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Paul Nuttall’s doing the right thing by seeking to join Carswell in the Commons at the first opportunity

January 18th, 2017

 

This could be a tight 4 way contest

The main non-BREXIT UK political news during the day has been that UKIP leader, Paul Nuttall, looks all set to become candidate in the Stoke Central by-election – the seat being made vacant by the Tristram Hunt departure. On Betfair the development has caused UKIP chances to move from 29% to 31%

At GE2015 the purples beat the Tories by 33 votes into second place there and look to be in a reasonable position to contest it. There’s no doubt that with the leader flying the flag UKIP would put absolutely everything into it.

I admire Nuttall’s decision because he’s ready to take a gamble. I always thought that Farage made a mistake in 2013 not being candidate in Eastleigh where he had stood previously.

But there’s no question that he has a major challenge on his hands. Labour will be working very hard to defend the seat; the Lib Dems, who were runners-up in 2005 and 2010 are on a roll when it comes to by-elections and carry the pro EU message, and of course, the Tories might fancy their chances.

Another risk is that it is almost certain that there’ll be a big stop UKIP move with one or two of the other parties trying to argue that only they can stop the purples  from advancing. The fact that UKIP will be running a high profile campaign could increase turnout across the board.

UKIP do have a councillor  on Stoke City Council which suggests that they have some form of organisation.

A lot is going to depend on the timing and, of course, how BREXIT  looks at the time of the vote.

 

Mike Smithson





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My 66/1 long-shot bet for the 2020 White House race: Democratic Senator Kamala Harris from California

January 18th, 2017

Could she be the one to take down Trump?

With Trump’s inauguration taking place on Friday there’s been a flurry of betting activity on the newly elected Senator from California, Kamala Harris, for the next White House Race in 2020. This followed a lot of coverage of her part in fighting against Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions.

In November she became the second black woman and first Indian American elected to serve in the Senate. She’s a former Attorney-General for California and is the daughter of an Indian-American mother and Jamaican-American father.

As I’ve found in the past it can pleasurable and profitable backing a long-shot three to four years out and watching their progress. Occasionally you might back a winner.

My reading of the Democratic party 2020 race is that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will simply be too old to contemplate running. Massachusetts Senator, Elizabeth Warren (15/2) is currently favourite and she’s likely to play a big part in her party’s opposition to the incoming president. She was strongly tipped to run last year but didn’t. Maybe 2016 was her best chance.

Michelle Obama (8/1) is also being tipped but somehow I can’t see her taking the plunge.

For bets that won’t mature for nearly four years I like long-shots and have 53 year old Harris at 66/1 for the Presidency and 40/1 for the nomination. As I write these odds are still available and might be worth a punt.

Mike Smithson




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Theresa May’s big speech – a round up of reaction

January 17th, 2017



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Polling background to the PM’s big BREXIT speech

January 17th, 2017



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The verdict on the Corbyn relaunch: Jeremy must try harder

January 17th, 2017

“Message discipline and clarity is like good underwear. You don’t want to wave it around but you notice if it’s not there.”

The tweet by former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith didn’t mention Jeremy Corbyn by name but her tweet was undoubtedly prompted last week’s “relaunch.”

Smith who was appointed the country’s first woman Home Secretary by Gordon Brown in 2007 was of course aware that supporters of the Labour leader scorn the New Labour virtue of message discipline.

I’m a true believer. Message discipline is a vital part of winning elections, something I’m rather keen on. So, I had Smith’s comment in mind when I replied to a charming member of Team Corbyn who asked during the Fabian conference on Saturday what I thought of the relaunch.

There were two things wrong with it, I suggested. Firstly, the key message that Labour was “not wedded” freedom of movement of EU citizens frayed round the edges under the pressure of media interviews.

The second sin was that he scooped himself – offering an alternative story about capping of high pay that detracted from the message on migration  One of my media training colleagues likes to quote an American trainer’s dictum: “if you want them to eat chicken, don’t lay out a buffet.”

Team Corbyn will have been pleased with the Guardian assessment of the Fabian speech,  judging it  to be “one of the most polished and well-crafted he has delivered as Labour leader, something being attributed to the influence of his new speechwriter, David Prescott, son of the former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott.” I welcomed the young Prezza’s here last month.

On the debit side, however, were comments from commentators sympathetic to Labour. John Harris on Today  said that delivering on a radical agenda needs deep thoughts and strategic thinking. He accused Corbyn of making it up as he goes along and shooting from the hip.

“A reasonable idea, an argument worth starting is destroyed, becomes literally incredible by the end of the day.” And  Will Hutton in the Observer  accused the Labour leader of “blundering, ill-prepared” into the high pay argument.

For me the lesson of the relaunch is that Corbyn needs to try harder. Labour does need to be talking about immigration but much more important is developing a coherent economic policy that convinces voters that Labour will make them better off. Resentment against excessive high pay and campaigning against austerity won’t cut through unless the top lines of Labour’s appeal are about promoting and sharing prosperity.

That is, of course, what Theresa May is promising and her massive approval rating leads over Corbyn have got many Labour members worried about what could happen if she call an early election. Alastair Meeks recent PB post suggesting
suggesting the Prime Ministers poll ratings “flatter to deceive” were therefore comforting and, to me, persuasive. “She’s safe enough while she’s faced with a useless opponent. If she finds herself up against someone more competent, she might find herself struggling far more quickly than most pundits currently could imagine, ” argued Meeks.

In the end, that is the case for a change of Labour leader. But In the meantime, all we can ask is that Jeremy Corbyn is the best leader he can be. The relaunch wasn’t perfect but as a signal that he now sees reaching out beyond his devoted following as the test of his leadership is undoubtedly a big plus.

Don Brind



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Punters rate UKIP as a 29% chance in Stoke Central. A chance for Paul Nuttall?

January 16th, 2017

Betting interest in the Copeland and Stoke by elections is starting to grow even though the sitting MPs have yet to resign.

The Copeland man, is off to join the Sellafield nuclear Centre and that’s expected to take place at the end of this month.

My guess is that Labour strategists will try to hold both by elections on May the 4th when there are the local elections as well as the string of contests for the elected mayors in the new English combined authorities. This will mean that many activists of other parties will be tied up on their home patches thus, LAB will hope, decreasing their campaigning capabilities in the Westminster by-elections.

On the face of it the Tories stand a good chance in Copeland and, indeed, are odds on betting favourite. In Stoke Central UKIP came second last time and there is a lot of hope within the purples that they can do it.

The Lib Dems, flush with their successes in recent Westminster and local by elections, are fired up and my sense that they’ll making Stoke the priority rather than Copeland if they are held on the same day. They have the benefit of having been in second place in 2005 and 2010 and also have held Council seats in the CITY.

Interestingly one of the Lib Dems’ leading campaigners, the man who masterminded the Sleaford and Hykeham north effort in which the yellows pushed  Labour into 4th place, is from Stoke, was a councillor there and was the candidate at GE2005 when he came second.

This would seem to be ideal seat for the new UKIP leader, Paul  Nuttall who clearly is hoping that under his leadership UKIP can pull up pull off a first past the post by-election victory for the first time without a defector/incumbent.

I’m waiting to see who the candidates are before placing any more bets.

Mike Smithson




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After an extraordinary and dramatic political year so little has changed in the battle between CON & LAB

January 16th, 2017

The main moves – UKIP down LD up

After this morning’s YouGov poll came out I was asked on Twitter for the comparative numbers for a year ago and other points during 2016. The data is in the chart above and shows quite extraordinary that Labour and the Conservatives have almost the same numbers this month that they had a year ago.

This is a period which has seen the election of a Muslim mayor in London, Brexit, and, of course, a new UK PM, the victory by Donald Trump in the White House Race.

ILooking at the polling numbers between now and the year ago the only real change has been that the LDs have progressed quite nicely and UKIP has Fallen. At one stage Farage’s party, as it then was, touched 20% but things started to decline after the referendum. It remain to be seen whether under its new leader UKIP will reach the heights again.

The big factor in domestic politics has been the time has marches on. We are now one year closer to the May 2020 General Election date that is laid down in the fixed term Parliament Act. The time margins for a LAB recovery are now much narrower.

In the coming months so much depends on how to Theresa May’s government is seem to have handled the extraction process from the European Union. On that we will get the prime minister’s speech tomorrow. Then hopefully within next week we should see the Supreme Court ruling on Article 50.

Mike Smithson




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A cartoon to start this historic week

January 16th, 2017


Copyright Helen Cochrane & Nicholas Leonard 2017