Archive for May, 2011


Labour loses its ComRes phone poll lead

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

The latest ComRes phone poll for The Independent has Labour and the Tories level pegging on 37% which is the first tme since October 2010 that the red team has not been in the lead.

This is only the second telephone survey since the May 5th elections and comes from the pollster that came in a respectable second place with its final AV poll.

The LDs are down three to 12 while support for other parties, including the SNP, UKIP and Greens, is up by two points 14 per cent.

Although Labour are not down in this survey – the gap has closed because the Tories are up – the fact that the lead has gone will create some nervousness at Miliband Towers. Back in January the pollster had Labour with a nine point lead.

ComRes also asked a series of questions over the super-injunction controversy:

“Judges have been too willing to grant injunctions to enable the rich and famous to protect their private lives.” 70 per cent agreed, 25 per cent disagreed.

“Celebrities and sports stars owe their lifestyle to their public profile so they should not complain about intrusion into their private lives.” 65 per cent agreed, 30 per cent disagreed.

“The Government should ensure greater regulation of the internet and social media like twitter to protect people’s rights to privacy.” 54 per cent agreed, 40 per cent disagreed.

“MPs and Peers who have used parliamentary privilege to reveal super-injunctions were right to do so.” 44 per cent agreed, 48 per cent disagreed

ComRes have two polling series – one, like tonight’s, is carried out by phone – the other is done online. My comparisons and the chart above are with previous phone polls.

UPDATE: The latest YouGov daily poll has a very different picture – CON 37%: LAB 42%: LD 9%. In only one survey since early December has the pollster had Labour below 40%. In the same period ICM, the pollster that got the AV referendum right to within 0.1%, has not had Labour out of the 30s.

Mike Smithson


With the death toll mounting in Spain’s e coli cucumber outbreak…

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

..a cartoon about FIFA from Marf


Will Michael Crick emerge as the punters’ hero?

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Is Huhne going to “be toast” or not?

The first big Chris Huhne market, whether the LD energy secretary will still have his cabinet place by the end of the month, will be resolved at midnight and unless there’s something dramatic during the day it’s hard now to see those who gambled that he’d be out winning. On top of that there’s been the betting on which minster will be next out of the cabinet which has fluctuated harply.

A lot of this has been driven by the dozens of posts on Guido’s with a key source, as above, being the political editor of Newsnight Michael Crick.

The BBC man’s last postings were on Friday night and touched on one key issue could be central to Huhne’s future – the extent to which the energy secretary’s estranged wife co-operate with the police.

Crick reported then “Contrary to a report on the front page of today’s Daily Telegraph, Chris Huhne’s estranged wife Vicky Pryce is co-operating with Essex police, according to a reliable source.

Essex police this week interviewed both the energy secretary and Vicky Pryce over allegations that Huhne got his wife to take the points for a speeding offence on the M11 in March 2003.

Under the headline “Huhne’s ex-wife refuses to confirm points claim”, the Telegraph today said Pryce had refused to tell the police in her interview whether or not she took points for the offence.

I hear that Vicky Pryce is “irritated” by the Telegraph report, and that “it’s rubbish that she’s not co-operating.”

At the heart of this is whether there’s evidence to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that Huhne did as is alleged eight years ago. If the main evidence available to prosecutors is the time at which his wife left a dinner in London on the night in question in 2003 then it’s harder seeing how a case could succeed.

If the Crick version of the police interview is correct then Huhne’s future looks less secure.

Mike Smithson


Could the coalition continue even if there’s a Tory majority?

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Senior aides say this is what they want

According to Tim Montgomerie at Con Home there’s a report by Rachel Sylvester in tomorrow’s Times that says that aides to Cameron and senior Tory ministers want the LDs to stay in government even if the Conservatives win a majority at the next election.

Rachel Sylvester apparently says that there’s a view that Lib Dems are essential to ensure any Tory government isn’t held to ransom by “unreconstructed elements” amongst the blues.

She’s reported as writing: “For the Tory modernisers, the Lib Dems are the ideal weapon to ward off the enemy within… The Prime Minister is pleased to have political cover for keeping the 50p top rate of tax, abandoning the “prison works” approach to crime, avoiding a return to grammar schools and retaining the ring-fence on aid — all policies that infuriate the rightwingers. “The traditionalists are just not on planet Earth,” says one Cameroon.”

The central notion is that it’s a lot easier for Cameron to pursue his agenda without his right wing holding the balance of power.

But isn’t there a contradiction here? If the blues had an overall majority then the yellows would have far less bargaining strength and the right could be a lot more powerful.

There’s also a problem with the Lib Dems – I find it hard to envisage that the party would allow such an arrangement to happen.

I get a feeling that Montgomerie is about to prepare one of his Tory members’ polls. They ain’t going to like it.

Mike Smithson


ICM and MORI – spot the difference

Monday, May 30th, 2011


Can Labour open up the Tory EU wounds?

Monday, May 30th, 2011


Could the blues be vulnerable on the bail-out costs?

Patrick Wintour in the Guardian has an interesting piece about a Labour plan to “to work with Eurosceptic Tories to reduce the size of UK contributions to the bailout of troubled eurozone nations and to cut the timescale of UK liability.”

He writes: “Labour is weighing up an alliance with increasingly fractious Tory Eurosceptics over two specific issues likely to return to the Commons in the next few months – a move that could threaten the government’s Commons majority on some key votes or, at the very least, politically embarrass the chancellor, George Osborne.

The first is the degree to which the commission is disproportionately drawing on the European Financial Stability Mechanism (EFSM), to which Britain makes contributions…The second could build on anger at the failure of the coalition government to do more to demand the swift introduction of a permanent bailout mechanism from which Britain would be excluded…”

Politically this seems to be a sound strategy for Labour because the one big issue that Cameron & co have managed to sweep under the carpet in the coalition’s first year has been Britain’s relationship with the EU.

The plan sounds like a re-run of the hugely effective Labour tactics during the Tory 92-97 government. Then issue after issue was put forward by Labour in order to encourage Tory splits and put pressure on John Major.

Will that work again in 2011? It could do and looks like smart opposition.

Mike Smithson


Could Labour’s polling position just evaporate?

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Ten weeks in Scottish politics – what are the lessons?

I’ve been meaning to put up this chart for some time because I’m sure that the polling experience leading up to the Holyrood election on May 5th will be referred to time and time again.

This shows the regional list where the changes were most pronounced. From a position just ten weeks before election day where Labour had a 14 point lead over the SNP voters on the day gave Salmond’s party an 18 point margin over Labour.

In terms of changes and turnarounds I don’t think that there is a precedent. This was spectacular in the extreme.

Even in the final forty-eight hours big movements seemed to be taking place. YouGov’s eve of voting poll had an SNP lead of just three points and it looked as though the gap was narrowing. As it turned out the outcome was 44 to 26.

Before people conclude that this was YouGov the only ICM poll of the campaign – on March 18th – had the SNP on 34% to Labour 37% which was not dramatically different from the online pollster’s survey three days earlier.

Something dramatic happened in Scotland in those weeks before the election giving the lie, I’d suggest, to those who say that campaigns don’t matter.

Mike Smithson


Next to exit the cabinet betting? BUY Lansley – SELL Huhne

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Sunday Telegraph

Extracts from the Sundays

The Indy on Sunday: “Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, has dominated the headlines for three weeks now. The intensity of media interest is justified by the seriousness of the allegations against him. It is not so much the matter of an eight-year-old alleged speeding offence. It is the allegation that he asked someone else to take his penalty points, which would be an attempt to pervert the course of justice. And there is his current denial, which, if proved false, would be the most damaging. As we go to press, it looks as if Mr Huhne may survive, if only because of the impossibility of proving wrongdoing beyond reasonable doubt”

Patrick Hennessy – Sunday Telegraph: “The Sunday Telegraph has learned that the package of changes to the Health and Social Care Bill is likely to be finalised in around three weeks’ time after a bruising internal battle between Mr Cameron, Mr Lansley and Nick Clegg. Senior figures at 10 Downing Street have begun to “war game” Mr Lansley’s departure on the ground that his Bill will be so radically different from its original state that he no longer has the credibility to drive it through…. A fellow Conservative minister said last night: “I have immense personal sympathy for Andrew but if the Bill becomes something totally different from his original proposals then he will simply not have the credibility to lead the reforms.…”

The Observer: “The health secretary, Andrew Lansley, has been forced into a major U-turn on funding for public health campaigns, after evidence emerged that the spending freeze had cost lives….”

Matthew D’Ancona Sunday Telegraph: “As for Lansley, he has good reason to feel aggrieved and betrayed. His life’s work is being dismantled before his very eyes. Support that was promised is being withdrawn. He is being deserted in the most ruthless fashion. Number 10 accepts that he may well resign. Whether or not he does so, the final insult is the unambiguous signal he has already been sent by his most senior colleagues: that his departure, however regrettable, is a price worth paying. Anything – anything – to make this political horror-show go away.”

Mail on Sunday: “In a statement, a spokesman for Essex Police said: ‘We can confirm we have spoken to two key people on Tuesday at a police station in Essex and in London. We don’t expect a major update on this case for up to two weeks.’ Essex Police declined to comment further.”

Ladbrokes have eased the Huhne next to exit price to 4/6 while Lansley is now the 7/1 second favourite. They both might go but the critical element is the timing and here the pressure seems to be off Huhne and onto Lansley.

Mike Smithson