Home > General Politics, Labour Party News, Terrible Tories > The Conservative Campaign Crisis (part 1): 1992 doorsteps revisited

The Conservative Campaign Crisis (part 1): 1992 doorsteps revisited

TCF doesn’t usually get to hung up with opinion polling, but heh, it’s election time, so here’s my tuppence (in two parts) on what’s going on in the polls.

The weekend papers are full of analysis about why the Conservative poll lead is slipping, with most of it even before the latest poll giving them just a 2% lead

No need to link to them, you know where to find all the stuff, though if you want an explanation focused almost entirely on the personal and working relationship between four men, try the Financial Times. It’s wrong mind.

In blogoland Tom Harris makes a start by comparing principally with what went on in 1997:

I’ve always maintained….that there isn’t anywhere near the same levels of enthusiasm in the country for Cameron’s new Tories as there was in 1997 for Blair’s New Labour. I’m sure we can all at least agree that that much is true.

True enough, but 1997 is not the best comparison because it’s conceived in (understandable Blair loyalist) terms of election victory.  Whatever you may think of New Labour under Blair, Labour won that election. 

This time around no-one’s going to win the election; someone’s going to lose it.

My ‘doorstep sense’ suggests a much better comparison for 2010 is the 1992 Conservative victory.  That election was decided to a large extent by votes who voted Conservative with reluctance, and who even denied to pollsters that they were going to do so; it was the election when people were a little ashamed to vote Conservative but did so anyway because they saw no better offer.  As UK Polling report put it:

In 1992 the British polls famously got it wrong. All the polls showed Labour ahead or the parties neck and neck. In fact the Conservatives had a solid lead. In the post-mortem that followed one of the problems that was identified was the “spiral of silence” or “shy Tories”. In short, given the unpopularity of the government some people were embarrassed to admit to a pollster that they would vote Conservative.

The sense I’m getting on the doorstep is it’s happening in reverse this time around.  People are almost ashamed to say they’re considering voting for a Labour government – a party which did, after all, conduct an illegal war, amongst other things. 

 Plenty of people are still undecided, but I sense that as polling day nears, more are headed to the relative safety of Labour than to what may lie in store for them under the Tories.

 And I do understand what voters tell me.  I did win a quite surprising election victory once.

 But why this reluctance to go all the way to the polling both with the Tories?  Why does it look like voters will jilt them at the last? 

 More in part 2, when I’ll talk about 1979, oh and that election in 2008 too.  

Of course, none of these elections had Ashcroft’s millions, and the idea that the election will simply be bought by the Tories can’t be ruled out.

  1. February 28, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    The single biggest electoral grouping is anti-Tory, which is perhaps why the party “of Change” isn’t keen on electoral reform, despite nicking their slogan from a pro-reform campaign group.

    People who might vote for parties as varies as the Liberals, the Greens, UKIP or the BNP, are firmly anti-Tory and might hold their nose and vote Labour – but aren’t about to broadcast this to pollsters or anybody else.

  2. February 28, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    What I find interesting, actually, are the competing interpretations of the economic situation. There’s the “Labour bankrupted the country” brigade – perhaps akin to the Tea Party people in the USA, and they’ll never be swayed one way or the other. But more reasonable people are faced with George Osborne as a potential chancellor – and he seems to have a knack for appearing to be an empty shirt.

    I still think Labour are going to lose pretty massively, with the Tories securing a thirty seat majority, and I think that most national polling isn’t factoring in how the terms on which the election is fought will affect who is motivated to come to the polls.

    I was interested to read on Left Foot Forward the theory that the Tories can’t beat the Lib-Dems, and that this puts them at a handicap for this election, and gives Labour an advantage. Instinctively I regard this as a bit of wishful thinking though, and I think the Libs are going to get a kicking too.

  3. Robert
    February 28, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    To be honest I’ve voted labour all my working life, but sadly New labour new Tory I cannot for the life of me care a shit who wins anymore, the whole bunch of them are worthless the expenses the non policies the hype the silly bullying back stabbing.

    I will not be voting

  4. February 28, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    As Robert illustrate, getting labour voters motivated is going to be tough. While people might have sucked it up and voted Tory in 1992 they might just not vote in 2010 at all. And that means a Tory victory.

  5. woodlandian23
    February 28, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    The support in smaller parties outside the three seems to be growing. I watched the Politics Show today which seems to suggest this happening. While the the thought of votes going to the BNP and UKIP is horrible, it will happen and there will be votes for the English Democrats and and assorted Independents that will push the national total into the 15% region.
    Have to to factor in as well the drop in turn out which potentially could see records being broken as well.
    All this should surely benefit Cameron.

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