Archive for May, 2014


A masterclass in how not to conduct a political assasination

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014


Lord Oakeshott resigned today from the Lib Dems following the publication of those polls. He said “I am sure the party is heading for disaster if it keeps Nick Clegg; and I must not get in the way of the many brave Liberal Democrats fighting for change”

It also emerged there were other polls, that unsurprisingly showed Danny Alexander losing his seat, but very surprisingly Vince Cable losing Twickenham.

The always perceptive Damian Lyons Lowe of Survation and his colleagues have analysed the first batch of Oakeshott polls, and their analysis is (which should lessen the impact of the polls)

We believe that a candidate named, regular methodology poll from ICM would show Cambridge and Sheffield Hallam as clear Lib Dem holds. Tessa Munt is not 20 points adrift in Wells and that Redcar is a likely Labour gain on paper should be a surprise to no-one.

As a Conservative, I can tell Lord Oakeshott, the best way to replace a Leader, is not to stab them in the back, but to stab them in the front, usually publicly, as the late Lady Thatcher and Iain Duncan Smith can attest to.

I suspect the following will be the outcome from Lord Oakeshott’s manoeuvres, and not in the way he intended.

i) Nick Clegg is now in place until the election, the Oakeshott polling and the YouGov polling for The Times, shows those Lib Dems holding out for a hero to save them at the election will be disappointed, the Lib Dems won’t be doing better with another leader. It maybe the best or least worst option for Nick Clegg to take the hit in 2015 and allow the Lib Dems to regroup after the election.

On Saturday and Sunday I placed bets on Nick Clegg not to be leader at the General Election, on reflection, I’m not expecting those bets to be winners, as I’m not sure anyone else wants to lead the Liberal Democrats to an  epochal defeat in 2015, the likes of Tim Farron won’t want that on their CV.

ii) Given the single digit polling and anticipated seat losses, I wonder if the Lib Dem differentiation strategy may get increased further as a way of trying to boost themselves in the poll. A near wipe out at the European Elections maybe viewed as a harbinger for next year. Could the coalition end sooner than anticipated?

iii) Will Vince Cable have to resign? Without wanting to go all Howard Baker, What did Vince Cable know and when did he know it? There appears to be some confusion on what he did know.  According to the Guardian 

Cable has admitted that he was aware of the anti-Clegg polling being conducted by Oakeshott. He did not know that Oakeshott was polling in Clegg’s constituency, and in Danny Alexander’s, he said. But – contrary to the impression he gave yesterday – he was aware of the other polling being carried out. That other polling included questions designed to show whether the Lib Dems would do better with Cable as leader. Earlier Sir Menzies Campbell said he would be surprised if Cable had know about this.

It takes a very special kind of talent to miss your target, and potentially fatally damage the career of the man you’d like to be the new Leader  though I think Vince is safe judging by this tweet.





Last Thursday’s local elections: Andy JS’s annual compilation of the actual vote totals from every ward that was fought

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

UKIP winning almost one in six of all voters

Thanks to Andy JS who has done a brilliant job collecting and recording the data from each of the thousands of individual seats that were fought on May 22nd. This is the second year he has done this and provides a vital resource.

Generally he has had to go into every local authority website and transpose the detailed results from each individual ward onto his spreadsheet.

These figures differ considerably from the notional national vote extrapolations put out by the broadcasters and Professors Rallings and Thrasher on the night and on the following two days. They were serving a different purpose trying to relate the elections to a general election.

The reason why Labour appears to have done so well is that this year’s local were fought in areas that, in the main, were favourable to the party.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Lib Dem voters sticking with Nick Clegg according to new YouGov-Times poll

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

After several days of pressure on Nick Clegg new YouGov polling for the Times suggests that most current party supporters want him to remain as leader. Even amongst those who voted for the party in 2010 he has a lead.

The point, of course, is that those still supporting the party are likely to be loyalists. Amongst all sampled, however, 42% say he shouldn’t remain with 30% saying he should.

    As to whether the party would do better being led by Vince Cable, architect of the tuition fees policy and the Royal Mail sell-off, the poll finds that a switch would make no difference to the party’s GE15 prospects.

We’ve also now got the detail of the privately-funded ICM polling in four key LD constituencies in which the standard ICM voting question was put.

The experience from the extensive Ashcroft marginals polling is that you can get a very different outcomes when the two stage question is asked.

“1. If there were a general election tomorrow, which party would you vote for? Would it be Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, UKIP, Plaid Cymru [Cardiff(North(only] or another party? If ‘another party’: Would that be, the Green Party, the British National Party (BNP), or some other party – or do you not know how you would vote?

2. And thinking specifically about your own constituency and the candidates who are likely to stand there, which party’s candidate do you think you will vote for in your own constituency at the next general election? “

This teases out tactical voting and the incumbency impact which in LD-held seats can add 10 points or so.

Clegg has still got some hurdles to mount but as we’ve seen many times over with politicians deemed to be “in trouble” they generally have extraordinary resilience. Look out how Brown survived in the 2007-10 period or even John Major in the years leading up to GE97.

I’m not betting on an early Clegg departure.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


Polling Round Up

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Lord Ashcroft’s latest weekly phone poll is out.


Populus have published their bi-weekly online poll

Meanwhile Ipsos-Mori have some polling out, here are the highlights.






Guest Slot: Rod Crosby: The bell tolls for Labour and Miliband

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Last week Labour beat the Tories in the local elections by just 1%, according to the Rallings and Thrasher NEV (national equivalent voteshare) calculation. This is the last set of locals before the general election. Is there anything we can divine from this performance?

Yes, it looks like Labour will be soundly defeated next year. The following graph tells the tale (general elections bordered in white).

We see that, going back to 1979, no party with such a minuscule lead has gone on to win. In fact Michael Howard, William Hague and Neil Kinnock all performed better in the local elections than Ed Miliband, but still lost.

The winners, Thatcher, Blair and Cameron, all had leads in excess of 5% in their last local elections as Leader of the Opposition, and had all built consistent and solid leads greater than 15%-20% during the mid-term locals. Miliband’s NEV lead scorecard is pathetic in comparison… -1%, +6%, +4%, +1% …

Taking a more statistically robust regression of the average NEV lead while in Opposition against subsequent General Election performance, Labour are forecast to lose by 8.4% next year, as can be seen in the following graph (the large red blob).

Is this a wild forecast? Hardly. It is broadly in accord with the Lebo and Norpoth PM approval model and Stephen Fisher’s polling model, among others. And as we know, polling ‘crossover’ has come early for Labour, a full year before the election. Barely avoiding third place (in England by a cat’s whisker) in the Euros offers little comfort to Labour. Neither does them underperforming 9 out of 10 of the final polls when it came to real votes cast.

So it seems clear now – the Tories are set to win most votes, probably most seats and have an outside, but not insignificant chance of a majority in 2015.

Rod Crosby


Someone or maybe a group of Lib Dems are spending serious money trying to oust Clegg

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

But who is behind it and what’s the next step?

Hopefully later today ICM will release the detailed data from the private polling that’s splashed by the Guardian this morning. The broad message of what’s been leaked is that the party stands to do worse in four key seats that it already holds without a change of leader.

The choice of pollster is interesting. ICM has over the years tended to show the most favourable position for the Lib Dems.

What struck me are not just the numbers but the fact that serious money is being spent on the effort to try to get Clegg out.

Constituency surveys like this are just about the most complex and expensive political polling that you can do. They can only be carried out by phone and the bill for this job will have been tens of thousands of pounds. It also takes time and planning. It is not the sort of thing that could have been commissioned last week.

    The conclusion I come to is that someone, or maybe a group of people, are trying to create the environment that will make it even more difficult for the current leadership to carry on

    If so Clegg would appear to have an organised and well-funded rebellion on his hands

The polling goes to the very heart the party’s current perception about its GE15 chances. This is that although they’ll struggle across most of the country they are doing OK in their strongholds.

Under British Polling Council rules ICM will be required to publish the poll details but whether the funder’s name will be made public is a different matter. Who is it? I’ve got my suspicions but I’m not going to reveal them.

Update on my effort to identify who is behind the poll

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Leaked private polling shows Clegg losing Sheffield Hallam and finishing third behind the Tories!

Monday, May 26th, 2014

If there’s one thing that gets people like us excited and interested is a leaked internal/private polling, especially ones conducted by ICM.

The polling finds

The electoral oblivion apparently confronting the Liberal Democrats as led by Nick Clegg was underscored on Monday by leaked opinion polls in four seats showing that the party will be wiped out.

Commissioned by a Lib Dem supporter from ICM and subsequently passed to the Guardian, the polling indicates that the Lib Dem leader would forfeit his own Sheffield Hallam constituency at the next election.

The party would also lose its seats in in Cambridge, Redcar and Wells, costing MPs Julian Huppert, Ian Swales and Tessa Munt Westminster seats.

If the business secretary, Vince Cable, were to take over as leader, the Lib Dems would perform marginally better, the data suggests. Appointing Danny Alexander, the chief secretary, would give the party a more modest boost.

The Guardian notes

The polls undertaken in April and May are of all respondents expressing an intention to vote and are turnout weighted. It does not include some adjustments ICM uses for national polls. The polls also question the value of a personal-vote showing. Although Munt, Swales and Huppert have positive ratings for a good job by their constituents, fewer than half recognise them.

One of the things that has made ICM the gold standard of UK polling is their adjustments, such as their spiral of silence adjustment, so it’s not quite the usual ICM poll we’ve come to know.

I would caution PBers before betting based on these polls/articles until we see the full data tables, although we may never do so, as these are private polls, never meant for public consumption, so as I understand, ICM are under no obligation to publish them.

But you can get 7/1 on Labour taking Sheffield Hallam, but IIRC, the Lib Dems on Thursday’s council elections, won the wards that make up Sheffield Hallam, I won’t be taking up this bet.




As long as Paddy Ashdown’s on side then Nick Clegg’s position is secure

Monday, May 26th, 2014

The former leader has the power to stop regicide

Back in September 2012 at the Lib Dem Brighton conference Clegg announced the appointment of ex-leader, Paddy Ashdown as head of the party’s 2015 general election campaign.

This has been discussed in terms of his ability to reach Labour tactical voters who are central to the party holding onto those seats where the Tories are in second place. He’s also good at motivating activists.

    But what’s really significant about having Ashdown on side is the way it buttresses Clegg’s own position as leader.

    Grandees have always been hugely influential within the party and it’s hard to envisage a successful attempt to oust Clegg or persuade him to step down without Ashdown being on board.

The former leader and ex-SBS officer has been totally wedded to the leader and I detect no change there. As long as that remains my reading is that Clegg is untouchable.

If, however, Ashdown starts to have doubts then things could move and he would be the one to handle the negotiation.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble