Archive for the 'Ed Miliband' Category


This morning’s MUST READ: the Guardian account of how it all went wrong for LAB/EdM

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015


There’s an extraordinarily comprehensive account by Patrick Wintour in the Guardian this morning of how right up to the moment the exit poll was published at 10pm on May 7th that Ed and his team really believed he was about to become PM. The report opens:

“This is the story of how the election defeat came about, based on extensive interviews with many of Miliband’s closest advisers. It is a story of decisions deferred, of a senior team divided, and of a losing struggle to make the Labour leader electable. At its heart are the twin forces that would prove to be the party’s undoing: the profound doubts about Labour’s instincts on the economy and the surge of nationalism in Labour’s onetime Scottish heartlands. Once those issues – embodied by Miliband’s memory lapse and his rushed deployment of aides north of the border – were skilfully fused together by the Conservatives in the election campaign, they would prove lethal to Labour. And they would ensure that by 8 May, a matter of hours after he had genuinely believed he was about to become Britain’s prime minister, Ed Miliband was gone…”

In another article Wintour focuses on the polling on what the party believed was happening.

Both pieces are well researched outline of what led up to that dramatic night and how so many people, myself included, were so misled by the published polling which, as will be recalled, was turning Labour’s way on election morning.

The hero from the Tory perspective is Lynton Crosby.

Mike Smithson


If LAB’s polling gap with CON had throughout been 6% worse than it was Miliband would have been replaced

Monday, June 1st, 2015

YouGov monthly averages 2013-15

What kept him in place were LAB’s good voting intention numbers

The table above shows the YouGov monthly averages from its daily polls for the period 2013-2015. These numbers are being highlighted to make a statement about all the pollsters – that for much of the last parliament Labour enjoyed substantial leads and it was only in recent months that this started to decline.

These voting intention shares were being recorded in poll and after poll even though Ed’s personal ratings remained very poor and, of course, his party trailed badly on issues relating to the economy.

The general view was that by polling day the numbers would have sorted themselves out. But as we all know that did not happen and all the surveys published beforehand got it badly wrong.

All of this is making me wonder about the counterfactual. What would have happened if the polls had actually been showing LAB in a 6% worse position in relation to the Tories throughout? Could that have led to Ed not staying the course and another leader chosen instead?

At several stages there were suggestions that this was being discussed with at one point Yvette Cooper being tipped as the likely replacement and at another point Andy Burnham.

My guess is that if the voting intention numbers had been 6% worse a leadership change would taken place in 2011 or 2014 and who knows we could have had a different general election outcome.

The polls saved Ed and helped Dave to his majority.

Mike Smithson


This could have been the moment when Boris lost the next CON leadership contest

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Being able to confront Ed was an opportunity that he fluffed

For me one of the best bits of TV during the campaign was at the end of yesterday’s Andrew Marr show when the programme’s two main participants traditionally join each other on the sofa for the closing couple of minutes. This time it was Boris and Ed and the wide judgement was that the Mayor lost.

This is how Nick Robinson saw it.

The timing is important because we could be only a couple of weeks away from a Conservative leadership contest even if the Tories do win most seats. It is hard to see Cameron staying if he ceases to be PM and there are those saying, unfairly in my view, that he should stand aside anyway if his party fails again to win an overall majority.

A Conservative contest involves two very distinct phases. Firstly the Parliamentary Party has a series of elections to decide which two candidates should be put to the party membership in a postal ballot.

The history of these contests is such that odds on favourites, like Michael Portillo in 2001, don’t even make it to the final cut. Then it will be recalled that Portillo failed by two votes to make the top two in the MPs ballot which left IDS and Ken Clarke being the ones left to fight it out in the membership vote.

Boris Johnson has not been an MP since 2008 which means that in the likely post general election parliamentary party many won’t really know him – a fact that might hamper efforts in the first phase. There has always been a risk that he could suffer a fate similar to Portillo.

If it does come to a contest you can bet that the mayor’s detractors will be using the above clip to undermine him. Methinks Boris would struggle to win a 2015 contest.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Labour’s hoping that taking on the non doms could be a narrative changer

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

The first big policy development of the campaign

Today’s announcement by Miliband that if they win power they’d end the special tax status of non-doms is the first genuine policy surprise of the campaign and could be quite a tricky one for Cameron/Osborne to respond to.

For the perception that the blues are on the side of the rich and not “people like us” is very clear from the polling and is probably the Conservatives’ biggest negative. It also fits with the ongoing narrative on tax avoidance.

Patrick Wintour gives details of the plan in a front page splash in the Guardian.

