Archive for the ' General Election' Category

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The big and only real question is how the changes in the national mood are playing out in the marginals

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Have seats that were in LAB’s grasp now fallen away

There’s no doubt that this has been a dramatic polling week with apparently a move from LAB that is changing the long established view that the red team was heading for victory.

But these are national polls of 1,000 sample sizes for phone surveys and up to 2,000 for online ones.

    What we need to see before jumping to conclusions is whether the changes are also being seen in 75 or so seats that could change hand – the key battlegrounds.

General elections as I repeatedly observe are not decided by national party aggregate vote shares but by the outcomes in 650 separate constituency elections fought under first past the post.

Voters are not being asked to choose a Prime Minister or a party but an individual who will represent the area at Westminster. In some fights the personalities, popularity and overall voter appeal of the contenders will matter more than party branding.

All this is why in such a confusing national picture the single seat polling by Lord Ashcroft and others is becoming the best guide to GE15.

We see from the Ashcroft two stage voting intention questioning how things can shift sharply when those sampled are asked to think specifically about their own constituency. That fact alone should cause us to be more sceptical about the national surveys.

Lord Ashcroft is organising some Scottish seat polls as well as moving up the LAB target list to those that are less marginal. At some point the constituency polling will highlight a group of seats beyond LAB’s reach. We are not there yet.

To underline the scale of what Lord A is doing his last round of marginals involved telephone interviews with more people than Ipsos-MORI call in a year. And we are getting new batches every few weeks.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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Labour insider, Henry G Manson, on the changed mood within the movement about EdM

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

EdM comeback speech

The leader renews his vows with the party & role as underdog

The grassroots response to Ed Miliband’s recent leadership uncertainties showed more enthusiasm for his leadership than at any other time – including at the point of his election. While certain MPs were wobbling, the party’s foot soldiers and supporters were bashing out 60,000 tweets of support.

Yes, Labour folk are suckers for an underdog, but this felt different. There were reasons why they backed him. The stance on Murdoch, pledging to repeal the Health and Social Care Tax, getting rid of the bedroom tax, standing up to rip-off energy companies and so on. It was not a bad shopping list and it needs to be woven into something meaningful and memorable. More on that later*.

    What those dissenting MPs hadn’t bargained on was the membership rising so clearly to Ed Miliband’s defence. Previously the discussion has been about how the public would view a party that considered ditched its leader. Would possible gains be worth the blood spilt? What those plotters hadn’t factored in was the growing role of the Labour’s members.

Six months out from an election and you simply can’t afford to marginalise the people you’re banking on pounding the streets to win the seats. The members weren’t just defending their leader they were opposing the idea that unnamed MPs could fire their leader without their approval or consent.

Just prior to his election as leader I pointed out on these threads how worried I was that Ed would be elected through the college but not win the most votes among members. That’s hung over for him for a while but not any longer. His grassroots back him more than ever, the unions remain supportive and any prospect of a leadership change ended the moment Alan Johnson ruled himself out in any circumstances. How would Ed respond from all this? Business as usual? Well it seems things have changed.

Lucy Powell has now taken charge of the election campaign and is providing the authority it badly needed. She knows Ed’s mind better than anyone and unlike Douglas Alexander is trusted wholeheartedly. She’s already clearing the log-jams and creating a sense of order, pace and purpose that wasn’t previously there. She had mixed reviews when previously Ed’s Head of Office but now she’s an MP and Shadow Minister she’s a transformed politician with some authority. This could easily prove to be one of the most politically important of Ed’s appointments.

Jon Trickett’s involvement will give a dash of the Red Ed. Already we’ve seen the leader back firefighters and defending their retirement age . This hasn’t just cheered the workers involved (who aren’t affiliated to Labour any more) but has given a morale boost and nod to the other public sector workers who have faced a tough time from cuts. This is Ed siding with the underdogs and it’s where he’s most effective.

Some athletes simply aren’t suited to be front-runners. Same goes for horses and for politicians. Ed’s one of them. Labour’s poll lead under Ed often became a source of complacency, conservativism or inertia. Now there’s a real fight on I expect Labour to strike some radical and populist positions that wouldn’t have previously got an airing.

Ed Miliband’s speech today was important. It wasn’t just about making sense of a shopping list* but about getting a taste for the fight. Renewed from the last few weeks he is showing a focus and a hunger that at party conference seemed strangely lacking. Thankfully his Shadow Cabinet will be soon presented as an alternative government in waiting rather than hidden away as potential rivals to the spotlight. Can Ed kick on and win? He can if it’s sustained.

If the Tories underestimate Ed Miliband then they could make a costly mistake. David Cameron reminds me of stronger and slicker horse ‘War Admiral’ but in the last week Ed Miliband has shown he can become the smart and plucky ‘Seabiscuit’. As most of us who enjoy our racing know, underdogs can and do win and the Labour are united and up for the contest: see

Henry G Manson



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The “any other” government option on this new Betfair market is worth a punt

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

I’m betting on the final option on Betfair’s post GE2015 government market simply because of the massive uncertainty and how unlikely it is that either the red or blue teams will be able to govern on their own.

