Archive for the 'Labour' Category


Henry G Manson’s 33-1 Sadiq for Mayor tip is looking better and better

Friday, January 30th, 2015

You can still get 4/1 on him for the nomination

Back in March 2013 Henry G Manson tipped Sadiq Khan to be next London Mayor when the price was 33/1. Henry’s record on Labour matters is usually pretty good and I was amongst many who got on at that price.

Henry’s reasoning was that Khan had, at the time, just been made Labour’s shadow minister or London – a role that would allow him real links with all parts of the party in the capital and a platform to build up his profile.

In last May’s elections Labour’s biggest success was in London and Khan got much of the credit.

Until now Sadiq hasn’t really registered in the regular Evening Standard YouGov London polls but that has now changed with the latest survey. He’s made a big jump as the favoured candidate of London party supporters and now stands just 7% behind Tessa Jowell who probably enjoys greater name recognition. Coverage like that in the latest Standard is going to further Khan’s position.

You can get 4/1 from William Hill on him winning the party nomination and 6/1 as next Mayor. The latter looks particularly tasty.

Once again well done Henry for his advice.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


First Scottish GE2015 poll of the year finds LAB closing the gap behind the SNP to just 10%

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

The worst poll for the SNP for more than 3 months

This morning we have what is undoubtedly the most important poll so far of this general election year – a new survey by Panelbase of Scottish voting intentions which has the Scottish LAB party in its best position since just after September’s IndyRef.

As can be seen in the Wiki list of Scotland only polls LAB is on 31% and the SNP on 41%. The last time Panelbase reported the gap was 17%. SNP hopes of holding the balance of power at Westminster could be a bit less likely.

    What makes Scotland so important is that at the last general election LAB took 41 of the 59 Westminster seats north of the border and some polls last year pointed to them losing 30+ of them even down to just 3 or 4

On some projections the Panelbase numbers point to LAB retaining half. Clearly any Scottish losses by LAB would have to be offset by more gains in England and Wales

What we have not had but are likely to see very soon are some Scottish single constituency polls. Lord Ashcroft Tweeted a few days ago that these were “in the field” and hopefully it won’t be too long before the findings become available.

National polls like this from Panelbase are one thing but single seat surveys can show what could be hugely important – incumbency and tactical voting element in individual seats.

If Panelbase is supported by other surveys then it is big news for LAB. This has almost no impact on the main CON-LAB battleground although projections from today’s numbers could point to the Tories doubling their total of Scottish MPs from one to two.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Henry G Manson on Tony Blair’s criticism of Miliband’s election strategy

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Labour could win a different way in 2015

Tony Blair has not offered Ed Miliband the same courtesy It is a sign of desperation that Blair has intervened publicly with The Economist in this way. His ‘wing’ of the party is a ragged mess. Many closest supporters and former ministers are no longer MPs, a leadership contest that should have been a shoo-in for David Miliband was lost while Jim Murphy in Scotland showing any sign of political yet faces a struggle against the nationalists. Aspiring Labour parliamentary candidates either keep their distance from the Progress group which promotes New Labour policies.

    Since 1997 the myth that only a New Labour government could be elected has been carefully promoted and perpetuated. The fact a social democratic John Smith-led Labour Party was heading to a solid working majority in 1994 has been buried on the isle of Iona with him.

Blair befriended media owners leading to ridiculous the scenario of the former Labour leader being ‘garbed in white’ on the bank of the River Jordan to be godfather to Rupert Murdoch’s daughter. In contrast Ed Miliband took direct aim at News International during the phone hacking scandal and its ‘sense of immunity’.

Blair’s record as Prime Minister is continually being re-evaluated by events. The decision of Brown to prevent Blair’s government from joining the Eurozone has been vindicated. The free movement of labour throughout the European Union has helped fuel the rise of UKIP and increased the real risk of an EU exit. Over in the USA the President which Blair stood shoulder to shoulder with in going to war in Iraq was replaced by a Democrat who was against the war and defeated the Clinton machine and approach. While Blair urged the West to militarily intervene in Syria, the UK pulled back as a result of Labour and public opposition.

Here lies the threat of Ed Miliband to Tony Blair. Labour’s leader stands very close to showing that it is possible to win without the New Labour playbook. This will have serious implications for Blair as a relatively young ex-Prime Minister who still seeks to influence events. An Ed Miliband victory will end any sense that Blair is the guardian of some secret code to a Labour election victory and will limit his ability to anoint a future leader (currently in the form of Chuka Umunna). As soon as it is accepted that there is more than one way for Labour to win it could lead to a more critical reassessment of Blair’s tenure and squandering of political capital from two giant parliamentary majorities. The radical policies of Cameron in spite of failing to secure a majority already cast those first two terms in a different light.

In many ways it is entirely rational for Tony Blair to want Ed Miliband to lose. His stake in Britain is limited. It’s hard to feel empathy for the working poor of Peterborough while aboard a billionaire’s yacht in the Mediterranean. By intervening in this way Blair further erodes the support of those in the Labour party who were proud of what Labour achieved under his leadership. It is strange, unedifying and sad to watch a leader who preached the importance of party loyalty now sniping from the sidelines. It is indeed a sign of Blair’s weakness not his strength. If Ed wins in May it won’t just be David Cameron who is defeated, but Tony Blair’s reputation will suffer as Labour shows there is another way to win.

Henry G Manson


Jim Murphy wins Scottish Labour leadership election with 56% of votes on first round

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

I like the way in his first Tweet Murphy has shaped the battle with the SNP – is the prize a fairer Scotland or Independence. It’s a powerful message but he and his party are a long way behind.

Given the polling there’s a huge burden on his shoulders and Labour must be hoping that he can turn the situation round. Every seat that Scottish LAB can claw back reduces the target for the party in England and Wales.

Let’s hope there is some new post-Murphy election Scottish polling.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Marf’s response to the other big political story this morning

Friday, November 21st, 2014

LookingaheadtoBoston (1)


Survation poll for the Mirror showing LAB 4% ahead could take some of the pressure off Ed

Friday, November 7th, 2014

UKIP now within just 3% of the Tories

Although Survation has become a major part of the UK polling scene since GE10 its standard Westminster voting surveys are only a small part of its output. Today, however, there’s a new poll for the Daily Mirror which could provide some relief for the Ed Miliband camp under siege after a day of leadership speculation.

The 4% LAB margin is the biggest in any poll since YouGov recorded a 7% lead nearly a month ago. The last Survation national poll in early October had LAB and CON level-pegging.

Survation has a reputation for producing the best shares for Farage’s party and is the only pollster that always includes it in its prompts.

    The poll is a good reminder that the party that’s most vulnerable to the UKIP surge is CON which has seen much more of its 2010 support seep away to it than either LAB or the LDs.

Meanwhile the most significant other leadership development is a report in the Times that the two front runners for next LAB leader, Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham, have agreed what’s described as a “non aggression” pact should Ed step down. This sounds like the sort of arrangement that leading Tories had in 2003 when IDS was ousted and Michael Howard became leader unopposed.

If this is indeed the case then my guess is that Burnham would make way for Cooper who didn’t stand in the 2010 contest when her husband, Ed Balls, was a contender. Burnham was one of the losers when Ed won.

Yesterday I got 100/1 on Yvette Cooper with Ladbrokes to be PM for the post general election Queen’s Speech. It seemed a good price.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


LAB heavyweight Jim Murphy becomes the 2-5 favourite to be next Scottish LAB leader

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

There are 41 Scottish LAB seats at stake

The key fact to remember when discussing the impact of Scotland on UK politics is that there are 59 seats north of the border of which LAB hold 41. So anything that could weaken the party in the eyes of Scottish voters could have a big impact on GE15. Any LAB losses in Scotland would have to be made up from extra LAB gains in England and Wales if EdM’s hope of securing a majority is to be fulfilled.

Jim Murphy, who at one stage was both defence and Scottish secretaries in the last LAB government, played a key part in the IndyRef campaign with his 100 towns in 100 days tours putting the case for NO. He faced some nasty confrontations with YES campaigners and came out of the referendum with his reputation enhanced.

For some time he’s been one my long-shots bets, at 33/1, for EdM’s successor and would easily be a match for the SNP’s new flag carrier, Nicola Sturgeon. He’s articulate, tough, and like Sturgeon is from Glasgow.

    A lot has been written in recent weeks about the SNP threat to LAB. The big problem Sturgeon’s party has is there there are few seats where at GE10 her party was in striking distance.