“In a speech in Warwick on Wednesday, Miliband is expected to say the non-dom rule, believed to be used by more than 110,000 wealthy people in a system unique to the UK, is born of a discredited belief that “anything goes for those at the top and that what is good for the rich is always good for Britain”.

Non-doms pay UK income tax and capital gains tax on their UK sources of income and gains, and whatever income generated overseas they choose to remit to the UK. By contrast, UK domiciles have to pay tax on all of their income and gains, wherever in the world they are made – Britain or overseas.”

My guess is that the Tory response will say that driving the super rich out of the UK will be bad for the economy and could cost jobs. But they have to be careful because of the way the party is perceived.

Labour has been very keen to move on from the Scottish issues and the idea that they will be in the SNP’s pocket. I’m told that Labour canvassers are finding that the Tory message on this has been hitting home. Maybe non doms will move things on.

This could run for a few days which is what LAB wants. Osborne has to find a way of closing it down quickly.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


CON retains its TNS 1% lead, encouraging YouGov ratings news for Ed, and the CON spread lead moves up to 14

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

The second morning of GE2015

TNS, with its new online polling series, becomes the first internet firm since the Paxo events to report a CON lead, albeit a small one.

The LAB camp, meanwhile, will take some heart from the range of EdM findings featured above. The key thing here is the direction they are going. “Would he be up to the job of being PM?” – was 23 to 59 in February while the latest has that at 30 to 45. The recovery seems to be all coming from LAB voters who now back their man by 79% to 9.

I’ve long taken the view that Ed ratings amongst those who support the party are a good pointer. Labour’s got to maximise its vote on May 7th if it has to have a chance then faith in the leadership amongst party voters is key.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Does this explain the Tory optimism about May

Friday, March 6th, 2015

“Labour voters are also generally lukewarm about their leader in a way that Conservatives are not about theirs.” – Opinium

The above chart shows how well Dave and badly Ed do among their own supporters, as other pollsters generally find as well. I’m of the view, that Ed’s poor ratings are priced into the voting intention, and that the voting intention is largely correct.

We’re going to find out in nine weeks time if it is priced in or not. These types of findings might well explain why particularly on betfair, the prices are much more bullish on the Tories doing better than the current polling suggests.

Opinium have also been tracking this “For a while now we’ve been asking voters to predict the 2015 election with the options being majorities for either big party or a hung parliament with either Labour or the Conservatives as the largest party. We defined a “win” as a party winning a majority or being the largest party in a hung parliament.”

This probably also probably explains the Tory optimism and expectation about May and feeds through to betfair.

Back in 2013, when Labour was routinely recording 10-point leads, 54% of voters expected Labour to ‘win’ vs. just 24% for the Conservatives. Now that both parties are at parity, Labour’s figure has dropped to 33% while the Conservatives’ has risen to 49%.

Among Labour voters themselves, the proportion predicting a win was 82% in 2013 but just 67% do so now. Conservative voters have gone from 60% expecting a win to 82% now.

To an extent this is just voters reading the polls and coverage of them which show that, even if momentum may not exactly be with the Tories, Labour have bled support across the country to the SNP, UKIP and more recently the Greens.

This also feeds into who they expect to be prime minister after the election. Overall Cameron leads Miliband by 46% to 23% but while 75% of Conservatives expect their leader to stay at No. 10, just 47% of Labour voters expect Ed Miliband to replace him.

The full data is available here



Henry G Manson says that in past fortnight we’ve seen a different EdM with an effective gameplan

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

Why he’s becoming like tennis player Lleyton Hewitt at his prime

It’s easy to look at British politics as though it were boxing. Journalists will often speak of whether there were any ‘knock out blows’ in Prime Minister’s. Instead I look at the it through the prism of sport I love, which PB old hands know is tennis. Of course there are some key points in a set but overall it’s a rhythmic battle in which small margins can give a player a big advantage if sustained long enough.

Every player has a weakness and the more you bring that out over the course of a match the more likely you are to win. Right now Ed Miliband looks like he has a new coach and has identified a form of play that has linked his opponent’s weaknesses into his strength. Ed Miliband is beginning to play like Lleyton Hewitt approaching his prime.

Fourteen years ago Hewitt was the best counter-puncher around. He didn’t have a big serve, or big forehand or backhand. Despite this for several years he took the booming ground-shots and serves of opponents and steered them back with interest.

Hewitt would look like he shouldn’t have any chance but developed a knack of dissembling his supposedly superior opponents’ game and ensure the ball landed at the most awkward point. As with Ed, it took a while for the tennis commentators to understand how the Aussie could and did win.

