Archive for the ' General Election' Category


A Richmond Park by election polling boost for the LDs from Ipsos MORI: up 4% to 14%

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

From today’s Ipsos MORI phone poll for the Standard
Con 40 (-2)
Lab 29 (-4)
LD 14 (+4)
UKIP 9 (+2
GRN 3 (nc)

Yellows getting biggest support in Southern England

TMay heading for cross-over perhaps in her satisfaction ratings

Fewer people think government doing good job on BREXIT


How Team Corbyn screwed up JC’s big day and reduced even further LAB’s General Election chances

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

What close aides did in previous jobs does matter – just ask Andy Coulson

Yesterday Corbyn was having a great day. The big issue was the government’s struggle on care services and the LAB leader had probably his most effective PMQs.

Then came the announcement of the hire of the senior aide with a Sinn Fein background raising once again Corbyn’s ambivalence, to put it very lightly, on the biggest home terrorist experience in modern times.

Many people have died in not so recent history because of the armed struggle over Northern Ireland and memories are deep. This is one of those areas where Corbyn is at his most vulnerable leaving it open to be used by his party’s opponents in a general election campaign.

Remember how the Tories were able to take Ed Miliband’s awkwardness over eating a bacon sandwich and raise big questions over his fitness for the job.

Imagine how the Tories are going to use the SF link. The appointment is foolish in the extreme.

Mike Smithson


Betting on Labour polling under 20% at the next general election

Sunday, December 11th, 2016


Ladbrokes’ odds imply it is a 9% chance that Labour poll below 20% at the next general election, with Corbyn leading Labour I think the chances are higher

Ladbrokes have a market up on Labour’s share of the vote at the next general election, which could be less than a couple of months away according to press reports this morning. I think the value is backing sub 20% and here’s why (short answer = Jeremy Corbyn.)

The YouGov poll earlier on this week had Labour on 25%, which admittedly is an outlier on the low side, as Labour’s share has been usually in the high twenties in recent months but it contains a finding that we’re seeing consistently, Theresa May has a staggeringly lead in the best PM poll findings with the age group that turns out vote.

This YouGov poll had Mrs May with a 66% lead over Corbyn with the over 65s. To put that into context at the last general election, David Cameron has a 26% lead over Ed Miliband in the best PM stakes in that age group, this indicates a shellacking of hitherto unprecedented proportions for a Corbyn led Labour party.

And that figure might widen further, those who think things can only get better for Jeremy Corbyn might be If the Tories can present Ed Miliband as a risk to national security, just imagine the fun they will have with someone as rich a back catalogue as Jeremy Corbyn, during the white heat of a six week long general election campaign Corbyn’s ratings might fall further.

Unlike in 1983 which is Labour’s nadir in recent general elections,  Labour just had the Tories and the Alliance challenging them, at the next election Labour faces being squeezed by the Tories, the Lib Dems, UKIP, The Greens, and the Nationalist parties in Wales & Scotland, there’s many more options for a disgruntled Labour voters to go to. Whilst there was much to criticise Michael Foot on the policy front, no one could credibly question his patriotism, an atribute Jeremy Corbyn lacks, this could get very messy for Labour.



Can Labour really sleepwalk another 3 and a half years into disaster?

Saturday, December 10th, 2016


Their position continues to get worse, gradually

Lincolnshire has a habit of producing earthquakes. One in 1185 was powerful enough to badly damage Lincoln Cathedral. A more recent example, centred near Market Rasen at about 1am on 27 Feb 2008, was strong enough to wake people across large parts of the North and Midlands. To go by the reporting, the Sleaford & North Hykeham by-election didn’t generate similar tremors. The reporting is wrong; politics’ tectonic plates continue to move.

The reason why the reporters have it wrong is simple enough: there was no great drama to the election result. The Conservatives held a safe seat with a comfortable margin. No euphoric insurgents; no distraught losers. After the close call of Witney and the loss of Richmond Park to the Lib Dems, there’d be no third Tories in Trouble story. Quite the reverse.

And it’s in that reverse that the true scale of how extraordinary the result was can be seen. It was the smallest loss of vote share in any Con defence while in government since 1991. More, it was the largest Con share of the vote in a by-election during a Tory government since 1982 and the largest majority and largest percentage lead in those circumstances since 1971. This wasn’t just a hold, it was an absolute monster.

