Archive for the 'Coalition' Category


It looks as though Farage is going for South Thanet where the bookies give him a 44% chance

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Could Labour be the best bet?

After the big news about Boris and GE2015 we now have further details about Nigel Farage’s intentions. It looks as though he is going for South Thanet – a seat that had been strongly tipped and where he has stood before. A selection meeting has been fixed for August 26th though it does look like a formality for the party leader.

The seat was won by the Tories in May 2010 by Laura Sandys who has since announced her intention of not standing again. This means that the blues won’t have a first time incumbency bonus.

The chart above shows the latest betting from PaddyPower and the findings of the latest Ashcroft poll on the seat.

Even now this is the most polled seat in the country and has seen four different polls over the past nine months.

The latest, from Lord Ashcroft, is featured in the chart and has UKIP ahead. It will be interesting to see how that changes with the Farage news.

The danger for Farage is that he could see anti-UKIP tactical voting though quite whether Tories would vote Labour or vice versa remains to be seen. Whatever both the Tories and Labour would dearly like to see him beaten.

This is a tight three way marginal which could be determined by how the 2010 LD vote splits. In 2010 the yellows got 15% and Ashcroft found that 27% would be voting LAB although more than a fifth have yet to make up their minds.

Maybe Labour is the best bet.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


Local By-Election Preview: August 7th 2014

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Broadley Common, Epping Upland and Nazing on Epping Forest (Con Defence)
Result of last election to council (2014): Conservatives 37, Residents 12, Liberal Democrats 3, Independents 2, United Kingdom Independence Party 2, Green 1, Labour 1 (Conservative majority of 16)
Result of ward at last election (2011): Conservatives 585 (84%), Greens 69 (10%), Liberal Democrats 43 (6%)
Candidates duly nominated: Robert Glozier (Con), William Hartington (Green), Ron McEvoy (UKIP), Arnold Verrall (Lib Dem)

Epping Forest, a rock solid Conservative seat at Westminster, has in recent years developed a bit of an independent streak in it’s local politics (or to be more accurate a tendency to support local residents). Back in 2003, the council was hung with the Conservatives short of an overall majority by seven seats with the Liberal Democrats on 16 seats, and Labour on nine seats as well as a rather small group of Residents who had six seats. However by 2010, as the Conservatives first gained and then increased their control of the council, the Residents (thanks in part to the Liberal Democrats seeing their support plummet) became the offical opposition on the council and although suffering a slight backwards move this year still have a healthy representation compared to the other opposition groups, however this year marked the real emergence of UKIP as an opposition force and seeing as this ward matches the perfect UKIP hunting ground (virtual one party state in a ward UKIP has not stood in before) it is possible that UKIP may start talking to these Residents about the possiblities of bolstering the UKIP group.

Warboys and Bury on Huntingdonshire (Con Defence)
Result of last election to council (2014): Conservatives 35, United Kingdom Independence Party 7, Liberal Democrats 5, Independents 4, Labour 1 (Conservative majority of 18)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Conservatives 612 (46%), UKIP 346 (26%), Labour 195 (15%), Liberal Democrats 169 (13%)
Candidates duly nominated: Angie Curtis (Con), Mary Howell (Lab), Michael Tew (UKIP), Christine Wills (Lib Dem)

Like Epping Forest, Huntingdonshire seems to be following the same pattern. However, unlike Epping Forest with no Residents group on the council, UKIP’s gains in 2014 were even more spectactular, however in this by-election UKIP do not have it all their own way. For starters it is not a heartland and secondly, UKIP stood last time and as we have seen time and time again when UKIP stand for a second time in a ward, the novelty factor has worn off and their vote share slumps. Until that stops and UKIP, at the local level, are able to retain votes, they will be very hard pressed to hold seats or votes that they have won.

Wells on Malvern Hills (Con Defence)
Result of last election to council (2011): Conservatives 21, Liberal Democrats 11, Independents 4, Greens 2 (Conservative majority of 4)
Result of ward at last election (2011) : Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 822, 784
Green 491, 386
Candidates duly nominated: Christopher Burrows (Lab), Louise Gibson (Ind), Simon Gill (Lib Dem), Chris O’Donnell (Con), Richard Spencer (UKIP)

The Malvern Hills are perhaps as closely linked to images of rural Britain as you can possibly get, after all it was in those hills that Elgar went on many a long walk and came up with his “Nimrod” and his “Enigma Variations” and yet the council’s electoral history makes you think you were living in Wales. Back in 2003, the council was hung with the Lib Dems and the Opposition groups tied on 19 councillors each almost certain to make a Lib Dem breakthrough in 2007 and become the first Liberal Democrat majority controlled council in the West Midlands for decades. Sadly for the Lib Dems that never happened as in 2007 they suffered 14 losses and the Conservatives (who picked up 16 gains) gained overall control with a majority of 20 and given what happened in 2011 across the UK you would expect the Conservatives to be on the verge of making Malvern Hills a one party state. In fact, the complete opposite happened as the Liberal Democrats made 6 gains (in an election where the Lib Dems everywhere else were being hammered), so in a ward that was a Conservative heartland with Labour, the Lib Dems, UKIP and an Independent all making a first attempt at standing compared with 2011 who knows what’s going to happen?

Valley on Stroud (Green Defence)
Result of last election to council (2011): Conservatives 25, Labour 11, Greens 6, Liberal Democrats 6, Independents 3 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by one)
Result of ward at last election (2011): Green 417 (47%), Labour 279 (31%), Conservative 190 (21%)
Candidates duly nominated: Martin Baxendale (Green), Stephen Davies (Con), James Heslop (Lab), Stuart Love (UKIP), Lucy Roberts (TUSC)

Stroud, the parliamentary constituency, has always been a key battleground for the formation of the government. It was one of the Labour landslide seats in 1997, recording a 11% swing to Labour in that election, it became a Conservative target in 2005 and finally came into the Conservative column in 2010 but only by 2% making it a key target for Labour next May. However on the council front, it’s only really become a battleground since 2010 but always lurking there, with a presence at every election since 2003, have been the Greens. They may only have had 4 councillors in 2003, but those councillors have proved very hard to shift indeed. They made a net gain in 2004, again in 2006, again in 2008, another in 2010, and have only lost two of those seats since then. The question however is, following Molly Scott Cato’s election (an election I am not sure anyone was expecting when the Lib Dem vote in the South West collapsed to such a degree that the Greens came third in places like West Devon, Mendip and Teignbridge) will her personal vote transfer to the new Green candidate or will Labour take a seat that most people believe would be Labour in any other part of the country?

Castle on Worthing (Liberal Democrat defence)
Result of last election to council (2014): Conservatives 27, Liberal Democrats 7, Green 1, United Kingdom Independence Party 1, Labour 1 (Conservative majority of 17)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Liberal Democrats 701 (40%), Conservatives 505 (29%), UKIP 270 (16%), Labour 262 (15%)
Candidates duly nominated: Jim Deen (Lab), Alex Harman (Con), Charles James (UKIP), Stefan Sykes (Green), Nicholas Wiltshire (Lib Dem)

For people like me with a theatrical bent, the town of Worthing conjures up only one thing and that is the scene in “The Importance of Being Ernest” when Mr. Worthing is being question as to the suitability of him marrying Gwendolyn, his intended, by the formidable Lady Bracknell and admits that his last name comes from the fact that he was found in “A HANDBAG!” by a charitable person who was heading to the town on the railways. So just like Basingstoke will forever mean “one word that teems with hidden meaning”, Worthing will always be connected to Lady Bracknell who I am sure would approve of the virtual one party state that the council has become and here, just as in Huntingdonshire, UKIP may have played their cards too soon (by standing in 2012) but that does not mean a surprise can be ruled out as demonstrated by Cllr. James Doyle. He was a member of the county council in 2009 having been elected as the Liberal Democrat member for Worthing Pier, but in 2012 announced that he was defecting to the Greens and although he didn’t retain his seat at that election he did retain his seat at the district level this year (as a Green), so could the Greens spring another surprise on the Lib Dems or will the Conservatives dominate (as they have done) this part of Worthing?


Survation poll in 13 key CON held marginals finds CON to LAB swing of 9%

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

If this actually happened EdM would win a comfortable majority

Many of the seats in the poll were included within the recent phases of Lord Ashcroft’s marginals polling though his latest numbers suggest a move about one half of what Survation has found.

A 9% swing is far better for Labour than any recent national polls and perhaps points to the marginals operating differently.


A reason why UNITE sponsored the poll was to look at public views on the NHS in the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). If the NHS is included the union is concerned that US private healthcare companies would be allowed to bid for contracts within the NHS. 68% told Survation that they opposed the inclusion of the NHS.

Clearly UNITE is trying to raise awareness. My guess is that very few people have any knowledge whatsoever about the planned trade deal.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


The Salmond-Darling encounter: Watch the full debate here

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Given how difficult it was for those outside Scotland to watch last night here are three YouTube videos of the entire event. Part 2 is perhaps the sharpest.


A video of one of the key parts of tonight’s Salmond-Darling debate

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

This really does get the flavour of the evening.


The battle of the GE2015 predictors: Baxter versus Fisher

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

The chart shows the main predictions for GE2015 from the two leading predictors – the long-standing Electoral Calculus from Martin Baxter and the relatively new one from Stephen Fisher.

Ad can be see there is a huge gap between the two. Baxter points to a LAB majority Fisher to a hung parliament.

Both are based on current polling the main difference is that Fisher makes an adjustment to deal with the way polls have historically operated. The notable element here is the influence of the over-statement of LAB that was seen in many previous general elections but not 2010.

Baxter operates by looking at current polling and using his own average.

A feature of Fisher is that as we get closer to the election historic performance becomes less important.

My view is that the current political environment is totally unique and it is hard to look back at previous experience. There’s not been a formal coalition or a fixed term parliament act before.

Mike Smithson


The PB July Polling Average: Gravity finally catches up with UKIP

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

Con, Lab and LD all up, but so are Others

So perhaps UKIP does need the oxygen of publicity after all.  After recording a record score in June, Farage’s party is the biggest loser in July; indeed, the only loser.  That June figure surprised many who thought that the absence from the papers and TV screens of what’s still in many ways a minor party would inevitably lead to a drop in vote share.  It didn’t then but two months after the European elections, the boost that gave them may finally have worn off.  July’s figures were:

I say ‘may’ as there are two caveats.  The first is that UKIP had a particularly bad ICM poll in July – down seven points – and due to ICM’s accuracy in 2010 and their only carrying out one poll a month, that one poll accounts for half the overall drop by itself.  Even so, while no other pollster recorded such a dramatic fall, they all recorded a fall of some sort.  The second is that even if some of UKIP’s share has drifted, not all of it has: 13.2% is still better than at the same time last year or for that matter, for most of the period between the annual elections.

The flip side of those facts is that while the big Westminster three have had a good month compared with June, none of the figures is much to write home about.  Labour remains below 35% for the third successive month, the only three such this parliament.  The Tories are still stuck in the 31.5±1% range that they’ve occupied for over a year now and which remains well below what they need if they want to prevent Labour gaining an overall majority, never mind keeping power themselves.  Finally, the Lib Dems might be the biggest gainers of the month but only with their second-worst monthly score.

    In fact, it’s Others who remain on the charge: the implied figure of 11.2% is not only a record high and the fifth consecutive monthly increase but is more than the share that Others including UKIP achieved in 2010.

Does this represent a sudden surge of enthusiasm for the smaller parties?  It seems unlikely, given that with the exception of the SNP and Plaid, they’re nigh-on invisible outside election times – and it’s not the nationalists who are responsible for the increase.  Far more likely is that it’s just the latest manifestation of the general disillusionment with politics in general, with UKIP both becoming more establishment in their own right, and being subject to greater scrutiny by the media and attacks by their opponents.

Of themselves, voters for the genuinely minor parties (i.e. excluding parties with low shares due to only contesting one region), rarely make any direct impact.  Few seats are within the reach of the Greens, for example.  One key question is whether people now saying they’ll vote for them will actually do so after the effects of a full election campaign are felt (or for that matter, whether they’ll vote at all).  The related question is how the parties attract them back: a task that may well call for different techniques from those previously employed to target voters swinging between the big three.

David Herdson


Harry Hayfield’s Local By-Election Preview: July 31st 2014

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Thurmaston on Charnwood (Con Defence)
Result of last election to council (2011): Conservatives 33, Labour 16, British National Party 1, Liberal Democrats 1, Independent 1 (Conservative majority of 14)
Result of last election in ward (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservative 1,473, 1,399, 1,309
Labour 1,306, 1,153, 1,058
Candidates duly nominated: Hanif Asmal (Con), Chris Canham (British Democrats), Stepgen Denhan (BNP), Tom Prior (UKIP), Ralph Raven (Lab)

On the face of it Charnwood appears to be a Conservative area, however appearances can be deceptive. In 2003, although the Conservatives had the largest number of seats on the council there was no overall majority and it was only the Labour disaster of 2007 that allowed the Conservatives to gain control in that election and unlike the rest of the country in the 2011 local elections, Labour were unable to take advantage of the anti coalition mood by being unable to gain any seats from the Conservatives, so when you add into the mix a new UKIP candidate, the BNP trying to double their representation and a new party given the closeness of the result last time, anything could happen.

Mostyn on Flintshire (Ind Defence)
Result of last election to council (2012): Labour 31, Independents 23, Liberal Democrats 7, Conservatives 7, Plaid Cymru 1 (No Overall Control, Labour short by 4)
Result of last election in ward (2012): Independent 385 (67%), Labour 188 (33%)
Candidates duly nominated: Pam Banks (Lab), Richard Pendlebury (Con), David Roney (Ind), Liz Soutter (UKIP)

Although seperated by a couple of hundred miles, the by-elections being held today in Flintshire and Merthyr share a rather similar history. In 1995, when Flintshire was reconstituted after being swallowed up by Clwyd following the 1973 county and district restructing, Labour ruled the roost polling 51% of the popular vote and winning an overall majority of 22 and among that Labour majority was the councillor for Mostyn, Cllr. Patrick Hessom who was elected unopposed. In 1999, very little changed in the county, the Labour vote fell by about 3%, the Labour majority fell to 14 and Cllr. Hessom was re-elected, but not for Labour, no, this time he was elected as an Independent with 73% of the vote and an Independent he has remained since then where as Labour had the skids put under them, retaining control of Flintshire in 2004 by just three seats, losing control in 2008 suffering 15 losses, and coming within a whisker of regaining control in 2012. However, in 2013 allegations emerged that Cllr. Hessom was bullying other councillors and after a long investigation, those allegations were proved and Cllr. Hessom was forced to stand down from the council.

Penydarren on Merthyr Tydfil (UKIP defence)
Result of last election to council (2012): Labour 23, Independents 7, Merthyr Tydfil Independents 2, United Kingdom Independence Party 1 (Labour majority of 13)
Result of last election in ward (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Independents 656, 438, 315 (39%)
UKIP 588 (16%)
Labour 569, 435, 337 (38%)
Non Party Independent 230 (6%)
Candidates duly nominated: Kerry Thomas (Ind), Clive Barsi (Ind), Robert Griffin (Lib Dem), John McCarthy (Lab), Kimberley Murphy (Con)

Merthyr Tydfil also came into existence in 1995 and just like Flintshire was an absolute Labour heartland with Labour winning 65% of the vote and winning 29 of the 33 councillors up for election with Penydarren electing three Labour councillors all heartily beating the Ratepayer candidates. However, in 1999, that all changed. Labour’s vote failed to breach the 50% mark (48%), they lost thirteen seats and lost overall control on the council to the Independents on a 19% swing to them. But despite this Penydarren remained loyal to Labour as only one of the seats changed hands, which makes what happened in 2004 even more staggering. Yes, Labour regained control (but only by one seat) as their vote share slipped again to 42% but the Independents were split between those Independents, the Merthyr Tydfil Independents and “People Before Profit” but in Penydarren Labour’s dominance was ended as the remaining two Labour seats were gained by the Merthyr Tydfil Independents and the Independents but if Labour were experiencing joy at regaining the council it did not last long as in 2008, Labour lost control again but with a disaster of an election. Labour’s vote share was just 37%, they lost nine seats and the Independents and Merthyr Tydfil Independents joined forces to run the council and one of those councillors who found himself in power was Cllr. Greer who had gained a seat from his fellow Merthyr Tydfil Independent in Penydarren. However as the years rolled along, tensions appeared in the coalition and in 2010 Cllr. Greer announced that he was defecting to UKIP and in 2012 stood for his new party and became Wales’ first directly elected UKIP councillor when he held his seat in Penydarren. Since then of course Cllr. James (Aberporth on Ceredigion) has defected to UKIP from Independent and has announced plans to stand for UKIP in the 2016 Assembly elections but personally speaking if UKIP cannot even find a candidate to give them a chance to defend the seat they won in 2012, Cllr. James should start getting a little concerned.

Darwell on Rother (Con Defence)
Result of last election to council (2011): Conservatives 27, Liberal Democrats 5, Independents 4, Labour 2 (Conservative majority of 16)
Result of last election in ward (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,168, 1,016
Green 386
Liberal Democrats 363, 341
Labour 228
Candidates duly nominated: Tracy Dixon (Lib Dem), Suz Evasdaughter (Lab), Eleanor Kirby-Green (Con), Edward Smith (UKIP), Andrew Wedmore (Green)

Rother may border Hastings (a true Con / Lab battleground if ever there was one) but the two councils do not share the same electoral history as Rother is a true blue bastion (25 Conservatives out of 38 in 2003, 28 in 2007 and 27 in 2011) but as we have seen before this is precisely the type of area that UKIP excel in and the Conservatives would do well to remember that in the Euros, Rother voted 39% UKIP to the Conservatives 31%, and with UKIP fielding a candidate for the first time in this ward the potential for a UKIP gain has to be pretty high.