Archive for the ' General Election' Category

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Why the Tories could be being complacent over Jeremy Corbyn

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Alastair Meeks says predicting GE2020 is harder than the blues think

Much comment has been passed this week on David Cameron’s falling ratings.  He now ranks behind Jeremy Corbyn on favourability ratings with YouGov.  “How low he has sunk” is the usual comment, and it is true.

But as the table above shows, this is not a problem confined to David Cameron.  He actually rates better head-to-head against Jeremy Corbyn on the question “who would make the best prime minister” than either Boris Johnson or George Osborne.  Indeed, George Osborne trails Jeremy Corbyn by a considerable distance.  Three clear conclusions can be drawn:

  1. The referendum is destroying the Conservatives’ image with the public.
  2. The Conservatives believe that taking on Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is like the Oxford rowing team racing a pedalo. But that is not particularly easy to justify on present polling: Labour is edging ahead in the polls and Jeremy Corbyn is looking competitive in the leadership ratings.
  3. The Conservatives cannot just choose anyone they like as Conservative leader and expect to romp to victory.

Right now the Conservative party is fixated on the EU referendum.  It has more than two months more to rip itself apart about this.  Does anyone think that its polling is going to improve in that period?  The damage to the Conservatives’ reputation might be very long-lasting indeed.

Far from being the unspeakable against the unelectable, we might be looking at a three-legged race where both main parties voluntarily hobble themselves with introspective policy programmes and deeply unattractive leaders.  Predicting a winner might be far harder than the Conservatives currently believe.

For betting purposes the conclusion is clear: for now at least, bet against the Conservatives in any market that depends on their long term prospects.  They, and too many of their followers, are far too complacent about how match fit they will be.  It’s best to relieve them of their money before they wake up.

Alastair Meeks



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Alastair Meeks looking ahead to the GE2020

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

DDDC

The Tories are evens to get an overall majority in 2020. Why? asks Alastair Meeks

We’ve been here before.  We languish under a Conservative government with a tiny majority, distracted by a frenzied and incomprehensible internal argument being conducted in raised voices over the EU (a subject about which the public largely do not care), staggering from wholly avoidable crisis to wholly avoidable crisis.  The public rightly see the Conservative party as horribly divided.  Disquiet is growing about their basic competence.

The last time we were here, in the mid-1990s, the Conservatives found themselves pulverised at the next general election.  It took them a decade even to become competitive again.

Yet the markets are clearly expecting something radically different this time.  The Conservatives are evens to get an overall majority next time, with no overall majority available at 7/4 on Betfair and 6/4 elsewhere.  Why?

Lots of different reasons why the Conservatives are bombproof next time round have been floated but they fall into three broad categories.  Let’s look at each in turn.

The state of Labour

Whenever any discussion takes place about why the Conservatives, despite all their troubles, look set to cruise through the next election, sooner or later the subject of Labour’s own chaos comes up.  Jeremy Corbyn has not exactly yet achieved universal acclaim as a natural leader and a large part of his Parliamentary party is in more or less open mutiny against him (or, as the leader’s own camp would put it, “core group negative” or “hostile”).  Many Conservatives believe that they could put any of their MPs blindfolded against him and still romp to victory.

That is far too complacent.  Conservatives seem to have forgotten that last year they won only 37% of the vote against an opposition leader who did not impress the public.  They achieved that unexceptional tally with a popular and charismatic leader and a broadly united party campaigning on a disciplined (if uninspiring) prospectus.  At the next election, they will have a new leader of what may well be a divided and indisciplined party.  In 2020, the Labour party may look in worse shape than in 2015, but so will the Conservatives.  It is far from clear that the deterioration on the red side will look worse than that on the blue side.

Moreover, it overlooks the following points.

  1. Jeremy Corbyn may be replaced. Right now that doesn’t look too likely but you never know.  Almost any other Labour MP will impress as leader by comparison.  If the Conservatives look tired, feckless, divided and crazy, that new leader would probably get a remarkably good honeymoon.
  2. Labour aren’t the only moving part. It is quite possible that the referendum will give a shot in the arm to UKIP, who will be looking to hoover up Leave supporters who feel uncatered to by the major parties.  Even if UKIP don’t break the mould, there is no particular reason to assume that the Conservatives would be less affected by this than Labour.
  3. It’s entirely possible that the fallout from the Labour civil war or the Conservative referendum feuds may result in one or both parties fracturing in some way. The consequences of such a fracturing are hard to predict.

In short, if the Conservatives can’t get their act together, their divisions, their lack of direction and their lack of competence are likely to hurt them in the ballot box.

