Lansons Conversations

UK General Election 2015: Briefing #10

Welcome to the last Lansons Briefing of the 2015 General Election, supported by Opinium. Our first new Government Briefing will follow as and when there is one!

In little over 40 hours the British public will go to the polls to elect the next Government of the United Kingdom.

Last week’s Question Time leaders event seemed to provide the Conservatives with a small bounce with the Ipsos MORI poll, produced immediately after the event, providing the Tories with a 5 point advantage, an unprecedented lead for a party in this campaign so far.

However, over the weekend the polls have once again returned to equilibrium, proving no clear leader in what is rapidly approaching the 11th hour of the campaign.

Indeed, Opinium’s latest poll shows a wafer thin lead for the Conservatives on 35 per cent, to Labour’s 34 per cent. A negligible difference which will ensure that the result of this election will go down to the wire.

With such an unclear picture, discussion has intensified over the deals which could be done following the election. Despite the closeness in the polls, most commentators give the Conservatives about a 15 seat lead in the Commons with around 280 MPs, a figure still far short of the 326 needed for an overall majority.

Convention dictates that this would provide them with the first opportunity to form a workable Government, be it as a minority or in some sort of partnership with a large cocktail of parties that could include the Lib Dems, UKIP and the Northern Irish DUP.

Indeed, the Conservatives’ claim may have been further strengthened following Ed Miliband’s comments last week that he will not do a deal with the SNP of any type.

That acknowledgement by the Labour leader clearly leaves his party with less room for post-election manoeuvres, however many will point to the fact that he did not rule out a minority government, propped up with the support of a rainbow of different parties on a issue by issue basis.

So what next for the final two days? The potential for intrigue, deals and, perhaps, chaos persists, whilst we should expect the ’emotion factor’ to be ratcheted up. The arguments have been made for you to make up your minds: The Tories have, and will continue, to fix the shambolic economy left to them by Labour, whilst Labour will curtail the suffocating and inhumane rate of the deficit reduction programme. Or so we are told.

Now is the time for the electorate to speak. The time when the parties know that those who remain undecided at this late stage could be persuaded to vote on impulse, on the basis of a guttural cry of passion that has so far been largely missing for this campaign, ahead of reasoned judgement.

So whether you are persuaded or not, just please go and vote.  It will count.

Party focus – The Conservative Party

The election campaign started slowly for the Conservatives, and despite finding their feet in the last few weeks, it is fair to argue that Labour may have ran a better campaign overall. However, the polls have stubbornly showed around a one point lead for the Tories and, coupled with the as yet unfactored ‘incumbency bias’, the polls could yet prove happy reading for the Conservative leader after the election.

However, credible threats remain. When David Cameron became Conservative leader in 2005 he ushered in a new type of Conservative politics revolving around the central tenets of compassion and modernity. Fast forward ten years and many would argue that that those mantras have been somewhat eroded.

In these unfamiliar times of fragmented Westminster politics, Cameron has had to make concessions, most notably in the wake of an emergent UK Independence Party. Cameron’s hope is that tougher policy stances in areas such as Immigration and Europe will be enough to hold the party’s traditional support together.

Nonetheless, many judge Cameron as the leader who couldn’t take full advantage of the dying days of the New Labour project in 2010, and as the leader (if as expected he isn’t able to win a majority this time around) who couldn’t turn a rallying economic recovery into an outright victory in 2015.