Archive for September, 2016


CON might have enjoyed double digit leads in the polls but has had a terribe month in local by-elections

Friday, September 30th, 2016

Seats changing hands in September 2016

Liberal Democrats GAIN Four Lanes on Cornwall from United Kingdom Independence Party

Conservatives GAIN Grangefield on Stockton on Tees from Labour

Liberal Democrats GAIN Mosborough on Sheffield from Labour

Liberal Democrats GAIN Tupton on North East Derbyshire from Labour

Liberal Democrats GAIN Plasnewydd on Cardiff from Labour

Labour GAIN Christchurch on Allerdale from Conservative

Plaid Cymru GAIN Cilycwm on Carmarthenshire from Independent

Labour GAIN Coatbridge North and Glenboig on North Lanarkshire from Scottish National Party

Labour GAIN Arley and Whitacre on North Warwickshire from Conservative

Liberal Democrats GAIN Hadleigh on Suffolk from Conservative

Liberal Democrats GAIN Teignmouth Central on Teignbridge from Conservative

Liberal Democrats GAIN Stow on Cotswold from Conservative

Liberal Democrats GAIN Adeyfield West on Dacorum from Conservative

Data compiled by Harry Hayfield


So far no conference or JC re-election bounce for LAB

Friday, September 30th, 2016

No change at YouGov following events of last week

New findings on TMay

But BREXIT not seen to be going well

Little appetite for an early election


A new settlement for Europe?

Friday, September 30th, 2016



It was said of the Thane of Cawdor that “Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it.”  Well Britain may not be an ambitious murderer driven to evil deeds by superstitious prophecies (though some on the Remain side or in Continental Europe might well think otherwise).  And it has not left anything yet.  But two months on from the referendum, the swift defenestration of one ruler, his replacement by the well-shod Rosa Klebb of the Tory party and some efficient blood-letting, what can we discern about how Britain is thinking about the consequences of its vote, about what comes next?

Other than repetition of the largely meaningless “Brexit means Brexit” phrase and vague attempts to distinguish between “Soft” and “Hard” Brexit, so far there has been much talk about the mechanics of departure (when to trigger Article 50, should a Parliamentary vote be held, who will make the decision – May, by all accounts), Labour have absented themselves from the debate and the LibDems are pretending that it is still 18 June and they can still win for the Remain cause.

And there has been an assumption amongst some that, because Article 50 will not be triggered for some time, nothing, for the moment, is changing.  A false and dangerous assumption: businesses large and small will make plans.  If they do not know what the likely outcome of Brexit will be or even what the government is looking for then they will make their own best/worst case assumptions and plans.  Long before any exit has been formalised, we will likely see an impact.

What does Britain want?” has been the question from European leaders.  And some of them (the latest being Matteo Renzi) have sought to tell us what we cannot have. Well, what do we want?  And how should we approach the negotiations?

We could treat this like a divorce: a protracted, intermittently painful, detailed haggling over who gets what and on what terms, until bored and exhausted by the hand to hand fighting, we retire from the scene, bruised and trying hard to convince ourselves that all things considered the settlement hasn’t been too bad.  Meanwhile the bewildered children look on, wondering what the hell is going on.

Or we can be bold and set out a clear vision of the sort of Europe we want to see and what our own role in that Europe should be.  A strategy for Europe, an intellectual Marshall plan for Europe, a vision of Europe that other European states, that the EU itself might find attractive, European policies for co-operation which are in the interests of others as well as ourselves.  A strategy for Britain’s role in Europe of the sort that has never really been attempted in the last half century.   Not the defensive, reactive approach of “you must give us this if you want to sell us cars/cheese/handbags” countered by the equally defensive “you must let people in if you want to sell to us”.  But a new generous, open settlement between Britain and its neighbours, between Britain and the EU, which preserves the best of the European ideal and gets rid of the worst.

The moon on a stick, I hear you cry.  Certainly.  An a la carte choice.  Yes – and what’s wrong with that?  And hard detailed negotiating will be required.  But better this than the craven, penny pinching, what can I get out of this and to hell with the others, zero sum approach which has largely constituted Britain’s European strategy over the last half century. A Britain that had a clear and positive view of itself and its role in Europe and in the world, a (dare I say it) more Gaullist Britain willing to put in the hard work to come up with policies which work and explain them might be more able to get a post-Brexit settlement that worked and had most peoples’ consent.

What are the chances?  Not good.

May’s instincts to reserve decisions to herself, to discourage debate are not promising.  The inability to explain the grammar schools policy does not suggest a government able to think things through and convince voters.  Labour are unlikely to trouble the government.  The EU’s own obstinacy and apparent refusal to consider that its own actions and approach may have led to its rejection, its apparent belief that states must be kept in the EU for fear of the punishment they will face outside will not help.  A fear that if we reveal our hand others will take advantage, a fear that there’s no point asking because we won’t get may cripple our negotiating tactics.

