Archive for the ' General Election' Category


The media narrative turns against the purples as the prospect of getting more MPs grows

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Whatever happens over Hamilton it will be wrong

The former Conservative MP for Tatton who lost out to Martin Bell in 1997 has been much in the news of late as he has tried to be selected for a winnable seat for UKIP at GE15. The latest development, according to a report on the FT’s front page, is that spread-betting multi-millionaire and second biggest donor to the party, Stuart Wheeler, has threatened to turn the tap off if Hamilton doesn’t get selected.

In the past week Hamilton’s efforts to be the Boston & Skegness candidate and now Basildon are said, according to reports, to have been thwarted by what are being described as “dirty tricks”.

A senior party member told the FT: “This is all to do with Nigel’s ego. He thinks he may not win in Thanet South [the seat for which he has been selected], so he is determined to bring Neil down. He cannot bear the thought Neil might be an MP but not Nigel.

This is the first general election, of course, where UKIP has a serious prospect of picking up some MPs and inevitably there’s a huge amount of media interest particularly when someone as well-known as Neil Hamilton is in the frame.

These latest developments come in a month when things have been tougher in the media for the party and its leader and it could be like this right up to May 7th.

The Hamilton case is difficult to resolve. Facing a crucial election UKIP desperately needs the resources that Stuart Wheeler is able to bring but it cannot be seen to be giving in to a major donor.

Mr. Wheeler used to be a big donor to the Conservatives. Maybe he could return.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Latest polling from Thanet South has Farage trailing the Tories by 5% – yet in the betting he’s a 62% chance

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

A case methinks of hearts over heads

As a general rule political betting prices and polling tend to run in parallel particularly in the constituencies.

So when earlier this month Lord Ashcroft published his latest round there was a rush of activity when apparently obvious bargain appeared. One such one was Nigel Farage’s Thanet South where following the numbers being available the UKIP price of 2/5 eased to 5/6. An earlier Ashcroft poll had had Farage with a 3% lead. The latest put the Tories 5% ahead.

Yet in the past fortnight we’ve the the UKIP price getting a bit tighter and is now 8/13 making the seat just about the only one in the country where betting and the polling are showing a very different picture.

    My expectation is that the Tories will mount a tough campaign against Farage with a message that what the area, with all its economic problems, least needs is a part-time MP.

    No doubt the blues could make constant references to Farage’s voting and attendance record in Brussels. Maybe even there’ll be references to his Euro-expenses.

But Farage is party leader and will surely get a boost from that. He’ll be the one on the TV every night and also, if they are held, appearing in at least one of the debates.

In spite of the polling I’d still rate his chances quite highly.

I’m on the Tories here at 11/4 in a bet I got on just after the Ashcroft poll came out.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Why UKIP is set to damage Tories a lot more than LAB at GE2015

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

LAB lost much of its traditional support long before the UKIP surge

Today I’m off to London for a big event in Westminster to promote the GE2015 British Election Study – a huge academic imitative involving the universities of Manchester, Oxford and Nottingham that in the coming months will become an essential resource to all who follow politics closely.

The rise and rise of UKIP is going to be a big focus and this afternoon we are going to be told that Farage’s party will inflict much more damage on the Conservative Party in the 2015 General Election than on Labour.

One interesting insight, from Professor Geoff Evans, from the University of Oxford (Nuffield College) and a Co-Director of the BES, is that many of Labour’s core supporters had already deserted their party between 2001 and 2010 as a reaction to Tony Blair and New Labour and have since moved to UKIP.

However, while much of this damage has already been done to Labour, the switch from the Conservatives to Ukip is still happening.

“BES data shows quite clearly that it’s the Conservative Party who need to worry most about the threat of Ukip – because those people who supported Labour have in the main, already made the switch.

“New Labour’s move to the liberal consensus on the EU and immigration in 2001, 2005 and 2010, left many of their core voters out in the cold a long time before UKIP were around.”

Also at the event, Professor Ed Fieldhouse from The University of Manchester and fellow BES Co-Director will show, using BES data, that Ukip and the Greens are disadvantaged because their supporters have less like-minded friends.

The smaller parties, he argues, have fewer fellow travellers to discuss their politics with and are therefore less likely to hear positive messages of support about those parties.

No doubt I’ll be posting later.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


UKIP move up 3 to 19% in latest Lord Ashcroft phone poll

Monday, December 8th, 2014

LAB 31-1: CON 30=: LD 8+1: UKIP 19+3: GRN 5%-1

How the alternative vote would have impacted on voting

Tories now level-pegging in England


LAB running just 3% behind SNP in Scotland according to the Populus November aggregate

Monday, December 8th, 2014

But Sturgeon’s party would be one short on seats

Following my post yesterday about the woeful lack of polling data from what could be the most critical area of all at GE15, Scotland, a PBer contacted me to point out that Populus has resumed its excellent practice of issuing a full monthly data analysis from the eight or nine online surveys carried out in the previous month.

What’s great about this is that you have a very large sample which gives us sub samples based on enough responses so that you can have some confidence in the output. This is not, however, a proper poll and all the reservations about sub samples remain. It is the best that’s available at the moment.

