Archive for November, 2013


Will UKIP outpoll the Lib Dems at the 2015 General Election

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

With  less than 18 months to go until the general election, it is worth reviewing that markets that both William Hill and Ladbrokes have on Which party will receive the most votes in the next UK General Election? The Lib Dems or UKIP.

The below table shows the vote shares for the Lib Dems and UKIP in the most recent polls by the various pollsters.

Pollster Lib Dem % UKIP %
Populus (online) 12 7
YouGov (online) 8 14
ComRes (phone) 9 11
Opinium (online) 9 16
Ipsos-Mori (phone) 8 8
TNS-BMRB (online) 8 12
ICM (phone) 13 11
Survation (online) 12 17

As we can see in the majority of the polls, UKIP are currently outpolling the Lib Dems, the only ones where the Lib Dems leads is either with Populus, the pollster that Mike has noted in the past, as being the least favourable to UKIP and the other is the Gold Standard of Voting Intention pollsters, ICM.

Nigel Farage recently announcing plans to field candidates in every seat in 2015 (they contested 558 in 2010) and Lib Dems inevitable strategy in focussing their energies in the seats they already hold, the momentum will probably be with UKIP, and the Tories still haven’t come up with a credible strategy to deal with UKIP’s surge in the polls.

The best odds on the Lib Dems winning this bet is 4/7 with Ladbrokes and for UKIP it is 7/4 with William Hill.

I’m still working out what the best option is, as my normal instinct is not to bet against ICM.



Salmond’s blueprint launch: a very good week for No

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

The SNP are making the same mistakes as Yes2AV

One simple and obvious truth: in order to win a referendum, you need to win the support of more than half the people casting a vote.  This may be elementary politics it was something that the proponents of AV nonetheless failed to grasp, or at least, failed to act on (somewhat ironically, given the nature of their cause).  A second truth about referendums: those opposed to a proposition don’t have to have a consistent alternative; they simply need to convince the public that the idea being voted on is a bad one – other votes on other alternatives can come later.

The publication of the Scottish government’s case for independence was always going to be a major milestone in the road to the referendum next September.  That it was, but not for the reasons that the SNP intended.  The 670 page-long document is full of information where it doesn’t need to be and short of detail where it does.

For example, why the SNP chose to make a pledge to extend childcare a key centrepiece of the independence launch defies explanation: it’s such a parochial pettifogging policy.  Is this really why nations declare independence?  Apart from the fact that Holyrood could already implement it if it wanted to, there’s a more serious political drawback to the inclusion of specific policy proposals: it will put off those who disagree with them.

Let’s go back to that first truth: Yes needs 50%+.  To do that, the SNP needs to attract a fair amount of support from people who voted for other parties in 2011 (because by no means all SNP voters are pro-independence).  Blending constitutional proposals with specific policy initiatives blurs that line and is more likely to put people off.  It’s uncomfortably close to one of the SNP’s less attractive habits: equating support for the SNP with support for independence with Scottishness itself.

The reason put forward is that people care about bread-and-butter issues like health and education (and childcare).  Indeed they do but Holyrood already has substantial powers in these areas.  Debates over policy in these areas is the stuff of general elections, not referendums.

By contrast, convincing the Scottish electorate to break a union of more than three centuries is more likely to succeed if it’s not seen as a dangerous leap in the dark.  To that end, Yes is going to have to find more credible answers to the currency questions, and whether Scotland would be a member of the EU (and on what terms); questions which are interlinked.  Better Together is likely to make a great deal of the wishful thinking on both matters: that everything will be all right and everyone else will fall in line with the blueprint’s assertions.

Again, No can win simply by creating enough concern as to the risks those unanswered questions contain.  The Australian referendum on whether to declare a republic was lost in no small part not because Australians wanted to retain the Queen as head of state but because the specific alternative was seen as worse.

By narrowing the support base through making their case via domestic policy rather than sweeping vision, and by failing to reassuringly answer crucial questions about the pounds in people’s pockets and purses, Salmond and Sturgeon have given Better Together an easy route to victory (though of course they still have to navigate it).

That said, there may well be a consolation prize.  The White Paper launch felt less like a prospectus for independence and more like an election manifesto.  I wonder if Tuesday marked not the launchpad for the 2014 referendum but the starting gun for Holyrood 2016.

David Herdson


Ipsos Mori November 2013 Issues Index and Local By-Election Results : November 28th 2013

Friday, November 29th, 2013

The Ipsos-Mori issues index for November is out, the field work ended on the 10th of November.


General concern about the economy continues to fall as concern shifts to poverty/inequality and the personal economy.

