Archive for February, 2016


Local By-Election Results : February 25th 2016

Friday, February 26th, 2016

Key: Death Resignation

Kingswinford North and Wall Heath on Dudley (Con defence)
Result: Conservative 1,456 (54% +11%), Labour 934 (35% +8%), United Kingdom Independence Party 262 (10% -17%), Green Party 52 (2% -1%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 522 (19%) on a swing of 1.5% from Labour to Conservative

St. James on Dudley (Lab defence)
Result: Labour 847 (46% +1%), United Kingdom Independence Party 554 (30% +2%), Conservative 427 (23% -1%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 293 (16%) on a swing of 0.5% from Labour to United Kingdom Independence Party

Catterick (Con defence) on Richmondshire
Result: Conservative 308 (60% +20%), Independent 203 (40% -4%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 105 (20%) on a swing of 12% from Independent to Conservative

Studley with Sambourne (Con defence) R on Stratford upon Avon
Result: Liberal Democrat 632 (55% +24%), Conservative 233 (20% -13%), Labour 156 (14% -4%), Independent 66 (6% unchanged), United Kingdom Independence Party 55 (5% -5%)
Liberal Democrat GAIN from Conservative with a majority of 399 (35%) on a swing of 18.5% from Conservative to Liberal Democrat

February 2016 Summary:
Conservatives 9,856 votes (31%) winning 7 seats (-3)
Labour 9,570 votes (30%) winning 6 seats (unchanged)
Liberal Democrats 4,971 votes (16%) winning 5 seats (+1)
United Kingdom Independence Party 3,256 votes (10%) winning 0 seats (unchanged)
Green Party 1,374 votes (4%) winning 1 seat (+1)
Scottish National Party 1,113 votes (3%) winning 1 seat (+1)
Independents 1,287 votes (4%) winning 0 seats (unchanged)
Other Parties 510 (2%) winning 1 seat (unchanged)

Westminster (England and Scotland) Forecast
Conservatives 282 seats (-37 seats)
Labour 243 seats (+36 seats)
Liberal Democrats 37 seats (+30 seats)
Scottish National Party 27 seats (-29 seats)
Green Party 1 seat (unchanged)
United Kingdom Independence Party 1 seat (unchanged)
Speaker 1 seat (unchanged)


Clinton and Trump dominate in the build up to “Super Tuesday” when 12 states decide

Friday, February 26th, 2016

HRC+DT nomination

It is hard to argue that this won’t be the November line-up

The dramatic developments over the past week in the EU referendum have somewhat sidelined what has been the most crucial week so far in the WH2016 battles for the Democratic and Republican party nominations.

In the betting both Hillary and Trump have seen their odds tighten sharply following the latest state contests. Last Saturday Clinton squeezed a victory over Bernie Sanders in the Nevada caucuses while Trump had another hugely emphatic win in South Carolina.

On Tuesday it was the GOP caucuses in Nevada with Trump winning by a huge margin over Rubio.  Overnight we had the latest Republican debate and although Rubio went hard against the front runner Trump defended himself well.

Tomorrow the Democratic primary takes place in South Carolina where Clinton has been chalking up huge polling leads over Sanders even though the 74 year old socialist from Vermont has been outspending her. This is natural Clinton territory and nobody is expecting other than a big Hillary win.

This all sets up the Clinton and Trump campaigns well for “Super Tuesday” when 12 states and one territory decide.












Alaska (GOP caucuses)

Sanders should take his home state of Vermont and is doing well in Massachusetts but is not expected to make serious inroads elsewhere. If this goes according to the polls Clinton could win ten of them of them and her position would start to look unassailable.

Trump is dominating almost across the board except in Texas, Cruz’s home state.

