Archive for the 'Campaigning' Category


The flaw in Corbyn’s plan to win the next election by signing up non-voters and the young

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Labour risk piling up votes where they don’t need it

Mr Corbyn’s plan has the major flaw that in the 100 seats with the lowest turnout in England Labour hold 94 of them, and 95 out of the 100 seats with the lowest turnout in England and Wales. When you extend the analysis to include Scotland, a similar pattern emerges, in the 100 seats with the lowest turnout in Great Britain Labour holds 92 of them, the SNP holds 3 and the Conservatives hold 5 of them.

Boosting turnout in these seats might replicate the mistake of May where Labour piled up votes in safe seats they already hold whilst the Conservatives boosted their votes in the marginals they hold, which will ultimately improve the advantage the Conservatives hold in vote efficiency. The following tweet sums it up.

To win in 2020 Labour needs to win the votes of people who voted Conservative and UKIP in 2015, until Mr Corbyn addresses that Labour won’t be taking power in 2020.

Thanks again to PBer Disraeli for producing the data behind this article.



Corbyn’s English challenge

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

Labour need to stop piling up votes in their safe English seats

Looking at the chart above we can see that in England Labour did best where it didn’t need to and the Tories did best where they did need to do well. In England overall there was a swing of 1.1% from the Tories to Labour but in the crucial battle ground of the fifty most marginal Tory held seats there was a swing of 0.9% FROM Labour to the Tories.

One of the reasons for this was probably down to Labour’s much hyped ground game being focussed in the wrong places. A few months ago Labour’s Jon Ashworth, MP for Leicester South, said he and his canvassing team between January and May of this year had 16,000 doorstep conversations in his constituency. Which struck me as odd. Why were Labour wasting resources in a safe seats like that when there were winnable marginals seats in the Midlands that Labour needed to gain to become the largest party/have a majority?

This was comfort canvassing by Labour, those resources should have been focussed on places like Warwickshire North and Sherwood. In those Tory held hyper-marginal seats of Warwickshire North & Sherwood the Tory majority went up from 54 and 214 respectively to 2,973 and 4,647. Across England there are other examples like this from Stockton South to Nuneaton to Waveney. This explains in part how the Tories increased their lead over Labour in seats despite Labour reducing the Tory lead in the popular vote in England.

If Labour have any hope of taking power in 2020 they need to stop piling up votes in safe seats and start winning them in Tory held marginal seats. I’m not sure Jeremy Corbyn is the man to achieve that as I expect Jeremy Corbyn will be even less appealing in the Tory held marginals than Ed Miliband was.

Many thanks to PBer Disraeli for producing the figures that this article is based on.



Policies not leadership will win this election

Sunday, April 12th, 2015


Last night saw the the emergence of a major policy announcement by both the Tories and Labour, these can be seen as the appetising hors-d’oeuvre before the main course that is the manifesto launches in the early part of this coming week.

The below graphic from some polling by Ipsos Mori in February, which shows leadership isn’t as important policies, as they note, we’ve gone from the most presidential election in 2010, to the least, which explains why the Tory attacks on Ed Miliband haven’t led to sustained Tory leads this week.

Ipsos Mori


So, it comes down to which party has the policy/policies that appeal most to the voters. The Tory plan on IHT is the interesting one, back in 2007, when Labour MPs were publicly saying that “Shortly there will be a [snap] election, in which Labour will increase its majority”

One of the things that stopped Gordon Brown from holding that election was George Osborne’s policy announcement to increase IHT threshold from £300,000 to £1 million which saw a sustained change in the polling in the Tories’ favour.

But that was then, and this is now. The Tories are perceived to be the party of the rich, will this policy reaffirm that, as the cutting of the 50p to 45p in the omnishambles budget of 2012 saw the Tory polling take a dip from which they are only now recovering from.

But finally, we’re moving onto the substantive part of an election campaign, something that will help voters decide which way they will vote and could cause one side or the other to pull away, as fewer voters are decided on how they’ll vote in May than in previous elections.



If you live in the marginals expect US style political attack ads appearing in your youtube feed

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

Above is one of the most notorious US political attack ads.

Buzzfeed are reporting that

[The] Tories Bring US-Style Political Attack Adverts To The UK In Time For The Election. Paid-for political advertising on TV and radio has always been banned in the UK. But there’s no such restriction on using YouTube, and BuzzFeed News understands the Conservatives are already spending the money.

Whilst many have doubts the impact of the internet and social media on a general election campaign, this is a further example of a well resourced Conservative Party taking on a not so well resourced Labour Party unable to compete with the Tory advantage. Given the national polling indicates there is very little  between the Tories and Labour, every advantage helps.

As Buzzfeed notes, “However, it is likely that the paid-for YouTube adverts will mainly appear in the roughly 90 marginal seats which the Tories believe are key to an election victory and where they are concentrating campaign resources.”

This may also explain, why the voters think the Tories are having a better campaign so far, YouGov earlier on this week asked the following, “Taking everything into account, how good or bad an election campaign do you think the following have had so far?” Conservatives are on net +4, Greens +3, Ukip -1, Labour -30, Lib Dems -43.

All of this could explain in part, why the betting sentiment is moving towards the Tories/against Labour over on Betfair and the spreads.



CON fights back against UKIP with what’s been a hugely effective voter mobilisation strategy in the US

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Big data giving the personal touch

This morning Tory chairman, Grant Shapps, sent me the above email with an invitation to take part in a conference call with the Prime Minister tonight. Although the text doesn’t say it specifically there’s a suggestion that I could be in dialogue with Mr. Cameron.

    On the face of it this is quite appealing and my guess is that it will get a good response rate.

This form of campaigning is an import from the 2012 White House race. It was seen first in the Romney campaign for the GOP nomination and played a key part in those early states when it was so important for him to underline his front-runner status.

There the “Tele-Town Hall Meetings”, as they were called, structure was honed so that the the issues discussed were tailored specifically to the target voter. I don’t know whether the Cameron approach will be the same or whether there’ll be a common “discussion” for all who participate.

In a low turnout election like the Euros the Tories can really enhance their position by getting their more marginal voters to turnout and to bring back on board some of the CON>UKIP switchers. This is about voter mobilisation and it could help.

I remain of the view that the Tories will do better on May 22nd than in the current online polling.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


European Elections 2009 : Summary of Results

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

European Election Results 2009

UK 2009 Winners

Conservatives 4,193,706 votes (27.63%) winning 272 count areas and 25 MEP’s
United Kingdom Independence Party 2,495,782 votes (16.44%) winning 9 count areas and 13 MEP’s
Labour 2,375,361 votes (15.65%) winning 59 count areas and 13 MEP’s
Liberal Democrats 2,078,723 votes (13.70%) winning 11 count areas and 11 MEP’s
Green Party 1,302,705 votes (8.58%) winning 3 count areas and 2 MEP’s
British National Party 941,491 votes (6.20%) winning 0 count areas and 2 MEP’s
Scottish National Party 321,007 votes (2.11%) winning 22 count areas and 2 MEP’s
Plaid Cymru 123,816 votes (0.81%) winning 4 count areas and 1 MEP
Other Parties 1,340,174 votes (8.83%) winning 0 count areas and 0 MEP’s
Conservative lead of 1,697,924 votes (11.19%) with a majority of 164 count areas and 12 MEP’s

Over the next few weeks I will be outling the prospects for each of the main parties (Con, Lab, Lib Dem, UKIP) as well as the other parties (Plaid, SNP, BNP, Green) in the forthcoming European Elections and based on the polls on the eve of poll produce a forecast map showing not only what districts are likely to go to which parties but also the number of MEP’s elected by region (and the change on 2009).

I am therefore opening the comments section for people to ask what their local area result was in 2009. All of the results have been standardised to the districts being counted this year and all I need to know is the name of the council that you will be electing at the next set of elections in 2015 (for England), 2016 (Scotland and Wales).

Harry Hayfield


The Christmas Game: Part I

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Many thanks to Harry Hayfield, for providing the fun for Christmas Day on PB.

Below are the The Google Earth outline of five UK parliamentary constituencies.

Can you guess what those constituencies are? The only clue being all the maps are aligned North to South.

The answers will be posted when the thread for constituencies six to ten is published this afternoon.

Have fun guessing one to five.


Constituency One

Constituency Two

Constituency Three

Constituency Four

Constituency Five


At GE2015 the traditional media will be far less important than ever before

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Getting messages across is going to be a lot more difficult

The above is from a Populus/Open Road poll which asked the simple question of which parts of the media people got information from each day.

The poll did not cover the type of information so it is to be expected that percentages consuming what we think of as “news” are a lot lower.

Clearly we’ve seen from newspaper circulation figures how the printed media is falling sharply. What I find interesting is that this drop has not been compensated by increasing usage of newspaper websites which remained the same. Maybe part of this is down to paywalls.

We hear so much about Twitter yet usage amongst the general public just increased by 2% from 13% to 15% over the two years. Facebook is moving upwards but how much of the information that people get impacts on voting? We don’t know.

    So much effort goes into developing and refining messages for general elections campaigns yet the channels for getting these across are getting narrower

All this leads me to observe that the ground campaign is going to be more important than ever before. Direct personal contact with voters in the marginals will be central and this comes at a time when membership of the older parties is on the decline.

Foot soldiers to knock on doors and to push things through letter boxes are at a premium yet there are far fewer of them.

Mike Smithson

Blogging from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble since 2004