Archive for the 'Guest slot' Category


Electoral analysis: The art of changing boundaries

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Antifrank looks at the art of changing boundaries

In my last post I spent some time looking at the likely impact of the impending boundary changes on the numbers of seats in different regions and the potential impact on the seat numbers of different parties.  In this post I shall look at how the detail of the boundary review might assist or hinder the different parties.

National party strategic considerations

In the boundary commission review in the mid-1990s the Conservatives were widely expected to benefit from the review.  It didn’t work out that way: the 1997 election was of course a landslide for Labour. What happened?

To answer this, we need to think about what the parties need.  They will simultaneously wish to:

1) Maximise their current notional seat count

2) Maximise their chances of taking new seats

3) Minimise their chances of losing seats

4) Keep incumbents happy

But these aims are inconsistent, so the parties will need to choose which are most important to them.  This will vary for each party.

Right now the Conservatives are fairly content with how things stand.  They have an overall majority on a lead of 6.5% of the national vote share.  They will retain power, however, only if they have a substantial seat lead over Labour so they need to ensure first of all that the smallest possible poll lead will produce the most seats possible.  If they go below that level they’re expecting defeat anyway so the margin of defeat is less important than maximising the chances of success at or above that level.

Labour, by contrast, are already in a losing position.  The current shares of votes are unacceptable to Labour and they need to plan on the basis that they are going to do better.  They will want to ensure that small improvements in their vote share will result in as many extra seats as possible.

From Labour’s perspective a reduction in their notional seat count now following a boundary review may not necessarily be bad news if the result is to bring the possibility of winning more seats in play in 2020 should their vote share improve.  They shouldn’t be planning on the basis of their current vote share: that is a losing proposition, as we saw in May.

For example, York Central and York Outer are respectively a safe Labour and safe Conservative seat.  If they were combined and then divided on a homogeneous basis, the Conservatives would have two marginal seats that would both fall on a swing of just over 3% to Labour.  Labour might conclude that such a reorganisation might suit them if they were working on the basis that a swing of 3% was the minimum that they were targeting.

So each party needs to identify a vote share that they regard as the minimum acceptable and then take positions on the boundary review with that in mind.  There is no point in Labour seeking to give up a seat in the manner described above if it is not going to be recouped on a smaller swing than that presently required for their target number of gains.  And there is no point in the Conservatives seeking a redistricting that results in a notional gain on current vote shares if it makes retaining power on a slightly lower vote share harder.

Selling the strategy to incumbents may on occasion prove difficult and that cannot be overlooked.  In particular, the Conservatives want to get the boundary changes through if they can since it will in general benefit them.  So they don’t want to upset incumbents unduly: they have a vote on the matter.  It may be better to get an arrangement that isn’t the very best for the national party if it is decent enough and keeps an incumbent happy.

As for the best tactic for each party in a given area, much will depend on the detail of local voting patterns.

Developing strategy into tactics

But some general tactics are apparent.

For now, let’s work on the basis that the reduction in seats to 600 takes place.  Based on the national total of registered voters in the May 2015 of 46,425,476, that would produce a range of possible seat sizes of 73,508 to 81,244 registered voters with a par of 77,376 voters.

In the south of England, Labour’s weakness actually simplifies their strategy.  Some seats will look likely to drift out further of Labour’s reach as a result of the reduction in seat numbers and these strict limits on seat sizes – larger seats will generally favour the party that is dominant in the area still further.

The process will be uneven.  For example, on the general election registered voter numbers Cambridgeshire and Suffolk would be due an additional seat between them even with a seat reduction from 650 to 600.  Meanwhile, Peterborough is below the minimum number of registered voters so it will need to take on more rural (and presumably Conservative-voting) voters from an adjoining constituency.  Ipswich, another constituency where Labour has a keen interest, is likely to suffer the same fate, being a constituency only just above the minimum threshold for registered voters in a county which elsewhere has oversized constituencies.

But some seats where Labour are interested will actually need to be reduced in size.  In more populous seats in which Labour have some strength, like Watford and Waveney, Labour will be looking to shed outlying rural districts from the constituency which will be presumed to be more Conservative in the hope of creating a Labour seat.

In less populous adjacent constituencies with Labour strength, Labour will seek to construct a new seat which takes the best of their support from both.  The tactics here can be trickier.  Both Luton seats are undersized.  Do Labour seek to have the core made into a single seat, accepting the loss of a single seat but creating a single Labour stronghold, or do they accept the attachment of large rural areas to each in the hope of getting both but risking losing both?  Given their current seat tally, they need to take the chance, I think.  This gives the concept of political betting a whole new meaning.

Minor problems

So far I have mainly looked at Labour/Conservative turf wars in the south.  But the smaller parties need to watch out.  For example, the Conservatives will be keen to disrupt UKIP so far as possible.  It would be utterly unsurprising if the Conservatives proposed an arrangement in Essex which left the current Clacton constituency bisected, halving the effect of Douglas Carswell’s formidable incumbency and swamping both new constituencies with Conservative voters.  His existing constituency is going to need some adjustment, being underweight in registered voters, and the Conservatives will want to make it as difficult as possible for him.

I expect that Labour will have similar thoughts about Brighton Pavilion and may well seek to despatch Caroline Lucas by providing her with a new cohort of Labour voters to challenge her grip on her seat or partitioning the seat out of existence.  And both main parties may well seek to partition isolated Lib Dem constituencies like Southport, Sheffield Hallam, North Norfolk and Leeds North West.  Even as the electorate becomes less and less inclined to vote for one of the two main parties, the minor parties will find it harder to get or keep Parliamentary representation.

Major problems

By means such as those I described above, Labour managed in the mid-1990s to get a boundary review that actually worked against the Conservatives by bringing into play seats that would not previously have fallen on a landslide. Might such tactics work again?  It would be much harder this time, as can be illustrated with four pictures:

AF 1 AF 2 AF 3 AF 4
In these four areas, Labour have over 100 seats in solid blocks.  All four blocks will suffer substantial reductions in seats under the review. If the seat count is reduced to 600, three of the 18 Labour seats in Birmingham and the Black Country, one of the four Labour north east Welsh seats, two of the 18 English Labour seats in and around Merseyside, two of the 22 Labour seats in and around Manchester, three of the 26 Labour seats in the north east and four of the 19 Labour South Wales seats look set to go.  That’s nearly a third of the seat count reduction accounted for already (and the seven seat reduction in Scotland and two seat reduction in Northern Ireland will do the Conservatives no harm either, taking us up to 24 seats lost from Parliament without the Conservatives having to leave the sofa).

The chances of offloading any of these 15 seat losses in Labour heartlands onto other parties looks limited, given the solid nature of these Labour blocks, painstakingly built over a generation.  Labour will be doing well if it avoids a dozen notional seat losses in their heartlands before they get started.


A reduction in seat count to 600, if achieved, is likely to benefit the Conservatives nationally considerably.  It would be bad for Labour and particularly bad for the Lib Dems, with serious challenges for both the Greens and UKIP.  Each party would need to think carefully about how best to protect their position, bearing in mind what they are trying to achieve in 2020 rather than focussing on what the reorganisation would mean in the context of the May 2015 result.

But will it be achieved?  Conservative incumbents are going to need a lot of reassurance before they are going to feel able to support it because their seats are likely to be chopped and changed a lot.  That process of reassurance hasn’t started yet.  The Conservatives need to decide whether they want to try to get this through.  If they do, they need to start laying the ground right away.



Antifrank compares 2015 to 1992

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

We spend much time looking at the most recent developments.  But every now and then it is profitable to stand back and look at longer term trends.  That is most easily done by comparing elections which produced quite similar overall results and then looking at the detail.  The 1992 and the 2015 election results are sufficiently similar overall to make that a valuable exercise.  Except in Scotland.

The overall result in 2015 was as follows: Con 330 Lab 232 SNP 56 Lib Dem 8 Plaid Cymru 3 UKIP 1 Green 1 Speaker 1 Northern Irish parties 18

The result in 1992 was as follows: Con 336 Lab 271 Lib Dem 20 Plaid Cymru 4 SNP 3 Northern Irish parties 17 (The outgoing Speaker had retired).

As you can see, the Conservatives tallied much the same seat count in both elections, Labour did considerably better in 1992, as did the Lib Dems, while the SNP went from nowhere to third place.  For Lib Dems surveying these two election results, it must feel like clogs to clogs in five elections.  They have fewer seats now than they had then. The only seat held in both elections is Orkney & Shetland.

Let’s start with the big point of difference, Scotland.  In 1992, the SNP were nowhere.  They had fewer seats than Plaid Cymru.  It is easy to forget, but the Conservatives as well as Labour and the Lib Dems had substantial seat numbers in Scotland.  A generation on and the landscape is unrecognisable.

Scotland’s seat count has declined by 13, reducing its numerical significance in Parliament even as demands for independence and further devolution have catapulted up the political agenda.  And the SNP have effectively wiped the other three parties off the map.  In the same period, Plaid Cymru have gone nowhere.

This is, of course, a disaster for Labour who at a stroke have lost a large block of MPs.  They will either need to be recovered or replaced elsewhere.  Right now, the latter looks much more achievable.

 If we look at just England and Wales, the results converge:
1992 Con 325 Lab 222 Lib Dem 11 Plaid Cymru 4
2015 Con 329 Lab 231 Lib Dem 7 Plaid Cymru 3 UKIP 1 Green 1 Speaker 1

These results are as close as you will ever get any two election results.  So substantial differences in the detail will have real meaning.

There were 11 more seats in England and Wales in 2015 than in 1992. But the distribution of the seats has been uneven. Despite the rapid population growth of London, there are 11 fewer seats in greater London now than in 1992 (the newcomers must in large part be non-voting immigrants). There are five fewer seats in the north west and the north east combined than in 1992 (regional boundaries were a little different then).

Meanwhile, there are seven extra seats in the south west, four extra seats in the east midlands, an extra seat in the west midlands, two extra seats in Wales and 13 extra seats in the south east and east. The seats have been accumulating in more Tory-friendly areas over the last 24 years.

And this is the real story. Labour are not taking fewer seats now than in 1992 in the south. They took ten seats in the south west, the south east outside London and the east in 1992 and 12 seats in the same areas in 2015. But the Conservatives, benefiting from this southwards drift of population, are taking 20 more seats in these areas. Labour’s failure to find a message for southern England is becoming ever more damaging to their chances.

We see the same picture in the east midlands, where Labour have the same seat tally as in 1992 but the Conservatives have gained ground, pocketing all the increase in seat count in the area. Only the west midlands have decisively swung away from Labour.

In Wales, Labour have lost a quarter of its vote share in under 25 years (and 40% of its vote share since 1966).  So far it has not significantly affected its seat count, though it is drifting down, because the rest of the vote is still more fragmented with the rise of UKIP.  But Labour looks vulnerable in Wales in the longterm if this trend continues.  The example of Scotland should be fresh in their minds.

If Labour have underperformed in these areas relative to 1992, there are areas of outperformance too. They have increased their stranglehold on the north east and the north west, getting four more seats in these regions even with a reduced seat count to aim at. Most strikingly, they have conquered London, holding 60% of the seats now as opposed to the 40% of seats that they held in 1992.  But again, there are fewer seats in London than there once was.

It is anachronism to refer to the Core Cities in 1992, since this grouping of the largest cities outside London was only set up in 1995.  Labour always found strength in the larger English cities, but Labour have strengthened their position in the English areas now covered by that grouping still further.

In 1992, the seats in what is now covered by the Core Cities in England divided as follows: Labour: 82 Con: 31 Lib Dem: 2

Now, the split is:Labour: 83 Con: 16 Lib Dem: 3

The seat count in the Core Cities in England has declined, but Labour are getting ever closer to a whitewash.  55% of all Labour seats are now found in an English Core City or in London.  The perspective of the average Labour MP may be unhealthily influenced by concerns of constituencies that are not particularly representative.Wherever they have strengthened over the last 23 years, Labour are getting a larger slice of a smaller cake. Meanwhile, the Conservative-dominated areas of England have gained seats, benefiting the Conservatives by default. Labour risk being on the wrong side of longterm demographic trends.

There is another way of looking at this.  Twice at low ebbs Labour have been reduced to nominal seat counts in the rural south, but in better times in the interim they have picked up a lot more seats in those areas.  They simply need to rediscover that art.

Even in good times, however, the Conservatives have found themselves progressively squeezed further out of their weaker areas and are losing London.  Labour have an immediate demographic problem but the Conservatives have a much more enduring demographic problem.  Their room for further progress is limited unless they can unlock more seats in areas that have been turning their backs on them for a generation.

Meanwhile, the distance that they could fall is much greater.  George Osborne is developing policies such as the Northern Powerhouse to appeal to the Core Cities.  Will they be enough?  We shall see, but I doubt it.  Both main parties are facing longterm trends that should trouble them deeply


Antifrank is a long standing contributor to PB and blogs at News To No One, where this piece first appeared.


Guest Slot from Peter the Punter: Matthew and Peter Go To The Seaside – with a Marf cartoon

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Clacton doesn’t look like being the most exciting of elections.

Matthew Shadwick [Shadsy] of Ladbrokes was kind enough to invite me along on a visit to the scene of one of tomorrow’s by-elections. I wondered whether he might need help collecting a flood of money, or maybe he just wanted some company while he stood outside the firm’s shop on Pier Avenue with his board optimistically offering odds of 1/50 UKIP, 14/1 Conservative and 33/1 Labour. We’d arranged to meet at 10.30 am. I got there at midday and still felt it was an hour too soon. There was a queue of about a dozen people, but that was for the bus. The driver was taking rather more money than Shadsy.

On the way I’d asked directions from a couple carrying UKIP boards. No, they couldn’t help; they were strangers here too. The locals looked disinterested. Even the seagulls looked bored.

Over a leisurely lunch we discussed the contrast with Newark where there was a lively atmosphere and a steady stream of (ultimately unsuccessful) UKIP backers. Perhaps the re-election of Douglas Carswell in UKIP colours is just too much of a foregone conclusion. Perhaps too little rides on the outcome. Perhaps the voters of Clacton just don’t like that kind of thing. They couldn’t even be tempted by Shadsy’s generous offer of 25/1 against Charlotte Rose [Independent] to beat the LibDems. “I mean, if she can’t beat the LibDems, who can she beat?”

We caught sight of the Sky TV crew, leaving early. A local MP, down in support of Giles Watling [Conservative], kindly spared us some time but was unable to offer any insights, or even a bet. Labour was nowhere to be seen.

On the way home I passed the UKIP offices, festooned with Carswell banners. It looks like tomorrow will be a coronation. What will be his vote share? Ladbrokes go 11/8 against 50-60%, 5/2 60-70%, 11/4 40-50%. Yesterday gave no clues as to where the value lies.

Turnover at Under 50% might be a bet. Shadsy will give you evens. I see from my betting notes that I went for Over, back in August when the market, like the weather, was a good deal warmer.

All right, we all make mistakes.

Peter the Punter


Corporeal looks at electoral precedent

Monday, September 29th, 2014

The next election result is likely to be a strange one, as the following Ipsos-Mori tweet alludes to

(On a follow up tweet they noted that it should read no majority government, Wilson’s calling of a swift 2nd election in 1974 produced a small uptick for him).

Indeed if all those rules are fulfilled it might be the weirdest result of all (the Conservatives losing votes but dramatically improving their efficiency of transferring them into seats, the greater number of Lib-Con seats might help with that, but unlikely to be enough).

So much of our image of natural politics is seen through the last 70 years, 1945 might as well be year zero for the dividing line it is used as for meaningful historical comparisons. Historical facts like these are sometimes trotted out, ranging from the useful to the interesting to the extremely tenuous.

Perhaps over time we’ll come to see the post-war years as if not an anomaly, just one more period of British politics rather than the natural definitive state.

‘England does not love coalitions’ is the famous and (since 2010) commonly quoted declaration by Disraeli, which is a quote that doesn’t bear up to much scrutiny.

(In place of scrutiny I’ve put together a cheap bar chart, see end of article for proper scrutiny)

In 1918 Margot Asquith faced with a divided Liberal party, one half in Coalition with the Conservatives and a nascent Labour party, wrote that things would be better as soon as we get back to “normal politics”. Obviously the situation had shifted and normal politics never came back.

A few years back Iain Mclean wrote an excellent piece delving more deeply into the coalitions in the UK that I’d encourage people to read or re-read by clicking here. (That’s the good scrutiny I mentioned earlier)



Corporeal on constitutional reform

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

If there’s a consistent tradition in British constitutional reform, it’s a philosophy of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” (and usually to make the fix a patch up of the specific problem, or what Toby Fenwick dubbed an ‘inelegant fudge’). If you wanted to squeeze it into a metaphor (always fun) then it is a long-standing mansion. Ancient in parts, with extensions and alterations added through the years.

Bits have been built, rebuilt, done up knocked down, expanded, downsized, redecorated and re-purposed as the needs of the inhabitants have changed. But the traces of history are plain to see, and how some things are only makes sense if you realise where they came from. A group of Americans may have gone from a blank sheet of parchment to blueprint of government within months (which has of course been revised since), but perhaps modern politicians might envy them the clarity of their starting point.

Reform has usually been a response to a crisis rather than the result of a peacetime re-evaluation of theoretical principles. One of the problems of the Yes to AV campaign was that it was a solution that didn’t have a problem that was really resonating on any great level. Elections to the House of Lords show generally positive polling but there isn’t exactly a clamour for it to be on the immediate agenda (it’ll be interesting to see if what might well be an even more disproportionate result in GE2015 will change that at all).

I tentatively subtitled this post the obligatory devolution thread (since everyone else has one, and got quite attached to “Devolution – keeping up with the McJoneses”), we might actually have a constitutional crisis in a deeper sense than dramatic headlines. Calls of English votes for English laws are starting to rumble in the shires (in the interest of full disclosure this is a wild bit of figurative language to refer to England rather than a study of regional sub-samples). This is not primarily driven by a principle of whether MPs should vote on things that don’t directly affect their constituency, which falls apart (or rather spreads to the horizon) as soon as you open it up. It’s an inevitable result of the current electoral system of small FPTP constituencies. Inner-city MPs vote on rural policy, MPs that represent constituencies many miles from the sea have their voice heard on coastal matters. Such is the way of things.

The force behind the West Lothian question is not that political principle, but a sense of injustice and inequality. After being subjected to a loud debate on the need for more powers for Scotland (with a much quieter bit of background music about Wales) there is a feeling of a left behind and overlooked England, similar to the feelings that drove devolution in the first place.

The traditional strategy has been to fix each problem as it comes or, if you feel more charitable, to tailor the solution to those it will affect. What is the point, after all, of looking to empower people through devolution if they oppose the form it takes. So the various parts of the UK have had power devolved in different ways and at different paces. This is true in terms of Wales and Scotland, but also London and the areas that voted yes to directly elected mayors. Cornwall has attempted to tunnel upwards to devolution via a unified Cornwall Council. Northern Ireland operates almost in its own context. But with each tailored solution you increase the uneven and untidy nature of the overall picture.

The planned Labour solution to the growing disparity was regional assemblies across England, resulting in some at least vaguely uniform sized set-ups alongside the Celtic Nations. A heavy defeat in the North East referendum stopped that plan in its tracks, alongside plans for two further referendums. One wonders what would’ve happened if a successful referendum in another region had happened first, would things have turned out the same or like elected mayors would we have had some regions claiming devolutionary power while others rejecting it?

What this would have given us is an extension of what Westminster now is which is a sort of government of the gaps, a polyfilla parliament filling in the unevenly shaped places between the powers that have departed to Brussels, Edinburgh, etc (although that image probably understates Westminster’s level of power somewhat).

For that matter was the North East defeat an opposition to devolution altogether, regional devolution itself, or just the particular form that the assembly was proposed to take. Referendum results always come in such a vaguely specific form that they leave a lot of gaps to interpret them.

Is the rejection of one region sufficient to kill the entire scheme for a generation? Will we hold other schemes to the same standard?

That leaves space for the resurrection of regional assemblies which has been floated in some quarters, a solution that prizes tidiness over tailoring, and political preferences over popular will (well, maybe, depending how you interpret those results).

On a grander scale an English parliament to sit alongside the other national bodies has some apparent symmetry to it. But the sheer size and dominance of England within the UK creates the potential for other conflicts. With significant issues devolved an English parliament would rise to be a competitor to the UK parliament, and have a potentially destabilising dominance over what remains of the Union.

Is more politicians something you can sell to the public, the infographics of “this could pay for…” pretty much write themselves. Abolish the Lords, reduce the number of MPs (that’ll be a fun vote), could we be ready for the Great Constitutional Convention (fulfilling the dreams of wonks) called for by Miliband and Clegg (after the election of course) and once and for all (until something else crops up) line up a clear vision of government in Britain from parish hall to palace of Westminster.

Or we could, you know, work through a few options to restrict voting rights at various stages of a bill in the House of Commons, overlook having various different classes of MPs (and depending on how hard or soft you want to make the restrictions this could lead to a lesser version of the conflicts an English parliament would have, alongside the technical decisions of what each could vote on, and who makes those decisions). Tweak your way around problems as they come.

This is because ultimately the importance to people is not the technicalities of comparative devolution, it is once more a matter of identity politics combined with a feeling of unfairness and a sense that something must be done. The force of there being a problem is there, now politicians will try to ride that into their something being its outlet.

So, anyone for fudge?



Guest Slot: All publicity is good publicity? Maybe not when Ed Miliband is on TV

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

UK General Elections, we are told have become increasingly presidential. And how each party leader comes across, particularly on Television, is important. Ed Miliband has faced criticism for his style and communication skills – It’s probably fair to comment that he’s not a natural TV performer. But what if it’s slightly worse than that? What if his television appearances have, overall, a slight negative effect on Labour’s vote share in the polls?

We should look at the evidence – What is the effect of Ed Miliband being on Television, overall?

There are 2 parts to this. First, Labour’s vote share in the polls. This is easy to track, and the data is freely available. How do we measure “Ed Miliband Television Time”? This is not obvious, without access to expensive media databases. We can however, use a proxy. It’s clumsy and it’s crude, but it might serve as a guide overall.

Sky News keep their main stories in a searchable archive.

You can search for stories featuring “Miliband” and see how many you get for given day.

Like with this link

We can see how many stories Sky News has archived, searchable by “Miliband”, on a given day.

This generates a fairly “noisy” sample. But if we look at the 3-line summary of each story, we can count the ones that explicitly feature “Miliband” in the summary.

This lets us focus on the stories that feature Ed Miliband prominently, rather then Labour generally. A quick scan of the stories suggests that this might be a useable if crude proxy for “Ed Miliband on Television” – The stories are concentrated at times when Ed Miliband is on the news, either “intentionally” – when he has a big-ticket press conference or announcement – or when he’s naturally part of the story, such as the Falkirk scandal.

It’s only one channel, but Sky News coverage will tend to correlate with coverage from other TV channels. And it’s a written archive, not an actual TV archive, but it will still broadly match TV Coverage. So, we can tabulate Ed Miliband’s high-profile Sky News appearances

Let’s look at the Sun You Gov polling of Labour’s vote share – 4 samples a week.

Every time Ed is reported on Sky News, we’ll give the message a day to sink in, then we’ll look at the You Gov Polling starting in 2 days (You Gov generally poll over 2 days, so we’re looking at the first day of polling, not the publication day).

Our Polls are only available 4 days a week, and many days will show no change in Labour share – So we need to fill in the blanks. We can attribute for every single day, a value “CurrentOrPendingPollChange” – So on any given day, we can say what the next change in the polls will be, when it comes. “Current” if it’s today, pending if it’s the next change.

In the Spreadsheet (click here to view the spreadsheet), we can see the effect on the polling 2 days later.

And of the 80 days that ED was mentioned, the effect on Labours Polling 2 days later was

“Current Or Next Poll Change Positive:” 34

“Current Or Next Poll Change Negative:” 46

So – does this mean anything? It’s not anything like conclusive, but it does add weight to the suggestion that Ed M on television has more often, a negative rather than positive effect on Labour’s share of the vote.

If we accept that (and it’s a big “if”), it must give Labour something to think about with less that a year to the GE.




Guest Slot: Rod Crosby: The bell tolls for Labour and Miliband

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Last week Labour beat the Tories in the local elections by just 1%, according to the Rallings and Thrasher NEV (national equivalent voteshare) calculation. This is the last set of locals before the general election. Is there anything we can divine from this performance?

Yes, it looks like Labour will be soundly defeated next year. The following graph tells the tale (general elections bordered in white).

We see that, going back to 1979, no party with such a minuscule lead has gone on to win. In fact Michael Howard, William Hague and Neil Kinnock all performed better in the local elections than Ed Miliband, but still lost.

The winners, Thatcher, Blair and Cameron, all had leads in excess of 5% in their last local elections as Leader of the Opposition, and had all built consistent and solid leads greater than 15%-20% during the mid-term locals. Miliband’s NEV lead scorecard is pathetic in comparison… -1%, +6%, +4%, +1% …

Taking a more statistically robust regression of the average NEV lead while in Opposition against subsequent General Election performance, Labour are forecast to lose by 8.4% next year, as can be seen in the following graph (the large red blob).

Is this a wild forecast? Hardly. It is broadly in accord with the Lebo and Norpoth PM approval model and Stephen Fisher’s polling model, among others. And as we know, polling ‘crossover’ has come early for Labour, a full year before the election. Barely avoiding third place (in England by a cat’s whisker) in the Euros offers little comfort to Labour. Neither does them underperforming 9 out of 10 of the final polls when it came to real votes cast.

So it seems clear now – the Tories are set to win most votes, probably most seats and have an outside, but not insignificant chance of a majority in 2015.

Rod Crosby


Harry Hayfield: YouGov have had their say, now it is my turn

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Since the start of the year, I have been tracking all the polls that have been published about the Euros and taking sage advice from Mike’s postings about polling companies not prompting for the Greens and taking in account all the discussions about what “An Independence from Europe” may have on UKIP, I have come to the following conclusion. It’s too darn close to call.

European Elections 2014 Forecasts

Based on all the polls, I am having a very hard time separating Labour and UKIP so agree with YouGov that come Sunday night we are in for a humdinger of a night, however I disagree on the number of MEP’s elected

European Elections 2014 Forecasts

I believe that Labour will just have the edge winning 21 MEP’s, the Conservatives will see 20 MEP’s returned and UKIP will have 19 MEP’s elected, but whichever way you look at it the “Party of IN” is going to wish that it was “OUT” with the prospect of not only finishing behind the Greens in terms of share of the vote but also having fewer MEP’s than the Greens.

European Elections 2014 Forecasts

So there we have the forecast both national and by region, in other words a triumph for UKIP (even if they do come second in terms of popular vote), a disaster for the Liberal Democrats and (if these forecasts hold) a bit of a niggle for the mainstream parties and they face an electorate ahead of the general election next year who are liable to say “Push off, you’re all the same!”

Other MEP’s elected: SNP 3 (+1), Greens 3 (+1), Plaid Cymru 1 (n/c), An Independence from Europe 1 (+1)

Harry Hayfield