Archive for the 'Coalition' Category


For those who didn’t see it the Lord Ashcroft interview on SkyNews

Thursday, January 29th, 2015


The build up starts to what will be the biggest polling event so far in 2015

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Ever since the first post-IndyRef Scottish polls came out showing a huge move to the SNP the standard assumptions that were being made about the GE15 outome were put on one side.

For although in GB terms the the loss in the LAB vote and increase in the SNP one amounted to less than one percent overall the number of seats involved was enormous.

At GE10 LAB easily held onto its 41 Scottish seats with very comfortable majorities. Only three of them had leads over the SNP of less than 20% and in none of them was the margin less than 10%.

There’ve been projections that the SNP could take more than 50 of the 59 Westminster MPs in Scotland leaving Scottish LAB with a small handful. If that happens then EdM’s party will be struggling to win most seats never mind a Westminster majority.

The big question is whether the polling picture will hold when you get down to the constituency level and how those polled will respond the Lord A’s two stage voting question – the first a standard one and the second asking interviewees to think specifically about their own seats and the candidates who are likely to stand.

    Could we see well known incumbents getting a bonus and could there also be pro-unionist tactical voting? The fact is we don’t know but Lord A is starting to find out.

Whatever I’ve little doubt that our view of the general election overall will be changed by the findings. They are due out next week.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Cracking New Statesman piece by Matthew Engel on betting & politics

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

The full article is here. This is an extract that’s most relevant to PB

“…The original purpose of both sides – trying to make a profit on the transaction – is certainly not absent. Indeed, in recent years it has become more central. At the heart of this phenomenon is a new class somewhat different from the blokes who hang round the betting shops. Their bible is a somewhat clunky blog-cum-website,, founded ten years ago by an ex-journalist, university fundraiser and Liberal Democrat candidate called Mike Smithson, who lost his political betting virginity as a teenager in the 1963 Tory leadership shemozzle.

Smithson uses the slogan: “The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble” (Bedford, actually), which for political betting purposes is definitely the place to be. No one can make money from the bookmakers by following conventional wisdom. And Smithson and his small team of contributors are particularly good at getting beyond that.

But of the two words in the site’s title, the first is more significant. This is a wonkish site first and foremost. I am not sure whether knowing that the Conservatives retained a seat on Rother District Council by winning the Darwell by-election adds to the sophistication of my political analysis, especially when I am not sure where either Rother or Darwell might be. But it certainly makes me feel clued up. As does the rigour Smithson brings to the study of polling data.

The site’s small profit, however, comes from the betting firms paying commission on click-throughs that generate custom, although the companies are just a bit wary of this new business. “I know who some of these people are,” says Matthew Shaddick, head of political betting at Ladbrokes. “A lot of them are political obsessives: activists, poll-watchers, or they work in political HQs. Real anoraky stats people, or political scientists with their own models.” In other words, not necessarily the mug punters the bookies traditionally love…”

Engel concludes:-

“..We aficionados all have our failures, heaven knows. But we can smile about our past triumphs, as over some long-ago night of passion. I was a fairly early Obama backer but Mike Smithson spotted him long before I did and backed him to be president at 50/1. My own moment of glory came in 1990, when I divined that Michael Heseltine would indeed topple Margaret Thatcher but then get punished by being deprived of the prize himself; therefore I knew – just knew – that the answer to the question simply had to be John Major, at 10/1. And I kept betting until Hills told me to get knotted.

I am relishing the 2015 election first and foremost because I care about my country and want it to be run by politicians who share my vision of its future; second because, for a journalist, it will be fascinating to write about; and third, because I hope that I might just have another moment of blinding insight to match the one I had 25 years ago. Which may be lucrative in a medium-sized way – and gloriously satisfying.”


Well done to ICM and Ipsos-MORI for now providing England only numbers

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

As can be seen the picture is very mixed

In December I met some pollsters and some of their clients at the BES launch event and suggested that what would be enormously helpful was a breakdown of the England only figures. Whether it was my suggestion or not I don’t know but Ipsos-MORI and ICM are both now following Lord Ashcroft in providing this data.

These are, of course, only sub sets but England does make up about 87% of the samples in each poll.

There’s also the addition of separate England only table in the Wikipedia polling pages.

As the table above shows there’s a very mixed picture on England coming from the pollsters and it is hard to come to any firm views yet.

The only big trend is that none of the surveys have the Tories getting anywhere near the 11.5% England lead of 2010. Thus if the parties are level-pegging in England that is a 5.75% CON to LAB swing.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


The debates: The broadcaster up the ante and threaten to empty chair Cameron

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

The broadcaster have just issued a joint statement on the debates. The sting is in the tail.

“The proposed dates for the debates are 2, 16 and 30 April. The order of the debates is to be discussed with the parties.

“The party leaders will be formally invited to take part in these debates. In the event that any of the invited party leaders decline to participate, debates will take place with the party leaders who accept the invitation.”

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


The joys of first past the post

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

It’s winning seats that matters not building national vote totals


Oh the joy of being a swing voter in one of the super marginals that will decide the election

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

One of the electors who won’t be taken for granted

The above slide is from the Rob Hayward presentation and shows, on a uniform swing, the key tipping point seats. Column one is LAB to be on most seats, while the second column is the area for an overall LAB majority and the third for a CON majority.

Events in Scotland have distorted this but, as things currently stand, the named seats, certainly in the first column, will be the key battlegrounds.

One of the regular criticisms of first past the post is that an election is decided by a small number of swing voters in key marginal seats, while the votes of millions of others are taken for granted by the parties because what they do is not going to affect the outcome.

Well I happen to be in the happy situation of being one of those swing voters in Bedford – the key constituency that LAB has to win to notionally be ahead to be top on seats. Whatever my views on the voting system I really relish the fact that my vote matters and we are going to get a lot of attention. Mr. Cameron and Mr. Miliband will be coming here quite few times in the coming months.

One thing that has happened is that on three occasions either my wife or I have been sampled in constituency specific polls. One of those was clearly for Lord Ashcroft while the other two have been private. Only last week my wife did a phone voting poll which named the candidates and then sought to get views on specific issues particularly on the most contentious local matter – the plan to downgrade the town’s hospital.

In the published Ashcroft poll, carried out in the summer, LAB had a lead of 10% and the betting odds point to a LAB gain. Will that have been eroded by recent events?

What this means is that my view of the coming fight will be through the prism of someone whose vote is really being sought after.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


The evening thread – Marf on Democracy Day

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

YouGov gets its sensational poll. CON 2% ahead