Archive for the 'Boris' Category


Ipsos-MORI boost for Boris in the Cameron successor stakes

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

But George doing better with CON voters

We’re going to have to get used to a lot of this – polling on the next Tory leader who could be the next Prime Minister. What’s striking is the huge difference between the all polled split and the numbers restricted to just Tory voters. George is in third place on 15% in the general rating but on 32% in top slot with the latter group.

The could represent a serious problem for the blue team. Just 7% of the non-CON voter split in the poll go for Osbo compared with 24% for Boris.

    This is a bit like the Corbyn dilemma within LAB. Do you choose a leader with the potential to win converts from other parties or stick with your comfort zone? The red tribe opted for the latter.

On a general matter I’ve long been highly suspicious of Boris polling. Remember how in the last London Mayoral race every single final poll over-stated him with Ken coming far closer than anyone had anticipated.

Mike Smithson


Meanwhile leadership turmoil isn’t confined to LAB. It’s not all sweetness & light in the blue team

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Osborne, the new betting favourite, accused of briefing war against the mayor

It was inevitable that when David Cameron said before the election that he wouldn’t seek a third term that this would, at some stage, trigger off media interest and speculation about succession in the Tory party.

The big difference with Labour is that the Tory battle could be about who succeeds as PM.

Everybody knows that Boris has a big interest here and in recent weeks, particularly since the budget, Osborne has moved much more into the frame. On some betting markets he has been favourite. When the Chancellor made his budget speech earlier in the month he took a humorous swing at Boris something that has not gone down well with the occupant of London’s City Hall.

Several papers have picked this up including the Telegraph whose political editor, Peter Dominiczak, writes:-

“..allies” of Mr Johnson claimed that David Cameron, Mr Osborne and Theresa May, the Home Secretary, are attempting to “humiliate” Mr Johnson and destroy his chances of becoming prime minister.“He’s trying to neuter Boris before he’s even got going”

They claimed that Mrs May and Mr Osborne are orchestrating a bid to “cut Mr Johnson down to size” and that the plot is tacitly condoned by Mr Cameron.

The big problem for Boris is that Cameron can be very helpful to the Chancellor in all sorts of ways. Osborne plays a huge part in ministerial appointments and, no doubt, will have big say in what job Boris gets after he steps down as mayor next May. Osborne, also, is likely to be told of Dave’s plans well before Johnson and Cameron can control the timing to help his chancellor.


Schrödinger’s referendum as Boris wants voters to vote both Yes and No to leaving the EU

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

Boris for PB

Today’s Sunday Times is reporting (££)

BORIS JOHNSON is preparing to call for a “no” vote in Britain’s referendum on the European Union in an attempt to extract greater concessions from Brussels than David Cameron is demanding.

In a stance that puts him on a collision course with the prime minister, the mayor of London believes Britain should reject any deal Cameron puts forward because the EU will not give enough ground.

Johnson has told friends that a “no” vote is desirable because it would prompt Brussels to offer a much better deal, which the public could then support in a second referendum.

Johnson said: “We need to be bold. You have to show them that you are serious.”

The mayor’s views, shared with friends last week, will send shockwaves through Downing Street. Both the “yes” and “no” camps had assumed that he would support Cameron in arguing for Britain to vote yes.

This strategy by Boris is fraught with risks for him, were IN to win, particularly comfortably, then he will lose some of his electoral lustre. It is also likely to anger David Cameron no end, when Boris ceases to be Mayor next May, it is anticipated he would get a senior cabinet role, Cameron might punish Boris for this, which might impact negatively on Boris’ political future.

His strategy is also likely to annoy the OUT movement, what he is effectively telling them is, if we vote to leave the EU, I’m going to try and re-run the referendum to keep us in the EU, which seems very undemocratic and realise all their worst fears about the EU and this referendum process. But on one level, the OUT movement will be delighted to have a popular big hitter on their side, who may well end being the face of OUT.

Overall, I read this intervention by Boris as him seeing his chances of succeeding David Cameron diminishing and is a transparent and cynical attempt to increase his chances by appealing to the Outers in the Tory party, who will form a substantial part of the voters who will elect the next Tory leader.

Plus, were the UK to vote to leave the EU, that would almost certainly trigger Cameron’s resignation and Boris might also benefit from that, as Mike and others have speculated, Cameron going at time of his own choosing benefits George Osborne in the succession, Cameron being forced out at a time not of his choosing, doesn’t help Osborne.


PS – The Sunday Times say Boris made his comments, after reading a blog by Dominic Cummings, the former Tory aide who is organising the “no” campaign, which is discussed here on the Spectator Coffee House Blog, link is here and is well worth reading.


Boris reminds us once again why the normal rules of politics don’t apply to him

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Last night it was reported

Boris Johnson’s relationship with the capital’s black cab trade has become further troubled after the Sun and Daily Mail newspapers released a video showing the mayor of London on his bicycle telling a taxi driver “to f*ck off and die – and not in that order”.

The exchange in Islington, north London, was caught on camera by a passerby.

The driver, one of many black cab operators furious at the way Transport for London, overseen by the mayor, has allowed Uber drivers to undermine their trade shouted at Johnson: “You’re one of them mate. That’s what you are. One of them.”

The footage shows Johnson replying: “Why don’t you f*ck off and die, why don’t you f*ck off and die – and not in that order.”

The cabbie then drives away yelling: “Yeah bollocks, I hope you die.”

If most other politicians had done this, we would be writing their political obituaries this afternoon, but Boris can get away with this, just compare and contrast the reaction when Andrew Mitchell said pleb to the Downing Street police officers.

It is things like this that encapsulates Boris’ popularity, that other politicians just don’t have, and whilst I expect someone other than Boris will be the next Tory leader, it makes me reluctant to rule him out entirely. If the Tories are behind in the polls at the time of the Tory leadership election, I suspect we’ll see polling that Boris as leader gives the Tories a lead/the largest boost of all the contenders, as we saw in the last parliament, partly because of incidents like this.

The only way this incident could have been any more Boris was if he swore at the taxi driver in Latin. Given that he read Classics at Oxford, I’m sure Boris would have studied Catullus 16 and could have found inspiration from that opus.



George Osborne’s first PMQs is a reminder of how strong his leadership chances are

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015


Knowing the date of the PM’s departure could be the key

It’s a big day for George Osborne. Cameron is away so, as the First Secretary of State in the new Conservative Government, he will be taking PMQs for the very first time – a very clear statement of his position in the pecking order.

Looking back he has a lot in common with James Callaghan in 1976. It was widely agreed that in the LAB contest of that year he had a head start because he knew that Harold Wilson was going to resign and when that was likely to happen. Callaghan was prepared for Wilson’s shock announcement – the others weren’t.

Cameron going during this parliament will be less of a shock but the timing will absolutely crucial to the leadership election that will follow which maybe sooner rather than later.

Maybe a successful outcome to the EU referendum will be a key point. Wilson’s resignation came nine months after the 1975 European referendum.

All the focus in the current next CON leader betting has been on Boris with the Chancellor, George Osborne, some way down in the betting. This is crazy. In all of this Osborne has got one massive ace up his sleeve – his relationship with David Cameron who has given George a huge influence over the way the government operates and, crucially, which Tory MPs gets preferment.

Even more important in the view of insiders I’ve spoken to is that George is much more likely to have knowledge of and quite a lot of influence control over the timing of Dave’s exit.

    I was told last week that Cameron will go at a point which will most help Osborne’s chances.

Osborne is the political strategist behind the Cameron leadership and much of the credit for last month’s victory can go to him.

To my mind George should be favourite to succeed. I’ve been building up a position at odds of 5/1 and longer.

Mike Smithson


For the third London Mayoral election in succession CON hopes look set to rest on a blond old-Etonian

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

The 3/1 that Zac’ll win looks a good bet

According to Joe Murphy in the Standard Zac’s candidature is dependent on the outcome of a referendum he is holding in his Rixhmond Park constituency.

In a unique exercise, the Tory MP is spending tens of thousands of pounds on a postal ballot to give his Richmond Park constituents the last word on whether he runs or not. He said: “I have just been re-elected as MP and it’s important to know whether or not my constituents are happy for me to run for Mayor. They must have the right to say no and it is now up to them to decide without interference.” Mr Goldsmith is writing to all 77,000 of the local voters who re-elected him with a 23,015 majority enclosing a postage-paid voting paper with the question: “Do you give your consent to Zac Goldsmith to stand for election to be Mayor of London

This clearly is a very serious effort and the process itself of this vote will all add to the media attention on Zac.

Labour won’t complete its candidate selection process until September. The ballot of London members is being held at the same time as the leadership election.

Mike Smithson


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