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Tetra Analytics


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Conservatives………………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………3 Labour……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………4 SNP…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….5 Liberal Democrats…………………………………………………………………………………………………..…….…6

UKIP and The Green Party……………………………………………………………………………………………..6

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After surprisingly winning an outright victory in the General Election, David Cameron has lost no time in pulling together the different strands of his party and seizing the policy agenda with a string of initiatives to show that the Conservatives have plenty of steam. Now is surely the Prime Minister's honeymoon period. He will no longer go down as a Conservative Prime Minister who never won an election - a very important badge of honour for Mr Cameron and his inner team. He will also face little opposition for some time with Labour busy on their leadership election and even his own backbenches sated by extra jobs for the boys and the excitement of their own, exclusive mandate. We will just have to see how long it lasts. To get the ball rolling, Mr Cameron’s Ministerial appointments were a clever mix to include all strands of the party, whilst freshening the team with a lot more women in the Cabinet. The top jobs remained the same, a signal that the job isn't finished and there’s still much work to be done by experienced hands. But other jobs went deliberately to those on the right, hence step up John Whittingdale, erstwhile Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, much to the horror of the BBC whose licence fee negotiation comes up in this Parliament. Mr Cameron also put more women in Ministerial roles to make good his promise to have a third of his team women - a move which helped ensure his promotions got a good showing on newspaper front pages! Plus all insiders will have noticed the other favoured group - 'friends of the Chancellor'. All Mr Osborne's Parliamentary Aides have now got Ministerial jobs, including the excellent Robert Halfon, as Deputy Chairman, who will continue to push policies to attract the hard working classes into the Tory fold.

membership of the European Union will be a centre piece of next week's Queen's Speech. Downing Street would clearly like to hold the referendum earlier than 2017, but dare not make the promise as their negotiations depend on the co-operation of other EU states over whom they have little control. Other measures will also show a strongly Conservative agenda - more school reform, boosting supply side economics with improved core skills, and enhanced surveillance powers, once blocked by the Liberal Democrat partnership, to keep the country safe from terrorists.

Legislation in this Parliament will be tricky. The Conservatives only have an 11 seat majority if all the opposition parties combine against them. But worse still they have nowhere near a majority in the Lords, who they hope will be held at bay by the Salisbury Convention, which states that the Lords do not block policies that were in a governing party's manifesto, and by the fact that the Lords never vote on Finance Bills. But in the end, it's not just the policy agenda where the Conservatives have still to win the argument. Management of the NHS will be a critical part of this Government's record and a key issue for them at the next election - and no-one expects any new policies there! When the Prime Minister returned to the steps of Downing Street with his own exclusive mandate he talked about 'One Nation Conservatism' for a very specific reason. Despite winning the election, the canvass returns showed the public respected the Conservatives for getting the job done, but were still suspicious of their motives. Mr Cameron's greatest service to his party will be to destroy the last vestiges of the 'nasty party' in the public's mind and set them on course for another Leader to take them on to victory in 2020.

But after the euphoria of winning the election, the Conservatives know they have a lot to prove. The long promised referendum on Britain's

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Under Harriet Harman the Labour Party has interim management in place while new leadership takes shape. Meanwhile, the contests for the position of Leader and Deputy Leader are underway. Under a newly introduced system, essentially one member one vote, there is some technical susceptibility to both trade unions and other organised groups influencing the outcome via the recruitment of ‘affiliated or registered supporters’ who are also entitled to a vote. By announcing the new leadership team in midSeptember it will allow time for a Shadow Cabinet and Frontbench to form in time for the Labour Party Annual Conference, ushering in the new era for Labour. The contests themselves are already a perfect microcosm of the broader debate and renewal occurring within the Party. The opportunity presented within the loss of the 2015 election is that the result for the Labour Party was stark: it was a rejection of its political leadership and vision. This has focused the candidates and the Party at large on a few ‘givens’ when it comes to a new Leader and vision: a need to reconnect and be trusted by the public on economic credibility; sustainable public services; immigration; and a pro-business outlook. Crucially all must be achieved in a believable and authentic way, in the eyes of the public and not just the Parliamentary Labour Party. No small task but the Labour Party has had to regenerate before and will do so again. The Deputy Leadership position is both interesting and important. Amongst the candidates, both Tom Watson and Stella Creasy are two adept campaigners. As the frontrunner, Watson combines this campaigning ability with a reputation as the foremost election organiser in the Party. Organisation is as much a buzzword around the renewal process as is modernisation. Andy Burnham is the current favourite for Leader and has the backing of some influential colleagues such as Rachel Reeves, Michael Dugher (his

campaign manager) and Dan Jarvis. All three – most significantly Jarvis in this race – have been talked of as potential Leaders themselves. With apparently over 100 MPs lined up to nominate Burnham it is quite likely that other candidates for the Leadership such as Mary Creagh won’t make the 35 nominations required. Burnham has a real challenge not to be seen as the union (or more accurately Len McCluskey’s) choice and we can be sure to see his team make this a priority. If he fails to do this he may well fail to become Leader under the new election rules. The two other strongest contenders are Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall. Both have very credible routes to victory but perhaps harder climbs to get there, with Cooper being seen as too connected to past Labour Cabinets and Kendall too inexperienced on the frontline. Not to mention the two Bs - Balls and Blair - featuring in their campaign narratives. At this point if Burnham does look like running away with it Labour MPs will be weighing up the pros and cons of not nominating the favourite. Interestingly, it may be that the former favourite Chuka Umunna will still have a big sway over who wins. Despite dropping out, with such a strong image as a moderniser, his support offers a heavy dose of centre-ground renewal; valuable to all, but potentially priceless to Burnham. Two other observations are worth noting: The voices calling for a ‘confirmation hearing’ for the Leader in 2018 indicates some restlessness that the Party senses that it may not have an election winner amongst the current crop and will want to be sure it has the right candidate in time for the 2020 General Election. And despite early talk of Blairite candidates, don’t expect this to be a lasting reference point. Whilst it is a useful tag for the media, at a practical level it won’t feature in the contests.

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Nicola Sturgeon and the 56 new SNP MPs are riding on a wave of electoral success, taking all but three seats in Scotland by a landslide. The dynamic in Westminster has fundamentally changed which raises a number of important questions. Practically, the parliamentary privileges the SNP receive with third party status have risen after replacing the Liberal Democrats. They are entitled to more ‘short money’, equating to just over £1 million a year, and have taken over the third party’s whips’ office that have been occupied by the Lib Dems for nearly a century. They will be given two Chairmanships of Select Committees (one of which is expected to be Scottish Affairs) with the aim to win at least one member on every committee. SNP MPs are also hoping for two regular questions at PMQs. The Party will be called upon third in every debate and will be given the opportunity to respond to Ministerial Statements. Nicola Sturgeon was insistent about her own leadership throughout the campaign, indirectly dispelling questions surrounding the role former First Minister Alex Salmond will play in this Parliament. Sturgeon visited her 56 MPs in London, highlighting that although not sitting in Westminster herself, she is still very much in charge of the new intake. Angus Robertson remains Westminster Leader, and Salmond is expected to play a significant role in his new position of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson for the Party (particularly in the run up to the EU referendum).

enough and has prioritised certain powers which include full control over business taxes, employment, welfare and the minimum wage. Sturgeon is sensibly proceeding with caution rather than demanding full fiscal autonomy immediately, which is considered unfeasible. But independence is at the core of SNP policy and never far away from Sturgeon’s mind. As the 2016 Scottish election draws ever nearer, don’t be surprised to find a new pledge for independence in the next Holyrood manifesto. The in/out referendum on Europe will also prove to be a bone of contention for the Scottish Nationalists. Nicola Sturgeon’s team have hinted they will fight tooth and nail to ensure that all four United Kingdom nations have their own independent outcome, which could prompt yet further questions about Scottish independence as a whole. Sturgeon and the SNP will undoubtedly be a problem for Cameron, stepping in to the effective thorn-in-the-side role vacated while the Labour party conducts its internal post-mortem and elects a new Leader. Together with other left-of-centre parties they will look to challenge the Conservatives’ precarious majority at every turn, with devolution and the EU inevitably set to dominate this Parliament. The SNP are set to be vocal on both.

