Archive for the 'Labour' Category


David Herdson says the electoral battlefield has never favoured LAB so strongly

Saturday, April 19th, 2014

Is 35% Labour’s new bedrock support?

It’s better to be lucky than to be good, so the saying goes – and in politics, success or failure frequently turns on the timing of events over which those involved have little or no control: their luck, in effect.  What they make of that luck is a different matter.

To that end, the Lib Dems going into coalition with the Conservatives delivered Ed Miliband a very great slice of luck.  Not only did it enhance his own leadership prospects (a Con minority government would have been less stable and could easily have swung the Labour electorate behind his brother as a more proven option), but it led to the biggest voter realignment since the early 1980s; one that Labour benefitted greatly from.  Indeed, so great has been that shift that the question has to be asked whether it’s enough by itself to deliver him victory next year.

On some measures, Labour is performing very poorly.  Questions of leadership perception and economic competence consistently put Cameron or the Conservatives ahead.  Labour’s own voting intention rating has steadily drifted downwards from the mid-forties in 2012 to the mid- to high-thirties now.  Indeed, were it not for the Lib Dem to Lab switchers, Labour would be frequently polling in the twenties.  As the only major Westminster party opposing a government that’s been making cuts for four years, that’s shockingly poor.

Yet that current weakness demonstrates just how strong Labour’s underlying position is.  Gordon Brown polled disastrously in 2010: only once in the previous three-quarters of a century had his party received so few votes at a general election, and then only just – so those who did turn out for them must be a pretty firm base of pro-Labour support.  Add in the Lib Dem to Lab switchers – who seem well motivated against the parties of both Clegg and Cameron – and that base rises to around 35%: only just below where Labour is right now.

So the simple question is: can Labour actually fall any further?  Bar a point or two at most, the only way the figures could decline further is if other parties start eating into those who voted Labour in 2010, or into the Yellow-to-Reds – or if people from either of those groups sit it out altogether.  That’s not impossible: Labour in 1983 and the Conservatives in 2001 both went backwards after losing power, and from a weak starting point in the case of the Tories.  However, neither election was held in circumstances as favourable to the opposition as now.

    If Labour is at or near its new rock-bottom core support, then that puts it in an extremely strong position for 2015 given how that support is distributed (assuming a Scottish ‘No’ vote in September).  The Conservatives would need to poll well into the forties just to hold their current seats.

 That’s only really possible if UKIP’s support collapses and if it goes overwhelmingly Blue: two mighty big ‘if’s.  To look at it another way, is the improving economy really likely to switch many votes from Lab to Con when Labour’s hardly gained any swing voters from the Tories since 2010 anyway?

It could have been very different.  Had Cameron won enough extra seats to form a majority government – even one with a small majority – Clegg and the Lib Dems would never have become tainted to those on the left and it’s quite possible that Labour would be scrabbling with the Lib Dems for second place in the polls.  But that’s not what happened and the consequences of what did are that lucky Ed’s been handed a solid electoral coalition on a plate sufficient for him to cruise towards Downing Street.

David Herdson


Ed Miliband’s “No EU Referendum” move might be less of a gamble than it looks

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

What could have potency is “being denied a vote”

We are now just ten weeks away from the Euro Elections and today sees Ed Miliband make a speech in which, effectively, he rules out offering an referendum on whether the UK should stay IN or OUT.

This creates a clear dividing line with David Cameron and reinforces the Tory line that the only sure way of getting a referendum is by going blue.

Yesterday YouGov published its monthly EU referendum tracker which showed only for the second time that IN was ahead of OUT – a finding that got much wider coverage in the international media than in the UK. Looking at the detail the percentage wanting OUT remained the same. What changed was a 5% uplift in the STAY number from the don’t knows and won’t votes.

If YouGov is reading the public mood correctly then Miliband’s move has fewer risks for LAB than might have appeared. For all the pressure for a referendum has come from those who want out not those who want to remain.

    Until now almost all the pointers have been that the outcome of the vote would be OUT. If that appears not to be the case then it might take the edge of their enthusiasm for a referendum.

The finding could also help Nick Clegg who has positioned the LDs as the party of IN and, of course, he’s due to have his public debates with Nigel Farage. Maybe the niche market that Clegg was aiming for is larger than we think.

Where today’s announcement by the LAB leader could be risky is that it could be portrayed as wanting to deny giving voters a choice. That might have salience.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Tonight’s Opinium poll for the Observer sees the LAB share drop to lowest level since 2010

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

The LDs get best Opinium figures since 2011

The fortnightly online poll by Opinium for the Observer is out and sees the LAB lead down to 5% and the party with its smallest share with the firm since 2010.

The pollster is the only online firm not to have any political weighting which makes an interesting contrast with the other internet operators. It generally has high UKIP scores and low LDs ones. Back in July it had the yellows on 6% – the lowest with any firm since the 1990s.

This could be an outlier and, as ever, we need to see other numbers before coming to conclusions about trends.

Even though LAB would barely have a third of the GB vote Electoral Calculus points to a majority of 62 on these figures.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Newly published Ipsos-MORI polling finds fewer voters hostile to LAB than the other main parties

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

And there’s a whiff of good news for the LDs at the Euros

What I’ve found to be a fascinating piece of polling for the British Future think tank has just been published by Ipsos-MORI.

