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It’s the economy, stupid

May 1st, 2016

If Leave wants to win they need to show that Brexit is the better option for the economy and the financial wellbeing of voters.

We’ve been here before. We see the headline voting intention figures showing it neck and neck, yet the supplementaries on the economy show one side extending their clear lead further. Looking at the above supplementary questions from this week’s YouGov poll that showed Leave ahead by 1%, this referendum campaign, with the supplementaries showing more and more voters saying Brexit would be bad for the economy, jobs, and their personal financial situation, with Remain being the best option, is all very reminiscent of the polling we saw at the 2015 general election, the Tories and Labour tied but the Tories significantly ahead on the economy.

The YouGov supplementaries aren’t atypical.

David Cameron and George Osborne have their detractors, but it appears that with their recent Treasury analysis, and President Obama’s intervention, more and more voters see Brexit as damaging to the UK economy, jobs, and to voters personally. Focusing on the risks of Brexit is a clever strategy as the polls show the economy will be the most important issue in how voters decide which way they will vote in this referendum.

A few weeks ago ComRes found the most important issue in how voters would vote in the the referendum was the economy at 47% followed by immigration at 24%. Ipsos Mori had a similar finding. As with the Scottish Independence referendum, I expect a majority of voters won’t choose to make themselves worse off, saying to voters that they can be only £25 per year better/worse off is enough to change the minds of some of the voters in this referendum.

Unless Brexiters manage to improve the economic polling figures, I fully expect Remain to win. The voters won’t vote for anything that will make the country and themselves worse off. With prominent Leaver Arron Banks very publicly claiming earlier on this week each household losing £4,300 a year would be a price worth paying for Brexit and the Economists for Brexit saying Brexit would mostly eliminate manufacturing, Cameron & Osborne must privately be echoing the mantra of Colonel John ‘Hannibal’ Smith, ‘I love it when a plan comes together.’

Once the local council, London Mayoral, and devolved elections are out of the way, the referendum campaign proper starts a week on Monday, that might be enough time for Leave to turn the economic perceptions of Brexit in their favour by June 23rd.

TSE




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Opinum has EURef outcome for maximum chaos: England & Wales vote OUT but Scotland means it’s overall for IN

April 30th, 2016

Opinium #EURef poll national splits

ENGLAND 41% to 43% to OUT
WALES 35% to 42% to OUT
SCOTLAND 51% to 34% IN
OVERALL 42% to 41% to IN

Tonight’s Opinium poll has a projected outcome which, if it happened, would create the most massive post-June 23rd eruptions – a narrow IN win but with England and Wales voting OUT. The national region splits are above.

How wonderful for political anoraks to have such an outcome. We must remember Northern Ireland as well which is not normally included in national polling. What we’ve seen from there is that it would be like Scotland.

Also in the Opinium poll a big move to the Tories on voting intention – not a good pointer for the red team on Thursday.

CON: 38% (+5)
LAB: 30% (-2)
UKIP: 15% (-2)
LDEM: 5% (-)
GRN: 4% (-1)

Meanwhile this is worth looking at as Zac goes for the Indian vote.

Mike Smithson





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Focus on Scotland in a PB/Polling Matters TV show special

April 30th, 2016

Thursday’s Holyrood elections, Labour struggles, Brexit and the possibility of Indyref2

Keiran Pedley is joined in the studio by Kate Devlin from the Herald and Craig McAngus of the University of Aberdeen. They discuss the upcoming Scottish Parliament elections and why the SNP is so popular, why Labour is struggling, the upcoming EU referendum and prospects for a second independence referendum.

The audio podcast version

Mike Smithson





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Livingstone: symptom of a deeper problem

April 30th, 2016

Confronting the ex-mayor means confronting what it means to be Labour

You know you have a PR problem when your party’s second most successful politician this century* is publicly debating at what point in the 1930s Hitler lost the plot.

Labour’s problem runs a great deal deeper than bad publicity though. To be clear, Labour is unlikely to be the only party with members, activists or elected representatives who’ve said or written something stupid or worse but it is likely to have by far the biggest problem.

There are two interrelated reasons for that. Firstly, Labour has been much more successful in courting the ethnic minority vote than other parties but sometimes, with those voters have come imported intolerant attitudes. Electoral motivations act as at best a disincentive to confront those attitudes and at worst, reason to dog whistle to them.

And secondly, Labour has long promoted itself as inclusive, multicultural and tolerant. Indeed, in his interviews yesterday, Corbyn seemed to take Labour’s tolerance as an article of faith; true simply by assertion. That culture makes it harder to criticise ethnic minority members indulging in bigoted or discriminatory behaviour, in part because it undermines Labour’s self-image but more because those attitudes are misguidedly seen as cultural – just an alternative way of doing things – and as such, beyond criticism. Indeed, criticism of attitudes held disproportionately by one group of another are themselves labelled racist.

    In fact, despite Livingstone’s suspension and the Labour’s setting up of the inquiry into anti-Semitism, there are clear signs that Corbyn still doesn’t get it.

His comment that critics were only saying that Labour was in crisis because they’re worried about Labour’s strength implies that he thinks that their charges are illegitimate and politically motivated. But of course, if you start from the position that Labour has exceptional moral virtue then it follows by definition that it cannot have problem with anti-Semitism, therefore it doesn’t. (Of course it doesn’t, its last leader was Jewish, sort of).

Reversing the truck back down the road however won’t be easy. It will mean both confronting that mind-set and probably confronting no small number of members, both those at fault and those willing to defend them. That a change.org petition calling for John Mann to be disciplined has attracted over 12,000 signatures in little more than a day is itself revealing. It’s possible that those signatories simply regard Mann’s public rant as excessive and unbecoming but going by the comments, I suspect it’s more tribal solidarity among the Labour left.

If so, we could be about to see civil war within Labour: a disproportionate number who’d be in the firing line would be either muslims or on the left. Is Corbyn the man to take on such opponents? Of course not. Ken might be let back, he might be persuaded out, he might even be kicked out – but it’d be him and few others.

David Herdson

* Definitional, of course, but no Labour leader other than Blair has won a general election so we have to look at the next level down. Rhodri Morgan might stake a claim too with two Welsh Assembly wins to Ken’s one in London (plus one as an independent) but Wales is much more a Labour heartland and London is much bigger. That said, Ken’s two losses have to be factored in too. In fact, his defeat in 2012 might be Labour’s only silver lining to the row – at least Ken’s not the candidate or mayor right now.





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Why Indiana next Tuesday is so crucial for both Trump and Cruz

April 29th, 2016

James Burt (TheWhiteRabbit) looks at the battle

Following Trump’s crushing victory in five north-eastern states on Tuesday, attention has now turned to next week’s GOP primary in Indiana.

Indiana could prove a critical state on the route to Trump securing the nomination.

There are ten states left to go to the polls, but four are ‘winner take all’ states where the result is foregone. Another three allocate their delegates proportionally, which means the difference between good and bad performances is no more than twenty delegates between them. And in West Virginia Trump will be battling some arcane delegate allocation rules, rather than Kasich or Cruz.

That leaves just Indiana and California as critical states – and the latter will be among the last to elect, with plenty of hostile terrain for Trump between the two.

Hence Indiana will be Trump’s last chance to land a significant victory for some time, with a fairly hefty 57 delegates up for grabs.

Indiana will allocate 27 to the state winner and a further three to the winner of the state’s ten congressional districts. That means a relatively small lead for Trump over Cruz could mean 45 delegates or more; a small lead for Cruz could easily see Trump reduced to twelve or fewer.

Pre-Tuesday polls show Trump between 5 and 8 points ahead of Cruz. Trump has, if anything, created more momentum this week and is now regularly exceeding the polls. Trump should now be (and indeed is) firm favourite to secure Indiana and take a major step to the nomination. To put it another way: Cruz needs a big upset.

If Trump does win in Indiana, then all he will need to do to get to 1,237 delegates is convert his current polling leads in California. Even if Trump fails to make it across the line prior to the convention, he can now rely on 20 to 30 Pennsylvania delegates who are officially uncommitted but have expressed a preference to vote for him.

This gives Trump a big target to aim at – he deserves skinny odds of 1.28 with PaddyPower to win on the first ballot.

James Burt (TheWhiteRabbit)



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Donald Brind says that if Ken is expelled it will be a Labour gain

April 29th, 2016

ken

Those who care about the Palestinians have to be careful how they attack Israel

Let me say at the start that I deplore the government of Benjamin Netanyahu which I believe uses overwhelming military power to make life misery for people in neighbouring territories. When the occupied people react violently to the oppression the response ordered by Netanyahu is, I’d argue, routinely disproportionate.

My rather strangulated prose is to illustrate a point. If you believe in justice for the Palestinians be careful about how you attack Israel. There are six million obvious reasons for being sensitive. Although the idea of a Jewish homeland predates the Holocaust the two are now inextricably linked.

Students of dodgy history will relish the similarity between Ken Livingstone’s claims about Hitler and Zionism and those of Netanyahu who told World Zionist Congress that “Hitler only wanted to expel the Jews, but Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti convinced him to exterminate them”. The liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz says that claim “was rejected by most accepted Holocaust scholars.” It has been widely derided on social media, a reminder that Netanyahu doesn’t speak for all Israelis.

When Ken Livingstone was Mayor of London I worked for his brilliant deputy Nicky Gavron. Her German mother was prevented from competing in the 1936 Olympics – because she was a Jew – and fled to Britain. Nicky celebrated the contrast between Berlin Olympics and the 2012 Games in diverse London.

What a pity ex-Mayor Livingstone didn’t talk to his former deputy about the reality of Nazi Germany and about the wisdom of entering into the row about anti-Semitism in the Labour by talking about Hitler and Zionism. But Livingstone doesn’t do wisdom. He is a man-child: 70 going on 17.

    His apparent purpose was to defend the Bradford West MP Naz Shah. He ended up knifing her in the back. And he inflicted collateral damage on his friend, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Now, the fear amongst Labour supporters is that this two-time loser in London Mayoral contests will damage the chances of Sadiq Khan on May 5th. The Survation polling reported by in the last post was taken before the row blew up.

I am still optimistic for Khan – who I first proposed should be Labour’s candidate back in 2009. Whereas Livingstone underperformed Labour’s Assembly team by more than 10% in 2012, Khan’s 16 points lead in the Survation poll is on a par with the Labour lead in the Assembly vote. I think a Khan Mayoralty will be a powerful unifying force in the capital and beyond, leading the fight against anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia.

And I think Naz Shah will also have an important role to play in this area when she has served her suspension. What makes her case different from that of Ken Livingstone is the contrition she has shown in her Commons apology and in an article for Jewish News. She details her heartfelt regret and engagement with Jewish organisations in the search for interfaith understanding.

She is a smart, resilient woman, well-liked amongst her PLP colleagues. Her contrition will, I have no doubt, mean her party membership is restored after a suspension that marks the seriousness of her offence.

Ken Livingstone doesn’t do self doubt. He will seek to tough it out and I expect his lack of contrition to lead to expulsion. I will put that down as a Labour Gain.

Donald Brind



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Sadiq Khan 20% ahead of Goldsmith according to Survation phone poll

April 29th, 2016

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So on the face of it a great poll for Sadiq Khan, Labour, Corbyn and those PBers who got on the Labour man at 33/1 in March 2103 when Henry G Manson tipped him.

But the survey took place before the blow up involving the last LAB mayor of London, Ken Livingston and phone polls have not had a good record on London Mayoral contests.

Of the 2012 final polls the least accurate was the only phone survey.

There’s also an issue that Labour voters might be less likely to turnout given it looks like a foregone conclusion.

Just in case I’ve been laying off large parts of my 2013 Sadiq bet at odds of up to 17/1 on Betfair so I’m certain of a substantial pay day next Friday whatever happens.

Mike Smithson





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Choosing Cameron’s successor – the process and the possibles

April 28th, 2016

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Alastair Meeks thinks they’ll select in completely the wrong way

Epigone is an underused word.  Originating from the ancient Greek for “offspring”, it means “undistinguished successor”, referring to the sons of the Seven Against Thebes who sought to avenge their fathers.

Politics is littered with epigoni.  Margaret Thatcher was followed by John Major, who had imbibed the economics but lacked the lustre.  John Major was followed by William Hague, who lacked not just the lustre but also the gravitas.  William Hague was followed by Iain Duncan Smith, who lacked not just the gravitas but any concept of strategy.  When he was replaced by Michael Howard, the Conservative party was in danger of disappearing up its own fundament.

The same point can be illustrated through Labour.  Tony Blair was followed by Gordon Brown, who had spent so long craving the top job that he had forgotten why he wanted it.  Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn further demonstrated the law of diminishing returns, with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour exploring the concept of a political party without a functioning hierarchy.  Labour can be expected to recover at some point but long is the way and hard.

In each case the successor was chosen to address some of the perceived weaknesses of the previous leader (in the case of John Major, the ability to unite the party; in the case of William Hague, the ability to unite the party; and in the case of Iain Duncan Smith, the ability to soothe the party’s soul) and in each case the selection process overlooked some of the previous leader’s compensating virtues.

The Conservative party will shortly be required to select a new leader.  They will select in large part on the basis of addressing perceived flaws in the current leader.  So where does David Cameron apparently go wrong?

When David Cameron steps down, whether sooner or later, he will leave a divided and unhappy party behind him.  Many Conservatives think he is insufficiently reliably Conservative and more think he is insufficiently Eurosceptic.  There is no shortage of Conservative MPs who think that he pays insufficient regard to their opinions.  So if one is drawing up an identikit of the next Conservative leader, anyone who is perceived to be trustworthy, Eurosceptic, old school Conservative, a unifier and consultative is going to be off to a flying start.

What does that mean for the betting?  It means that those who trade off their star quality rather than their ideology or who seem careerist are under a serious handicap.  Those who are seen as pivotal in the EU referendum debate on either side (but especially on the Remain side) will find it hard to present themselves as a unity candidate.

None of the front rank candidates clear all these hurdles but some clear more than most.  Boris Johnson hits every single one.  Yet he is currently the front runner in the betting.  He is in with a shout (and a considerably better one than George Osborne, who remains far too short) but he looks less likely than Michael Gove or Theresa May. Jeremy Hunt or Philip Hammond would also meet the required negative attributes better than Boris Johnson if they decide to throw their hats in the ring.

If David Cameron stands down in a couple of years’ time, there will be new contenders to reckon with who will look less sullied than Boris Johnson.  If David Cameron has kept him out of the Cabinet (or given him a menial role) and his period as London Mayor has waned in the public memory, he will look like a much longer shot.   Boris Johnson’s poor referendum campaign means that he is now a clear lay.  I have bet accordingly.

But the Conservatives will go about selecting a leader in completely the wrong way (in fairness, all political parties usually make the same mistake).  As stated above, they are likely to pick their next leader on the basis that he or she does not have faults that David Cameron has – in other words, for what they aren’t rather than for what they are.  When you look at the political leaders who really stood out, they are remembered for their positive attributes.  It would be better to select a leader for those attributes in the first place.  Then we would have rather fewer epigoni.

Alastair Meeks