UK Politics

Who Will The Next Tory Leader Be?

25 Jun 2017 at 16:29

This is an extended (and unedited) version of an article I wrote for today’s Sunday Telegraph.

And they say election campaigns don’t change anything… Only two months ago Theresa May was mistress of all she surveyed – respected by most, liked by many, getting on with the job she had secured only nine months earlier. Two months later she is struggling for political survival. Parts of her parliamentary party are in open revolt, her staff in Number Ten are like the proverbial rats leaving the sinking ship and political pundits wonder whether she’ll be gone within weeks.

If she makes it to the summer recess, she should be safe, barring other unforeseen disasters, but no one believes she will fight the next election.

There are those who believe that she’s hating the job and has only stayed on as PM out of a sense of duty. Some believe she may quit in July and hand over to Boris Johnson or David Davis. Others think that she will soldier on for as long as she can and then hand over later in the parliament to someone from a new generation. It’s a big assumption given that 16 days on from polling day she has still not managed to stitch together a deal with the increasingly greedy DUP. But let’s say it happens. Let’s assume she survives until after we leave the EU on March 29 2019 and let’s assume Jeremy Corbyn is still Labour leader and ahead in the polls. What happens then? What kind of leader would the Tory party look to, to lead them into the next general election?

It’s safe to say that both MPs and party members may well look to a new generation. The likes of Boris Johnson and Philip Hammond could be seen as figures from the past. Given how Jeremy Corbyn has “connected” with young voters, Tory MPs may think a few risks need to be taken and none of the usual suspects will quite cut it.
The 2010 intake of Conservative MPs has been described as the ‘golden intake’, with comparisons made to the 1979 intake which featured Chris Patten, John Major, William Waldegrave and John Patten.

Several of the 2010 intake have already made it into the Cabinet – Amber Rudd, Andrea Leadsom, Sajid Javid, Priti Patel, Karen Bradley, Liz Truss, Brandon Lewis and Jeremy Wright. Conservative MPs will ask themselves: Are any of these election winners? The leading candidate ought to be Home Secretary Amber Rudd. She has shown she has the balls to take on all-comers in a bare-knuckle fight, but with a majority of only 346 in her Hastings & Rye constituency, that is probably enough to rule her out of the running.

As Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom has the chance to increase her media profile as ‘minister for the Today Programme’. She’s a lot cannier than her last leadership campaign might suggest, but question marks remain over her suitability to take the fight to Jeremy Corbyn.

Priti Patel is more of a political streetfighter and certainly looks the part, but does she have the intellectual depth which the job demands? Some of her colleagues seem somewhat doubtful.

If Sajid Javid had stuck to his original Eurosceptic convictions and not ruined his credibility on the right by backing ‘Remain’, I have little doubt he would now be the standout candidate. He still could be. If he plays his cards right over the next two years, he’s certainly one to watch.

If you burrow down into the lower echelons of government there are also some impressive 2010 intake ministers, like Nick Hurd, Dominic Raab, Jo Johnson, Claire Perry and Jesse Norman. But given there isn’t likely to be a major cabinet reshuffle anytime soon, they’re not going to have too many chances to shine.

Outside the government Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan are two other members of the 2010 intake who both have their admirers, but it’s difficult to see either commanding widespread support across the party given their troublesome and often rebellious behaviour. And then there’s Esther McVey who lost her seat in 2015 but is back as MP for Tatton. She wasn’t brought back into government by Theresa May, but that may be a blessing in disguise. If part of the criteria for the job is whether you can imagine her in a TV debate with Jeremy Corbyn, she certainly passes that particular test.

In some ways, it’s quite depressing that from the so-called golden generation there is no stand out candidate. Perhaps the party will skip a whole generation and look to the 2015 intake. Names mentioned include James Cleverly, Rishi Sunak and Ranil Jayawardena.

In the end, none of the names I have mentioned inspire total confidence in their ability to beat Jeremy Corbyn, which is an indictment in itself. But there is another name who would be an ideal candidate for the leadership. There is a record of winning elections, a record of showmanship, a record of appealing to people who are by no means natural Conservatives. There is a candidate who appeals to the youth vote just as much, if not more than Jeremy Corbyn.

Step forward Ruth Elizabeth Davidson. Ignore the fact that she’s not currently an MP. Ignore the fact that she’s intent on wrestling power from Nicola Sturgeon in the 2020 Scottish Parliament elections. Ignore the fact that she is less interested in interminable policy discussions and more interested in taking the Conservative fight to the media. She’s one of the few genuine stars in the Tory firmament. Yes, she has a tendency to shout her mouth off in a style Edwina Currie would be proud of. Yes, she’s unpredictable. Yes, she’s said to be somewhat highly strung in the temper department. But in the end, she’s a winner. And that’s what the Conservative Party is desperately searching for.

Ruth Davidson, your party needs you – in London, not Edinburgh.

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WATCH: This Week's CNNTalk on Brexit & Trump

24 Jun 2017 at 15:13

CNN Talk is thirty minutes of chat about the big events of the week with me, Ayesha Hazaria, Liam Halligan and Max Foster. This week we cover Brexit and Trump. Delighted to say the show’s initial success has meant that we’re now going to a permanent fixture on CNN, every Friday at Noon and 10pm, UK time. Available all over the world!

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ConHome Diary: Remainers Triumph in the Conservative Reshuffle

16 Jun 2017 at 13:35

I write this in light of what has happened at Grenfell Tower in West London and I am fully aware that picking apart a reshuffle after so many people have tragically died, makes the ‘game of politics’ seem rather petty. But writing about politics is what I do, so here goes.
*
I don’t think I have experienced a reshuffle, where I’ve thought, “yup, that was a good one”. Timeservers remain in government while talented ministers are inexplicably sacked. This reshuffle was no different. There seems to be little long term planning, little thought of career development or appointment based on expertise. Below cabinet level appointments are generally made by the chief whip, with less involvement from the prime minister. The prime minister’s chief of staff Gavin Barwell will have been involved too. The one theme that runs through this reshuffle at Minister of State and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State level is the advance of Remain supporting Tory MPs. It’s as if the June 23 referendum had never happened. Many are speculating about whether the new arch-Remain supporting First Secretary of State, Damian Green, has also been wielding some reshuffle influence.

So here’s the list of the 12 new ministers/retreads (including recent whips) who supported Remain:

Mark Field
Jackie Doyle-Price
Steve Brine
Claire Perry
Alok Sharma
John Glen
Alistair Burt
Michael Ellis
Chloe Smith
Mel Stride
Anne Milton
Guy Opperman

I can find only four new entrants to the government who supported Brexit…
Steve Baker
Jake Berry
Martin Callanan.
Steve Barclay

Twelve to four. Draw your own conclusions. The question is whether the chief whip Gavin Williamson has done this deliberately off his own bat, or whether it’s due to orders from Number Ten. I can give no insight into this at all, I’m afraid, but it doesn’t bode well for those of us who continue to believe Brexit must mean Brexit.

One of the most concerning things has been the defenestration of David Davis’s Brexit Department. Just six days before the negotiations with the EU are to begin, he was left with one junior minister, Robin Walker. At the weekend his Lords minister, George Bridges resigned, apparently in part because he felt he couldn’t do his job any longer because of the obstruction of Number 10. And this, even though two of the main obstructors had left their jobs. One paper reported that they wouldn’t even show him the draft Article 50 letter. He was in charge of preparing the Great Repeal Bill – one of the most complex piece of legislation ever to be put before Parliament. He was a uniting force and well thought of in the Lords. On Tuesday, the Minister of State in the department, former Welsh Secretary David Jones was summarily fired. It’s been reported elsewhere that David Davis was not informed and no reason was given, although the decision is thought to be related to a slightly disloyal comment Jones is said to have made in the media over the weekend where he emulated RAB Butler’s description of Sir Anthony Eden by describing Theresa May as “the strongest leader we have got at the moment.” Those last three words apparently did for him. How petty can you get? Jones had spent the last year building alliances in the foreign ministries of Europe and had received much praise for his House of Commons performances.
Bizarrely, Secretaries of State are rarely consulted over the appointment of their junior ministers. The replacement for Lord Bridges was Baroness Anelay, an arch remainer and former Foreign Office minister. Joyce Anelay was a valued member of DD’s shadow home affairs team back in the day when I was David’s Chief of Staff, and David had an excellent relationship with her, so in some ways it’s a canny appointment. However, it’s also a provocative one, and quite how she will get up to speed in the time available is one of the more daunting tasks faced by any new ministers. She is a natural conciliator and one of the nicest people in politics.

All eyes then shifted to David Jones’s replacement. Surely they couldn’t appoint another Remainer…. Could they? All sorts of rumours were flying around including one that Sir Alan Duncan would be getting the job. One can only imagine what consequences that might have provoked. In the end Steve Baker, the Eurosceptic’s Eurosceptic was appointed in a last minute bid to calm the concerns of Brexiteers.

But what I just don’t understand here is why would No 10 appear to deliberately provoke David Davis when he was the first to rally around Theresa May in the hours after the election result? It doesn’t take Einstein to work out that it might just be a good idea to consult him over ministerial appointments. I haven’t spoken to him so I have no idea whether he is even happy with the appointment of Steve Baker. On the face of it he might well be, but a more sensible appointment to that post might have been Dominic Raab. Raab succeeded me as his chief of staff and would have been brilliant in the role. In the event, he’s been put back into the Ministry of Justice.

Moving on to other departments, what on earth was behind the sackings of Robert Halfon and Mike Penning? Halfon is one of the most popular Conservative MPs in the Commons with no one having a bad word to say about him. Penning has been a highly impressive minister across several departments. Both illustrated how the Conservative Party had changed and in PR terms were very useful given their own backgrounds. And yet, both were axed. In Penning’s case you could argue that if he was never going to get into Cabinet, maybe it was time for him to go. But if so, how does one explain the survival of a whole host of other Ministers of State? No names, no pack drill. He was the best Roads Minister in living memory, a superb Home Office Minister and did well in every job he was given. And yet he never made it Cabinet, mainly because he was never seen as one of the ‘beautiful people’. Rob Halfon was a key ally of George Osborne. Did this play a part in the decision to sack him? If so, how petty can you get? He really was (and is) the face of working class Conservatism. What message does it send to despatch him summarily to the back benches? Unless there’s something I am missing, it’s an inexplicable decision.