The question of a second independence referendum will not suddenly evaporate now Parliament has returned. Fiscal autonomy, not independence, will be the main issue over the next few years at Westminster though. Nicola Sturgeon has stated that David Cameron’s proposals to implement the Smith Commission do not go far

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Having stared into the apocalypse and only just survived, it is hard to analyse the state of the Liberal Democrats without appearing too damning. After a near electoral obliteration that surprised the length and breadth of the party, the Lib Dems now face a long period of introspection while their eight Members of Parliament just about keep the party afloat in Westminster. Following the departure of senior Lib Dems like Vince Cable and Ed Davey, and a punishing loss of 49 seats, there is a somewhat limited choice for Clegg’s successor; a packed field is not exactly possible. The front runners for the leadership contest are Tim Farron, who retained his majority in Westmorland and Lonsdale, and Norman Lamb, who was returned to North Norfolk. Tim Farron, former Party President, already has the backing of Willie Rennie, the Scottish Lib Dem Leader, and Kirsty Williams, the party’s Leader in Wales. Farron has said that his Party must “turn our anger into action” and rebuild from the bottom upwards; it is expected that under his leadership the Party would shift to the left, pitching itself more directly at Green voters in England and SNP voters deterred by independence in Scotland. Farron has hinted that former Leader Nick Clegg would be welcomed back to the forefront of the Lib Dems parliamentary group in a high profile role, potentially as Foreign Affairs Spokesman. Norman Lamb, the former Health Minister, has declared his candidacy despite seeing the share of his North Norfolk vote fall by 16%. Indicating the direction the Party would pursue under his leadership, Lamb warned that the “massive experiment” of being junior partners in the ConDem Coalition taught the Party a crushing lesson, and that in future the Lib Dems would avoid forming similar such coalitions.

It has been a turbulent two weeks for UKIP. Despite the infighting and mockery of what has been referred to as a backbench rebellion from their only MP after Farage’s ‘unresignation’, the teflon party leader has emerged from these events unscathed whilst orchestrating a putsch from within. UKIP’s refusal to accept Farage’s resignation is reflective of their lack of alternatives for leaders. This adds to the premise that UKIP’s success hinges on the personality of its Leader, while the Party will also be conscious that it will need a strong personality to lead any campaign in favour of the UK leaving the EU once the promised referendum is underway. Meanwhile, after its Leader failed to impress in pre-election interviews and leadership debates, the Green Party failed to secure either of its key target seats of Norwich South or Bristol West, instead only retaining its Brighton Pavilion seat. Whilst the Greens boosted their popular vote from 285,000 in 2010 to 1.2m in 2015 and Caroline Lucas was re-elected on an increased majority, their council result in Brighton told a different story. The Green Party lost its minority control of Brighton & Hove City Council to Labour, losing 9 seats, perhaps giving Leader Natalie Bennett pause for thought. Bennett, who finished third in Holborn and St Pancras, has subsequently insisted that in tripling its vote and finishing second in four seats, she has the mandate to continue as leader. She has called for the introduction of a proportional electoral system, arguing that first-past-the-post is deeply unfair to smaller parties. In unlikely alliance, Bennett has hinted that the Greens could work with UKIP to secure meaningful electoral reform.

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THE STATE OF THE PARTIES  

A fortnight after the votes were cast, Tetra Analytics look at the state of the parties as the new Parliament begins.

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