To take one example which would make me a winner is the DUP contingent of MPs. There maybe at least eight of them and they could be in a powerful position if current trends continue. They would exact a high price but they could provide a pathway to power.

Given the Scottish polling then it’s highly likely that the SNP will have many more MPs than the six of 2010. Could they be tempted, for the right deal, to be part of a London government? We don’t know.

The very fact that the LDs are likely to have far fewer MPs means that they alone might not have the numbers to partner with one of the main parties to create an overall majority.

UKIP look set to win some seats but that might not be enough for them, on their own, to take the Tories over the line.

So many possible combinations and so many ways that this bet could be winner.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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Extraordinarily both CON and LAB fall to new lows on the Betfair GE2015 market AT THE SAME TIME

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Another hung parliament is looking even more likely

The two charts above represent betting developments that have never happened before. Both the chances of a CON and a LAB majority at GE15 on the betting exchange have moved to new lows together.

This is a odd phenomenon. Normally if the blues collapse then the reds soar and vice versa. Now, with less than six months to go, both appear to have deep problems which will make it harder to put up convincing cases to the electorate next May.

With LAB it’s the continued angst about the leadership while amongst the Tories it is the opening up yet again of the European fault line that has been so corrosive for nearly a quarter of a century.

    All of this coupled with the rise of UKIP and the Greens make the general election even harder to predict. The public don’t like split parties or apparent weak leadership and we are in a remarkable state of flux.

The opportunity is surely there for UKIP or the Greens but neither have leaders capable of resonating amongst voters groups outside their own bases.

Add onto all of this we have the challenges created by the first past the post voting system in each of the 650 constituencies. We could see many MPs being returned with fewer than 30% of the votes in their own seats.

Watch this space!

Reminder. Next PB gathering Friday Nov 21 - the day after Rochester. Usual place - the Dirty Dicks pub in Bishopsgate opposite Liverpool Street station in London. From 1830

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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The opening prices on the GE2015 spread betting markets have LAB 18 seats ahead of CON but well short of a majority

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Now the betting can get really serious

For me political betting is about the spreads where things like commons seats are traded like stocks and share and where the more you are right the more you win.

For novices. On the morning of election day in 2010 you could have bought LAB at 222 seats with SportingIndex. They got 258 seats which mean that those who’s put place a bet at that level won the difference multiplied by their stake. In this case 36. Alas losses are calculated in the same way.

For some reason the spread firms have delayed getting their markets up this time and I am absolutely delighted that this popular betting option is now available.

The interesting, and potentially very rewarding bets, are buying/selling UKIP or SNP seats. I think that both are on the high side but I need to do some more analysis.

The Monday polls – UPDATED to include ICM



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Leading psephologist argues that likeability ratings are better predictor of voting behaviour than “best leader” questions

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

On this measure Ed is not far behind

One of the issues that the current Ed Miliband issue has brought out is what are the best form of leader ratings.

Prof Paul Whiteley, of University of Essex who ran BPIX, posted an interesting article last night suggesting that some of the standard measures like “best leader” might not be a good indicator of electoral outcomes.

“..Asking who is the best leader is a standard question used by a lot of pollsters to compare the party leaders. However, it is far from an ideal question because it tends to be biased towards the incumbent, regardless of whether they are Labour or Conservatives. The answers, therefore, can give a misleading picture of what people really think.

There is an alternative question which is much better. If you ask voters to provide a score out of ten on a likeability scale, where zero means that a respondent really dislikes a leader and ten means that they really like them, you get quite different results.

It turns out that likeability is closely associated with other desirable traits that a successful leader needs, such as being seen as competent, decisive, in touch with ordinary people and honest. More to the point, it is a powerful predictor of voting intentions and therefore a good guide to what people might do in the general election...”

Looking at the trend in leader likeability Whitley goes on:-

“.. Although Miliband’s score in September 2014 was 3.9, his score among Labour voters was 6.6. In that particular survey 35% of respondents were Labour voters with 33% Conservatives, 7% Liberal Democrats and 12% UKIP.

Labour voters gave Cameron a score of only 2.1 which does not suggest that large numbers of them are about to switch to the Conservatives because they find the prime minister attractive. This was the same score that Conservative voters gave Miliband, so the two leaders are equally disliked by the supporters of their rival parties..

I think that there’s a lot in Whiteley’ analysis. The key thing is, of course, to find the ratings that are the best predictor of how people will vote. Mrs. Thatcher, it will be recalled, was 21% behind James Callaghan as “best PM” three days before she led the Tories to victory in the 1979 general election.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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The Saturday night polling news starts to come out and it doesn’t look good for Ed

Saturday, November 8th, 2014

The Saturday rolling poll thread

This will be updated as info become available.



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It’s being reported that Salmond will try to make his come-back taking on Danny Alexander in Inverness

Saturday, November 8th, 2014

SNP 4/9 favoutite to oust Alexander in Inverness

How the seat voted at GE10

The extraordinary Inverness result from GE1992