Archive for the 'Ed Miliband' Category


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


Henry G Manson on Tony Blair’s criticism of Miliband’s election strategy

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Labour could win a different way in 2015

Tony Blair has not offered Ed Miliband the same courtesy It is a sign of desperation that Blair has intervened publicly with The Economist in this way. His ‘wing’ of the party is a ragged mess. Many closest supporters and former ministers are no longer MPs, a leadership contest that should have been a shoo-in for David Miliband was lost while Jim Murphy in Scotland showing any sign of political yet faces a struggle against the nationalists. Aspiring Labour parliamentary candidates either keep their distance from the Progress group which promotes New Labour policies.

    Since 1997 the myth that only a New Labour government could be elected has been carefully promoted and perpetuated. The fact a social democratic John Smith-led Labour Party was heading to a solid working majority in 1994 has been buried on the isle of Iona with him.

Blair befriended media owners leading to ridiculous the scenario of the former Labour leader being ‘garbed in white’ on the bank of the River Jordan to be godfather to Rupert Murdoch’s daughter. In contrast Ed Miliband took direct aim at News International during the phone hacking scandal and its ‘sense of immunity’.

Blair’s record as Prime Minister is continually being re-evaluated by events. The decision of Brown to prevent Blair’s government from joining the Eurozone has been vindicated. The free movement of labour throughout the European Union has helped fuel the rise of UKIP and increased the real risk of an EU exit. Over in the USA the President which Blair stood shoulder to shoulder with in going to war in Iraq was replaced by a Democrat who was against the war and defeated the Clinton machine and approach. While Blair urged the West to militarily intervene in Syria, the UK pulled back as a result of Labour and public opposition.

Here lies the threat of Ed Miliband to Tony Blair. Labour’s leader stands very close to showing that it is possible to win without the New Labour playbook. This will have serious implications for Blair as a relatively young ex-Prime Minister who still seeks to influence events. An Ed Miliband victory will end any sense that Blair is the guardian of some secret code to a Labour election victory and will limit his ability to anoint a future leader (currently in the form of Chuka Umunna). As soon as it is accepted that there is more than one way for Labour to win it could lead to a more critical reassessment of Blair’s tenure and squandering of political capital from two giant parliamentary majorities. The radical policies of Cameron in spite of failing to secure a majority already cast those first two terms in a different light.

In many ways it is entirely rational for Tony Blair to want Ed Miliband to lose. His stake in Britain is limited. It’s hard to feel empathy for the working poor of Peterborough while aboard a billionaire’s yacht in the Mediterranean. By intervening in this way Blair further erodes the support of those in the Labour party who were proud of what Labour achieved under his leadership. It is strange, unedifying and sad to watch a leader who preached the importance of party loyalty now sniping from the sidelines. It is indeed a sign of Blair’s weakness not his strength. If Ed wins in May it won’t just be David Cameron who is defeated, but Tony Blair’s reputation will suffer as Labour shows there is another way to win.

Henry G Manson


Lord Ashcroft corrects his Doncaster N poll – EdM NOT in danger from UKIP in Doncaster North

Monday, December 1st, 2014

This post will be updated when this week’s Ashcroft national poll is published