Archive for the 'Ed Miliband' Category


Miliband’s Achilles’ heel: those who backed Brown

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

Never mind the LD switchers, the biggest threat to Labour was already in the Red column

One assertion that receives a regular hearing on politicalbetting is that Labour is in an extremely strong position to win the next election thanks to that group of voters who switched from Lib Dem to Labour in 2010.  They’ve been consistent in their support ever since and remain favourably disposed towards Miliband and Labour.  Add in that UKIP’s support has come disproportionately from Con, that Labour’s vote is more efficiently distributed, and that precious little direct Con-Lab has taken place (meaning it’s unlikely much could swing back), and it’s easy to see why many can picture Miliband on the steps of No 10 next May.

All of which is true but it’s still not the whole picture.  The weak spot in Labour’s coalition is not those who’ve joined since 2010 – those who’d traditionally be seen as swing voters – it’s those who were already there.

That may seem remarkable given that Labour polled their second-worst total since WWII in 2010, only just better than 1983.  You would think that they’d have been somewhere near their base with a score like that.  Yet history suggests it’s entirely possible for a party to go backwards from a defeat: the Tories managed it in 2001 as did Labour in the aforementioned 1983.

And the risk is real enough: the August Mori poll reported Miliband’s overall net satisfaction rating as -29%, in the same range as Hague and Duncan Smith when they were Leader of the Opposition.  Even more concerning for him, some 41% of those saying they’d vote Labour were dissatisfied with him.  It’s true that Cameron’s net rating with Labour supporters is -52% but then you’d expect supporters of one party to give poor scores to leaders of the others, especially when they rate their own so badly.  Obviously, we shouldn’t read too much into one or two subsamples from just one poll – but this isn’t just one poll: YouGov’s results from 7-8 August, for example, had similar findings.

Even more notable is that Miliband’s rating among 2010 Labour voters with Mori was -5%: it’s only the LD switchers that pull his score into positive territory.  YouGov recorded a small positive balance but still three in seven of Labour’s 2010 support reported dissatisfaction.

Does this matter?  Won’t those same core Labour voters, with their even lower opinion of Cameron, turn out even if unenthusiastically?  Perhaps, but we shouldn’t bank on it.  It is, after all, easy to say you’ll vote when responding over the phone or monitor.  Going out and actually doing it in person (or even by post), is another thing: hence the disparity between how sure people say they are to vote and how many end up doing so (the Mori poll referred to earlier found 78% rating their likelihood to vote as between 7 and 10 out of 10).

Similarly, while they’re not likely to be tempted by the Tories or Lib Dems, Labour’s coalition of voters includes groups who could find either UKIP or the Greens attractive.  The Mori poll found a loss of 11% of Labour’s 2010 vote to one or other of those two parties; the Tory figure for comparison was 13%.  (YouGov found similar results; ICM, by contrast, reported a loss of just 4% of Labour’s 2010 vote to Green or Purple, excluding Don’t Knows).  One could of course say that offers Labour an opportunity as well as a threat: if these voters could be persuaded to return, it places even less need on Team Miliband winning Tories over.  That’s true, but it’s a big ‘if’.

David Herdson.


Mr Rentoul might not like this but the polling shows that Ed Milband has a special appeal to 2010 LD-LAB switchers

Monday, August 4th, 2014

In two massive rounds of polling the numbers have barely shifted

In an article last month the Indy on Sunday political editor and Blair biographer, John Rentoul, wrote:

“My view, and this cannot be based on opinion polls, is that when the voters come to choose they will shy away from the prospect of Miliband as prime minister, just as they shied away from Neil Kinnock in 1992.”

But John the unique polling resources that are available to us ahead of GE2015 mean that we do have the hard numbers on which such assertions can be supported or refuted. The scale of what Lord Ashcroft is producing at regular intervals from the marginals and the way that the data is presented allows us to isolate key sub-groups of voters and establish their views with a degree of confidence.

The chart above is based on two 14k samples from CON-held LAB-CON marginals which were polled in April and in July.

This is supported by other large sample polling that Lord Ashcroft has produced in the last year or so.

    What this is all supporting is the notion that Ed Miliband has a special appeal to that critical section of the electorate who’ve switched from LD to LAB since 2010.

Looking in detail at the polling there is no other section of the electorate who are as positive about Ed Miliband. His level of support from the 6% of voters who have moved is a fair bit greater than CON voters with David Cameron.

Unless these numbers start to move my firm view is that most of the 2010 LD to LAB switchers will remain and that makes it very hard for the Tories to win a majority.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


Henry G Manson says get on Andy Burnham as EdM’s successor – it might be a good bet

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Longstanding PBers will know that Henry G Manson’s has a great record with his tips on anything to do with LAB. He was dead right on EdM in 2010 and his guidance has proved pretty good over the years.

This morning he emailed me to suggest that Andy Burnham was a great bet for next LAB leader. He cited as evidence the above survey by Labourlist on the net shadow cabinet favourability ratings a recent survey on the site had thrown up.

The results are striking and suggest that Burnham has good grass roots support.

Henry didn’t indicate whether an early contest was on the cards.

I should add that although I’ve been dealings with Henry over many years I do not know his identify.

But experience tells me that when he says something in the Labour Party is a good bet then he’s likely to be right.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Why Blairites like John Rentoul have got to stop looking at GE2015 through the prism of 1997

Monday, July 14th, 2014

It’s a totally different election with very different dynamics

There’s no doubt that Tony Blair’s GE1997 victory, coming as it did after four election defeats over the previous 18 years, was a stunning success. Blair did it by reinventing his party so it would appeal to large swaithes of voters who never before had done anything other than vote Tory.

But because that result was so good for the party doesn’t mean that the Blair approach is the only one that will work for the Red team or that it is even possible now. Take this from the Blair biographer and ongoing Blair enthusiast, John Rentoul in yesterday’s Indy on Sunday:-

“My view, and this cannot be based on opinion polls, is that when the voters come to choose they will shy away from the prospect of Miliband as prime minister, just as they shied away from Neil Kinnock in 1992.”

I’d suggest that it is very dangerous to ignore the numbers, as Rentoul is suggesting, and base analysis on gut feelings, anecdote, or previous positions.

In 1997 the Blair challenge was to attract 1992 CON voters. At the coming general election all the polling points to very little switching between 2010 CON and 2010 LAB. The main movement has been the big post-coalition shift of 2010 LD voters to LAB and the biggest priority for the red team is to retain them in the key marginals.

That’s still holding up and notice from the table above how this key segment views Mr. Miliband. This is a view of Ed that has been seen in mega-polls whenever the sub-sample of switchers has been shown.

Would Rentoul’s choice for LAB leader, David Miliband, have had anything like this level of appeal to the voters that matter?

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


EdM might not be polling well at the moment but the idea that David M would have done better is fanciful rubbish.

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

Ed Miliband beats David to Labour leadership   YouTube (1)

Quite simply David M showed he was crap at politics

I was very taken by this comment from Edmund in Tokyo on the previous thread on why David Miliband would not have been the winner that his protagonists say he would:-

1) David Miliband wouldn’t have been able to bury the Iraq episode like Ed has. It would have been a serious ongoing problem, even worse as Iraq falls apart, and crippled his ability to win over the 2010 LibDems who have been solid for Ed.

2) David Miliband is utterly shit at politics. His big idea was the individual carbon ration card. He managed to destabilize Gordon Brown’s government by always looking like he was going to challenge him without ever actually doing it. And he wasn’t good enough to win a Labour leadership election… against Ed Miliband”

This is what PB’s Labour columnist Henry G Manson wrote here after David M announced that he was quitting UK politics

David had the capacity to win but it would have meant moving on from New Labour, something he chose not to. It would have meant meeting the unions half way, something he showed disdain for. When once asked about the future of trade unions at a Labour dinner he apparently quipped “do they have one?”

