Archive for June, 2007


How 54% of voters will get the news this morning?

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

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    What do today’s front pages suggest might happen?

Reproduced above are the front pages of the four main tabloids that will greet millions of people this morning. This includes those who buy the paper and those who just have fleeting glances at news-stands and in newsagents shops the length and breadth of the land.

The hostile front page of the Express compares with the welcome it gave Blair in 1997 and the support for Labour in 2001. But the paper is not what it was and has much less influence.

The Daily Mirror’s approach is entirely what was expected while the Sun remains tantalisingly non-committed.

    The one interesting front page is the Mail whose editor, Paul Dacre, is a close friend of Brown’s. There’ll be disappointment at Number 10 about the negative tone which might be a pointer to the future.

Are they important? Yes – very. With audiences for TV news bulletins in decline the tabloids are for many people their only source of news and information. The tone that’s set can have an influence. Just ask Neil Kinnock after what the Sun did to him on April 9th 1992.

According to YouGov’s newspaper readership ratings these tabloids and their Scottish counterparts are read each day by 54% of all GB voters. By contrast the other nationals – the FT, Times, Indy and Telegraph – are seen by just 13% with the balance not being regular readers of a national paper at all. There’s a lot to play for.

The main betting story of Brown’s first day has been a market launched yesterday afternoon by William Hill on “what will happen first during Brown’s first term”. Eagle-eyed PB-ers spotted the 10/1 that was available against Labour losing a by election. Given the other possibilities listed in the market this looked like a great bet especially as we have contests at Ealing Southall and Sedgefield coming up.

Clearly the money started piling on and by the close of business last night the price had tightened to 5/1. Let’s hope that the bookmaker puts it up again this morning.

Mike Smithson

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The Brown Era – the opening prices

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

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    Will he lead Labour to a fourth victory

This post is partly for the record so that we can refer back to what the betting prices on the next general election were within Gordon’s first hour at Number 10.

I must admit that I cannot read this and I have now closed down the buy spread bet on Labour which I bought a month ago at 271 seats.

Will he do it? Will Cameron return to the early form? I’m not risking anything at the moment.

Mike Smithson


So what do we think of that then?

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

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    How will it be different next Wednesday?

Blair’s final PMQs, as some have observed, was very strange and you almost thought that the occasion would bring tears to his eyes. Yet what a star he has been and how formidable an opponent he has been for the five Tory leaders and three Lib Dems one who have faced him each week. None of them, even Hague at his best, has every really been his match.

It’s Tony huge emotional intelligence and the ability to think on his feet that mark him out as a master of the art of this weekly parliamentary occasion.

One things for certain – it’s all going to be different next week and that first clash between Brown and Cameron is something I’ve been looking forward to for a year and a half.

Next Wednesday will get massive coverage and my guess is that Cameron, who also has a high emotional intelligence, will follow the strategy he followed today, recognise the occasion it is and not let PM Brown get into attack him. That will come later.

What a great time to be observing politics?

Mike Smithson


Now YouGov has the Lib Dems down at 12%

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

    Can Ming’s by election team prove the polls wrong?

ming RH.JPGA new YouGov poll for Sky News which was published overnight has the Lib Dems at their worst ever figure from the firm – even below the last low point of 13% in January 2006 in a survey taken after the Mark Oaten and Simon Hughes tabloid revelations.

The figures are with changes on the last YouGov poll in the Sun Times a week and a half ago are: CON 37% (nc): LAB 36% (+1): LD 12% (-2).

So the Tories are staying firm and the fall-off in Lib Dem support being found amongst members of the pollster’s polling panel continues. At the end of April, just two months ago, YouGov had the party at 18% – so the poll is showing a drop in support of exactly a third in that time period.

Labour, however they try to spin it, must be hugely disappointed by the survey which took place against a backdrop of almost wall to wall positive coverage for the party and in the immediate aftermath of its Manchester conference.

In the first YouGov poll after last September’s Labour conference the party were level pegging with the Tories on 36% – so today’s poll is not as good as that.

But what of Ming and the Lib Dems?
This is a dreadful poll. Yet they will no doubt recall that in the days following their last YouGov low-point they went on to win the Dunfermline by election in February 2006.

The prospect of two more by elections will focus the party machine. In both Southall and Tony Blair’s old seat at Sedgefield they must fancy their chances. In the former the party was in second place at the General Election and in the latter they were third just behind the Tories. But their 2005 result in Tony Blair’s constituency result result was affected by a large number of potential Lib Dem supporters who opted for the anti-war candidate.

