Archive for the 'Coalition' Category


The moment when a major US party nominated a woman for President for the first time

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

And Bernie Sanders played his part

Congratulations to Betfair and the other bookies who have been quick to settle long-standing US WH2016 bets as events have unfolded at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. It’s now official – Clinton versus Trump.

Given the continuing disquiet amongst some of his followers in the hall the 74 year old socialist from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, played his part in the evening’s choreography. Vermont passed when it was invited to record its votes. Then at the end Sanders was able to make a short speech that many in the party are hoping will be a healing moment.

There’s little doubt that it will be a rough road ahead but party officials hope that the prospect of President Trump will act as a huge unifying force and turnout driver.

In the betting Clinton is down to a 67% chance on Betfair which compares to a high of 75.5% on June 23rd.

Just like the Republicans getting behind Trump the same’s likely to happen with Clinton.

Mike Smithson


If Hillary Clinton does win in November then Michelle Obama’s convention speech will be seen as being crucial

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

The First Lady rescues the Convention

By all accounts the opening hours of the first day at the Democratic Convention had not been good for the Clinton campaign. The leaked emails and the irreconcilable Bernie supporters have made what should have been a showcase into something of a nightmare. There were persistent chants of “lock her up” whenever Clinton’s name was mentioned.

Then Michelle Obama took the stage and made a powerful heartfelt case for the the person who was her husband’s main opponent in 2008 and who to whom he is now giving his full backing.

For one of the unique features of this election is the role being played by the White House. It is very rare for an incumbent to take as high profile a role as Obama is doing and this comes at a time when his leader ratings are high.

The Bernie Sanders speech an hour later was another key development. His aim is to try to harness some of the enthusiasm and energy that his supporters have generated in the primaries and focus on securing not just success in November but backing for a wide range of policies that he has been espousing. There’s no doubt that he’s having a big influence on the party platform.

The betting moved a notch to Clinton during the evening.

Mike Smithson


Wiping out the Lib Dems might have been Cameron’s greatest strategic mistake as Prime Minister

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

Cable Loss

Picture: The apotheosis of the Tory targeting of the Lib Dems at the last general election.

Why Cameron might still be PM if the coalition had continued after May 2015.

When David Cameron reflects on his earlier than anticipated departure as Prime Minister I wonder if in hindsight he’ll regret his and Sir Lynton’s Crosby targeting of the Lib Dem held seats at the last general election. At the time the 27 Tory gains from the Lib Dems was hailed for its brilliance and stealthiness, whilst the architects of the plan were lauded to the point one of them was awarded a knighthood.

But much like Hannibal defeating the Romans in the early part of The Second Punic War, Cameron may have won some battles but ultimately lost the war (to stop the Tories banging on about Europe.)

So imagine the EU referendum had taken place under another Con/Lib Dem coalition

With Nick Clegg’s greater experience of European Union affairs, Cameron might have obtained a much better renegotiation deal than he achieved. One of Cameron’s great misjudgements in the EU referendum was to spin the he deal obtained as a great deal instead of the reality of it being a middling to tepid deal at best.

If the referendum had happened under another Tory/Lib Dem coalition I get the feeling the Lib Dems would have insisted the franchise for the referendum was much more broader. You could have seen them insisting European Union citizens resident in the United Kingdom and sixteen & seventeen year olds having the vote, I think the former alone would have been more than enough to overturn Leave’s 1.3 million majority.

The Lib Dems might have also stopped some Tory errors  such as tax credit changes, academisation of every state school, and the junior doctors’ contracts that caused David Cameron’s government so much trouble since May 2015. Whilst in coalition, much to the chagrin of the their coalition partners, the Tories appropriated as their own some of the Liberal Democrat policies such as the substantial increase in the  personal allowance as a Tory policy. 

Had Cameron and his government not taken so many unpopular positions since May 2015, far fewer people would have taken the opportunity to use the referendum to give Cameron and his government a kicking.

Instead people wouldn’t be speaking about David Cameron as a latter day Lord North nor would David Cameron’s final ratings with Ipsos Mori sunk to an all time low for him. 

