Archive for the ' General Election' Category


Hills starting taking bets on when we’ll see the likes of this again – LAB winning a majority

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

The Exit poll. 10pm May 5th 2005

Will Corbyn make the red-team unelectable?

AS JEREMY CORBYN’s LAB leader odds are cut to their shortest yet at 2/9 (stake £9 for potential £2 profit) by William Hill, the bookies have also opened a market on when Labour will next achieve an overall majority government – and make between 2026-30 their 5/2 favourite – offering just 3/1 that it will not happen before 2031.

Hill’s spokesman Graham Sharpe said ‘With so many Labour figures predicting that a Corbyn victory could make the Party unelectable, we decided to start betting on just when the next Labour government will take office, and we don’t see it happening any time soon -probably not for at least fifteen years, in fact’.

Certainly it is hard to see this happening very soon and with the likely permanent loss of most of what were its Scottish strongholds it is hard to see the party recovering to win an overall majority.

As to the bet I can’t see the point of locking up cash for so long.

Mike Smithson


Why it is not smart making non-voters your main priority

Friday, August 28th, 2015

If you couldn’t be arsed last May then the chances are that it will be the same next time

It’s a seductive strategy that all parties try from time to time – make going for non-voters the main strategy but it is a wrong one. I’d argue that it is easier to persuade interested election participants to change than it is to get those who never turnout to alter their habits.

Just look at how well the Tories did on May 7th keeping the UKIP vote down in key marginals while not worrying about the purples making progress where it didn’t matter.

We underestimate how big a thing it is to vote for the first time and all the evidence is that the more you skip elections the chance of you voting the next time decline.

Boothroyd’s Tweet is spot on.

Mike Smithson


That ComRes 14% CON lead poll might have done Mr. Corbyn a favour

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015


Improvement from such a low base should be easier

I’m not attaching too much importance to voting intention polls at the moment. Firstly we are still waiting for the review by the British Polling Council of what went wrong with the May 7th surveys. That is due out in March and is likely to make important proposals about the way polls are conducted

Then there’s the fact that that neither of the two main parties is currently being led by the person who will be the choice for Prime Minister offered at the next election. That will change on September 12th with Labour but it will be probably 2018 or 2019 before we see who Mr Cameron’s successor is.

Assuming this Parliament goes its full term we are more than 4 and a half years away from an election taking place.

So far the pollsters and those who commission them have been sensitive to the fact that this is not the best time to be promoting Westminster voting intention surveys. The result is that we had so few of them.

    My guess is that things will change quite sharply after this years Party Conference season because, of course, the big new fact will be the new Labour leader. How she, or much more likely he, is doing in the surveys could play a key part in their survival.

A factor that kept Ed Miliband in place right through until May 7th was the polling. Labour didn’t appear to be doing that badly and indeed on some projections that we had looked set to win most seats. Why change a leader apparently was doing OK in the polls?

After that experience the party will be looking more critically at the numbers that come out. There will be an expectation that Labour’s poll rating should start to improve a move at least to parity with the Tories.

So what could be better for the new leader if the starting point is very low indeed. And that is what the ComRes 14% CON lead does.

Mike Smithson


After a general election choice that CON defined as being competence or chaos LAB is proving them right

Monday, August 24th, 2015


The shambolic nature of the process could be as damaging as the outcome

I have long been of the view that the most important message a party needs to get over in an election is that it can offer competent government. That was how the Tories managed to succeed on May 7th and why they achieved a majority, against all the odds.

The Lynton Crosby line repeated so much during the campaign was that the choice was between competence and chaos. The latter, given the issues relating to Scotland and leadership perceptions, was easily pinned on Labour.

Voters might not have loved the Tories but at least when faced with what else was on offer they perceived rightly or wrongly that the party did offer competent government.

    So what is Labour’s current leadership election and all the associated process issues doing to the party’s ability to present itself as a viable alternative government?

    My guess is that the manner of the current election will be remembered and have an impact for a very long time.

Firstly this has all gone on for too long. The Lib Dems were able to go through their election and have somebody in place in the first half of July. Why not Labour?

Why oh why has the red team been lumbered with the ludicrous pay your £3 and get a vote system – something that, as we are seeing, is so open to abuse. The idea that you could vet of tens of thousands of people in such a short period should have been foreseen as a problem.

Then there is the possibility of a legal challenge to the result when it is known. I paid my £3 and I’ve heard nothing. No ballot pack and no “you’ve been purged” letter. What is going on there? There must surely be many like me.

The one saving grace, I suppose, is that at least we have been saved the normal political silly season.

Mike Smithson


Jeremy Corbyn’s path to Number 10

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015


Picture: Why this shouldn’t be the Tory reaction were Labour to elect Corbyn.

Governments lose elections, oppositions don’t win them – A recession & no Cameron could hand the election to Corbyn.

There are those, inside and outside of the Labour party, who think by electing Jeremy Corbyn as leader, Labour are committing the greatest strategic blunder since Emperor Palpatine allowed the Rebel Alliance to know the location of the second Death Star. By electing Corbyn Labour can say goodbye to taking power in 2020, but is that assumption correct?

The economy will dominate the next general election, just as it did at the last general election, if the performance of the economy declines over the next five years, then one of the main reasons for voting Tory will be nullified. An advantage Jeremy Corbyn possesses is that it will be very hard for anyone to blame or associate him with the past economic record and legacy of the last Labour government, so that Tory attack line will also be neutered.

After a decade of ‘austerity’ perhaps the country will want to try something different, particularly if it is felt that austerity contributed to a future recession. If you’re a Scottish Nationalist, you might want to skip the next paragraph.

We saw in the Scottish Independence referendum, it is possible to garner (and hold on to) the support of 45% of voters, even if your economic policies are incoherent, lacking in any economic or fiscal reality, so long as you can sell a vision that your plans are better than the status quo. 45% might not win a referendum, but under FPTP it can lead to a landslide in a general election. One of the things the SNP have managed to do brilliantly is get people who haven’t voted in the past to come out and vote for them, something Labour haven’t been able to replicate, Corbyn might be the man to do that with a different, bold vision.

Last night we saw some of that vision last night, when it was said “a future Corbyn-led Labour government will reserve the right to bring [privatised companies] back into public ownership with either no compensation or with any undervaluation deducted from any compensation for renationalisation.” Remember that nationalising the railways is popular with the voters so other renationalisations can also be popular with them, especially if Corbyn can say it won’t cost the taxpayer a penny.

The other factor why the Tories shouldn’t be confident about the election and why Labour shouldn’t be despondent, the Tories will be fighting the next general election without their strongest asset, David Cameron. After a particularly fraught EU referendum, the Tories could elect someone who is the antithesis of David Cameron’s One Nation Conservatism. All those voters in the marginals that backed the Tories, and the gains the Tories made from the Lib Dems might be at risk. Even if the referendum doesn’t damage the Tory party, I’m not sure there is anyone in the Tory party who can appeal to these type of voters in the way David Cameron can. As the 2001 Tory leadership election showed, the Tories can make horrifically bad leadership decisions too.

The Tories only need to lose around 20 to 25 seats, for a rainbow alliance headed by Jeremy Corbyn to take power in May 2020. Jeremy Corbyn’s route to becoming Prime Minister is a lot easier than some think and the Tories should not underestimate him.


PS – It is thought that some of Corbyn’s friends could cause him problems, but again that might not be the case. He can point out when it comes to the IRA/Sinn Féin, he was merely ahead of his time. Now even the Queen meets the like of Martin McGuinness, and Corbyn’s always been open and honest about meeting them, unlike for example Sir John Major, who told the House of Commons, face-to-face talks with the IRA ‘would turn [his] stomach’ whilst his government was secretly talking to the IRA.

He can argue the people he meets now, will be the people who British Governments deal with in the future, just like his meetings with Sinn Féin.


Corbyn will win but he is popular with the wrong people at the wrong time for the wrong reasons

Saturday, August 15th, 2015


Surfing a wave of superficial attractiveness can only get so far

There is no good reason for believing that Jeremy Corbyn is not going to win the Labour leadership. The polls have all pointed heavily in that direction, constituency nominations have favoured him ahead of his rivals, union nominations (and organisation) will count for even more, and the late and huge surge of voters joining up to take part cannot rationally be explained other than as an active endorsement of the veteran left winger.

Furthermore, for the moment, he is popular. His meetings have attracted crowds so big they wouldn’t fit in the venues. The Survation poll for TSSA released today indicated that the policies he espouses have a resonance with a sizable section of the population, and that he personally is seen as more ‘in touch’, more trustworthy, more intelligent and more likeable than all three of his opponents. He’s believed to care more about the British people and expected to hold David Cameron to account better than Burnham, Cooper or Kendal.

All of which goes to reinforce the momentum behind him. And all of which is largely irrelevant. The poll was based on the public’s view of four one-minute clips of the candidates on the Andrew Marr show. While these were aimed at being balanced – and they probably are a fair representation of the four – they are also a trivially short snapshot of who they are and what they stand for.

The fact is that the Leader of the Opposition has a lot of roles to perform. He is the executive chairman of his party; he not only heads the opposition to the government but heads the official alternative government; he distributes patronage, within parliament and way beyond it; he leads on policy formation; he performs ceremonial duties; he has six questions a week at PMQs; he leads his party’s media campaign; his sign-off is needed on campaign strategy, on internal organisation and any number of other things; his speech is the highlight of the party conference – and so it goes on. Some of these are more important than others but one minute on Marr gives but the briefest hint as to how well they’d do any of them.

The problem for Corbyn is that he has virtually no experience at them and hasn’t been inclined to gain any. Unlike some left-wingers, such as Dennis Skinner, he hasn’t even been a member of Labour’s NEC. He may surprise in some areas but most successful party leaders have spent years gathering the skills needed, both through practice and close observation. Corbyn hasn’t had the chance to do either.

That’s not all bad – he won’t look the polished politician and that alone brings an interesting challenge to Cameron in how to handle him – but there is a reason that pole-climbing politicians develop those skills: they’re effective. Furthermore, if there is one political skill that he’s developed over his time in the Commons, it’s rebelliousness: between 2005 and 2010, he defied the Labour government’s whip 238 times. How the PLP reacts to such a leader will of itself be interesting but even more interesting will be whether Corbyn himself can find the discipline that collective responsibility demands. The public, we are told, doesn’t respond well to split parties despite telling pollsters that they also dislike an excess of control.

And what of the policies? This, after all, is what seems to be driving Corbyn’s popularity. Survation does indicate that among the public in general, and Labour voters in particular, his state-centric approach is out of the mainstream, not the lunatic fringe.

    However, this is one area where I would take issue with the poll, where the wording is critically important and slanted towards Corbyn, in that it repeatedly asks the public if they would like more without being asked about the cost.

Suppose the question asking respondents how much they agree with:

    Removing all privatisation from the NHS to make it completely publicly run

Had instead been worded:

    The NHS should use the most effective provider as long as the care remains free at the point of delivery to patients

That’s essentially the same question but loaded the other way, and I’ve no doubt that it would produce a markedly different response.

Much the same could be done with the other questions. And this is the point. Corbyn’s ideas have not been taken on by the other candidates (perhaps because they agree with some and would find themselves sat alongside the Tories on all). Consequently, Corbyn has won the policy debate by default. Ideas that sound good in isolation will fall apart once subjected to serious scrutiny.

Finally, there’s the question of his past and his associations; again, something of which few will yet be aware. This is where Corbyn really stands out as on the left, more so than, say, Michael Foot. Foot was a firm supporter of democracy and opponent of dictators; Corbyn has associated with rather too many people and opinions that polite politics regards as beyond the pale. The Survation / TSSA was designed in part to tease out whether Labour’s UKIP defectors could be brought back on board but UKIP voters tend to be proudly patriotic. Even if they agree on domestic policy, it’s hard to see them overcoming the barrier that his views on immigration and foreign policy would create. On the contrary: those views could easily push considerably more of Labour’s one-time core vote towards UKIP.

Put simply, Corbyn’s attraction is superficial. His campaign has been superficial because although his campaign has led on policy, those policies themselves are superficial. But they’re enough to attract positive reviews now, not least because no-one has dared counter them. That won’t last. But it will last long enough.

David Herdson


This YouGov polling hits the nail on the head about policies and leadership contenders

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Having policies that poll well doesn’t necessarily mean electoral success

This supports my long-standing view about the importance of policy positions. They have a part to play but only a part. The quality that voters most look for in a leader is competence – the word that the successful Crosby GE15 campaign used repeatedly.

Thanks to Matt Singh (NumberCruncher) for highlighting this.

Mike Smithson


Methinks that Burnham’s nationalise the railways plan could come back to have haunt him

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015


It just looks as if he’s scared of Corbyn

Although Burnham has been careful to say that he’d move the railways back into the public sector line by line it is the headline that is going to stick and will be used by the Tories.

This can easily woven into a narrative about the red team’s economic credibility and we saw in May how blisteringly effective that can be.

Lynton Crosby always says that it is not policies themselves that are election issues but what they say about those proposing them.

This appears as though Burnham has panicked about the Corbyn threat which, as we should remind ourselves, is there because the Burnham team were happy to lend MP nomination support to the left-wing rebel.

Mike Smithson