Archive for the 'Labour' Category

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Why Blairites like John Rentoul have got to stop looking at GE2015 through the prism of 1997

Monday, July 14th, 2014

It’s a totally different election with very different dynamics

There’s no doubt that Tony Blair’s GE1997 victory, coming as it did after four election defeats over the previous 18 years, was a stunning success. Blair did it by reinventing his party so it would appeal to large swaithes of voters who never before had done anything other than vote Tory.

But because that result was so good for the party doesn’t mean that the Blair approach is the only one that will work for the Red team or that it is even possible now. Take this from the Blair biographer and ongoing Blair enthusiast, John Rentoul in yesterday’s Indy on Sunday:-

“My view, and this cannot be based on opinion polls, is that when the voters come to choose they will shy away from the prospect of Miliband as prime minister, just as they shied away from Neil Kinnock in 1992.”

I’d suggest that it is very dangerous to ignore the numbers, as Rentoul is suggesting, and base analysis on gut feelings, anecdote, or previous positions.

In 1997 the Blair challenge was to attract 1992 CON voters. At the coming general election all the polling points to very little switching between 2010 CON and 2010 LAB. The main movement has been the big post-coalition shift of 2010 LD voters to LAB and the biggest priority for the red team is to retain them in the key marginals.

That’s still holding up and notice from the table above how this key segment views Mr. Miliband. This is a view of Ed that has been seen in mega-polls whenever the sub-sample of switchers has been shown.

Would Rentoul’s choice for LAB leader, David Miliband, have had anything like this level of appeal to the voters that matter?

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter




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Ex-UKIP leader chosen by Tories to fight the seat’s where Farage is said to be interested

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

The tactical anti-UKIP vote could now go to LAB



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Labour in Newark: Ruthless or wrongheaded?

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

Soft-pedalling the campaign is a sign of both weakness and strength

Conventional wisdom says that general elections are won or lost based on the decisions of a few tens of thousands of swing voters across the country’s marginal seats.  As an assertion, it was never entirely true – those voters made next to no difference in 1983 or 1997 for example – but in an increasingly fractured party system, the assumptions on which it rests become more and more questionable.

Those assumptions (and indeed, the whole concept of ‘swing’), go back to a time when there were only two main parties and there were high and stable turnouts.  A lost voter for one party was a gained voter for the other.  While we shouldn’t over-egg the death of Uniform National Swing, it’s far from the psephological rule it once was.  Indeed, perhaps not coincidentally, as campaigning techniques have become ever more sophisticated in targeting, so the extent to which those voters ‘decide’ elections has declined: you can’t expect a uniform swing if you don’t have a uniform campaign.

Which brings us to Newark.  On one level, Labour not campaigning too hard there was understandable: they were starting well back and while the principal party of opposition has won by-elections before on the sort of swing required, not with a poll lead in low- to mid-single figures.  A gain would have been nice for them but it was never on the cards.  There’s an attractive argument that it’d be much better to spend the money saved on the target seats instead.

Not being distracted by the tempting but unlikely opportunities Newark offered is in that sense a sign of strength from the Labour campaign HQ: that they will keep their eyes on the important priority, namely winning the seats they actually need to form a government.

On the other hand, it’s not a strategy without risk.  Soft-pedalling always brings with it the possibility of a much worse result than anticipated as the parties who are going for it squeeze the rest out.  Reports of natural Labour supporters voting Con to keep UKIP out are therefore unsurprising.  As it’s also entirely possible that some voted UKIP to inflict a defeat on the Tories (the desire for such a result having been initially put forward as one reason Labour didn’t try too hard in the first place), one has to question whether the net effect was worth the sacrifice.

That kind of tactical leakage is in microcosm, symptomatic of the bigger problem: which are the target seats?  UKIP are up over ten per cent since 2010 and the Lib Dems down by even more.  With considerable differences in how that will play out across the constituencies, what might be winnable (or losable) becomes a lot harder to call than a simple application of UNS would make it.