But still.  It was said of another people once that they “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.  The decision to leave this organisation after 43 years because it was not or was not perceived to be working for us is an opportunity to reset Britain’s role.  We should not miss it, as we have missed so many European opportunities in the past.  Let’s see whether next week’s Tory party conference shows us a government able to be bold and imaginative in setting out what Britain’s future could be.



This will go down as one of the classic Andrew Neil interviews

Thursday, September 29th, 2016


Meanwhile ahead of the CON conference Ken Clarke goes on the attack over BREXIT

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

The longstanding pro-European isn’t happy

Next in line this conference season are the Conservatives who are in their traditional final place slot. Inevitably BREXIT, what it actually means and the timetable, will dominate and you can expect all sides to be vocal.

Kicking off is the former CON leadership contender and Chancellor, the veteran Ken Clarke. In an interview in the New Statesman he has some strong and harsh things to say about BREXIT and some of his colleagues. The magazine reports him saying:-

“Whatever is negotiated will be denounced by the ultra-Eurosceptics as a betrayal,” he says. “Theresa May has had the misfortune of taking over at the most impossible time. She faces an appalling problem of trying to get these ‘Three Brexiteers’ [Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox] to agree with each other, and putting together a coherent policy which a united cabinet can present to a waiting Parliament and public. Because nobody has the foggiest notion of what they want us to do.”

Clarke reserves his fiercest anger for these high-profile Brexiteers, lamenting: “People like Johnson and [Michael] Gove gave respectability to [Nigel] Farage’s arguments that immigration was somehow a great peril caused by the EU.”

During the referendum campaign, Clarke made headlines by describing Boris Johnson as “a nicer version of Donald Trump”, but today he seems more concerned about David Cameron. He has harsh words for his friend the former prime minister, calling the pledge to hold the referendum “a catastrophic decision”. “He will go down in history as the man who made the mistake of taking us out of the European Union, by mistake,” he says.”

Quite what influence Ken still has is hard to say but he’s important because he get media attention and he’s highly articulate.

Mike Smithson


The impact of the 1st debate on WH2016 & the prospects now for Corbyn: this week’s PB/Polling Matters TV show/podcast

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

After a big few days in both UK and US politics the PB/Polling Matters looks in detail at the impact of Corbyn’s re-election and where the Trump-Clinton battle stands now. How much importance should we attach to the instant post debate polling and in the UK is there any way that Corbyn can now move forward following his convincing leadership victory.

Joining Keiran Pedley (@keiranpedley) are Rob Vance (@robvance) and Leo (@leobarasi)

Rob highights the post debate polling showing a boost for Clinton and the team discuss whether it will last. Keiran explains why he hasn’t ruled Trump out yet and Leo sets out a strategy Trump might take in the final few weeks of the campaign. Keiran and Rob then look at which states will be important to watch out for in upcoming polls.

Leo then moves on to Ian Warren’s Labour leadership exit poll by YouGov and the team discuss what Labour MPs will do next. Keiran looks at recent ICM and ComRes polling and what it might mean for a future Labour policy offer as the party seeks to reunite and make up ground versus the Tories.

Finally, the team look ahead to Theresa May’s first Tory conference speech and what Corbyn has to do to look like a PM-in-waiting.
Follow this week’s guests at:

The audio podcast version.

Mike Smithson


Trump winning the online, unscientific, polling

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

Why PB is introducing a new policy on voodoo poll comments

PB is introducing a new policy for its comments. Any comment that refers to a self-selecting voodoo poll as though it was a real poll where the sample has been properly selected will be deleted. Repeated regular offenders risk having their posting rights withdrawn.

The reason is that we are seeing so many non-selecting polls where anyone with internet access is able to participate that these can be confusing. Just look at how Trump is using the voodoo polls to bolster his effort.

From now on commenters can refer to such surveys but they need to distinguish them from proper polls.

Mike Smithson


A former odds-on favourite for the Democratic nomination says the LDs could form the next UK government

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

Back in late 2003, not too long after the Iraq War, the governor of Vermont, Howard Dean, was causing a stir on the WH2004 betting markets. He had become just about the first politician to tap into the power of the internet and was running a very effective online campaign building up hundreds of thousands of supporters.

By early January 2004 ahead of the Iowa caucuses he looked unstoppable with the money and, apparently, campaign organisation see see him through the primary battle. On Betfair he moved to a 65% chance of winning the nomination.

It all started to fall to pieces at the first hurdle. Against all the predictions he failed in Iowa and his shouting response to the result became an immediate online hit.

This is by way of introduction to his observation on the UK political scene in the Tweet above.

For the record I don’t believe he is right.

Mike Smithson