UKIP to the right of him, greens to the left

A group of around 25 Conservative MPs ambushed David Cameron this week in protest at reports that the PM is reconsidering his party’s green policies. Led by Laura Sandys MP the group, which includes serving Ministers and many MPs loyal to Cameron like Charles Hendy, Greg Barker and Oliver Colvile, argued strongly that he should not ditch his pledge to be the “greenest government ever” in the face of pressure from the right of the party.

The debate reflects growing unease among more centrist parts of the parliamentary party in the face of their more vocal right-wing colleagues. This is also evident in Planning Minister Nick Boles’ radical idea for a new ‘National Liberal’ ticket for Conservative MPs.

Sandys’ role in the meeting is interesting, as the MP has made the decision to step down in 2015 (after just one term in Parliament). The step is widely believed to be driven in part by the threat posed by UKIP in her Thanet constituency. Recent polling in the seat suggests that if the election were to be held now, the Conservatives would finish third on 28% of the vote. Labour are in first place on 35%, and UKIP in second on 30%.

The Prime Minister’s response: an announcement that the UK will push for tighter controls on the movement of people within the EU. With Romanian and Bulgarian citizens able to live and work in the UK from 1st January 2014 without limitation, the Government is keen to be seen to take action to ensure that migrants aren’t able to claim benefits without first working in the UK.

While the new proposals have been derided by UKIP leader Nigel Farage, they have provoked a strong reaction from figures within the European Commission, with Employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor stating that the UK is in danger of becoming seen as the ‘nasty country’.

It’s likely that the PM will be very relaxed by this, and indeed it’s likely that he will be hoping that a bust up with the EU over migration will help him appeal to voters concerned about immigration. He’ll also be hoping that, with similar concerns expressed by other member states, including Germany (if not quite as vocally), this may be a battle with the Commission that the PM can win.

Labour’s 2015 media campaign begins in earnest

As part of their efforts to lay the ground for the 2015 general election campaign, Labour have begun a proactive effort to attack what they regard as media bias against the party. Taking lessons from Australian Labor party campaign strategist Bruce Hawker, Labour has sought to attack various parts of the press, as well as the Conservative party for what Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper called “mudslinging”.

The plan is designed to cast criticism of the Labour party, and in particular its leader Ed Miliband, as part of a Murdoch campaign based not on fact and policy but rooted in the combative politics of the Tories’ election strategist Lynton Crosby, who Labour believe epitomises the Conservative’s ‘nasty party’ label.

Lib Dems voters just don’t know

A fifth of those who voted Lib Dem in 2010 are undecided as to where they will vote in 2015, according to polling by Populus. That equates to around 1.5m votes; votes which could have a huge impact on marginal seats in the 2015 election if the Lib Dems can convince them to return to the fold. Interestingly, polling from YouGov shows that that people who voted Lib Dem in 2010 are roughly twice as likely to respond that they ‘Don’t Know’ or ‘Won’t Vote’ in 2015 than 2010 Labour or Conservative voters.

Jake Rigg

Jake Rigg

Jake is the Managing Director at Keene Communications, specialising in government relations activities on financial services, tax and competition in the UK and the EU. He also specialises in planning and stakeholder engagement.

He was formerly Head of Policy at the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). With degrees in history and economics from the Universities of Oxford and London, Jake is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a trustee of the European Association of Philanthropy and Giving and advises several governments on public policy. He also advises clients on CSR and philanthropy activities.
Jake Rigg

About the Author

Jake is the Managing Director at Keene Communications, specialising in government relations activities on financial services, tax and competition in the UK and the EU. He also specialises in planning and stakeholder engagement. He was formerly Head of Policy at the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). With degrees in history and economics from the Universities of Oxford and London, Jake is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a trustee of the European Association of Philanthropy and Giving and advises several governments on public policy. He also advises clients on CSR and philanthropy activities.