Post election “how did you vote” poll finds it was the oldies and men what won it for Dave

May 21st, 2015

GQR, Labour’s pollster, has just published a post May 7th survey it carried out for the TUC asking people how they voted.

The main findings are above and show a big lead for CON amongst men and a huge one amongst the over 55s.

There’s a huge amount of data presented in an easy access interactive way on the GQR site.

Mike Smithson


It will be of little comfort to the yellows but GE15 proved to be a great example of the power of first time incumbency

May 21st, 2015

LD incumbency
Tim Smith Univ of Nottingham

The vote shares of first time incumbents held up the most

A short paper headed “Lib Dem incumbency advantage persists but fails to prevent disaster” by Tim Smith of the University of Nottingham has just been published and provides valuable evidence of the power of first time incumbency.

This happens when someone who won for the first time at the previous elections seeks to defend the seat. The table above shows the very different performances in what were Lib Dem seats depending on whether the incumbent MP was re-standing and whether this was a defence for the first time. The figures are striking.

Overall in England the LDs saw an average drop of 16%. In LD-held seats from 2010 that increased marginally to 16.9% but look at the gap between where a new candidate was defending and where the person who had won it for the first time in 2010 was making his/her first defence. A drop on the LD share of 24.5% compared with 10.7%.

Tim Smith notes that:

“..After the 1970 election, at which the Liberals were reduced to six seats, the party made five by election gains in the subsequent Parliament, three of which they held on to at the February 1974 election, and one, Berwick, which survived until this election.”

Hopefully in the coming weeks we shall see comparable figures for Labour and the Conservatives.

Mike Smithson


Given the messages that have been coming out PaddyPower’s 7/4 2016 EU referendum price looks like a good bet

May 20th, 2015


All the signs are that the new Tory government wants to move fast with the EU referendum. We should get an idea on the timing in the upcoming Queen’s Speech.

2016 seems to make a lot of sense. It coincides with devolved parliament elections in Scotland and Wales as well as the next London Mayoral election – all areas of the UK where support for staying in is generally higher than elsewhere. It also will get the issue out of the way faster.

So the 7/4 that PaddyPower is offering looks a value bet. Well worth a punt. As a general rule with PaddyPower you can get more on at one of their betting shops than online.

Mike Smithson


Searching for a parallel to 2015

May 20th, 2015

Westminster twlight

Parallels from the past can never be as neat as those proposing them might like to hope. For starters, any modern comparison for 2015 could never do justice to the SNP’s triumph, and what happens in Scotland over the next five years could dramatically change the Parliamentary arithmetic in 2020. Regardless, let’s see what we can come up with, focussing on the two main parties.

1992 is a very tempting parallel, and probably the one that offers Labour the most hope. The failure of polling (check!) led Labour to think that victory was within its grasp, yet doubts about their leader combined with an economy on the mend ended up delivering the Tories a thin majority. Within five years a New Labour dawn had broken. But to focus on the Tories’ narrow win as a comparator is to miss the significantly worse scale of Labour’s defeat.

So perhaps 1983 is better? A third party (for UKIP, read the Alliance) took chunks out of both major parties’ vote but the net beneficiary was the Conservatives. Once again, an unelectably left-wing leader meant the middle classes deserted Labour. If this is the right parallel then there are another 3 parliaments of Opposition to look forward to. 1979 is even a contender – a return to Conservative majority government forced the underlying left-right tensions within Labour out into the open with disastrous electoral effects. Neither parallel can be written off but the Tories’ position today is nowhere near as strong as it was then.

Less apocalyptically, there’s 1955. After a term of steady-as-she-goes government the Tories improved their position by 23 seats, though in that case it was enough to convert a slim majority into a comfortable one. Happily for the Tories they were able to survive a foreign policy adventure and a change of leader – both of which are definitely on the cards today – to do even better next time.

But all of these examples have assumed that the best parallel must be a Conservative victory. Yet a reverse of 2001 seems the neatest comparison – a first-term opposition retreating to its own comfort zone after years in government, willing the electorate to come to them rather than putting in the hard yards required to persuade them to return. The pro-Tory swing in their own marginal defences this year echoes that achieved by first-time Blairite incumbents 14 years ago.

Choosing 2001 also allows me to tentatively present these leadership parallels:

Thatcher : Blair
Major : Brown
Hague : Miliband
Duncan Smith : Burnham
Howard : Cooper or Balls
Cameron : Jarvis or Kendall

History is not destiny, and all the more so when it’s another party’s history interpreted with plenty of licence, but it might give those intending to install Andy Burnham as Labour leader some reason to pause for thought. “Ed Miliband with a Scouse accent,” according to one unnamed MP – well what was IDS but Hague with posher pronunciation?

If Burnham does win the leadership and subsequently turns into something akin to The Quiet Man mk II, then Labour will have to rethink their policy on regicide. As Nick Bent, defeated Labour candidate in marginal Warrington South, puts it:

Some in our party think that getting rid of a failing leader is a Tory thing to do, and typical of the ‘nasty party’. This sort of irrational hippy nonsense has no place in the Labour party – if we are serious about the values we represent, if we care about the people we represent and we if really think Britain is better off with a Labour government, then we have a moral duty to be a serious contender for victory at every general election. And that requires a winner as a leader.

There’s been much discussion regarding the possibility of establishing a 3 year “break clause” for Labour’s new leader – i.e. requiring them to submit themselves for revalidation in 2018. I think that this would be a mistake as it would inevitably weaken the new leader from the off and take the focus off the policy work required. But the very fact that it has been suggested indicates that many in Labour are worried that they’re about to elect the wrong person, again.

