Archive for August, 2015


Message to Andy, Yvette and Liz: Jeremy is a man you can do business with

Friday, August 28th, 2015

LAB4 looking right

Don Brind on how Labour should react to Corbyn’s likely victory

It’s a pretty boring picture – two men and a woman standing in front of a model train. What made it newsworthy for the Metro, the London free sheet, in October 2007 was that the two men were Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Mayor of London Ken Livingstone. Flanked by the Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly they are gazing at a Crossrail train as the £16 billion project was given the green light.

Such moments of amity have been rare in the rollercoaster relations between the Livingstone and Labour leaders going back to Neil Kinnock. In recent days Brown and Livingstone have been at odds over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership credentials.

But that eight-year-old newspaper picture prompts two reflections relevant to the current contest in the Labour party.

The first is a message for Team Corbyn. Labour Londoners are rightly proud of the legacy of the Livingstone-led GLC in fighting racism and homophobia. It laid the groundwork for the diversity and tolerance which we now take for granted in the capital.

    But the GLC was abolished by Margaret Thatcher. We had to wait for her municipal vandalism to be undone by a Labour government – with an electable leader. Ken Livingstone’s opportunity to resume his leadership of London was created by Tony Blair.

The second message is for Teams Burnham, Cooper and Kendall. The Crossrail project which Livingstone worked tirelessly to bring about – winning massive cash commitments from the government and private business – was emblematic of something broader.

The Livingstone mayoralty was a business-friendly administration.

“At the heart of the Mayor’s job” says a report by his top adviser John Ross, “is making sure that London’s success as a city economy continues. This requires more than just taking account of account of business issues in making decisions. It means forging an effective partnership with business.”

With that in mind Jeremy Corbyn’s rivals should all look positively at his his “Better Business” plan and seek to find common ground.
This means engaging with Corbyn not signing up to his plan in its entirety. As the Guardian’s Economic Editor Larry Elliott observes:  “He didn’t expect to be Labour leader and it shows from his economic prospectus, which looks like something hastily put together … most of the eye-grabbing policies are merely “options”.

Elliott says Corbyn will not get the kind of honeymoon Tony Blair enjoyed in 1994 when the Major government’s economic credibility trashed by Black Wednesday. The Tories will try to deliver an early knockout by questioning the economic competence of the new leader. “Corbyn needs to be ready for this, because unless the details of his economic policy stack up, he won’t get a hearing for his big-picture analysis.”

The party as a whole should be thinking about how to counter the inevitable Tory assault when the results is announced on September 12th. Corbyn should not be left to fend for himself, especially as his leadership is likely to be short-lived. Paul Flynn MP whose opposition to his friend Jeremy’s candidature I highlighted in a previous post has tweeted a call to all the candidates to agree to a new vote in two years time “if new leader flops and is less popular than the party.”

The case for a constructive response Corbyn is made by the brilliant Mary Riddell who tells her Telegraph readers he is “no monster. He might even be the saviour of the Labour party”

She says the party should try to harness the mood he has created by inspiring you people. “He is likely to be out well before 2020 having, with luck, bequeathed to a more moderate successor a party reshaped to the demands of modern democracy.”

Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall have had their ups and downs but, in my view, all have grown during the protracted campaign. They have spent many long hours in the same room as Jeremy Corbyn. Enlightened self-interest suggests they should keep in talking to him after September 12th.

Don Brind writes a weekly column for PB


Just one local by-election tonight – what looks like an interesting LAB defence in Barnsley against UKIP

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Dearne North on Barnsley (Lab defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Labour 55, Conservatives 4, Independents 4 (Labour majority of 47)
Result of ward at last election (2014): Labour 1,179 (58%), United Kingdom Independence Party 752 (37%), Conservatives 103 (5%)
Candidates duly nominated: Tony Devoy (Yorkshire First), Karen Fletcher (Trade Unionist and Socialist), Annette Gollick (Labour), Jim Johnson (UKIP), Lee Ogden (Con)

Whilst it is true to say that Labour have Barnsley sewn up, it is not fair to say that no one can challenge them. Barnsley has a total of 63 councillors, therefore whilst getting 32 councillors gets you a majority, the real benchmark is 42 councillors (two thirds of the total membership) and between 1990 and 2003 that is precisely what Labour clocked up, but then from 2003 to 2010 Labour experienced a problem. And what was the problem? Well, it wasn’t the Liberal Democrats and it wasn’t the Conservatives, it was the local independents and in 2008 they managed to win 24 seats on the council and caused Labour to come within one seat of losing Barnsley to No Overall Control, but then came the coalition, then came Labour’s recovery in local government and then Barnsley became a Labour heartland again.

So if Labour were to suffer a rebellion against the perceived one party state on the council, who might benefit? Well, the obvious answer would be UKIP, as in the four constituencies that make up Barnsley UKIP polled 23% of the vote (up 18% on the 2010 general election) clocking a very impressive 24% in the Wentworth and Dearne constituency but as we have seen UKIP have their own problems, namely being unable to hold on to their vote. So what about Yorkshire First? They fielded 14 candidates in the general election polling 1.04% in those constituencies (the best performance being Hemsworth where they polled 2.4% of the vote), sadly this meant that they lost every deposit in those seats and in Barnsley only managed to poll 647 votes in Barnsley East and despite all of their bluster the Trade Unionists and Socialists have yet to win a council seat anywhere, so with no Lib Dem candidate to demonstrate the fightback against Labour, Labour seem almost certain to win this seat with an increased vote and majority.

Harry Hayfield


How backers of the LAB contenders differ from each other and the country as a whole

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

18% of Corbyn voters were 2010 LDs while for 57% their main news source is social media.


The LAB leadership election results WILL be broken down by how the different categories have voted

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

This is a change that could destabilise Leader Corbyn

The tweet above represents a big change of mind by Labour on how it will announce the results on September 12th. Initially the plan had not been to give separate figures for the three different types of voter. Now these will be provided.

The Tweet is from a member of Labour’s National Executive Committee. Its Procedures Committee is overseeing the election and is made up of several key figures including the General Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth MP and Margaret Beckett MP who was the stand-in leader after John Smith died in 1994.

The decision to provide a full breakdown could be important if one of the three sections of the electorate votes in a different way from the others.

It will be recalled that after the 2010 election Ed Miliband’s position was undermined by the fact that his support disproportionately came from trade unionists. The election rules were different then but it will be remembered that David Miliband was the choice of the party’s MPs as well as the membership at large.

    From the limited polling data that has been published it is clear that Corbyn is doing significantly better with the £3 voters and trade union supporters than he is with the ordinary members.

Of course the legitimacy of the result will depend on the overall outcome. But this could just provide the ammunition for those who might want to question Mr Corbyn’s position should he, as seems likely, is elected in two and half weeks time.

Mike Smithson


Meanwhile for the other contenders the battle continues…

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015


That ComRes 14% CON lead poll might have done Mr. Corbyn a favour

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015


Improvement from such a low base should be easier

I’m not attaching too much importance to voting intention polls at the moment. Firstly we are still waiting for the review by the British Polling Council of what went wrong with the May 7th surveys. That is due out in March and is likely to make important proposals about the way polls are conducted

Then there’s the fact that that neither of the two main parties is currently being led by the person who will be the choice for Prime Minister offered at the next election. That will change on September 12th with Labour but it will be probably 2018 or 2019 before we see who Mr Cameron’s successor is.

Assuming this Parliament goes its full term we are more than 4 and a half years away from an election taking place.

So far the pollsters and those who commission them have been sensitive to the fact that this is not the best time to be promoting Westminster voting intention surveys. The result is that we had so few of them.

    My guess is that things will change quite sharply after this years Party Conference season because, of course, the big new fact will be the new Labour leader. How she, or much more likely he, is doing in the surveys could play a key part in their survival.

A factor that kept Ed Miliband in place right through until May 7th was the polling. Labour didn’t appear to be doing that badly and indeed on some projections that we had looked set to win most seats. Why change a leader apparently was doing OK in the polls?

After that experience the party will be looking more critically at the numbers that come out. There will be an expectation that Labour’s poll rating should start to improve a move at least to parity with the Tories.

So what could be better for the new leader if the starting point is very low indeed. And that is what the ComRes 14% CON lead does.

Mike Smithson


WH2016: New early state polling has Trump looking even stronger in the battle for the GOP nomination

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015


The multi billionaire chalks up biggest leads yet in the 2 states with the first full primaries

New polling overnight shows the extent that Donald Trump is dominating the effort to win the Republican party nomination in the so called early states which are first to decide in the nomination race.

After Iowa with its caucuses which involve those who are ready to turn out on a cold winter’s night to attend a political meeting the first real primaries take place in New Hampshire and South Carolina. New polling from these two is very good for Trump.

The real estate magnate turned TV star has opened a 24% lead in New Hampshire, according to Public Policy Polling, with 35% of those saying they are likely to vote supporting him.

The Public Policy Polling numbers are Trump 35, Kasich 11, Bush 7, Walker 7, Carson 6, Christie 4, Fiorina 10, Cruz 4, Paul 3, Rubio 4, Huckabee 0, Perry 2, Jindal 0, Graham 1, Santorum 1

The critical thing is that no other Republican contender comes anywhere near. The governor of Ohio, John Kasich, is the closest at 11%. It is a similar picture of Trump dominance in South Carolina, the second early primary state. Here a Monmouth University poll puts Trump at 30% which is exactly twice that of support in South Carolina, double that of Ben Carson on 15%.

The full South Carolina numbers are Trump 30, Carson 15, Bush 9, Walker 4, Huckabee 3, Graham 4, Rubio 6, Cruz 5, Fiorina 6, Kasich 3, Christie 2, Paul 3, Perry 0, Jindal 0

As can be seen in both these new surveys Jeb Bush the frontrunner in the betting and brother of George, the last Republican to be in the White House, is languishing a long way way behind. Bush has got to do something fairly soon.

If it gets to February and Trump takes these two states then he could be unstoppable.

Meanwhile in the Democratic race..

Mike Smithson


Exactly five years ago today these were the Ladbrokes then LAB leadership betting prices

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015