Archive for the 'Coalition' Category


Trump and Sanders heading for big wins in New Hampshire

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

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If Trump fails to win tonight then his bid will effectively be over

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016


If Hillary can keep the gap in single figures she claim to be the “comeback kid”

As we saw after last week’s Iowa caucuses this stage in the White House race everything is all about expectations. So although Cruz won last week all the attention went on Rubio who did a fair bit better than expected.

Trump, quite remarkably, has led led in every single New Hampshire poll  since June – all  75 of them. He went into today’s New Hampshire primary with a 17% RCP polling average lead and needs a clear victory that reflects the perception that he’s the front runner. If by any chance he doesn’t make it people would question his ongoing national poll leads as well as the mountain of surveys from other states.  At least in Iowa last week he hadn’t been the leader in the polls.

Likewise Socialist 74 year old, Bernie Sanders, has to have an emphatic victory. He’s gone for a total of 40 polls all showing him in the lead and the Real Clear Politics Average currently has him 13.65 ahead. If Hillary comes in with the gap in single figures then her team will be claiming some sort of victory.

One factor about Sanders is that he’s a senator from Vermont and New Hampshire has a record of giving good support to contenders from neighbouring states.

If you are staying up have a good evening.  If it is not as clear cut as the polls we could have an exciting few hours.

Mike Smithson


Tonight’s local by-election line-up: 3 CON defences and a LAB one

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

Bottisham (Con defence) on East Cambridgeshire
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 36, Liberal Democrats 2, Independent 1 (Conservative majority of 33)
Result of ward at last election (2015) : Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,100, 1,002 (52%)
Liberal Democrats 678, 634 (32%)
Labour 347, 339 (16%)
Candidates duly nominated: Steven Aronson (Lib Dem), Daniel Divine (UKIP), Steven O’Dell (Lab), Alan Sharp (Con)

East Cambridgeshire is the essence of what has been happening to the Liberal Democrats since 2003 (their high water mark in local elections). At those elections, the Liberal Democrats polled 27% in the national projected vote share (tying with their performances in 1994 and 1987) and in those local elections they won 3,577 seats and controlled or had a hand in controlling 53 councils (including East Cambridgeshire where they had 18 councillors to the Conservatives 15 and the Independents 6), however just four years later and it was all reversed. Although the Liberal Democrat share in the national projected vote only fell by 3%, the Conservative share rose by 5% and that 4% swing was enough to cause the Conservatives to gain overall control in East Cambridgeshire and then the rot really started. A 3% swing from Lib Dem to Con saw the Conservative majority on the council increase to 11 and another 2% swing in 2015 saw the majority rocket up to 33 (on a swing of 5% overall since 2003). Since the general election though, the Liberal Democrats have started to recover some of their lustre but I think a 10% swing since May is asking just a little too much.

Measham South (Lab defence) on North West Leicestershire
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 25, Labour 10, Independents 2, Liberal Democrat 1 (Conservative majority of 12)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Labour 654 (55%), Conservative 533 (45%)
Candidates duly nominated: Annette Bridges (Con), Martin Green (UKIP), Sean Sheahan (Lab)

North West Leicestershire has always been a right royal battleground. Labour had a majority of 2 in 2003, which became a Conservative majority of 16 in 2007, then a Conservative majority of 4 in 2011 and then a majority of 12 in 2015, so when you have a seat that only requires a 5% swing for the Conservatives to gain it, you can imagine just how much chomping at the bit is going on in a constituency that has been swinging away from Labour almost since it went Labour in 1997. However, there is a complication this time around and that is UKIP. They will clearly poll very well (as they do in wards they did not contest last time) but who will their presence hurt the most? If it’s the Conservatives then Labour are home and dry, if it’s Labour then that gain becomes all the more likely.

Hexham West (Con defence) on Northumberland
Result of council at last election (2013): Labour 32, Conservatives 21, Liberal Democrats 11, Independents 3 (No Overall Majority, Labour short by 2)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Conservative 848 (48%), Liberal Democrat 540 (31%), Labour 261 (15%), United Kingdom Independence Party 105 (6%)
Candidates duly nominated: Tom Gillanders (Con), Derek Kennedy (Non Party Independent), Anne Pickering (Ind), Nuala Rose (Lab), Lee Williscroft-Ferris (Green)

Oswestry South (Con defence) on Shropshire
Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 48, Liberal Democrats 12, Labour 9, Independent 1, Independent Community and Health Concern / National Health Action 1 (Conservative majority of 22)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Conservative 488 (46%), Green Party 337 (32%), United Kingdom Independence Party 175 (16%), Liberal Democrat 62 (6%)
Candidates duly nominated: Carl Hopley (Lab), Duncan Kerr (Green), Christopher Schofield (Con), Amanda Woof (Lib Dem)

Both Northumberland and Shropshire have a lot in common. They are very councils with very large land areas (Shropshire has a land area of 3,487 square kilometres and Northumberland 5,013 square kilometres), both had at one point Liberal Democrats in a position of power (in 2008 the Liberal Democrats were the largest party on Northumberland and in 2005, the Liberal Democrats were the offical opposition on Shropshire) and both councils have a claim to be “a town and not much else” (with Morpeth being the county town in Northumberland and Shrewsbury being the county town in Shropshire), so with so many similarities it is amazing how divergent the two councils are nowadays, with Labour in minority control in Northumberland and the Conservatives in majority control of Shropshire and with the Liberal Democrats in oppsition to the Conservatives in Hexham West and the Greens in opposition to the Conservatives in Oswestry South. We’ve only had one Green gain since the general election in Dorset, so could we have a second tonight or could we have undoubted evidence of a Lib Dem fightback with three Lib Dems gains from three Lib Dem candidates?


Rubio moves to odds-on overall favourite after strong performance in Iowa

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016


If Corbyn’s Labour has to have any chance it has to dent Osborne’s reputation on the economy

Monday, February 1st, 2016


Donald Brind: From a LAB perspective

Labour’s unrelenting focus should be on the economy. Even before the mockery that he earned with misjudged tweet on the modest Google tax payment  the Chancellor George’s Osborne’s claims to competence have been fraying fast.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell made a good fist of his duel with Andrew Neil on Sunday Politics. To highlight Labour’s demand for transparency he has published his personal tax returns and will challenge Osborne directly in the Commons on Wednesday.

Labour will seek to mount a broad attack on what Jonathan Ashworth, one of the best communicators on the Labour front bench, describes as Osborne’s “five years of mistakes that have left the economy more vulnerable than ever.

Ashworth cites the Centre for Cities report which, he says, shows that far from the UK becoming the “high wage, low welfare” economy the Chancellor claims “many cities are moving in the opposite direction, with workers plagued by low paid jobs and rising living costs.

Not only does the report show that over half of Britain’s cities are ‘low wage, high welfare’, but welfare spending has actually grown fastest in the so-called high wage cities because of soaring costs of housing, leading to an upsurge in the need for housing benefit.

Labour still have a long, long way to go being trusted on the economy. But the first step is to dent Osborne and the Tories reputation in this key area. And there is plenty of evidence to show that Osborne is failing on the fundamentals – on investment in infrastructure and skills — that are the key to long term prosperity and security for British people. Labour have the ammunition.

Donald Brind


Local By-Election Results : January 21st 2016

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Bushey North (Con defence) on Hertfordshire
Result: Conservative 881 (53% +9%), Liberal Democrat 333 (20% +6%), Labour 286 (17% -2%), UKIP 176 (11% -12%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 548 (33%) on a swing of 1.5% from Liberal Democrat to Conservative

Thatto Heath (Lab defence) on St. Helens
Result: Labour 964 (71% -4%), UKIP 182 (13%, no candidate in 2012), Conservative 147 (11% +4%), Green Party 62 (5% -3%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 782 (58%) on a notional swing of 8.5% from Labour to UKIP

Hamilton North and East (SNP defence) on South Lanarkshire
Result: Scottish National Party 1,089 (43% +2%), Labour 855 (34% -9%), Conservatives 469 (18% +8%), Green Party 83 (3% unchanged), Liberal Democrats 45 (2%, no candidate in 2012)
Scottish National Party HOLD on the fifth count with a lead of 234 (9%) on a swing of 5.5% from Labour to SNP

Faraday (Lab defence) on Southwark
Result: Labour 1,072 (61% -1%), Liberal Democrats 255 (14% +8%), Green Party 138 (8% -4%), Conservatives 117 (7% -3%), UKIP 93 (5%, no candidate in 2014), Independent 47 (3%, no candidate in 2014), All People’s Party 38 (2% -5%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 817 (47%) on a swing of 4.5% from Labour to Liberal Democrat

Newington (UKIP defence) on Thanet
Result: Labour 288 (38% +2%), UKIP 229 (30% -14%), Conservative 156 (20% unchanged), Independent (Hodder) 49 (6%, no candidate in 2015), Green Party 20 (3%, no candidate in 2015), Liberal Democrats 12 (2%, no candidate in 2015), Independent (Birchall) 10 (1%, no candidate in 2015)
Labour GAIN from UKIP with a majority of 59 (8%) on a swing of 8% from UKIP to Lab

Crowborough East (Con defence) on Wealden
Result: Conservatives 517 (64% -1%), Liberal Democrats 198 (25% -10%), Labour 93 (12%, no candidate in 2015)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 319 (39%) on a swing of 4.5% from Liberal Democrat to Conservative


If indeed it was “herding” who can blame the pollsters?

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016


So much rests on the final General Election poll

I like the above chart from yesterday’s polling investigation presentation which does suggest that deliberately or not the overall affect was that a pattern that appeared like herding happened.

I don’t blame the pollsters. So much is stake with their final election polls. It is something they can be judged on for the years that follow.

Perhaps we need a more sensible approach to polling generally.

As I’ve stated GE2015 has taught me that party vote shares are one of the worst guides to election outcomes.

At least the pollsters that do leader ratings all ranked Miliband a fair way behind Cameron.

Mike Smithson


Corbyn’s Trident review. Winning a battle but the losing the war?

Friday, January 15th, 2016


Donald Brind: From a Labour perspective

Emily Thornberry, the new recruit to the Corbyn Shadow Cabinet has a sense of mischief and tells a great story about her General Election outing in 2001 in the safe Tory seat of Canterbury. Her opponent was Julian Brazier, who is proud of his family’s military heritage. His father was a lieutenant colonel and he spent 13 years as an officer the Territorial Army, five of them in the with the SAS. At a hustings she told the gobsmacked Major Brazier “I outrank you, you know”. The diminutive Thornberry explained that as a barrister she had to have a military title so she could appear at courts martial. So, she was an honorary colonel.

We can be sure that even if Jeremy Corbyn has heard the story it had nothing to do with his invitation to his fellow Islington MP and cycling enthusiast to become Shadow defence Secretary and everything to do with her declared opposition to Trident.

The sideways shift of the pro-Trident Maria Eagle and the appointment of Thornberry was widely seen as boosting Corbyn’s hope of getting what he wants from the review of Labour policy on the nuclear issue. Thornberry’s co-convenor of the review, Ken Livingstone suggested on Newsnight he suggested they could complete the job within 10 weeks.

That could prove highly optimistic in the light of opposition from unions with members in the defence industry. Unite’s Len McCluskey is due to speak on the issue at the union’s Scottish conference on Sunday. The New Statesman’s Stephen Bush offers a typically insightful analysis of relations between Corbyn and union leaders.

    But even if the review gives Corbyn what he wants and it could end up entrenching support for a weapon system which has shaky justifications. Simon Jenkins in the Guardian persuasively argues the case against the £100 billion project.

But Corbyn’s goal should surely not just to change party policy but to make it the policy of a Labour government. So the question is – will his review will help in persuading the wider electorate that Trident is not value for money either in defence terms or in terms of the country’s economic and social needs?

I doubt it. I argued in a previous post people who have made up their own mind are not best placed to persuade the uncommitted on. The Thornberry-Livingstone review will be all to easily dismissed as a sham because Corbyn gave the job to people he knew would agree with him.

But is there a more credible figure who could have been asked to do the job. I think there is.

Step forward the man who committed the Labour government to Trident renewal in 2007, the then Defence Secretary Des Browne, now Lord Browne of Ladyton.

He now argues that important things have changed since he persuaded Parliament to back Trident. He wrote in the Telegraph in 2013 that  “a set of long-term threats has emerged, to which deterrence, nuclear or otherwise, is not applicable: not only climate change, which can be addressed only through coordinated international action, but also cyber-attacks and nuclear terrorism. Attacks of both kinds will be difficult to trace. Since deterrence only works against those with a known address, it is not a viable strategy for meeting this category of threats.”  Six weeks ago he reiterated his warnings about the vulnerability of nuclear submarines to cyber attacks.
Browne is a serious player on the international stage.

I understand that the former defence secretary now spends a lot of his time now in Washington where he is vice chair of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization founded in 2001 by former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, philanthropist Ted Turner. The organisation’s mission “is to strengthen global security by reducing the risk of use and preventing the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.” Browne is also convener of the similar European network and a signatory of Global Zero (campaign), a non-profit international initiative for the elimination of all nuclear weapons worldwide.

With all due respect, as they say, to Emily Thornberry and Ken Livingstone, Jeremy Corbyn might do well to sack them and hand over the review to a more credible convenor – for the good of the party and of the country.

Donald Brind