The referendum will be over on 23 June

Yes, the referendum will be over on 23 June.  It seems unlikely, however, that the arguments within the Conservative party will end on that date.  If Remain wins – by whatever margin – a substantial part of the Conservative Leavers are going to remain incandescent with their leaders over their conduct in the campaign.  Rightly or wrongly, they are going to be convinced that they were cheated and will be planning how best to sabotage government policy on the EU.  The government has a majority of just 12.  The number of irreconcilable MPs far exceeds 6 (the number is probably closer to 60).  If Remain wins, we can expect a guerrilla campaign by the Conservative right throughout this Parliament.  The divisions will not heal.

If Leave wins, the government then needs to decide what comes next.  The first “next” will almost certainly be the resignation and replacement of David Cameron and George Osborne, whose authority would have evaporated.  That would be the easy bit.  The next “next” would be to establish what to do about the exit negotiations.  Since the Leave side has not put together a prospectus, mutually contradictory reasons have been given for voting for Leave.  A choice would need to be made between prioritising freedom of trade and prioritising restricting freedom of movement.  That choice will split the Conservatives afresh between economic Thatcherites and social Conservatives.  That split could be more agonising than the existing one.  The Conservatives have split twice before over free trade.  Could they make it a hat trick?

Either way, the Conservatives are going to carry on quarrelling for the foreseeable future.  Worse than that, the public are going to carry on noticing.

Boundary changes

Many Conservatives gleefully note that the Boundary Commission is due to draw up new boundaries for a smaller 600 seat Parliament, believing that this is likely to favour them substantially, particularly given that it will be based on the new electoral register (which is thought to have fewer registered voters in previously Labour areas).  So it might, if it happens.  But the government needs to get the relevant legislation through Parliament.  It has a wafer thin majority in the House of Commons and is a minority in the House of Lords.  If Conservative backbenchers of a right wing Leave persuasion feel that the boundary changes might be used for internal party control purposes, they might sabotage the legislation.  The House of Lords is likely to reject the legislation so the House of Commons will need two bites at the cherry.  There has to be a substantial chance this legislation fails.

Conclusion

Conservative divisions aren’t going away.  As a result, they are likely to remain directionless and ministers will be distracted from their day jobs, increasing the chances of further mistakes and adding to the appearance of incompetence.  With a wafer thin majority that may well not be bolstered by boundary changes, the Conservatives look nothing like an even money bet for an overall majority.  Lay them, or better still take the 6/4 on no overall majority (Labour might get an overall majority but if that comes into play there will be time to rebalance your book later).  Those odds should be at least the other way around.

Alastair Meeks



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Today should have been a day for Jeremy Corbyn to shine and embarrass Cameron and the Government. He failed

Monday, March 21st, 2016

Today is a further example of why the Tories think they have 2020 election won. Corbyn simply isn’t up to the job of Leader of the Opposition.

This last tweet, hat tip to FrancisUrquhart of PB.

TSE



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The Tories are very lucky the Lib Dems didn’t accept George Osborne’s coupon deal

Sunday, March 20th, 2016

British politics today might have been very different if the Lib Dems had accepted Osborne’s deal

The Mail on Sunday are serialising the memoirs of David Laws, the former Liberal Democrat cabinet minister, in it he reveals that

The Tories secretly tried to form a 2015 Election pact with the Lib Dems to keep the Coalition going, according to David Laws.

He says George Osborne proposed a so-called ‘coupon election’ deal with the Lib Dems, whereby up to 50 Tory MPs would have been written off, ordered to make way for Lib Dems.

If the deal had gone ahead, Clegg would still be in Downing Street in a ‘Coalition Mark II’.

And it would have made David Cameron’s outright victory last May impossible. Osborne told Laws: ‘We should be thinking of a deal in 2015 where we don’t fight each other in our key seats… a ‘coupon Election’.

‘We wouldn’t stand in places like Taunton and Wells and you wouldn’t stand in some of our marginal seats.’

Laws and Clegg turned the deal down because the Lib Dems would be seen as Tory ‘lapdogs’ – and it could spark a ‘riot’ among Lib Dem activists. Laws’ account confirms rumours in 2011 and 2012 that Cameron and Osborne wanted a Con-Lib pact to avoid defeat.

Right-wing MPs claimed it was a Downing Street plot to merge the two parties and water down traditional Tory policies. No 10 denied such a move had been made.

The term, ‘coupon election’, dates back to 1918 when Coalition leaders Lloyd George and Bonar Law regained power by using coupons to endorse coalition candidates.

The Lib Dems might think in hindsight they should have taken the deal and ended up with around 45 MPs instead of the 8 they currently have, but Laws is right, the Lib Dems would have been portrayed as Tory lapdogs for a generation.

What this coupon deal would have done is energised a lot of the non Cameroon Tory right to defect to UKIP, from the Parliamentary party to the voluntary party as it would have confirmed their worst fears about Cameron and Osborne. Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless wouldn’t have been the only Tory MPs who defected to UKIP in the last Parliament. I’m fairly certain this deal would have seen UKIP end up with more than just one MP at the last general election. This deal would have also upset and annoyed  Tories activists and members in the Lib Dem held seats the Tories were hoping (and did gain) in 2015.

George Osborne’s reputation is at an all time low, stories like this, how he nearly denied the Tories a majority, prevented the Lib Dem wipe out and boosted UKIP will not help his reputation recover. Even if he denies it and says it is a Lib Dem fantasy, you can believe it is something Osborne would have offered.

TSE



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LAB close the gap by 5 points with ComRes online to just 9% behind

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

CON 38%-3
LAB 29%+2
LD 7%-2
UKIP 16%+1
GRN 4%+1

The Boris versus Dave findings

EMBARGOED COMRES   SUNDAY MIRROR   INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY POLL  JOHNSON MATCHES CAMERON ON BEING TRUSTED “TO DO WHAT IS BEST FOR BRITAIN    mike politicalbetting.com   Politicalbetting.com Mail

An encouraging finding for Cameron and one which could be crucial that CON voters are twice as likely to say they trust the PM more than the Mayor to do what is best for Britain (54% say they trust Cameron more v 27% who trust Johnson more).

EURef findings but no voting intentions

EMBARGOED COMRES   SUNDAY MIRROR   INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY POLL  JOHNSON MATCHES CAMERON ON BEING TRUSTED “TO DO WHAT IS BEST FOR BRITAIN    mike politicalbetting.com   Politicalbetting.com Mail

ComResRes voting intwntion numbers have in all case but one come from its phone polling.

EMBARGOED COMRES   SUNDAY MIRROR   INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY POLL  JOHNSON MATCHES CAMERON ON BEING TRUSTED “TO DO WHAT IS BEST FOR BRITAIN    mike politicalbetting.com   Politicalbetting.com Mail

Mike Smithson





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The detailed data that suggests that Corbyn’s own generation, those of 65+, appear to have given up on Labour

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

Pensioners are the fastest growing age group

The figures above speak for themselves. They are based on a subsample of 471 which gives us a greater level of confidence.

Those within this segment are more likely to be on the register and much more likely to vote.

Mike Smithson





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Those who actually vote are getting older and this has big political implications

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

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New report warns that policies will be even more geared to the oldies

The chart above is from the Intergenerational Fairness Foundation (IF) a think tank researches fairness between generations. It believes “that, while increasing longevity is welcome, government policy must be fair to all generations – old, young or those to come.”

As a result of medical advances and having healthier lifestyles we are living longer. This combined with a far lower participation level in the political process amongst the younger age groups is driving the trend towards the average age of those who actually vote going up.

Developments such as individual voter registration are exacerbating the age balance movement and, inevitably, policies become geared to voters rather than those groups who are less likely to participate.

This is all good news for the Tories. Indeed one of the reasons for the GE2015 polling fail was that the very old age segments were not featured strongly enough.

Buzzfeed which has an interesting report on the issue notes:

“The report, released on Thursday, said young voters had already suffered the “systematic removal of their welfare protections” – such as housing benefit, unemployment benefits and maintenance grants – to fund £5 billion of “universal benefits” for the old.

To counter Britain’s changing age profile, older people must be encouraged to vote in the long-term interests of their children and grandchildren, it said.”

This is not a new issue but it is not one that is going to go away.

Mike Smithson





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Leader ratings side by side: How JC’s doing against DC generally & with party supporters

Monday, January 25th, 2016

The next general election, of course is unlikely to be between Corbyn’s LAB and Cameron’s CON. The latter has made his exit intentions partially clear though we don’t know whether it’ll be before the election or afterwards.

There’s doubt on the Labour side as well. Interestingly in recent days PB’s two LAB post writers, Henry G and Donald Brind, have both suggested that they don’t thing Corbyn will be there at the election.

Whatever the chart above can only be interpreted as bad news for Corbyn. He’s doing significantly worse than Miliband and we all know what happened there.

Of real concern should be the ratings from those who voted for Miliband’s LAB last May.

Mike Smithson