David Cameron has a Mitt Romney Problem

Dan-WhitfieldDan Whitfield discusses the similarities between David Cameron and Mitt Romney – and how this spells bad news for Cameron:

After Mitt
Romney, the Republican nominee for President was defeated last November, British
political prognosticators predicted that the result was a good omen for David
Cameron and a warning for his opposite number on the Labour benches, Ed
Miliband.

They are wrong.

It’s easy to see
why the experts made such a mistake.  After
all, President Obama won reelection with unemployment hovering at 8% –
something no occupant of the White House has ever done before (the closest was
Ronald Reagan, who was reelected in 1984 with unemployment at 7.2%).  Obama won in spite of the gridlock paralyzing
Washington (for which he is largely responsible), contempt for politicians at
record levels, and smoldering resentment over his reform of the American
healthcare system.

President Obama
also won despite his opponent, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney,
effectively stealing the mantle of change.

Such
similarities to the political situation in the UK will not have gone unnoticed
by Tory High Command.  That's why, on the
surface, President Obama's reelection is delightful news for Cameron.  Even now, perhaps, advice is being poured
into the Prime Minister's ear, urging him to follow the path blazed by the
President.  To win a reelection campaign
of his own, all David Cameron need do is remind voters of the mess he
inherited, emphasize the indicators which point to an economic recovery, and expose
his opponents glaring shortcomings. 
Follow the Obama recipe, and another 5 years in Downing Street beckon.

But a close look
at exit polling should have Conservatives nervous.  It shows that Mitt Romney lost for exactly
the same reasons that have damaged British Tories generally, and David Cameron
in particular.

The Fox News
exit poll showed that by a margin of ten points, voters thought Obama was “more
in touch with people like me.”  By a
whopping 81-18 margin people believed President Obama to be the more empathetic
candidate. Governor Romney did win majorities of voters who wanted “a vision
for the future” (54-45) and “a candidate who shares my values” (55-42), but was
undone by the fact that so many voters believed his policies would favor the
rich, effectively neutralizing his greatest strength: that he was the candidate
best equipped to turn around America's faltering economy.

Thus was
Romney's campaign was undone.  Much has
been written about the changing demographics of America – a worthy topic – but
the bottom line remains that people will not vote for a candidate they do not
like, irrespective of the colour of their skin. 
President Obama had a favorability rating of +7, while Gov. Romney,
suffering from millions of dollars’ worth of unanswered attack ads, had a
negative favorability rating of -3.

In the UK, there
are chilling similarities to Gov. Romney's position and David Cameron's, though
the Prime Minister does outperform the Republican in some crucial polling
questions.

An Ipsos-Mori
poll published just before party conference season in September shows Cameron
trailing by ten points on the issue of who “represents people like me.” And he
clings to a tiny two-point led when voters are asked to choose who “has the
right values.”

There is good
news for Mr. Cameron in the poll: by healthy margins he beats out Mr. Miliband
when voters are asked who is more “Prime Ministerial,” “likeable,” and “a good
person,” although Mr. Miliband does win on the question of “who will protect
British jobs.”

The Prime
Minister therefore is not in as near a bad a position as Gov. Romney, but his
polling numbers show they both share the same problems as a candidate: people
doubt their values, and question both their privilege, and their commitment to
jobs for the middle class.

The similarities
between Romney and Cameron go beyond mere polling.  Both come from what most people would agree
is “the 1%.”  Their upbringings
encompassed the very best schools and colleges, and they enjoy enormous wealth
beyond the means of most families.  Hence
why Mr. Cameron is so sensitive to attacks upon his background: deep down, he
fears they may actually work.  The
polling shows he is correct to hold such fears.

Mitt Romney's
candidacy fell victim to attacks on his character and background which he
inexplicably failed to rebut until the last few weeks of the campaign.  David Cameron, a far better politician, knows
to insulate himself against charges that his policies favor the rich and that
he is out of touch.  Hence the statement,
trotted out by his front bench team, that “we are all in this together,” and
the Prime Minister's reluctance to lower the top rate of income tax during the
negotiations over last year’s budget.

