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Are We All the Victims of Electoral Groupthink Now? – The Death of the
Middle Classes & Reshuffles, Reform, Modernization ...
of the wealth pyramid. The result: the paradoxical situation that these voters have
recently abandoning them in droves and...
Commentators therefore have got it wrong about the ultimate purpose of the reshuffle.
Cameron has found himself being pull...
policy. For some journalists this has created the impression that Cameron is cold hearted.
Let me remind those journalists...
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Are we all the victims of electoral group think now

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An Article entitled: Are We All the Victims of Electoral Groupthink Now? – The Death of the Middle Classes & Reshuffles, Reform, Modernization and Policy Making in the Coalition which accompanies the Paper: A High Wire Balancing Act – Reshuffles, Reform, Modernization and Policy Making in the Coalition: UKIP & Cameron’s Attempt to Overcome the Limitations of Electoral Groupthink which can be read at: http://www.conservativevoice.co.uk/category/popular/

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Are we all the victims of electoral group think now

  1. 1. Are We All the Victims of Electoral Groupthink Now? – The Death of the Middle Classes & Reshuffles, Reform, Modernization and Policy Making in the Coalition Peter Kellner of YouGov has talked recently of a “Voteless Recovery”. The succession of economic good statistics showing the level of GDP has finally surpassed the level achieved in 2008 is not translating into a lead in Opinion Polls for the Conservatives. Expect own household to be... 2013 2014 Better off in 12 months' time 9 18 Same in 12 months' time 37 40 Worse off in 12 months' time 49 35 Amongst the Middle Class electorate there is a perception that their position will be exactly the same in 12 months time as it is now. They don’t expect things to get worse but they don’t expect things to get noticeably better. This is breeding resentment and clearly has done soamongst a core of Conservatives now voting UKIP. The felt impact of the improvement in economic performance has been mitigated by deep changes in the structure of the economy. The divisions are increasingly between more Highly and Less Skilled Professions (notice I did not use the term Unskilled). The critical disjuncture is those that are exposed to Outsourcing and those that aren’t. A long-line of Public Services are currently being exposed to the potential of institutional re-engineering by the likes of Capita and Serco. The division that exists between Direct and Indirect Employees will be one of the most significant cleavages faced by parties at the next election. This is related to insecurity of tenure. It will not be the number of jobs that are created in the economy but the security and the nature of tenure of those new jobs. There is also a second more fundamental underlying issue of concern at work here: the electoral “group-think” that the Conservative Party has become caught up in.The problem is the Coalition. The dominant defecit cutting narrative of the coalition has triumphed even over supporting the Conservative Party’s main interest group clientele - the Middle Classes. This owes everything to the need to maintain a working majority in parliament. As the numerically dominant partner in the coalition the Conservatives paradoxically find themeslves as the weaker partner in terms of pursuing avowedly interest group beneficial tactics in favour of the target clientele of the Liberal Democrats - those at the very bottom
  2. 2. of the wealth pyramid. The result: the paradoxical situation that these voters have recently abandoning them in droves and realigning behind the Labour Party with the Liberal Democrats recording some of the lowest levels of support in Political Opinion Polls with Labour maintaining a lead of two to three percentage points which the Conservatives are finding difficult to close. David Cameron’s Political Style has been formed in the heat of Coalition Politics. The Government was elected on a reform ticket: to reform the economy by shrinking public spending and with it the size of the bloated public sector that is the prima-facie cause of the fiscal deficit. In a widely acknowledged paper entitled, “Prime Ministerial power”, first published in the Journal Social Studies Review in 1987, Professor Philip, now the Lord Norton of Louth identifies two types of Prime Ministers: Reformers and Balancers essential for understanding the character and behaviour of David Cameron. Reformers, Norton argues, seek power in order to achieve a particular programme of public policy drawn up by a political party (or in this case with the Coalition Agreement – Political Parties plural). Cameron is the first Prime Minister to head a Coalition Government with an explicitly drafted Joint Programme to address the issue of the Economic Crisis facing Britain in which, “The deficit reduction programme takes precedence.” This is the first instance of a Government in which such a numerically dominant senior party in a Coalition is totally dependent on the explicit support of a smaller junior party to enact a legislative reform programme. David Cameron has also had to act as a Balancer both within and between his Coalition Partners and also within his own party. According to Norton in, “Prime ministerial power: A framework for analysis” in the Journal, Talking Politics (1988), there exists what he dubs Conscript Balancers – that is Balancers who have had power thrust upon them as the Head of the largest Political Party in Parliament following the General Election of 2010, Cameron was by default the only choice available as Prime Minister. It was this which determined Nick Clegg’s initial approach to the Conservatives as prospective coalition partners. Cameron’s natural instinct has been to be a balancer. This is because he needs to preserve the Coalition intact if he is had to have any chance of returning to power as the head of a Conservative only or more Conservative dominated Government at the next Election. Gove’s removal from the post of Education Secretary is proof positive that Cameron was simply putting the best interests of the party, as a true balancer should, ahead of friendship and personal loyalty. During the first four years in office Ministers were selected to deliver on the vital elements of the Coalition Agreement. The fact that there has been no large scale reshuffle up-until now has been a testament to the success of those Cabinet Ministers in fulfilling their brief. In the last year of the Coalition, Ministers have been selected to do a different job – to win an election! That Cameron has adopted a more forceful leadership role at a time when he needs to should come as no surprise. That this has been done with a certain element of partisanship is only natural. Ministers will be expected to be much remorselessly focused on compelling election winning issues related to tax and spend.
  3. 3. Commentators therefore have got it wrong about the ultimate purpose of the reshuffle. Cameron has found himself being pulled in a two directional shift in Voter Loyalties, both of which work to the Electoral disadvantage of the Conservatives. The first is the rightward pull of UKIP. Cameron needs to win these Voters back to secure victory. That would not be enough in itself. The hemorrhaging of support from the Liberal Democrats to Labour could equally deliver Victory in a General Election to Labour. This two directional pull explains the enduring lead in the Opinion Polls for Labour. 8%UKIPRIGHT LIBERAL DEMOCRATS8% LEFT Reshuffle Voter Loyalty Rebalancing Conundrum The reshuffle has two contradictory objectives. The first was to demonstrate to UKIP Switchers a much more clearly Eurosceptic orientation in the key personnel in those Government Departments concerned with the Conduct of Foreign Affairs: the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence and also, the work done in the sphere of International Law as regards Treaty Obligations, by the Attorney General –as the Government gears up to renegotiate its EU Treaty Commitments. Philip Hammond, Michael Fallon, Jeremy Wright and now Lord Hill as Britain’s EU Commissioner represent the most powerful and authoritative Eurosceptic Voice in the modern Conservative era. The former Attorney General Dominic Grieve lost his post because of his opposition to reform of the human rights regime. The Second is to utilize the appointment of MPs from the 2010 intake that are in support of a modernizing reformist policy agenda to achieve deeper blue water between the Conservatives and their Liberal Democrat coalition partners. The impact of this will create space for the Liberal Democrats to recapture political ground from Labour and restore some of their Opinion Poll support. Upuntil recently in Cabinet, Cameron has been constrained by Coalition dynamics because of the fine detail of the Coalition Agreement and some of the red lines that exist over
  4. 4. policy. For some journalists this has created the impression that Cameron is cold hearted. Let me remind those journalists that Cameron is Prime Minister of a Coalition Government. To do that requires him to maintain a certain degree of aloofness. It is a marriage of convenience not a cosy cohabitation. After over four years it is surprising that journalists lack sufficient historical perspective to appreciate that Cameron is the only Conservative Leader in the Modern Political Era to be heading a Minority Conservative Administration handcuffed by a constitutionally formalised confidence-and supply arrangement The question is has Cameron become caught up in the logic of Coalition? Has the pressure for unanimity triumphed over a more realistic appraisal of alternative economic courses of action, including deep cuts in the rate of income tax for middle income groups? The problem has been caused by two directly inter-related economic factors which I describe in detail in my paper. The first is in comparison to previous eras, the rate of growth of inflation continues to massively outstrip the rate of growth of wage inflation, particularly for middle income earners. The second is the impact of fiscal drag. This is where inflation and rising incomes pushes more tax payers into higher tax brackets so that their real incomes fall. The question is: Has the price for reaching an Agreement over Coalition resulted in marginal tax rates both disadvantaging and disincentivising middle income groups? Cllr Ged Mirfin North West Regional Co-ordinator, Conservative Voice ged@mirfin5064.freeserve.co.uk 07841 729 146 @NorthernTory Friday 25th July, 2015

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