Archive for the 'Coalition' Category


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


Hillary Clinton is winning this election because it has become a referendum on Donald Trump

Thursday, October 20th, 2016


Trump is too thin-skinned for his own good

I’ve just got back from Brussels where Matthew Shaddick (the famous Shadsy of Ladbrokes) and I gave presentations about betting on politics which is almost certainly more advanced in the UK than anywhere else in the world.

Of course BREXIT is still a big focus but we sought to look forward to November 8th when America decides.

I’m just catching up with events in WH2016 and there’s lots of interesting insight and analysis in the US media today following the overnight third and final Clinton-Trump debate. I like this analysis from James Hohmann of the Washington Post picked up by PoliticalWire:-

“..“Clinton has spent the past few months trying to frame the election as a referendum on him. She’s succeeded, in part, because Trump’s favorite thing to talk about is, well, Trump. And he takes everything personally. Trump started his answer on the Supreme Court vacancy, for example, by noting that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said nasty things about him and claiming that she was ‘forced to apologize.’”

On the same theme Margaret Down New York Times observed:-

“. “In Trump’s warped fun-house mirror of a psyche, every rejection is a small death. That is why he harps on humiliation, that America is being humiliated on the world stage, that we are losing potency — a theme that resonates with angry voters who feel humiliated by their dwindling economic fortunes and angry about illegal immigrants and refugees swarming in who might be competition.

She (Clinton) once more proved adept at getting her rival’s goat: She again contended that he’s not a self-made man but a spoiled rich kid who was underwritten by his father and she accused him of choking on bringing up the issue of who would pay for the wall when he met with the president of Mexico.

Trump tried to stay calm, but he can never let go of a slight.”

Mike Smithson


Latest Ipsos Mori polling sees the Tories with an 18 (eighteen) point lead

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

Surely on these figures the Tories should comfortably hold Witney tomorrow with an increased share of the vote?

On the approval ratings that are often better predictors of general elections than voting intention figures

Three months in Theresa May is doing worse than Gordon Brown but better than Margaret Thatcher

But if general elections, unlike referendums, are won ‘on it’s the economy, stupid’ these are troubling numbers for Mrs May



Punters continue to desert Trump as do more leading Republicans

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016


The embattled GOP nominee is continuing his fight even though leading Republican figures are in effect disowning him. He’s now as likely to focus his anger on his own party as Hillary Clinton. He’ been particularly venomous about the leading Republican in Congress, Paul Ryan.

Inevitably the betting has continued to move away from him. Just 16 days ago he was a 35% chance on the Betfair exchange – that’s now down to just over 15%.

    But his following remain enthusiastic and fired up and you can see a post-November 8th scenario when the party leadership is seen as having betrayed the legitimately elected nominee.

For the Republicans the worry is the impact Trump will have on the other elections particularly the fiercely contested battle for it to retain control of the Senate.

At the moment I’m trying to identify new betting opportunities.

Mike Smithson


Welcome to the new gerontocracy

Saturday, October 8th, 2016


The pendulum has swung against the cult of youth. Why?

So much for reconciliation and unity. So much for Shadow Cabinet elections. In an act that was at once decisive and divisive, Jeremy Corbyn’s reshuffle this week has made absolutely clear that there is no new start. As he said at the time of his re-election, “sadly for everyone I’ll be the same Jeremy Corbyn.”

And so he is. Carrying out a snap reshuffle without forewarning is in fact good politics. For all that John Cryer might criticise his leader, the fact is that reshuffles have to come unexpectedly; anything else is a recipe for push-back, intrigue and chaos. Corbyn is also sensible to act while his mandate is fresh and his allocation of portfolios, whether out of choice or necessity, to so few of those who left in the summer has reopened the division that never really closed between the bulk of the PLP and the leadership. But it does mean that he now has a Shadow Cabinet he doesn’t have to distrust.

However, if the factional aspect within Labour has been closely analysed, one feature of the new line-up that’s been less remarked upon is the extent to which it’s led by older politicians.

Corbyn himself is 67 and the oldest leader of any major party in over 30 years. His Shadow Chancellor also qualifies for the state pension, as do Nick Brown and Jon Trickett. Two more Shadow Cabinet members – Dianne Abbott and David Anderson – are in their sixties, as will Nia Griffith be by the end of the year.

Given that the role of Shadow Ministers is not only to hold the government to account but to prepare for office, Labour could find itself going into the election with a sizable number of its top team in their late sixties or early seventies and – if successful – then expecting to serve several year more in office.

To some extent, Corbyn is simply making use of what he has available. With so many either refusing to serve or giving the wrong indications to the leadership, his available pool of talent is limited. His inner confidantes – McDonnell and Abbott – are also very long-standing associates so it’s unsurprising that they’re of the same generation. But it may be more than that.

There’s been if not a move to a preference for older politicians of late, then at least an age-agnosticism that’s come across many electorates. Across the Floor from Corbyn, Theresa May earlier this year became, at 59, the oldest person to become Britain’s prime minister since 1976. McDonnell’s opposite number, Philip Hammond, is the oldest Chancellor since 1979. Not only is entering your sixties no bar to high office but it’s not even an issue.

Nor is the trend a purely British one. Next month, Hillary Clinton will take on Donald Trump for the presidency of the United States. If she is elected, she’ll be at inauguration the fifth-oldest ever US president. Little more than a year later, she’d be second. If it’s Trump then he’d be the oldest person ever first elected to the White House. Similarly, across the Channel, the favourite to succeed Hollande in the Élysée Palace is already into his seventies. Again, age barely seems to enter into the debate.

What happened? Firstly, we shouldn’t get too carried away. There are counter-examples – Justin Trudeau and Matteo Renzi, for example – but the world is a big place and there always will be. Although those cases still show the potency of star appeal, the trend that seems to be underway is that image is losing out to policy.

Not that policy necessarily means substance but all the same, rather than putting faith in an individual as an individual, electorates increasingly prefer to support campaigners selling a message. So from Trump, Le Pen and others on the populist right selling national renewal and railing against foreigners and globalisation, to Corbyn and Sanders on the populist left abhorring the practices of big business and the effects of globalisation, to those like May or Juppé making a virtue of solid competence, the message matters.

What of Hillary? Is she not the antithesis of such a critique, running as policy-light as she is? To an extent yes, but she’s an exception that proves the rule. If she wins – and she probably will – it will be despite her character and despite her campaign. She may well be the least respected candidate ever to win the office; she just happens to be less unpopular than her opponent and to have been favoured with an unusually thin primary field. Rather than focus on her win (if a win it is), we should ask why and how first a self-declared socialist and then a hate-filled businessman and TV personality ran her so close.

They did so because in an uncertain and scary world, people want answers and critiques more, and generic blanding less. Pretty young faces might still have an advantage, other things being equal, but all things are now much less equal; the swing of the pendulum away from personality and towards policy has seen to that.

David Herdson