Archive for July, 2006


Guest slot: Tabman on the UKIP leadership election

Monday, July 31st, 2006

ukip caravan.JPG

    Could the UKIP caravan hurt the Tories?

The current favourite to succeed Roger Knapman in the UKIP leadership elecrtion which closes on September 7 is MEP Nigel Farage, who stood for the party in the Bromley by-election.

The key point that Farage has grasped is that UKIP can no longer rely upon being a single-issue party if it wishes to grow. In his Manifesto, he sets out his view of the Party’s philosophy:

We are a unique brand. Nationalist with a small ‘n’, libertarian, and in favour of small government and Parliamentary sovereignty. We are opposed to unlimited immigration, high taxes and bureaucracy. He believes that this philosophy, with an obvious appeal to the strongly right-of-centre, will enable the party to build beyond its current small base.

Farage’s main rival is Party Chairman David Campbell Bannerman, the great-great-great-great-nephew of Sir Henry, Liberal Prime-Minister from 1906-8. After many years as a Conservative Councillor, Campbell Bannerman joined UKIP four years ago. He, too, recognises that the party is at a cross-roads:

Does the Party wish to stay as it is – small, single issue focused, doing well in Euro elections, occasionally making a lot of noise, with one regular face, but not achieving enough credibility or success in British domestic politics? Or does it change gear to become a larger, serious party of opposition, more professional in its approach, with a full policy manifesto and real commitment to winning elections of all sorts – local, Scottish, Welsh, mayoral and Westminster as well as Euro elections – and able to take advantage of the huge opportunities of a disenchanted electorate and failed old parties ?

Cambell Bannerman also advocates the sort of robust rightist agenda proposed by Farage; that was in the Conservatives’ 2005 Manifesto; and that David Cameron is now seeking to eschew to improve his party’s electoral fortunes.

Cameron’s centrist strategy for the Conservatives is based on seeking to capture moderate voters from Labour and the Lib Dems and while his core vote may grumble, it has nowhere else to go so will continue loyally to put their Xs in the blue column

    But if UKIP gets it act together in the direction that the two front-runners for its leadership propose, then could a serious competitive threat to the Conservatives emerge?

It has been no means clear that the current, single-issue UKIP takes the majority of its support from the Conservatives. The party has hurt the Tories in past elections, but probably not as much as it might have. But if UKIP adopted a broader, “Old Tory” policy platform, would it have a more direct appeal to the traditionalist Conservative voter that Cameron needs to remain on board?

Lord Tebbit recently wrote in the Spectator:“..Bromley suggests that while Conservative voters do believe that the new Conservative Party is unlike the one they used to support, Mr Cameron’s target Labour and Liberal voters do not, and the Tories are in danger of missing the electoral opportunity of a lifetime”.

Finally, if UKIPs campaigning strength were to be more carefully targeted in the manner used most effectively by the Liberal Democrats, then might it bring them their first Westminster seats and thus at a stroke remove the largest hurdle to their future – credibility? This would set them well on the road to their major goal of replacing the Conservatives on the right of British politics.

As yet there is no betting market on the UKIP leadership.

Tabman is Lib Dem blogger and has been a long-standing contributor to the site

Note from Mike Smithson. PBC welcomes guest contributions which should be of interest to users with the emphasis being on posing questions to provoke interesting discussions rather than making assertions. I reserve the right to shorten and edit all contributions. Please email here.


Mori puts the Lib Dems on 24%

Monday, July 31st, 2006

    A boost for Ming or the product of the firm’s methodology?

The latest poll from Mori in today’s Financial Times has with changes on the last poll at the end of June CON 36 (nc): LAB 32 (-1): LD 24 (+3). – so a big boost for the Lib Dem leader with the biggest share for the party since last September.

The poll is quite old. The survey started on July 20th – one day before work began on the July ICM survey for the Guardian – and finished on July 24th, a week ago.

    Whatever figures that Mori are showing I never get too excited and would certainly never risk money on one of their polls.

Unlike ICM, Populus, and YouGov the Mori approach does not involves weighting its samples by past vote or a party identifier. It is thus much more reliant on getting a representative sample. The one filter it does use is that its headline figures only include those who say they would be “certain to vote” in a General Election.

Another factor that might have an impact is that the Mori “certainty to vote” question is put at the end of the interview while ICM has this at the start. It is often argued that later responses in a polling survey might be “conditioned” by what has been asked before.

Mori’s monthly party shares tend to be much less stable than the other pollsters and thus more newsworthy. Journalists love big changes and polls which one show minute movements get much less attention.

Thus the Sun made a big splash of the Mori poll last January that reported a 6% drop in the Lib Dem share to fifteen points. During that period the highly stable ICM polls never showed a Lib Dem share below 19%.

    Whatever these numbers will certainly have a political impact because of the febrile situation created by the Middle East crisis. The Lib Dems seem to be on the right side of public opinion and this will reinforce Ming’s position.

Although the voting intention numbers are subject to the “certain to vote” filter this does not apply to the rest of the data from the survey. Among the others questions Mori has support for Blair at its lowest point ever and more people being against Cameron than for him.

To Lib Dems I would say – remember what you were saying about the Mori methodology after that 6% drop in January.

Mike Smithson


The “Hug-a-Hoodie” follow-up competition

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

gypsy site + cameron.JPG

    ……and the part 1 winner is ROGER

Last Sunday we launched a small prize competition. People were asked to you use their imagination to guess what will be the next David Cameron policy move after “Hug a Hoodie”

There were two prizes on offer – copies of my book on politics and betting that’s just been commissioned and will be published during 2007.

  • The first will go to the most amusing and original answer.
  • The second will be decided after David Cameron’s Tory conference speech in the autumn and will go to the entrant that got closest.
  • There were well over 150 entries and after much deep consideration I have decided to award the prize in the first category to Roger.

    I very much liked his post 57 “All Public schools to become Faith Schools. Eton to become Jewish seminary. Known as Mazel-toffs”.

    But the one which amused me most and just had the right feel about it was post 65: “Gypsies to be the new environmental roll models. All towns and villages to provide parking space for travellers caravans free. Special dedicated parking space for Caravans in HOC car-park. All councils objecting to be fined heavily. Campaign to be known as “Let a Gyp kip””

    Congratulations Roger and your prize will be sent to you as soon as the book is published.

    Mike Smithson


    Could Israel affect Tony’s departure time-table?

    Sunday, July 30th, 2006
      How long can he go on with his cabinet so divided?

    observer 30 july.JPGWith the situation in the Middle East continuing to take its toll how long can Tony Blair go on pursuing his aggressive pro-Israel strategy which is so unpopular in the polls and according to this morning’s papers is opening up big rifts within his cabinet?

    The main stories in the Sunday Telegraph, the Sunday Times and the Observer this morning focus on the critical statement issued by the former Foreign Secretary and leader of the house, Jack Straw, following a meeting yesterday with Muslin leaders in his constituency.

    The Observer goes on to say that it can “…reveal that at a cabinet meeting before Blair left for last Friday’s Washington summit with President George Bush, minister after minister pressed him to break with the Americans and publicly criticise Israel over the scale of death and destruction. The critics included close Blair allies. One, the International Development Secretary, Hilary Benn, was revealed yesterday to have told a Commons committee that he did not view Israel’s strikes on power stations as a ‘proportionate response’ to Hizbollah attacks.
    Another Blairite minister among the cabinet critics said: ‘It was clear that Tony knows the situation, and didn’t have to be told about the outrage felt by so many over the disproportionate suffering. He also completely understands the effect on the Muslim community – both in terms of losing Muslim voters hand over fist and the wider issue of community cohesion.’

    Today Blair is expected to reinforce his opponents’ concerns with a speech to Rupert Murdoch executives in California when he is expected to say that Hezbollah must be rooted out of Lebanon if there is to be a lasting peace in the Middle East. Neither the contents nor the context of the speech will endear him to Labour’s mainstream.

      The danger, surely, is that Blair’s detachment from the party coming on top of the loans affair could just create an environment where the Brownites feel confident of mounting a coup. September’s conference could be very interesting

    So far Brown’s ultra cautious approach has stopped such a move – but there will come a point where the Chancellor might damage his own career ambitions if he continues to do nothing.

    I still think that the 5/1 that’s available on Blair going in the final quarter of 2006 represents good value.

  • When I make a betting recommendation like this I am not predicting that Blair will go. What I am saying is that my assessment is that there’s a better than 20% chance of this happening. You only need to win one four bets at such a price to be ahead.
  • Mike Smithson


    Introducing the new “Good Week-Bad Week” Index?

    Saturday, July 29th, 2006

    4 leaders.JPG

      How Lebanon is hitting Tony Blair

    If you think that there has been too much polling data on PB.C this week then I am sorry but you’ll have to brace yourself for a whole lot more. For this morning I am delighted to announce that PB.C has come to an arrangement with YouGov for the regular supply of political polling data from the firm’s daily Brand Index survey.

      This will allow the site to feature what I’m calling – The Good Week – Bad Week” Index for the three party leaders and Gordon

    Each weekday for its commercial clients YouGov surveys 600 people to get their perceptions of different brands. This allows, for example, firms in the confectionery industry to be provided with up to date data on the impact of the salmonella cases on the Cadbury brand.

    Political questions are asked in the survey and this is what the pollster is making available to PB.C. We have already seen some of this in two articles on reports from Anthony Wells’s UK Polling Report site. The arrangement with YouGov means that Anthony is preparing weekly information for us so that we can track just how perceptions of the performances of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Ming Campbell are changing day-by-day.

    With two new party leaders and the prospect of a change for Labour this could not come at a better time. Also while we might have had a feast of polling data this week we are about to enter a period of famine. There will not be a Populus Poll for the Times in August and the next planned regular surveys will ICM in the Guardian and the main YouGov political survey in the Telegraph at the end of next month.

    The following are 5-day rolling averages and are based on the views on 3,000 people which is a much bigger sample than a conventional opinion poll. The question in each case is “Do you think that TB/GB/DC/MC is doing a good or bad job in his role as PM/Chancellor/Conservative Leader/Lib Dem leader”. For the Good Week – Bad week comparison I’m taking July 21 and July 28 figures. The July 17 data is provided as another reference point.

    TONY BLAIR – Bad Week
    (July 17: Good Job 26: Bad Job 59: Don’t Know 13)
    July 21: Good Job 26: Bad Job 60: Don’t Know 14
    July 24: Good Job 25: Bad Job 60: Don’t Know 13
    July 25: Good Job 24: Bad Job 60: Don’t Know 13
    July 26: Good Job 24: Bad Job 60: Don’t Know 13
    July 28: Good Job 23: Bad Job 62: Don’t Know 13

    GORDON BROWN – Almost no change
    (July 17: Good Job 40: Bad Job 41: Don’t Know 19)
    July 21: Good Job 38: Bad Job 41: Don’t Know 20
    July 24: Good Job 38: Bad Job 41: Don’t Know 21
    July 25: Good Job 38: Bad Job 41: Don’t Know 22
    July 26: Good Job 38: Bad Job 40: Don’t Know 22
    July 28: Good Job 38: Bad Job 41: Don’t Know 21

    DAVID CAMERON – Good Week
    (July 17: Good Job 40: Bad Job 27: Don’t Know 33)
    July 21: Good Job 39: Bad Job 27: Don’t Know 34
    July 24: Good Job 39: Bad Job 26: Don’t Know 35
    July 25: Good Job 40: Bad Job 26: Don’t Know 34
    July 26: Good Job 39: Bad Job 27: Don’t Know 34
    July 28: Good Job 41: Bad Job 26: Don’t Know 33

    MING CAMPBELL – Bad Week
    (July 17: Good Job 19: Bad Job 34: Don’t Know 47)
    July 21: Good Job 17: Bad Job 36: Don’t Know 47
    July 24: Good Job 17: Bad Job 36: Don’t Know 47
    July 25: Good Job 17: Bad Job 36: Don’t Know 47
    July 26: Good Job 17: Bad Job 37: Don’t Know 46
    July 28: Good Job 17: Bad Job 38: Don’t Know 45

    I will be experimenting with ways of presenting the data in coming weeks and your views are welcome. A big thank you to YouGov’s Stephan Shakespeare and Anthony Wells for making this happen.

    Mike Smithson


    YouGov reports that the Tories are down a point

    Friday, July 28th, 2006

      But is Anthony King right with his historical comparisons?

    This month’s YouGov poll in the Daily Telegraph has with changes on last month: CON 38(-1): LAB 33 (nc): LD 18 (nc). So the only difference is a one point fall in Tory support reducing the margin over Labour to 5%.

    These shares are broadly similar to this week’s Guardian ICM survey which had the Tories on 39% – four points ahead. The big difference between the two pollsters is the trend – ICM had the Tories moving forward by quite a big amount – YouGov has them moving back a notch.

    The big story of the morning perhaps, is the way the Daily Telegraph is reporting its poll. In his report Anthony King makes this remarkable statement “the Tories today are no better off than they were under William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard.” Eh?

    I cannot find numbers to support this. In early 2004 YouGov was showing Tory shares of up to 40% but was very much out of line with other pollsters.

