Archive for October, 2007


Intrdoducing the PBC online Lib Dem hustings

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007


    Your chance to put your questions

Politicalbetting has invited both the contenders in the Lib Dem leadership battle, Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne to take part in online hustings where users of the site can put their questions and discuss the issues with the contenders.

The first, with Chris Huhne, will take place at 11am this Sunday morning and will last for about an hour and a half. A special thread will be opened shortly before this time. The format will be similar to the online discussion we had with the founder of Mori, Sir Robert Worcester, a few weeks ago.

Although arrangements for Chris Huhne have been finalised I am still waiting for confirmation from the Nick Clegg camp with whom I have already had discussions.

When nominations closed today there were, as expected, just the two runners – both ex-Westminster school-boys who went onto Oxbridge and became MEPs. Both have only been in the house for two and a half years.

Mike Smithson


ICM finds support for UKIP down to ZERO percent

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

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    What are the implications of the collapse of the anti-EU party?

On June 10th 2004 in the last European elections, UKIP received 2.7 million votes and gained twelve seats in the European Parliament. Their national vote share of just under 17% put them in third place ahead of the Lib Dems and all the talk was of the party doing terrible damage to Michael Howard Conservatives in the ensuing general election.

When that vote came, just eleven months later, the party received a paltry 618,000 votes which amounted to less than 2.4% of the national vote. It did not win any Westminster seats although it’s argued that the performances of their candidates in key marginals cost the Tories a clutch of seats.

Earlier in 2007 the party was making the headlines again when two former Conservative Lords defected. Lords Pearson and Willoughby de Broke said they felt Cameron’s Conservative Party was not producing policy to support their beliefs.

Today, Julian Glover in the Guardian reports that in the latest poll published this morning UKIP did not register at all. Not a single respondent said the party would be their choice.

UKIP, like other smaller parties, is suffering from the increasing polarisation of big party politics. The question is whether this will have an impact on the number of seats changing hands and if so how should punters factor this in? For the UKIP element does not figure in the standard seat predictors except in so far as a part of the decline in support might mean switching to other parties.

We saw in the ICM marginals poll on the weekend that Gord called off the election that the Tories were doing well in the key seats. In that survey five people said they would vote UKIP.

All this is why in my commons seat spread betting I’m now assuming that the Tories will do a little better than the Baxter and Wells seat predictors suggest. When you have £100 a seat positions the odd five gains or losses either way can make a big difference.

Meanwhile on the Betfair general election “most seats” market the Tories have moved into the favourite slot once again.

Mike Smithson


Lib Dems at 18% as ICM reports 5% Tory lead

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

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    But the Tories take the hit for the LD surge

After predicting on yesterday’s ComRes thread that the ICM October poll for the Guardian would report a 5% Tory lead I feel a bit of satisfaction that that indeed is what has come about. These are the shares with changes on the last survey from the pollster tkaen in the immediate aftermath of the Tory conference CON 40% (-3): LAB 35% (-1): LD 18% (+4)

Also last week I was predicting that the extra media attention from Ming’s departure and the leadership race would give the Lib Dems a 3-4% boost – which has happened too.

ICM has consistently been the pollster which has given the Lib Dems the highest shares and I’m convinced that the 14% of three weeks ago played a part in the leadership changes.

There’s something for everybody here:-

  • Labour will be pleased at still being only one point below their general election total and the fact that the Tories seem to have taken most of the hit for the LD surge
  • The Tories might be a tad disappointed but will still be pleased at being in the 40s.
  • The Lib Dems will be delighted by their 18% share.
  • I’m hoping that the detail of the poll might have useful information about the Lib Dem race.

    Mike Smithson


    Will Gord try to stop Ashcroft without agreement?

    Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

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      Is there a political risk in taking unilateral action?

    According to the First Post online magazine tonight Gordon Brown is planning to take unilateral steps to stop the Tory multi-millionaire, Lord Ashcroft from pouring money into marginal seats between elections. At the same time there will be no constraints on the amount the trade unions can give to Labour – something that the Tories offered in exchange for agreeing to the marginal seats proposal.

    This looks set to be a major row with the Tories claiming that Labour is trying to fix the election spending rules in its favour and not do anything in return.

      There’s a huge danger in Labour being seen to act partially in this way and the move could provide the Tories with another stick to beat the government with.

    It could be that the downside of the row is greater than the benefit of restricting Tory spending in the marginals.

    Mike Smithson


    ComRes data: the biggest shift has been LAB>CON

    Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

      It’s not just been LDs moving to the Tories?

    Whenever a new poll comes out now the standard explanation from Labour observers is to observe that much of the change that has seen the Tories move above a 40% share in six consecutive surveys has been the result of Lib Dems switching. Once a replacement for Ming is in place, it is argued, then the Tories will decline.

    We saw that overnight with the Independent‘s ComRes survey that had with changes on mid September – CON 41%(+7): LAB 33%(-4): LD 16%(+1)

    Yet looking at the detailed data the biggest move to the Tories has not been from the leaderless Lib Dems but from Labour.

    One in eight of those who said they had voted for Tony Blair’s party in May 2005 now say they are supporting the Tories. This is about the same proportion as the LD>CON switchers but, of course, there are far fewer of them.

    Hopefully we will have the October ICM survey for the Guardian tomorrow and it will be interesting to compare. Both pollsters follow similar methodologies and, indeed, ComRes often uses ICM to carry out its fieldwork.

    Another detail from this latest poll also suggests there has been second big trend as well – support for “others” has been showing a marked decline.

    In the latest ComRes poll, like last week’s survey from Ipsos-Mori, the total for “others” is down at 6% which is just about the lowest share since the 2005 general election and is even more remarkable given the progress that the SNP is making in Scotland.

    Thus just a month ago ComRes had a balance of 14% for “others” while Ipsos-Mori had this at 10%.

    Part of this seems to have been caused by a decline in recorded support for UKIP and BNP which looks as though it has gone to the Tories.

    Mike Smithson


    Tories take 8% lead with ComRes

    Monday, October 29th, 2007

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      ..and a boost for the Lib Dems

    According to Ben Brogan of the Daily Mail tomorrow’s ComRes poll in the Independent will give the Tories an 8% lead.

    The shares, with changes on last month, are reported to be CON 41% (+7): LAB 33% (-3): LD 16% (nc)

    ComRes operates like Populus and ICM and weights by both past vote and certainty to vote. Its past vote formula has been less favourable to Labour than the other two.

    These figures will come as a mighty relief to the Lib Dems – especially as the first surveys after the dispatch of Ming still had them at 11%.

      The real significance in the main party battle is even with the Lib Dem share holding up it is Labour that is taking the hit.

    On the spread markets I’ve just sold Labour at £40 a seat at 296 seats and have bought the Tories at £25 a seat at 273.4 seats.

    Mike Smithson


    Could this alienate Dave’s Lib Dem switchers?

    Monday, October 29th, 2007

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      How can Cameron appeal to two audiences at the same time?

    Whenever pollsters ask about the main issue that concerns voters then immigration invariably comes top of the list. In the latest Ipsos-Mori poll 41% of those interviewed said, unprompted, that “race relations/immigration/immigrants” was amongst their top concerns.

    Politicians of all parties know this and are ultra-careful when they move into this policy area – but peddling what appears to be a highly populist anti-immigrant line can have its own dangers. – and the person facing the biggest challenge is David Cameron.

    For the section of the electorate most likely to be sensitive by a tough anti-immigrant stance are Lib Dem supporters including many, now doubt, who have switched their allegiance to Cameron’s liberal conservatism since the general election.

      Could straying into this territory, as the Tory leader did to today, be a turn-off to many of those whose support he has managed to win in the past two years?

    All this allowed the Lib Dem home leadership contender and home affairs spokesman, Nick Clegg, to accuse Cameron of “pandering to the right wing in his own party and claims that immigration numbers should be cut without having the faintest clue as to how that would happen”.

    Labour have to be very careful in this area too. The Michael Howard-style approach adopted by John Reid was doing the party no good amongst this key group of centre voters.

    Mike Smithson


    Is Cameron onto a winner playing the English card?

    Monday, October 29th, 2007

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      How should Labour respond to the Rifkind plan?

    Reproduced above is part of the coverage that the Daily Mail is giving this morning to the plans that are emerging over what the Tories will do about Scottish devolution and the so called “West Lothian Question”.

    Clearly the growing disparity between public services north and south of the border, which is being skilfully exploited by Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, is not going to go away. Free prescriptions, free home care for elderly and the absence of university tuition fees add up to an agenda that looks potentially problematical for Brown.

    Labour’s current strategy of accusing the Tories “playing fast and loose” with the constitution, the words used by Cabinet Minister, Ruth Kelly yesterday, doesn’t quite resonate.

      The problem for Brown is that if steps were taken to adjust the Barnett formula under which more public money is spent per head in Scotland than England there would be the danger of Labour seat losses to the SNP.

    The normal Brown strategy for dealing with Tory plans that appear popular is to close them down like with the IHT proposals earlier in the month. There’s much less scope for that with Scotland.

    So this is one that is going to run and run and there will be more Daily Mail headlines.

    Mike Smithson