The important thing about Newark was that Labour chose not to pursue their claim as chief challengers to the Tories, despite starting in second (and despite audaciously, but falsely, claiming to represent a One Nation tradition).  Newark might have been a challenge too far but if Labour can soft-pedal a by-election, they can and probably will soft-pedal plenty of constituencies at a general election.

That’s fine as long as you pick and choose correctly, though it risks the party atrophying elsewhere.  Get it wrong though – and with the vote-churn there’s been since 2010, it’s far easier to get it wrong – and you could both miss out on makeable gains and, even worse, lose seats previously assumed to be safe.

David Herdson



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Locals 2014: Afternoon update – The UKIP fox is in the Westminster hen house

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Like opinion polls, it is wise not to focus on one or two councils, but look at the broader picture.

Often success  equals performance minus anticipation, using Rallings and Thrasher’s projections for the locals, of Lab 490 gains, the Cons and Lib Dems 220 and 350 losses respectively, and UKIP to make 80 gains, so far it is a great set of elections for UKIP as they have impress results all over England, and for the coalition parties an as expected, and as good as Rallings and Thrasher were predicting for Labour.

This has led to some Labour MPs to go criticise their own side, but Labour has some impressive results,  especially in London, that should be used to calm the nerves.


 

There has been talk of an electoral pact between the Cons and The Kippers from some Tory MPs, I think the Sun’s political editor has it right.

The other party that maybe happy as well, the Greens, especially on Sunday when the Euros are out.

Finally the bookies take on the results so far.

TSE



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Polling analysis: The big driver of Labour’s decline has not been been a move to CON but to don’t know

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Also Ukip sees big increase in 2010 LAB switchers

The chart shows the responses of those telling ICM in their last six polls that they voted Labour at GE2010 but have now switched to either “Dont know/Refused” or Ukip.

As can be seen there has been a marked increase in switching to the purples but by far and away the biggest element has been the increase in 2010 LAB voters now saying they don’t know or simply refusing to given an answer.

In many ways this is positive news for Ed Miliband and his team. Former voters who are now unsure are clearly good prospects and the hope must be that they’ll return to the fold in May 2015. The reduction in LAB don’t knows in the final few days of the 2010 campaign was a big reason why the party did much better than any of the polls.

But there has been switching to Ukip – from just 1% back in December to 6%. These are small numbers which are part of the sub-set of LAB GE2010 voters so there is a high margin of error.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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Labour drops to its lowest level with YouGov since the summer of 2010

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

The red team’s terrible polling week continues

When on Monday monrning the latest Populus poll came out showing LAB on 36% just a point ahead of the Tories it didn’t attract much attention. Since its big party ID weightings change in February the firm has been showing some of the worst LAB position and this just seemed to follow that pattern.

Then on Monday afternoon the first of Lord Ashcroft’s new weekly phone polls came out with the Tories two points ahead – the first survey of any sort since March 2012 with Labour behind. This got lots of attention but the initial thought was that this was an outlier.

That perception changed three hours later when news of the ICM monthly phone poll for the Guardian emerged showing a similar 2% lead for the Tories. Poll watchers waited to see what the nightly Sun Tweet about its YouGov poll would report at just before 10pm. It had LAB 35 to CON 34.

So last night there was a lot of anticipation for the latest YouGov based on fieldwork that closed yesterday afternoon. The result is featured above – LAB and CON level pegging on 34%. The last time that Labour was that low with the firm was in June 2010 only weeks after the party’s GE2010 defeat.

    So with four pollsters in two days showing the same broad picture the trend is becoming clearer – LAB is down and this is happening only days before what will be the final national electoral test before the general election – the Euro and locals a week tomorrow.

My reading is that EdM and his team are paying the price for not having a clear message for the Euro elections. Their campaign has almost totally avoided any mention of the EU unlike the other three parties competing for votes which each have specific and relevant positions.

Coming up today or tomorrow should be the Ipsos-MORI Political Monitor for May a survey which like Ashcroft and ICM is carried out by phone.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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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



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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