Archive for the 'Ed Miliband' Category


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.



It looks like mentioning Ed’s name is no longer a drag for Labour

Thursday, May 29th, 2014


As part of their polling for The Times, YouGov asked “Imagine that at the next election the party leaders remained David Cameron for the Conservatives, Ed Miliband for Labour and Nick Clegg for the Liberal Democrats. How would you vote?”

Normally they ask “If there were a general election tomorrow, which party would you vote for? Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Scottish Nationalist/Plaid cymru, some other party, would not vote, don’t know”

Now the first thing that caught my eye was the fact that the Tories are ahead with YouGov for the first time since March 2012.

Sadly for my bets with Paddy Power, this can’t be considered a Tory lead/crossover with YouGov.

The changes from the normal question conducted at the same time for the Sun using the same panel (sample size of both is the same) is Con plus 2, and Labour minus 1.

The most interesting finding is that mentioning Ed’s name has no major change for Labour, mentioning Dave’s name is a boost for the blues, but well within the margin of error.

My only caveats are that is only one poll, and in the past when Ed’s name was a drag, it was generally when Labour were polling in the 40s and had leads of around double digits so there maybe much less opportunity for drag available as Labour’s support has fallen since then.



Guest Slot: Rod Crosby: The bell tolls for Labour and Miliband

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Last week Labour beat the Tories in the local elections by just 1%, according to the Rallings and Thrasher NEV (national equivalent voteshare) calculation. This is the last set of locals before the general election. Is there anything we can divine from this performance?

Yes, it looks like Labour will be soundly defeated next year. The following graph tells the tale (general elections bordered in white).

We see that, going back to 1979, no party with such a minuscule lead has gone on to win. In fact Michael Howard, William Hague and Neil Kinnock all performed better in the local elections than Ed Miliband, but still lost.

The winners, Thatcher, Blair and Cameron, all had leads in excess of 5% in their last local elections as Leader of the Opposition, and had all built consistent and solid leads greater than 15%-20% during the mid-term locals. Miliband’s NEV lead scorecard is pathetic in comparison… -1%, +6%, +4%, +1% …

Taking a more statistically robust regression of the average NEV lead while in Opposition against subsequent General Election performance, Labour are forecast to lose by 8.4% next year, as can be seen in the following graph (the large red blob).

Is this a wild forecast? Hardly. It is broadly in accord with the Lebo and Norpoth PM approval model and Stephen Fisher’s polling model, among others. And as we know, polling ‘crossover’ has come early for Labour, a full year before the election. Barely avoiding third place (in England by a cat’s whisker) in the Euros offers little comfort to Labour. Neither does them underperforming 9 out of 10 of the final polls when it came to real votes cast.

So it seems clear now – the Tories are set to win most votes, probably most seats and have an outside, but not insignificant chance of a majority in 2015.

Rod Crosby