Archive for March, 2017


If the trend in today’s London poll was replicated in Manchester Gorton then LAB might struggle

Friday, March 31st, 2017

Today’s main polling news has been a London poll by YouGov for Queen Mary University where Professor Phil Cowley is one of the leading politics dons. He created the above charts. The main figures with changes on April last year were:-

CON 34+4
LAB 37-9
LD 14+7
UKIP 9-4
GRN 5+1

As we all know London has a very different demographic profile from most of the country and there are very few places indeed which come close to matching it. One I’d suggest is Manchester Gorton where Labour is defending a Westminster by-election on May 4th.

Gorton is an inner city seat with a huge number of students and a large BME population which has a much younger profile to the rest of the UK

Based on the betting odds the big battle is between Labour and the LDs who secured a third of the vote at GE2010 and where the yellows are fighting hard.

If the Gorton Labour vote is falling in the manner portrayed in the London poll with the strongly anti-BREXIT LDs the main beneficiary from these numbers should could be the yellows. Like London Manchester Gorton was strongly for REMAIN last June 23rd.

There has been no published Gorton polling though I’m given to understand from my links in the city that voters there say they have been polled. I can only assume that was a private poll for one of the parties.

There’s the added complication for LAB in the by-election of the LEAVE campaigner George Galloway running as an independent. I’m sure both the yellows and reds will not be slow in reminding voters that the former RESPECT MP announced his Gorton plans on the website of Arron Banks.

When Galloway made his intentions clear the week before last I laid Labour at 1.13 on Betfair. That’s now shifted to above 1.2 and I’ve taken the profits by betting on Labour.

Mike Smithson


Maybe a reason why LAB gets poor media coverage is that the Corbyn-appointed PR team is not up to it

Friday, March 31st, 2017

It is as if the red team has given up

I have never been a fan of Seumas Milne, the PR chief of Corbyn’s Labour, not because of his politics but that he is so poor at the job.

The series of Tweets highlighted by Sam Coates of the Times above is something that the whole LAB leadership should worry about – they are after all the OFFICIAL opposition with all the associated perks that go with it.

Until this is sorted out let’s hear no complaints from Corbyn cultists about the way their man is treated. Mr. Milne was the leader’s appointment.

I’m not hopeful of change.

Mike Smithson


Flynn’s move looks dangerous for Trump and punters make it a 52% chance that the President won’t last the full term

Friday, March 31st, 2017

Time to bet on the President’s survival? Maybe. Maybe not

Until now I have steadfastly ignored the betting on how long Donald Trump will remain in the White House simply because my own personal feelings on this are strong and I know that that could affect my judgement.

But the latest news overnight about Trump’s former national Security adviser, Mike Flynn, suggests that things could start to get pretty rough for the President who has been in power for just over 2 months.

This is all about the possible links between the Trump and Russia and now Flynn’s lawyers have made it clear that he is ready to give evidence on the subject if he is offered immunity from prosecution.

That sounds quite ominous for the President but it’s hard to assess how much that puts his job in danger.

Alongside this the other big Trump story that won’t go away are his declining approval ratings which are far worse than any other president has experienced at this stage in his term.

The worry for the Republican party will be the midterm elections in 2018 when the last thing they want is for negative views of occupant of the White House to be impacting on their electoral chances when so much is at stake.

As a general rule in betting on how long politicians will last it is best to go with their survival. When Bill Clinton was facing impeachment there was a lively spread market on how many days his second term would last for. I bet on him surviving and that that proved to be very profitable.

So in spite of everything with Trump at the moment and I am keeping out of this market. That might change.

Mike Smithson


Looking forward to the County Council Elections 2017

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

With no by-elections tonight and five weeks until the local elections, I thought it might be an idea to have a look at how the counties (last elected in 2013) might go this time around. Of course, since that night we have had a large number of things happen, the first Conservative majority government since 1996, Milliband standing down and Corbyn getting elected as Labour leader (twice) and the small matter of an EU referendum, therefore I have had a look at the local by-elections held in county wards since the referendum and worked on the assumption that dependent on how that county voted at the referendum, the local by-elections will be indicative of the final result. Therefore I wish to present my forecast for the 2017 English County Council Elections

In the local by-elections, areas that voted REMAIN saw the following change:
Con -9%, Lab -4%, Lib Dem +12%, UKIP -12%, Greens 0%, Ind -10%, Others +23%
Where as areas that voted to LEAVE saw the following change:
Con +4%, Lab -4%, Lib Dem +7%, UKIP -9%, Greens +1%, Ind +4%, Others -3%
And tallied across England, this is what that produces

Counties with no boundary changes since 2013
Buckinghamshire (REMAIN): Con 38%, Lib Dem 32%, UKIP 17%, Lab 8%, Ind 4%, Green 2%, Others 0%
Forecast: Con 32, Lib Dem 15, Ind 2 (Con HOLD)
Cumbria (LEAVE): Con 36%, Lib Dem 26%, Lab 24%, UKIP 3%, Green 3%, Ind 6%, Others 2%
Forecast: Con 32, Lab 24, Lib Dem 22, Ind 6 (NOC, no change)
Derbyshire (LEAVE): Lab 37%, Con 33%, Lib Dem 15%, UKIP 10%, Green 2%, Ind 2%, Others 1%
Forecast: Con 34, Lab 23, Lib Dem 7 (Con GAIN from Lab)
Essex (LEAVE): Con 38%, Lib Dem 19%, UKIP 18%, Lab 12%, Green 6%, Others 6%, Ind 1%
Forecast: Con 47, Lib Dem 17, Lab 5, Green 2, Local Independents 2, Ratepayers 1, UKIP 1 (Con HOLD)
Norfolk (LEAVE): Con 37%, Lab 19%, Lib Dem 18%, UKIP 14%, Green 8%, Ind 4%, Others 0%
Forecast: Con 49, Lib Dem 15, Lab 12, Green 6, Ind 2 (Con GAIN from NOC)
North Yorkshire (LEAVE): Con 45%, Lib Dem 16%, Ind 14%, Lab 12%, UKIP 7%, Green 4%, Others 2%
Forecast: Con 42, Ind 13, Lib Dem 12, Lab 2, Lib 2, Green 1 (Con HOLD)
Northamptonshire (LEAVE): Con 41%, Lab 22%, Lib Dem 16%, UKIP 13%, Green 3%, Ind 3%, Others 2%
Forecast: Con 41, Lib Dem 9, Lab 4, Ind 2, Green 1 (Con HOLD)
Somerset (LEAVE): Con 39%, Lib Dem 33%, UKIP 11%, Lab 8%, Green 5%, Ind 4%, Others 0%
Forecast: Con 31, Lib Dem 19, Lab 3, Ind 2, UKIP 1 (Con HOLD)
Staffordshire (LEAVE): Con 40%, Lab 26%, UKIP 15%, Lib Dem 11%, Ind 5%, Green 2%, Others 1%
Forecast: Con 40, Lab 17, Lib Dem 4, Ind 1 (Con HOLD)
Suffolk (LEAVE): Con 39%, Lib Dem 18%, Lab 18%, UKIP 11%, Green 10%, Ind 4%
Forecast: Con 42, Lib Dem 13, Lab 12, Ind 5, Green 3 (Con HOLD)
Surrey (REMAIN): Con 34%, Lib Dem 31%, UKIP 14%, Lab 8%, Others 7%, Green 3%, Ind 3%
Forecast: Con 40, Lib Dem 28, Ratepayers 7, Green 2, Local Independents 2, Ind 1, Lab 1 (Con LOSS to NOC)
Worcestershire (LEAVE): Con 38%, Lab 21%, Lib Dem 15%, UKIP 11%, Green 6%, Others 6%, Ind 3%
Forecast: Con 34, Lab 10, Lib Dem 7, NHA 2, Green 1, Ind 1, Lib 1, Ratepayers 1 (Con HOLD)