Rather than the conventional voting intention questions interviewees were asked for views of the four main national parties and whether they’d consider voting for them in both general elections and the Euros, general elections only, the Euros only, or whether they’d never consider voting for them.

    The big message is that there fewer anti-LAB voters out there than those opposed to the other three parties.

I’ve tried to extract the headline figures in the interactive chart above. Note that the don’t knows are excluded from the chart. So in the case of the Tories 26% said they’d vote for them in both elections, 7% said GE only, 3% said Euros only with 26% saying don’t know.

What’s not surprising is that UKIP do well for the Euros with 14% saying they’d consider supporting them in both sets of elections and a further 12% saying the Euros only.

Interestingly, given the way that the Lib Dems are planning to fight the May Euros 8% said they consider going yellow for those elections only. Clegg’s gamble on there being a specific niche market for being “the party of In” appears to be supported by these figures.

There’s lots of other data in the polling which I’ll probably return to. This post is about the headline figures.

  • Ipsos MORI interviewed 2,244 British online adults aged 16-75 between 6-11 December 2013. Interviews were conducted on Ipsos’ online panel. Data are weighted to the profile of the population.
  • Mike Smithson

    2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


    So far, at least, the intense Daily Mail campaign against Harriet Harman is not being reflected in the daily YouGov figures

    Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

    That is not to say that it won’t

    Today’s YouGov poll for the Sun sees LAB back at 39% the share at which it has been getting for months as the YouGov weekly average trend chart above shows.

    One of the dangers with all polling analysis is to confuse correlation with causation. Clearly many factors are at play all the time.

    There is also a view that I share that it can take time for big external events to show up in the polling so it might be that if the Harman issues are indeed having an impact it will take a little bit longer to show.

    Until now, of course, the coverage has largely been in the Daily Mail itself. That has changed with the moves yesterday and the story is being covered more widely elsewhere in the media.

    We know from Ipsos-MORI that Labour voters only make up a realively small share of the Daily Mail’s audience. See this chart of 2010 voting.

    Mike Smithson

    2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


    The Tories go on the offensive with a personal attack against Ed Miliband – but there are dangers with this approach

    Monday, February 24th, 2014

    And we’ve got more than 14 months to go

    I’m not convinced that the Tories have got this right. An attack like this has its dangers particuarly, I’d suggest, for Grant Shapps.

    We saw last autumn how the Labour leader was able to turn the Daily Mail attacks on Miliband’s father into a positive and that could happen this time.

    I’d have thought that the strongest CON card was the economy. Why not play that?

    Methinks this is a mistake.

    Mike Smithson

    2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


    YouGov, like Survation at the weekend, finds 61 percent back raising the tax rate for high earners to 50p

    Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

    But YouGov finds more people are opposed

    We’ve now got the second poll on the Ed Balls tax plan announced on Saturday. It’s from YouGov for today’s Times and finds 61% to 26% against. The detail hasn’t been published yes but the paper reports that LAB voters are overwhelmingly supportive, while 52% cent of CON supporters are opposed.45% think the move would help the economy, 19% say it would cause damage.

    Labour will be pleased that this key policy continues to poll well.

    Ed Balls himself, as can be seen in the video above, came under the Paxman spotlight last night. It is worth watching to see how Balls played it because this plan is gong to be a huge GE2015 issue.

    Meanwhile there was an interesting Twitter discussion on the ComRes 1% LAB lead poll with leading psephologist, Dr. Will Jennings of Southampton University, last night.

    I think Jennings is right. Polling methodologies will come under much greater scrutiny in the fifteen months that remain.

    Mike Smithson

    2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


    Time for the red team to push the panic button? LAB share down 4 and lead just 1pc in latest ComRes phone poll for the Indy

    Monday, January 27th, 2014

    And YouGov has lead down to 2%

    The monthly ComRes/Indy survey is one of just three monthly national polls remaining which use the telephone and its publication, usually at the end of the month, is always an occasion.

    The latest party shares with changes on December are in the chart above and as can be seen the big move has been LAB down 4 while UKIP has gone up by the same amount. The result is that Miliband’s party now hold a lead of just 1% over the Tories something that’s likely to cause the leadership concern.

    From a quick scan of all the polls the 33% LAB share appears to be the lowest for the party from any firm for three and a half years

      With any sharp movement like this we have to recognise that it could be an outlier. Last year three different pollsters at various times reported that LAB and CON were level-pegging only for the situation to revert to “normal” in following surveys.

    Outlier or not perhaps the one consolation for the red team is that it is UKIP and not the Tories which is the gainer. The two parties of government remain at the same level as last month.

    Even though on these numbers they would have fewer than one third of the votes cast and lead by one the Electoral Calculus seat predictor gives LAB 327 seats – an overall majority of 4.

    At time of writing this post I had not seen the detailed data but it does appear that UKIP is now starting to hurt LAB quite seriously. It appears as though Farage’s party is picking up sizeable chunks of the white working class vote.

    Mike Smithson

    2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble