Archive for November, 2007


Tories take 9% lead with Ipsos-MORI

Friday, November 30th, 2007

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    The Lib Dems jump 4 points

Ipsos-Mori has just released its latest poll which follows the recent YouGov and ComRes surveys and shows a big increase in the Conservative lead. The shares, with comparisons on the last survey almost a month ago shows CON 41% (+1): LAB 32% (-3): LD 17% (+4).

The survey was carried out by phone from November 23rd-27th so would have caught the first part of Labour’s dodgy donations scandal.

The Tories will be delighted that they are advancing as will the Lib Dems with their massive boost.

According to the Wells seat calculator these vote shares would produce an overall Conservative majority of two seats.

Almost precisely two months ago Ipsos-MORI found CON 31%: LAB 44%: LD 15%.

My betting I was waiting for this survey before deciding whether to cash in some of my Tory buy profits on the Commons seat markets. I’m staying in because with the last three polls showing the same picture it will reinforce the betting move to the Tories away from Labour.

Mike Smithson


Sean Fear’s Friday Slot

Friday, November 30th, 2007
    The Contest for Luton

luton town hall.JPGOne of Anthony Wells’ contributors described Luton as “to be frank, a dump.” Having recently moved there, I’d have to say that while that is probably a fair description of what must be the most badly designed town centre, anywhere in the Home Counties, it’s not a fair description of an entire town of nearly 200,000 people. There is a great deal of good private housing around Wardown Park, Stopsley, the Old and New Bedford Roads, and Stockwood Park, close to the M1. On the edge of the town is one of the most outstanding country houses anywhere in Britain, Luton Hoo, now a hotel.

The local economy has been badly damaged by the closure of the Vauxhall car plant in 2000. Overall, average weekly incomes are £36 per week lower than the average for the South East as a whole. This, together with the growth of a substantial Muslim population, has shifted Luton leftwards in recent years. However, given that is a South Eastern town, with excellent road and rail links, there must be a good chance the economy will recover in the future.

Luton is historically marginal, with both seats (or one seat prior to 1974) usually being won by whichever party wins the general election. The Conservatives won both seats in 1983, and held them till 1997, when Labour gained both seats comfortably. Labour pushed up their majorities strongly in 2001, with very similar results in both seats. In 2005, the Labour vote fell sharply in both seats, to the benefit of the Liberal Democrats. The Conservatives also slipped back in South, while moving forward slightly in North. Almost certainly, the reason for the big switch to the Liberal Democrats was down to Muslim unhappiness with the Iraq war. Labour has notional leads over the Conservatives of 16% in North, and 14% in South.

Luton matters to the Conservatives. While the party could certainly win an overall majority without winning either seat, it might not be a very comfortable majority, particularly given that the Conservatives seem to be advancing more strongly in the South of England than they are in the North or Scotland. Of the two seats, North is actually the better prospect for the Conservatives, despite the fact that the notional Labour majority is slightly bigger. All of Luton’s 5 Conservative councillors are located in North, and there are wards in the constituency , located around New Bedford Road, such as Icknield, Bramingham, and Barnfield, which produce a very reliable Conservative vote in general elections. Labour’s strength lies in the wards heading towards Dunstable, such as Leagrave, Lewsey, and heavily Muslim Saints The Conservatives won 32% in the wards making up the seat in May, compared to 37% for Labour, who won 13 seats, and 25% for the Liberal Democrats, who won 6. At Parliamentary level, the Conservatives are the clear challengers to Labour, here.

South’s recent electoral history is quite different. This seat takes in most of the town centre, as well as the former Vauxhall car plant, and the airport. There is also one ward from outside Luton, Caddington, Hythe and Slip End, which produces the sole Conservative councillor in the seat. May’s local election results gave 35% to Labour, who won 14 seats, 30% to the Liberal Democrats, who won 10, and 22% to the Conservatives, who won 1. However, another 13% went to small, mainly left-wing parties, and many of them would probably vote Labour in a general election. The Conservatives did not field a full slate of candidates here, and it is hard to see them mounting an effective challenge in a general election. While in theory, the Liberal Democrats might appear to be in a position to challenge Labour, in practice it will be difficult. South has a very large Muslim population (about 18% of the total), and while Muslim voters switched strongly to the Liberal Democrats in 2005, there are signs that many of them have moved back to Labour since then. Labour ought to be able to hold this seat, unless their support really does collapse.

There were three by-elections last night:-

Elmbridge Borough – Cobham Fairmile:
Conservative 418, Lib Dem 45, Labour 38, Independent 32, Independent 18, Monster Raving Loony Party 9. Conservative hold, despite a strong challenge from the Loony Party, whose best days seem to be behind them.

Kerrier District – Helston North:
Conservative 315, Independent 226, Independent 194, Mebyon Kernow 115. Conservative gain from Independent. It is hard to know what to make of this, as the ward was uncontested in May.
Rochdale Borough – North Middleton:
Labour 603, Lib Dem 566, Conservaitve 280. Labour hold. There was however, a very strong swing from both Labour and the Conservatives to the Liberal Democrats.

Sean Fear – PBC Poster of the Year 2007


Does the latest poll under-state Labour’s plight?

Friday, November 30th, 2007

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    What if the fieldwork had taken place yesterday?

As has been noted often here a key element when assessing a poll is the timing of the field-work. In fast-moving political situations like we’ve seen this week the “when” can play a critical role.

So the overnight YouGov poll in today’s Telegraph has to be looked at in terms of when it took place. The figures, as discussed on the previous thread, were with changes on the previous survey from the pollster – CON 43% (+2): LAB 32% (-2): LD 14% (nc)

There’s no doubt that Labour has had a terrible week in the media – but it has been a week that has got incrementally worse almost with each news bulletin. Last night’s move by Harriet Harman to implicate the Brown camp, the splash in the Guardian this morning, could take this to a new level.