Highest level of concern about low pay and poverty/inequality Ipsos MORI have ever recorded.

Immigration is in second place, as it has been for the last five months, is race relations/immigration, with 35% concerned,  but this fieldwork happened before recent before the recent migration data.



LAST NIGHT’S LOCAL ELECTION RESULTS (Thanks to Harry Hayfield for compiling these)


Winkfield and Cranbourne on Bracknell Forest (Con Defence)
Result: Conservative 582 (53%), UKIP 318 (29%), Labour 139 (13%), Liberal Democrats 69 (6%)
Conservative HOLD

Caddington on Central Bedfordshire (Con Defence)
Result: Conservative 738 (40%), Independent 560 (30%), UKIP 334 (18%), Labour 209 (11%), Liberal Democrats 24 (1%)
Conservative HOLD

Landward, Caithness on Highland (SNP Defence)
Result: Independent (Reiss) 1,150 (44%), Independent (Sutherland) 593 (23%), Scottish National Party 546 (21% +6%), Conservative 171 (7% +4%), Independent (Irving) 128 (5%) (Combined Independent Vote: 1,871 (73% unchanged))
Independent GAIN from SNP on the fourth count on a swing of 3% from Ind to SNP

Vassall on Lambeth (Lab Defence)
Result: Labour 1,319 (60%), Liberal Democrats 468 (21%), Conservative 153 (7%), Green 113 (5%), UKIP 87 (4%), TUSC 44 (2%), Socialist 22 (1%)
Labour HOLD

Billinge and Seneley Green on St. Helens (Lab Defence)
Result: Labour 936 (50% -13% on 2012), UKIP 442 (24%), Conservative 248 (13% -6% on 2012), Green 94 (5% unchanged on 2012), BNP 73 (4%), Liberal Democrats 52 (3%)
Labour HOLD on a swing of 19% from Lab to UKIP

Horbury and South Ossett on Wakefield (Lab Defence)
Result: Labour 1,041 (40% -1% on 2012), UKIP 856 (33% +23% on 2012), Conservative 504 (19% -4% on 2012), Liberal Democrats 212 (8% unchanged on 2012)
Labour HOLD on a swing of 12% from Lab to UKIP


Will it be English Tories that swings the IndyRef for the Yes Side?

Friday, November 29th, 2013

On the love that might finally dare to speak its name.

For those of us betting and/or wanting Scotland to vote for independence, bar one poll that was commissioned by the SNP, the general thrust of the recent polling hasn’t been favourable for us, so where will this surge in support for the Yes Side come from?

In recent weeks, there’s been a few senior Tories, from current cabinet minister, Eric Pickles, the last Tory Secretary of State of Scotland and the last Tory Prime Minister to win a majority, talking about “From a purely partisan political point of view, the Conservative party would be much better placed without Scotland because some where down the line we have mislaid our Scottish votes” 

Whilst I don’t doubt David Cameron’s desire to keep Scotland in the Union, some Tories (from Cabinet Ministers, MPs, donors and former MPs) may decide it is in their party’s interest for Scotland to vote yes next year, some may decide to intervene/be helpful in the campaign for the Yes side.

As things stand, there is a currently a net 58 non Conservative MPs at Westminster from Scotland. Of the most disappointing performances for the Tories in 2010, the fact there was a net swing from Con to Lab in Scotland in 2010 showed how far the Tories have to go in places where they used to do well in, 18 years earlier John Major won 12 seats in Scotland, which, was crucial to his majority of 21 seats.

The blunt truth of it is this, even on a very good night for the Conservative party in Scotland, the best they could hope for is maybe 2 to 4 seats, which would still leave a net non Conservative 50+ MPs from Scotland. In fact, given the Lib Dem collapse, particularly in Scotland, may end up costing the sole Tory MP in Scotland his seat in 2015.

The above graph, from the Telegraph, shows what Parliament would look like without Scottish MPs at the last General Election.

So how can The Tories help the Yes side? The most obvious and easy way, would be to keep on repeating the Scotland are subsidy junkies myth, and saying they want to be free of the Scottish burden, which will not go down well with Scottish voters.

If the Tories for Scottish Nationalism wanted to be a bit more cuter, they could say, we need Scotland and her oil revenues to remain in the Union, fund current and future conservative/coalition policies. The current coalition policies, which generally are less popular in Scotland than they are in the rest of the UK, over the summer it was said by Henry McLeish that Coalition policies could deliver Scots independence.

The other way The Tories can swing it, will be that, the Independence campaign proper won’t start until May 2014, after the European Elections. My expectation is that UKIP will outpoll the Tories. Were this to happen, there will be Tories, urging Dave to adopt more Eurosceptic and right-wing policies to win the support in 2015 of those who voted UKIP in 2014.

