Sunday 8 July 2018

Is the Tory Vote Melting Down?

One of the more comedic aspects to have come from the Tory government's negotiations with itself was the statement Theresa May released shortly after her flavour of Brexit was revealed. It's really worth quoting in full:
During the EU referendum campaign collective responsibility on EU policy was temporarily suspended. As we developed our policy on Brexit I have allowed cabinet colleagues to express their individual views. Agreement on this proposal marks the point where that is no longer the case and collective responsibility is now fully restored.
You see everything that has happened since last June, all the secret briefings and not so subtle leadership positioning wasn't a symptom of crisis, it was our very strong and very stable leader allowing a thousand flowers to bloom. And, you know what, two days on and the line appears to be holding. Yes, Boris Johnson couldn't resist an "anonymous" leak to the press, dubbing May's plan "a turd". Still, it's a turd he's going to have to polish, which is something we can all look forward to. Bearing this in mind it was interesting to see his sometime confederate Michael Gove assume the mantle of the new loyalism on Andrew Marr. A remarkable about turn to be sure, his assumption of soft Brexit newspeak wasn't without some uncharacteristic testiness. Marr was accused of asking a "fake question", and he implied his leaver friends and comrades were not being realistic if they failed to back the plan. That's sure to win people around. And later on James Cleverly, one of the most misnamed men in politics, put a loyal, if workmanlike spin on the plan on The Sunday Politics.

The upper echelons are all sorted, but as for the rest of the party and the leave-supporting Tory voters? That's an entirely different kettle of fish. Hardly scientific, a snap poll on Conservative Home finds three-in-five party members disagree with May's deal, half as many support it and some ten per cent are in the don't know category. Like I said, hardly scientific. A slightly more robust poll, from before the deal was announced, by Arron Banks's Westmonster found 52% of leave voters think it's a sell out with, again, half as many in support. How about more anecdotal evidence? Check out the comments on the always-ridiculous Conservative Woman blog, the howls of despair on this Andrea Leadsom thread, the palpable disappointment with Gove and, last but not least, reports of no confidence letters going in to the 1922 Committee. Deary me.

This obviously spells difficulty as far as the maintenance of Theresa May's coalition of voters goes. Remember May's achievement - and it was an achievement - she was able to appeal to 42% of the voting public, some 13.6m people, a total in recent times bettered only by Margaret Thatcher in 1987 and John Major in 1992. She came unstuck because Labour managed 13m votes and, had the election taken place a week later, would have polled even higher than the Tories. May's coalition was based on appealing to the old and retired, corralling them with some traditional fear-mongering, and positioning as the custodian of a hard Brexit. In its own terms, it was successful and her party managed to maximise their vote. The pretty solid eight, nine, ten per cent UKIP were polling between the referendum in 2016 and the defeat in the Stoke Central by-election upped sticks and disproportionately flocked to the Tories. These, if you like, are your hardcore leavers, folks who identify with Brexit and anti-EU stuff for all kinds of reasons. The problem May has got is while she can wave her piece of paper in the knowledge most people aren't closely following the negotiations, this core are. Whether they'll flood back to the dessicated husk UKIP has become, vent on the internet and abstain or something else remains to be seen but a good chunk of these people are lost to the Tories.

We will have to see what happens in the Commons this week and how long the "restored" cabinet responsibility lasts. The first problem Tory Brexiteers have got is their no-confidence vote. There is probably enough of them to trigger a ballot, but May would win it easily. Everyone knows it would inflict serious damage on the party at a time it's supposed to be wrestling with a national crisis. And none of the would-be leadership factions have the strength to consolidate after her defenestration, so they will stay out - except perhaps the stupid boy. If they get their vote but can't shift the party's stance, Jacob Rees-Mogg and his vile clique are up the proverbial without so much as a Latinate witticism. If the polling movement away from the Tories proves to be large, Farage finds it irresistible to return and UKIP rises from its pauper's grave the fragile unity of the parliamentary party could be put into question.

In many ways, as far as the Tory party are concerned we're back to square one, a position in which the last three years effectively didn't happen. How ironic that winning the kippers over was Dave's raison d'etre for calling a referendum, and because of said referendum the Tories are losing them again. It's almost as if the whole thing is a farce.


1729torus said...

Interestingly Arlene Foster of the DUP has a similar problem. She needs to ensure that the DUP always earn more seats than SF in the NI Assembly as there no point voting DUP other than to avoid an SF First Minister. If SF ever beatthe DUP, her coalition would fragment.

Hence her inability to make concessions such an Irish Language Act that would strengthen the Union in the long run or stand up to the likes of Sammy Wilson.

Jim Denham said...

'We will have to see ... how long the "restored" cabinet responsibility lasts': well, we didn't have to wait very long, did we?

Boffy said...

The Chequers deal is a con. The Brextremists simply want to get past Brexit Day on March 29th, so that Britain is officially outside the EU, then they will rip up every agreement, every promise and implement a hard Brexit, then pushing through all of their proposals to rip up workers, consumer and environmental rights as they line up with the other "strong and stable" leaders across the world like Trump, Erdogan, Netanyahu, Duterte and so on, to push through those attacks.

Labour Should Demand a General Election to Stop Brexit now.

Anonymous said...

'Posted at 22:08'
22:09: David Davis resigns
22:10: Meltdown begins
The "restored" cabinet responsibility didn't last that long