As Anthony Wells in UK Polling Report notes the fieldwork for this latest YouGov poll took place from Monday to Wednesday – but the experience is that half the respondents complete and submit their forms on the first day with probably only a small minority, in this case, waiting until the end.

On Monday the proxy donations story had nothing like the potency that it reached last night when the Harman split emerged and news of the two police investigations came out.

Fortunately for Brown when the news is less bad and less relenting the chances are that some of the lost ground in the polls might be recovered.

In the betting there’s been a move against Labour and to the Tories on the commons spread markets – where the number of seats the parties will get at the general election are traded like stocks and shares. The Tory “buy” price is now about 306 seats. I increased by Tory buy position last night and now have £150 a seat at risk across three bookmakers at an average of 293 seats. With spread-betting you don’t start making money until the price has moved to cover the spread which is usually six seats.

UPDATED 0905 “The boss of YouGov, Peter Kellner has emailed me to say “the full details of our Telegraph poll will be up on our site later today; but in the light of your comments, I thought you should know that the voting intentions were the combination of two separate polls, one Monday-Wednesday (the monthly tracker poll), the other Tuesday-Thursday (when we also asked the questions about perceptions of party sleaze, which the Telegraph commissioned after Monday evening’s disclosures, by which time the tracker poll was already under way). As it happens, there was no material difference between the two surveys – both showed an 11% Con lead, 43-32.”

Mike Smithson


The YouGov poll – does it live up to its billing?

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

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    Is it as “devastating as we were led to believe?

Earlier this evening this appeared on the Daily Telegraph blog – “Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Telegraph is, to quote our polling guru Anthony King, ‘one of the most devastating I’ve ever seen’. That’s quite a verdict from a man who has been looking at these things for four decades.”

This set peoples’ imaginations racing especially as the last poll to publish, ComRes on Tuesday, had the Tories 13% ahead with Labour down at 27%.

This evening shares with changes on the last YouGov poll a weeks ago are: CON 43% (+2): LAB 32% (-2): LD 14% (nc). So not quite on the scale of ComRes but still the biggest ever Tory lead recorded by the internet pollster.

The changes that appear on the paper’s graphic, above, are not the same as those in our comparison which looks at the last YouGov poll and not just the last one to appear in the paper.

In many ways I consider this to be better for Cameron than ComRes. That had the Tory share down a point while this latest YouGov survey has them up two at a record 43%.

If these levels were repeated in a general election then the Tories could be looking towards an overall majority of 58. Very workable.

For punters the big question is whether this will shift the spread markets? My guess is that it will but not by that much.

Mike Smithson


Thursday’s continuation thread

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

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To ease pressure on the server can we continue our discussions here.

Mike Smithson


It’s 9/4 that Harriet will be out by the end of the year

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

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    Is that a value bet or not?

The above picture is a screen-shot from a TV interview Harriet gave within hours of the news coming out of the £5000 donation to her deputy campaign from David Abraham via a proxy. That was a couple of days ago when the stress was clearly showing. Since then Brown has hardly given her the ringing endorsement that she surely could have hoped for from her boss.

Today, in her role as leader of the house, she was in the firing lining during business questions in the commons. The nature of this format makes it hard for a proper interroragtion and from what I saw she seemed to be coping OK. She came out with the line – “You can huff and puff but you will not blow this Leader of the House down.”

    But there’s no doubt that she remains under pressure and there must be a possibility that she might have to shift.

Yesterday lunch-time you could have got 9/2 from William Hill that Harriet would be gone by the end of the year. Twenty-four hours later that has tightened to 9/4 with 1/3 being available on her surviving.

She seems a pretty resilient character and my guess is that she’ll hold on – unless something more serious comes out.

Mike Smithson


Why are all Brown’s problems from here?

Thursday, November 29th, 2007


    Could there be a local general election impact?

I don’t think anybody has picked up that all Labour’s current problems seem to have emanated in the same place – Newcastle upon Tyne.

Thus the headquarters of the troubled bank which continues to cause anguish for the party, Northern Rock, is based in the city and is one of its biggest employers.

It was at the Inland Revenue and Customs offices on Tyneside that the data on the 25 million people was down-loaded onto the CD-roms that have gone missing.

And to cap it all this week the property developer at the heart of the latest Labour donations scandal, David Abrahams, is from Tyneside and it is his company’s property scheme just by the A1M that has become the focus of much attention.

All a coincidence – of course. But I just wonder if the cumulative affect of the problems might have an impact in Durham City, Newcastle North and Newcastle East – all Lib Dem targets? Any LAB>LD losses could have a big impact on the overall general election outcome.

This part of the world has been a traditional Labour stronghold for decades and has a history of Labour scandals. In the early 1970s the corruption scandals that rocked Labour involved politicians such as T Dan Smith and Andy Cunningham – both prominent Tyneside party figures who were jailed.

Mike Smithson


Will Vince over-shadow whoever wins?

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

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    How can the winner possibly do better than Cable?

With the Lib Dem leadership contest coming into its final phase could the party be facing a big challenge when the new man gets elected and takes his place at Prime Minister’s Questions?

For after another rivetting performance by Cable this lunchtime it’s hard to see how either Clegg or Huhne are going to be able to do anything like as well.

The biggest laughs today came with Cable’s comment about Brown’s “remarkable transformation in the last few weeks from Stalin to Mr Bean, creating chaos out of order rather than order out of chaos”.

Huhne or Clegg are going to face a barrage of heckling when they stand up for the first time with both the Tory and Labour thug elements having a real interest in inflicting early damage.

Mike Smithson