Archive for the 'Coalition' Category


The LDs overturn Zac’s 23k majority with a lead of 1,872

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

Sarah Olney (LD) 20,510 (49.68%, +30.41%)

Zac Goldsmith (Ind) 18,638 (45.15%)

Christian Wolmar (Lab) 1,515 (3.67%, -8.68%)

Howling Laud Hope (Loony) 184 (0.45%)

Fiona Syms (Ind) 173 (0.42%)

Dominic Stockford (CPA) 164 (0.40%)

Maharaja Jammu and Kashmir (Love) 67 (0.16%)

David Powell (ND) 32 (0.08%)

LD maj 1,872 (4.53%)

Zac’s gamble fails

That’s a fantastic result for the yellows and a tragic result for Zac Goldsmith who, of course, was beaten in the London Mayoral race last May.

The seat has, of course, been LD territory in the past and the party has flung everything at it. This has been a huge campaign which I said at the start was an absolute must win for them.

The result cuts Theresa May’s majority by 2 to a theoretical 10.

There was much scepticism when the LDs produced vote projections in the past few days showing they were in the lead. Well these have been proved right.

Mike Smithson


And now what you really wanted to know about LEAVE and REMAIN voters – how often they change their underpants/knickers

Thursday, November 24th, 2016


Remember: Normal polling margins of error apply


Why the 5/1 that President Trump will be impeached during his first term is not an attractive bet

Thursday, November 17th, 2016



Looking at the process and the politics

The man whose business methods can be charitably described as unconventional will take over the most powerful and most heavily scrutinised job in the world on 20 January next. Will his tenure end in impeachment? BetFred are offering 5/1 that Trump will be successfully impeached by 2020.

History of Presidential impeachment

No US President has been impeached and removed from office. Serious proceedings have been launched against three Presidents, Andrew Johnson in 1868, Richard Nixon in 1974 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Briefly, the Johnson and Clinton impeachments died in the Senate (Johnson by only one vote on three separate charges) and Nixon resigned before he could be tried. It is a lengthy and complex process, and effectively brings national political life to a standstill.

There are two conditions that need to be met for an impeachment to happen:

The law: The President must be accused of an impeachable offence; and

The politics: The President’s political support must have drained away to the extent that 2/3 of the Senate votes against him.

The law

Our American cousins do not share our enthusiasm for making up constitutional practice as we go along, and the impeachment process is tightly defined and consists of two stages.

Stage 1 – House

Section LIII of the Jefferson Manual on Congressional Procedure says that the House votes on articles of impeachment. For Clinton, those were drafted by the Judiciary Committee after an investigation by a Special Prosecutor, and this seems the most likely way that an impeachment of Trump would be initiated.

Stage 2– Senate

Stage two is set out in the Constitution. The relevant sections of the Constitution are Article 1 Section 3, which sets out the process:

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.  .  When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside:  And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present ...

and Article 2 Section 4, which describes the crimes for which they can be impeached:

The President shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors

One can assume that Trump will not be guilty of treason, at any rate as it is defined in the Constitution, where the definition is deliberately narrow. It also seems unlikely that he will be guilty of receiving a bribe, given the intense scrutiny of his finances and his enormous wealth. The odd-sounding and vague phrase “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is therefore crucial to whether Trump will be impeached. Rather surprisingly, the phrase goes back to 14th century English law and the impeachment of the Earl of Suffolk. But it currently understood to involve some bad action by the President in the course of his duties. If the President committed a murder outside the course of his duties, therefore, he could not be impeached, but would be dealt with through normal criminal law. Issuing himself a pardon for that murder, however, could render him subject to impeachment.

How likely is it that Trump will commit such crimes? My own impression is that it is fairly likely. His business methods seem on occasion to be one step above the criminal and people of 70, used to getting their own way, do not often change radically. In addition, the President must take so many decisions every day, and the scrutiny is so intense, that if people dig through enough trash cans they may well find things they can use against him. It is worth noting that a recent, well publicised book claimed that US law is so widely drafted that the average American professional commits three felonies per

day, and no doubt the President could be said to commit considerably more.

The politics

Impeachment has the appearance of a judicial process, with the House as Prosecutor and the Senate as the Judge, but impeaching an extremely popular President is unthinkable. Congressmen have to think of their own re-election, and the unpopularity of Clinton’s impeachment seems to have been a factor in the Republican losses in that year’s mid-terms. More than half the House must vote for the Articles, and two-thirds of the Senate must vote to convict. Much will depend on the crimes and the articles of impeachment, but the latter is a high hurdle. I doubt they will be met while the two Houses are in Republican hands, and while the President is relatively popular. This means that an impeachment is only likely after the 2018 mid-terms, and only then if there are heavy GOP losses in the House. Members of Congress will be chasing their own re-election and, given the obvious pointlessness of pursuing a President who could be out of office fairly soon anyway, the proceedings would have to be launched sometime in 2019.

So, there are two ways I think impeachment could happen:

Trump commit such an egregious abuse of power that even his own party desert him. I think that is possible, and, given how much many of them seem to despise him, an outside chance, but given that the President surrounds himself with lawyers, I think it unlikely;

The Democrats win control of the House and Senate in 2018, and try to blow some smaller scandal out of all proportion. This seems far likelier, but a quirk of the American system could save Trump. It is not mathematically possible for the Democrats to reach 67 Senators in 2018, since only 8 Republican seats (and two independents who caucus with the Democrats) are up for grabs. Even if the Democrats swept the House and all available Senate seats in 2018, therefore, they would have to persuade large numbers of their opponents to support them, as the Republicans utterly failed to do in 1999.

Finally, briefly, a word on the alternative. If Trump is impeached, America will be looking at President Pence. From his record, Pence is an anti-environmentalist, pro-trade, fundamentalist Christian. The Democrats who would probably have to lead any impeachment would want to be sure that facing him as an incumbent in 2020 would be better than facing a weakened Trump.


Given all the above, am I going to place the second political wager of my life on this question at 5/1? At this stage, I am not tempted. Too much needs to come together. As there is virtually no prospect of successful impeachment happening by the middle of next year, I will wait a few months and see what his style of government is like, and how deep his support is. If he is autocratic and his support is shallow, I would be tempted to wager at shorter odds than 8/1, say down to 5/1. If he seems to have charisma and luck, I’d struggle to back it at 20/1. Either way, I don’t think it will happen before 2019, barring some unprecedentedly awful act on Trump’s part. That can’t be ruled out, but is hardly something on which a cautious cove like me would risk his £50.

Either way, 2019 is the year to watch: if the midterms are unfavourable and if Trump is abusing his power, odds could shorten dramatically.

A guest slot by “Fishing”


Just a third of voters tell ICM that they’re happy with “unconditional BREXIT” with the young most opposed

Monday, November 14th, 2016

And the oldies seemingly less concerned about “unconditional BREXIT”

As we move towards the formal start of the UK’s extraction process there’s going to be a lot of polling like this latest from ICM on voters view the current options.

This is a very hard thing to poll on because of the tight-lipped approach by Theresa May who won’t reveal anything except to bosses of big Japanese car manufacturers who employ a lot of people here. Her refusal “to give running commentary” is getting a bit tired and she’s fortunate that the official opposition leader, Mr Corbyn, is so piss-poor. Facing sharper questioning her position would be harder to maintain.

To what extent is Britain ready to undermine its economy in order to curb immigration? The polling we see is very mixed and determined to an extent by how the question is put.

This latest ICM polling came out at the weekend but I refrained from writing about it here until I saw the dataset. It really is important to look at the actual question wording and that’s only just become available.

The data shows a huge age split with younger voters far less incline to accept unconditional BREXIT.

Mike Smithson


Away from the dramatic political events in the US tonight’s Local By-Election Preview :

Thursday, November 10th, 2016


We now return you to your regularly scheduled programme

Eltham North (Lab defence) on Greenwich
Result of council at last election (2014): Labour 43, Conservatives 8 (Labour majority of 35)
Result of ward at last election (2014) : Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,975, 1,823, 1,519 (32%)
Labour 1,946, 1,942 1,556 (31%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 1,221 (20%)
Green Party 591 (10%)
British National Party 307 (5%)
Liberal Democrats 207, 205 (3%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 65,248 (56%) LEAVE 52,117 (46%) on a turnout of 70%
Candidates duly nominated: Matt Browne (Green), Charlie Davis (Con), Sam Macauley (Lib Dem), Simon Peirce (Lab), Barbara Ray (UKIP)

Southwater (Con defence) on Horsham
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 39, Liberal Democrats 4, Indpendent 1 (Conservative majority of 34)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 2,583, 2,442, 2,347 (36%)
Liberal Democrats 1,233, 743 (17%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 1,099, 946 (15%)
Independent 814 (11%)
Green Party 801 (11%)
Labour 690 (10%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 43,785 (52%) LEAVE 41,303 (48%) on a turnout of 82%
Candidates duly nominated: Uri Baran (UKIP), Billy Greening (Con), Richard Greenwood (Lib Dem), Kevin O’Sullivan (Lab)

Hitchin, Oughton (Lab defence) on North Hertfordshire
Result of council at last election (2016): Conservatives 34, Labour 12, Liberal Democrats 3 (Conservative majority of 19)
Result of ward at last election (2016): Labour 505 (49%), Conservative 328 (32%), Green Party 102 (10%), Liberal Democrat 89 (9%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 42,234 (54%) LEAVE 35,438 (46%) on a turnout of 78%
Candidates duly nominated: Serena Farrow (Con), George Howe (Green), Jackie McDonald (Ind), Louise Peace (Lib Dem), Martin Stears-Handscomb (Lab)