No doubt the elections will be held on the same day to dissipate LD resources and Labour will seek to create the maximum level of surprise on the timing. But you would be unwise to bet that Labour would retain both seats.

  • A note on YouGov weightings. YouGov weight on the basis of a political party identification following surveys that were taken immediately after the 2005 election. The current levels are – LAB 33%: CON 25%: LD 11%: OTH 3%: NONE 25%: DK 2%. ICM, Populus and Communicate Research weight to a LD past vote recall of 13%.

  • Mike Smithson

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    My favourite defector quote…

    Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

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    Denis Healey on David Owen…“The good fairy gave him thick dark locks, matinee idol features and a frightening intellect. ‘Unfortunately, the bad fairy also made him a shit.”

    Mike Smithson


    How big a blow to Cameron is the Davies defection?

    Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

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      Will the Tories have an uncomfortable final Blair PMQs?

    However much Tories try to spin it the defection of Quentin Davies is a major coup for Gordon Brown on the eve of his arrival at Number 10. It also provides some great ammunition for Tony Blair for tomorrow’s final PMQs.

    The Tory leader had no doubt planned to focus on Harriet Harman’s mixed messages over Iraq and this will spike his guns a bit.

    Cameron will be furious and he has to be careful how he handles tomorrow’s confrontation. A loss of temper in public will not be good at this stage.

    What he really must be hoping for is some further good polling news expected overnight with the June ICM survey for the Guardian. My understanding is that the fieldwork took place over the same period as today’s CR poll in the Indy and both pollsters follow broadly similar methodology.

    Mike Smithson


    PBC Deputy Leader Competition Results

    Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

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      Agingjb by a landslide –
      top 3 well clear of the field

    Following Harriet Harman’s nail-biting win in the the Labour Deputy Leadership, the results of the PBC Competition have now been finalised – detailed results are available here.

    Only five entrants tipped Harman to win, and four of them lead the competition rankings.

    Agingjb (post 45) had a clear win in the contest, with a score of just 7.68 (0.57 for the winner and 7.11 for the first preferences), followed by jgc (post 67) with 13.74 (1.47 & 12.27), and then Mark Senior (post 25) with 18.64 (0.23 & 18.41).

    Nick Palmer in 4th place came closest on the winner, being just 0.07 out with his prediction of 50.5% for Harman.

    Paul Maggs “Double Carpet”

    Note from Mike Smithson Paul Maggs will be standing in as guest editor during my two holidays this summer. The first starts a week on Saturday and the second is in September.

    There are two or three guest columns waiting to be published but if anybody has other ideas please drop me a line.


    Tory lead moves to 5% with Communicate Research

    Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

      Has Brown been hurt by the Ashdown cabinet row?

    With every bit of detail in every poll being scrutinised to the nth degree at the moment there’s very disappointing news for Labour this morning with the June poll by Communicate Research in the Independent. After the Ipsos-Mori survey showing them 3% they must have been hoping that other pollsters would follow suit.

    The topline CR figures with with changes from May survey are CON 37%(+2): LAB 32%(+1): LD 18%(-1) – so reassuring data for David Cameron who has been almost totally squeezed out of the news of late.

    CR is the newest pollster carrying out monthly surveys and has been changing its methodology. When the series for the Independent began last October it did not operate past vote weighting to ensure a politically balanced samples. That was altered early in 2007 and in April CR had Labour down to just 27%. Ipsos-Mori is now the only UK pollster not weighting by past vote or party identifier.

    Looking at the detail Tory supporters remain much more likely to vote than Labour ones which has an impact on the overall numbers.

    The survey began on Friday while all the news focus was on the EU summit and ended and Sunday when Gordon was crowned as leader and Harriet Harman won the deputy election.

      In the days running up to the survey the story that was dominating the headlines was Brown’s offer of a cabinet place to Paddy Ashdown and it might have been that this has not produced the positive polling response that was hoped for.

    My understanding is that the June ICM survey for the Guardian was carried out at the same time although, as I write, there is no sign on the paper’s website that it will be published in Tuesday’s edition. Maybe the paper is holding it over until tomorrow – the morning that Gordon goes to the the Palace.

    We are also waiting for the June YouGov poll for the Daily Telegraph which will probably be out on Friday.

    On the general election date betting market the 2007 option has moved out from 7/1 to 11/1. Clearly Gordon is not going to risk it with numbers like these.

    Mike Smithson

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