I could go on. But I leave you with a final thought. John Hayes survives yet another reshuffle. Kudos. Respect. I suspect he belongs to the Alistair Burt & Michael Gove category of ministers. Better to have them inside the tent pissing out…
*
Quite why Tim Farron chose to resign on the day when the news was dominated by the Grenfell Tower disaster is anyone’s guess. Reading some of the responses it’s as if he media hounded him out of office for his views on moral issues and his religion. Nothing could be further from the truth. Had Tim Farron given straight answers to straight questions we’d have all respected that. But he didn’t. He equivocated to a point when we all suspected the answers he was giving bore little resemblance to his real views. The point about being a political leader is that you have lead the people, not follow the crowd. If Tim really does believe that homosexuality is a sin, let him come out and declare it. At least we could respect him for his honesty, even if most of us think he would be entirely misguided.

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It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter 54: Knowing When Not to Interrupt an Epic Listener Rant

12 Jun 2017 at 21:17

On the day after the election, Mark phoned the show. Normally, if a caller gets three minutes on my show, they’re doing well. It’s Drivetime and it has to be fast paced. But every now and then you get a caller when you think, just let them go, no need to interrupt.

Mark voted Conservative but boy has he thought twice about it. And then there’s Corbyn. And another thing! Brexit!

Someone said after watching this video and listening to Mark, you should watch it again with the sound off and just watch my face.

To be honest, I didn’t even know the cameras were on. This was recorded from the LBC tent on College Green.

I’d say this was one of the best calls I’ve ever taken in my 7 years on LBC. It is certainly one of the most passionate.

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Watch: The LBC Election Night Show with Iain Dale & Shelagh Fogarty - All 7 Hours Of It!

9 Jun 2017 at 22:38

As well as on the radio we broadcast LBC’s Election Night Results Show on Facebook Live. The viewing figures were incredible. If watching radio is your thing – and it seems to be for a lot of people – you should love this!

If you prefer just to listen, rather than watch, click HERE

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Polling Day Seen Through The Eyes of A Losing Candidate - Me (And How to Lose Gracefully)

8 Jun 2017 at 09:00

Twelve years ago I stood as a candidate in the 2005 general election. It seems a very long time ago. It was one of those days which could have changed my life forever, and in some ways did. Eight years ago I wrote a blogpost about polling day and the election count. It got such a reaction, I thought I’d reprise it here. For the uninitiated I was the Conservative candidate in North Norfolk, fighting the incumbent LibDem MP, Norman Lamb. He’s a candidate again today and is facing a real fight to keep his seat.

If I am honest, polling day was a disaster. We had set up a fifteen or so Committee rooms across the constituency and had teams of people knocking up. Time and again I kept being asked the same question: “Are you sure these knocking up slips are right? We seem to be knocking up LibDem voters”. Surely the agent hadn’t printed off the wrong codes? I kept asking myself. She and I had been at daggers drawn since the day of my selection. Let’s put it this way, she had gone out of her way to make clear that she favoured anyone but me. Half the local association wouldn’t work with her, and I seemed to spend much of my time mending fences with people whose noses she had put out of joint. After a row on day one of the campaign, she walked out, only to repeat the exercise later in the campaign. But surely, I thought, she wouldn’t have been so incompetent as to print out the wrong knocking up cards, would she? It was only six months later that I learned that she had gone round telling people she hadn’t even voted for me, that I began to wonder. Anyway, I digress.

I had known for some time that winning was highly unlikely. I remember a day in February 2005 canvassing in the coastal village of Overstrand. Every single house we went to seem to deliver the same message: “Well, we’re really Conservatives but we’re going to vote for that nice Mr Lamb.” I remember going back to my house in Swanton Abbott that night and saying to my partner, John, “That’s it, I know now I can’t win.” If people like that weren’t going to vote for me, the game was up. But I knew that I couldn’t tell that to my supporters who had sweated blood in helping my campaign. The problem was that Norman Lamb was (and is) essentially a Conservative. His and my views were almost indistinguishable on local issues. He was even vaguely Eurosceptic (for a LibDem). He had fought three elections and made it his business to be a good constituency MP.

My strategy had been to play him at his own game, and demonstrate that I too would be a good constituency representative – but one who could get things done by dint of being an MP for one of the two major parties . By the time the election campaign started I had undertaken a huge amount of constituency casework, and had got a very good reputation for taking up local campaigns and getting things done. I probably got more good local publicity in local press and radio than any other candidate in the country. We produced good literature and built up an excellent delivery network, but the fact remained – he was the MP and I was a candidate.

In retrospect I made too much of an effort at name recognition. It was a mistake to book a giant poster site (the only one in the constituency) for the few weeks before the election, and it was also a mistake to make a CD Rom and deliver it to every house. The money spent on those two things would have been far better spent on more newsletters and constituency-wide newspapers.

Two other things worked against me. The fact that I was quite often on TV, I originally thought would be a good thing – name recognition etc. But all it did was give people the impression I was in London all the time and not local. I could witter on about how I lived in the constituency – and I did – while Norman Lamb lived 20 miles away in Norwich, but a fat lot of good it did me.

So I expected to lose. It didn’t help that nationally the party wasn’t making any sort of breakthrough. Although Michael Howard had done his best, people were still in thrall to Tony Blair. Howard hadn’t been able to attract back those soft Conservative voters who had turned North Norfolk LibDem back in 2001. Nor it seemed, had I.

So as I criss-crossed the constituency on polling day, I had a fairly good idea of what was to happen later that night, although not even I could have guessed that the result would be quite so bad.

As the polls closed, I went back to my cottage to change and collect John. I felt strangely numb. I craved that feeling most other candidates in marginal seats would have been feeling at that moment – the feeling that they were hours away from their biggest ever achievement.

I’ve never understood candidates who turn up at their counts after most of the hard work has been done. I wanted to be there to support my counting agents, and to make sure that nothing went wrong. In such a massive constituency it was always going to take a long time to get the ballot boxes in. And so it proved. Just after midnight, the other candidates started to arrive and I made it my business to chat to them all and their aides, many of whom I had got to know over the previous 18 months.

The first few boxes seemed OK from our point of view. For a fleeting moment I let myself wonder if I was being unduly pessimistic. But it was only when I sat down and did some counting myself that I realised that a defeat was definitely on the cards. The counting seemed to be going very slowly. I was keeping touch with outside events on a small hand sized portable TV. I remember Justine Greening winning. I think I even let out a cheer. I was sitting on a bench cradling this small, CD sized TV in my hands. One of the fringe candidates, who was dressed as a circus clown, came over and watched with me. He put his hand on my shoulder. The EDP picture next day was of this touching scene but was captioned: “A tearful Iain Dale is comforted by a clown”. I wasn’t tearful at all, I was watching David Dimbleby!

The moment came when the returning officer asked all the candidates and agents to gather round to go through the questionable votes. He then read out the figures. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. Norman Lamb understandably struggled to contain himself. His majority had increased from 500 to 10,600. My initial reaction was to laugh in disbelief. To this day I struggle to believe it. One or two of my people suggested we request a bundle check, just to check that some votes hadn’t been put in the wrong piles. But before that could be requested the Agent had accepted the result. I too was not in a mood to question anything after hearing such a devastating piece of news. To be honest, my only thought was how I was going to get through the concession speech. Some weeks after the count I kept being told by my party workers: “There was something wrong at the count. We didn’t like to say anything at the time.” To this day I don’t know what they think happened.

As we waited for the formalities to begin Norman Lamb apologised to me for some rather nasty, homophobic comments made about me by one of his councillors. I thanked him and said I appreciated that he hadn’t run that sort of campaign.

Norman was then asked to the platform and he gave a gracious speech in which he made clear he had at some points over the previous 18 months feared the worst. It was then my turn. I have inherited my mother’s tendency to have a good cry at the worst possible moment. Even an episode of Emmerdale has been known to set me off, so as I climbed up on to the stage I made sure I breathed very deeply and make sure that I didn’t catch the eye of Deborah Slattery, my campaign manager and loyal friend. I knew she would be howling her eyes out.

It remains a speech I am proud of. I got through it intact, thanked everyone who needed to be thanked and paid tribute to Norman Lamb. I was told afterwards by several LibDem and Labour supporters that they were quite moved by it. As I left the stage I have a vague recollection of Norman Lamb putting his arm around me!

As John and I left Cromer High School to make the short drive to a party worker’s house for some food and drink it all came out. I broke down completely in the car. John said nothing, but just drove. There was nothing he could say. By the time we arrived I had pulled myself together. It was meant to be a party but the atmosphere was simply awful and I couldn’t wait to go home. I made another short speech thanking everyone, but it seemed like going through the motions. It was about 6.30am before we got home. I got about two hours’ sleep.

The next morning was the count for the county council elections. I was determined to go to it. No one was going to accuse me of not being able to show my face. As I walked into the school hall, many people (including LibDems and Labour supporters) spontaneously applauded. At that moment my sister Sheena (the punk rocker) phoned. I had to tell her I couldn’t speak to her as I knew I would break down again.

And that was that. I cleared out my office and started to think about what on earth I would do in the future. If the result had been anywhere near three figures I would have stayed, but this was just one of those occasions when there was little I could have done to change things. Did my sexuality play a role? I wrote an article in the New Statesman immediately after election denying it…

I didn’t lose because North Norfolk rejected a gay candidate. I lost because the Lib Dems ran a relentless campaign to persuade Labour supporters to vote tactically. I lost because our national campaign, though highly professional and slick, did not ignite the fires of optimism among an electorate sick of personal insults and negativity. It may not be racist to talk about immigration, but it is perhaps not clever to put the words “racist” and “Conservative” on the same poster. And I lost because the Lib Dem MP had a huge personal vote, far beyond anything I’ve encountered anywhere else.

A candidate is perhaps not the ideal person to understand fully the reasons for a shattering defeat. Others can judge that, and many have offered their twopennyworth over the last twelve years. All I know is that I can look myself in the mirror and know that I could not have done more. I almost bankrupted myself, put in far more hours than most other candidates I know and in many ways ran a textbook campaign. Of course I made mistakes, and I have alluded to some of them here, but my biggest mistake was not to listen to those who advised me not to go for this particular seat in the first place! LibDem chief executive, Chris Rennard, who knows a thing or two about these things, was one of them. He told me before I was selected that he expected Norman Lamb to get a five figure majority. I thought I knew better. I didn’t.

Other than perhaps the initial decision, I have few regrets. I thoroughly enjoyed the 18 months up to the election, even if I hated the campaign itself. I met some wonderful people and would like to think that even as a candidate I made a bit of a difference to some people’s lives. I’ve just looked up my blogposts from that period. THIS post in particular sums up why, despite some of the terrible things said about me on some websites in the immediate aftermath of the election, I did not totally lose heart.

The most important thing is to learn from what life – and the electorate – throws at you.

In the immediate afermath of this defeat perhaps I didn’t learn the lessons I should have. I was 42 and still wanted to fulfill my life’s ambition to be an MP. But what I should have realised was that after a defeat like that – no matter what the rights and wrongs were – it would be difficult to get selected in another seat. I came close, but for the 2010 election I left it too late. I took two years out of the selection processes and by the time I re-entered the selection race, most of the seats had gone. I got shortlisted for everything I applied for but in the end failed to get selected. Bracknell was the closest I came, and even on the day I was very hopeful of getting it. There were 7 people in the final, and one by one they were eliminated. I knew I had made a good speech and impressed them, but when it got down to the final three I knew I’d be the next one out. Sure enough, I was. Rory Stewart came second and Philip Lee triumphed. He was a local doctor and of the three of us the least risky choice. I was pleased for him, even though I knew it was probably the end of the road for me. There was one other seat – East Surrey, but I made a complete hash of my speech and the local candidate had ensured I would be asked a very difficult question about what happened in North Norfolk. Well, all’s fair in love and political selections!

It was then that I made the decision to end it. By the time of the 2015 election I was 52, and I am old enough and wise enough to know what politics in this country has become a young person’s game. Few constituencies select people in their fifties, so I didn’t see the point in spending five years in the vain hope that I might possibly get selected. It was time to get out. So I did. I was also slightly falling out of love with politics, and having put my partner and family through a lot over the previous seven or eight years, it didn’t seem fair to repeat the process. My mother cheered when I told her I wouldn’t be doing it again. What an indictment of our politics.

If I am honest, I thought I would come to regret the decision, but seven years on I haven’t. Not for a moment. And I mean that. Politics is indeed a drug, and you can never wean yourself off it completely, but my radio career gives me what politics used to give me, and a lot more besides. I’m often asked if I will stand again and I always reply in the same way. Never. And I really mean it. I would have loved to have been an MP, as I think in many ways I would have been good at it and been a very good constituency MP. But I now know (and probably always did) that the parliamentary side of it might well have become incredibly frustrating for me. I suspect I would have been a whips’ nightmare and would have stood no chance of being a minister … not that being a minister ever really mattered. OK, I had a slight flicker of interest when Sir Alan Haselhurst announced he wouldn’t contest Saffron Walden again- it being my seat, but in the end I decided not to go for it. And that, as they say, was that.

Twelve years ago I thought my life had fallen apart. It hadn’t. It just meant that it took a very different turn. And you know what? I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Probably.

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General Election Seat by Seat: My Final Predictions - A Tory Landslide Is Still On

5 Jun 2017 at 23:07

On the day the election was called, I predicted a Conservative majority of 74, but I decided to test this out by going through all 650 seats individually.

Back in early May I completed my Seat by Seat predictions and ended up predicting a Conservative majority of 134. This was made up of 392 Conservative seats, 163 Labour, 16 LibDem. 53 SNP, 5 Plaid and 2 Greens. This was at a time when the opinion polls were showing a Tory lead of 15-24%. Since then the polls have narrowed substantially. As a consequence I have gone through the seats again. However, I haven’t changed the basis on which my predictions are made. I have gone on the premise that turnout will be similar to 2015 and that 50% of the UKIP vote would transfer to the Conservatives. Originally I had assumed that UKIP would stand in all seats, but it turns out they’re only standing in 425. I believe that in seats where they are not standing a lot more than 50% of their votes will go to the Conservatives.

My new prediction is…

Conservative 386 (56)
Labour 178 (-54)
Liberal Democrats 12 (
3)
SNP 47 (-9)
Plaid Cymru 4 (1)
Green 2 (
1)
DUP 8 (-)
UUP 1 (-1)
Sinn Fein 5 (+1)
SDLP 3 (-)
Independent 1 (-)
Speaker 1 (-)

This translates into a Conservative majority of 122.

When I did this exercise in 2015 I came up with a Conservative seat prediction of 323 – only 8 out from what it turned out to be. However, I didn’t publish that because I felt it overestimated the Tory total. So I went back through all 650 seats and cut 33 seats to leave a total of 290. I should have trusted my first instincts.

On that basis I wonder whether I should go back to predicting a 74 seat majority… My gut tells me it will indeed be around that, but my logic and my research tells me it will be higher.

These are the entirety of my changes…

Bath – LibDem gain to Con hold
Batley & Spen – Con gain to Lab hold
Bermondsey – LibDem gain to Lab hold
Bristol South – Con gain to Lab hold
Burnley – LibDem gain to Lab hold
Cardiff Central – LibDem gain to Lab hold
Cardiff South & Penarth – Con gain to Lab hold
Cardiff West – Con gain to Lab hold
Cheltenham – LibDem gain to Con hold
Eastbourne – Con hold to LibDem gain
Edinburgh South – SNP gain to Lab hold
Edinburgh West – SNP hold to LibDem gain
Lewes – LibDem gain to Con hold
Llanelli – Plaid gain to Lab hold
Luton South – Con gain to Lab hold
Newport East – Con gain to Lab hold
North East Fife – SNP hold to LibDem gain
Perth & North Perthshire – SNP hold to Con gain
Stalybridge & Hyde – Con gain to Lab hold
Thornbury & Yate – LibDem gain to Con hold
Walsall South – Con gain to Lab hold
Wirral West – Con gain to Lab hold
Workington – Con gain to Lab hold
Worsley & Eccles South – Con gain to Lab hold

Conservative Gains from Labour

Alyn & Deesside Mark Tami 3343
Barrow in Furness John Woodcock 795
Birmingham Edgbaston Gisela Stuart 2706
Birmingham Erdington Jack Dromey 5129
Birmingham Northfield Richard Burden 2509
Bishop Auckland Helen Goodman 5218
Blackpool South Gordon Marsden 2585
Bolton North East David Crausby 4377
Bristol East Kerry McCarthy 3980
Brentford & Isleworth Ruth Cadbury 465
Bridgend Madeleine Moon 1927
Chorley Lindsay Hoyle 4530
City of Chester Chris Matheson 93
Clwyd South Susan Elan-Jones 2402
Coventry North West Geoffrey Robinson 6288
Coventry South Jim Cunningham 3188
Dagenham & Rainham Jon Cruddas 4980
Darlington Jenny Chapman 3158
Delyn David Hanson 2930
Dewsbury Paula Sherriff 1526
Dudley North Ian Austin 4181
Ealing Central & Acton Rupa Huq 274
Eltham Clive Efford 2693
Enfield North Joan Ryan 1086
Gedling Vernon Coaker 2986
Great Grimsby Melanie Onn 4540
Halifax Holly Lynch 428
Hampstead & Kilburn Tulip Siddiq 1138
Harrow West Gareth Thomas 3143
Hartlepool Iain Wright 3024
Hove Peter Kyle 1236
Hyndburn Graham Jones 4400
Ilford North West Streeting 589
Lancaster & Fleetwood Cat Smith 1265
Mansfield Alan Meale 5315
Middlesbrough S & E Cleveland Tom Blenkinsop 2268
Newcastle under Lyme Paul Farrelly 650
North East Derbyshire Natascha Engel 1883
Penistone & Stockbridge Angela Smith 6723
Scunthorpe Nick Dakin 3134
Southampton Test Alan Whitehead 3810
Stoke on Trent North Ruth Smeeth 4836
Stoke on Trent South Robert Flello 2539
Tooting Rosena Allin-Khan 6357
Wakefield Mary Creagh 2613
Walsall North David Winnick 1937
Westminster North Karen Buck 2126
Wolverhampton North East Emma Reynolds 5495
Wolverhampton South West Rob Marris 801
Wrexham Ian Lucas 1831

Conservative Gains from Liberal Democrats
Carshalton & Wallington Tom Brake 1510
North Norfolk Norman Lamb 4043
Richmond Park Sarah Olney 1872
Southport John Pugh 1322

Conservative Gains from SNP
Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk Calum Kerr 328
Dumfries & Galloway Richard Arkless 6514
Perth & North Perthshire Pete Wishart
West Aberdeenshire & Kinkardine Stuart Donaldson 7033

Conservative Gain from UKIP
Clacton Douglas Carswell 3437

Green Gains from Labour
Bristol West Thangnam Debbonaire 5673

Labour Gains from Conservative
Brighton Kemptown Simon Kirby 690

Liberal Democrat Gains from Conservative
Eastbourne Caroline Ansell
Kingston James Berry 2834
Twickenham Tania Mathias 2017

Liberal Democrat Gains from Labour
Cambridge Daniel Zeichner 599

Liberal Democrat Gains from SNP
East Dunbartonshire John Nicolson
Edinburgh West –
North East Fife – Stephen Gethins

Plaid Cymru Gains from Labour
Yns Mon Albert Owen 229

Sinn Fein Gain From UUP
Fermanagh & South Tyrone Tom Elliot 530

Here are links to the regional breakdowns, and individual seat predictions. Those which have changes are marked with (REVISED). Click on the links for details.