Queenstown (Lab defence) on Wandsworth
Result of council at last election (2014): Conservatives 41, Labour 19 (Conservative majority of 22)
Result of ward at last election (2014) : Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,773, 1,711, 1,678 (40%)
Labour 1,753, 1,665, 1,650 (39%)
Green Party 401, 385, 306 (9%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 313 (7%)
Liberal Democrats 237, 151 (5%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 118,463 (75%) LEAVE 39,421 (25%) on a turnout of 72%
Candidates duly nominated: Stella Baker (Green), Richard Davis (Lib Dem), Rhodri Morgan (Con), Aydin Osborne Dikerdem (Lab)

Compiled by Harry Hayfield


The legacy from the coalition that ties Theresa May’s hands on an early general election

Saturday, November 5th, 2016

She needs to restore the Royal Prerogative for this area

Back in May 2011 whwn Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats were negotiating the Coalition deal one of the key yellow objectives was the fixed Term Parliament Act.

Not wanting to get into a situation whereby the Conservatives could ditch the coalition well before the five years and go to the Country the LDs made this a key condition of putting David Cameron in Number 10.

Basically there are just two ways under the legislation in which a general election can take place ahead of the standard 5 yearly schedule: Firstly if there’s a House of Commons vote of no confidence motion in the government that is not rescinded within 2 weeks; or if the Commons decide on a two-thirds majority to call an election.

Before the act the decision on a when a general election should be held was totally in the hands of the Prime Minister who would invite the monarch to invoke the Royal Prerogative and dissolve Parliament on a date of the PMs choosing.

The current parliamentary arithmetic means that TMay would almost certainly need the backing of Labour to meet the two thirds threshold. Given the fact the the red team is trailing by so much in the polls it is hard to see enough LAB MPs voting for such a move even if Corbyn & co decided to do it.

The alternative route would be the bizarre spectacle of May’s government initiating a vote of no confidence in it itself.
Even then the PM could not necessarily count on the support of all CON MPs to back it. As we saw with yesterday’s latest CON MP resignation there’s disquiet amongst some of the blue team about the way TMay keeps things to herself particularly on BREXIT.

In addition there is a group of CON MPs who are not enthusiastic about an early election. Many of those who won seats off the LDs in May 2015 are reported to be concerned about have to seek re-election early. An LD win in Richmond Park would heighten those concerns.

So what about the final option? Simply repeal the act? That would certainly set off general election speculation but it would enable May to keep her options open.

Mike Smithson


If leader ratings are indeed a good guide to electoral outcomes then Clinton should do it on Tuesday

Friday, November 4th, 2016


Gallup shows her with a stable and distinctive edge on favourability

As PB regulars will know I’ve long been of the view that leader ratings are as good an indicator, and quite often better, to electoral outcomes than voting polls. With these those sampled are asked what they think not what they will actually do and there’s an argument for saying that you get a more reliable response. A precursor to actually voting for someone, I’d suggest, is having a favourable view of them.

In 1992, for instance, John Major was always well ahead of Kinnock in the satisfaction ratings although the voting polls pointed to something different.

In May last year the ratings were a far better guide to Cameron’s Tories doing well compared, as we all know, with the voting polls. Ahead of the EU Referendum in June Cameron saw a dramatic decline in his ratings which is a pointer we should have given more weight to.

The question format I like best is favourability and I’ve been very taken by how that is running in the US election. Clinton figures have remained pretty solid in spite of the FBI move a week ago. The Gallup numbers above point to a very solid and consistent gap on this measure over the past month.

Gallup, the world’s first opinion pollster, is not carrying out voting polls for this election after its WH2012 performance when it overstated the Republican, Mitt Romney, and is putting all its daily polling effort into questioning like this.

Mike Smithson


New YouGov England & Wales polling has LAB down at 18.7% if there was a STOP BREXIT candidate on the ballot

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

50% of June 23rd REMAIN voters say they’d back such a new party

Between Tuesday 11th and Friday 14th October 2016, YouGov surveyed 4,507 adults in England and Wales. Respondents were asked two questions. First, they were asked how they would vote in a general election, and were given as possible response options the standard list of parties YouGov uses for such questions. A second question was then asked including a STOP BREXIT party in the list.

The actual wording for England is in the chart above. Welsh respondees were offered an additional choice of PC.

It will be recalled that just after the Witney by-election was called the ex-LD leader, Paddy Ashdown, floated such a candidate in Cameron’s old seat with Labour and the Lib Dems standing aside. That didn’t happen.

The data shows that 50% of REMAIN voters on June 23rd would opt for the new party.

A STOP BREXIT party could become a temporary home for many within Labour who have been alienated by Corbyn/McDonnell/Milne

It was Corbyn’s lack of commitment for REMAIN in the referendum campaign that helped trigger of the attack on his leadership.

I’ve no idea whether such a new party would ever happen or how one could be created. Clearly there are issues with this sort of polling but it does further the concept that was first raised by Ashdown ahead of Witney.

Mike Smithson