    Certainly it’s hard to back up King’s assertion based on the only firm that’s been carrying out surveys using similar methodology since before 2002 – ICM. The only valid historical comparisons are those where you compare like with like.

    The Tories will be a touch disappointed that the big surge that ICM found has not been picked up by YouGov but will feel reasonably comfortable that their substantial progress on the General Election is being sustained. Their main concern should be the Daily Telegraph’s reporting.

    Labour will be relieved that the party funding stories are not having any real impact amongst the voters and will not be too uncomfortable with their deficit.

    The Lib Dems will be pleased that the pollster that has been showing poor shares for the party is not recording a further reduction.

      What we are all going to have to get used to is that we are now in an era of stable polling without the turbulence of years ago.

    The techniques that the three pollsters with the monthly newspaper contracts, ICM YouGov and Populus, use to ensure representative samples mean that big shifts are much less likely to happen. It is also my view that public opinion does not move all that much.

    Apart from using the Internet rather than the phone the big difference between the YouGov approach and ICM is that the latter adjusts its figures to take into account the likelihood that people will actually vote. The reason the Lib Dem have been dropping is that barely half of their supporters in the latest ICM survey said they would be certain to turnout at a General Election.

    Mike Smithson


    Is Cameron boosting the Labour vote as well?

    Thursday, July 27th, 2006

    Cameron labour.jpg

      What’s Ming’s party’s role in the Cameron-Brown world?

    The July ICM poll in the Guardian did match its billing – it was full of surprises for all three parties. The Tory 39% equalling their highest share from the pollster in 13 years; Labour maintaining their 35% in spite of everything and the Lib Dem 17% being their lowest ICM figure since before the Iraq War.

    Until now all the focus has been on David Cameron attracting Lib Dem supporters and this is the standard explanation for the figures? But is it more complicated than that? Is the rise of Cameron reinforcing Labour as well? This poll seems to suggest that it is.

      For the first time in a decade and a half there is just the prospect of a Tory General Election win and it is this that might be keeping Labour stable and squeezing the Lib Dems.

    For the decade and a half upto Cameron’s election it was easy for anti-Tory voters to consider voting Lib Dem because because such a move posed no risk. Major/Hague/IDS/Howard’s party did not present a real electoral threat. Thus the Lib Dems did well last time in spite of the massive Labour onsluaght in the final week suggesting that Lib Dem switchers could let Michael Howard in.

      That assertion might have sounded implausible in 2005 but with the Tories nearly at 40% then it certainly resonates today and is one factor I believe, that is underpinning the Labour share.

    So there is a twin challenge facing the Lib Dems: the party has to stop further seepage of its Tory leaning supporters going to Cameron and it has to find a way of persuading anti-Tory factions to stay on board – a task that might be even tougher when Tony Blair has moved on.

  • The monthly ICM poll in the Guardian is the one that is taken most seriously because it has been running since 1984 and the pollster built its reputation by being the first to take effective measures to deal what was and is the polling industry’s biggest challenge – the tendency of surveys to overstate Labour and to under-state the Tories.
  • Mike Smithson


    Tories open up 4% gap in the July ICM poll

    Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

    cameron-tory logo-downing street.jpg

      But Cameron needs more than 39% before he can think of Number 10?

    After all the waiting the delayed figures from the Guardian’s July ICM survey are now out and they have the Tories moving forward, Labour holding steady but the Lib Dems falling back.

    These are the shares with comparisons on the last ICM poll which was in the Sunday Telegraph nearly three weeks ago. CON 39 (+3): LAB 35 (nc): LD 17 (-1).. Note that the reports that the Guardian is putting out have comparisons with the paper’s June ICM poll – not the last survey by the pollster.

    For the Tories this survey, the latest in the longest continuous series of polls in any UK newspaper, is very good news particularly as it comes after the disappointments of the Bromley by-election. It will reinforce David Cameron in his efforts to shift the party in the face of growing opposition.

    For Labour there must be some relief that the party is not paying a price for the loans for honours affair. Holding onto the 35% – just one point down on the General election – is perhaps more than they could have hoped for in the circumstances. Also a deficit of just 4% is manageable and the party would probably end up with most seats if this was the outcome at a General Election.

    For the Lib Dems the numbers must be a disappointment particularly as they come after Bromley, some better performances by Ming Campbell, and signs that the policy and media relations operation is working better.

    The message from these numbers is that the next General Election is wide open. It will be interesting to see if the trend is confirmed by YouGov which should be out in the next couple of days.

    Mike Smithson