Archive for October, 2014


Alex Salmond fighting a Westminster seat that voted overwhelmingly NO would be a huge gamble

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

You could see this as an attack line?
You voted NO – now tell him you mean it”?

Salmond in debate (1)

It’s been reported widely that the outgoing SNP leader and Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, is thinking about seeking a Westminster seat to fight at GE15. This would mean a return to the Commons.

The one he’s said to have his eye is Gordon in Aberdeenshire where the sitting Lib Dem MP, Malcolm Bruce, is standing down. Generally the Lib Dems are most vulnerable in such situations.

But would this be the shoo-in for Salmond that it appears. Surprisingly Ladbrokes only rate the SNP’s chances there at 8/13 with the LDs on 5/2.

    The relevant fact about the Gordon constituency is that in the IndyRef Gordon it voted by nearly two to one against independence – hardly good territory, you would think, for the NATs

Life is almost always hard for ex-leaders. They don’t have the pulling power that they enjoyed while in the top job and in his case Salmond is vulnerable because on his watch the referendum went the wrong way. He failed in the biggest project of his political career.

On the face of it Salmond would be better deployed fighting a current LAB seat where the vote was for YES on September 18th.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


After a series of polls showing the main parties level-pegging today’s YouGov has LAB creeping back into the lead

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Now a 1% margin is something for the red team to cheer

For whatever reason things have not been going well for LAB in the polls over the past week. Only the Populus online poll on Monday showed a lead while Opinium, Ashcroft, ComRes and three successive YouGovs had LAB and CON level-pegging.

Of course edging up to a 1% lead, as today, is statistically irrelevant – but this is not about statistics but party morale and pressure, perhaps, on the leadership.

When things haven’t been going well then any sign that the worst might just be over is to be welcomed and no doubt EdM’s tightly knit team will be breathing a sigh of relief.

    There’s little doubt that what started the erosion of Labour’s position was Ed Miliband’s lacklustre conference speech in September. The leader’s performance at his final conference before a general election is crucial and Miliband blew it.

Today Ed faces Dave once again at PMQs. He’s got a great issue – the reports that Britain will not support future efforts to prevent migrants and refugees drowning in the Med.

This is precisely the sort of of thing that should play well with his side and the key swing voting group of LD to LAB switchers. He needs to exploit it well.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Predict Thursday’s South Yorkshire PCC by-election and win the political book that everybody’s talking about

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Which party will win and what’ll be the winning percentage margin?

Last night I attended a splendid book launch for the book by the academic duo of Phil Cowley and Rob Rord featured above. Extracts have received a fair bit of coverage in the past couple of days particularly on the sexual traits of different party supporters.

The book is a compendium if fascinating political tales aimed, I’d suggest, at the political geek audience, I was given a few copies for PB competition prizes and our first will be on Thursday’s S Yorks PCC by election.

Just to note that like all PB competitions my rulings are absolute.

Entries on the thread after 2359 tonight will not be valid. Entries can be with up to two decimal points.

Good luck.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Why CON could still be losing seats to LAB even if it manages to get a 6% lead

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

The first target for the blues – to be doing better than last time

At GE2010 the Conservatives had a GB national vote share of 37% which was 7.3% bigger than Labour’s total of 29.7%.

So under a uniform national swing CON needs to be ahead by that margin simply to stop losing seats to LAB. That is the starting point for the party at GE15 – to do at least as well as they did last time.

    Thus it cannot be assumed that CON lead of 6% is sufficient for them to hang onto all they hold at the moment from LAB.

This all assumes a uniform swing and, of course, the whole political environment is very different with the rise of UKIP. But in terms of the impact on seats it is the gap between LAB and CON that historically has been the best measure. This at GE10 CON moved from being 3% behind LAB to 7.3% ahead.

Note that all the main national polls shares are on a GB basis rather than an all-UK one. For this purpose the Northern Ireland seats are left to one side. Thus it is the GB shares from 2010 that we work from. CON 37, LAB 29.7, LD 23.6.

Of course the Tories have hopes of taking LD seats but here there’s a huge challenge. As is widely known the yellows have a record of outperforming national swing in the seats that they hold, particularly where the existing MP is standing for re-election.

This is being shown again for GE15 in the Lord Ashcroft CON-LD marginals polling. Although on national numbers there’s a huge gap between blue and yellow Lord A’s latest constituency based findings have a LD to CON swing of just 2%. This would curtail many of the expected gains from current margins in national polls.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Tonight’s ComRes phone poll for the Indy sees LAB drop 5 and UKIP up 4

Monday, October 27th, 2014

4 out of the five last polls have been level-pegging

It’s been a big polling day with three surveys already all of them pointing to the fact that the race has got very tight.

Just published is the ComRes phone poll for the Indy which has CON 30+1, LAB 30-5, LD 9-1, UKIP 19+4, GRN 4=

The UKIP figure is a high for ComRes phone polls and the 30% LAB share equals what the party was on at the last general election.

    Polls that are level pegging represent a 3.5% CON-LAB swing and mean, if applied on a uniform swing basis, that the party would lose seats. The Tories need a margin of 6% to ensure that they stop losing seats to LAB

The Tory hope is that they’d make up some of their losses with gains from Lib Dems but yellow strong incumbency will make that harder than it seems.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Neil Findlay – Henry G Manson’s tip for next Scottish LAB lead

Monday, October 27th, 2014

Look beyond Westminster for likely contenders

So far the bookmakers appear to have worked on the assumption that it was there for the taking for the so-called Westminster ‘big beasts’ of Gordon Brown and Jim Murphy with Anas Sarwar the Scottish Labour Deputy the main MSP contender. However with both Brown and Sarwar now ruling themselves out, the field opens considerably.

There’s no certainty that Jim Murphy will stand although he will be sorely tempted given that he is unlikely to prosper under an Ed Miliband-led Labour government (should there be one). However the nature of Johann Lamont’s resignation means that there will be appetite for the next leader to be seen as more independent of the Westminster Labour operation. Given Murphy does not have a seat in the Scottish Parliament this makes things messy though not impossible. All this creates an opening for the likely trade union candidate Neil Findlay.

One of the main developments in the Scottish Labour leadership race is the confirmation that the electoral college will be retained for this election. We’re in the period before the new all member voting as recommended by Ray Collins can be implemented:

‘Mr Sarwar also confirmed that the new leader would be selected under the existing electoral college system which gives equal weighting to three distinct groups – elected politicians, unions and party members.’

This is all very good news for Neil Findlay the likely trade union candidate and Shadow Cabinet Member for Health. He wouldn’t be favourite to beat Jim Murphy, but he’d certainly have a chance. He’s 5/2 with Ladbrokes but a whopping 16/1 with William Hills and 14/1 with Skybet. They simply haven’t caught up with events and these represent great value.

Left-wing author Owen Jones who has close connections with the unions wrote:

Step forward, then, Neil Findlay, the party’s health spokesman. He is little-known now, but that may be about to change. “Anyone who thinks that we can take on the SNP from any other position than firmly to their left needs to re-enter this world from cloud cuckoo land,” he wrote last week. He calls for a national house-building programme, including council housing, desperately needed in Scotland, which has about 180,000 families trapped on waiting lists; a policy of full employment; the living wage and rights for struggling workers treated as commodities to be hired and fired; an industrial policy to support the industries of the future; and a new generation of apprenticeships and college places. Under Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP will present a more radical prospectus than that offered by Alex Salmond: Findlay offers the possibility of a charismatic, inspiring alternative. The SNP should fear him.’

Should he stand (which looks very likely) then Neil Findlay should be around the 7/2 or 4/1 mark.

Henry G Manson


If Thursday’s S Yorkshire PCC by election is close then CON voters’ 2nd preferences could push the purples across the line

Monday, October 27th, 2014

The blues surely want UKIP to be stopped even if that means LAB winning

Looking at the result 2 years ago for the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner the outcome of Thursday’s by election appears to be a foregone conclusion – a LAB HOLD on an even lower turnout.

But the dramatic and worrying events in Rotherham combined with the UKIP surge so close to the general election have led Farage’s party into believing that they might take this one as well.

They are fighting this hard in an area that has been dominated for decades by LAB. If they do it it could have repercussions in similar LAB heartland areas next May.

One factor that makes this a possibility is the voting system which is like the one in mayoral elections where voters have two choices – the second one being counted if no candidate gets an overall majority on first choices.

    If the Tories are 3rd on the first count what’s going to happen to their second preferences given that there’s no LD contender? Could it be Tory votes that win it for UKIP?

Given what’s happening nationally and the Rochester by election the last thing that the blues want just now is another huge election boost for UKIP. Yet it must be highly likely that many CON voters will place UKIP second given that their other options will be LAB and the English Democrats.

My guess is that many will simply leave the second box blank – an action of itself that could help UKIP. The Conservative party interest here is to stop UKIP even if that means a LAB win.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


No Overall Majority now an even hotter favourite for GE15

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

It really is hard to argue against

The coming general election really is quite extraordinary. I can’t recall a time ever when all the main political parties and their leaders have been viewed with such low esteem and the polls are very tight.

Although theoretically LAB will enjoy an enormous benefit from the way the electoral system works you’ve got to be quite brave to back them for a majority particularly given EdM’s continual poor personal ratings.

The Tories suffer from the fact that they are seen as a party “not for people like us” – a perception reinforced by the backgrounds of those in Cameron’s close circle. There’s not a lot they can do about that – they are what they are.

And as for the LDs there’s really nothing more you can add to the tale of woe since the tuition fees fiasco four years ago. They are facing a beating the only issue is how well traditional strong incumbency works for them.

    My view is that with the main parties looking so weak then the personalities and records of individual candidates will matter more than ever before thus adding to the overall uncertainty.

Then of course there is UKIP – the party that is flourishing on the anti politician mood and looks set to make a breakthrough the scale of which is hard to quantify.

I’ve got an all green position with Betfair which I’m not tempted to change.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble