Aren’t Votes are votes whatever the motivation?
In the Times today Peter Riddell is arguing that the latest Populus poll suggests that the prospective Conservative vote at the next general election is “soft” because a large proportion say it’s because they are anti-Labour rather than being pro-Tory.
The figures show that of the Tory voters in the poll just 56% said they would do so because they are pro-Tory while 44% are just anti-Labour This compares with Labour supporters where the split is 81% – 19%.
But does this matter for on polling day all votes count the same whatever the reason for each voter’s personal choice?
The poll findings do not surprise me because my sense is that the mood of the electorate is broadly that it wants the Labour government out rather than being convinced that it wants the Tories back. But isn’t this just like 1997 where the mood was in the other direction – the electorate wanted the Tories out rather than there being an overwhelming desire for Labour.
What Tony Blair achieved on that historical day was to have so assuaged the negatives about Labour that former Tory supporters in their droves were ready to support him and his party. Just remember the campaign that Blair fought – the main emphasis was on getting rid of the Tories. In 2001 and 2005 the theme continued with – “don’t let the Tories back in” being the essence of the party’s proposition.
Hasn’t Cameron just followed the Blair model – deal with the negatives so that his party is no longer perceived as being the “nasty party”?
Riddell’s conclusion that this means that the Tory vote is soft only applies, surely, if there is a prospect that Labour could so re-invent itself in the next 20 months so that people don’t feel so negative about it any longer. I can’t see that happening under Brown – but with another leader then maybe there is just a chance.
Doesn’t this all support the old adage that governments lose elections rather than oppositions winning them?