The aggregated GE15 responses for Scotland alone are shown in the chart and as can be seen the SNP is ahead. But the margin, 3%, is miniscule compared with what other forms were reporting a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately there is no comparative Populus data available for October to allow us to make comparisons.

You should note that Populus does tend to have the highest aggregate CON-LAB shares of all the pollsters and, consequentially, smaller shares for other parties which could impact on the SNP.

Whatever the red team will be delighted by this data and the Scottish seat calculations that put them on 28 MPs – 13 fewer than their current contingent from north of the border.

If this Populus data is on the right lines then the Labour chances of becoming top party nationally are a bit higher.

I’m told that we should see the December Scottish poll from Survation before Christmas which should allow us to track trends.

  • The updated SNP target list: Thanks to AndyJS for this excellent resource.
  • UPDATE: SNP lead in Scotland 4% in sub-sample in today’s Populus poll

    The latest GB figures with changes on last Friday are: Lab 36 (+1), Con 33 (=), LD 8 (-1), UKIP 15 (+1) GRN 4=. So very little movement.

    Mike Smithson

    2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


    If you think that GE2015 is getting hard to understand check out Martin Baxter’s battle-ground map

    Sunday, December 7th, 2014

    BGround (1)

    Martin Baxter, the ex-Cambridge University mathematiciion who has been running Electoral Calculus for two decades, has produced the above map that sets out the various outcomes and links them, based on party shares, to what could happen.

    I reproduce it above. In a technical note Martin writes:-

    ” Map only shows movement for the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties. It assumes the votes for other parties, including UKIP and the SNP, are fixed at current support levels. UKIP are not currently to predicted to win many seats, so they are not yet a factor in coalition permutations. Since other parties have 28% support nationally, the map is missing the top-right corner where the Conservative plus Labour total would be more than 72%.”

    I don’t think that Martin has factored in any constituency polling of which there has been a lot, particularly from Lord Ashcroft. This has, for instance, UKIP holding Clacton as well as winning Thurrock. He also has not factored in the higher retention rate that the LDs are seeing in Lord A’s polling.

    Whatever this is an excellent addition to our GE15 resources.

    Mike Smithson

    2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


    My special plea to those in the media responsible for commissioning opinion polls

    Sunday, December 7th, 2014

    The constant flow of GB-wide surveys is giving a distorted picture of what is going on

    Just about every day at the moment I find myself having to Tweet or write on PB that general elections are not decided by national party vote shares but by first past the post elections in 650 separate constituencies.

    This has never been the case more so than in what has for decades been regarded as Labour’s most important bastion – Scotland where 59 of those constituencies are.

    The demographic data suggests that Scotland represents just 8.68% of the total number of voters in a GB-wide sample. So if LAB, and this is being generous, has, lost to the SNP a third of those who voted for the party in May 2010 that accounts for just 1.2% of the GB-wide vote share.

      Yet in terms of seats that fall of 1.2% in GB vote share could be catastrophic for the red team maybe reducing its current contingent of 41 Scottish seats to fewer than 10.

    The surge in SNP support could be even more disastrous for the LDs who account for 11 of Scotland’s 59 MPs.

    Yet in spite of these huge developments there have been just three Scotland only three Westminster voting polls since the week of the IndyRef in mid-September. What could be totally re-shaping the UK political map is based on the views of just three thousand Scottish voters.

    We urgently need more Scotland-wide polls and we also need single constituency surveys to test whether some of the SNP surge is being tempered by the impact of incumbency and maybe anti-SNP tactical voting.

    We are promised some single seat Scottish surveys from Lord Ashcroft but this urgently needs to be supplemented by frequent Scotland-wide polls.

    In the meantime we get at least 8 GB polls a week. Cannot just part of that effort be diverted to Scotland?

    That is my plea.

    Mike Smithson

    2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


    The key target for the Tories – those LAB voters in the marginals who are satisfied with Dave and want him as PM

    Saturday, December 6th, 2014

    The data in the chart above is from the aggregate 12k sample from the latest batch of Lord Ashcroft CON held LAB facing marginals to be published. I’ve highlighted four key groups who could influence the election in the most important seats of all – CON defences against LAB.

    The other reason I’ve chosen this polling is the overall sample size which which means that we can look at subsets with greater confidence.

    Those polled were asked to rate ED vs Dave with four options:-

    “I am satisfied with the job David Cameron is doing overall as Prime Minister”

    “I am dissatisfied with the job that David Cameron is doing overall as Prime Minister – BUT I’d still prefer to have him as Prime Minister than have Ed Miliband as Prime Minister”

    “I am dissatisfied with the job that David Cameron is doingoverall as PrimeMinister AND I’d prefer to have Ed Miliband as Prime Minister instead.”


    Two things stand out: The fact that 22% of UKIP voters opted for Ed as PM and the quite high proportion of LAB voters who’d prefer Dave to remain at Number 10. The former look beyond the reach of CON campaigners but the latter could be promising provided this is handled right.

    The challenge is, of course, is that to the voting questions they said LAB and maybe party loyalty is more important than who is PM. If they were going to switch on leadership grounds wouldn’t they have done so already?

    Mike Smithson

    2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble