And you step to the left and you step to the right …

The dance of politics often looks silly, ungainly and downright improper. Compared with the antics in parliament this year, the Tory conference is mild stuff, but still …

Yesterday, I was told that the minimum wage would remain alive and well under the Tories. Today, I learn that the Tories will make 3 years in jail mean 2 years in jail instead of, as it previously had, 18 months in jail.

I’d rather 3 years meant 2 years than 18 months. As a major reform of bluLabour into a true Tory party, this strikes me as short-weight, but half-a-loaf is better than no bread. It does seem to offer scope for being outbid by the Brexit party in the law and order area with those likely to vote for either, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

The kindest guess I can make at why tendresse is shown to the minimum wage is inspired by this paragraph in a Dominic Cumming’s Spectator article:

This was brought home to me very starkly one day. I was conducting focus groups of Conservative voters. I talked with them about immigration for 20 minutes (all focus groups now start with immigration and tend to revert to it within two minutes unless you stop them). We then moved onto the economy. After two minutes of listening I was puzzled and said – who did you vote for? Labour they all said. An admin error by the company meant that I had been talking to core Labour voters, not core Tory voters. On the subject of immigration, these working class / lower middle class people were practically indistinguishable from all the Tories and UKIP people I had been talking to.

What was it, I wonder, that caused Dominic to wonder who they voted for when these core Labour voters, who could so easily have been core Tory voters while the subject was the PC speech police or immigration or Brexit (or law and order), began talking about the economy? Could it have been the minimum wage? I fear it was.

Less than a year ago, I posted my astonishment that May’s Tory party seemed more attached to the deep state and the SW1 faction than to professing whatever it took to win the next election. I suppose it’s a step in the right direction if the Tories have now reverted to type πŸ™‚ – but I see scope for further realignment yet. The internal and external purge of the Tory party is not over, I hope – thought it may for now be running in channels constrained by Dominic’s insight above.

Updated: 1st October 2019 — 6:01 pm


  1. It seems like Dominic’s view is that voters approach elections aiming to maximize their personal utility function. It is more likely, in the UK even more so than in the US, that most voters vote they way they do mainly through tribal identification. The Tory votes Tory, regardless of what this year’s manifesto says. That voting tribal identification seems to be mainly inherited, although the impact of indoctrination schools may be growing in importance.

    Certainly in the US, there is evidence of Contingent Voters — people who may vote Republican or may not vote at all. The effect of these Contingent Voters is lost on most political analysts, since they focus on percentage swings and not on absolute numbers. But there is little evidence of large numbers of voters switching between Republicans & Democrats.

    Thus, it is unlikely that promising (politician promise!) in future to be slightly less soft on crime and slightly more in favor of demonstrable economic nonsense like Minimum Wage will do anything for Tory fortunes.

    The UK is interesting because it is one of the recent cases where there has been a major change in voting tribal identification — with the Scottish National Party replacing Labour as the dominant force in that country. Albeit this change was made to seem more dramatic through the distortions of the First-Past-The-Post system when there are more than 2 serious parties. (That of itself should be a big alarm bell for UK politicians in these highly divided times).

    Rather than investing his time with poorly organized Focus Groups, Dominic might be better advised to study how that recent change in voting tribal identification was effected. Not through promises on the Minimum Wage, for sure!

  2. FWIW, there won’t be much progress until we get rid of that noxious language “minimum wage.” It should be called “criminalizing low wage workers”, because that is what it actually is.

  3. What party is so stupid that it tries to raise the minimum wage and continues to bring in workers whose education means their Labour is worth less than minimum wage?

    Blulabour deserves to die.

    I may vote for them tactically for Brexit but that is all.

    Brexit Party or hung parliament.

  4. What party is so stupid that it tries to raise the minimum wage and continues to bring in workers whose education means their labour is worth less than minimum wage? BluLabour deserves to die.(ItellyounothingItellyounothing, 2nd October 2019 at 7:15 am)

    While committed BluLabour-ites are that stupid, it is possible that others are well aware of that point – indeed, are counting on it.

  5. “mainly through tribal identification”

    And yet swings happen. So presumably the trick is to figure out what makes swinging voters swing, as it were, and not worry about the tribal voters since nothing much affects them.

  6. Prof Paz — Looking at US Presidential elections, it seems fairly clear that the “swinging voters” are mostly people who swing from voting Republican when the candidate is a Reagan to not voting at all when the candidate is a McCain or a Romney.

    This voting/non-voting causes swings in the percentages which each candidate gets, which political analysts tend to present as if they were caused by voters switching between parties. The analysts tend not to focus on the actual numbers of votes cast. In the UK context, the issue may be which party can persuade its supporters to get off the couch. The Tory will always vote Tory — provided that he is not so disgruntled with the party that he stays home.

    All of this becomes much fuzzier when there are more parties than merely Labour & Conservative in the race, and some “swinging” individuals may vote tactically outside their normal political tribe instead of deciding to stay home.

    Actual numbers of voters are interesting and informative. Out of the 17 Million who voted Leave 3 years ago, why did only 6 Million vote Brexit Party in the European elections? What does that tell us about who is prepared to vote tactically, and about who is really committed to Brexit?

  7. Interestingly, Trump’s election probably WAS due to actual crossovers (mainly long-time working class Democrats) – both in the primary and general election. That overcame significant losses within traditional Republican constituencies who flipped to Clinton.

    This was clearly the case in my home state (Pennsylvania) where a traditional Republican was also running for the US Senate – both won clear (if marginal) victories, but Trump swung over voters in the center/west of the state while losing to Clinton in the Philadelphia suburbs (which are even to weakly Republican), while Toomey pretty much flipped that (and actually piled up enough extra votes around Philly to win by a bigger margin than Trump statewide). Toomey outperformed Trump by 100,000 votes out of just over a million cast in the 3 main suburban Philly counties (6 million state wide), so a 10% margin where the total votes cast in each were within 0.35%, pretty consistent county to county.

    I suspect it was similar in the Midwest, but I don’t know those dynamics as well as PA.

    This was certainly very unusual, certainly both Bush and Obama were more traditional fire the base/pour water on your opponent campaigns. And a big part of it was that Trump obviously is not a conventional Republican, and his personal style was enough to override traditional party loyalties in 5% or so of the population – the more weakly affiliated to be sure, but still normally folks where you would normally expect vote party or stay home behavior. This may also reflect a realignment, but that won’t be clear until Trump leaves office and we see where the Republican party goes next.

  8. – Gain longmuir – Interesting Question
    “Actual numbers of voters are interesting and informative. Out of the 17 Million who voted Leave 3 years ago, why did only 6 Million vote Brexit Party in the European elections? What does that tell us about who is prepared to vote tactically, and about who is really committed to Brexit?”

    The EU parliament vote is tricky, cause the UK traditionally barely bothers to turn out for it. On the one hand, you had clear Brexitty feels from a goodly chunk of the populace. On the other, well how does it look in context.

    In 2014, The Nigel Farage led UKIP (very pro independence) won it with 4.7 million votes on a 35.6% turn out of the voters. 2nd was Labour with 4 million and 3rd was Tory on just shy of 3.8 million.

    In 2015, we had the UK General Election won by the Tories with 11 million votes on an out turn of 66% with Labour coming second on 9.3 million votes.

    In 2016 we had the 17.4 million to leave the EU and 16.2 million to stay on a 72% turn out.

    In 2017 we had another general election and despite an insanely tepid Tory manifesto they won with 13.6 Million votes on a 68.8% turn out of voters. Labour came second on 12.9 million votes.

    In 2019, the Nigel Farage led Brexit party won the most votes with 5.2 million on a turn out of 37% of voters. Lib Dem 2nd on 3.4 million and Labour 3rd on 2.4 million. Greens got 4th place 1.9 million and the Tories discovered why they offered a referendum with 5th place on a mere 1.5 million.

    So now here we are knowing that sometime soon the house of cowards are going to have to call a General Election and face their punters.

    What trends are undeniable?
    Every kind of election is seeing a high turn out.
    The Independence Vote looks consistent over many actual elections. Could it be flagging? Bojo needs Brexit voters. Many are sick of the Tories and might vote tactically this once, but it can’t be wholely counted on.
    Remain MPs don’t think so or we would have had a general election already.

    Farage’s vote total is up, but probably won’t hold out into a general election and it will do the Brexit goal harm if he accidently flips fellow Brexit Tory seats over to Labour. So he’s got to aim for disgruntled Labour leave seats.

    Jo Swinson’s husband is allegedly the recipient of Β£3.5 million from the EU. Not a good look on a platform of revoking article 50.

    Bojo is a shagger and may have investigated a thigh 20 years ago, though that kind of scandal seems to have lost power recently (Trump, Kavanaugh).
    Sajid Javid got an epic non-clap when at 25 mins in at his conference speech with mention of climate change

    Beardy Champagne Socialist Gnome looks increasingly confused and weak, with endless screams of nationalise it. Like the US Dems, working class white northerners seem a little sick of the radical leftward lurch so might be open to Nige, who likes a ciggy and a pint.

    In Short Gavin Longmuir, I reckon it’s Bojo’s to loose provided he doesn’t cock up Independence and doesn’t let SJW ideas bore the tits of potential voters. Cause the trend ain’t 17 million down to 6 million. The trend is votes polarising to the left and right with Brexit wrecking everything down the middle. The Tory vote has been growing, with a punishment beating every time they wobble left or away from Brexit.

    If you want 17 million back out, then (Great monkey forbid) we’d need another Referendum. Though I reckon cantankerous rage would add a a couple
    million to that score if it ran again at the moment.

  9. The situation with crossover voting is interesting — and there are undoubtedly significant differences between States in the US. The clearest example of Contingent Voting is what happened to the nearly 20 Million Ross Perot voters in 1992 — where the trends indicate most of them sat out subsequent elections.

    By the time we get to 2012 & 2016, the validity of vote totals is a bit suspect, given that death is no longer an obstacle to voting for your favorite Democrat. Even so, what the numbers say is that Trump got about 2.4 Million more votes in 2016 than Romney got in 2012 (63.0 vs 60.6 Million). While the Republican vote thus went up, so did the Democrat vote — Hillary 2016 outperformed Barry 2012 by 0.4 Million votes (65.8 vs 65.4 Million). Of course, the population grew in the meantime, and there were other candidates. But it is suggestive of Trump picking up votes from people who would have stayed home if the candidate had again been someone like Romney.

    In the UK context, 28% of citizens sat out the Referendum, and an even larger percentage sat out the recent European elections. From statistically unrepresentative casual conversations, it seems that not voting was a deliberate choice for some of those people, reflecting their dissatisfaction with both sides. If even a relatively small proportion of those people got motivated to vote in a future General Election, it could have an impact on the results — especially in a First-Past-The-Post system.

  10. Interesting data, Itellyounothing.

    The ever-so-proper bot held your comment until I approved it. If you would see your comments when you submit them, not later, maybe find euphemistic ways of suggesting that Boris may have led an interesting social life. πŸ™‚ . (Or may not, or at least not that interesting – your mention of Kavanaugh in such a context seems very unfair to that blatantly-libelled justice.)

    As the endless clicking of palm trees, traffic lights and suchlike remind us, this blog is obliged to beware spam and, like constable Suvvidge, will sometimes be a bit ‘over-zealous’. Your cooperation and understanding will be appreciated.

  11. From statistically unrepresentative casual conversations, it seems that not voting was a deliberate choice for some of those people, reflecting their dissatisfaction with both sides. If even a relatively small proportion of those people got motivated to vote in a future General Election, it could have an impact on the results β€” especially in a First-Past-The-Post system. (Gavin Longmuir, 3rd October 2019 at 4:30 am)

    From memory, more than 80% voted in Margaret Thatcher’s elections (I recall numbers like 83% as typical) and this reflected the strong feelings (both pro and anti) that she aroused. It is not hard to see why the 2017 election between our second female prime minister and her opponent saw only 66.8% of the electorate bothering to vote. The effect would indeed be marked if any sizable part of Maggie’s extra 20% turned up for the next election.

    Only about a third of the UK electorate ever vote in euro-elections while the other two-thirds treat it as a non-event. UK turnout in the nine Euro-elections we’ve had has ranged from a lowest of 24% to a highest of 38.5%, with the turnout this year being 36.9% (second highest ever). The roughly-a-third who bother to vote in euro elections are of course more europhiliac than the country as a whole, so the ability of the Brexit party nevertheless to come first in that election was significant. Some people who don’t bother to vote in a euro-election are making a principled rejection of the EU’s claim to legitimacy, many are showing a casual distaste and/or distance from Euro sympathies, and many others are just saying they don’t feel strongly either way, and the non-voters include those who don’t vote in UK elections either.

    What is clear is that all the committed remoaners voted – yet the Brexit party came first. For decades, the EU was accepted by most in Britain, like the weather, but distaste for it has always been widespread and active enthusiasm for it failed to percolate beyond the chattering classes. The remaoners ran on ‘project fear’ and ‘Leave voters are racists’ because it was always clear to all but the certified nutjobs even among them that to run on ‘We love our EU’ would have been clinically insane.

  12. Itellyounothing — Thanks for the background. It is useful to look at the absolute numbers. That track record also shows that, these days, politics is a mess! In the US it is a mess, and in the UK it seems to be a mess with bells on.

    Olden days, they say the choice was Tory (right) versus Labour (left). Now it seems to be between Tory (left) versus Labour (further left). But superimposed on top of that is the split between europhobics and europhiliacs — resulting in a highly fractured population. While there is a lot of focus on Brexit, the real question is what happens after Brexit. (Brexit will happen, if for no other reason than that the rest of the EU is getting tired of if). How does the post-Brexit UK move forward with a population that will undoubtedly remain divided?

    Here is the optimistic view. The hard-line Leavers and hard-line Remainers are both quite small minorities (+/- 5 Million each). Lots of people who voted Leave expected there would be an amicable divorce in which useful current arrangements with the EU nations would be preserved, and those famous hen parties in Majorca would continue unimpeded. Lots of people who voted Remain have no interest in Ever Closer Union, and would prefer to see a more constrained EU — more of an enhanced free trade area with much less bureaucracy.

    The underlying interests of people in those two groups are not that far apart. Put those two groups together, and they would come close to a genuine majority — creating a much better situation for the difficult post-Brexit world. Unfortunately, no-one in the UK is trying to build that majority.

    Just as in the US, the debate in the UK seems to be dominated by the name-callers at the extremes. As President Reagan once noted, this is no way to run a railroad.

    Meanwhile in China, their economic, diplomatic, and military strength grows by the day. Are we fiddling while Rome burns?

  13. Niall πŸ™‚ I will refrain from mentioning female femur furore in future.

    Gavin, I totally agree and until the actually leaving is settled, I don’t think it will be possible to build a post-independence grown up majority. There are too many well funded Chefs playing havoc with the broth.

    I think given the wrecking ball run through the unwritten portions of our constitution, the next government or two will have to write a more complete formal constitution just to keep Lawfare-ists at bay. They have a taste for it now. Corbyn’s agenda almost certainly requires one that amps up the executive over the legislative and judiciary. Bojo might need one just to govern at all……

    One way of measuring Brexit intensity /patriotic feeling is buying of good from the EU. Has the last few months seen a downturn in the purchase of produce?

    The BMW trend seems within tolerances as per the latest figures. But I would put rich southern Remainers as more likely BMW customers anyhow.

    Perhaps some else can think of a better product? Something that people won’t buy despite Brexit?

    That kind of thinking may have disappeared with my Dad’s generation and the surprising loyalty Rover inspired for very variable quality cars.

  14. P.S.

    Yeah I reckon Kavanaugh innocent too, but his innocence was not the point, the allegations are always political or they would have been dealt with at the time.

  15. Re Kavanaugh, or rather re his accuser Democrat activist Chrissie Ford —

    In a rational world, Chrissie blew her own credibility out of the water when she declined to come to the initially-scheduled Senate hearing because she claimed she was not able to fly across country — getting groped as a teenager after she had been drinking illegally had left her so traumatized that, even decades later, she still could not bear to be in a confined space like an airplane surrounded by other potential Kavanaughs.

    Then lying Chrissie flew to the subsequent hearing. Just as she had regularly flown to Hawaii to go surfing, surrounded by under-dressed teenage males.

    Having plainly lied about a current matter to Congress (arguably a criminal offence), how could anyone take seriously her ancient half-remembered allegations?

    Unfortunately, we do not live in a rational world.

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