This last two weeks has seen a different Ed Miliband on court and there’s every sign he’s got an effective gameplan at his disposal at the time that matters most. Like Hewitt, Miliband has turned huge crunching groundshots against him into winning returns his opponent isn’t used to seeing fly back past the net.

    The response to the orchestrated attack through Boots boss Stefano Pessina and other big businesses close to the Tory party is the most significant political event of the election campaign.

    Over two weeks Ed Miliband and Labour have turned an assault on his business credibility into a issues of tax fairness which voters can identify with.

He’s drawn on the HSBC revelations and steered it onto the arrangements of Conservative donors. As a result it is now David Cameron and his party that is now stretching and is badly off balance.

After PMQs David Cameron was overheard complaining of Miliband’s “horrid” line of attack. In a revealing remark he said that it was only because Ed Miliband was losing. But that’s the point, if you aren’t winning in tennis you change your game.

The Ed Miliband I see right now is different to the leader at the time of the Murdoch crisis. He’s scrapping, harrying and resilient and he shows signs of having read and sussed his opponent’s plays. In the next few months the attacks will keep on raining down on him, but the signs are this is precisely what he needs to capture public support.

Like Hewitt, Ed cannot easily generate huge shots on his own. We’ve seen several listless years in opposition broken only by a challenge to energy companies. Ed needs his opponents to inject the pace for him to get his winning returns. If he can continue to do this under his new coaching team then he will likely become Prime Minister in May. How his counter-punching style will work in Downing Street against a different leader Tory remains to be seen. But for now, Ed has more earned himself a trademark Hewitt scream of ‘C’mon!’

Henry G Manson


Miliband needs to avoid being caught in a Greek pincer

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

David Herdson’s Saturday column

Every Labour government ends up running out of money, though not all go to the trouble of leaving a note to their successor to say so. That they do so is not exactly a feature of left-of-centre politics but it’s not far off: a belief in a big state and increased protection for low-income and vulnerable groups inevitably means lots more spending and because of the protests that would come as a result, a structural deficit builds as taxes don’t go up sufficiently to pay for it. (Of course, right-of-centre governments can make the same mistake from the opposite side by cutting taxes excessively but that’s a point for another day).

There is, consequently, a tension in any left-of-centre party seeking government between on the one hand, appearing competence and capable so as to reassure financial markets and centrist floating voters, and on the other, building the new Jerusalem, inspiring the movement and delivering the goods for their electoral coalition.

Nowhere is there a better example of this than in Greece. There, for about thirty years, the political scene was dominated by two parties: the centre-right New Democracy and the centre-left Pasok. Once the party stopped in 2008, however, Pasok had to choose between their policies and economic reality. They chose – under extremely heavy pressure from the EU and IMF – economic reality; a move that did not go down well with the Greek voters in general and the Pasok supporters in particular. From a combined share of more than 85% in 2007, the duopoly slumped to just 32% in May 2012. Pasok’s vote was 44% in 2009; it’s currently running at 4-5%. In UK terms they’ve gone from more popular than Blair’s Labour to about half the support of Clegg’s Lib Dems in less than six years.

While Pasok opted to move to the centre, the space they created on the denialist left has been filled by Syriza, who if the polls are right and there’s no late swing, will win the election next week, perhaps with an overall majority. Put simply, the Pasok politicians might have recognised reality but their erstwhile supporters haven’t.

Would any of this matter for Britain even if Syriza were to win? Yes, it would. Apart from the havoc that would likely result Greece and to a lesser extent the Eurozone and wider EU, it would rearrange the priorities of what the media and, resultantly, the public think important and put Labour on the spot about their own spending and taxation plans.

Eds Miliband and Balls are well aware that Britain’s left-of-centre voters, not unlike Greece’s (though not perhaps to the same extent), have similarly unrealistic expectations about what is possible. Austerity might be a constraint rather than a government lifestyle choice but it has been one of the main drivers of voters from the Lib Dems to Labour. As a result, for at least the last year, they’ve been trying to simultaneously appear to have Pasok-light fiscal rectitude while engaging in Syriza-light populist campaigning, depending on the intended audience. The problem is that while all parts of Labour’s coalition finds one of those positions attractive, few find both of them so and some find the apparent contradiction disingenuous. However, neither can be dropped without upset too many voters.

Miliband may yet get lucky and see New Democracy elected. If not, avoiding being caught in the Greek pincer will become far harder, as evidence of what happens if you start off your government by running out of money. After all, it’s not the issues that are seen as important now that matter; it’s those that’ll be seen as important in three and a half months that count.

David Herdson