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There's been much talk about how the US Republicans are demographically doomed unless they reform themselves, due to the rise of Hispanics alienated by their harsh line on immigration, and a Millennial Generation that generally believes in collective enterprise and is alienated by the GOP's cynicism and rugged individualism.

Some Tories have noticed similar trends happening this side of the Atlantic, and have begun to devise strategies for countering it, however I just want to present some statistics over the fold that show the scale of the Tories' problem.

The first issue confronting the Tories is growing diversity. The number of non-white people grew from 9% in 2001 to 14% in 2011. Not only this, but as has been seen in the US, minority populations have a ratchet effect, whereby growth leads to more growth. The minority share of British society has reached the point where it could start to take off pretty quickly.

Let's say the minority ethnic population is 21% by the time of the next census in 2021, and the Tories have done nothing to win them over, meaning they still vote for Labour by a 60% margin. If they vote for Labour by a roughly 75-15 margin, then for every 1% of growth, Labour gain a net 0.6% over the Tories. If they grow by 7% in ten years, Labour gain a net 4.2% over the Tories. That kind of change could swing 30-odd seats in Parliament, especially as ethnic minorites are beginning to move to the suburbs and become more strategically placed to flip marginal seats.

Secondy, generational change. I've just gone through the last 12 Populus polls and aggregated the voting intentions of people under 35. For 18-24 year olds, the combined sample size was about 1000, and they favoured Labour by a whopping 27%. For 25-34 year olds, the combined sample size was about 2000 and they favoured Labour by 20%. Generation turnings take 5-10 years to cross the Atlantic, so people aged 25 or more are probably the British equivalent of Generation X, however they seem to have different partisan preferences to their American counterparts.

Over a ten year period about 15% of the voting age population will pass on. If these 15% are mostly older people who favour the Tories by 10%, and are replaced by younger people who favour Labour by 20% then the Tories could lose a net 5% over the next 10 years. And no, generally don't move dramatically to the right as they age. That's a tiresome old canard from the 60s & 70s when people compared the Boomers to the Silent & the Lost.

Obviously the two trends are not independent of each other and some of the younger generation's Labour preference will be down to greater diversity, however nonetheless when they're combined the picture looks pretty grim for the Tories.

This is a familiar problem for right-of-centre parties all over the world. Many of them manage to stay relevant by re-inventing themselves and winning over new cohorts of voters. Others however struggle to do this and when I look at the Tories I think they may struggle.

They achieved it to an extent in 2010 and won over a respectable number of new voters, however they learned all the wrong lessons from their failure to win outright. They failed to win outright because the modernisation project began unravelling after the financial crash.

During 2007-08 they were riding high in the polls because David Cameron was coming across as a pretty liberal Tory, and many people who hadn't voted Tory before or hadn't voted for them since 1992 were beginning to look at them in a new light. Since then they've gradually reverted to type and large numbers enough think their main problem is they're not banging on about immigration enough and if they could just win back their supporters who have defected to right-wing protest party the UK Independent Party they could sweep to victory. They fail to understand that the immigration issue is already baked in to their image. To chance perceptions they need to change their image, and banging on about immigration is emphatically not the way to do it. They're like the deluded Bennite left (I should add that I actually greatly respect Tony Benn) in the 80s who said Labour's only problem was they didn't want to nationalise enough industries.

For those of us affiliated to Labour, or on the broader social democratic side of politics, it's win-win whatever the Tories do. If they stay in their ideological comfort zone we'll thrash them at the next few elections. If they reform themselves and stay competitive however, that won't be the end of the world either, as it'll be as a result of becoming a much more modern, moderate party.

In 1997 and 2002 a pair of very prescient books were published in the US. They were caled 'Millennials Rising' and 'The Emerging Democratic Majority' respectively. They were widely scoffed at, but their predictions have overwhelmingly come true, and are only just starting to come true here after the standard 10 years or so it takes for major sociological & generational changes to cross the Atlantic.

The Tories have got a thing or two to think about if they wish to stay relevant.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (19+ / 0-)

    If I can shoot rabbits, then I can shoot fascists- Manic Street Preachers

    by Liberal Of Limeyland on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 08:33:32 AM PST

  •  Just an FYI (6+ / 0-)

      Scanning what is happening around the globe:

       Conservatives in UK are erasing their Internet History - which means that they are hiding all their comments for the past decade plus.

  •  Your "tiresome old canard from the 60s & 70s" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sue B

    goes way farther back than that.  Note my 1st sig line...

    Still, I've never seen a study that specifically proved Rousseau right or wrong.

    Conservatism is a function of age - Rousseau
    I've been 19 longer'n you've been alive - me

    by watercarrier4diogenes on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 09:31:08 AM PST

  •  Unfortunately, UK electoral system is even worse (0+ / 0-)

    than the US's.

    Parliamentary government, but with single-seat winner-take-all districts.

    The Tories are already in minority in terms of popular support.

    But just like in Canada, it's enough for the non-wingnut majority to split itself into 2 or more parties, for the Tories to obtain parliamentary majorities (or last time, near-majority) out of <40% of the popular vote.

    And to think that Brits voted down electoral reform by a landslide in 2011...

    •  yes but they are also in trouble (0+ / 0-)

      they way things stand anyway, the Tories will lose power even if they outpoll Labour in terms of votes.  X% of the votes in total does not mean X% of the seats in Parliament.  I think the gap is about 4.5%?

      I don't think I have heard what they plan to do about that well-known problem.  There may already be a plan to actually rebrand and cease to be the 'nasty party'.  We shall see.  They are as yet infinitely better than the GOP of course........

      •  Depends upon which side is split into >1 party (0+ / 0-)

        Currently in both the UK and Canada, it is the left-of-center side that's split.

        The right-of-center gives nearly all its votes to the Tories.

        Take e.g. Cameron's own seat (in UK the PM is a member of Parliament). In 1997-2005, 3 straight election cycles, the Tories got <50% there, but were never in danger of losing the seat, b/c Labor and the Lib-Dems split the rest of the vote between them so effectively.

        In short, barring major backlash against the Lib-Dems (who are to Labor's left on civil and foreign issues, but libertarian on the economy) that obliterates their popular vote (21% in 2010), it will likely take longer in the UK for the Tories to pay the demographic price, than it is taking the GOP to pay the same here.

        •  UKIP??? (0+ / 0-)

          I can see the Tories losing out to the rabid anti-Europe party. That lot are loony, but they have a lot of support!

          •  UKIP don't run in all districts, and they got 3%.. (0+ / 0-)

            ...of the popular vote. The BNP, another wingnut outfit, almost got 2% but fielded candidates in only half the districts.

            By contrast:

            Labor and Lib Dem split the main left-of-center vote 29%-23%, and ran against each other in every. Single. District in which they faced the Tories.

            And there was an additional 1% to the Greens...

            •  what do you mean by 'district'? (0+ / 0-)


              and have you noticed the polls of late? UKIP is booming.  There is a real risk that they will top the polls in the European elections, as they plan to work from within to destroy the EU, supposedly.

              If they do well, and siphon of some Tory support, (and drag the Tories to the right) then we shall see what the impact is............unless it turns out to be right that the British economy really is recovering, and that can only help the Tories!

  •  What about the Lib and Green parties? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Liberal Of Limeyland

    I don't know much about UK elections, but the Greens did attain their 1st seat not long ago, and the Liberal Dem Party may be appealing to a growing minority vote.

    Think either of them will give the Labour party a run for the vote?

    •  Greens and Liberal Democrats (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Liberal Of Limeyland

      The Greens have grown slowly. They are not showing much sign of speedy growth, at the moment. Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, is quite likely to retain her seat at the next election in 2015. As long as she does the Greens will get some national attention.

      The Liberal Democrats have trashed about half their support from the last general election, from being in coalition with the Tories. It has basically destroyed the party as a major force in most of Scotland and urban northern England.

      The Conservatives hoped that the link with the Lib Dems would detoxify the Tory brand in Scotland. Instead the Lib Dem brand has been poisoned, with no real benefit to the Conservatives.

      It looks to me that the next general election is going to produce a very patchy Liberal Democrat result. In large parts of the country candidates will be in deposit losing territory (if a candidate gets less than 5% of the vote in a constituency, they do not get their £500 election deposit returned). On the other hand in some areas of local strength, incumbents may well cling on.

      If things go very well, the Liberal Democrats might even make some gains in rural and suburban seats particularly in southern England. The argument is that Labour is particularly weak in those seats and has been for a long time, which is not likely to change much. Even with the experience of the coalition it still makes sense (at least in the view of the Lib Dems) for left inclined voters to vote tactically for the Lib Dems as voting Labour will actually make a Conservative victory more likely. It is hoped that the average centre left voter (as opposed to Labour party activists) will still take the view that a Lib Dem MP is preferable to a Conservative one.

      The other part of the argument for gains is that the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats both have the areas of their strongest support in similar seats. However in most cases the Conservatives have been the stronger party in those areas, so the Lib Dem has usually been a distant second. If UKIP turn out to poll a substantial vote, it is thought likely that they will attract a higher percentage of former Conservative voters than former Lib Dem electors.

      The Lib Dem hope is that, at least in a few seats, there will be a perfect storm so they can win on the same or a bit lower percentage of the popular vote than last time due to the opposition vote being more divided.

      In a fragmented multi party political environment, combined with first past the post elections, the outcome of elections can be quite unpredictable. The chances of one party winning an overall majority seem to be less now than during the heyday of the Labour-Conservative two party system in the twentieth century. There is however the chance of a party winning a very large majority of seats, with a historically low percentage of the vote. Everything is still to play for.

      There is no man alive who is sufficiently good to rule the life of the man next door to him. Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, M.P.

      by Gary J on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 02:53:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Progressive are pretty united behind Labour (0+ / 0-)

      The Lib Dems have copped an enormous backlash because it was they who went into coalition with the Tories. A huge number of their voters last time were natural socialists who were angry with Labour for Iraq, draconian anti-terror laws, plus other things. The Lib Dems have lost more than half of the 24% of the vote they got and that is th main factor behind Labour's revival.

      The Greens are unlikely to be a threat. They won last time in Brighton, and control the council there (and are a pretty unpopular council) but apart from that their only real areas of strength are Norwich plus parts of Bristol, Manchester, and my little hippy enclave in south Liverpool. The centre-left is pretty united, and that should doom the Tories in 2015.

      If I can shoot rabbits, then I can shoot fascists- Manic Street Preachers

      by Liberal Of Limeyland on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 02:57:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think to some extent they've succeeded (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Liberal Of Limeyland

    Cameron changed on marriage equality and pushed it through (no small feat compared to elsewhere).  He recruited loads of gay and minority candidates for seats (winnable ones at that).  He's also held the line against some of the religious right nutjobs in his party.  Like Nadine Dorries.

    Check out my new blog:

    by SoCalLiberal on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 01:34:00 PM PST

    •  I think he genuinely deserves credit for that (0+ / 0-)

      He didn't have to do it, and took a hell of a lot of flak from the stuffy old Colonel Bufton Tufton types in his party, so it's a genuine achievement on his part.

      The only problem for him is it hasn't done him any good. Polls show a majority of the public in favour, but that doesn't mean it'll be a vote winner, plus during the debate there were some pretty offensive comments from certain Tory MPs, which probably reinforced negative perception people have of the Tory party and possibly cancelled out any boost they might have had.

      If I can shoot rabbits, then I can shoot fascists- Manic Street Preachers

      by Liberal Of Limeyland on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 03:00:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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