Counties with boundary changes since 2013
Cambridgeshire (LEAVE): Con 37%, Lib Dem 28%, Lab 14%, UKIP 11%, Green 5%, Ind 4%, Others 1%
Devon (LEAVE): Con 39%, Lib Dem 23%, UKIP 14%, Lab 9%, Ind 8%, Green 7%, Others 0%
Dorset (LEAVE): Con 43%, Lib Dem 26%, UKIP 13%, Lab 9%, Green 5%, Ind 4%, Others 0%
East Sussex (REMAIN): Con 26%, Lib Dem 33%, UKIP 17%, Lab 13%, Ind 7%, Green 4%
Gloucestershire (LEAVE): Con 38%, Lib Dem 27%, Lab 14%, Green 8%, UKIP 7%, Ind 5%, Others 1%
Hampshire (LEAVE): Con 41%, Lib Dem 29%, UKIP 16%, Lab 7%, Green 4%, Ind 2%, Others 1%
Hertfordshire (LEAVE): Con 42%, Lib Dem 24%, Lab 17%, UKIP 9%, Green 5%, Ind 3%
Kent (LEAVE): Con 40%, UKIP 18%, Lib Dem 17%, Lab 16%, Green 5%, Others 3%, Ind 1%
Lancashire (LEAVE): Con 38%, Lab 32%, Lib Dem 15%, UKIP 6%, Green 4%, Ind 4%, Others 1%
Leicestershire (LEAVE): Con 44%, Lib Dem 24%, Lab 21%, UKIP 9%, Ind 2%, Others 0%
Lincolnshire (LEAVE): Con 40%, Lab 15%, UKIP 15%, Lib Dem 11%, Others 12%, Ind 7%
Nottinghamshire (LEAVE): Con 31%, Lab 31%, Lib Dem 18%, UKIP 9%, Others 5%, Green 3%, Ind 3%
Oxfordshire (REMAIN): Lib Dem 31%, Con 29%, Lab 21%, Green 10%, UKIP 5%, Ind 3%, Others 1%
Warwickshire (LEAVE): Con 40%, Lab 24%, Lib Dem 20%, Green 9%, Ind 5%, Others 2%, UKIP 0%
West Sussex (LEAVE): Con 42%, Lib Dem 21%, UKIP 20%, Lab 10%, Green 4%, Ind 3%

Unitary Authorities that used to be counties
Cornwall (LEAVE): Con 29%, Lib Dem 29%, Ind 22%, UKIP 6%, Others 6%, Lab 4%, Green 4%
Forecast: Lib Dem 51, Con 36, Ind 28, Mebynon Kernow 5, Green 3 (NOC, no change)
Durham (LEAVE): Lab 42%, Lib Dem 16%, Ind 14%, Con 13%, Others 13%, Green 3%, UKIP 0%
Forecast: Lab 58, Lib Dem 22, Local Independents 17, Ind 17, Con 12 (Lab LOSS to NOC)
Isle of Wight (LEAVE): Con 39%, Ind 31%, Lib Dem 12%, UKIP 12%, Lab 3%, Green 2%, Others 1%
Forecast: Con 18, Ind 12, Lib Dem 7, Green 1, Lab 1, Local Independent 1 (NOC, no change)
Northumberland (LEAVE): Con 35%, Lab 32%, Lib Dem 28%, Ind 3%, Green 2%, UKIP 0%
Forecast: Lab 26, Con 20, Lib Dem 19, Green 1, Ind 1 (NOC, no change)
Shropshire (LEAVE): Con 46%, Lib Dem 27%, Lab 13%, Ind 9%, Green 2%, UKIP 2%, Others 1%
Forecast: Con 40, Lib Dem 20, Ind 7, Lab 6, Green 1 (Con HOLD)
Wiltshire (LEAVE): Con 47%, Lib Dem 27%, Ind 11%, UKIP 6%, Lab 6%, Green 2%, Others 1%
Forecast: Con 56, Lib Dem 30, Ind 9, Lab 2, Green 1 (Con HOLD)

The next Thursday without any local by-elections will be on April 27th (a week before polling day) and there I will post my forecasts for the local elections in Wales (with seat forecasts) and Scotland (% share) and then on May 11th after the local elections we can all see how well (or badly) I did.

Harry Hayfield


Can we end this “snap election” speculation – TMay, like Dave before, simply does not have the power to call one

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Everybody seems to be ignoring the Fixed Term Parliament Act

In the latest PB polling matters podcast we hear that polling has been going on asking the public what they think of the idea of having an early General Election. The responses are interesting but they ignore one pertinent fact:

    The prime minister, unlike all those before Cameron, does not have the personal power to go to the monarch and seek the dissolution of Parliament. The Fixed Term Parliament Act has changed that.

This legislation came about as part of the 2010 coalition deal between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. It was pressed for by the yellow team because they didn’t want to get into a situation where the Tories could just govern for a year or so and then go straight to the country when circumstances appeared most right ditching them.

The Act remains in force and will do so until such time as it is repealed. But that process of itself might not necessarily return the discretion to the prime minister. In any case a repeal act would have to go to both houses of parliament and it is highly possible that the measure could run into trouble in House of Lords which could delay it.

There are two provisions in the act for early elections and both present enormous hurdles. Firstly there can be one if two-thirds of the entire House of Commons votes for one. The proportion is based on the total legal number of MPs and would including vacancies, abstentions and, of course, the Sinn Fein representatives who do not take their seats.

    In the current Parliament 434 MPs would have to back the measure. That would mean getting Labour agreement so the choice would be in Mr. Corbyn’s hands.

The the other way a snap election can be held is if there is a vote of no confidence in the government which is not rescinded within 2 weeks.

So the Tories could have a contrived vote of no confidence in themselves which if passed would mean Mrs May would have to go to the palace and tell the Queen that the Commons had no longer any confidence in her government and she would have to resign.

In this case the sovereign would probably call the alternative Prime Minister in waiting, the leader of the opposition, to see if he could form a government.

Clearly that would be very difficult but there is just a possibility that Mr Corbyn could become Prime Minister for a very short period even if he lost a confidence vote himself a few days later.

    A reason why Labour MPs might not back a Commons motion calling for an early election is that it is so much better for them if they force the government to go through the vote of confidence process.

No doubt Mrs May has taken her own legal advice on this issue. One of the reasons why she has steadfastly ruled out an early election is that she knows the difficulty.

If you don’t mind locking money up for three years bet on a 2020 general election.

Mike Smithson


PB/Polling Matters podcast on Brexit, Article 50 polling, Scotland and the return of GfK

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

After a momentous day in British politics, Keiran and Rob discuss public opinion on Brexit and  Keiran looks at Scotland’s future with Ipsos Mori Scotland Research Director Mark Diffley. Finally, Keiran talks more about the new GfK political polling that has Corbyn’s approval rating among Brits being as weak as Donald Trump’s. More on that polling (including methodology and data tables here).

The segment on Scotland dominates this week’s episode and is a particularly wide ranging discussion including new information on why the polls are not moving towards Independence at this stage. Keiran and Rob also unveil new Polling Matters / Opinium numbers showing party cross-breaks that might surprise you.

Follow this week’s guests:




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I’d feel a lot more comfortable about the Brexit negotiations if Osborne was playing a key role

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Beside him May & her team are political pygmies

The swift way in which Angela Merkel has undermined Theresa May’s Article 50 invocation plan underlines how critical it is that Team GB has the very best team in the coming two years.

That the German Chancellor should so attack May’s Brexit negotiation plan within four hours shows how much she needs a highly skilled political team at her side. A politically astute PM, advised by a politically competent Foreign Secretary, would have anticipated the Merkel reaction and she wouldn’t have had her negotiation plan squashed so publicly so quickly.

    Team Fox/Johnson/Davis are simply not up to the task in hand. They don’t have the politically skills. The one leading Tory who does is the man May sacked in such a humiliating fashion just after moving into Number 10 – ex-Chancellor and now Standard Editor, George Osborne.

May urgently needs to swallow her pride and bring Osbo back into the fold for this critical period.

She won’t of course and that is worrying.

This is so important for the nation and, if she thought about it, Theresa May’s political legacy that she cannot by-pass Osborne.

Mike Smithson


For the record where BREXIT opinion stood on Article 50 day

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

YouGov’s tracker continues to show little movement

Brexit opinion – the party supporter splits

Brexit view by socio-economic grouping

It’s top of the Issues Index as well