Archive for March, 2012


Marf: The Thick of It continues……

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

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    As LAB moves to 44pc with YouGov and approval hits a new low…

    Thursday, March 29th, 2012

    Is this Cameron/Osborne’s worst crisis yet?

    The overnight YouGov poll reported for the second day running a 10 point LAB lead which followed the ComRes telephone survey on Monday night which also had a lead of that size. The YouGov shares were:

      CON 34%: LAB 44%: LD 10%
      Govt approval: Approve 25% Disapprove 61%

    This comes just eight days after Osborne’s budget with the lower of tax rates for the super–rich juxtaposed with a move, not properly explained, to reduce a tax allowance to the OAPs. Against all of this is the cash for access allegations made in the Sunday Times.

    It’s hard to conclude other than that the government is in deep pooh for reasons that were almost all avoidable. The big question is what this does to Dave/George’s dream of detoxifying the Tory brand?

    The most serious threat, I’d suggest, is from the tanker drivers – a situation that has been exacerbated by the mixed messages on panic buying coming from ministers and Number 10.

    Can the government manage to turn this onto Labour whose main funder is UNITE – the union that’s involved? This ought to be easy for ministers as long as Ed Miliband equivocates and doesn’t totally condemn. Unfortunately for the Tories the narrative is so much against the government that this could fall flat.

    Today we have the Bradford west by-election which back in 2010 was a Tory target. If the betting trends are right then the blue team will come in third.



    For tonight’s PB NightHawks the weird story of a LAB Councillor

    Wednesday, March 28th, 2012



    The #fuelstrike: Was Dave encouraging panic buying?

    Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

    Should the PM have been more guarded?

    The comments by David Cameron on motorists filling their tanks up have been sharply criticised by the petrol retailers because, they say, it is encouraging panic buying.

    Are they right or was the PM correct in advising people to take sensible precautions?

    As we saw in September 2000 a panic can soon be set off and that of itself can add to the shortages shortages.



    How well will George do on Thursday?

    Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

    Could he give Miliband/Labour a bloody nose?

    When the Bradford West by-election was called at the start of the month it looked a pretty standard LAB hold on an increased majority but with a reduced turnout. The voting at the general election was:

      LAB 45.3%: CON 31.15: LD 11.7%

    Then came news that George Galloway was entering the race in an attempt to get back into parliament. He opened in the betting at 33/1 but now has tightened to 10/1.

    Given the large Muslim communities in the seat it seemed quite fertile territory though he’s facing a huge challenge against a young Labour candidate who is deputy group leader on the city council.

    There’s a good report by Helen Pidd in the Guardian today which gives a sense of the battle that is going on.

    “Walking around Bradford last week, it was clear many of those planning to vote for Galloway were jumping ship from Labour. No wonder the Conservative candidate – a local businesswoman, Jackie Whiteley – told the Guardian she was happy Galloway was in the race. She hopes he will take Labour votes. He’s already nabbed their staff. One of Galloway’s campaign managers, Naweed Hussain, switched sides 10 days ago, despite having done the same job for Singh over three general elections. He was fed up, he said, with Labour “bypassing democracy” in the seat it has held since 1974.”

    It’s that message about the way Labour operates in the city that might just resonate. Galloway has played the Labour taking you for granted card before to good effect.

    Given the numbers it’s hard to see him doing it but Galloway has it within him to come away with a reasonable result. It is conceivable that he could attract anti-Labour tactical votes from both the blues and yellows. If you want to give Ed or his party a bloody nose then Galloway could be seen by some as the best option.

    Ladbrokes have an interesting Galloway share of the vote market. The prices are:

      0-10% 5/4, 10-20% 6/4, 20-30% 7/2, 30-40% 8/1 and 40%+ 16/1.

    I might be tempted by a 20%-30% bet.




    Could dinner-gate be turning Tory donors off?

    Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

    The FT’s Beth Rigby makes an interesting point and it would only be natural, I suppose, if the affair caused some of the donors to think twice about making a gift to the blue team. Did the person they were speaking to have the authority to make promises?

    In any case giving should be for pleasure – not something you get a lot of grief over.

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    Who will come out best in London’s other elections?

    Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

    Wikimedia Commons

    Sean Fear asks if this is a big chance for LAB?

    The London Mayoral contest rightly commands the lion’s share of public attention. There is, however, another set of elections, due to take place on May 3rd, for the London Assembly. The Assembly is a fairly toothless body, but it does offer a high profile to its members, some of whom, such as Bob Blackman, Angie Bray, Meg Hillier, and Bob Neil, have made their way into Parliament.

    The Assembly has 14 members who represent constituencies, elected by first past the post. In addition, a further 11 members are elected on a London-wide basis, by proportional representation. In 2008, the Conservatives won 11 seats, including 8 constituencies. Labour won 8, including 6 constituencies. The Liberal Democrats won 3 top up seats, the Greens 2, and the BNP 1. How will the parties fare this time?

      There have been no polls of voting intention for the Assembly. However, Yougov’s most recent Mayoral poll gives Westminster voting intentions for London of Labour 46%, Conservative 34%, Liberal Democrat 9%, UKIP 5%, Greens 3%, Others 3%. It is probably unlikely that the Conservatives and Labour will take 80% of the vote between them in the Assembly elections, but it is entirely plausible that Labour will lead the Conservatives by 12% at constituency level (minor parties can expect to gain at the expense of both Conservatives and Labour in the top-up seats). This would represent a swing of 10.5%, compared to 2008.

    Were that to be the outcome, Labour could expect to hold all six of its current seats, with increased majorities. These are City and East, Lambeth and Southwark, North East, Greenwich and Lewisham, Enfield and Haringey, and Brent and Harrow. The last two produced very tight contests in 2000, 2004, and 2008, but both should be comfortably held by Labour this time round.

    The Conservatives can expect to hold Croydon and Sutton, South West, West Central, Bromley and Bexley, and Havering and Redbridge. They are vulnerable in Barnet and Camden, Merton and Wandsworth, and Ealing and Hillingdon, all of which would fall to Labour on a 10.5% swing. In my view, Barnet and Camden is very likely to fall, as it requires a swing of only 5.5% to Labour, and incumbent Brian Coleman is unpopular among London Conservatives. Ealing and Hillingdon would fall on an 8.1% swing. The Conservatives have 70 councillors in the two boroughs, compared to 69 for Labour, so it will be very tight. In my view, Labour will be slight favourites in this seat, given the ongoing swing to Labour since 2010. An 8% swing would see Labour take Merton and Wandsworth as well, but the Conservatives are completely dominant at local level in both Wandsworth and Wimbledon, which should make them slight favourites to retain the seat.

    Therefore, I would expect Labour to win 8 constituencies, to 6 for the Conservatives.
    Both Labour and the Conservatives can expect to gain additional top up seats. If Labour were to win 40% or so, at top up level, they could expect to gain a further 4 seats. If the Conservatives were to win 30% or so, they could expect to win 2 more seats. That would leave Labour on 12, and the Conservatives on 8.

    The Liberal Democrats and the Greens will be battling for third place. 9% or so would see the Liberal Democrats awarded 2 seats. The Greens are below the 5% threshold in Westminster voting intentions, but they won 8% across London in the local elections of 2010. I would expect them to match that in May, and retain their 2 seats. The BNP have collapsed over the past couple of years, and are most unlikely to retain their seat on the Assembly. I would expect this seat to be won by UKIP, who will likely pick up some white working class voters who backed the BNP in 2008, together with Conservatives who are unhappy with the Coalition.

    Sean Fear is a London Conservative and has contributed many guest pieces to PB


    Does scandal impact on voting more than the economy?

    Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

    What has “dinner-gate” done to CON majority hopes?

    There is a theory shared by a number of political scientists that scandals like the current one over Number 10 dinners for Tory donors are much more damaging in the eyes of voters than things like the economy.

    The Major government came to an end in May 1997 because it looked tired and, more importantly, sleazy. One scandal after another had undermined the party in the eyes of the public. They couldn’t seem to do anything right even though, it will be recalled, that the economy had recovered sharply by that point. Even on election day ICM had the Tories ahead of Labour on this measure.

    A massive issue for the blues is that summed up by the finding in last night’s ComRes poll that 66% agreed that the measures announced in the Budget show that the Conservatives are the party of the rich, against 27% disagreeing. That’s the perception and dinner-gate simply reinforced the public view.

    It’s not helped, of course, that David Cameron is the first Tory PM in nearly half a century who went to a public school – in his case Eton with all that entails.

    On top of that Osborne and others have elite public school/Oxbridge backgrounds and the leadership can appear to be very detached from the vast majority of voters.

    Tim Montgomerie was right, I believe, in his analysis earlier in the month that class was the big challenge for the blues. To secure an overall majority they need to be much less sectional.