It’s all well and good wisecracking at the expense of unions after you’ve been elected leader, but the mentality to do so beforehand when a third of the electoral college is up for grabs was reckless. There are dozens of similar stories.

That quip about the trade unions is very telling and the polling shows clearly that EdM is popular with the voters LAB has to retain – the 2010 LDs.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


Labour in Newark: Ruthless or wrongheaded?

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

Soft-pedalling the campaign is a sign of both weakness and strength

Conventional wisdom says that general elections are won or lost based on the decisions of a few tens of thousands of swing voters across the country’s marginal seats.  As an assertion, it was never entirely true – those voters made next to no difference in 1983 or 1997 for example – but in an increasingly fractured party system, the assumptions on which it rests become more and more questionable.

Those assumptions (and indeed, the whole concept of ‘swing’), go back to a time when there were only two main parties and there were high and stable turnouts.  A lost voter for one party was a gained voter for the other.  While we shouldn’t over-egg the death of Uniform National Swing, it’s far from the psephological rule it once was.  Indeed, perhaps not coincidentally, as campaigning techniques have become ever more sophisticated in targeting, so the extent to which those voters ‘decide’ elections has declined: you can’t expect a uniform swing if you don’t have a uniform campaign.

Which brings us to Newark.  On one level, Labour not campaigning too hard there was understandable: they were starting well back and while the principal party of opposition has won by-elections before on the sort of swing required, not with a poll lead in low- to mid-single figures.  A gain would have been nice for them but it was never on the cards.  There’s an attractive argument that it’d be much better to spend the money saved on the target seats instead.

Not being distracted by the tempting but unlikely opportunities Newark offered is in that sense a sign of strength from the Labour campaign HQ: that they will keep their eyes on the important priority, namely winning the seats they actually need to form a government.

On the other hand, it’s not a strategy without risk.  Soft-pedalling always brings with it the possibility of a much worse result than anticipated as the parties who are going for it squeeze the rest out.  Reports of natural Labour supporters voting Con to keep UKIP out are therefore unsurprising.  As it’s also entirely possible that some voted UKIP to inflict a defeat on the Tories (the desire for such a result having been initially put forward as one reason Labour didn’t try too hard in the first place), one has to question whether the net effect was worth the sacrifice.

That kind of tactical leakage is in microcosm, symptomatic of the bigger problem: which are the target seats?  UKIP are up over ten per cent since 2010 and the Lib Dems down by even more.  With considerable differences in how that will play out across the constituencies, what might be winnable (or losable) becomes a lot harder to call than a simple application of UNS would make it.

The important thing about Newark was that Labour chose not to pursue their claim as chief challengers to the Tories, despite starting in second (and despite audaciously, but falsely, claiming to represent a One Nation tradition).  Newark might have been a challenge too far but if Labour can soft-pedal a by-election, they can and probably will soft-pedal plenty of constituencies at a general election.

That’s fine as long as you pick and choose correctly, though it risks the party atrophying elsewhere.  Get it wrong though – and with the vote-churn there’s been since 2010, it’s far easier to get it wrong – and you could both miss out on makeable gains and, even worse, lose seats previously assumed to be safe.

David Herdson


Guest Slot: All publicity is good publicity? Maybe not when Ed Miliband is on TV

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

UK General Elections, we are told have become increasingly presidential. And how each party leader comes across, particularly on Television, is important. Ed Miliband has faced criticism for his style and communication skills – It’s probably fair to comment that he’s not a natural TV performer. But what if it’s slightly worse than that? What if his television appearances have, overall, a slight negative effect on Labour’s vote share in the polls?

We should look at the evidence – What is the effect of Ed Miliband being on Television, overall?

There are 2 parts to this. First, Labour’s vote share in the polls. This is easy to track, and the data is freely available. How do we measure “Ed Miliband Television Time”? This is not obvious, without access to expensive media databases. We can however, use a proxy. It’s clumsy and it’s crude, but it might serve as a guide overall.

Sky News keep their main stories in a searchable archive.

You can search for stories featuring “Miliband” and see how many you get for given day.

Like with this link

We can see how many stories Sky News has archived, searchable by “Miliband”, on a given day.

This generates a fairly “noisy” sample. But if we look at the 3-line summary of each story, we can count the ones that explicitly feature “Miliband” in the summary.

This lets us focus on the stories that feature Ed Miliband prominently, rather then Labour generally. A quick scan of the stories suggests that this might be a useable if crude proxy for “Ed Miliband on Television” – The stories are concentrated at times when Ed Miliband is on the news, either “intentionally” – when he has a big-ticket press conference or announcement – or when he’s naturally part of the story, such as the Falkirk scandal.

It’s only one channel, but Sky News coverage will tend to correlate with coverage from other TV channels. And it’s a written archive, not an actual TV archive, but it will still broadly match TV Coverage. So, we can tabulate Ed Miliband’s high-profile Sky News appearances

Let’s look at the Sun You Gov polling of Labour’s vote share – 4 samples a week.

Every time Ed is reported on Sky News, we’ll give the message a day to sink in, then we’ll look at the You Gov Polling starting in 2 days (You Gov generally poll over 2 days, so we’re looking at the first day of polling, not the publication day).

Our Polls are only available 4 days a week, and many days will show no change in Labour share – So we need to fill in the blanks. We can attribute for every single day, a value “CurrentOrPendingPollChange” – So on any given day, we can say what the next change in the polls will be, when it comes. “Current” if it’s today, pending if it’s the next change.

In the Spreadsheet (click here to view the spreadsheet), we can see the effect on the polling 2 days later.

And of the 80 days that ED was mentioned, the effect on Labours Polling 2 days later was

“Current Or Next Poll Change Positive:” 34

“Current Or Next Poll Change Negative:” 46

So – does this mean anything? It’s not anything like conclusive, but it does add weight to the suggestion that Ed M on television has more often, a negative rather than positive effect on Labour’s share of the vote.

If we accept that (and it’s a big “if”), it must give Labour something to think about with less that a year to the GE.




One Year To Go: How do Dave and Ed compare to their predecessors

Friday, May 30th, 2014

With one year to go, I thought it would be useful to track how Ed and Dave compare to their predecessors one year before a General Election. I’ve been using the ratings from Ipsos-Mori that go back nearly forty years and are considered to be the Gold Standards of leader ratings.



Looking at the Leader of the Opposition net ratings, sometimes the figures speak for themselves. Only Leaders of the Opposition  with net positive ratings one year have gone onto become Prime Minister and only Michael Foot, generally regarded as the worst Leader of the Opposition since the war, polls worse than Ed while William Hague, Michael Howard and Neil Kinnock had better ratings than Ed and didn’t become Prime Minister.

Whilst we do live in a more cynical, anti-politician era, so that may explain Ed’s ratings, that said, in the same point of the electoral cycle, David Cameron was polling a net plus 23, nearly 50 points ahead of where Ed is today, and that was only five years ago.

Moving onto Prime Ministers ratings, it is a bit harder to discern a pattern.

The most amusing thing I found was Dave’s rating was exactly the same as Tony Blair’s rating in his first term,both in net terms, and the individual figures, 39 positive, 52 negative, David Cameron truly is the heir to Blair.

Looking at the leads the PM enjoys over the Leader of the Opposition, the longer a PM stays in power, ultimately they become less popular, but even then they do recover. The fact Jim Callaghan had a lead over Margaret Thatcher should give Ed some succour, but will there be an equivalent to the Winter of Discontent?

Before Labour supporters get too despondent, Ed does enjoy some advantages that his predecessors do not, such as the electoral geography favouring Labour, and the great known unknown of UKIP which could make the 2015 General Election like no other.