Archive for April, 2017


A week tonight and we have 2017’s first big set of elections

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Harry Hayfield looks forward 7 days

So as there are no local by-elections this week, here’s the final part of my estimates for the local elections in Wales and Scotland.

As for the estimates for the English counties, I had a look at the by-elections in Wales since the referendum, tallied the changes on 2012 and noted if the council had voted to REMAIN or LEAVE and made the following observation. In REMAIN councils, the change was Lab -6%, Green -5%, Others -1%, Con unchanged, Ind unchanged, Lib Dem +1%, UKIP +2% and Plaid +8%. In LEAVE councils the change was Lab -16%, Con unchanged, Green unchanged, Others +1%, Plaid +2%, Ind +3% with the Lib Dems and UKIP both up 5%. A few days ago Prof Roger Scully of the Welsh Governance Centre at Cardiff University (him with his own Twitter parody account in the style of John Curtice) published a local election poll purely for Wales and I noted that the forecast results I was getting from that were pretty much in line with the forecast results I had been getting looking at the change by council’s view on the referendum, so therefore the figures published below are based on that poll (the details of which were tweeted by Britain Elects at the time)

Welsh Council Elections Forecast 2017
Blaenau Gwent: Lab 33, Ind 5, Con 2, Plaid 2 (Lab HOLD)
Bridgend: Lab 22, Con 15, Ind 11, Lib Dem 3, Plaid 3 (Lab LOSS to NOC)
Caerphilly: Plaid 39, Lab 29, Con 4, Ind 1 (Plaid GAIN from Lab)
Cardiff: Con 39, Lib Dem 16, Plaid 12, Lab 8 (Con GAIN from Lab)
Carmarthenshire: Plaid 52, Ind 13, Lab 7, Con 2 (Plaid GAIN from NOC)
Ceredigion: Plaid 23, Ind 11, Lib Dem 7, Lab 1 (Plaid GAIN from NOC)
Conwy: Con 30, Plaid 12, Lab 7, Ind 5, Lib Dem 5 (Con GAIN from NOC)
Denbighshire: Con 28, Plaid 10, Lab 6, Ind 3 (Con GAIN from NOC)
Flintshire: Lab 28, Ind 21, Con 12, Lib Dem 7, Plaid 1 (No Overall Control, unchanged)
Gwynedd: Plaid 54, Ind 11, Llais 4, Con 2, Lab 3, Lib Dem 1 (Plaid GAIN from NOC)
Merthyr Tydfil: Lab 24, Ind 5, Plaid 3, Con 1 (Lab HOLD)
Monmouthshire: Con 27, Lab 10, Ind 4, Lib Dem 2 (Con GAIN from NOC)
Neath and Port Talbot: Lab 41, Plaid 18, Con 3, Ind 2 (Lab HOLD)
Newport: Con 39, Lab 11 (Con GAIN from Lab)
Pembrokeshire: Ind 32, Con 13, Lab 9, Plaid 5, Lib Dem 1 (Ind HOLD)
Powys: Ind 33, Con 21, Lib Dem 12, Lab 6 (Ind LOSS to NOC)
Rhondda, Cynon, Taff: Lab 46, Plaid 20, Con 5, Ind 3, Lib Dem 1 (Lab HOLD)
Swansea: Con 35, Lab 24, Lib Dem 6, Plaid 2, Ind 3, Swansea Independents 2 (Lab LOSS to NOC)
Torfaen: Lab 13, Con 12, Ind 10, Plaid 8 (Lab LOSS to NOC)
Vale of Glamorgan: Con 32, Lab 8, Plaid 6, Ind 1 (Con GAIN from NOC)
Wrexham: Lab 17, Ind 15, Con 10, Lib Dem 6, Plaid 4 (No Overall Control, no change)
Ynys Môn: Plaid 12, Ind 11, Con 6, Lib Dem 1 (No Overall Control, no change)

Whilst I used the same method with Scotland (as all of the Scottish councils voted to REMAIN it was a much easier task) I could not make a forecast of the seat allocations thanks to the fact that Scotland uses the Single Transferable Vote to elect councillors, so this list of the councils shows the estimated vote share in that council area with the status based on which party is in the lead (as opposed to how many councillors may be elected). The change is based on Con +11%, Lab -6%, Lib Dem -1%, SNP +3%, Ind -5%, UKIP unchanged, Green unchanged and Others -3%

City of Aberdeen: SNP 34%, Lab 23%, Con 20%, Lib Dem 14%, Ind 6%, Green 2% (SNP HOLD)
Aberdeenshire: SNP 41%, Con 32%, Lib Dem 14%, Ind 10%, Green 2%, Lab 1% (SNP HOLD)
Angus: SNP 46%, Con 28%, Ind 19%, Lib Dem 5%, Lab 1% (SNP HOLD)
Argyll and Bute: SNP 32%, Ind 32%, Con 26%, Lib Dem 10% (SNP GAIN from Ind)
Clackmannanshire: SNP 48%, Lab 31%, Con 20% (SNP HOLD)
Dumfries and Galloway: Con 37%, Lab 23%, SNP 22%, Ind 13%, Lib Dem 3%, Lab 2%, UKIP 1% (Con GAIN from Lab)
City of Dundee: SNP 46%, Lab 24%, Con 22%, Lib Dem 8%, Green 1% (SNP HOLD)
East Ayrshire: SNP 41%, Lab 34%, Con 22%, Ind 3% (SNP GAIN from Lab)
East Dunbartonshire: SNP 29%, Con 27%, Lab 23%, Lib Dem 14%, Others 6%, Green 1%, Ind 1% (SNP GAIN from Lab)
East Lothian: Lab 36%, SNP 33%, Con 25%, Lib Dem 5%, Ind 1% ((Lab HOLD)
East Renfrewshire: Con 40%, Lab 25%, SNP 22%, Ind 10%, Lib Dem 5%, Green 1% (Con GAIN from Lab)
City of Edinburgh: Con 31%, SNP 29%, Lab 21%, Green 11%, Lib Dem 8% (Con GAIN from Lab)
Falkirk: SNP 42%, Lab 31%, Con 22%, Ind 5% (SNP HOLD)
Fife: SNP 34%, Lab 32%, Con 19%, Lib Dem 12%, Green 1%, Ind 1%, UKIP 1% (SNP GAIN from Lab)
City of Glasgow: Lab 40%, SNP 35%, Con 17%, Green 5%, Lib Dem 2%, Others 1% (Lab HOLD)
Highland: Ind 35%, SNP 29%, Con 16%, Lib Dem 12%, Lab 7%, Green 1% (Ind HOLD)
Inverclyde: Lab 38%, SNP 28%, Con 21%, Lib Dem 7%, Ind 6% (Lab HOLD)
Midlothian: SNP 41%, Lab 33%, Con 19%, Green 4%, Lib Dem 3% (SNP GAIN from Lab)
Moray: SNP 42%, Con 28%, Ind 23%, Lab 3%, Green 3%, UKIP 1% (SNP HOLD)
Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Western Isles): Ind 64%, SNP 26%, Con 11% (Ind HOLD)
North Ayrshire: SNP 39%, Lab 26%, Con 20%, Ind 14%, Lib Dem 1%, UKIP 1% (SNP HOLD)
North Lanarkshire: Lab 45%, SNP 37%, Con 16%, Ind 1% (Lab HOLD)
Orkney Islands: Ind 84%, Con 10%, SNP 5% (Ind HOLD)
Perth and Kinross: SNP 43%, Con 36%, Lib Dem 12%, Lab 6%, Ind 2%, Green 1% (SNP HOLD)
Renfrewshire: Lab 40%, SNP 37%, Con 19%, Lib Dem 3% (Lab HOLD)
The Scottish Borders: Con 35%, SNP 24%, Lab 18%, Ind 18%, Lib Dem 16%, Others 7% (Con HOLD)
Shetland Islands: Ind 85%, Con 10%, SNP 5% (Ind HOLD)
South Ayrshire: Con 42%, SNP 32%, Lab 19%, Ind 8% (Con HOLD)
South Lanarkshire: SNP 39%, Lab 36%, Con 21%, Lib Dem 2%, Green 1%, UKIP 1% (SNP GAIN from Lab)
Stirling: SNP 38%, Con 29%, Lab 22%, Green 6%, Lib Dem 4%, UKIP 1% (SNP HOLD)
West Dunbartonshire: Lab 41%, SNP 33%, Con 15%, Ind 8%, Others 3% (Lab HOLD)
West Lothian: SNP 44%, Lab 32%, Con 20%, Others 4% (SNP HOLD)

Am I right or am I completely wrong? Well, we shall know next week (including whether I have been successful in winning a seat on Ceredigion council) although looking at the forecast for the council this may be a rather opportune clip


With six weeks to go today’s Commons seats spreads

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

CON 384-390
LAB 158-164
LD 25-28
UKIP 0.25-1.25
SNP 46-49

Sporting Index
CON 384-390
LAB 162-168
LD 26-29
UKIP 0.25-1.25
SNP 47-50

As regular PBers will know my favourite form of election betting is that featured above – the Commons seats spreads where you buy and sell seats like shares.

Two levels are quoted. The higher one is the buy price and the one is the sell one. This is a form of betting where the more you are right/wrong the more you will win/lose.

Alastair Meeks in his weekend piece set out his spread bets including a sell of LD seats.

Not all firms offer the same prices and it is noticeable above that if you want to bet on LAB than SpreadEx is the want to go for if and if you want to sell LAB seats then Sporting Index has the higher price.

This form of betting is high risk high reward and is only really for those ready to take such a gamble and feel able to do so. Thus if you sold labour at the current 162 sea level at, say, £10 a seat and they ended up with 140 then you would make 162 (the sell level) minus 140 (what happened) multiplied by your stake level.

The same works the other way round if you get it wrong.

At the moment I’m not betting. Next Thursday’s locals will give us some good pointers and we have to factor in what happens in the CON GE2015 expenses probe where the CPS will have to decide before polling day.

Mike Smithson


We have cross-over in YouGov’s BREXIT tracker: More now think it was wrong than right

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

How important will Brexit be on June 8th?

The latest YouGov BREXIT tracker was published in the Times over-night and shows a move to people now saying that the referendum decision was wrong rather than right.

This is a regular polling question that has been asked by YouGov in exactly the same manner since Theresa May became prime minister.

Then, as the chart above shows, 4% more people thought Brexit was right than wrong. Now the “wrong” segment in leading by 2%. This is from the Times report:

“.. This is the first time that more people have said the referendum came out with the wrong result, and suggests that the issue still divides the country.

Some 85 per cent of people who voted to leave still thought it was the right decision, while 89 per cent of people who voted to remain thought the result was the wrong decision… “

Each change is within the statistical margin of error although there is a trend when you look at the longer term.

My view is that views of BREXIT is more important in constituencies that voted remain than those that went for leave. Thus LAB was able to hang on in the Stoke central by-election but in Richmond Park the Liberal Democrats were able to overturn Zac’s 23,000 General Election majority even though UKIP stood aside and gave him a free run.

Extraordinarily, relating to the latter, in another development overnight Mr Goldsmith has been selected as the Conservative candidate for Richmond Park. This raises all sorts of questions about his original decision to “quit” the Conservatives at the end of last year to fight the by-election because of Heathrow expansion.

But the general election on June 8th is more than just about BREXIT but choosing what people perceive to be a competent government and here I think that Theresa May and the Tories continue to have a very strong edge.

A lot of things can still happen in this election. Six weeks is an awful long time in politics.

Mike Smithson


PB/Polling Matters podcast: Is a Tory landslide inevitable? And Vive le pollsters!

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017


On this week’s podcast Keiran returns and is joined by Chris Hanretty from the University of East Anglia.

Keiran and Chris celebrate the excellent performance of French pollsters last weekend and discuss the implications of Macron and Le Pen making the second round. Is a Macron victory now inevitable? What happens next and would a British version of ‘En Marche’ be successful? Keiran and Chris also discuss the seeming inevitability of a Conservative landslide in June and what might happen to the Liberal Democrats and the SNP.

To finish the show, Keiran unveils some new Polling Matters / Opinium polling that asks how engaged the public are in the campaign, what issues matter most to them and who is best placed to deal with them.

Listen here

Follow this week’s guests




We’ve moved sharply on from when class was the best pointer to voting intention

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Now age, education and gender give a better guide

This afternoon YouGov has published a series of charts to give us an idea about the electorate who will vote on June 8th.

This will be the first election since analysis became possible when class was far less important. Age education and to an extent gender now the key measures as the charts demonstrate.

Labour’s problem is that under Mr. Corbyn the working classes have ceased to support the party that was set up to represent the interests of the workers.

Mrs May might be considering ending the triple lock that underpins the level of state pensions which you would think would be a negative amongst the old.

Mike Smithson


The first phone poll of the campaign has UKIP down to 4% and the Tories at 49%

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Another indicator of a CON landslide

This morning, in the London Evening Standard, we have the first telephone poll of the general election campaign. The figures are very much in line with the other polls that we’ve seen in the last week.

The striking number in this latest is the UKIP share down to just 4% which I think the lowest share that the party has had in years.

Clearly the main feature of this campaign has been Labour’s inability to break out of the mid-20s and the huge move from the collapsing UKIP to CON

Ipsos Mori is the longest established political pollster in the country and has been surveying political opinions since the mid 1970s. The pollster does it differently. It, unlike just about all the others, does not weight by past vote or political ID. The figures we see have no political weighting.

That the firm is painting a similar to picture of the campaign to other pollsters is significant and supports what the other pollsters using different approaches have been reporting.

The declining LAB share has led to a greater proportion of the remaining party support base to be satisfied with Mr. Corbyn’s leadership – 53% said they were with 36% saying they weren’t.

Things can happen of course but it is very difficult to envisage a June 8th result which is not a Tory landslide.

Mike Smithson


Why we are all going to be able to get to bed earlier this election night

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

No simultaneous elections on June 8th means speedier counts

One of the features of the June 8th General Election it is that no other elections are being held on the same day. This is in sharp comparison to all the general elections since 1992 when John Major went to the country in April four weeks before that year’s locals.

This is important because it should have a big impact on the time it takes for the counts to proceed. If you have more than one election in a constituency then all the votes for those as well as the general election votes have to be verified before counting can start. This adds a considerable time to the process.

The table above, prepared by the former head of political research at the BBC David Cowling, sets out how many declarations there were in the different time slots. The contrast with 1992 is very striking and that year is the model that we should be looking at.

Thus by 1am in 1992 there had been 156 declarations compared with just 5 at GE2015.

Tony Blair, when he was in a position to choose the date, always liked to have other elections taking place on the same day because of his hope that this would ensure that more LAB voters would turnout.

Mrs Thatcher, meanwhile, is said to have preferred June because she liked the assurance of seeing the local election results before making the final decision to commit to a specific date. So the 1983 and 1987 elections both took place on June.

I think it is possible to load too many elections onto voters on the same day. On General Election day in 2015 Bedford where I live there were five separate votes taking place creating much confusion at polling stations. Every voter had to be issued with five ballot forms which each had to be individually processed. This inevitably led to longer queues and a prolonged count.

Mike Smithson



Labour’s May 4th prospects are looking appalling in England, Wales and Scotland

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

And UKIP are in for a pounding as well

UKIP’s set to have more losses that its actually contesting

Today I have been in London for the annual local elections briefing organised by the Political Studies Association. The panelists were Professors Colin Rawlings and Michael Thrasher for England with Rodger Scully for Wales and Professor John Curtice for Scotland.

    Rawlings and Thrasher focused on their by-election prediction model which just covers England and suggested that there’s a possibility that Labour could end up as third party behind both CON and the LDs.

The slides above are from their presentation.

A massive problem for UKIP is that the seats up next week are those that were last fought four years ago which was when the party was at its absolute peak.

It was noted that many upper UKIP candidates elected in 2013 had switched parties or formed new groupings. The gains and losses calculation is based on what happened in the 2013 elections and does not take this into account. This is important because the number of UKIP losses predicted is higher than the number of seats that they are contesting.

For the model Ralling and Thrasher make their own calculations of the implications of boundary changes and that means that their change numbers will be different from those from the Press Association which will be issuing information on the night.

In Scotland the seats up are those last fought in 2012 and things have changed dramatically in the politics north of the border since then. The Tories are almost certainly look set to end up as a second party and we’re going to see spectacular losses for LAB like control of the city of Glasgow.

Wales is going to be equally appalling for Labour as we saw in yesterday’s YouGov poll.

What is important for the general election from the local council results is the narrative that will be created.

Mike Smithson