Heathrow is a major headache for Cameron (and an opportunity for Labour)

July 2nd, 2015


Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Whilst the Conservatives fight over this week’s Airport Commission report, expanding Heathrow is exactly the type of common sense, business friendly policy that Labour should be supporting as it seeks to win again. The party must embrace it argues Keiran Pedley

The Prime Minister has a leadership crisis on his hands.

Perhaps this crisis is not as serious as recent world events in Tunisia or Greece. Perhaps it does not animate Conservative back benchers as much as his plans to renegotiate Britain’s membership of the EU or present the most important immediate challenge of next week’s budget.

But make no mistake, it is a crisis.

The Airport Commission report, led by Howard Davies has been very clear in its recommendation that Heathrow must expand and as soon as possible. Sure, some caveats have been put in place, regarding banning night flights and meeting both air and noise pollution targets, but there has been no fudge or ambiguity in the report’s key recommendation – Heathrow must expand.

The report claims that expanding Heathrow will add billions to the economy, air fares will fall and thousands of jobs will be created. Crucially, alternative plans are considered either unworkable (Boris Island) or do not match the economic benefits of a third runway at Heathrow (Gatwick). Furthermore, the business community appears squarely behind the report’s conclusions, with the IoD and CBI urging the Prime Minister to avoid any ‘further delay’.

So why is this a crisis? Well, Cameron’s problem is many in his own party not only mildly disagree, but are utterly opposed to this policy. Cabinet is split, with high profile names such as Theresa May, Philip Hammond and Justine Greening opposed. The party’s likely next candidate for London Mayor, Zac Goldsmith, has threatened to resign and force a by-election in protest whilst Boris Johnson has not given up on his ‘Boris Island’ dream and will likely use this issue to champion his cause as the next Conservative leader in-waiting.

So this one may be a slow burner, but a crisis it is. The government’s immediate response is to kick the can down the road (again). It has said that a decision will be made later this year.

Labour’s opportunity

This all presents a tremendous opportunity for Labour.  Much has been written before about Labour’s credibility problem and how it needs to win back trust on the economy. Fully backing the expansion of Heathrow will not solve this problem overnight, but it would be a welcome start. It is the type of opportunity that Labour ought to dream of. It is business friendly, creates jobs and piles substantial pressure on the Prime Minister from his own side too.

Early signs are positive. Harriet Harman was vocal in attacking David Cameron at PMQs whilst Liz Kendall has been quick to back the report’s findings too.  I would be surprised if other candidates do not follow suit. This issue is live and not going away. As Labour seeks to reconnect with the electorate and show that it is a serious party of government once more it could do worse than champion Britain’s economic interests and job creation whilst not avoiding a tough decision in the process. It is, after all, what governments do.

Perhaps most of all this issues teaches us something important about the next parliament. With GfK data showing consumer confidence up and Labour leaderless, things look bleak for the party. However, events will happen, the government will mess up from time to time and at some point there will be an EU referendum and Conservative leadership contest to contend with. Labour’s path back to power may be a tough one, however, if it gets its act together it is not impossible.

Keiran Pedley

Keiran Pedley is an Associate Director at Presenter of the podcast ‘Polling Matters’ He tweets about polling and politics at @keiranpedley


How the Alternative Vote system could stop Burnham becoming Labour leader

July 1st, 2015

Many thanks to Richard Nabavi for posting this article by Peter Kellner on the previous thread.

Peter Kellner looks at how the Alternative Vote system Labour use to elect their leader might stop Andy Burnham winning, it should be remembered, that this voting system helped Ed Miliband defeat his brother five years ago.

If you’re not sure how the Alternative Vote system works, this link should help as should this link.

However the betting sentiment is moving strongly towards Andy Burnham.

Ten days ago, I wrote that we were close to a potential crossover on the Betfair exchange between Burnham and Cooper, how the latest trade shows Burnham’s implied percentage chance of winning the leadership has gone from 39% on the 21st of June to 50% this evening, whilst Yvette Cooper’s has fallen from 36% to 30% in the same period.





How a third runway at Heathrow could make for a real Old Etonian mess for Cameron

July 1st, 2015

David Cameron in 2013 reaffirming his 2009 pledge that “The third runway at Heathrow is not going ahead, no ifs, no buts.”

It might be a novel experience for the Tory Party to be split on issue other than than EU, but the third runway at Heathrow has the potential to be just as problematic. Today the Davies report has backed building a third runway at Heathrow. The above video shows Cameron in 2013 reaffirming a 2009 pledge not to build a third runway at Heathrow. Boris Johnson is also very unhappy over the proposals, whilst Zac Goldsmith, the favourite to be the next Mayor of London has said he will trigger a by-election if the third runway were to be built.

However, the Davies report makes a very strong economic case for a third runway, such as 70,000 new jobs and £147 billion in economic growth by 2050. Given the way the Tories won the election in May, down to voters seeing them as best to run the economy, turning down a third runway might damage that credibility on the economy. I’m sure Nick Clegg will tell Cameron that there is no electoral downside if you do a u-turn on a pre-election promise.

Were Zac to trigger a by election, he might run for London Mayor as an independent, with a focus on opposition to the third runway, the Mayor of London is elected under the supplementary vote, so Zac could be theoretically very transfer friendly particularly if he stands as the anti third runway candidate.

Right now, 16/1 on any other candidate other than Lab, Con or LD, to win the London Mayoral election next year could be the way to go. The government’s final decision on the Davies report will be this year, my own hunch is that Cameron will do what is best for economy/country rather than stick to his original pledge, so that means a third runway.



Local By-Election Result : June 30th 2015

July 1st, 2015

Result: Conservative 561 (40% -14%), Plaid 543 (39% +27%), Labour 234 (17% -12%), Independent 24 (2%, no candidate in 2012), Green Party 22 (2% -1%), Liberal Democrats 10 (1% -1%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 18 (1%) on a swing of 21% from Conservative to Plaid


The Ipsos Mori issues index for June

July 1st, 2015



The big risers are Immigration/Immigrants and EU/Europe, which seems understandable given the focus on the EU referendum since the election. The big faller is the economy, which maybe confirmation of the fifteen year high in consumer confidence that the pollster GfK found yesterday.

For me the most interesting aspect of this polling is the below chart.

Issues EU

There’s a real difference between the ages, so the older groups are more concerned by the EU than younger ones, this as has been noted before, could help OUT win the referendum with older voters the most likely to vote.

The fieldwork for this polling ended on the 15th of June, so before the recent events in Greece and Tunisia.

The data tables are available here.



Local By-Election Preview : June 30th 2015

June 30th, 2015

Pentyrch on Cardiff (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2012): Labour 46, Liberal Democrats 16, Conservatives 7, Independents 4, Plaid Cymru 2 (Labour majority of 17)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Conservative 772 (54%), Labour 413 (29%), Plaid Cymru 171 (12%), Green 40 (3%), Liberal Democrat 22 (2%)
Candidates duly nominated: Cadan ap Tomos (Lib Dem), Paul Fisher (Lab), Gavin Hill (Con), Munawar Mughal (Ind), Ruth Osner (Green), Hywel Wigley (Plaid)

Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, has always had a local council and it has followed the twists and turns of Welsh politics over the years in more or less the same way as the national picture. When the council was created in 1973, during the oil crisis and the lack of confidence in Edward Heath’s administration, Labour won control of the new council, however not by the margin you might think.

They only had a 3% popular vote lead and a majority of nine in the council chamber so it should come as no suprise that in 1976, the Conservatives romped house with a popular vote lead of 24% (on a 13.5% swing) and getting an overall majority of 13.

But, as we have seen in recent elections held on general election day, Labour voters always come back and in 1979, Labour regained control (despite losing the popular vote by 3%) but it’s the council members that matter and with 41 to the Conservatives 34, Labour were back in charge but it all flipped around in 1983 when the Conservative regained control with a majority of 3 (helped by the newly found Alliance who polled 19% of the vote and causing the Labour vote to fall by 10%) but even that didn’t last long as in 1987, Cardiff became hung.

The Conservatives won 25 councillors (36% vote share), Labour won 29 councillors (35% vote share) and the Alliance won 11 councillors (27% vote share) but in 1991 it was Labour who had the smiles and the majority as they polled 44% of the vote and won an overall majority of 16 as the Conservatives plunged and Labour became confident of winning every seat in Cardiff in 1992.

Sadly for them that didn’t happen, and in 1993 John Redwood announced that Cardiff would become a unitary authority with the first elections being held in 1995. And my word, talk about a landslide. Labour polled 57% of the vote and won 56 out of 67 seats with the Liberal Democrats taking their position as the first ever non Conservative opposition on the council.

And what of the Conservatives you ask? 16% vote share and just one lowly councillor. In 1999, it was clear that the Liberal Democrats were the party making inroads. In those Assembly elections they won Cardiff Central and in the locals polled 28% of the vote (higher than in 1987) and won 17 councillors and they sensed that take off was happening, confirmed in 2004 when the unthinkable happened.

The Liberal Democrats became the largest party on the council with 32 seats and a 33% vote share and although all the parties were equal in the 2008 local elections (Con 28%, Lab 27%, Lib Dem 26%) the Lib Dems remained the largest party just three short of an overall majority. Then came 2012. Labour 40%, Conservatives 18%, Liberal Democrats 18% electing a Labour majority suggesting that Cardiff had come full circle once again and was now as perhaps it always had been a Labour heartland.

Harry Hayfield


Betting on when the Greek banks reopen

June 30th, 2015

Banking 2

For the Greek people, it appears this tragedy has been going on longer than it took Odysseus reach home after the fall of Troy, but looking at the above tweets, it is looking like that we are approaching the end phase of Grexit. Last night, the Greek Prime Minister indicated he would resign if the Greek’s voted yes in Sunday’s referendum.

So on that basis the 1/2 on the banks opening on July 8th or later might be the way to go, right now, we don’t know what the Greek currency or government will be in a week’s time, until we do, the banks will remain closed is my thinking.

The link to the Paddy Power market is here.


Note – This thread was written around 12.15pm BST, so the situation might have changed since then please check the news before you place any bets, the Greek government’s approach indicates they have lost their marbles, or will the EU delay Acropolis Now, either way, the Greek banks are going  to be the centaur of attention for the next few days.


How the economic case for Scottish Independence was weakened in the last week

June 30th, 2015

Oil figures

Picture credit: Twitter

How opponents of Scottish independence may have struck metaphorical oil in the last week.

The top table (table 5) is taken from the Scottish Government’s white paper on independence published in late 2013, whilst the bottom table (table 1) is from the Scottish Government’s Oil & Gas bulletin published last week. As the Guardian notes

The Scottish government has been accused of trying to bury a report that predicts North Sea oil revenues could be £40bn less than the SNP’s most optimistic forecasts by releasing it the day before Holyrood’s summer recess – and after the deadline for emergency questions.

The oil and gas bulletin published by John Swinney, Scotland’s finance minister, reveals that revenues are expected to plummet to well under a quarter of recent forecasts, falling to as low as £2.4bn in total over the next four years.

The bulletin shows a vast gulf between the most optimistic figures given to Scottish voters before last year’s independence referendum by Alex Salmond – then the Scottish National party leader and first minister – who said a future oil boom would underpin a surge in productivity and national wealth after a yes vote.

It will be difficult for supporters of Scottish independence to attack these figures, as they were produced by their own side, no wonder the Scottish government released them on the last day before Holyrood’s summer recess.

I’ve always proceeded on the premise that the Scots will never vote for independence if it leads to them becoming poorer nor will they vote for independence if it leads to economic uncertainty.

Coupled with the Scottish independence movement’s lack of definitive answers on a currency union or the currency an independent Scotland would use, as Greece may well provide a real life example of a country with debt/deficit problems and issues over the currency they may use, might prove to be alarming and illuminating to Scots contemplating Scottish independence.

In any future independence referendum, with the substantial role the oil industry has in the Scottish economy, you can be sure opponents of independence will be reminding the advocates of Scottish independence of their terrible forecasts on oil in the past.