Archive for the 'Boris' Category


This could have been the moment when Boris lost the next CON leadership contest

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Being able to confront Ed was an opportunity that he fluffed

For me one of the best bits of TV during the campaign was at the end of yesterday’s Andrew Marr show when the programme’s two main participants traditionally join each other on the sofa for the closing couple of minutes. This time it was Boris and Ed and the wide judgement was that the Mayor lost.

This is how Nick Robinson saw it.

The timing is important because we could be only a couple of weeks away from a Conservative leadership contest even if the Tories do win most seats. It is hard to see Cameron staying if he ceases to be PM and there are those saying, unfairly in my view, that he should stand aside anyway if his party fails again to win an overall majority.

A Conservative contest involves two very distinct phases. Firstly the Parliamentary Party has a series of elections to decide which two candidates should be put to the party membership in a postal ballot.

The history of these contests is such that odds on favourites, like Michael Portillo in 2001, don’t even make it to the final cut. Then it will be recalled that Portillo failed by two votes to make the top two in the MPs ballot which left IDS and Ken Clarke being the ones left to fight it out in the membership vote.

Boris Johnson has not been an MP since 2008 which means that in the likely post general election parliamentary party many won’t really know him – a fact that might hamper efforts in the first phase. There has always been a risk that he could suffer a fate similar to Portillo.

If it does come to a contest you can bet that the mayor’s detractors will be using the above clip to undermine him. Methinks Boris would struggle to win a 2015 contest.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


How the polls performed the last time a charismatic, Eton-educated, incumbent stood in a major election

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Boris was net 30 points ahead of Ken in the leader ratings

This is the first in a short series of posts looking at polling that highlights areas that could cause problems on May 7th. This one concerns the strength of the Labour brand when everything seemed lost.

Everybody knows that Boris pulled off a spectacular victory in the May 2012 London Mayoral Election when things were going badly for his party nationally.

Yet what has been largely forgotten is that the margin of his victory was smaller than any of the final polls had pointed to and the evening of the count proved to be quite exciting. All six pollsters had overstated Boris’s winning margin by between one and nine points.

As well as enjoying solid leads across the board on Mayoral voting intentions Johnson also led Ken by a wide margin in the leader ratings – a net 30 points with YouGov. This of itself raises issues about their usefulness in predicting vote shares.

    How could it be that Ken/LAB was able to get as close as it did and is there a wider lesson about the resilience of the LAB brand?

We’d seen two years earlier at GE2010 how much better Labour performed compared with all the final polls. Interestingly those pollsters that reallocated don’t knows in accordance to a formula linked to what those voters had done the previous time came out best.

London, of course, has its own separate political micro climate and experience there might not be applicable to the country as a whole. But that they were able to get so close against a candidate with such cross-party appeal as Boris was an achievement.

  • Next in this series. Polling for the Heywood & Middleton by-election
  • Mike Smithson

    For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


    Boris might be a CON election winner but it could be that he just gets over-stated in the polls

    Sunday, January 4th, 2015

    Look at what happened with his 2012 election

    Hills have cut their odds for Boris Johnson to be the next Prime Minister from 8/1 to 6/1 second favourite behind 4/5 favourite Ed Miliband. This seems weird because just about the only chance there is of a vacancy occurring is if Cameron wins the election when he’ll remain at Number 10.

    The mayor’s big opportunity will most likely come if Dave loses or he decides to step down in a few years time. In the case of the former Mr. Miliband would become PM.

    There’s another factor that might worry Team Boris – how the polls over-rated his chances, in come cases by big margins, in the last mayoral election.

    At the moment this doesn’t matter but you can bet that his opponents will circulate data like in the chart above if there is a leadership contest and Boris runs for the job.

    Mike Smithson

    Since 2004 – The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


    Boris, the betting favourite for next CON leader and 2nd favourite for next PM is in danger of falling at the first fence

    Friday, September 5th, 2014

    Boris’s selection for Uxbridge is not a foregone conclusion

    We all know that the main impediment to Boris being Cameron’s successor is that he’s not an MP. That appeared to have been resolved a few weeks ago when he made it clear that he would seek to return to the Commons at GE2015.

    Suddenly the London seat of Uxbridge came into the frame and there was a widespread assumption that if Boris wanted the Tory nomination there then he would get it. Indeed at one stage a bookie was offering 50/1 that Boris wouldn’t get it – a bet that, alas, is no longer available.

    Today the local party is announcing the names of four people on the shortlist and the Sun reports this morning that one of them, the deputy leader of the council, David Simmonds, could be in with a good chance. The paper quotes what it describes as a “prominent Uxbridge Tory”:

    “Boris is not at all a shoe-in and he’s got a real fight on his hands now. David Simmonds is very popular around here, and Uxbridge’s kind of guy. We don’t go in for flashy and we’ve never been interested in celebrated MPs…”

    The Conservative party way is that the decision is in the hands of local party members who will vote. Simmonds has, it appears, been regarded as the heir apparent for years and there must be a chance that he’ll get it.

    For Boris this would be a huge set-back and could make it harder if he sought another seat.

    My view is that the Mayor should put his hat into the ring for the Clacton by-election.

    Mike Smithson

    2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


    If Boris is serious about helping his party he’d seek to be the CON candidate in Clacton

    Friday, August 29th, 2014

    The mayor’s the only one who could stop UKIP in its tracks

    One of the big political decisions that the Tories will have to make in the next few weeks is who should be the candidate to fight UKIP defector, Douglas Carswell, in Clacton. The consequences for Cameron’s party of a UKIP victory in the seat are enormous and they have to do everything they can to stop him.

    Boris Johnson has decided he wants to return to the commons and is currently trying to secure the Uxbridge nomination. But he would be helping his party far more if he took what would be a massive gamble and made himself available to fight Clacton.

    We have seen in two London mayoral races that Boris has the unique appeal to reach out far beyond the Tory party’s traditional supporter base. He’s also the one CON figure who is very popular with UKIP voters.

      A Johnson candidature in Clacton, I’d suggest, would lead to a CON hold and would put him in a far better position to fight for the leadership when the time arose.

    I don’t think he will – but who knows with Boris?

    Peter Oborne in the Telegraph makes a strong case for Boris to stand.

    The day’s big polling news

    I’ve put a little bet on at 33/1.

    Mike Smithson

    2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


    Lord Ashcroft poll on Boris and Uxbridge

    Saturday, August 16th, 2014

    Lord Ashcroft has polled the Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency, about Boris, and it generally makes for great reading for the Mayor of London. The phone poll was conducted this week.

    It should be noted, the standard VI poll not mentioning Boris, shows a Con to Lab swing of 5.5%, which would indicate an approximate 3% Labour lead nationwide, which is in line with the national polling.

    The one downside for Boris is 50% of the voters don’t want him to be concurrently an MP and Mayor.

    Lord Ashcroft notes

    The results show Boris’s unique ability both to galvanise Tories and appeal to supporters of other parties. Under the standard voting intention question, 72 per cent of those who voted Conservative in 2010 said they would do so again; with Boris named as the candidate this rose to 79 per cent, with the proportion backing UKIP falling from 18 per cent to 13 per cent. The proportion of 2010 Labour voters switching to the Tories nearly trebled from 6 per cent to 16 per cent, and the numbers switching from the Lib Dems almost doubled from 18 per cent to 35 per cent.

    If these figures are indicative of the wider public, then expect Boris to feature very heavily in  the Tory general election campaign, if Tory high command can work out to harness the power of the Mayor of London.



    Detailed data from the YouGov/ST polls finds that fewer current CON voters would back party if Boris was leader

    Sunday, August 10th, 2014

    The mayor attracts votes as well as turning some off

    Thanks to George Eaton at the New Statesman for picking this up. A Boris-led Tory party could lead to fewer current CON voters backing the party.

    Looking at the detail in the table above we see that there’s a 5% drop amongst current CON supporters with the main beneficiary being the Lib Dems. The big figure, of course, is the 20% of UKIP voters who’d move to a Boris-led CON.

    The Westminster Hour The Boris polling item that I was due to be part of has been dropped.

    Mike Smithson

    2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


    An inconvenient fact for Boris backers is that more people tell pollsters they’ll support him than actually give him their vote

    Friday, August 8th, 2014

    Why we should be sceptical about all Boris polling

    For those like me who love watching political battles the ongoing tussle for the Tory leadership between Boris Johnson and George Osborne will be a pleasure to behold.

    Both have their strong points and both, it is said, have set their hearts on being Dave’s successor. If the Tories don’t hold on in government next May then that intriguing confrontation could be only nine months away.

    One factor that apparently is a plus for the mayor is that he polls well – certainty he hammers the Chancellor by big margins whenever comparative questions are asked.

      But looking at what happened the last time that Boris polling was tested in a real election, the 2012 mayoral race, the striking fact is that all pollsters overstated him, some, as the chart shows, by considerable margins

    I wonder whether there’s a strong celebrity factor here. Boris gets good poll numbers because of his high level of recognition which when last tested are not backed up by real votes being cast.

    There’s likely to be a fair bit of “how would CON do with Boris as leader” polling in the run up to the conferences. Treat the results with a pinch of salt.

    Mike Smithson

    2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble