Archive for the 'Coalition' Category


What makes Jim Murphy so dangerous to the SNP is that for the first time in years LAB has a credible alternative First Minister

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Why I’ve now become an SNP seller

It is worth recapping why we are where we are in Scotland. Back in early 2011 it looked as though Scottish LAB was in a position to make a return to power in Holyrood ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections that May. At the start of the year all the polling had the party well ahead so that by the March, with only eight weeks to go, you could have got a bet on the SNP at odds longer than 3/1 that they’d win most MSPs.

Then at the start of April there was the first TV debate of the campaign and it was totally apparent that the then SLAB leader was simply not a credible alternative to Alex Salmond who was then running a minority government.

Suddenly the election became one of leadership not of parties – a recent precedent that should cause Ed Miliband and his team some concern.

As we got closer to polling day LAB and the other parties faded while the SNP rose and in the election the party was returned with an overall majority. It was that election victory that paved the way for the referendum.

It is into that context that Murphy comes into the picture. He did himself a power of good during the IndyRef campaign being seen as someone ready to take on the Nats. His controversial tour that attracted do much attention and protest from YES campaigners helped build up his profile.

Since the referendum on September 18th the SNP threat to the unionist community has never appeared so great and for the first couple of months LAB appeared impotent. Now that has changed.

A key part of Murphy’s approach in the coming weeks will be to galvanise pro-union tactical voting which could just help LAB save some seats.

GE2015 in Scotland is starting to look totally different and I’ve had a punt that the SNP will fall short of 21. They currently have 6 Westminster seats.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


On the face of it this ComRes “issues that will most impact on voting” polling doesn’t look good for the Tories

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

But how strong is LAB on NHS and the cost of living?

What is interesting about this ComRes survey for ITV is that it seeks to link the best party on each issue to what issues are likely to be decisive in influencing voter choice.

Rather than just have “the economy” where the Tories are strong this is broken down into three headings where one, the cost of living is good for Labour. The latter is personal while the deficit and promoting growth are more general putting it into a national context and less personal.

The Labour hope is that focusing on the individual will see them home. Maybe. Maybe not.

I’m not convinced that either of the main party economic spokesmen, Osborne and Ball, have what it takes in terms of communication skills. They both seem more concerned with taking chunks out of each other than getting messages over that resonate.

Immigration might be the top voter choice but the party in the lead here is not going to be a serious contender in more than a handful of seats and you can see both the main players trying to push the overall campaign onto territory where they feel they are strong.

UKIP is vulnerable on the NHS because of mixed messaging and things that the party has said in the past. Attempts to make this a key plank in Rochester never really got off the ground.

The impact of UKIP has been to take away from the Tories what used to be one of their greatest strengths. It is far harder to play immigration as an issue when you gave been in power for five years and the numbers aren’t as good as was promised during the last campaign.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


New study of the Scottish IndyRef finds that the turnout level amongst 16 and 17 years olds was 75%

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Surprisingly the least likely were 18-24 year olds

A report from the Electoral Commission on September’s Scottish IndyRef finds that three-quarters of the 16/17 year old did exercise their vote.

This comes in a study carried out for the Commission by ICM in which a particular effort was made to identify and interview non-voters.

An explanation by Professor John Curtice of why the very youngest segment was more likely to vote is that maybe they were encouraged to do so by mum and dad who probably have less influence over older groups.

The overall sample size, 1,252, is small given that we are looking at sub-sets. John Curtice says it was “just about enough to give us a broad indication of whether 16 and 17 year olds were more or less likely to vote than those in other age groups.”

No doubt this will be picked up by those campaigning for an extension of the franchise for all elections.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Maybe we should all stop looking at the polls and wait till after the holiday season

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Since Nov 10 all polls bar YouGov’s have had LAB leads

Interesting looking through the Wiki list of Westminster voting intention polls and one thing stands out – LAB has maintained a lead of some sort with all the firms apart from YouGov which, of course, reports five times a week for the Sun and the Sunday Times.

Above are all the surveys since the autumn statement and the pattern is seen there. The hoped for boost that the blue team was hoping for has not really changed the picture.

But it is hard drawing conclusions and things might look very different in the New Year.

Lord Ashcroft used to say that the best polls to look at were the first ones in the New Year – simply because people are more clear headed and the polls are less influenced by the day by day media coverage. I’ve often thought that there was something in that.

May 7th will feel a lot lot closer after the holidays and this will focus voter’s minds. Do voters really want to switch and will perceptions of the different leaders start to play a bigger part?

The fear of the unknown is the blue team’s strongest card and, no doubt, they will play it effectively.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


England ONLY data from latest ComRes poll shows that the Tories have massive struggle south of the border

Monday, December 15th, 2014

At GE2010 CON led in England by 11.2%. Now just 1%

Given that Scotland is operating totally differently at the moment I have been trying to identify the England only poll shares from the main surveys.

The chart above is from yesterday’s IoS/S Mirror poll by ComRes and has the Tories just 1% ahead in England. That is ten points short of what the blues got at the last election.

What’s happening in Scotland is disguising the huge challenge in England where the swing required is now in excess of 5%.

Of course it looks as though LAB will lose seats in Scotland but last time the Tories made net gains of 92 in England alone which was the bedrock of Cameron being able to lead a coalition. These 92 seats form the main target list for Labour.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Headline figures of many polls feature views of many more men than women and this could be skewing results

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Fewer women say they are certain to vote and they are more likely to be undecided

Just look at the chart which is based on the Populus November aggregate data with a very large overall sample from 9 separate polls.

As can be seen male voters account for more than 50% of each party’s support with, not unexpectedly, UKIP showing the biggest divide. What is striking is that although the overall sample is weighted properly for gender balance when it comes to the output figures there are 11 men for every 9 women.

The happens because women’s certainty to vote figures are lower and they are more like to be undecided about their party choice.

This is a common feature with online polls generally while the phone surveys tend to be more balanced. YouGov doesn’t weight for certainty but does have significantly more female don’t knows.

    Given that we know that in general elections male and female turnout levels are roughly the same isn’t there a case for gender weighting of the final figures?

Polls that are male heavy might not be as good snapshots of opinion as those that have a better balance.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


As Scottish LAB prepares to unveil its new leader YouGov has the SNP 20% ahead

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

The impact this could have on overall GE2015 outcome

Remember YouGov’s much hyped poll before the IndyRef


Local elections results. GAINs for Plaid Cymru & UKIP from Ind and for the LDs from LAB

Friday, December 12th, 2014

South Kintyre on Argyll and Bute (SNP defence)
Result: SNP 942 (62% +37%), Liberal Democrats 214 (14%, unchanged), Conservative 203 (13% -33%), Labour 156 (10%, no candidate last time)
SNP HOLD on the first count with a majority of 728 (48%) on a swing of 18.5% from Lib Dem to SNP

Gatehouse (Lib Dem defence) and Southcourt (Lab Defence) on Aylesbury Vale
Result: Liberal Democrat 295 (36%), UKIP 267 (32%), Conservative 113 (14%), Labour 113 (14%), Green 28 (3%), Independent 12 (1%)
Liberal Democrat HOLD with majority of 28 (4%)

Result: Liberal Democrat 429 (42%), UKIP 266 (26%), Labour 175 (17%), Conservative 112 (11%), Green 33 (3%)
Liberal Democrat GAIN from Labour with a majority of 163 (14%)

Toton and Chilwell Meadows on Broxtowe (Con defence)
Result: Conservative 952 (55%), Labour 454 (26%), UKIP 340 (20%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 498 (29%)

Trelech on Carmarthenshire (Ind Defence)
Result: Plaid Cymru 598 (68% +33%), Independent 181 (21%), Liberal Democrat 96 (11% -3%)
Plaid Cymru GAIN from Independent with a majority of 417 (47%), no swing calculable

Kingsway on Halton (Lab Defence, unopposed in 2011)
Result: Labour 537 (73%), UKIP 164 (22%), Conservative 22 (3%), Liberal Democrat 11 (2%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 373 (51%)

Stamford North on Lincolnshire (Ind Defence)
Result: UKIP 400 (32%, no candidate last time), Labour 268 (21% unchanged), Conservative 261 (21% -11%), Lincolnshire Independents 199 (16%, no candidate last time), Liberal Democrat 142 (11%, no candidate last time)
UKIP GAIN from Independent with a majority of 132 (10%) on a swing of 5.5% from Lab to UKIP

Elgin City North on Moray (Lab Defence)
Result: SNP 728 (38% -5%), Independent 472 (24% +15%), Labour 287 (15% -15%), Conservative 273 (14% -4%), UKIP 81 (4%, no candidate last time), Green 77 (4%, no candidate last time)
SNP HOLD on the fifth count with a majority of 256 (14%) on a swing of 10% from SNP to Ind

Bransgore and Burley on New Forest (Con defence)
Result: Conservative 834 (77%), UKIP 171 (16%), Labour 74 (7%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 663 (61%)

Washington East on Sunderland (Lab defence)
Result: Labour 775 (38% -3%), Conservative 595 (29% +4%), UKIP 506 (25% -1%), Green 93 (5%, no candidate last time), Liberal Democrat 52 (3% -2%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 180 (9%) on a swing of 3.5% from Lab to Con

Cox Green on Windsor and Maidenhead Royal (Con defence)
Result: Conservative 738 (51%), Liberal Democrat 315 (22%), UKIP 278 (19%), Labour 124 (9%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 423 (29%)