Labour’s melting firewall: almost a third of LD switchers have since left since 2012

November 1st, 2014

Introducing the new swing voters: Purple Labourites and Rainbow Liberals

For a long time it looked as if two factors were going to deliver the keys to Downing Street to Ed Miliband. The first was that in the first six months of the parliament, around two-fifths of the Lib Dems’ 2010 vote switched to Labour and appeared firmly embedded there. The second was that a little later, starting in 2012, an increasing share of the Conservatives’ 2010 vote was peeling away to UKIP. By the middle of the parliament, these two effects were producing a net swing of close to 7% from Con to Lab despite there being next to no direct movement between those two parties at all.

In fact, it was never quite as good as that for Labour. While the LD-Lab swing has been frequently remarked upon, less noted has been that share of the ex-LD vote that’s gone to the Tories. While a good deal smaller than Labour’s gain, it’s still been responsible for consistently adding some 3% to the Tory share and so reducing the net benefit to Labour of the Lib Dems’ splintered vote.

Since 2012, things have moved on again. The figures in the graphs above are taken from the five YouGov polls at the end of this month, of the same time two years ago and of the end of January 2011 (YouGov didn’t publish a subset by the 2010 vote in October of that year). They represent the shares of the electorate (not of that party’s vote) to have moved between the parties in question.

In those two years, the benefit of the LD-Lab voters has dropped from 9.5% of Labour’s share to 6.7%: still substantial but no longer election winning by itself given that the Tories’ former Lib Dems are still putting 3% on the Blues’ total. In other words, the net effect of the Lib Dems’ collapsed vote share is a Con to Lab swing of less than 2%.

By contrast, the leakage of the 2010 Con vote to UKIP has increased; something that is unlikely to be stemmed if Rochester becomes the second UKIP by-election win this year (a feat which would, incidentally, make UKIP only the fourth GB party to win two by-elections in the same parliament since WWII, counting the Lib Dems’ family tree as one block). More than 7% of UKIP’s vote share is made up of those who’ve switched from Con since the election; a larger number than the LD-Lab defectors.

To these well-established swing groups, however, there are now three more to consider, who will play a significant part in determining how next year’s election goes: Purple Labourites, Soft Labour Nats and Rainbow Liberals. During the first half of the parliament, Labour’s losses to UKIP were minimal. No longer. Labour’s relatively comfortable win in the South Yorks PCC election should not mask the fact that UKIP won nearly a third of the vote there. It certainly shouldn’t overwrite the near-loss of Heywood & Middleton, nor UKIP’s strong polling in Labour areas during the local elections of May 2013 and 2014. While two and a half per cent isn’t yet a huge loss for Labour, it is reaching the stage where it’s becoming meaningful.

UKIP isn’t the only party to be eating into Labour’s vote either: the Greens are nibbling but as this week’s polls have revealed, the Scottish Nationalists are tearing chunks out of their share north of the border; something which could deprive Labour of two or three dozen MPs.

But if the smaller parties are an annoyance for Labour then they’re a far more potent threat for the Lib Dems. Partly that’s through relative size – UKIP overtook them nationally two years ago and the Greens are now within touching distance – but it’s also about direct loss. Perhaps surprisingly, more people have moved from the Lib Dems to UKIP than from Labour, mostly in the last two years (a fact which may explain Labour’s loss of ex-Lib Dem voters since 2012: they’ve moved allegiance twice since the election). Similarly, Lib Dem losses to the Greens have trebled from one to three per cent in the same time period. For the first half of the parliament, the 2010 LD vote sat almost entirely in the Red, Yellow or Blue columns; it’s now all over the place.

The common thread of course is that all the major parties have lost support to the minor ones. With so little direct switching between Con and Lab, the election looks to be won not by the party that can appeal to traditional floating voters but to that which can best keep its fractious internal coalition together.

David Herdson


EXCLUSIVE: Survation has Mark Reckless moving to a 15% lead in Rochester

October 31st, 2014

Some good news for UKIP after its PCC by-election flop

There’s a new voting intention poll by Survation for the Unite union of Rochester & Strood.

The latest shares (with change in brackets since firm’s last poll on 5 October for Mail on Sunday):

CON 33% (+2), LAB 16% (-9), LD 1% (-2), UKIP 48% (+8), GRE 2% (+2)

The trend is in line with last week’s ComRes Rochester poll which had the lead at 13%.

The poll founds that 25% of 2010 LAB voters said they were supporting Reckless which is the big driver behind the increase in the UKIP share.

News of the poll comes shortly after today’s disappointment for the purples in the S Yorkshire PCC by-election when LAB came home with more than 50% of the vote. UKIP had put a lot into the fight with hard-hitting ads linking LAB to the Rotherham sex abuse scandal.

This latest Survation poll has been commissioned by the UNITE union which is part of a growing campaign to the oppose the inclusion of NHS in the trade agreement between the US and EU. These were the findings.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


New Survation Rochester poll will be published here after 6pm

October 31st, 2014

This will be the third public poll since the by election was called and the first two have had UKIP in the lead by reasonable margins.

Watch this space


After yesterday’s dramatic Scottish polls LAB braces itself for the South Yorks PCC result

October 31st, 2014

Is this another victory for the purples?

The big news this morning should come from South Yorkshire where counting takes place in the Police and Crime Commissioner by-election – only the second to be held since these new elected positions were created two years ago.

This has been set against the background of the Rotherham scandal which UKIP (see above) has been featuring strongly in its campaign. The area is largely dominated by Labour strongholds which in normal times should have been enough to guarantee the red team victory.

But these are not normal times as we saw in the Heywood and Middleton by-election at the start of October. UKIP is making serious inroads into place like this and yesterday’s election presented a huge opportunity. We’ll know later this morning whether they’ve managed to pull it off.

    If UKIP have ended up as victors it will add to the party’s momentum in the final three weeks of campaigning in Rochester where the polling and the betting suggests that it is heading for a comfortable victory.

A UKIP defeat could just take the edge off the party’s progress. South Yorkshire is much more challenging than Rochester where the sitting MP, Mark Reckless, stepped down to fight the seat after defecting to Farage’s party.

What could make today’s count and result interesting is that the election is not held under first past the post. If on the first count a candidate has not secured 50% of the votes then second preferences will be taken into account.

  • Note I’m away for most of the day and will be posting on the result and its likely impact later.
  • Mike Smithson

    2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


    More gloom for Scottish LAB from YouGov – but not quite as bad as Ipsos-MORI

    October 30th, 2014

    Whilst the SNP lead and share of the vote isn’t as impressive as the Ipsos-Mori figures, they will still be delighted with these figures and Labour should continue to be worried.

    All of this confirms that predicting the 2015 General Election will be the most difficult for a generation.

    What we really need to see is the Lord Ashcroft polling on Lab held seats in Scotland.

    If they confirm what Ipsos-Mori and YouGov are showing then I’m not sure what Labour can do stop the tide, especially given Ed’s poor ratings in Scotland, but the fieldwork dates were unfavourable for Labour due to the aftermath of Johann Lamont’s resignation.

    But as Lord Ashcroft keeps on reminding us, opinion polls are snapshots.



    The news from the rest of the country isn’t good for Ed and Labour either this evening


    Local By-Election Preview : October 30th 2014

    October 30th, 2014

    Canvey Island East on Castle Point (Canvey Island Independent Defence)
    Result of council at last election (2014): Conservatives 20, Canvey Island Independents 16, United Kingdom Independence Party 5 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 1)
    Result of ward at last election (2012): Canvey Island Independent 595 (48%), Conservative 291 (23%), Independent 195 (16%), Labour 158 (13%)
    Candidates duly nominated: Colin Letchford (Ind), Chas Mumford (Con), John Payne (Canvey Island Independent), Jackie Reilly (Lab)

    Castle Point Conservatives must be scratching their heads wonder “What on earth can we do?”. The reason for this pondering, the council’s electoral history. Back in 2003, Castle Point was a Conservative bastion (39 Conservatives out of a 41 member council) and in 2004 the Canvey Island Independents made their first appearance but didn’t do anything to trouble the Conservative majority. However by 2006, it was clear that they were making advances as they made six gains all at the cost of the Conservatives, however by 2008 they had reached a ceiling and the Conservative majority stayed at nine with both sides involved in a battle of attrition that always resulted in a score draw. And then came UKIP, who in 2014 made five gains all at the expense of the Conservatives and made what was once a Conservative bastion into a hung council which might probably explain why, in a part of the country they should do well in, there is no UKIP candidate.

    Sandsfield East on Neath and Port Talbot (Lab Defence)
    Result of council at last election (2012): Labour 52, Plaid Cymru 8, Independents 3, Social Democrats 1 (Labour majority of 40)
    Result of ward at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
    Labour 1,041, 879, 750 (53%)
    Independents 1,116, 622 (34%)
    Ratepayers 669 (13%)
    Candidates duly nominated: Matthew Crowley (Lab), Richard Minshull (Con), Keith Suter (UKIP)

    Neath and Port Talbot is one of those councils that you know the result of even before a single ballot has been cast. The reason? 1995: Labour majority of 37, 1999: Labour majority of 16, 2004: Labour majority of 7, 2008: Labour majority of 10, 2012: Labour majority of 40. Even in the worst times of the Labour disaster, Labour still held on here (with a vote share in 2004 of 47%). So having had one or two disappointments in the last couple of weeks (and in order to prove that they are not just taking votes from Conservatives but Labour as well), UKIP need to finish a very strong second here or even win.

    North Coast and Cumbraes on North Ayrshire (SNP defence)
    Result of council at last election (2012): Scottish National Party 12, Labour 11, Independents 6, Conservative 1 (No Overall Control, SNP short by 4)
    Result of ward at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
    Scottish National Party 1,705, 1090 (45%)
    Labour 1,144 (19%)
    Conservative 1,143 (18%)
    Independent 1,017 (16%)
    Socialist Labour Party 124 (2%)
    Candidates duly nominated: Drew Cochrane (Ind), Toni Dawson (Con), Meilan Henderson (UKIP), Grace McLean (SNP), Valerie Reid (Lab)

    When North Ayrshire first came into existence in 1995, the result was pretty much a foregone conclusion. Labour won by a landslide wining 26 out of the 30 seats available, 1999 saw them lose just the one seat, and in 2003 they only lost another four still giving them an overall majority of 12 and the opposition must have begun to think “Well, all we can hope for is a Labour disaster on the scale of 1983 and then perhaps they will lost overall control”, but in 2007, Labour did lose overall control but not because of a disastrous poll rating (in fact in those elections Labour polled 32%, only slightly down on their 2003 score) what happened was that thanks to the previous Holyrood coalition, these elections were now fought under the Single Transferable Vote and as a result Labour won 12 seats (40% of the seats) on a 32% vote share making them the largest party on the council but without an overall majority and following the SNP landslide in 2011 when the 2012 elections were held, that trend continued with Labour losing just the one seat but thanks to the SNP making 4 gains, they became the largest grouping (a position they would love to defend especially given Alex Salmond’s intention to stand for Westminster and North Ayrshire only rejecting independence by less than 2,000 votes)

    Ironbridge Gorge (Lab defence) and Newport West (Con defence) on Telford and the Wrekin
    Result of council at last election (2011): Labour 33, Conservatives 17, Liberal Democrats 3, Independent 1 (Labour majority of 12)
    Result of wards at last election (2011)
    Ironbridge Gorge: Labour 589 (53%), Conservative 523 (47%)
    Candidates duly nominated: Elizabeth Mollett (Con), Richard Soame (UKIP), Ken Stringer (Lab)

    Newport West: Conservative 606 (64%), Labour 341 (36%)
    Candidates duly nominated: Warwick McKenzie (UKIP), Phil Norton (Lab), Rodney Pitt (Con), Peter Scott (Ind)

    Telford and the Wrekin (named after the latest of the new towns and the mountain not that far from it) is one of these councils that has retained it’s name, but very little besides. Back in 2003, it was part of Shropshire county and was the only council to be controlled by Labour in the whole county, if only by a majority of 4. However in 2007, that control went out of the window as the Conservatives forced it into No Overall Control with 12 gains (ten of which came from Labour). But by 2011, when Labour regained control of the council, Shropshire as a county was no more. It had become a unitary authority (so gone was Shrewsbury and Atcham, North Shropshire, South Shropshire and Bridgnorth) leaving Telford as a unitary authority in it’s own right and being the only Labour controlled council west of Wolverhampton.

    South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (Lab Defence)
    Result of last election (2012): Labour 74,615 (51%), English Democrats 22,608 (16%), Conservative 21,075 (15%), United Kingdom Independence Party 16,773 (12%), Liberal Democrats 10,223 (7%)
    Labour elected on the first round with a majority of 52,007 (36%)

    Local Area Results:
    Barnsley: Lab 12,393 (56%), Eng Dems 2,996 (14%), Con 2,940 (13%), UKIP 2,400 (11%), Lib Dems 1,325 (6%)
    Doncaster: Lab 17,017 (49%), Eng Dems 7,321 (21%), Con 5,433 (16%), UKIP 3,232 (9%), Lib Dems 1,694 (5%)
    Rotherham: Lab 16,374 (51%), Eng Dems 5,034 (16%), UKIP 4,737 (15%), Con 4,660 (15%), Lib Dems 1,211 (4%)
    Sheffield: Lab 28,831 (51%), Con 8,042 (14%), Eng Dems 7,257 (13%), UKIP 6,404 (11%), Lib Dems 5,933 (11%)
    Candidates duly nominated: David Allen (Eng Dems), Alan Billings (Lab), Jack Clarkson (UKIP), Ian Walker (Con)

    So far this Parliament there have been 18 by-elections (excluding Northern Ireland) and of those 18, 14 have been in Labour seats. Of those 14, Labour have held 13 and in those 13, UKIP have come second in six of them (in choronological order Barnsley Central (March 2011), Middlesborough (November 2012), Rotherham (November 2012), South Shields (May 2013), Wythenshawe and Sale East (February 2014) and Heywood and Middleton (October 2014)), two of which lie inside the area covered by the South Yorkshire Police Force, so you can see why Labour are very much scared of either being forced into a runoff with UKIP or, in the worst case scenario, seeing their second preference votes deciding between UKIP and the English Democrats.


    SNP take 29% lead over LAB in new Scottish poll from Ipsos-MORI

    October 30th, 2014

    LAB could be down to just 4 seats

    More follows


    Why the GRN voters might not swing back to LAB at GE15 even in the marginals

    October 30th, 2014

    When pressed on constituency question just 10% switch to red

    Today’s YouGov of CON 31, LAB 34, LD 6, UKIP 17, GRN 7 highlights the need to analyse what is happening to the GRN vote and what might happen in the key battlegrounds that will decide GE15.

    As ever the main source of published data is from Lord Ashcroft. The aggregation of a series of constituency polls means that sub-samples can be large enough to draw conclusions with a reasonable degree of confidence. Also, of course, Lord A is the only one asking the two stage voting question.

    The chart above is based on the aggregate data from his October round of LAB-CON battlegrounds polling with the two voting questions. After the standard one those sampled are asked to think specifically about their own constituency and in many cases there is quite a difference. It is the change that can be illuminating.

    The big picture on the first question is that getting on for half of current GRN support is coming from people who voted LAB or LD in 2010. But look what happens when the second stage question, that relating to the specific seat is asked.

    As can be seen above just under three-quarters of those saying Green to the first question still say they will vote for the party on the second. To me what is interesting is what happens to the rest. Yes LAB does best taking a 10% slice but that’s nothing like as large as the red team might hope. A total of 4% say CON and 6% say LD. UKIP at 2% in included amongst others.

    Given rising GRN shares generally I plan to keep a close eye on what is happening and will be returning to this in due case.

    Mike Smithson

    2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble