Archive for November, 2016


The Lib Dems could be making a massive mistake claiming they’re on target to win Richmond Park tomorrow

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

The Guardian

What would be good result getting very close will be seen as a failure

The big news on this final day of campaigning in the Richmond Park by-election is that the Lib Dems are claiming that they are ahead.

According to data made available to the Guardian the party’s current projection is:

Goldsmith 45.8%
LIB Dems 47.2%
LAB 6.2%

As I’ve argued previously you should treat all data like this as coming from a partisan source and should be regarded with great scepticism. We are being told this for a reason.

I must admit that I am somewhat astounded. If they come very close tomorrow then that could be seen as a failure not a good result given that Zac is defending a 23k majority.

We also know that MPs who resign to fight by-elections have a very good track record with only one failure in the last third of a century. Zac has a huge incumbency benefit.

There’s also the issue of credibility in the future. If the LDs lose then this will be quoted back at them for decades.

Maybe the idea is to fire up their huge activist base for the critical get out the vote operation but surely the same could be achieved by simply suggesting that this is very close.

Mike Smithson


TMay moves to negative ratings in Scotland while fewer Scots now back independence than at the 2014 referendum

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016


Given the huge importance of Scotland as the UK moves towards BREXIT there’s a new Scotland only YouGov poll – the first since August.

These are some of the key points:-

The rise and rise of Scots CON leader Ruth Davidson continues

Scottish Greens now into double figures on Regional List voting


On top of LAB polling woes first analysis of the new boundaries suggests LAB will need vote lead of 13.5% to get a majority

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Bling 2

The Tories only need a 1.9% margin

YouGov’s Anthony Wells who runs UK Polling Report had produced his first analysis of the planned new boundary changes and the outcome is excellent for the Tories and terrible for Labour.

The analysis also has the LDs down to just four MPs.

I’m just on my way home from the Political Studies Association Awards in London and I’ll do more on this when I’ve had time to look at this in greater detail.

Mike Smithson


The PB/Polling Matters podcast: Now two years old and heading for 1m+ downloads

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Big Ben

The best analysis & insight on the latest political polling

With this latest PB/Polling Matters podcast the development, pioneered by pollster Keiran Pedley, is two years old during which time there have been more than 900k downloads with the million mark not that far off.

PB began collaborating with Keiran a few months after the launch and since then this has become a key part in the overall site offerings.

On this week’s anniversary edition Keiran is joined by regular contributor Rob Vance and US Democratic Pollster (and one half of ‘The Pollsters’ podcast) Margie Omero.

Keiran, Rob and Margie look again at the US presidential election, Trump’s latest tweets and who to watch out for on the Democrat side looking ahead to 2020.

Later in the show Keiran and Rob talk about Paul Nuttall’s election as leader of UKIP and Keiran looks at today’s ICM poll and explains why Labour focusing on the threat from UKIP may be missing the point.

Follow today’s guests at: @keiranpedley, @robvance, @MargieOmero

Mike Smithson


Based on the success of other MPs who resigned to fight by-elections Zac’s chances are good

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016


It’s more than 30 years since an incumbent failed

In much of the discussion on Richmond Park a lot has been made of the 19%+ CON>LD swing that the yellows achieved in Witney which is almost exactly what is required in Thursday’s contest. The only difference is that in this latest by-election the LDs are fighting the incumbent and there is a well recorded incumbency effect.

In fact if you look at other by-elections where the incumbent seeks re-election then they usually do so. In the final year of the last Parliament both Carswell on Reckless switched from the Tories to UKIP and resigned seats to fight by-elections. Both held on though Reckless by a much smaller margin than UKIP’s private polling said he would. In the latter the Tories threw absolutely everything at stopping Reckless because it was paramount that no other CON MPs should follow the same course in the run-up to GE2105.

In the 2005-2010 parliament we had David Davis’s resignation on civil liberties and his subsequent by-election success albeit helped by some other parties standing aside.

The biggest example of the incumbency effect came in Northern Ireland on January 23rd 1986 when every single unionist MP of whichever brand, 15 of them in all, had resigned in protest against the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Each of their parties agreed not to contest seats previously held by the others, and each outgoing MP stood for re-election. All but one of them succeeded. The SDLP managed to take Newry & Armagh.

In England you’ve got to go back to June 3rd 1982, at the height of the Falklands war, to find a by-election failure by an incumbent. Bruce Douglas-Mann had switched from Labour to the SDP in Mitcham & Morden only to lose the by-election to the Tories.

Whether the super-charged atmosphere created by the Falklands war will be matched by feelings on BREXIT in Richmond Park and North Kingston on Thursday we’ll have to see.

Mike Smithson


Hills make it odds-on that UKIP won’t have a single MP after the next election

Monday, November 28th, 2016



Nuttall’s first goal as UKIP leader is winning under first past the post

Monday, November 28th, 2016


BREXIT means no UKIP MEPs from 2019

Today marks another new chapter in UKIP’s short history with the election by a substantial majority of members of Paul Nuttall as party leader. He’s from the North West and has a very different back story than the public-school former city trader, Nigel Farage, that he replaces.

Nuttall said his first objective was to take the battle to Labour which under Corbyn has looked weaker and extremely vulnerable particularly in its heartlands. If Nuttall’s UKIP can do to the red team what the SNP did in Scotland then then Corbyn’s party could be in serious trouble.

Credible parties need elected representatives and this is where UKIP have really struggled when the elections are under first past the post. They’ve just one MP and a relative handful of local councillors given the vote shares that they’ve been managing in recent years.

The other area where they’ve had reasonable success has been winning the PR-related list seats on the Welsh Assembly where overall vote totals matter. Unfortunately the next set of these elections is 2021.

So with the sizeable UKIP representation in Brussels, elected under a form of proportional representation, due to end in less than four years Nuttall needs to build an electoral force that can win when what matters is coming top in a constituency or a ward.

Mike Smithson


Labour’s Migration dilemma

Monday, November 28th, 2016


Don Brind looks at the challenges

Diane Abbott, the Shadow Home Secretary is always worth listening to these days, not necessarily because of the quality of her analysis, but because she tells us what her leader thinks.

So when she warns against a move to the right on immigration so that Labour becomes “Ukip-lite” she is undoubtedly reflecting the view of Jeremy Corbyn.

In her interview with Guardian political editors Anushka Asthana and Heather Stewart  the Shadow Home secretary undoubtedly reflects concern within Labour and beyond about the nasty post-referendum atmosphere “We have to acknowledge how frightened some people are about this type of debate on immigration, because they do not know where it ends,” Her multicultural London constituency, she said had seen sharp rise in hate attacks, targeting long-settled, non-white people who were not from European countries.

There will be plenty who endorse her view that Labour’s goal should be to keep part of the single market and that means telling  voters the only way to achieve that is to accept continued freedom of movement… is absolutely fair to say that on doorsteps colleagues are finding people complaining about immigration, but it is simply not the case that immigration has driven down wages, or that immigration has created the insecurity or instability they perceive,”

But if the Abbott Corbyn aim is to close down debate on immigration policy within the party it’s unlikely to be successful.

“The elephant in the room is the issue of immigration. The Labour Party is not in tune with many of our voters,” the widely admired chair of the Labour Movement for Europe Giampi Alhadeff told the LME’s annual meeting at the weekend.
He said: “Immigration has enriched us, both culturally and economically, yet the pace of change in some parts of the country has been de-stabilising…. The problem is not freedom of movement, but the way it is implemented and the way that we have failed to use the safeguards that could be available to us.”

The former Brussels based trade union official said Labour need a credible immigration policy based on strengthened workers’ rights “so that non UK workers cannot be used to undercut wages.”

The LME chair’s approach is similar to that of the Shadow Business secretary Clive Lewis who said Labour would champion British businesses’ desire to stay on the single market but there was a quid pro quo – “you have to give workers more job security; better terms and conditions; recognise trade unions. It will have an impact on the number of people coming to this country, if you make it more difficult for employers to bring people in, to undercut people.”

At the heart of Labour’s dilemma is that the fact that while a majority of Labour’s 2015 voters backed Remain a majority of Labour MPs represent areas where there was a Leave majority.

A good example is Tameside which voted 3-2 for Leaving. One of the local MPs is Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary. Like Lewis she is an enthusiastic supporters of Jeremy Corbyn but she “We have to have controls on immigration, that’s quite clear,” she told BBC News. “We have got to make sure that our economic situation is good for everybody because immigration is a good thing for us, but what undermines [that] is when people feel that it is unvetted and that we are not able to deal with the issues and the concerns that people have around that.”

It is easy to depict Labour as in a muddle when compared to Theresa May’s simple assertion that the referendum result was all about curbing immigration.

It reality the public mood is much more nuanced as Professor Rob Ford explained in an excellent edition of BBC Radio Four’s More or Less  which drew on a British Future / ICM survey  It supports the view that there are many who want immigration controlled – but not if they can be shown it will make them worse off.

Labour has to talk about immigration in order to get a hearing from pro-Leave voters but if that’s all the party talks about it will fail. The key is to come up with a convincing economic and business agenda that is about creating shared prosperity.
The point is made strongly by a Sunderland MP Bridget Phillipson. Her city, which is home to Nissan in the UK voted by more than 60% for Leave. Writing in the New Statesman  she has no doubt that “Immigration into Britain has boosted our economy year after year and thus raised the standard of living for people in this country.”
But she argues that for potential Labour voters, those who thought of backing the party then shied away, what mattered most was “having decent messages for people on middle incomes” and “being trusted to run the economy”.

Don Brind