The Times attacks Cameron

Paper declares there is no "compelling case" for a Tory government

A damning leader in today's Times questions David Cameron's fitness to govern. In the wake of another opinion poll showing a hung parliament is on the cards, the paper declares:

Clearly David Cameron is not making a convincing case. The central charge against him is that, while he is approachable and likeable, his aims and values as a future prime minister of this country are still unclear. David Cameron has yet to answer a basic question: what does he stand for?

It goes on:

Mr Cameron's case is not yet persuasive. His speeches are replete with favourable references to charities but precious little about the practical business issue of job creation. He has been fond lately of set-piece speeches of dubious intellectual and strategic wisdom on the iniquity of the big state and health and safety legislation . . . Mr Cameron is, instead, projecting the aura of a man who wants power rather more than he knows what to do with it.

Cameron's intense anti-statism (in his conference speech he made the absurd claim that "big government" was to blame for the financial crisis) has damaged his party's credibility. There is something in the Labour line that "those who do not believe in the power of government should not be trusted to form one".

The Times concludes:

It is all very well to complain about the Labour record but we still await a clear, unambiguous and compelling case for a Conservative government.

It's a timely reminder that unlike its Wapping cousin the Sun, the Times remains committed, at least in principle, to Labour.

After you've had a look at the latest Populus figures (which would leave the Tories 21 seats short of a Commons majority) it's well worth reading John Harris in today's Guardian on the sudden downturn in Tory fortunes.

In the piece, the psephologist John Curtice points out that the Conservatives' lead is particularly "soft" due to the decreasing number of people who describes themselves as "Tory identifiers". The party's poll lead is built on floating voters, who "have at least the potential to disappear".

Given the fragility of the Tory lead, and given that anything between a Labour lead of 1 per cent and a Tory lead of 10 per cent could result in a hung parliament, Brown is probably right to pursue a "core vote" strategy in the hope this will prove just enough.

 

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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