But these
solutions are only temporary.  What is
the answer to the long-term problem that people incorrectly associate
right-of-center parties with policies that favor the elite?  After all, it is parties of the left that
have destroyed state-education in their craven worship of the teaching unions,
thus harming the life-chances of those from the middle class.  And it was left-wing politicians who allowed
giant corporations like GE, Apple, and Google to pay obscenely low levels of
tax, foisting the tax-burden instead on middle class families not as well
connected as the CEOs of leading multinationals.

As in so much in
politics, there is no easy solution.  But
there is cause for optimism: the Republican Party is hungry for power, and its
hunger will compel it to confront the problems which beset the Romney
candidacy.  Already the conservative
media is abuzz with suggestions on how to improve the standing of the GOP.  Tories, with the election of 2015 inching
closer, should pay close heed.   After all, true leaders do not shed their ideology
and flee to the middle ground for safety; they bring the middle ground to them.

Dan Whitfield is a writer living in Washington, DC, specializing in the conservative routes of America’s founding.  Previously Dan worked for the Leadership Institute, America’s largest training organization for conservative activists.

The Left: Hoist by their own petard

Dan Nolan Dan Nolan on why the left on the internet is absolutely losing their minds, and why they brought this all upon themselves.

Were you to take at face value the grotesque outpouring of utter vitriol from the left-aligned members of the twitter cognoscenti, you would have thought Tony Abbott had taken up a policy of punching babies, burning down forests and beheading immigrants personally. At least, that’s what most sane people would take from the insane out roar of fury currently flitting around the twittersphere. Catherine Deveny, much reviled or revered for her candor even went as far as to state she would be committing suicide if Tony Abbott became PM. Though this does frivolously deal with the serious issue of suicide, such a statement is as utterly vulgar as it is utterly idiotic. You’d think the fact that Australians obviously thought both sides were pretty equal but wanted to put the boot into Labor for how they treated Kevin Rudd would be something people would be able to have a rational discussion about.

Though it is a trend for the blood to boil in all manners of politics, but these attacks on Mr Abbott seem to stem from the old-fashioned geek term of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). Abbott is portrayed as some manner of religious fundamentalist, and insane free-marketer ‘brutopian’ fantasist, or as a complete idiot who will burn this country to the ground with a gigantic grin from ear to ear. Whilst his religious beliefs differ substantially from mine, I don’t find them disgusting or repugnant as most of the virulently atheist crowd do on twitter, simply because he tends to keep them to himself, or at least not vote entirely informed by them. To put it simply, he’s a fairly moderate Catholic, interested in issues of Social Justice, and as a Catholic, issues of contraception and abortion.

It’s utter idiocy to speculate that we’re going to move back to the 1950’s because he’s now a potential candidate for PM. The ‘insane free-marketeer’, well that’s spoken to by his track record, he seems to be quite economically liberal (small-l) particularly in issues of the maternity leave scheme. Lastly, the cry that he’s in any way an idiot is unfathomable, given his quite impressive intellectual track record, in particular his Rhodes Scholarship. I’ve yet to meet a Rhodes Scholar who wasn’t less than whip-crack smart, and I’d challenge anyone to point to one that is in the slightest bit intellectually deficient.

The reason for this hair-pulling and furious insanity is much the same as the uproar regarding the partnership between the Lib-Dems and the Conservatives in the UK. The Guardian, which had put its cards on the table and supported the Lib-Dems over New Labour in the UK had its blogs beset with furious commenters saying that the Guardian need to apologise to its readers, asking ‘do the editors feel ashamed of what they’ve let happen?’. Whilst those of us grin and bear it when we are led by those on the left, those on the left feel utterly betrayed and show a manner of paranoia and revulsion regarding leadership by anyone even mildly right-leaning.

Much as the Lib-Dem voters in the UK guaranteed New Labour’s defeat, those of whom voted Greens locally as their primary vote guaranteed Labor’s electoral calamity on Saturday. This would normally not be an issue, as we have constantly speculated that those who vote Green vote Labor secondarily, but it was an interesting issue in this election where the Greens decided to not hand out HTV’s that specified particular preferences. Even Bob Brown himself said that preferences (at least in the lower house) were not something he put much credence in. Were the preferences to flow the normal way that Greens/Labor candidates speculate, we would almost certainly be in a different position. However, based on the current statistics (and some speculation on my part, surely baseless) it would appear that the split on Greens preferences was somewhat equally Labor/Liberal.

