management and delivering on clear manifesto commitments. So, the frustration at the leadership vacuum in Government manifested itself across Suffolk in last week’s local elections, and will no doubt deliver a hammer blow in the European elections at the end of the month, especially when loyal activists are refusing to participate.

Suffolk voted Brexit, although significant gains by the Greens raises questions as to whether the mood is changing, especially amongst young voters who weren’t eligible to vote in 2016, and are undoubtedly energised by recent environmental protests.

Whilst Labour consolidated its power in Ipswich, despite its Remainer MP, taking two seats from the Tories who lost another to the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives were also punished elsewhere across the county, with the Greens claiming some significant scalps to put them on every rural council for the first time The average percentage turnout was in the low to mid-30s.

In the first elections for the new East Suffolk Council, boundary changes reduced overall councillor numbers, following the merger of Waveney and Suffolk Coastal, which deserved support for achieving in excess of £20 million in savings through joint working. The Conservatives took 39 of the 55 seats, retaining overall control, whilst losing the former deputy leader of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney’s former leader, both of whom would have been in contention to lead the new council.

In his 21 years, Mark Bee, had also led Suffolk County Council, but he wasn’t surprised at the outcome:

“The Green environmental agenda is very much the zeitgeist at the moment, and people are clearly responding to that.”

Labour now have seven seats, alongside the Green’s four, Lib Dems’ three and two Independents.

Meanwhile, over in West Suffolk, where Forest Heath and St. Edmundsbury had merged into a single authority, 64 councillors were elected, down from the previous 72. Although retaining overall control, with 36 councillors, the Conservatives lost key people, including the former leader of Forest Heath, and another recent County Council leader. Labour took five seats, the Greens one, with the balance going to Independents.

Commenting on the losses, former St. Edmundsbury leader, John Griffiths, whose seat was uncontested, said:

“We have lost some very good councillors, but I’m delighted with the overall majority.”

The merger has already saved £20 million, alongside a major investment programme for new housing and job creation.

Over in Mid-Suffolk and Babergh, which share management and offices at the County Council, but resisted a full merger, neither councils retained Tory majorities. A single vote in Mid-Suffolk could hold the balance of power! The Conservatives now have just 16 seats, with the Greens increased to 12 and the Lib Dems five, with one Independent.

Sadly, the former Leader was amongst those who lost their seats. Nick Gowrley told the Star that, ‘it’s the national picture affecting us. Brexit is at the root of most of it. We have had people saying they are not going to vote Conservative until it is sorted.”

Boundary changes in Babergh reduced overall numbers by 11, resulting in no overall control. But, with Conservatives the largest single party, on 15 out of 32, the council leader, John Ward, will now meet with the eight Independents (including two former Tories), four Greens, three Lib Dems and two Labour councillors in a bid to try to form some sort of coalition with one or other group/s.

Ward blamed the poor performance “on the national picture, and the Greens have been the primary beneficiaries of a protest vote. But I think we can work together to form an administration representative of all views.”

Let these results be a warning: Suffolk is no longer a safe haven for the Conservatives. It will take time to rebuild confidence in what has become a very disappointed and sceptical electorate.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Where does the Liberal Democrat revival leave Change UK’s cursed campaign?

As the ‘Change UK – The Independent Group’ saga continues to unfold, it no longer seems entirely outside the realms of possibility that Chuka Umunna got it going by wishing on a monkey’s paw.

Wish for a new party to emerge out of nowhere and shake (if not yet break) the mould of British politics? Step forward, Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party. Attempt to correct by wishing for Remain voters to break from Labour and start rallying to an explicitly pro-Brexit force? Lo, several hundred new Green and Liberal Democrat councillors.

Of course, in real life there is nothing so exculpatory as black magic underlying CUK-TIG’s growing catalogue of missteps, which appear instead to be rooted in an unfortunate combination of lofty ambition and inattention to detail.

Being a broad-church, establishment party whose general principles are largely understood to speak for themselves is a privilege our system only affords to Labour and the Conservatives. Smaller parties need to build a distinct identity, find themselves a niche, and then exploit that ruthlessly.

CUK-TIG have signally failed to do this. Their original identity – ex-Labour MPs who would no longer tolerate their old party’s descent into the antisemitic gutter – was muddied by the admission of three Conservative defectors, one of whom (Anna Soubry) remains an unabashed advocate of the Coalition’s austerity agenda. This meant their only obvious unifying theme was opposition to Brexit, but because this is not a long-term foundation for a party (as we pointed out two years ago) they have refused to lean into that either.

The result is a party comprised mostly of Labour defectors which apparently intends its MEPs to sit with the centre-right EPP in the European Parliament and whose most eye-catching intervention on domestic policy was a call for the reintroduction of conscription.

And all of that is before you get to the fine-detail failures such as the failure to choose an eye-catching colour, the ever-changing, vacuously corporate branding, losing control of their Twitter handle, angering their activists by picking minor celebrities as candidates and failing to provide basic campaign infrastructure

…getting Have I Got News for You cancelled

Unsurprisingly, the net result of all this is that not only have they failed to attract any new defectors, but one of the two MEPs appears to have defected back out again. Meanwhile the Remain wave, such as it is, has passed them by. History may not repeat itself, but there’s a David Owen-esque rhyme to the fact that CUK-TIG gambled on breaking the mould by playing hardball with the Liberal Democrats, and have now squandered what might well prove to have been their best shot at a favourable merger.

The original tale of the monkey’s paw ends with the hapless wisher banishing the thing he’d summoned back into the ground. If current polling is any indication, the electorate might yet play that role for CUK-TIG in the upcoming European elections.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Local elections: An analysis of results in the south east

The overall results of the local elections were very bad for the Conservatives. But there was great variation between regions and within regions. So we are providing a series that will attempt to get a better grasp of what happened in different parts of the country. We will start with the south east. In terms of accepted bureaucratic definitions, this area covers the following local authorities which held elections.

First of all, these unitary authorities had all their seats up for election:

  • Bracknell Forest
  • Brighton and Hove
  • Medway
  • West Berkshire
  • Windsor and Maidenhead

These unitary councils had a third of their seats up:

  • Milton Keynes
  • Portsmouth
  • Reading
  • Slough
  • Southampton
  • Wokingham

The following district councils had all their seats up for election:

  • Arun
  • Ashford
  • Canterbury
  • Chichester
  • Crawley
  • Dartford
  • Dover
  • East Hampshire
  • Eastbourne
  • Epsom & Ewell
  • Gravesham
  • Guildford
  • Horsham
  • Lewes
  • Mid Sussex
  • New Forest
  • Reigate and Banstead
  • Rother
  • Runnymede
  • Sevenoaks
  • South Oxfordshire
  • Spelthorne
  • Surrey Heath
  • Swale
  • Test Valley
  • Thanet
  • Tonbridge and Malling
  • Vale of White Horse
  • Waverley
  • Windsor and Maidenhead

These districts had a third of their seats contested:

  • Basingstoke & Deane
  • Cherwell
  • Eastleigh
  • Elmbridge
  • Hart
  • Havant
  • Maidstone
  • Mole Valley
  • Tandridge
  • Tunbridge Wells
  • West Oxfordshire
  • Winchester
  • Woking
  • Worthing

How did the different political parties fare?

Conservatives

This is a strong part of the country for the Conservatives. We also started from a particularly impressive position in terms of previous election results.

In Surrey, the Conservatives lost control of Tandridge, Guildford, and Waverley. In other places – notably Surrey Heath – there were heavy losses but control of the council maintained.

Apart from Brexit, the challenge for Conservatives in this area is to meet the twin demands for more homes and protecting the greenbelt. The answer to the conundrum is for new housing to be beautiful and attractive – and to identify pieces of land for development that might be within the “greenbelt” but are decidedly brown and scuzzy. Another factor might be that Conservative district councillors are suffering due to the failings of their profligate county council colleagues. A couple of years ago Surrey County Council contemplated holding a referendum on 15 per cent Council tax increase.

The Guildford results were shocking. The Conservatives lost 25 seats to end up with just nine.

In Kent, the Conservatives lost control of Shepway (which has been renamed Folkestone & Hythe). The Conservatives there are seeking to negotiate a coalition. Swale was another defeat, where independents were the biggest winners. Tunbridge Wells saw seats lost to the Lib Dems and Labour but also to the Tunbridge Wells Alliance. Their pitch was anti-development (a particularly popular message when the new developments happen to include “shiny new Council offices”). But if proposed new developments are ugly, is it any surprise that they are unpopular? Ashford saw the Conservatives keep control of the Council, but lose 13 seats. Sevenoaks provided better results – as already reported here.

Chichester in West Sussex saw the Conservative hold onto control – but lose 13 seats.

Lib Dems

The Liberal Democrats gained Mole Valley from no overall control. They picked up seats here and there. But the news from Guildford, while disastrous for the Conservatives was also salutary for the Lib Dems. True, they won 17 council seats. But “Residents for Guildford and Villages” won 15, while the Guildford Greenbelt Group won four. It is not for me to claim any inside knowledge regarding the relations between Residents for Guildford and Villages and the Guildford Greenbelt Group. Perhaps they don’t get on. But I note that, combined, they have more councillors than the Lib Dems. Guildford returned a Lib Dem MP in 2001. The Lib Dems used to run the Council. No longer does a Conservative defeat mean a victory for the Lib Dems.

Labour

The main victory for Labour was gaining Gravesham. But how much of this was due to Tory disarray? Several Conservative councillors – including the council leader – became Independent Conservatives. Several of them stood in the elections and a couple won seats. Perhaps the Corbynista message is always unlikely to resonate in this area. Yet the Green Party made progress not only in Brighton and Hove. They also gained three seats in Reigate and Banstead, where Labour didn’t win any. Why does Mid Sussex have three Green Party councillors but no Labour ones? The explanation might be that the Conservatives have failed to show people how extremist the Green Party is.

Conclusion

It is easy to conclude that the Conservatives were the biggest losers. The question of who won is more complicated. Nationally the focus may have been on Brexit. That has certainly been huge. It has prompted hitherto loyal Conservatives to look around for alternatives. But it is also significant that often the alternative has proved to be anti-development independents protesting about the arrogance of planners who impose unpopular schemes on their communities. The Conservatives cannot afford to be anti-development. Sharply increasing the housing supply is an imperative. But nor can the Conservatives, of all people, be indifferent to those seeking to defend the fabric of the communities they love. The answer is for the new homes to blend in, to be sympathetic. They should be an enhancement rather than a blight. It really should not be that hard to go back to building to the standards we managed to achieve in previous centuries.

So certainly there is a message to get on and deliver a proper Brexit. But also for the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission to produce some tangible results. There is a difference though. While councillors can’t do much about Brexit, they can ensure development is popular by requiring it to be attractive, or at least to cease the routine requirement for it to be ugly. There has been a lot of talk about “hard-working” councillors losing seats. How many are sufficiently hard-working to write their own planning policies? How many adopt the lazy (and disastrous) option of leaving it up to the planning officers?

 

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Local elections 4) The minor parties: Greens surge, UKIP collapse, localists and independents thrive

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A notable feature of the local elections has been the unusually strong performances for some minor parties, not to mention the sheer variety of them (something perhaps presaged by Newport West by-election). Here are the top lines:

  • The biggest beneficiary by far are the Greens, who at the time of writing have got 48 seats, a net gain of +42. They are likely beneficiaries (along with the Liberal Democrats) of Labour’s failure to make headway.
  • UKIP, by contrast, are having a torrid time of it, with the BBC reporting that at present they hold just 17 seats, a net loss of -54. They have managed to make a few pick-ups in places such as Sunderland, but have been wiped out in their former stronghold in Thurrock.
  • But the biggest surge is in what the BBC classifies as ‘Others’, who currently hold 367 seats – a whopping net gain of +230. With the Tories and Labour having shed between them over 500 council seats, and the Greens and Lib Dems picking up only 350 or so, this represents a significant weakening of the national party pattern in town halls.
  • Unfortunately, the ‘Others’ category can be unhelpfully imprecise at times. The bulk of the councillors in this group are either independents or ‘localists’ – representatives of hyper-local parties. In Bolton, for example, Labour lost a slew of seats to groups such as ‘Horwich and Blackrod First’ and ‘Farnworth and Kearsley First’, a result which the Bolton News reports could lead to the Tories taking control of the council for the first time in four decades. Some larger groups, such as the county-wide Lincolnshire Independents, also did well.
  • But sifting through this group more finely – and thank you in particular to Election Maps UK for so doing – we also find that a perhaps surprising number of very small national parties have gained new town-hall footholds. For example, the continuity Liberal Party picked up a seat in South Kesteven (no word on Patrick O’Flynn’s continuity SDP).
  • Perhaps benefiting from the weakness of UKIP, several right-wing and far-right outfits also managed to gain representation. Democrats & Veterans took two seats in Barnsley, whilst the Veterans & People’s Party and For Britain took a seat apiece. It remains to be seen whether one of these can consolidate these toeholds into a proper local government base in the years ahead, but this is perhaps an early warning of what might be in store for British politics if Brexit remains unresolved.

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The local election results so far. Voters say to the two big parties: a plague on both your Brexit houses.

  • Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-05-03-at-08.20.26 The local election results so far. Voters say to the two big parties: a plague on both your Brexit houses. Walsall UKIP ToryDiary Theresa May MP Local government and local elections Liberal Democrats Labour Jeremy Corbyn MP Highlights Green Party Conservatives Brexit

(BBC table)

  • The Conservatives have won two councils from No Overall Control, lost six to the Liberal Democrats and 13 to NOC.  They are down 433 councillors as we write.
  • Labour has gained one council from NOC, lost three to NOC and is down 81 councillors.
  • The Liberal Democrats have won two councils from NOC as well as those six from the Tories, and are up 301 councillors.  So they are the main winners so far.
  • There is a modest Green advance (up 38 seats) and a UKIP near-collapse (they are down to 17 seats in total).,

– – –

  • What is emerging so far is a very bad performance by the Conservatives and a bad one for Labour.  It was expected that voters would punish Theresa May.  But they are taking a swipe at Jeremy Corbyn, too.
  • Broadly speaking, the Tories are being punished twice over – by Remain voters in Remain areas and Leave voters in Leave ones.  But there is some evidence that they are faring less poorly among the latter in the midlands and the north.  That’s where Labour is taking a visible hit.  So it is that the Conservatives have taken control of Walsall, but lost a slew of councils in the south.
  • But there’s way to go.  We have only 110 of 259 councils declared.  And it’s important to keep what we know in perspective.  There are uncontested seats, changed boundaries, a mass of independents and new local parties: that makes comparisons with the past difficult.

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WATCH: “It is a shame” that Remain parties are splitting the vote, Swinson concedes

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TIG picks up two MEPs – and walks straight into a left/right argument as a result

One of the interesting challenges for small and new parties is whether to accept every offer of support. Often the very sight of a small pond will attract people who are keen on being big fish, and the characters who find the prospect particularly attractive sometimes bring costly baggage. At the same time, a small party wants above all to grow, and to show that it is a desirable destination for defectors.

That makes for some trade-offs. UKIP had plenty of those – from Robert Kilroy-Silk who brought publicity at the price of ambitious in-fighting, Arron Banks who brought money at the price of being Arron Banks, and, more recently Tommy Robinson, who brought a hardcore of followers to sustain a party in crisis at the cost of tarring its reputation with that of a convicted thug.

The Independent Group – or ‘Change UK – The Independent Group’ as it now is – is still only a few weeks old. Even so, its first week of existence involved some trade-offs – it’s certainly true that Tory whips felt that it was not entirely a loss to no longer have to manage three of their more disorderly and publicity-eager former colleagues.

Another example has now come up with CHUK-TIG’s first MEP supporters. Richard Ashworth and Julie Girling, former Conservative MEPs who lost the whip after they bizarrely voted against the UK being allowed to discuss trade with the EU, have joined up. Both are broadly in sympathy with their new party’s EU-enthusiast worldview, but it’s also fair to say that joining up is the only chance either has of continuing in elected office.

It’s somewhat less clear what CHUK-TIG has to gain from accepting them. Even committed supporters of Euro-integration surely know that almost entirely anonymous MEPs are unlikely to be great assets on the campaign trail or in the media air war, but perhaps the prospect of showing themselves to be growing was sufficient impetus.

It duly comes with a price. When Ashworth and Girling ceased to Conservatives, they both elected to join the pan-EU EPP – a somewhat odd choice to sit alongside the party of Viktor Orban, but that was their choice nonetheless.

Now that they are CHUK-TIG’s first MEPs, that EPP alignment is causing a bit of a storm in the fractious world of hardcore Remainers. Rivals and critics on the left – in Labour, the Greens, the Liberal Democrats and elsewhere – are pointing to the fact the new party sits as part of the EPP in the European Parliament as evidence that they are of the right, essentially Tories or Blairites at best. This hits a particular weak spot for a party founded by Chuka Umunna and others, and touches on existing concerns about their agenda among many of their target vote.

If this all seems obscure, frankly that’s because it is. But it does matter. CHUK-TIG are trying to define themselves for the first time, to carve out a niche and recruit a core of activists and voters. Many of those they want on board are on the left, and are likely to be deterred by signs that they would be joining a soft Tory outfit. I’m not sure the price they’re paying is really worth their new acquisitions.

If you doubt that it is an issue, it’s worth noting that Chris Leslie, one of the party’s former Labour MPs, has felt the need to publicly deny it. Apparently their Euro alignment will be decided after the European elections, which seems unlikely to resolve confusion which arose in the first place from a lack of clarity.

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