At the same time, Labour dropped back from second to fourth, losing 7% in the process (a net swing of 2.2% from Lab to Con). In fact, it was the sixth consecutive by-election where Labour has lost vote share when the Conservatives have been defending. In five of the six, Labour started in second place.

To compound the bad news for the Red team yesterday, YouGov published a poll for The Times which gave the Conservatives a 17% lead and Labour a share of just 25%. By any objective reckoning, those are appalling figures for Labour. To be recording them with the Tories 19 months into their term in government, divided and appearing a little rudderless on Brexit, is nothing short of catastrophic. Not since 1983 has Labour scored so poorly in opposition (and those came either side of a landslide defeat, not in mid-term).

Yet it’s the nature of slow decline that we rapidly accept and normalise each occasion when the boundaries are pushed that little bit further. If it feels bad for Labour, it’s only that bit more so than it was last month. After all, Labour recorded three 26’s in September/October; what’s another 1%? That could simply be sampling or methodology couldn’t it?

It could, and to some extent sampling probably is a part of it. The extremes in any polling sequence may well be outliers and are highly likely to have some sampling error. Even so, now that one 25 has been published, the next one – should there be a next one – won’t be quite as shocking, and the next one will be less likely to be an outlier if there is still an overall downward trend. Psychologically, there are only so many times you can hear ‘another bad poll’ before they all start to sound the same.

That’s an attitude Labour can’t afford to develop. If it does, then apart from the shock of the loss of real elections – a by-election defeat, local election losses in May – there won’t be any action taken to remedy the problem and the party will continue to sleepwalk towards the cliff-edge while wishing for a Tory collapse (which isn’t entirely impossible given the strains of the Brexit debate and process but which would, nonetheless, disguise Labour’s failings). Without action, there’s little chance of recovery.

Then there’s the other side of the pincer. UKIP didn’t have a great Sleaford by-election considering the size of the Leave vote and the extent to which the Lib Dems’ attention was on Richmond Park. That, however, might simply be more evidence to Paul Nuttall as to why UKIP should primarily target the working class wavering- or ex-Labour Leave voters ahead of Tories. Nuttall himself is clearly lining himself up for the expected Leigh by-election next year. If UKIP can make serious inroads into Labour’s 34% lead over them there (or even win – a swing on the scale that they managed in nearby Heywood & Middleton in 2014 would deliver the seat), that might well determine UKIP’s strategic targeting decisions for 2020 in favour of Red over Blue. The Tories would be well-advised to soft-pedal that election, should it come.

Which returns us to the question, what will Labour do about it? It’s not inevitable that they’ll follow their Scottish colleagues into disaster. They themselves remain best-placed to do something about it in the 3½ years before May 2020. After the experience of this summer though, can they summon the willpower and the support that’ll be needed to provide leadership, a challenge to the Tories and a coherent and attractive policy platform? If they can, someone will be worthy of the prize that awaits at the end.

David Herdson


Guido says the Tories are bracing themselves for charges over Thanet South

Thursday, December 8th, 2016


It could be the first where the Michael Crick C4 investigation has an impact

The big party expenses probe by the Electoral Commission that was triggered off by the series of C4 News reports by Michael Crick appears to be edging forward. Yesterday the Lib Dem were fined £20k by the Electoral Commission following a similar move some weeks back against Labour. The Crick investigation has looked mostly at the GE2015 expenses in crucial battlegrounds for the Tories. Guido writes:

“..The focus will be South Thanet where the Tories ran a highly professional “Stop Farage” effort deploying some of their top operatives… Guido sources say that Conservative HQ is bracing itself for the police investigation resulting in criminal charges.

South Thanet misspending a not an Electoral Commission matter. It is a police matter and potentially a criminal offence under sections 81, 82 and 84 of the Representation of the People Act 1983. Back in June Craig Mackinlay, the Tory who beat Farage, failed to block police extending the time available for their investigation of his election expenses spending. The Tories – in a very rare move – tried to block the police from further investigating the campaign. Guido believes that the South Thanet campaign will prove to be the biggest overspend by any political party in any individual seat ever. Guido understands the Tories spent over £200,000 to stop Nigel Farage winning the seat…”

PB sources have also reported concern within the Tory HQ about other seats.

Quite where this would go electorally is hard to say but it looks set to be one of the big domestic political stories of 2017.

Mike Smithson


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