Bedfordshire REVISED
Berkshire
Birmingham
Bristol & Surrounds REVISED
Buckinghamshire
Cambridgeshire
Cheshire
Cornwall
County Durham
Cumbria REVISED
Derbyshire
Devon
Dorset
East Sussex REVISED
Essex
Gloucestershire REVISED
Hampshire
Herefordshire & Worcestershire
Hertfordshire
Kent
Lancashire REVISED
Leicestershire
Lincolnshire
London Central
London East
London North East
London North West
London South
London South East REVISED
London South West
London West
Manchester REVISED
Merseyside REVISED
Norfolk
Northamptonshire
Northern Ireland
Northumberland
Nottinghamshire
Oxfordshire
Scotland: Borders & Ayrshire
Scotland: Central REVISED
Scotland: Edinburgh REVISED
Scotland: Fife REVISED
Scotland: Glasgow
Scotland: Glasgow Surrounds
Scotland: North East
Scotland: Highlands & Islands
Shropshire
Somerset
Staffordshire
Suffolk
Surrey
Teesside
Tyne & Wear
Wales – Clwyd
Wales – Dyfed REVISED
Wales – Gwent REVISED
Wales – Gwynned & Powys
Wales – Mid Glamorgan
Wales – South Glamorgan REVISED
Wales – West Glamorgan
Warwickshire
West Midlands REVISED
West Sussex
Wiltshire
Yorkshire: East & Humberside
Yorkshire: North
Yorkshire South
Yorkshire: West REVISED

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If You Think Labour's Manifesto Is Fully Costed, Read On...

5 Jun 2017 at 09:00

Margaret Thatcher once said: “The trouble with socialism is that you always end up running out of other people’s money.” The Labour Party manifesto is proof of this – well, it would be if it were ever implemented. I came across this little tale on one of my friend’s Facebook page. I’m not sure if the tale is apocrophal or not, but it doesn’t really matter. Read on…

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Corbyn’s vision of socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Corbyn’s ideological plan”. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A…. (substituting grades for £ ’s )something closer to home and more readily understood by all).

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.
The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.
To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

It could not be any simpler than that.

There are five morals to this story:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!
5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

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Iain Dale & Shelagh Fogarty to Present LBC's Live Election Night Show

4 Jun 2017 at 17:42

LBC TO BROADCAST 12-HOUR ELECTION RESULTS SPECIAL

THURSDAY 8 JUNE FROM 10PM TO FRIDAY 9 JUNE

• Iain Dale and Shelagh Fogarty reunite to anchor election night programme
• Nick Ferrari presents extended breakfast show from 5am
• James O’Brien gives his verdict and opens the lines to the nation from 10am
• LBC’s team of journalists report from across the UK

LBC’s line-up of first-class broadcasters including Iain Dale, Shelagh Fogarty and Nick Ferrari will present twelve hours of non-stop live coverage of the election results next week.

Britain Decides starts at 10pm on Thursday 8th June. With LBC’s listeners taking centre stage, Dale and Fogarty will bring the very latest news and results as-they-happen, along with instant reaction and expert analysis from some of the biggest names in politics including Nigel Farage, Michael Gove, Emily Thornberry and Alex Salmond. The programme will also be broadcast on Facebook Live and via the LBC website

Supported by Global’s network of newsrooms, LBC will broadcast from across the UK:

• Theo Usherwood, LBC’s political editor, will be based in Westminster.
• Throughout the night, LBC reporters will be at the heart of the action alongside the leaders of the seven main political parties.
LBC journalists will report from dozens of constituency counts in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
• There will be reaction from major cities around the world including Brussels, Paris and Washington.

At 5am, Nick Ferrari will continue the live coverage and in-depth analysis with an extended five-hour breakfast programme from Westminster, followed by James O’Brien who will open the phone lines to the nation from 10am.

Do join us!

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Three interviews on the current situation in North Africa.

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Diary

ConHome Diary: Who Will Theresa May Reshuffle? Brandon Lewis Is My Tip To Replace Lizz Truss & Other Stories

