Monday, February 25, 2008

Will the stay-at-home Tories come out for Dave?

Here is an interesting little graphic.

It shows the last six General Election results in Torbay but rather than show the percentages of the votes cast by the people who voted (as is normal) it shows the breakdown of the voting habits of everyone of voting age.

So we show the actual number of votes given for each of the three main parties plus the green line which shows the number of people who didn't vote for anyone.

Throughout the 1980's turnout went up (the green line goes down) and both Labour and the Lib Dems made gains at the Conservatives expense, peaking in 1992 when turnout reached a record high in Torbay, as it did throughout the rest of the UK.

"Lib Dem votes have
remained remarkably consistent"

But look at what has happened since then. While the Lib Dems had a blip upward in 2001 their votes have remained remarkably consistent at around the 20,000 mark since the early 1980's. Labour have bobbed around the 6-7000 mark - the change of seat in 1997 occurred because the Conservative vote plummeted from the 1980's average of around 28,000 to around 17,000 .

The number of people staying at home in 1997, 2001 and 2005 has gone up in almost the exact reverse proportion to Tory losses; an extra 10,000 residents sat on their hands in 2001 and 2005 compared to the average during the 1980s.

This effect, although not as marked, is noticeable in dozens of the Tory lost seats, now mostly the target seats that we need to win back in order to change the Government.

What does this mean? Well it depends who you talk to.

Liberal Democrat types will tell you that the demographics of the bay have changed, more people have moved in who are poor and underprivileged, and they tend to be the groups of voters less likely to vote - or vote Lib Dem or Labour. This, they argue, is their passport to remaining in office as it builds in their electoral margin.

Our polling and survey information tells a different story. It suggests that although the residential turnover of the Bay is as high as ever the demographic profile has remained remarkably stable. Those moving out or passing away are generally being replaced by new residents of almost exactly the same background and type; and lots of them also used to vote Conservative but stopped after 1992.

"there are as many as
11,000 people
in Torbay
who used to vote Conservative..."

Put simply we think there are as many as 11,000 people in Torbay who used to vote Conservative; who haven't vote for us since 1992, but crucially who didn't vote for anyone else. These people were relaxed about seeing a change of Govenment in 1992 and did not see either Hague or Howard as a better potential PM than Tony Blair - they therefore simply abstained in the intervening elections.

These are not the people who vote UKIP and almost none have migrated to the Lib Dems - they are middle class, mostly retired and mostly small 'C' conservative people whose main priority is for a competent, fair-minded Government, preferably a Conservative one.

A lot of these people were exasperated at the end of the Major years and while generally happy with Blair's Government they have become frustrated and alarmed at the decaying competence of the Brown premiership.

I believe the majority of these voters were just about convinced that Camerons Conservatives might offer a decent alternative when the latest bout of expenses scandals hit the press and somewhat knocked their confidence; and that is why our poll lead has eased a tad; but generally we believe that they they are overwhelmingly back on side, to stay.

Hopefully, more good news from our local political scene and another two years of competent and thoughtful opposition will continue to bond these voters, but perhaps the best incentive for them to actually vote for me on polling day will come not from David Cameron, or the Conservatives, or even from me; but in the shape of the Scottish Gentleman living in No 10 Downing Street.


Anonymous said...

Interesting analysis which I would say is broadly correct, certainly I know many ex-Tories saying they will back Cameron.

Anonymous said...

Marcus Wood is a disaster

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Make Mike your number 1. Mike Dolley for MEP.

Anonymous said...

Hope you're absolutely delighted with the comments of the conservative deputy mayor about how he will break any covenants he wants to get what he wants - do you back such immoral behaviour?