Archive for the ' General Election' Category


UKIP has ceased to be a serious player and the BBC should stop pandering to them

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

Last night we had Radio 4’s Any Questions in town. It was a good evening except for the fact that there was no Lib Dem on the panel. Instead we had as well as the statutory LAB & CON rep an SNP MP and the barely coherent deputy UKIP leader, Peter Whittle.

You’d have thought that the BBC planners would have figured out that the Richmond by-election was taking place the day before and would likely feature a Lib Dem or made provisions just in case they had a good result. Without one on the panel they were unable to take direct questions on the election outcome.

Many were furious by this and the presence, yet again by the BBC, of a Kipper – a party that is struggling in all the elections it is fighting at the moment and didn’t even field a candidate in Richmond.

The chart above graphically illustrates how poorly UKIP has been doing in Westminster by elections this year. The BBC should take notice.

Mike Smithson


The chances of a 2017 general election have just increased

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016


A smaller majority and greater Brexit pressure could force May’s hand

The Lib Dems have their mojo back. Their result in Witney was good but safe seat or not, second is the best-placed loser. It’s winning that counts and it was a win that was delivered in Richmond Park on Thursday. After more than ten years without a gain, the campaign surge, the tactical votes and the Friday celebration must come as a long-overdue reminder of the good old days – and possibly the good young days. That’s yet to be seen.

What it also does, in terms of raw maths, is reduce the notional Conservative majority to 8. True, Sinn Fein abstentions increase that a little and if put in a corner, votes might be won from Ulster and from Carswell (at a price, presumably), but what was already a tight situation just got tighter.

What the Richmond Park result shouldn’t do is panic the government. The by-election was an unusual contest in an unusual seat. Its dynamics are unlikely to be repeated and certainly wouldn’t be at a general election, where the government of the country is at stake. Even the scenario of a Con-LD battle in a heavily and passionately Remain seat is relatively rare. The idea that Richmond Park is somehow representative of a national anti-Brexit reaction is for the birds.

What we should take seriously is the prospect of a 2017 general election. The government is under pressure from the Commons, the Lords and the courts. Of these, the courts get first shot, next week. If the Supreme Court upholds the decision of the High Court then we’re in for a parliamentary battle to trigger Article 50 – or, more accurately, over the terms under which it’ll be triggered.

For all Olney vowed to oppose the Brexit process even beginning, the reality is that the 9 Lib Dem MPs are irrelevant to that end. The Commons will vote Article 50 through if that’s what’s needed. They might not, however, do so in a way that gives the government the blank sheet it’d like. Any Bill can be amended and you can well see Remain MPs trying to alter it so as to, for example, mandate the government to stay within the Single Market.

In all probability, the Commons would fail on that score. Labour isn’t sufficiently united and there won’t be enough Tory rebels.

What it also won’t do is legislate for a second referendum because unlike in the message going out to the electorate, MPs know that a second referendum would be a fraud. There would be no ‘Remain’ and no ‘try again’ option; the choices would be the Brexit deal as negotiated or a chaotic exit – which is not really any choice at all. That’s why it’s so important to those who want to make Brexit as Light as possible (or to frustrate it entirely) to tie the government’s hands before negotiations get going.

But if the Commons isn’t that much of a concern to the government, the Lords might be. Emboldened by the Richmond Park result and already looking for an excuse to both give the government a bloody nose and minimise the effect of Brexit, Lib Dem peers might well do what the Commons couldn’t and, together with their Labour colleagues, some cross-benchers and perhaps even some Tory rebels, attach conditions the government cannot live with. And while they’d be on extremely sticky ground opposing Article 50, amending the legislation is a different matter; that’s one thing the Lords is there for.

If the Bill does come back down the corridor to the Commons with a series of directives to the government contained within it, that puts Theresa May in an awkward situation. Moral pressure might prove effective after the Lords have made a token stand but if Labour and Lib Dem peers feel that the public mood has changed, they could dig their heels in, knowing that the Parliament Act couldn’t be invoked for another 12 months, by when the Brexit Date would be pushing the 2020 general election.

So the alternative is to force an election on the specifics of Brexit. That does of course mean putting at least some kind of plan forward and it’s clear that right now, the government is some way from being able to do that. But whether to the country or to the House, it will at some point before too long need to say more about what its objectives are.

Can an election be forced given the FTPA? The simple answer is yes. The first and best option is to put a motion down and dare the other MPs to vote it down. The reserve plan is, if the dissolution motion fails, to force a No Confidence vote and ensure no new government can form. Once that’s happened, an election follows two weeks later.

On the low politics angle, there would no doubt be advice going to Mrs May to the extent that it’d be sensible to capitalise on the big poll leads while she can and while Corbyn is still in place. Neither can be guaranteed for 2020 but the opportunity to ditch him before May 2017 will be limited in the extreme.

At the moment, the odds on offer for a 2017 election vary widely, from evens with bet365 to 9/4 with 188bet. Evens is too short but anything top side of 6/4 probably contains some value.

David Herdson


Whatever the outcome tonight Richmond Park could herald a political period where BREXIT is more important than parties

Thursday, December 1st, 2016


Would the Tories stand aside in a seat where UKIP was 2nd behind LAB

Today’s Richmond Park by-election highlights a very new development in British politics where the main issue of the day, BREXIT and its implementation, have become more important than parties.

UKIP’s decision to stand aside in Richmond Park as well as the similar move by the Greens on the other side of the argument could mark something very different from what we are used to.

At GE2015 UKIP was runner up in 120 seats most which were held by Labour. If one of those came up could you see the Tories being ready to stand aside to give UKIP a better chance of defeating LAB?

It makes a lot of sense just as in Richmond Park where Greens decided to back the REMAIN contender most likely to beat the pro BREXIT incumbent. One of the stories of the campaign has been the pressure on LAB following its decision to field a candidate in a seat where they’ve failed to do better than third for several decades.

A poor LAB vote share would focus fresh attention on the decision and could impact on future contests.

The winner tonight, whoever it is, will have done so partly because other parties didn’t put up a candidate. I hope the victor acknowledges this in his/her speech.

Mike Smithson


Hills make it odds-on that UKIP won’t have a single MP after the next election

Monday, November 28th, 2016



The UKIP meltdown continues with Diane James, the last elected leader, quitting the party

Monday, November 21st, 2016


29% of those who’ve served as UKIP MEPs since 2009 have either been expelled or quit

This afternoon’s big news from UKIP has been that Diane James, who won the November leadership contest only to pull out after 18 days, has now quit the party. She wants to remain as an MEP and is hoping to sit as an independent.

She came to the forefront in February 2013, when she got very close in the Eastleigh by-election beating the Tories in the race to fill the seat vacated by Chris Huhne.

Her decision this afternoon brings to nine the number of those who’ve served as UKIP MEPs since the 2009 Euro election having been forced out or going of their own accord.

Quite what is happening to the party, which continues to poll in double figures, is hard to say. Clearly Nigel Farage was a massive personality and his decision, once again to step down as leader, has left a massive hole at the top.

Meanwhile the latest ICM poll has found that 58% to 20% of those sampled said Farage should not be given a peerage. This includes 25% of GE2015 UKIP voters.

This means that the Tories have been in the 40s in every single published poll since conference season in September Corbyn was re-elected LAB leader.

Mike Smithson


Some more bad polling for Labour, its leader and shadow chancellor

Saturday, November 19th, 2016


As each month goes by the next election gets closer


The LD demand for a 2nd EURef could have similar potency as being totally opposed to the 2003 invasion of Iraq

Friday, November 18th, 2016

YouGov: LDs could edge in front of LAB if it was only party with such a promise

We all remember how in late 2002 and 2003 that the IDS-led Tories gave their backing to Blair’s invasion of Iraq. The Charles Kennedy-led LDs were the only national party to oppose and this stance stance helped them to their best ever performance at GE2005.

We’ve now got a similar situation with BREXIT. May’s Tories have totally dished the idea and Labour’s position, like all things these Corbyn/McDonnell days, is ambivalent. The LDs are saying that there should be a second referendum when the actual terms are agreed.

This, it might be recalled, was the Boris Johnson position in February when he finally came out and chose to back LEAVE.

In some new polling published overnight YouGov has tested the proposition in the form set out in the chart above and the results should provide encouragement to Farron’s party.

Amongst 2016 REMAIN voters the split was
CON 24
LAB 23
LD 42

This is all hypothetical, of course, and there are a host of objections you can make to such findings.

In the big battle for Richmond Park, a week on Thursday, the LDs are going very strong on BREXIT in an area where this idea should go down well. Whether it will be enough to shift the incumbent MP with a big majority I do not know.

Mike Smithson


Could it, should it, will it soon be Lord Farage?

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016


An intriguing part of PMQs today was May’s response when asked if UKIP leader Nigel Farage will be given a peerage – this starting speculation that he will be. The PM’s response was “such matters are normally never discussed in public”.

But there is a strong case for UKIP should have some peers created for it. The party came top in the 2014 Euros with 27% of the vote and most MEPs. At GE2015 it chalked up 4m+ votes but the only recompense was the CON defector, Douglas Carswell was re-elected.

Farage himself just missed out in Thanet South – an issue that remains highly topical as those who saw Michael Crick’s report on C4 News last night will recall. There has been an ongoing investigation by the Electoral Commission and the police into whether the Tory party’s officially declared expenses in the seat were accurate or not in particular for the lack of inclusion of the costs of basing in Ramsgate some top CON officials.

Crick presented what appeared to be strong evidence evidence that the constituency campaign was led by Nick Timothy – now Theresa May’s top aide.

Giving Farage a peerage might just preempt some of the inevitable outcry if the investigation goes badly for the Tories.

I’m expecting Lord Farage betting markets in the next day or so.

Mike Smithson