Archive for the 'Ed Miliband' Category


Cameron can do to the Eurosceptic right in the EURef what he did to Miliband’s LAB and Clegg’s Lib Dems

Monday, April 25th, 2016


This is about the total destruction of Dave’s opponents

I was very struck last night by the Twreet from politics academic Professor Glen O’Hara on the first week of the referendum campaign.

The reason OUT is so on the defensive at the moment is simply because of the force of the major initiatives from the Cameron team in week one. We have had the Treasury document and the £4,300 claim and then the Obama visit and press conference.

OUT has been totally taken aback by what’s facing them and have responded appallingly in an ill-judged fashion. To get themselves in a position where their only course is to try destroy the reputation of Obama, which Boris stupidly continues this morning, shows how wrong footed they’ve become.

Cooler heads would have kept mum and let the President’s assertions come and go. As it is their current main approach had just made them look weak.

    Boris’s ill-thought out attacks on Obama are as bad a mistake as Labour’s EdStone initiative in the general election. Both came out of panic because of the success of Team Cameron in defining what the election is about.

Is also illustrates the massive weakness of those who want to leave the EU. They simply do not have a figurehead to put the argument in a way that resonates with voters.

What we know about Cameron is that he is totally ruthless when it comes to winning elections. Look at how his team destroyed Clegg in the 2011 AV referendum and then EdM last year. Now it is about undermining the credibility of those who want to leave the EU particularly the Mayor who in February was wavering up to the last moment on which side he should be on.

Let’s see what Week Two brings.

Mike Smithson


You’ve seen the latest London Mayoral poll – now predict the election in the PB Prize Competition

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Although it has been hugely overshadowed by the EURef the London Mayoral election on May 5th is proving to be an interesting battle. Thanks to Mark Hopkins and his NoJam widget we’ve prepared another PB Prize competition. Simple predict the first round shares for the main parties and the overall winner.

Remember that the election gives voters two choices. A first choice and what is effectively a second one which only comes into play if their first choice is not in the top two after the first round of counting. It quite possible for the winner on the first round not to become mayor.

The prize is one of the nicest, if expensive, political books that I’ve ever seen. It is totally comprehensive and beautifully presented. It contains a mine of information and really is a prize worth winning.

Entries close on Wednesday morning at 0900 GMT

Nelson book

As in all PB competitions I am the final arbiter on all matters and my rulings are final.

Mike Smithson


REMAIN leads drops by 10% in first post-Tusk talks EURef phone poll

Monday, February 15th, 2016

EU Ref polling   Google Sheets

The challenge facing Dave is getting bigger

I’ve placed my first referendum bet on LEAVE on Betfair at odds slightly longer than 2/1. Today’s phone poll, the first since the Tusk talks, suggests that that trend to BREXIT seen in the online polls is being repeated there.

There’s little doubt that the barrage of negative coverage that Cameron has received has added to the uncertainty and has driven this trend. My view is that the betting will get tighter.

Mike Smithson


Why Labour lost in 2015

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

With Corbyn’s personal polling ranging from the calamitous to the cataclysmic it appears Labour are intent on repeating the mistakes of the 2015 general election

This week sees two important reports published, firstly the BPC inquiry into why the polls were wrong, then there’s the publication of the report by Dame Margaret Beckett into why Labour lost, parts of Beckett’s report has been leaked. The four main reasons Labour lost were

  1. A failure to shake off the myth that the last Labour government was responsible for crashing the economy.
  2. An inability to deal with “issues of connection” like immigration and benefits.
  3. A fear among voters of the SNP propping up a minority Labour government.
  4. Miliband was judged to be not as strong a leader as David Cameron.

The study also found that leftwing policies – such as the energy price freeze, and greater potential to bring railways back into public ownership – were some of the most popular put forward by Miliband, but that there was a lack of a coherent overall narrative.

So this might mean that Corbyn’s left wing policies might not be a voter loser as assumed. He is also no supporter of the economics of the New Labour era, so he might also be able to successfully change the economic narrative about the last Labour government, especially if the UK experiences an economic downturn before the next election.

Where Corbyn will struggle is on points 3 and 4, unless he is the new Blair, he will not achieve the swings to gain Labour a majority, so in 2020 the only way Labour can take power is with the SNP, which won’t be good news for Labour nor Corbyn,

For me the most striking from the report is the section that says the [Labour] party’s failed to connect with demographic groups in the centre. It isn’t a controversial thing to say that Jeremy Corbyn is more left wing than Ed Miliband, so I’m not sure how Corbyn will connect with demographic groups in the centre.

With Corbyn’s personal polling ranging from the calamitous to the cataclysmic predicting the outcome of the 2020 general election is quite easy, as the below tweet from Mike shows, as pretty much all the polling shows the potential next Tory leaders leading Corbyn in the polling, even before we take into account Corbyn’s atrocious polling on matters of national security, as I’m convinced the country won’t make Prime Minister who isn’t trusted to keep the country safe and secure.

Just look at the response to Corbyn’s interview with Andrew Marr this morning, and imagine a six week general election campaign with Jeremy Corbyn at the heart of it on a daily basis, there will be a coherent narrative, just not one necessarily to Labour’s advantage. It appears Labour are intent on repeating the mistakes of 2015, a poor leader who doesn’t connect with the centre ground will lead to a traditional left-wing party competes with a traditional right-wing party, with the traditional result in 2020, as Labour’s most electorally successful leader would put it.



David Herdson on “Miliband’s leadership landmine”

Saturday, July 25th, 2015


Whoever wins is likely to be there for the duration

There’s something in Ed Miliband of the apocryphal academic who when presented with a result he disapproved of, stated “it might well work in practice but it doesn’t work in theory”. More than once, proposals that Ed Miliband advanced had the look and feel of dealing with the world in abstract rather than the messy and contradictory one we live in. The reforms he initiated to Labour’s leadership process are a case in point and his final legacy to his party.

You can understand the thinking. Indeed, the introduction to the Collins Report says all that’s needed: “Ed’s central objective is to transform Labour so that it becomes a genuinely mass membership party reaching out to all parts of the nation”.

The Liberals adopted one-member-one-vote for leadership elections in the 1970s, with the Tories following suit more-or-less in the late ‘90s. By contrast, Miliband was elected in 2010 under a system which gave ordinary party members only a third of the vote. It didn’t look particularly democratic. You can understand the desire to not just match the other parties but to trump them, to engage beyond the membership and reach out directly to supporters too.

The problem with this sort of initiative is that it tends to overestimate the willingness of supporters to engage with the process. Even under the old system where affiliates got votes for free as part of their membership of another organisation, fewer than 9% of them voted – and one in seven of those votes was invalid. Relying on supporters’ self-nomination produces an outcome as representative as a voodoo poll, where the minority who shout loudest dominate.

Some would argue that the Tories’ system isn’t particularly democratic either in that the membership only gets a say once MPs have whittled the field down to two. There’s some merit in that point but the mechanism remains a feature rather than a bug, deliberately designed to avoid the membership foisting a leader on the parliamentary party which it doesn’t want (and, in the event that it happens anyway, there’s an ejection system controlled solely by the MPs).

Labour’s equivalent check in their leadership process is the very high bar required for nominations. While Conservative leadership candidates only require a proposer and a seconder to get onto the ballot, Labour contenders need at least 15% of the parliamentary party at nomination stage – a provision Collins recommended precisely in order “to ensure that all candidates who are put to the ballot command a substantial body of support in the PLP”. Which is all very well until MPs start ‘lending’ their nominations in order to enable a candidate with little following in parliament but from a wing otherwise unrepresented the chance to put their case. That certainly wouldn’t happen in the Tory Party.

There’s no need to go into much detail about the risk inherent in that kind of thinking; the polls so far are eloquent enough on the matter. What is worth thinking about is what happens after the new leader is elected, whether or not it’s Corbyn.

    We’ve already heard speculation that were he to be elected, Corbyn would be out by Christmas. Don’t believe it. Firstly, Labour has no mechanism for doing it; secondly, Labour has no history of doing it; and thirdly, Corbyn might just be a bit more popular as Leader of the Opposition than his critics expect.

To take those in order, mechanisms aren’t the be-all-and-end-all. A leader who couldn’t find enough MPs to form a Shadow Cabinet would be in an untenable position. But would Labour’s senior MPs all refuse to serve in that manner, in what could only be interpreted as a massive slap in the face to their members? And once one Shadow Cabinet is in place, momentum will keep it there. But as Brown showed, and Blair before him, it is extremely hard to remove a Labour leader who doesn’t want to go, without causing a great deal of counter-productive damage in the process. Furthermore, unless Labour could show the same discipline as the Tories did in 2003, there’d be no guarantee that the outcome would be worth the pain of another election under this system.

That’s if they could do it. Labour has an abysmally poor record of ditching under-performing leaders. There are several reasons for that. The rules themselves are one. A more collectivist mindset than the Tories is another. But a third is that oppositions tend to do reasonably well and optimists – and politicians tend to be optimists by nature – can always make a case that things might well turn out all right, while their party’s winning by-elections and council seats.

And Corbyn might do reasonably well as Leader of the Opposition. ‘Leader’ would be a new experience to him but ‘Opposition’ wouldn’t. In an era of manufactured and manicured politicians, the public often take a like to one who isn’t – unless and until they’re anywhere near power. But in the first instance, whole-hearted opposition to the government’s economic policies would go down very well with some voters, extremely well with many Labour activists, and may well win back a fair chunk of support from the Greens and SNP, while keeping on board the ex-Lib Dem from 2010/11.

Of course, it might not be Corbyn. Indeed, it probably won’t be Corbyn. Chances are he’s peaked too early and that he’ll either gaffe or at least one of the others will find some mojo. But whoever it is, once they’re in place they stand a very good chance of serving out the parliament.

David Herdson


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