Tissue Price


Burnham’s nomination surge could block out other LAB leadership contenders

May 20th, 2015

Unlike 2010 the unions are most influential at the start of the race

We all remember how the big unions were able to influence the 2010 leadership race by sending out to political levy paying members ballot packs like the one above. This time the rules have changed and the opportunity to influence is most strong at the nomination stage.

Shadow health sec, Andy Burnham, is doing particularly well winning the support of fellow MPs who are prepared to nominate him.

In previous contests a third of the overall electoral college was made of up of MPs/MEPs so chalking up a mass of nominations was a good indicator of how one key section would split. This time the vote of an MP is worth exactly the same as the person handing over £3 to the party and registering themselves as a Labour supporter. The election will be determined by just one block of more than 200k voting on an AV basis.

Where MP nominations are crucial is in determining who gets on that ballot. The rules state that a candidate requires the support of 35 of the party’s 232 MPs. So if one candidate can mop up more than 100 or so nominations then chances are that it will prevent more than two or three contenders being put to the member/supporter base.

The UNITE union has most influence at this stage and is using it to encourage union-linked MPs to nominate Burnham thus reducing the number of MPs available to nominate others.

    Here individual MPs face a dilemma. Many fear that they end up with a leader whom they did not nominate which could impact strongly on the chances of preferment on which their political careers could rest.

So the more nominations that Burnham gets the more he’s likely to end up with thus potentially squeezing others out of the race.

According to the Guardian Hunt appears to be struggling to get the requisite number while the Kendall campaign claims it has the 35 but it is possible that this could be squeezed at the margin.

Most bookies now have Burnham as odds-on favourite.

Mike Smithson


UKIP becomes a one-man band once again – another extraordinary day in the life of Farage’s party

May 19th, 2015


A guest slot by Lucian on the Northern Ireland dimension – the re-emergence of the UUP

May 19th, 2015

BBC News Northern Ireland summary

Now the focus is on next year’s Assembly elections

There is little doubt that the UUP will regard the general election as a success. They had no seats, they now have two. Fermanagh and South Tyrone was won by Tom Elliott after a deal was struck with the DUP and other unionist parties. South Antrim was taken from the DUP’s William McCrea by Danny Kinahan.

So the party has removed the horror of not having anyone on the green benches, a year after making a small step forward in the council elections.

Attention now turns to next year’s Assembly elections. The UUP has 13 seats to the 38 held by the DUP. The UUP will want more, a lot more. They will be emboldened by the breakthrough in South Antrim and will probably be aiming to at least get back up to the 18 seats won in 2007. The DUP will be raising the spectre of a Sinn Fein First Minister to try and entrench their position as the dominant

There is no love lost between the DUP and the UUP. While it is the dream of some to unite Unionism, it seems unlikely at present given the public spat between David Simpson and Mike Nesbitt following the hard-fought campaign in Upper Bann. David Simpson has accused UUP supporters of ‘totally unacceptable’ behaviour, while Nesbitt has queried the validity of an opinion poll which suggested that voting for Jo-Anne Dobson of the UUP risked letting Sinn Fein take the seat.

Despite the party having a spring in its step, it is highly unlikely that the UUP can make huge ground on the DUP in a year. The DUP has most of the well-known politicians, the media profile and incumbency factors in their favour. The UUP in Fermanagh and South Tyrone has to find a new MLA to replace Tom Elliott in the shoo-in spot before even remotely tilting at a second. It is hard to see whether having a local MP will mean more than having well-known MLA candidates when the Assembly election comes around. The decision is an important one for the local Unionist Association to take amidst the celebration.

Assuming they remain the second Unionist party, after the election, they will have a big decision to make as to whether it takes its executive seat(s). There is no official opposition in Stormont. That’s obviously a weird situation. It’s also one that I suggest should change.

Mike Nesbitt has said before that it is a step to normalising politics in Northern Ireland. It would be a brave step to pull out of the executive, but it could be a huge step forward for the UUP in the long term. Formal Opposition offers voters an alternative. Nesbitt has stopped the rot. Can Opposition be a way to regain primacy in the province?

Lucian is a long standing contributor to PB discussions


Pollsters should follow Ipsos MORI’s 2008 example and not rush to resume general election surveys

May 19th, 2015

It had had a 4% Ken lead for mayor – Boris finished up 6% ahead

Back in 2008 at the first Boris-Ken battle the opinion polls became an issue during the campaign. YouGov was showing Boris leads close to what happened (a 6.2% Johnson lead) while Ipsos, in its final poll had Ken 3% ahead.

The polling led to a lot of attacks on YouGov from Ken and the Labour camp but in the end the online firm was vindicated.

Shortly after the results were in Ipsos-MORI announced that it would be reviewing its methodology and for the next couple of months or so while that was taking place it did not publish any voting polls.

The review led to two big changes. All voting intention polling was to be done by phone and a new weighting introduced for public sector workers who for some reason were being over-represented in its samples.

    In the current context a temporary period of few or no polls is, surely, the right way forward for the polling industry. Not one pollsterscame out of GE15 with its reputation undamaged.

My guess is that the industry needs a successful election, the EU referendum maybe, for confidence to be restored

YouGov appears to have suspended its daily polls for News International though it did publish a non-voting poll at the weekend for the Sunday Times covering a wide number of issues.

The Guardian has said that its long-running series with ICM will continue but findings will not be given too much prominence. Meanwhile we await the British Polling Council review which could take some time.

There’ll come a period in the near future when there’ll be a clamour for voting polls once again – maybe around the time of Mr. Osborne’s promised budget or when Labour’s new leader is in place.

Mike Smithson