Are things better for the Tories than they look?
The Tory Chairman, Liam Fox, is reported to have set out the following analysis – some of it “borrowed” from Politicalbetting – to MPs on why he thinks things are not as bad for the party as some are predicting.
Stage One: Take the current polls which put Labour on 37 per cent, with the Conservatives on 32 per cent and the Lib-Dems on 21. TRUE – and we believe that too much weight might be being given to interviewer-based polls.
Stage Two: Factor in ‘Labour overstatement’. All but two eve-of-election polls since 1951 have exaggerated Labour support. In 1997 the Labour vote was 2.9 per cent lower than the polls claimed. TRUE..BUT Poll figures have consistently over-stated Labour but in 2001 the party did about 3.5% better on average in the marginals it was defending – the main reason behind the second land-slide.
Stage Three: ‘Tactical unwind’. Voters are less likely to vote tactically to keep Tories out, partly because Lib-Dems are disenchanted with Blair over issues such as Iraq and tuition fees. NOT PROVEN YET and its effect is probably being over-stated, but we believe that Labour will have extra losses because of it.
Stage Four: ‘Differential turnout’. Polls claim 72 per cent of Tory supporters will definitely vote while only 55 per cent of Labour voters are determined to turn out. TRUE but will this hold as we get nearer to the election? All Labour’s efforts will be geared to get their core vote out.
Stage Five: Factor in target seats. Dr Fox claims the Tories will run a superior campaign in key seats, using its secretive Voter Vault software. NOT PROVEN and, in any case, Labour is using similar systems that could neutralise the impact.
Stage Six: Momentum. The published poll gap has narrowed from 10 per cent to five since autumn, according to the Tories. PARTIALLY TRUE but it depends when you make the comparison. On a year ago the Tories are doing worse.
But all of this does not deal with the central electoral challenge – if the Tories have to have any chance of forming a Government they need to be 6-7% ahead in the polls. They are still behind and time is running out.
It is very hard to call anything other than a Labour victory. The only issue is whether Tony Blair will have enough MPs to form a Government that will sustain the party for a full term.
Copyright 2005 Mike Smithson