Mike Smithson


2016 Oscar betting: Roger marks your card

Friday, February 26th, 2016
88th Academy Awards List 2016 Oscars Results Nominees Predictions Fanboys Anonymous
…….. and now for something completely different
2016 Oscars. The most competitive year I can remember and an unusual one. Nine Irish nominations in the major categories though none for blacks which has led to Spike Lee calling for ‘a blackout’. Also interesting though unlikely to cut much ice here 12 times nominated ‘The Revenant’ was the highest grossing film of all time in Russia. 
(WARNING: Just a reminder of my track record. I’m the one who in 2005 said Mike’s 50/1 shot on Barack Obama had no chance.)
Best Picture: The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max, The Martian, The Revenant, Room, Spotlight.
At least six of them would be worthy winners but realistically I think it’ll be between three. ‘The Revenant’ ‘The Big Short’ and ‘Spotlight’.  ‘Spotlight’ is the story of paedophile priests abusing kids in Boston. ‘The Big Short’ is a tale of bankers doing the same to everyone else and ‘The Revenant’ is a story of revenge. ‘Spotlight’ was well told but journalists chasing a story has been done in ‘All the President’s Men’. So I’m wavering between ‘The Revenant’ and ‘The Big Short’. A difficult choice but I’m going for ‘The Revenant’.
Best Actor:Michael Fassbender, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio  
Eddie Redmayne, Bryan Cranston. 
My two favourites are Fassbender as ‘Steve Jobs’ and DiCaprio as the ravaged survivor in ‘The Revenant’. So a multi-millionaire narcissist or a salt of the earth fur trapper? I’m going for the fur trapper!
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Brie Larson, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlotte Rampling, Saoirse Ronan
It just gets harder… Cate Blanchett as the predatory lesbian in ‘Carol’, Brie Larson’s chilling captivity in ‘Room’ or ‘Saoirse Ronan’s one way ticket to Brooklyn. All excellent but I’m going for Brie Larson.
Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Mark Ruffalo, Mark Rylance, Sylvester Stallone.
Stallone is much more engaging as a shambling ex champ than he ever was as Rocky but Mark Rylance as the understated Soviet spy in ‘Bridge of Spies’ is magnetic. I worry that American icons start at an advantage so it’ll probably be Stallone though I’d go for Rylance.
Supporting Actress: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rooney Mara, Rachel Adams, Alicia Viklander, Kate Winslet.
Rooney Mara was compelling as Cate Blanchett’s lesbian lover in ‘Carol’  as was Alicia Viklander as the bohemian wife of transsexual Eddie Redmayne in ‘The Danish Girl’. I’m going to go for Rooney Mara.
Best Director: The Big Short, Mad Max, Revenant, Room, Spotlight
If ‘The Revenant’ wins Best Film Alejandro Inarritu will almost certainly win Best Director which will make it two years on the trot. A very rare achievement. Second choice would be Irishman Lenny Abrahamson for the cleverly directed ‘Room’.
Animation: Anomalisa, Boy and the World, Inside Out, Shaun the Sheep Movie, When Marnie Was There.
SeanT’s favourite ‘Inside Out’. Put your house on it.
Cinematography: Carol, The Hateful Eight, Mad Max, The Revenant, Sicario.
‘The Revenant’. Brilliantly photographed by Emannuel Lubeski. I backed him in 2010 when he lost so second time lucky?
Costume Design: Mad Max, Cinderella, Carol, The Danish Girl, The Revenant.
I loved the clothes in ‘Carol’ but ‘Mad Max’ was inspired. I’m going to go for ‘Carol’.
Documentary: Amy, Cartel Land, The Look of Silence, What Happened Miss Simone, Winter on Fire
Amy’. An uncompromising portrayal of Amy Winehouse. A fine piece of work by English documentary maker Asif Capadia.
Makeup: Mad Max, 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, The Revenant
‘Mad Max’.
Sound Editing: Mad Max, The Martian, The Revenant, Sicario, Star Wars
‘Mad Max’ or ‘The Revenant’. I’m going for the longest odds.
Sound Mixing: Mad Max, Revenant, Star Wars, The Martian, Bridge of Spies
‘Mad Max’ or ‘The Revenant’. Ditto.
Film Editing: The Big Short, Mad Max, Revenant, Spotlight, Star Wars
‘Mad Max’.
Foreign Language: Son of Saul and others…
I wouldn’t normally recommend something I haven’t seen but a film maker friend almost choked watching this holocaust film. By all accounts a difficult watch but brilliant. So ‘Son of Saul’.
Original Score: Bridge of Spies, Carol, The Hateful Eight, Sicario. Star Wars
Ennio Morricone ‘The Hateful Eight’.
Production Design: Bridge of Spies, The Danish Girl, Mad Max, The Martian, The Revenant
The whacky ‘Mad Max’.
Visual Effects: Ex Machina, Mad Max, The Martian, The Revenant, Star Wars
‘The Revenant’ but ‘Ex Machina’ is an interesting long shot.
Adapted Screenplay: The Big Short, Brooklyn, Carol, The Martian, Room.
‘The Big Short’ or ‘Room’. Both very good but for originality I’ll go for ‘The Big Short’.
Original Screenplay: Bridge of Spies, Ex Machina, Inside Out, Spotlight, Straight Outta Compton
Unusual to have an animation nominated for best original screenplay but ‘Inside Out’ is exactly that. It’s a tough choice between that and the very well crafted ‘Spotlight’. I’ll go for ‘Spotlight’.
    Roger Alexander is a film-maker and longstanding PB poster. This is the seventh time he’s posted on his Oscar predictions  and his record is very good


Local By-Election Preview : February 25th 2016

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

Key: Death Resignation

Kingswinford North and Wall Heath (Con defence) and St. James (Lab defence) on Dudley
Result of council at last election (2015): Labour 38, Conservatives 25, United Kingdom Independence Party 7, Independent 1, Green Party 1 (Labour majority of 4)
Result of ward at last election

Kingswinford North and Wall Heath (2014):
Conservative 1,704 (43%), United Kingdom Independence Party 1,090 (27%), Labour 1,071 (27%), Green Party 131 (3%)
Candidates duly nominated: Lynn Boleyn (Lab), Mick Forsyth (UKIP), Edward Lawrence (Con), Andi Mohr (Green)

St. James (2015):
Labour 2,641 (45%), United Kingdom Independence Party 1,642 (28%), Conservative 1,398 (24%), Green Party 186 (3%)
Candidates duly nominated: Cathryn Bayton (Lab), Graeme Lloyd (UKIP), Wayne Sullivan (Con)

There are some parliamentary by-elections that stick in the mind. For the Conservatives, there’s Ashfield in 1977 (Con GAIN on a swing of 20% from Lab), for the Liberals, Orpington in 1962 (Lib GAIN on a swing of 27% from Con), for Plaid Cymru, Carmarthen in 1966 (Plaid GAIN on a swing of 18% from Lab) and for the SNP they have the choice of either Hamilton in 1967 (SNP GAIN on a swing of 38% from Lab), Glasgow Govan (1973, SNP GAIN on a swing of 27% from Lab or 1988, SNP GAIN on a swing of 33% from Lab) or more recently Glasgow East in 2008 (SNP GAIN on a swing of 23% from Lab) but my personal favourite (and I suspect Labour’s personal favourite) was Dudley West in 1994 (Lab GAIN on a swing of 21% from Con) because a 21% swing from Con to Lab on the 1992 notional election would produce a House of Commons that had (according to the BBC) no Conservative MP’s and as a result broke their computers who couldn’t work on the concept of there being no Conservative MP’s to represent. Of course since then things have recovered for the Conservatives massively as they gained the seat (now called Dudley South) in 2010 when the by-election victor stood down from Parliament and despite that election winner also standing down in 2015, Mike Wood seems to have this constituency for as long as he wants it. And the same could be said about the council. A Labour majority of 48 in 1996 was whittled away by 2003 and by 2011 had become a Conservative majority of 14 before swinging back to Labour in 2012 with the Conservatives recovering in 2015 at the expense of UKIP, all posing the question if UKIP are suffering losses to the Conservatives, can they take control of the council in May?

Catterick (Con defence) on Richmondshire
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 21, Independents 7, Richmondshire Independents 4, Liberal Democrats 2 (Conservative majority of 8)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Independent 570 (44%)
Conservatives 528, 392 (40%)
Green Paty 208 (16%)
Candidates duly nominated: Jill McMullon (Ind), Simon Young (Con)

Richmondshire has had a long track record of, if not cocking a snook at political convention, then at least saying “We respect the political parties in the United Kingdom at a Westminster level, but we are our own people!”. You only have to look at some of the parties that been elected over the years to the council. In 1991, in the Bolton Manor ward, an Independent Liberal Democrat was elected unopposed. In 1995, an Independent Conservative was elected unopposed in the Scorton ward. In 1999, the Social Democrats won both seats in the forerunner to this ward (Catterick and Tunstall) and in 2003, the Richmondshire Independents started to make their presence felt which therefore means that with just a Conservative and an Independent standing, you do have to think the Independent starts off as the favourite to win (but given this streak perhaps the electors of Catterick will say “Ah, that’s what convention would say, we spit in the eye of convention!”)

