Archive for April, 2011


Is Philip Hammond set to become the Tory John Reid?

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Is he the “safe pair of hands” to take on troubled portfolios?

In recent weeks the AV campaign has brought back to prominence John Reid – the man I thought should have taken over as Labour leader when Tony Blair was forced out in 2007.

He played a blinder with his double act last week with Cameron underlining why he was seen by many as the best Labour commuicator of his era. He famously dubbed Jeremy Paxman a “West London wanker,” after the Newsnight presenter introduced him as “an all-purpose attack dog”.

Just looking over Reid’s government positions you can see how useful he was to Blair taking over troubled portflios time and time again.

John Reid’s ministerial positions 1998-2007
Minister of Transport
Secretary of State for Scotland
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (After Mandelson’s second resignation)
Minister without Portfolio and Labour Party Chairman (Dubbed the “Minister for the Today Programme”)
Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council (Following Robin Cook’s resignation over Iraq)
Secretary of State for Health (Following Alan Milburn’s resignation)
Secretary of State for Defence (Replacing Geoff Hoon)
Home Secretary (After the sacking of Charles Clarke in the wake of the foreign prisoner release scandal)

After David Cameron less than fulsome endorsement of health secretary, Andrew Lansley, at PMQs yesterday there are suggestions by Michael Crick that a job swap with transport secretary, Philip Hammond, might be on the cards.

That seems quite smart. Hammond’s presentational skills and sharp political antenna are in marked contrast to Lansley’s approach and could help the blues get out of the current PR mess.

And once that is sorted Hammond would be available, in John Reid style, for the next problem portfolio.

Mike Smithson


What’s the PB view of the Royal Wedding?

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011
PBers and the Royal Wedding – tick those that apply
I’m very interested
I’m fairly interested
I’m not very interested
I’ve no interest at all
It’s likely that I’ll watch on TV
I probably won’t watch the TV coverage
I’ve had at least on bet on some aspect of the wedding
I’ve not had any wedding-related bets at all


Should we be wary about bank holiday polling?

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Populus May 2005

A reminder of this shocker from 2005?

At a big polling conference before the 2010 general election the boss of ICM, Martin Boon, touched on the challenges of carrying out surveys over bank holiday weekends and referred to the above famous Populus poll from 2005.

For fieldwork took place over the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before the May 5 2005 general election day and came out with a 14 point Labour lead – three days later Blair’s party won with 36.2% to the Tories 33.2% and the LDs 22.7%.

This was widely put down to the challenges of finding a balanced sample during long summer weekends and it has become part of polling folklore that surveys during such periods can produce skewed results.

In the run-up to the May 5th elections we have not one but two long holiday weekends and a lot of people are away. So it might just be that we’ll get one or two quirky outcomes.

The AV polling has in the past ten days been extraordinarily consistent and there seems to be the same broad picture coming out of Scotland.

The possible bank holiday effect is just something to bear in mind.

Mike Smithson


Was “Calm down dear” a mistake?

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

The first viewer reaction on the Daily Politics to PMQs was from someone who was concerned about Cameron’s “calm down dear” comment to a female Labour front bencher.

John Rentoul thought the comment would go down well outside the house. I’m not so sure particularly because it has a sexist ring to it. Would he have said the same to Ed Balls?

A big challenge for Dave is that his manner can be portrayed as bullying and I think I he’s got to tome this down just a touch.

The BBC viewer reported above said she was changing her AV vote to YES because of it.

Mike Smithson


How should Miliband exploit the growing blue-yellow chasm?

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

What will he focus on at PMQs today?

It’s been several weeks since EdM and Dave last faced each other across the house at PMQs – and how things have developed in that time with the coalition partners.

They are back again in the chamber at midday and the blue-yellow gulf that we’ve seen in the last week should surely present some easy pickings for the Labour leader. How best should he exploit them and what does he want to achieve?

My guess is that he’ll try to open up the gaps even more by quoting comments by Cable/Huhne/Clegg to try to entice Cameron into saying harder things.

His big focus could be on Cameron’s statements about nepotism and interns which were in direct contradiction to what the DPM had been saying and looked like a deliberate slap-down.

He might even taunt Cameron with the early election talk knowing that as polls stand at the moment Labour would be returned with a majority.

Mike Smithson


Can the Labour YES poster help turn it round?

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Is attacking Dave/George going to resonate?

I am told that this ad is being used in strong Labour areas, particularly in the north. To me the linking of the local elections, the referendum and using the Labour logo is quite smart and for some audiences might be quite effective.

This is all part of the Mandy attack strategy that we saw last night – put the focus on Cameron/Osborne not on Clegg.

We shall see if it works.

UPDATE The first AV poll since the holiday weekend, from YouGov for the Sun, is out and shows that NO has extended its lead compared with a week ago. The shares are YES 41 to NO 59. The lead is now 18 percent. Part of the change is down to more Labour supporters saying they are voting against.

On an earlier thread a poster reported that a family member had taken part in an ICM phone survey on AV. That has yet to appear.

Mike Smithson


Another poll has NO winning 58-42

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

What will this week’s surveys tell us

There’s a poll from last week from the Canadian online firm, Angus Reid, that’s just been published and like the ICM and YouGov surveys at about the same time has the split at 58-42 to NO.

The fieldwork finished last Thursday so is now quite old – but it does bear out what we saw from other firms. There has been a big shift to the NO camp.

Most of the change has come from a hardening up of Tory support for NO following Cameron’s decision to step up his campaigning particular following his big speech on the subject.

We have not, alas, had any polling numbers from after last Thursday. Hopefully that gap will be filled tonight.

Mike Smithson


Are Labour voters going to stay 50:50 on AV?

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Will the new “hurt George and Dave” effort change views?

My reading of the referendum battle is that the only way that YES can come back from behind is if there’s a sizeable switch of Labour voters to their side.

Currently it’s broadly 50:50 which reflects the views of the parliamentary party. It really needs to be 60:40 for the effort to abandon FPTP is to be successful.

Ed Miliband has hardly been conspicuous in his advocacy of the side he says he’s backing and he’s playing a much lower-profile role than Cameron is for NO.

This means, of course, is that if by any chance YES wins Ed will get much less kudos than Cameron will if it’s a NO.

Today’s move by Peter Mandelson marks a new stage by the Labour YES campaign which also sees the launch of a poster campaign aimed at Cameron & Osborne.

At the moment we are without new polling. We didn’t see the usual YouGov Sunday Times survey and there’s been nothing at all since the TNS poll last week. The Harris poll reported overnight was actually from April 11th.

Mike Smithson