With a majority of only 12, Theresa May is another Tory leader who might find out that the Tory party is composed solely of “shits, bloody shits, and fucking shits” with the knowledge that the last three Tory Prime Ministers have been destroyed/had their Premierships ended by EU matters, coupled with the hunch that those Lib Dem voters who switched to the Tories at the last general election in those 27 seats won’t find Theresa May as electorally appealing as David Cameron, especially in light of her more authoritarian tendencies. All of this might present an opportunity for the Lib Dems to recover at the next general election.

If Labour does come to its senses and replaces Corbyn soon, by 2020 it might well be that David Cameron will be the only Tory to have won a general election, and a majority in the last twenty eight years, something his critics within the Tory party might wish to reflect on.



France’s next president: Hollande is sunk but who will follow him?

Monday, July 18th, 2016


The battle for the Élysée will be between the centre-right and the far-right

Complacency has been the bane of the established political class across the Western world these last few years; a bad habit it doesn’t seem capable of kicking. Time and again, outsiders have shaken up the order, from Tsipras in Greece to Labour electing Corbyn to Trump taking the Republican nomination to Bernie Sanders running Hillary close to the UK voting for Brexit. Parties and electorates have been in revolt – though not always simultaneously.

Will France be next? It’s now only a little over nine months to the first round of the presidential election – about the same time as from Iowa to the general election in America – and it’s a question we should ask.

Before we do, we should recognise the effect of Thursday’s attack. France has now suffered within the last year alone, two of the fifteen deadliest terrorist attacks in Europe’s history. Despite that, France is a resilient country that has suffered and come through even worse before – this year marks the centenary of Verdun as well as the Somme – and it’s notable that after last November’s attacks, the opinion polls barely twitched.

Even so, three attacks in eighteen months, including the Charlie Hebdo killings, must create both a nervousness and an increasing desire to blame someone, which inevitably means someone else. That this latest outrage appears to be a low-tech assault by a lone actor is all the more disconcerting: there is no evil guiding mastermind, hunkered in his mountain lair to ‘take out’, no terrorist organisation to track down, engage and destroy. There is, however, the uncomfortable knowledge that it might easily happen again.

Does that play into the hands of the far right? In one sense, yes: populist politicians offer simple solutions to complex problems, which an electorate can easily turn to if they come to believe that the complex solutions being offered up by the mainstream are ineffective at best and a smokescreen for their own incompetence at worst. But France isn’t quite there yet.

What is clear is that the country has practically given up on Francois Hollande, who is polling a miserable 13-15% in the first round. For comparison, five years ago, Sarkozy was polling in the mid-20s – and of course he went on to lose.

Whether Hollande will even make it on to the ballot paper is open to question. No president of the Fifth Republic who’s sought re-nomination has yet been denied it but then none has been as unpopular as the current incumbent. He should though. The Socialists hold their national primary in January and as yet, Hollande is the only serious contender. It’s true that the 38-year old Minister of the Economy, Emmanuel Macron, polls a good deal better than either his PM or his president but you’d think that at his age, better to wait five years when there should be an open nomination either way.

The bigger question lies on the centre-right, where two heavyweight candidates are contesting the nomination of the newly-renamed Republicans: former president Nicholas Sarkozy and one-time prime minister, Alain Juppé.

This, unfortunately, is where it gets complicated. France’s party structure is fluid and there’s a delicate game being played which interlinks who the candidates will be for each party with which parties will contest in their own right and which will form alliances. Most significantly, the centrist party MoDem, led by François Bayrou, seems likely to contest the election if Sarkozy is the Republican’s pick but will sit it out if it’s Juppé.

Why does that matter? Put simply, because Bayrou is potentially Marine Le Pen’s ticket to the Élysée Palace. The Front National, under Marine’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, reached the second round against Jacques Chirac in 2002 but in that case, the left rode in – deeply unhappily – behind the president. That will not necessarily go the other way round. For a start Le Pen fille is polling considerably better than le Pen père did, consistently scoring in the high twenties.

More importantly, it’s possible that a Bayrou candidature might split the centre-right in a reverse of 2002 and let Hollande onto the ballot. He wouldn’t on current polling – Sarkozy typically leads Hollande by about 7-8% for second place – but with nine months to go, the possibility is there. Were it to come about, the polls suggest it would be very tight, with several giving her the lead (amid massive abstentions or spoilt papers).

