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The PB July Polling Average: Gravity finally catches up with UKIP

August 2nd, 2014

Con, Lab and LD all up, but so are Others

So perhaps UKIP does need the oxygen of publicity after all.  After recording a record score in June, Farage’s party is the biggest loser in July; indeed, the only loser.  That June figure surprised many who thought that the absence from the papers and TV screens of what’s still in many ways a minor party would inevitably lead to a drop in vote share.  It didn’t then but two months after the European elections, the boost that gave them may finally have worn off.  July’s figures were:

I say ‘may’ as there are two caveats.  The first is that UKIP had a particularly bad ICM poll in July – down seven points – and due to ICM’s accuracy in 2010 and their only carrying out one poll a month, that one poll accounts for half the overall drop by itself.  Even so, while no other pollster recorded such a dramatic fall, they all recorded a fall of some sort.  The second is that even if some of UKIP’s share has drifted, not all of it has: 13.2% is still better than at the same time last year or for that matter, for most of the period between the annual elections.

The flip side of those facts is that while the big Westminster three have had a good month compared with June, none of the figures is much to write home about.  Labour remains below 35% for the third successive month, the only three such this parliament.  The Tories are still stuck in the 31.5±1% range that they’ve occupied for over a year now and which remains well below what they need if they want to prevent Labour gaining an overall majority, never mind keeping power themselves.  Finally, the Lib Dems might be the biggest gainers of the month but only with their second-worst monthly score.

    In fact, it’s Others who remain on the charge: the implied figure of 11.2% is not only a record high and the fifth consecutive monthly increase but is more than the share that Others including UKIP achieved in 2010.

Does this represent a sudden surge of enthusiasm for the smaller parties?  It seems unlikely, given that with the exception of the SNP and Plaid, they’re nigh-on invisible outside election times – and it’s not the nationalists who are responsible for the increase.  Far more likely is that it’s just the latest manifestation of the general disillusionment with politics in general, with UKIP both becoming more establishment in their own right, and being subject to greater scrutiny by the media and attacks by their opponents.

Of themselves, voters for the genuinely minor parties (i.e. excluding parties with low shares due to only contesting one region), rarely make any direct impact.  Few seats are within the reach of the Greens, for example.  One key question is whether people now saying they’ll vote for them will actually do so after the effects of a full election campaign are felt (or for that matter, whether they’ll vote at all).  The related question is how the parties attract them back: a task that may well call for different techniques from those previously employed to target voters swinging between the big three.

David Herdson




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The Scottish IndyRef is set to be the biggest non-general election UK political betting event ever

August 1st, 2014

The chart above from Betfair fits in with messages coming from the traditional bookies about the huge betting interest in the September 18th Scottish referendum. I track this daily and have been amazed that this far out there has been so much activity.

Generally in election markets 90%+ of all bets are cast within the final week. If that holds here then a huge amount will be gambled overall.

A fair bit depends on the polling and while YES remains within striking the betting interest will rise.

A fortnight tomorrow I’m part of a panel at the Festival of Politics in Edinburgh talking about this and other issues. Apart from the event itself I’m really looking forward to being back in Scotland a month before its makes its momentous decision.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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Full round up of this week’s local by-elections with news of 2 LAB gains

August 1st, 2014

Thurmaston on Charnwood (Con Defence)
Result: Labour 783 (43%), UKIP 496 (27%), Conservatives 404 (22%), BNP 95 (5%), British Democrats 58 (3%)
Labour GAIN from Conservative with a majority of 287 (16%)

Mostyn on Flintshire (Ind Defence)
Result: Independent 205 (40%), Labour 191 (37% +4%), UKIP 90 (18%), Conservatives 27 (5%)
Independent HOLD with a majority of 14 (3%), no swing calculable

Penydarren on Merthyr Tydfil (UKIP defence)
Result: Labour 257 (31% -7%), Independent (Thomas) 235 (29%), Independent (Barsi) 228 (28%), Liberal Democrats 62 (8%), Conservatives 40 (5%)
Labour GAIN from UKIP with a majority of 22 (2%), no swing calculable

Darwell on Rother (Con Defence)
Result: Conservatives 361 (43%), UKIP 182 (22%), Green 154 (18%), Labour 84 (10%), Liberal Democrats 65 (8%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 179 (21%)

Harry Hayfield



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The chances of a LAB majority have dropped by 10% since the budget according to Betfair punters

August 1st, 2014

But Labour’s inherent electoral advantages could be being ignored

Exactly 8 months today on April 1st 2015 the formal general election campaign will begin and my intention at the start of every month is to monitor betting prices on the Betfair exchange to see how the mood is changing.

The chart above shows current latest trades on the firm’s GE2015 outcome market and has comparisons with what it was just before the March 2014 budget. As can be seen the big “loser” in the period has been LAB. Then the chances of a major were rated at just under 40% – now that is down to below 30%.

The gainers in that period have been a CON majority and no overall majority.

    But be warned. In 2010 the betting markets overall overstated the Tories and LDs and seriously understated Labour. That might be happening again.

Just before the polling opened in May 2010 the Commons seats buy level on LAB seats was 222. They got 258 producing a nice profit for those who got on.

On the face of it the historical LAB ability to achieve a substantially better votes:seats ratio than other parties doesn’t seem to be reflected in the betting.

I’m really looking forward to the next round of Lord Ashcroft polling which, apparently, embraces slightly less marginal CON held seats than we’ve seen in earlier rounds. Hopefully this will give us better pointers.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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Harry Hayfield’s Local By-Election Preview: July 31st 2014

July 31st, 2014

Thurmaston on Charnwood (Con Defence)
Result of last election to council (2011): Conservatives 33, Labour 16, British National Party 1, Liberal Democrats 1, Independent 1 (Conservative majority of 14)
Result of last election in ward (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservative 1,473, 1,399, 1,309
Labour 1,306, 1,153, 1,058
Candidates duly nominated: Hanif Asmal (Con), Chris Canham (British Democrats), Stepgen Denhan (BNP), Tom Prior (UKIP), Ralph Raven (Lab)

On the face of it Charnwood appears to be a Conservative area, however appearances can be deceptive. In 2003, although the Conservatives had the largest number of seats on the council there was no overall majority and it was only the Labour disaster of 2007 that allowed the Conservatives to gain control in that election and unlike the rest of the country in the 2011 local elections, Labour were unable to take advantage of the anti coalition mood by being unable to gain any seats from the Conservatives, so when you add into the mix a new UKIP candidate, the BNP trying to double their representation and a new party given the closeness of the result last time, anything could happen.

Mostyn on Flintshire (Ind Defence)
Result of last election to council (2012): Labour 31, Independents 23, Liberal Democrats 7, Conservatives 7, Plaid Cymru 1 (No Overall Control, Labour short by 4)
Result of last election in ward (2012): Independent 385 (67%), Labour 188 (33%)
Candidates duly nominated: Pam Banks (Lab), Richard Pendlebury (Con), David Roney (Ind), Liz Soutter (UKIP)

Although seperated by a couple of hundred miles, the by-elections being held today in Flintshire and Merthyr share a rather similar history. In 1995, when Flintshire was reconstituted after being swallowed up by Clwyd following the 1973 county and district restructing, Labour ruled the roost polling 51% of the popular vote and winning an overall majority of 22 and among that Labour majority was the councillor for Mostyn, Cllr. Patrick Hessom who was elected unopposed. In 1999, very little changed in the county, the Labour vote fell by about 3%, the Labour majority fell to 14 and Cllr. Hessom was re-elected, but not for Labour, no, this time he was elected as an Independent with 73% of the vote and an Independent he has remained since then where as Labour had the skids put under them, retaining control of Flintshire in 2004 by just three seats, losing control in 2008 suffering 15 losses, and coming within a whisker of regaining control in 2012. However, in 2013 allegations emerged that Cllr. Hessom was bullying other councillors and after a long investigation, those allegations were proved and Cllr. Hessom was forced to stand down from the council.

Penydarren on Merthyr Tydfil (UKIP defence)
Result of last election to council (2012): Labour 23, Independents 7, Merthyr Tydfil Independents 2, United Kingdom Independence Party 1 (Labour majority of 13)
Result of last election in ward (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Independents 656, 438, 315 (39%)
UKIP 588 (16%)
Labour 569, 435, 337 (38%)
Non Party Independent 230 (6%)
Candidates duly nominated: Kerry Thomas (Ind), Clive Barsi (Ind), Robert Griffin (Lib Dem), John McCarthy (Lab), Kimberley Murphy (Con)

Merthyr Tydfil also came into existence in 1995 and just like Flintshire was an absolute Labour heartland with Labour winning 65% of the vote and winning 29 of the 33 councillors up for election with Penydarren electing three Labour councillors all heartily beating the Ratepayer candidates. However, in 1999, that all changed. Labour’s vote failed to breach the 50% mark (48%), they lost thirteen seats and lost overall control on the council to the Independents on a 19% swing to them. But despite this Penydarren remained loyal to Labour as only one of the seats changed hands, which makes what happened in 2004 even more staggering. Yes, Labour regained control (but only by one seat) as their vote share slipped again to 42% but the Independents were split between those Independents, the Merthyr Tydfil Independents and “People Before Profit” but in Penydarren Labour’s dominance was ended as the remaining two Labour seats were gained by the Merthyr Tydfil Independents and the Independents but if Labour were experiencing joy at regaining the council it did not last long as in 2008, Labour lost control again but with a disaster of an election. Labour’s vote share was just 37%, they lost nine seats and the Independents and Merthyr Tydfil Independents joined forces to run the council and one of those councillors who found himself in power was Cllr. Greer who had gained a seat from his fellow Merthyr Tydfil Independent in Penydarren. However as the years rolled along, tensions appeared in the coalition and in 2010 Cllr. Greer announced that he was defecting to UKIP and in 2012 stood for his new party and became Wales’ first directly elected UKIP councillor when he held his seat in Penydarren. Since then of course Cllr. James (Aberporth on Ceredigion) has defected to UKIP from Independent and has announced plans to stand for UKIP in the 2016 Assembly elections but personally speaking if UKIP cannot even find a candidate to give them a chance to defend the seat they won in 2012, Cllr. James should start getting a little concerned.

Darwell on Rother (Con Defence)
Result of last election to council (2011): Conservatives 27, Liberal Democrats 5, Independents 4, Labour 2 (Conservative majority of 16)
Result of last election in ward (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,168, 1,016
Green 386
Liberal Democrats 363, 341
Labour 228
Candidates duly nominated: Tracy Dixon (Lib Dem), Suz Evasdaughter (Lab), Eleanor Kirby-Green (Con), Edward Smith (UKIP), Andrew Wedmore (Green)

Rother may border Hastings (a true Con / Lab battleground if ever there was one) but the two councils do not share the same electoral history as Rother is a true blue bastion (25 Conservatives out of 38 in 2003, 28 in 2007 and 27 in 2011) but as we have seen before this is precisely the type of area that UKIP excel in and the Conservatives would do well to remember that in the Euros, Rother voted 39% UKIP to the Conservatives 31%, and with UKIP fielding a candidate for the first time in this ward the potential for a UKIP gain has to be pretty high.



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The GE2015 seat split based on the latest PaddyPower line betting

July 31st, 2014

If this was the outcome Cameron could sit tight

We are going to see a lot of projected commons numbers like the ones in the chart above in the next ten months.

What’s showing here are the buy levels for the three main parties on PaddyPower and as can be seen neither CON nor LAB would have a majority and would probably try to cobble together some deal to see themselves through.

    What the chart doesn’t show is that it’s likely that if this was the result the Tories would have a bigger national vote share while LAB would have the edge on seats.

The reasons are the boundaries and, most of all, much lower turnout levels in LAB heartlands compared with CON ones. The latter is what most impacts on the aggregate national vote shares.

That could create a lot of problems for the Lib Dems if they sought to go in with LAB a party that lost on votes.

An intriguing feature of such an outcome is that Cameron could sit tight and wouldn’t have to leave Downing Street. It would be only if/when LAB put together some sort of arrangements that would take them over the 325 seat mark that Dave would have to go to the Palace.

My reading of LAB is that the party would find it very challenging try to do deal with the LDs. If the LDs did get 34 seats then Clegg would probably stay – something that LAB would find it hard to swallow.

A fresh general election within a few months? Probably not because the Fixed Term Parliament act would make it difficult.

I’ve got 10/1 on a new CON-LD coalition and 12/1 on a hung parliament no coalition deal bets.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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With Dave outclassing Ed in the ratings and the economy getting better how come CON’s behind in the polls?

July 31st, 2014

Why are the Tories not in the lead?

One of the ongoing mysteries is why CON continue to lag behind LAB in the voting intention polls. The economy is recovering and this is now being seen by voters. On top of that the Tories retain a solid lead over LAB as best party on the economy.

We also have the Ed Miliband factor who continues to get poor ratings. Surely this should all be being reflected in the voting intention polls? The Tories should be ahead.

    The general theory is that leaders and the economy are “lagging indicators” which will only impact on voting at a very late stage. Maybe. Maybe not.

The big factor that makes GE2015 so uncertain is that we don’t have the conventional battlegrounds. LAB has hardly taken any voters from CON and there’s been little movement in the other direction. EdM’s party is relying a lot on 2010 LDs voters which it must retain. The Tories main battle is in trying protect itself against the UKIP surge.

On top of that we’ve got more polling than ever we’ve had before with so many different aspects that we can examine. Thus for last week’s Lord Ashcroft 14 seat CON-LAB battlegrounds polling more people were interviewed by phone than ICM do in a year for their Guardian series. This produces sub-set sample sizes, like for UKIP switchers or 2010 LDs, that are meaningful.

We also have the YouGov daily poll as well as the twice-weekly Populus polling which provides a mass of extra data to analyse.

So what’s going to happen? The one thing I find it hard to see happening is a CON majority. All other outcomes are possible.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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Nighthawks is now open

July 30th, 2014

Home of the web’s best political conversation

Why not relax, and converse into the night on the day’s events in PB Night Hawks.

If you’re Hungry Like The Wolf for news on politics and betting, you’ve come to the right place on Planet Earth for political betting.

If you’ve always been a lurker, and have The Reflex not to post, Nighthawks gives you an opportunity to delurk, don’t worry, you won’t become Wild Boys or Wild Girls after posting.

The round up of recent events (click on the links below, and it will bring up the relevant link)

  1. Why won’t the Salmond / Darling debate be shown in England?
  2. Will the rise in GDP hand the Tories the election? The recovery may be feeble, but voters are rewarding the Tories as GDP rises – and the ‘cost-of-living’ is half the issue it was in 2011.
  3. Balls puts the Tories on the spot over tax cuts for the rich
  4. The shamelessness of Balls
  5. Scottish independence vote is too close to call
  6. Cameron condemned for immigration PR stunt
  7. Will we ever see the likes of Blair again?
  8. London orbital railway on mayor’s £1.3 trillion wishlist
  9. Frank Dobson: Labour needs to be ‘knocking lumps off’ this government
  10. The ECHR is a “British Bill of Rights”
  11. EU migrants more likely to be in work than Britons
  12. If a rematch of the 2012 presidential election were held today, GOP nominee Mitt Romney would top President Barack Obama in the popular vote, according to a new national survey.
  13. US economy bounces back with 4% GDP growth in second quarter
  14. Scottish independence: Remember 2014, the last golden summer of the old Britain.
  15. Tracey Gough fought the Underhill ward on Weymouth and Portland Council for UKIP in May. Now she’s contesting a Town Council election. Take a look at the description she has used
  16. Will a show about Scottish Politics be the next Game of Thrones?
  17. Saturday is 2,352nd anniversary of the only notable battle ever fought on the 2nd of August, as Alexander the Great defeated an alliance of some of the Greek City states in the Battle of Chaeronea
  18. Saturday is the 2,230th anniversary of a vastly overrated general getting lucky against a couple of inept Romans, at the Battle of Cannae, his rubbishness was eventually exposed at Zama