Archive for December, 2012


Labour’s Southern Strategy

Friday, December 28th, 2012

The map above shows the 2010 General election results, and shows Labour’s lack of seats in the South, a couple of years ago, the always perceptive Antifrank made this observation, which stuck in the mind, and puts the map into context

Labour did appallingly in the south of England. In the south east, south west and eastern England combined, it won 10 seats. There were 197 on offer.

Holding the 32 seats it lost in these regions in 2010 would have made it the largest party instead of the second largest party.

Moreover, in a three party race, it got a smaller percentage of the vote in the south east and the south west (in 139 seats) than the Conservatives managed in Scotland in a four party race (in 59 seats).

Fewer than one in six voters in the south east and the south west voted for Labour. This was a near extinction level event.

In today’s Times (££), John Denham talks about the review, ordered by Ed Miliband in September as part of his “One Nation” initiative, that is being overseen by himself and  the party’s General Secretary, Iain McNicol.

The Times say

Ed Miliband and the Shadow Cabinet have been told to stop talking about the “North-South divide” after the party discovered that it was alienating voters in the South of England.

Senior Labour figures are also under instructions to use more anecdotes about the struggles of southern voters in their speeches, as part of the party’s attempt to win back support beyond its northern heartlands.

In the article, Mr Denham says

“If someone in the Labour Party talks about rail fares, a southern voter may not automatically think they were talking about them, on the 6.54 from Basingstoke,” he said. “You have to make the point that you are talking about the 6.54 from Basingstoke.

Will the anecdote approach work?  It looks like we will find out, as we are set for a barrage of them from Labour party spokespeople.



Henry G Manson asks: Can Cameron win ethnic minority votes with candidates alone?

Friday, December 28th, 2012

According to reports yesterday the Conservative Party wants to increase its efforts to woo ethnic voters ahead of the election. This, alongside gay marriage, appears to be the second lesson George Osborne took from the recent US Presidential election.

The Independent understands the initial aim seems to be to increase the number of minority parliamentary candidates. Conservatives currently have 11 MPs from an ethnic minority background compared to Labour who have 13. The Liberal Democrats, somewhat incredibly, have zero.

It is worth reflecting on the fact that the Labour Party only has 2 more MPs than the Conservative Party despite taking pride itself on historically receiving much support from ethnic minorities and leading the way in new MPs in the late 1980s. Over the last 15 years Labour has concentrated on All Woman Shortlists in which black and Asian women have often lost. Attempts to rectify ethnic under-representation of MPs have stalled and there is a sense the party has been complacent in this area.

All this does raise the question to what extent do the ethnicity of candidates affect voting intention? Despite having more diverse candidates and now almost the same number of ethnic minority MPs the Conservatives trailed by 68-16% to Labour among minority voters in 2010. What is to say that an additional 20 ethnic minority Conservative candidates in target seats will translate into the electoral support the Prime Minister hopes for? After all Labour’s biggest setback in 2012 saw a white George Galloway win strong support in Bradford East from Asian voters over a local Muslim Labour candidate.

I can see a couple tactical problems for the Conservative leader to navigate if they are to go further than simply having greater ethnic diversity among their candidates. The first follows evidence that many UKIP supporters are more bothered by immigration than they are with Europe. The much awaited ‘Europe speech’ next month may not make the inroads into UKIP support that many Conservative MPs are looking for. They may soon turn to immigration as the area they want to raise up the political agenda in 2013 and for their government to address. It will be far from straightforward for the party to build ethnic minority support with an anti-immigration backdrop that can so often becomes a proxy for race in this country.

To complicate matters further the Prime Minister already has a coalition partner much more relaxed about immigration to consider, an existing immigration target few think he will meet as well as vocal anti-immigrant elements within right-wing newspapers. However it could be the appointment of Lynton Crosby again as the party’s election campaign chief that holds most limitations.

Crosby’s last general election outing in this country in 2005 produced the somewhat sinister “are you thinking what we’re thinking” posters on immigration and crime. The public responded with “not quite” and elected a third term Labour government despite an unpopular war in Iraq and widespread disillusionment with Tony Blair.

More recently Crosby is reported to have urged Boris Johnson to spend less time try to appeal to ethnic minority voters and “f***ing Muslims” and to spend much more time aiming to appeal to traditional Conservative supporters during the latest London mayoral election. Is Lynton Crosby really the best guy to win ethnic minority support for the Conservatives?

The trouble with so-called ‘dog-whistle’ approaches to race relations is that no-one else is meant to notice. On this score Crosby is already in difficulty. The Prime Minister may be better off making a bold political move for all to see and take a calculated risk.

And given the Conservatives now accept they need to win greater support from women, Northerners and ethnic minorities doesn’t it seem curiously shortsighted for Baroness Warsi to have been ditched as Party Chairman at the last reshuffle? What signal did replacing her with the white, metropolitan and male Grant Shapps send out? What insight has been lost?

A socially liberal Conservative PM and Chancellor now have the political need and opportunity to do something noteworthy in power for ethnic minority voters that goes well beyond boosting candidate numbers. What that ‘something’ should be is not yet clear.

Henry G Manson


ICM: 51% would vote to leave the EU

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

As we are a few days away from the fortieth anniversary of The United Kingdom joining the EU, the Guardian has some polling by ICM on the EU.

The public mood of Euroscepticism is hardening, according to an exclusive Guardian/ICM poll that finds 51% of respondents would vote to take Britain out of the EU, against just 40% who say they would vote to stay in. 

As the Guardian notes

This marks a turnaround from similar polls conducted in the earliest years of this century. When ICM asked a slightly differently worded question in May 2001, the public indicated that it wanted Britain to remain a member of Europe by 68% to 19%.

Back in 2009, the Lib Dem European election manifesto contained this pledge

Liberal Democrats have argued for a referendum on whether Britain stays in or leaves the EU. We are the only party confident enough to put the pro-European case to the British people on the big issue facing us – and let the people decide. Britain will only win the case for a flexible, democratic Europe in Brussels if we settle our arguments at home on whether we should be part of the EU or not.

If they reminded the electorate of this proposal, and enacted it, it might represent an opportunity for the Lib Dems to regain some popularity, it also may have the ability to wrong foot David Cameron, before his much anticipated speech on the EU in the new year.




Betting On What May Happen In Politics In 2013

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

William Hill have some markets on some events that may occur in 2013.

Being an economic optimist, I’ve backed the UK to lose its AAA credit rating and interest rates to go up (based largely on this article)

I’m also backing Andrew Mitchell and Chris Huhne to be back in cabinet and Silvio Berlusconi to be Italian PM.

Which ones will you be backing?

  • 4/7         UK To Lose Triple-A Credit Rating (5/4 Not To)
  • 1/1         3p Increase In Fuel Duty In September To Be Implemented
  • 5/4         Andrew Mitchell In Cabinet By End Of Year
  • 9/4         Greece To Leave The Eurozone
  • 3/1         Nadine Dorries To Join UKIP
  • 3/1         Bank Of England To Increase Interest Rate
  • 4/1         A UK General Election To Take Place
  • 5/1         Nick Clegg To Be Replaced As The Leader Of Liberal Democrats
  • 5/1         Vince Cable To Be The Next Minister To Leave The Cabinet
  • 6/1         Chris Huhne To Be In Cabinet By End Of Year
  • 7/1         Ed Miliband To Become Prime Minister
  • 7/1         Hillary Clinton To Announce Her Candidature For The 2016 Presidential Elections
  • 8/1         Silvio Berlusconi To Become Italian Prime Minister
  • 8/1         Italy To Leave The Euro
  • 10/1       UK To Announce An In/Out Referendum On The EU To Take Place Before Next Election
  • 12/1       Ed Miliband To Be Replaced As Leader Of Labour
  • 14/1       Euro Cease To Exist As A Currency
  • 25/1       Boris Johnson To Be Elected An MP
  • 25/1       UKIP To Win A By-Election
  • 50/1       Church Of England To Introduce Women Bishops

Note, these bets are on a variety of pages of the Hills website, some of which are linked above and some can can be found here




ICM finds big increase in support for gay marriage

Thursday, December 27th, 2012


The chart showing the polling story of 2012: The CON post-budget decline and the rise of UKIP

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Remember pre-budget when Farage’s party was on 1%?

While putting the above chart together one set of numbers stood out – the March 2012 ICM poll for the Guardian published on the day before George Osborne’s budget in March. The Tories had a lead of 3% over LAB while UKIP were at their lowest point for the year – just 1%.

How things look very different now with polling leads for between 8-13% being the norm and UKIP appearing to be the main beneficiary of the of the Tory decline.

    It is, of course, a long way off the next general election, 28 months, but simply to preserve the status quo in terms of seats the Tories need a lead over Labour of 7-8%

    At the moment that looks like a very big ask.

One big hope for the CON team is that the Ashcroft UKIP polling found that 44% of what he defined as “UKIP considerers” would switch to to stop a party they disliked winning at either a local or national level.

Mike Smithson

For the latest polling and political betting news from the US and UK


Finally ICM – what surely is the last telephone poll of 2012

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012


And now the Sixth Annual StJohn PB Christmas Crossword

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012


1. Bishop is ultimately ridiculed – described by Cameron unfairly as man holding a stick and wearing fancy dress (6,6)

8. Right away Blair stopped one Labour source of wealth (3,4)

9. Physicist has wager in play (7)

11. Society rejected by European like Johnson (7)

12. Metal small safe holds money (7)

13. President’s film broadcast (5)

14. Old province where art is destroyed by wanton, heartless vandals (9)

16. Give elector an alternative (9)

19. Live down under (5)

21. George III was sometimes lacking a nautical bent (7)

23. Secular ground for judicial disqualification (7)

24. More audible version doesn’t start with one remix (7)

25. Lotus position held by socialist boss on Tyneside (7)

26. He was shot and needed adrenal organ transplant (6,6)


1. Climber may wind round internally (7)

2. One time Democrat first to be restricted by Home Secretary’s further changes (2-5)

3. Throw cuts into rotten borough (9)

4. The common people’s protests (5)

5. They steal some money (7)

6. Vote for Republican opposing a tragedy (7)

7. Outrageous “St.John Special” caught out Georgian (6,6)

10. King slow in reacting to leader of the government (6,6)

15. President Mandela’s party runs before start of election in unusual behaviour (9)

17. Spot betting index slowly introduced (7)

18. Nastier version of intoxicant (7)

19. Journal circulated a hundred thousand in outstanding work (7)

20. Lamont misses nothing as badly as Number 11 (4,3)

22. Balls on dog are made better! (5)

Thanks to StJohn for once again compiling this. This has become very much of a PB tradition.