Henry McLeish also recently said

The Prime Minister’s “rich posh image” and “damaging” policies epitomise everything that Scots hate about the Conservatives

He said Mr Cameron is a “much scarier figure than Margaret Thatcher ever was” to Scots and could increase support for independence by as much as five percentage points is he fails to take a back seat in the coming year.

With David Cameron hinting/offering policies in the summer of 2014 that the Scots don’t like, that 5% could become a lot more, a politician with the adroitness of Alex Salmond will be able to ruthlessly exploit to his advantage.

If the European and local elections are particularly grim for the Tory Party, there may well be a Tory leadership election going on concurrently in the last three months of the referendum campaign. A collection of right-wing English Tories fighting for the Tory leadership, that may not be the ideal scenario for Better Together to win the referendum.

It should be remembered, before people engage in major constitutional changes, that things don’t always turn out the way they were envisaged, after all Scottish Devolution according to one of its architects, was meant to kill Scottish Nationalism, stone dead, but in less than ten months time, it maybe the Union that is killed stone dead.

The other prize for the English Tories for Scottish Nationalism, iff, Scotland does vote for Independence, there is a the possibility of disenfranchising Scottish voters from the 2015 General election, which is the only way I can see the Tories winning a majority in 2015. If Labour and or the Lib Dems object, I’m not sure how well that will play with English and Welsh voters (I’m not forgetting Northern Ireland, but there aren’t that many marginal seats there for the Lab/Con/Libs to fight over)

For those hoping or fearing perpetual Tory rule in post Independence United Kingdom, here’s what Parliament would have looked like in past elections without Scotland.



Does the government care that household debt is soaring?

Friday, November 29th, 2013

We often hear politicians refer to the national debt, at which point Fraser Nelson will republish his chart showing the latest figures the government owes and that either the Chancellor or Prime Minister is telling fibs. This week Nelson added ‘although I hate to say it, the Labour Party has a valid point to make. If you don’t adjust for inflation, Osborne has borrowed more in under four years than the Labour Party borrowed over 13 years.’ Although national debt is the subject of political tug-of-war, it household debt that should be a cause of worry and political attention.

This week The Centre for Social Justice published a report showing 3.9 million British families do not have enough savings to cover their rent or mortgage for more than a month. Half of low-income households have literally nothing put by. Personal debt in the UK is now approaching £1.4 trillion. The report concluded  

“With falling real incomes and increasing costs of basic essentials, many – especially the most vulnerable – are sliding further into problem debt. The costs to those affected, in stress and mental disorders, relationship breakdown and hardship is immense. But so too is the cost to the nation, measured in lost employment and productivity and in an increased burden on public services.”

Labour has made most of the running on wages and living standards, but the Coalition caught them flat-footed this week in pledging to cap the costs of payday loans. Is this the height of government ambitions in this area or will we see ministers talk about household debt more? For most people it’s credit cards and overdrafts then pick up the monthly shortfalls and not the Wongas of this world.

The Chancellor wants to encourage confidence and spending on the high street and create something of a feelgood factor having spent 3 years preaching the country was teetering on a Greek-style financial precipice. As consumer confidence picks up, someone in the Treasury should be asking ‘where’s their money coming from?’ With wages in real terms decline spending is not sustainable if living costs keep rising. It also reveals a worrying characteristic about our economy and perhaps even our country. As Jeff Randall wrote last year:

“We are in the unenviable position of having constructed an economy that expands only when consumers borrow beyond the limits of prudence and blow the lot on instant gratification.”

What’s worse is the rise in household debt isn’t an unplanned shock. In 2011 the Office for Budget Responsibility ‘increased its prediction of total household debt in 2015 by a staggering £303bn since late last year, in the belief that families and individuals will respond to straitened times by extra borrowing.’

Surely ‘austerity’ should be aiming to reduce household debt, not increase it? Is this something for the Chancellor to contemplate ahead of the Autumn Statement or not of national concern and only a matter for individuals and their families?

Henry G Manson 


Local By-Election Preview: November 28th 2013

Thursday, November 28th, 2013


Winkfield and Cranbourne on Bracknell Forest (Con Defence)

Result of last election (2011): Con 40, Lab 2 (Conservative overall majority of 38)

Result of ward at last election (2011): Emboldened denotes elected

Conservatives 1,308, 1,250
Green 269
Labour 255, 252

Candidates duly nominated: Paul Birchall (Lib Dem), Janet Keene (Lab), Ken La Garde (UKIP), Susie Phillips (Con)

When people think of “one party states” in local elections, they often think of the Labour heartlands such as Knowsley (Lab 63, Opposition 0), Sandwell (Lab 68, Opposition 4) and Rotherham (Lab 58, Opposition 5). However the Conservatives are just as capable of producing one party states and Bracknell Forest is a classic example of a Conservative one party state.

In 2003, there were seven opposition councillors against the Conservative grouping of 35 but over the years that opposition has been slowly wittled away. In 2007, the sole Liberal Democrat and three Labour councillors lost their seats and in 2011, Labour lost another seat meaning that technically speaking although there are two councillors elected under the Labour party banner, there is not a Labour grouping on the council.

Therefore, this is the sort of area where UKIP might expect a breakthrough but will they be able to muster enough anti Conservative feeling and attract non voters, well, we’ll find out soon enough.

Caddington on Central Bedfordshire (Con Defence)

Result of last election (2011): Con 48, Lib Dem 5, Ind 4, Lab 1 (Con overall majority of 38)

Result at last election (2011): (Emboldened denotes elected)

Conservative 2,215, 2,134
Labour 711, 424
Liberal Democrats 404, 213

Candidates duly nominated: Kevin Collins (Con), Ian Lowery (Lab), Christine Smith (Ind), Steven Wildman (UKIP), Alan Winter (Lib Dem)

A lot has changed since Mike was a councillor in this neck of the woods. For starters, the district councils of Mid Bedfordshire and South Bedfordshire have been replaced by a unitary authority called Central Bedfordshire (and as you might expect, it’s another Conservative heartland). But as in Bracknell Forest, there is an anti Conservative opposition force, however unlike in Bracknell Forest it is split between UKIP and an Independent.

With thoughts rapidly turning to the next general election and the small matter of the constituency of Mid Bedfordshire, will UKIP realise that perhaps an electoral alliance with Independents would give them the best chance of winning at that election?

Landward, Caithness on Highland (SNP Defence)

Result of last election (2012): Ind 35, SNP 22, Lib Dem 15, Lab 8 (No Overall Control, Independents short by 6)

Result at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected

Non Party Independent 1,015, 638, 244, 42 (55%)
Independent 651 (18%)
Scottish National Party 550 (15%)
Labour 302 (9%)
Conservative 109 (3%)

Candidates duly nominated: Ed Boyter (SNP), Kerensa Carr (Con), Tina Irving (Ind), Matthew Reiss (Ind), Winifred Sutherland (Ind)

For details about this ward, please visit

Vassall on Lambeth (Lab Defence)

Result of last election (2010): Lab 44, Lib Dem 15, Con 4 (Labour overall majority of 25)

Result at last election (2010): Emboldened denotes elected

Labour 2,533, 2,308, 2,146
Liberal Democrats 2,193, 1,793, 1,617
Conservatives 706, 593, 525
Greens 542, 477, 476

Candidates duly nominated: Kelly Ben-Maimon (Con), Paul Gadsby (Lab), Elizabeth Jones (UKIP), Danny Lambert (Socialist), Rachel Laurence (Green), Steven Nally (TUSC), Colette Thomas (Lib Dem)

“Anytime you’re Lambeth way, Any evening, Any day, You’ll finding them all voting for Lambeth Lab, OI!” Yes, I know that I have probably committed the act of sacrilege on a song known around the world from the musical “Me and My Girl” but with the exception of the 1994 and 2002 local elections that is precisely what Lambeth has done.

This council is so Labour that when ahead of the 1986 local elections the Labour grouping on the council refused to set a rate and where therefore all sacked they still stood on the ballot and were re-elected with thumping majorities. That’s not to say that the Liberal Democrats (the main challengers) have not been able to stick one to Labour (twenty gains in 1994 and eleven gains in 2002) but with next year’s elections likely to be another drubbing for the Liberal Democrats in London (with even heartlands such as Kingston upon Thames and Sutton under threat) it’s safe to assume that Labour’s domination of Lambeth will continue for sometime yet.

Billinge and Seneley Green on St. Helens (Lab Defence)

Result of last election (2012): Lab 40, Lib Dem 5, Con 3 (Labour overall majority of 32)

Result of ward in last electoral cycle:

2010: Lab 2,954 (50%), Con 1,795 (30%), Lib Dem 1,216 (20%)
2011: Lab 1,896 (53%), Con 964 (27%), Ind 556 (16%), Lib Dem 170 (5%)
2012: Lab 1,802 (63%), Con 536 (19%), Ind 371 (13%), Green 140 (5%)

Candidates duly nominated: Laurence Allen (UKIP), Alan Brindle (BNP), John Cunliffe (Con), Noreen Knowles (Lib Dem), Dennis McDonnell (Lab), Sue Rahman (Green)

St. Helens just screams Labour that you might think it was rather on the boring side. Yes, I agree that from 1990 to 2005 Labour racked up so much of a majority that you might as well as crossed it off the list of Labour holds before nominations had even closed however in 2006 something rather odd happened. Labour lost eleven seats and lost overall control.

In 2007, another set of Labour losses and people were given serious credence to the idea that maybe, unbelievable as it may have sounded, the Liberal Democrats (already controlling Sheffield, Rochdale and Stockport at the time) could add St. Helens to their list. Sadly for the Lib Dems it was not to be and since then Labour have been re-establishing their rock solid control of the council.

Horbury and South Ossett on Wakefield (Lab Defence)

Result of last election (2012): Lab 52, Con 11 (Labour overall majority of 41)

Result of ward in last electoral cycle:

2010: Con 3,034 (38%), Lab 2,932 (36%), Lib Dem 1,517 (19%), BNP 558 (7%)
2011: Lab 2,433 (47%), Con 2,048 (39%), Lib Dem 473 (9%)
2012: Lab 1,660 (41%), Con 934 (23%), Ind 732 (18%), UKIP 429 (10%), Lib Dem 340 (8%)

Candidates duly nominated: Rory Bickerton (Lab), Mark Goodair (Lib Dem), Angela Holwell (Con), Graham Jesty (UKIP)

Whilst St. Helens was flirting with the concept of changing hands, Wakefield was having none of it. The only time that Wakefield even considered the idea of changing hands was in 2008 when Labour held onto the council by just a single seat (Lab 32, Con 23, Ind 6, Lib Dem 2) but then came the general election and normal Labour service was resumed.

But with all of the councils voting today in England being rock solid councils and unlikely to change hands, will these elections give UKIP and other non aligned Independents a chance to say “The council cannot change hands, vote with your hearts and not your head”


Harry Hayfield


Chris Huhne discusses the prospects for a Labour-Lib Dem coalition in 2015.

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Now that he is free from being a Member of Parliament, and not constrained by having to toe the party line, Chris Huhne has been offering his thoughts on a variety of subjects.

Yesterday Chris Huhne wrote a piece in Juncture magazine which discusses on the formation of the current coalition in 2010, and the possibility for a Labour/Lib Dem coalition in 2015. (You can read the piece here and here’s the Guardian write up of the Huhne piece.)

He says on the prospects of a Lib Dem and Labour coalition in 2015, talking about the various subjects there is agreement between the Lib Dems and Labour, he then moves onto the personalities.

It was, in my view, unwise of Nick Clegg to make Gordon Brown’s leadership a public issue. It is no business of one party to question the elected leader of another, and inevitably it invited retaliation in kind. Coalition politics requires respect for sincerely held views – and for leaders – whatever your private views may be. Labour leaders will therefore have to bite their lips if personal animus is to be controlled.

I’m sure the main focus of his piece will be this phrase “The DNA of the Liberal Democrats is anti-Conservative”

For me, his most interesting observation is this,

[Clegg] is certainly safer as leader than he looked a year ago. Vince Cable did not have a good conference. But it is Clegg who has been making clear overtures to the Lib-Dem left, whether it is on personnel changes – with Norman Baker replacing Jeremy Browne at the Home Office – or in policy, with a harder line on standards in academies or a stronger pro-green emphasis on wind power and taxes.

You can get 1/5 on Clegg being Lib Dem leader at the General Election and 3/1 on the next Government after the General Election being a Lab/Lib coalition.

Could Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems be the only constant in government this decade?



If anything UKIP ‘s poll shares have edged up over the past month

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

And next week GE2015 will be only 17 months away

Perhaps the biggest question hanging over the GE2015 outcome is how big will UKIP’s share be on the day. Although the party is attracting support across the board the general view is that the Tories will be damaged the most.

    By the same argument the more the UKIP share slips back then the better it should be for the blue team

The real answer is that we don’t know. The only times that UKIP has peaked before have been in the months before and after the EU elections. By the autumn conference season they’ve faded in the past and at GE2010 came out with 3.1%.

I find it hard seeing them below 5%. They are getting better organised with more members and having consistently good Thursday local by-election nights.

What they really want is a spectacular Westminster by-election success in the period between EP2014 and GE2015. That would demonstrate real traction.

The problem is that MPs have become much healthier and there have been few by-elections apart from those caused by the actions of the courts.

Mike Smithson

Blogging from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble since 2004