That possibility remains thin, certainly much thinner than the 4/1 she’s best-priced at (though those odds alone tell a frightening story). Consequently, the value lies with Juppé at 7/4; he should be close to odds-on. If it is to be Le Pen, she needs three things to come together: firstly, Sarkozy to defeat Juppé in the Republican primary, whereas every poll this year has given the older man a lead of at least 18%; then the first round would need to split to give Le Pen a beatable opponent – which so far is only Hollande and he’s well back in third or fourth; and finally she’d need to win the run-off, which would currently be a toss-up. All else being equal, I’d make that nearer 20/1.

However, all else isn’t necessarily equal. Those suggested odds assume that Le Pen’s base vote remains at the 25-30% she’s currently winning. And that would be a complacent assumption.

David Herdson


So the changeover begins

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016
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    YouGov CON member ratings of the three still in the race raise questions over Gove

    Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

    But very good for May

    In its recent party membership polling YouGov has introduced a ratings question with a simple format “Generally speaking, do you have a positive or negative opinion of the following people?”

    In the context of the fight for Number 10 this might have quite a bearing. What’s interesting is to look at responses based on how those sampled voted in the referendum. May rates at 89%-2% amongst remainers but still a respectable 67%-17% with leavers.

    Leadsom, who is much less known, has far more don’t know coming out with 67%-5% with leavers and 17%-41% with remainers. Gove’s figures are 43%-42% with leavers and 13% to 73% with remainers.

    All this suggests is that the Home Secretary is in with a very good chance if these findings are a pointer to how members will vote if there is a postal ballot.

    Mike Smithson


    The chronology suggests that the momentum is with Leadsom

    Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

    Lead May

    Could there be an effort to see that she doesn’t make the final 2?

    One aspect of the two member surveys that we had overnight is that all the ConHome one was carried out yesterday while the YouGov poll fieldwork started on Friday and went through till yesterday. Given we know that most responses tend to come in during the first period of fieldwork then YouGov was probably more influenced by Friday and Saturday respondents than Sunday and Monday.

    The ConHome survey, where participants are self-selecting party members, all happened yesterday after a period when the focus started to turn on Leadsom with the other leading “outer”, Gove, being pilloried right across the board in the media. For many members, I’d suggest, it has only been in the past couple of days that they’ve been made aware of Leadsom.

    ConHome “polls”, as I’ve argued many times here, cannot be compared to surveys carried out by major pollsters. But we can compare one ConHome survey to previous ones carried out using their same approach. A week ago May on 29% was 1% ahead of Boris with Leadsom on 13%. So in the space of a week on this methodology she has tripled her support. Boris of course is not now on the list.

    CON MPs, who’ve been described as the “world’s most sophisticated electorate”, vote today in 1st round of the their leadership contest.

      I wonder if in subsequent rounds there’ll be an effort to try to squeeze Leadsom out of the top two by May supporters tactically voting for whoever looked best able to impede the climate change minister. This, of course, is what happened to Michael Portillo in 2001.

    My current view is that if it is Leadsom versus May in the Members’ ballot then the former is in with a very good chance. It’ll be a bit like Corbyn versus Burnham where the former appealed to the selectorate’s “heart”.

    Mike Smithson


    Leadsom leads in new CONHome survey of party members

    Monday, July 4th, 2016


    Will we get the same picture from YouGov?

    ConHome has published the results of a new survey of CON members. This is NOT a proper poll but CONHome can point to how close their member survey was in 2005 getting Cameron’s victory margin almost dead on.

    The results were:-

    Leadsom 38%
    May 37%
    Gove 13%
    Crabb 6%
    Fox 5%

    Whatever this looks very close between May and Leadsom who between secured 75% of the support.

    We do know that CON members are more LEAVE than CON voters as a whole and Leadsom looks set to be the BREXIT choice following Johnson’s exit.

    There’s supposed to be a YouGov members’ poll in the pipeline and hopefully we will see the results before tomorrow’s voting starts amongst CON MPs.

    Mike Smithson