What this tells us, at least, somewhat, is that the Greens instead of being the normal bolstering vote for Labor, was embraced by the Australian population as somewhat of a protest vote, but the form of which they preferenced around 50/50 to the Liberals as well as Labor. Not only did the Greens come into their own this election ( with a substantial senate tally (9 as of the current estimates) and their first Member of the House of Representatives elected at a general election) but their current vote breakdown showed that the traditional greens supporter is slowly becoming a thing of the past. I’d posit that a great deal of greens voters, though pushing through a protest vote, are environmentally interested (and as Daniel Hannan says, the environment is too important to leave to the left), but the claim that the Left has over the environment, or progressive social policy is utterly fatuous.

Again, this is all speculation until the true figures about the preference flow can be determined, but it is certainly something to reflect on. To the left losing their minds on twitter and facebook and all around the internet, you brought this upon yourselves. Either in the form of the Labor party’s absolute complacency in regards to the will of the Australian population, or in regard to your claim to moral authority and moral governance. Their uproar of repugnance at the concept of Tony Abbott as PM shows how far away the average left-wing individual is from the wills of the Australian electorate. Though many voters may like the Green’s stance on electoral-wildfire issues such as gay marriage, or the treatment of refugees, when it comes to sound economic management and sound governance they know the economy is better in the hands of the right than anyone else.

Dan Nolan is a Software/UX Engineer at the UNSW and an avid follower of the political landscape in Australia.

Nick Clegg blows kisses to criminals

Ben-Peter-Terpstra Ben-Peter Terpstra isn't too impressed with the UK Liberal Democrats' policy on crime.

In case, you’ve been sleeping in of late, there are some very informative and very British debates going on right now. Yes, election season is here – and the Liberal Democrats are reminding voters that jails create crimes. Did I use the word informative? Sorry, I meant idiotic.

The good news:  Ed West who specialises in politics, religion and low culture is getting pissy with leader Nick Clegg’s soft-on-crime arguments. Writing for the UK’s Telegraph he points out:

Nick Clegg has launched the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto, and although they have some good ideas (well, to be precise, one – the £10,000 threshold), Clegg has once again trotted out the old chestnut about Britain being some jail-mad prison state, calling Labour and Conservative policy on crime “stupid”.

[snip]

The Liberal Democrats’ buzzword is “solidarity”, which seems to be what everyone is crying out for right now, but if there’s one thing that reduces social solidarity it’s crime (inequality is also a factor, but crime also causes more inequality).

So thanks for the income tax break, but there’s no point in giving low earners their money back if they’re just going to have to spend the extra money on home security and dog food for their pet Rottweilers.

I happen to agree with Ed. Indeed, Clegg’s philosophy is as lazy as “Ludlam’s dog, that leaned his head against a wall to bark,” to quote a very British proverb.  And as Ed correctly points out, Clegg is also using dodgy statistics to sell his case. Or to quote two more very British proverbs, “He that once deceives is ever suspected,” and “He that mischief hatcheth mischief catcheth.”

Now don’t get me wrong. The UK is a charming place. I quite fancy her devil dogs, her cockney accents, her fox hunters, her so-called soccer hooligans, her Tesco TV dinners, her suspiciously bloody sausages, her get-tough-on-crime-and-punishment castles, her controlled bar fights, and, even some of her listless vegetarians  (when they’re too tired to protest against fox hunters). But I have no time for her Victorian-period serial killers and pickpockets, and therefore no love for Clegg’s we-are-the-world-we-are-the-children theology.  

Like so many criminal-first libertarians, Clegg ignores the fact that families outside of universities without bodyguards, can’t afford to live like cottonwool professors, and I’m glad Ed is calling him out. After all, there are only so many devil dogs one can feed.

Ben-Peter Terpstra is an Australian satirist and cartoon lover. His works are posted on numerous sites from American Thinker (California) to Quadrant Online (Sydney, Australia). You can find him at his blogs Pizza Trays and Beer Bottles and Quote Digger.

The State

The Conservatives in the UK have given Australian centre-right politics an example to follow, writes Michael G.

I sit here at my desk grinning at the ideological brilliance of the Conservatives’ election campaign in the United Kingdom. It is something that is not often seen: a real battle between left and right, between different principles and different ideologies. It is near-unthinkable to see such a thing being played out.

The political debate is not being framed as some wish-washy “everything for everyone” nonsense as is the case here in Australia. No, here is a real difference. Since the right (finally!) are not copying the dogma of the left—supporting ever-greater levels of state interference in our lives—the left is being forced to defend policies thought previously to be consensual.

Gordon Brown and his Labour Party now have to come up with excuses for their own Leviathan—the gigantic and ever-engorging state sector—and to defend its abject retardation of prosperity, its restrictions on individuals’ freedom, and its repulsive collusion with the big banks and big corporations.

David Cameron’s Conservatives have opted not to defend the supreme authority of the state—what a change from here in Australia! The Howard government, despite its many achievements, often defended and extended the state’s centralised rule over people. But the Conservatives want state power reduced and devolved, and truly devolved at that: where the citizenry have real power to constrain and control the state themselves.

The contrast that can be made is stark: that the people can control the state as a society, just as they control the rest of their lives as individuals. The people can be in control, and not at the whim of an unelected bureaucrat, a careerist politician, or a corporation privy to state largesse. Now the public schools are their schools, the public libraries are their libraries, and the public hospitals are their hospitals.

How sad then, is the centre-left option? Where the individual is not in control and neither is society. Public institutions are not to be trusted in the hands of the public. The left have to, in truth, defend the notion that people are utter fools and not capable of taking back responsibility. The citizenry can not be trusted; only the party can be.

There is much to look forward to. Here comes together a conservative respect for traditional institutions of society with liberal notions of greater freedom for individuals. An intellectual debt is owed to Burke, to Hayek, and now to people such as Daniel Hannan.

As a libertarian—classical liberal—with a strong conservative bent, I welcome the possibility of a new era of rigorous centre-right thought, policy, and implementation. The Conservatives in the United Kingdom have given us a lead: may we follow and advance!

Michael G is completing degrees in finance and history at Flinders University, and works at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.

Polls & The UK Election – WTF Edition

Tim-AndrewsTim Andrews expresses some surprise at recent polling in the United Kingdom

Hey, Britain, WTF man? Seriously? I mean, seriously?!?!? Is this some kind of joke?

Okay, to those of you who are unaware of what I'm talking about, I've just seen some of the recent polling for the UK General Election, set for the 6th of May. And…um… here's what I've read:

On Friday the 16th, YouGov had the Tories on 33% (down 4), Labor on 28% (down 3) , and the Liberal Democrats on… wait for it… 30% (up 5).

The Lib Dems in second place?!?!?! Okay, so it's a rogue poll. These things happen. Dismiss and move on. 

So, next poll. Com Res came out the next day with Tories on 34% (down 4), Labour on 27% (down 2), and the Liberal Democrats on… 29% (up 8). 

Um, okay then. 

Let's see what else there is out there. ICM yesterday had the Tories on 34% (down 3), Labour on 29% (down 2), and the Liberal Democrats on 27% (up 7). So, in this poll, the Lib Dems are still in 3rd place, but still, up seven?

Okay, it's been a crazy two days, I'm sure things would have returned to normal. Let's have a look at what today's polling shows: "A BPIX poll for the Mail on Sunday has the Lib Dems in the lead. The poll… puts the Lib Dems up 12 on 32, the Tories down 7 to 31 and Labour down three to 28."

Oh.

So yeah, um… even if this won't last, I think it could quite possibly be a long-term game changer.

UPDATE: You may be interested in reading Stephan Shakespeare, CEO of YouGov, on why he doesn't believe the surge will last (but it might)

UPDATE 2: Have any comments on the UK election you want placed on Menzies House? Email your submissions – long or short, serious or whimsical, to editor@menzieshouse.com.au 

UPDATE 3: Today's YouGov poll has the Tories on 32, Labour on 26, and the Lib dems in the lead on 33. 

(Tim Andrews is a co-Founder & Editor of Menzies House)