Archive for the 'Coalition' Category


Big boost for the Tories in tonight’s ComRes phone poll

Sunday, March 29th, 2015


Tonight’s YouGov has LAB taking 4% lead and Ed getting ratings boost

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

All fieldwork carried out after Thursday TV interviews


By accident or design, the election’s got a debate series that could work

Friday, March 27th, 2015


Multiple structures will probe the parties & leaders

In a little over nine months’ time, the US presidential hopefuls will be campaigning hard in the then snow-bound small rural state of Iowa, the first in a long process of state-wide elections that will ultimately determine the two parties’ nominations. That process has evolved over the years, partly organically, partly by design but the main reason there’s been little wholesale reform in the schedule, despite offerings to that end being put forward from time to time, is simple: it works.

The reason why it works is in the asymmetry of the challenge. Small states are intermingled with large ones, caucuses with primaries, one-off elections with multi-state dates; the campaign jolts around the country in no particular order. There is no particularly natural progression and no obvious logic to the order of the series. What that means is that for any one candidate to be nominated, he or she has to demonstrate a wide range of campaigning talents, from the up close and personal in Iowa to mass fundraising for the TV onslaught of Super Tuesday. One-trick ponies need not apply.

And after the months of to-ing and fro-ing over the debates in Britain, we’ve landed on something similar over here. The innovation of the debates in 2010 was to be welcomed; the excessive influence they had in the election was not. Apart from crowding out local campaigns (yes, in theory we vote for individual MPs locally but most people in most seats vote on national issues or preferences), they also made it harder for the leaders to be held to account in other ways.

This time, with the sequential interviews this week, the big 7-way debate next week, the 5-way opposition leaders’ debate mid-month and the 3-way Question Time event at the end, the leaders cannot just rehash the same arguments against each other as each event has its own dynamic and its own line-up. On top of which, the two two-week breaks in April mean that they ought to spend more time on the road and less time prepping.

Of the four events, the 7-way ought to be the most significant. It’s the only one where all the leaders are present and the first in the campaign proper. Much will depend on the moderation, as with so many people on stage the twin risks of the discussion being either stilted or a shouting match will be ever-present, but if it’s done well then the arguments made and public perceptions gained will frame the rest of the election. I wouldn’t be surprised if the viewing figures are three times the size of those for the Paxman interviews. Thereafter though, we should be back to something like normal campaigning for much of the rest of the month. It strikes a good balance.

The big question is who will benefit from that apart from, hopefully, the public? The answer to that lies in their credibility. Put simply, the major parties have to look like competent parties of government; the minor parties have to look like the voice of that part of the electorate they’re fishing in. As throughout the parliament, the direct Con-Lab battle is likely to be secondary to those between both Con and Lab on the one hand, and UKIP, the SNP and the Greens on the other, with the Lib Dems as something of a wild card.

In particular, this is Nigel Farage’s moment as kingmaker. Although UKIP has taken votes from both Con and Lab, he doesn’t have time to attack both Cameron and Miliband equally and expect to score two hits so his choice in where to direct his fire in that debate is probably one of the biggest specific variables of the election (particularly when combined with whether he’s effective in doing so). Having both gained hugely since 2010 and slipped since 2014, he has votes to defend and to win back. There is a strong argument to go for Miliband, whose electoral support will already be under attack from the Greens and SNP and so he has less chance to respond; there’s also a strong argument for him to go for Cameron given that more UKIP support has come from the Tories than anywhere else. If he does try both, he may fall flat and invite a shellacking in return. With the polls so close nationally, upon that call may turn the course of the election.

David Herdson


Marf on the big Commons story on the final day of the Parliament

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

tombercowNEW (1)

Whoever’s idea it was it was a mistake

The basic fact is that you don’t launch moves like this unless you are going to win. I’ve never been a fan of Bercow but to use what amounted to procedural trickery flew in the face of the way the House operates.

What’s clear is that he emerges stronger from this failed attempt. He’s now there as long as he wants.

Surely the best thing would have been to have done this in the open winning support for an idea that Bercow himself had called for in the past.

I only wish I’d got on the Bercow will survive bets.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


So was it, as was being predicted, the game-changer?

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

Wait a few days before making a judgement

The one thing we’ve learned from previous budgets, both LAB & CON, is that early judgements are not usually the right ones. Remember the initial polling on the March 2012 omni-shambles was fairly positive.

What the budget does for all parties is to shape the way the economic debate will progress in this final period.

Whatever I guess that this was Geroge’s last budget. If the Tories are in government after May 7th he’ll have a different role.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


The Thursday night by-election preview by Harry Hayfield

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

West Side and Ness (An Taobh Siar agus Nis) on the Western Isles (Eilean Siar) (Ind defence)
Result of council at last election (2012): Independents 21, Scottish National Party 7, Labour 3 (Independent majority of 11)
Result of ward at last election (2012) : Capital E denotes elected
Independents: Alastair Dunlop 94, Alistair MacLennan 119, Iain Morrison 354 E, John MacKay 310 E, Kenneth Murray 289 E (80%)
Scottish National Party 298 E (20%)
Candidate duly nominated (and elected): Alistair MacLennan (Ind)
Independent HOLD

The Western Isles has been Independent for as long as I can remember. Prior to the days of the Single Transferable Vote the Indpendents had a stranglehold on the council and being a literal one party state with other parties only getting a look in occasionally. In 1994, Labour managed to win four seats, that was extended to 23 seats when the Western Isles became a unitary authority but with 49 seats the Independents still ruled the roost. In 1999, that opposition was reduced to just 9 (when the council was shrunk from 72 members to 30), and in the last first the post elections in 2003 there were just 7 opposition councillors. The first STV elections in 2007 (marred by the Spolit Ballot party polling better than the Scottish Green Party) didn’t have much of an impact on the Western Isles but the next elections certainly as the SNP made three gains against the Independents and for the first time in a long while the opposition was half the size of the Independent bloc.

And yet in that same timescale (1990 – 2012), the Western Isles has undergone a quite remarkable transformation at the Westminster level. Back at the 1992 general election, the Western Isles was a clear Labour heartland (having been gained at the 1987 election from the SNP) and the 1997 Labour landslide was reflected even in this far outreach of the nation with a 6% swing from the SNP to Labour turning it from Labour’s 70th most marginal seat in 1992 into it’s 147th most marginal. In the 2001 general election the SNP started to make some headway with a 7% swing back to them (taking it back to it’s 1992 level of marginality) and when they did gain the seat in 2005 not only was it on a 9% swing from Lab to SNP, but the name of the seat had changed as well. In 1983, the constituency of Anglesey was re-named Ynys Môn to refer the Welsh heritage on the island but despite the fact that the Western Isles was majority Gaelic, it’s Gaelic name was rejected as a constituency name, that was until 2005 when David Dimbleby had the challenge of announcing that the SNP had won, not the Western Isles, but Na h-Eileanan an Iar (and as far as I can tell he managed it with aploumb). It does show though what a good election Labour had in Scotland in 2010, as although Angus MacNeil was re-elected, there was only a 1% swing from Lab to the SNP in the constituency, but with polls suggesting that every seat in Scotland will elect an SNP MP and despite the Western Isles rejecting independence I think it is safe to say that whilst the islands may vote for an SNP MP and SNP MSP, they will still be Independent in both thought and action.


The Saturday night polls have the battle very tight

Saturday, March 7th, 2015


Why framing constituency battles on choosing individual MPs is the best defensive strategy for the LDs

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

The widespread presumption that the election is about parties is not always applicable

There is an almost total obsession that the vote on May 7th is about parties reinforced by the fact that almost all the polling asks WHICH you will be supporting rather than WHO.

In fact for many voters the primary consideration is who will be their representative at Westminster not the party brand.

This is why incumbency can be so important and the relationship that individual MPs have with their constituents can make a difference.

Nowhere will this so central than in Lib Dem defences where all could turn on the perception of the individual seeking to be returned again.

Much has been made of the Ashcroft constituency polling where a second candidate specific question is put. What could also be relevant is in the chart above which is part of the 30k sample BES polling.

This features the views of constituents split by which of the main three parties currently holds the seat. The two columns in each segment show the views of supporters of the incumbents’ party and opponents.

This is a similar picture to the YouGov polling for Nottingham University from 2013 which had net satisfaction levels that those sampled had with their local MP broken down by which party held the seat.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble