Could my 50/1 bet on Liz Kendall being the next Labour leader be a winner in the next few months?

February 1st, 2015

This afternoon it was reported that

Liz Kendall has emerged as a new challenger in a future Labour leadership battle, exacerbating Ed Miliband’s difficulties as party leader. Although some Labour figures have dismissed the rumours around the Leicester West MP as “the Blair Witch Project,” she is emerging as a favourite among Blairite MP.

Interest in the shadow health minister rose after she gave an interview to House magazine saying that for the NHS “What matters is what works”. A key Blairite told the Independent, “Liz is incredibly impressive on TV, has years of experience in government and really believes in the reforming agenda that Tony started.”

For those who backed Liz Kendall at 50/1 or higher, this is great news.

From the outside, it appears Tony Blair has become the Emmanuel Goldstein of the Labour party, but the candidate in the last Labour leadership that was considered the most Blairite won the vote among the MPs and the party members, ultimately it was the votes of union members that deprived him of the leadership. So being a Blairite might not be the toxic hindrance people assume.

It was obvious that some Blairites consider Ed’s approach to winning the General Election to be the wrong one, but if Ed loses the election, then those promising to follow on from Tony Blair, of the only man to have led Labour to a working majority in the last 49 years might have an advantage over non Blairite candidates, as they can point running on a non Blairite platform didn’t lead to victory.

The fact that only one bookie has her listed, reflects her status as an outsider, but given she is already receiving briefings against her makes me think that there is something is happening on the leadership front.

The Sunday Times reports (££), “In the event of a Labour defeat, the group of frontbenchers — dubbed “Neo Labour” — wants to back a “healing candidate” for leader to end the Brownite stranglehold on the party represented by Miliband and Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor…..Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary, is understood to have privately backed Chuka Umunna, who is dubbed “the Neo” of Neo Labour, after the hero of the film The Matrix.”

The downside for any Blairite candidate is this

Privately the Neo Labour frontbenchers are furious that Milburn and Hutton’s behaviour means the Blairites could be blamed for an election defeat. One prominent figure said: “It was f****** unhelpful. Why do it now? Why get the blame if we lose? It’s very damaging for the rest of us.”

If we do have a Labour leadership contest during the summer, then it could be taking place in the background of the publication of the Chilcot report, when the focus and attention will be on Tony Blair’s most controversial decision of his Premiership, so not being a Blairite might help.

But the most interesting fact about this, as I observed last year, and James Forsyth notes today.


All the  odds on the next Labour Leader can be found here.



Labour ruling out ‘negative’ election campaign posters indicates an underlying problem for Labour

February 1st, 2015

The Observer is reporting that

Labour has scrapped all plans to run billboard posters of David Cameron during the general election campaign in what it says it is a deliberate attempt to avoid “negative personalised adverts” and raise the tone of debate.

But the most interesting excerpt from the article is this bit

The Observer understands that Labour’s effort to occupy the moral high ground has also been driven by financial necessity, as it struggles to raise sufficient funds from the unions and other sources to fight the election campaign with all the firepower it needs. Paying for billboard spaces has been one of the major outlays for political parties in recent elections.

So if Labour is struggling financially, in light of the current polling, which appears to place the parties neck and neck, every campaign trick and advantage becomes critical, especially in the marginals. Add in Labour are having to concentrate their resources in Scotland where they had forty one seats which were previously considered safe, it becomes obvious the problems this might cause for Labour as the Tories are reportedly going to outspend Labour 3:1 in this election campaign.

I also expected if Labour hoped to reduce/overhaul David Cameron’s lead over Ed Miliband on the leadership front, they would have to go very negative, and posters would be one of the main ways to do so. If Cameron can maintain his lead between now and election day (or even widen his lead), then that might also have an impact on the election result.

In the last forty years, the most successful posters, in my opinion, were the ones that were negative, such as the Labour isn’t working poster from 1979,  the Tory poster warning about Labour’s Double Whammy in 1992 or Labour’s poster warning of the Tory Economic Disaster II in 2001.

But before Tory supporters get too excited, and Labour supporters get too despondent, in the 2010 General Election campaign, the Tories outspent Labour two to one, but the superior Tory resources didn’t result in a Tory majority.



The broad CON-LAB trend in the polls has barely moved since September

January 31st, 2015


Big polling news this afternoon – party leader ratings where Nick Clegg doesn’t come bottom

January 31st, 2015

First-timers are strongly pro-EU

The big question with this age group is whether they will actually turnout and since the new individual registration rules whether they are on the register.

This polling actually took place just before Christmas so is a bit old.

There will be the latest Opinium survey for the Observer later.

UPDATE: Latest Opinium has LAB lead at 1. LDs at 5%

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Remember Cameron’s early vote-Blue-go-green mantra?

January 31st, 2015

Now the Tory hope is vote Green get blue

The pictures still remain a defining moment of his leadership: surrounded by a pack of huskies and against an Arctic backdrop, David Cameron pushing his vote-Blue-go-green message. It seems a long time ago and it is, almost nine years as the clock ticks and an era politically – before the Credit Crunch changed the entire political landscape.

That early focus on the environment is perhaps one reason why Cameron remains distrusted by the Thatcherite right. After years of being fed the messages they wanted to hear on Europe, immigration, crime and the like (and suffering electoral defeat at the same time), not only did the strategy of focussing on the environment unnerve them as indicating that he wasn’t One of Us but was also rapidly overtaken by events once the recession hit. Green issues are for times when people have enough money to feel morally content about paying a bit more for organic food or petrol.

Whether it ultimately had the desired effect at the election is questionable. The softer, gentler hue cast a contrast with the Hague / IDS / Howard era but there’s a small cross-section between those who are willing to vote Conservative and those who place environmental concerns high on their priorities. For all that the detoxification strategy was edging up the Tory vote under Blair, it was one tax-cutting speech by Osborne and one dither by Brown that scuppered Labour’s chances in 2007. By 2010, the agenda had long moved on.

Five years on and looking at the rising Green Party scores, one could be forgiven for thinking that the environment was actually rising in the public’s concern. It’s not: in the Mori issues index, Pollution and the Environment scores in the mid- to high-single figures, just as it has done for years. What is driving the rise in the Green vote is not its core issue, the environment, but its extreme left-wing economic denialism, which makes it attractive to those of an oppositional mind-set, unhappy with the Lib Dems in government or Labour preparing for government.

The problem, of course, is that under FPTP, switching from Labour or the Lib Dems to the Greens is most likely to help the Tories. Bar charts can and no doubt will be deployed demonstrating how the Greens ‘can’t win here’ but such arguments have a limited appeal to voters who’ve (wrongly) come to the conclusion that the rest are all alike.

It’s not difficult to see why Cameron wants the Greens on stage in the debates. Unlike in a one-to-one interview, Natalie Bennett could sloganeer far more easily without being challenged on particular policies in anything like the depth that Andrew Neill went into last weekend. With UKIP’s bubble deflating a little, it’s the Greens who are timing their rise just right and giving themselves the chance to be this election’s breakthrough party. Yet if they are, it’s unlikely to be Bennett or Lucas smiling if the country votes Green but goes Blue.

David Herdson


Anybody betting on two general elections this year should first read this analysis by Chris Huhne

January 30th, 2015

The political and legal environment make it very difficult

Nearly a year ago the former LD cabinet minister, Chris Huhne, wrote an excellent piece in the Guardian on how the Fixed Term Parliament Act would make it difficult for a second general election shortly after an indecisive outcome – as looks highly likely in May.

” The Fixed-term Parliaments Act means that the prime minister can no longer call an election at a time of his choosing. … Elections are held every five years, except when two thirds of the Commons votes for one, or a government loses a vote of confidence and there is no further successful vote within 14 days.

True, a minority-government prime minister could engineer the loss of a vote of no confidence, but they would then run the risk that the main opposition party would establish a new administration and delay the election. Since the prime minister would only attempt to force an election if he thought he would win, the opposition would have every incentive to avoid losing. So that stratagem looks flawed.

The fixed-term act introduces a further difficulty for minority governments, because the timing of an election would now be in the hands of the combined opposition majority. Any loss of a vote of confidence would trigger an election if the government could not scrabble together a majority. A minority government would constantly be at risk of an election being called at a time of the opposition’s choosing.

The opposition strategy would then be clear: let the government flounder. Deny or amend ministerial legislation. Maybe even deprive the government of money. None of this would cause it to fall, because the fixed-term act requires a specific vote of no confidence. When the administration was looking truly shambolic, you force and win a vote of no confidence, calling an election at the point of the governing party’s maximum disadvantage.

What if Ed Miliband and David Cameron begin to dislike the fixed term? What if they were jointly keen to re-establish the prime minister’s prerogative to call general elections? They could, of course, combine to do so. But why would the opposition to a minority government want to hand over control of the timing of the next general election to its principal opponent?

All of which tells me that minority governments will be less popular in future, and that coalitions are more likely to be the response to a hung parliament. And as for hung parliaments, we shall see. If Labour and the Tories are closely competitive, and if Scotland stays part of the union, it will be hard for winner to take all.”

I find it hard to argue with Huhne’s logic.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


The mood of Tory optimism shows itself on the betting markets

January 30th, 2015

On the Betfair exchange CON now clear favourites to win most seats

With so any polls this week showing CON and LAB level-pegging or the blues ahead it’s inevitable that this was going to show on the betting markets. The money’s been going on them winning most seats and, as can be seen, there’s now quite a difference with the Labour price.

In betting terms the last time CON was at these level was in the aftermath of Cameron’s EU veto in December 2011. That was not to last as we saw in the mood change following the March 2012 Osborne budgets.

Everything has been helped by the Labour polling collapse in Scotland of which more to come next week from Lord Ashcroft.

The chart also shows the changes on three weeks ago when LAB had a slight margin.

    Clearly punters are betting on the trend not the actual numbers because level-pegging or a couple of points ahead is not sufficient to secure most seats

It is one of the facts of political betting that Tory punters react more to positive news about the party than Labour ones do. Theoretically this makes Labour the value bet but I’m doing nothing till I see the Ashcroft Scottish seats polls.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Henry G Manson’s 33-1 Sadiq for Mayor tip is looking better and better

January 30th, 2015

You can still get 4/1 on him for the nomination

Back in March 2013 Henry G Manson tipped Sadiq Khan to be next London Mayor when the price was 33/1. Henry’s record on Labour matters is usually pretty good and I was amongst many who got on at that price.

Henry’s reasoning was that Khan had, at the time, just been made Labour’s shadow minister or London – a role that would allow him real links with all parts of the party in the capital and a platform to build up his profile.

In last May’s elections Labour’s biggest success was in London and Khan got much of the credit.

Until now Sadiq hasn’t really registered in the regular Evening Standard YouGov London polls but that has now changed with the latest survey. He’s made a big jump as the favoured candidate of London party supporters and now stands just 7% behind Tessa Jowell who probably enjoys greater name recognition. Coverage like that in the latest Standard is going to further Khan’s position.

You can get 4/1 from William Hill on him winning the party nomination and 6/1 as next Mayor. The latter looks particularly tasty.

Once again well done Henry for his advice.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble