Archive for February, 2014


So far, at least, the intense Daily Mail campaign against Harriet Harman is not being reflected in the daily YouGov figures

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

That is not to say that it won’t

Today’s YouGov poll for the Sun sees LAB back at 39% the share at which it has been getting for months as the YouGov weekly average trend chart above shows.

One of the dangers with all polling analysis is to confuse correlation with causation. Clearly many factors are at play all the time.

There is also a view that I share that it can take time for big external events to show up in the polling so it might be that if the Harman issues are indeed having an impact it will take a little bit longer to show.

Until now, of course, the coverage has largely been in the Daily Mail itself. That has changed with the moves yesterday and the story is being covered more widely elsewhere in the media.

We know from Ipsos-MORI that Labour voters only make up a realively small share of the Daily Mail’s audience. See this chart of 2010 voting.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Three months to go till the Euros and concern about UKIP’s key policy, immigration, sees a sharp drop in the Issues Index

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

The February Ipsos-MORI Issues Index is out and the summary findings are above. As can be seen the big mover since January has been immigration which has fallen 7%.

Also down is concern about the economy which is now lower than at any time since before the start of the recession.

    The immigration move is interesting and my reading is that the issue has received nothing like the same level of news coverage as it was in the build up to the New Year and the freeing up of restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians – something that Nigel Farage and his team had made a lot of.

That Farage’s warnings might have been exaggerated is certainly going to play a key role in the campaign as the blue and the red teams try to undermine him and his party.

The weather might also have had an impact. The Issues Index tends to reflect what has been making the headlines and, as we know, the rain, storms and flooding have been dominating the news.

What’s matters now for UKIP is whether they can revive interest in the issue that many believe has been driving their surge. If they can then their stated target of coming top on votes might be achieved. If not then they’ve wrongly built up expectations.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Coalition versus CON majority or LAB majority – the latest Ashcroft mega poll

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014


The Tories are planning to bet everything on getting a majority – if they don’t they won’t do a coalition deal

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Cameron’s GE2015 gamble – a CON majority or bust

The big GE2015 development overnight is the Telegraph story that the Tories are planning to go into the election with a manifesto commitment not to enter a coalition deal.

If the party won most seats but fell short of the threshold of 326 MPs it would seek to govern on its own as a minority. Clearly everything depends on the numbers but it’s hard to see a minority CON government winning the post Queen’s Speech vote which would lead to it falling.

Such a course would almost certainly rule out the possiblity of the Lib Dems providing support on a confidence and supply basis.

    The Tory gamble is that by making the commitment beforehand the choice would be very clear – a CON majority or Ed Miliband with a LAB majority or in cooperation with the LDs.

This move really reflects the current situation within the party. Even if the numbers post GE2015 made another CON-LD coalition possible then it is hard to see the blue team being able to negotiate something that would be acceptable to the party’s MPs.

The big question is whether the “us or nothing” approach would make the CON proposition more or less attractive to voters. A lot depends on how the other parties are able to portray it.

The move could be presented as being petulant or silly – the Tories being the party that regards no loaf as being better than half a loaf.

    Where I seriously question the CON strategy is that the blues would be creating the conditions that could boost ANTI-CON tactical voting, something that could be decisive in both the LAB-CON and LD-CON marginals.

A lot of blue hopes in the party’s LD targets have been based on LAB voters who previously supported the yellows going back to their allegiance. This development, I’d suggest, would make the LD task in these seats a bit easier.

Whatever this will make the coming battle even more interesting.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


PB Nighthawks is now open

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Home of the web’s best political conversation

Why not relax, and converse into the night on the day’s events in PB NightHawks.

If you’re a lurker, why not delurk, It Only Takes A Minute to delurk, I’m sure you’ll Shine with your contributions. Never Forget, we were all lurkers once.

The round up of recent events (click on the links below, and it will bring up the relevant link)

  1. Where UKIP gets its support from. (I was amazed to find that the group least likely to vote UKIP are Guardian readers)
  2. Why Labour’s next leader is likely to be a Blairite
  3. “This is about putting trust in our members and supporters” – Ed Miliband Interview
  4. Bursaries won’t fix Conservatives’ loss of working-class support
  5. If Cameron is serious about winning, he’s got to send for Gove
  6. Let’s (not) have a heated debate!
  7. Concerns over UK Conservatives’ ‘posh’ manifesto
  8. Rename The Conservative Party The ‘Workers’ Party’, Says Tory MP
  9. Goodbye National Insurance. Hello Earnings Tax. National Insurance, a 100-year old charge on employers and employees, will be renamed “earnings tax”, the Chancellor has signalled. 
  10. MPs push ministers on regional benefit cap – as Tories mull putting it in manifesto
  11. Shadow Floods Minister Barry Gardiner told to ‘take his mankini’ to Somerset Levels
  12. Scotland’s uneasy referendum alliances are beginning to fray.
  13. Cameron and Salmond set out vision of independent Scotland and its oil wealth
  14. Christine Lagarde thinks the troika got it wrong on Greece? If only she knew. The IMF chief’s admission that the wrong solutions were applied to the crisis seems crass, given what Greeks are suffering
  15. Tory Europhobia cripples Britain’s attitude to the Ukrainian crisis
  16. Russia denounces Ukraine ‘terrorists’ and west over Yanukovich ousting
  17. Has Britain’s promotion of gay rights in Africa backfired? 
  18. The Government is more anti-EU than at any time in the last 20 years. So why are Eurosceptics still so gloomy?
  19. Ukip accepts EU exit could take several years
  20. Top Ten political cliches that would be great band names
  21. Harold Ramis: Ghostbusters’ Dr Egon Spengler was comedy’s GrandDude
  22. Why ‘Ghostbusters’ is the most libertarian Hollywood blockbuster of all time
  23. British Tabloid Claims the 13th Doctor Will Only Last One Year…
  24. ‘My dog understands my emotions’, say 95% of dog owners
  25. Today is the 23rd anniversary of the beginning of Operation Sabre, when General Norman Schwarzkopf came up with a military strategy that was positively Caesaresque in its brilliance. What made it even more impressive, we had the French on our side
  26. Today is the 711th anniversary of The Battle of Roslin.


The Tories go on the offensive with a personal attack against Ed Miliband – but there are dangers with this approach

Monday, February 24th, 2014

And we’ve got more than 14 months to go

I’m not convinced that the Tories have got this right. An attack like this has its dangers particuarly, I’d suggest, for Grant Shapps.

We saw last autumn how the Labour leader was able to turn the Daily Mail attacks on Miliband’s father into a positive and that could happen this time.

I’d have thought that the strongest CON card was the economy. Why not play that?

Methinks this is a mistake.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Based on current polls the betting markets are understating Labour’s chances of an overall majority

Monday, February 24th, 2014

A hung parliament should not be favourite

Betfair’s next general election overall majority market was set up a couple of months after May 2010 and in the early period the price on a CON majority soared to 40%+.

Then it went into a decline and in the aftermath of Osborne’s March 2012 budget dropped to a 16% chance. In the summer of 2013 when all the pressure appeared to be on EdM and 3 polls reported that the parties were level pegging Conservative majority prospects were rated at a 25% chance.

Since then it has edged down and now is trading at just over 21%. The LAB price was over 40% for quite a long time but now has edged down a couple of notches.

    To my mind the current CON majority level is far too high, particularly given the failure of the boundary change plan. Currently I rate a LAB majority as the most likely outcome.

Remember that the way the LAB vote is distributed means that it can win an overall majority with a lead of 1-2%. Some argue that Ed could have a working majority even if Labour’s national vote share simply equals the CON one.

Many have pointed out the disparity between this national betting and what is available on the specific constituency markets. Essentially, if you want to bet on a CON majority you’ll do better going for specific seats. Conversely the national market offers the best value for a LAB majority.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 35 most influential over 50s on Twitter


Labour’s “Get Clegg” decapitation strategy fails to impress punters. He remains an 80pc chance to retain Hallam

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

Not on topic, but would you like to take part in an Oxford research project on PB?

A researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute currently studying the UK political blogosphere is interested in interviewing regular contributors, occasional commenters and lurkers alike for a brief interview by email about their interest in the site, politics more generally, and what they think makes the PB community unique.

This is a highly informal piece of research, intended for internal assessment not publication, and being conducted by a researcher with a shared interest in politics and a regular reader since 2007. Please email Justin Kempley, for more information, any and all are welcome to be involved.