Studley with Sambourne (Con defence) on Stratford upon Avon
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 31, Liberal Democrats 3, Labour 1, United Kingdom Independence Party 1 (Conservative majority of 26)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Conservative 655 (33%), Liberal Democrat 628 (31%), Labour 364 (18%), United Kingdom Independence Party 207 (10%), Independent 111 (6%)
Candidates duly nominated: Paul Beaman (Con), Nick Moon (Ind), Nigel Rogers (United Kingdom Independence Party), Karen Somner-Brown (Lab), Hazel Wright (Lib Dem)

I know I live in Ceredigion, but I’m a Warwickshire child at heart, having been brought up in the villages and towns of both South and North Warwickshire I feel that I know the area just as much as I know this area and the villages of Studley and Sambourne are ones that I have travelled through on many an occasion, so when it was announced that Stratford council was switching from third elections to all out elections on a single member ward basis I rubbed my hands with glee and instantly created a spreadsheet with the results and as they declared the council to be a Conservative HOLD I instantly posted online a battleground for the next elections noting that if there was a Lib Dem swing of 7% at those next elections the Liberal Democrats would win an extra eight seats (taking their tally to 11) seven of which would come from the Conservatives (24) and one from Labour and reducing the Conservative majority to 12. What I did not expect however was a by-election in target number 2 (0.67% swing for Lib Dems to gain) where the resigning Conservative councillor stood again as an Independent!

Compiled by Harry Hayfield


If this US YouGov polling is correct then the chances of a President Trump must be negligible

Thursday, February 25th, 2016


In a week dominated by the EU UKIP’s Douglas Carswell is this week’s PB/Polling Matters special guest

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016


In this week’s episode Keiran Pedley interviews UKIP MP Douglas Carswell about his political journey, thoughts on the EU referendum campaign, the future of UKIP and whether he might rejoin the Conservatives in the future.

At the beginning of the show Keiran also gives his brief analysis on Trump’s win in Nevada and recent polling of Labour Party members.
You can follow Keiran at @keiranpedley


There was a similar phone/online polling divide at the last national UK referendum

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Phone polls trounced online ones in the 2011 AV vote

I get asked several a week at the moment for a view on online phone divide that we’ve seen over the EURef. Which is better I’m asked and I’m reluctant to come down on one side or the other.

At the general election the final polls from both modes were in the same ball park although during the official campaign period the phone firms were much more like to report CON leads than online ones.

But in any case general election polling to determine party shares is very different from the binary choice in a referendum. There should be fewer complications with the latter.

So I’ve dug our the data about the last UK referendum to see if there is anything to learn and, remarkably, they had the same mode split then as well.

The chart above I’d based on the average NO2AV lead in the final polls years ago. Then the phone pollster trounced the online ones.

Maybe that is happening this time as well. Maybe not.

Mike Smithson


Trump makes it three states in a row as he moves even closer to the nomination

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

 He’s now 1/2 to be the Republican choice

The big news in the White House Race is that Trump had another emphatic victory in last night’s Nevada caucuses. This means he’s now made it three states in a row and is now a clear favourite to secure the nomination.

It is not just the fact of victory that has been so striking but he’s winning by huge margins. Rubio came in second place in Nevada but a long way behind.

Trump is helped, of course, by the fact that he’s still facing multiple opponents who split the non-Trump vote. It is hard to see how this pattern can be broken as we move into the mass of primaries in the first week in March.

The only way that Trump can be stopped is if there’s one anti-Trump candidate ideally Rubio.

In the betting Trump’s moved from about evens to 1/2 or even tighter.

The longer this goes on the more it looks like a Trump versus Clinton contest in November.

Mike Smithson