The following chart shows every single Scots LAB seat ranked in majority order with those where the SNP is in second place highlighted. The numbers speak for themselves. Labour Scottish heartlands look like tough nuts to crack.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Henry G Manson: Words and the world of workers – how Labour should respond to UKIP

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

LAB Poster (1)


The debate about UKIP is hotting up in Labour circles. UKIP are demonstrating they can get past Labour’s defences in a lot of traditional working class communities in a way the Tories never could. A few years ago the purple party were dismissed as ‘the BNP in blazers’ and a party with an appeal limited to southern leafy shires. Not now.

Now UKIP are genuinely challenging in northern towns like Rotherham and Grimsby and have made enormous progress in Heywood and Middleton from a standing start. Should Labour retain the seat it will be down the wisdom of picking a working class NHS worker from the area and crucially for going for the shortest election period possible – not something that can apply to next May. UKIP aim to be seen as the main opponent of Labour in most of the north of England after the general election and their electoral threat extends to seats in Plymouth, Southampton, Dudley and other areas too.

The Fabian Society’s Marcus Roberts has twinned up with UKIP expert Rob Ford to look at how UKIP can harm Labour and what it could do about it. It’s a report worth reading carefully. One bit that caught my eye was in some of the failings of how Labour’s politicians talk:

Arguments about political messaging often break down into two categories: soundbites or stories. The New Labour tradition, and that of Clinton Democrats in the USA, is to favour soundbites with short, pithy lines to take that encapsulate big arguments. In contrast, politicians like Labour’s Jon Cruddas, or Obama Democrats, favour a narrative approach in which a bigger argument is made with more words to explain where a problem comes from, how it effects people today and what the future looks like after it has been addressed.

Journalist John Harris is blunter still. Writing in the Guardian today about Farage’s appeal he talks of ‘a great visceral roar of dissent and defiance, channelled through a party whose leader instinctively understands politics’ more emotional aspects while the people at the top of supposedly mainstream parties have no clue…Whereas modern politics is fronted by androids who talk in borderline riddles – “One nation”, “the big society” – Ukip’s thinking is presented in appetisingly straightforward terms. ’

It would be easy to land this at the feet of Labour’s general election co-ordinator of 2010 and today, Douglas Alexander. Schooled in the era of New Labour where it was privately proclaimed that disaffected Labour supporters would ‘have nowhere else to go’. The party is paying the price for excessively focusing on a narrow strip of Tory-Labour swing voters in southern marginal at the expense of the new ‘swing voters’ for Labour to appeal to swinging from either voting for Labour, to UKIP or to not voting for anyone at all.

In Douglas Alexander’s defence, since the lacklustre European Election campaign there has been a more attacks on UKIP, however there has been so far only a limited amount offered to appeal to these defecting voters and the tone just still isn’t right. This problem goes beyond one individual and applies to all those schooled in the New Labourism and perhaps what’s worse it applies to some in the next generation who have chosen to model themselves on that.

Roberts makes a spirited case for Labour become more of a social movement again. He’s right but that’s going to be something that takes some time and not prioritised in the run up to a general election. However some of the policy ideas in the pamphlet could work in the coming months.

Drawing on the ‘blue Labour’ thinking of Maurice Glasman (but diluted to taste) it includes more housing for local people, ending child benefit being sent overseas, greater emphasis on contribution within social security payments and ‘fair movement’ rather than ‘free movement’ across the EU. Now these are all good ideas but they’re still a touch defensive if you ask me. Labour needs something positive too and in plain language to appeal to workers and not just play catch-up with UKIP.

Kevin Maguire has written about a six point pledge for workers that’s now doing the rounds which as luck would have it would appeal to both Labour’s core voters and to those considering UKIP. These pledges include 1) Pay – a fair rate for the job 2) Law – a defined and fair working week 3) Employer – decent treatment at work 4) Dialogue – the right to be heard 5) Guarantee – rights that are honoured and secured and 6) Enforcement – representation to make your rights count. If Labour backed these and issued them on a ‘workers’ pledge card’ it could challenge the other parties on its own turf.

There are a growing number of answers emerging for how Labour should respond to UKIP, but most of them seem to be happening outside of the official Labour Party channels at the moment. Will the party’s election team get the message in time? As the new Fabian research suggests the outcome of a growing number of seats and the election itself could depend on it.

Henry G Manson