The art of staying popular in politics, well, it’s difficult, you can’t please everyone, however if enough people get their noses out of joint then you are shafted.
Scottish Conservatives have just finished their Conference at the weekend, no one died but one protestor was dragged off for allegedly singing that English Tories should go home.
There was even an inflatable Rat to highlight that Tories were rat bags.
Coincidently, the protestors were pro independence, they wasted their time protesting but the Sun was shining, and as they say it was their nickel.
Outwardly, the party conference season is a stage managed show of unity with everyone kissing everyone in front of the cameras to show ‘one big happy family’.
Despite the razzle dazzle, a study carried out by former Tory party donor Lord Ashcroft has found that David Cameron is less popular than his party for the first time.
Not a good sign, especially given that Tories stab their leaders in the back and heave them over the side when the ship starts sinking.
David Cameron came to Scotland and did the usual, isn’t the Scottish leader wonderful, we are Better Together, and finished off his bit pretty quick and sat down.
The Conservatives have many problems, the economic situation, banking, crime, immigration, welfare.
There seems to be a cry from his back benchers that swing hard right is the solution to everything, it isn’t, pandering isn’t leadership, that doesn’t mean he should be deaf, but rather the need for policies that actually help people is needed.
The Ashcroft poll showed a “noticeable shift” towards dissatisfaction with the Prime Minister's performance, a bit of wit at PMQs is all fine and good, but there is a time and place for comedy.
Lord Ashcroft has decided that blame regarding the Tories’ setbacks can be firmly on the party putting people off by “talking amongst ourselves” about peripheral issues like Europe and gay marriage.
Ashcroft it seems wants to get the Tories to focus on voters’ core priorities, bread and butter issues, these are especially important particularly when there isn’t any bread or butter.
The report makes grim reading for Cameron, overall, 37 per cent of those questioned said they would vote Labour, 27 per cent Conservative, 15 per cent the UK Independence Party and 9 per cent Liberal Democrat.
If you had the chance to look at Labour, their current approach is to mirror the Tories and try and get re-elected by default.
Ed Miliband’s party sits on a comfortable 10-point advantage, but this lead is soft, it can be turned around, but in order to do so, the Tories have to appeal to working class voters.
The current austerity drive is failing, it would have failed under Labour as well; they wanted a longer period but lets us not kid ourselves they were solving problems just managing them.
This means, that UKIP could in theory do rather well in 23 month’s time at the next General Election.
Any good news for Cameron, well the public given a straight choice between him and Ed Miliband would still choose Cameron.
Ed Miliband is weak as a leader, the young, dynamic and happening really doesn’t apply to Miliband, he is the unions, the party would rather have his brother David, he is off to America.
Lord Ashcroft said:
“The Prime Minister's Europe speech (in January) was supposed to clear the decks and allow us to talk about the things we were elected to do. So much for all that. My poll shows the last six months to have been a missed opportunity to make progress on all the things that will determine who wins in 2015.This is the price we have paid for spending half a year talking amongst ourselves.”
You can understand why, UKIP isn’t going away, they represent a real threat, dismissed as ‘closet racists’, they could be needed if a new coalition is required.
And as the bad news piled up, the poll found that only 28 per cent of voters see the Conservatives as “united”, against 48 per cent for Labour.
Although numbers are very useful, politics is more than just facts, how facts are presented is important, when and by whom as well, it’s a total package, 40 per cent trusted Mr Cameron, Mr Osborne and Mr Clegg with the economy, against 26 per cent for the Labour team.
2015 will be an interesting time in British politics, the story of how UKIP performs will figure in the thinking of all the mainstream parties, how do you solve a problem like Nigel?
Recently the French President Hollande gave a speech in the Far East that the Euro crisis is over, that is wishful thinking, there is more trouble in the pipeline, and voters may see the ‘cure’ as a Euro exit. Europe is a good idea, however the application leaves a lot to be desired, piecemeal thinking and a tendency to rush things through without proper analysis.
And at some stage, enough people will get together and there will be a word that everyone will unify around, it is No!
Ruth Davidson is seen as Cameron’s and London CCHQ choice in Scotland, she needs to get her own agenda sorted pretty quick too, people here aren’t ferreting about losing Westminster seats, the Tories only have one. They are ferreting about how, when or even if they can get more than one.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University