2 Jun 2017 at 13:24

So it’s the midday on Friday June 9th. The results are in and it may not be quite the landslide she had hoped for but Theresa May is back in Downing Street and sitting down to form her new Cabinet. Reshuffling a cabinet after barely eleven months poses several dilemmas. If you make too many changes it indicates you made some pretty dodgy decisions in the first place. If you make too few you fail to take advantage of the fact that you’re never more powerful than when you have won an election. But, but, is that the situation Theresa May will find herself in? Let’s hope so, but there remains a nagging doubt that this clusterfuck of a campaign will ruin it all. Having said that, lest we forget 2015 when most people thought the Tory campaign had been boring, unimaginative and uninspiring. Everyone thought a defeat was inevitable and that a hung parliament was the best that could be hoped for. Instead, the party won a majority for the first time since 1992.
For our purposes here let is agree that Theresa May won’t carry out a night of the long knives. After all, she did that back in July.
Let’s start at the top. I’m told Boris Johnson is paranoid that he will be sacked or moved. He has surely nothing to fear. I think he has performed relatively well and it would surely be embarrassing for Mrs May to do anything other than keep him in situ.
I am less sure about the Chancellor’s position. It’s clear he has had his issues with Number Ten and has certainly not sung from the same Brexit hymnsheet as the Prime Minister on occasion. In this campaign he has been almost totally invisible. His card is well and truly marked, but let’s remember that he and the Prime Minister go back a long way. If he is to be brutally dispatched, the woman tipped to replace him is Home Secretary Amber Rudd. She has had a ‘good war’ and has successfully played herself into being mentioned as a successor to Theresa May when the time comes.
I’m taking for granted that both David Davis and Liam Fox will remain in post, although it is a little mystifying that Dr Fox has been almost totally absent from this campaign. As a good media performer you’d have thought he’d have had a higher profile. Perhaps it’s to come in the last few days as Brexit takes centre stage.
Jeremy Hunt to move from Health is almost a given. He was never supposed to be reappointed to the job, but when Stephen Crabb decided to leave government Jeremy Hunt was told to put his NHS badge back on and get on with it. He’s a good tip to replace Amber Rudd at the Home Office if she becomes Chancellor, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he called it quits and decided to leave government. He’s got three small children and I just wonder if he might want a break. Stranger things have happened.
In terms of departures from the Cabinet I’m told Sajid Javid has not impressed Number Ten and may be facing an interview without coffee. Liz Truss, according to many of her colleagues, deserves the same fate, but a move to education may be what awaits her, with Justine Greening moving to health.
I think Brandon Lewis is a sure-fire certainty for promotion to the cabinet, possibly to Justice. His Home Office experience would come in handy and he’s a lawyer so would be seen as more acceptable than Liz Truss.
Dominic Raab is another name being mentioned for a ministerial recall. He may have to accept a year as Minister of State, but he’s an effective communicator and could well make the full jump.
Michael Gove is also being tipped for a comeback. Despite having had bad personal relations with Theresa May in government he has been seen earning his passage back and being totally loyal. CCHQ have been offering him to broadcasters throughout the campaign and he’s performed well. It may be a little early for a return, but don’t rule it out. The only problem is where to slot him in. Back to education just to annoy the NUT? I doubt it, but there would be something rather delicious about it. Mark Harper is another refugee from the Cameron government who may well return to high office. He’s another one who could have been difficult, but has been conspicuously loyal. A possible successor to Sajid Javid or even to Jeremy Hunt at health.
A more radical shuffle might see Andrea Leadsom and Chris Grayling fearing for their positions, but surely Theresa May couldn’t be so ruthless as to say goodbye to her erstwhile leadership campaign manager, could she? I think we all know the answer to that one, but she would be well advised not to do it. Grayling loves the job at Transport and is beginning to make a real impact.
Patrick McLoughlin might well have reached the end of the road, but I think David Lidington will survive, partly due to his popularity with his colleagues and opposition MPs. I’d be sorry to see Patrick go. He and I go back a long way. I remember passing him briefing notes during the Committee Stage of the Ports Bill in 1991. Twenty six years ago!
I think there will be widespread changes in the lower ranks with the guiding light being that if a Minister of State has no chance of making cabinet they should make way for someone who will. It’s striking when you look through the list of ministers of state how few you could actually imagine holding down a cabinet job.
Of course, the big question is whether John Hayes can survive yet another reshuffle!
*
There may also be some sort of Downing Street reshuffle as well. Iain Martin has written that he thinks Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy should be fired due to the fact that he thinks they are “drunk on power”. I do not. They are two of the most brilliant political minds of their generation and have formed a formidable partnership. However, you can’t have two ‘chiefs of staff’. The decision Theresa May has to make is whether to let them both do what they are good at, or maintain the status quo. If she does the former, she’ll make Fiona Hill Director of Communications (which she already is, in effect) and Nick Timothy Head of Policy. She could then bring in someone else to take over the more traditional chief of staff role. I have no one in particular in mind, but it needs to be someone with government experience, and a bit of a greybeard who commands respect from all over and doesn’t relish a media spotlight.
*

On Thursday night at 10pm I’ll be co-hosting LBC’s election night coverage with Shelagh Fogarty. We’lll be going through until 5am when Nick Ferrari takes over. We stream the whole thing on Facebook Live and provide somewhat of an antidote to the BBC’s rather more staid coverage. At least we try to. We’re also allowed to be opinionated and the discussions are certainly quite robust at times. As well as politicians like Michael Gove, Emily Thornberry, Eric Pickles and various others we’ll also be joined by our resident psephologists Gareth Knight and Rob Hayward, as well as economics commentator Liam Halligan. I hope you’ll join us for at least part of the night.
*
This is my last column before polling day so I suppose I should try to make an educated prediction as to what will happen. My seat by seat predictions (which seem a long time ago now) added up to a majority of around 130. I still think that’s possible, but perhaps not probable. I could adopt the YouGov approach of giving a range (they gave a range of 270-345 seats in their ridiculous recent survey) but that is a copout. My gut instinct is a majority of somewhere between 80 and 100 but I should perhaps stick to my original prediction of around 388-395 seats for the Tories and around 165-70 seats for Labour. I still think a lot depends on turnout and where the UKIP votes go and what happens to the LibDem vote in Tory Labour marginals. For those reasons and others it’s almost impossible to make a reasoned prediction. All I know is that if there isn’t an increased Tory majority, that’s when things start to get really interesting. And I mean, really interesting.

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