Archive for May, 2017


On the day of the C4/Sky News May/Corbyn event the Mail’s Quentin Letts tells TMay she’s a “glum bucket”

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Tonight at 8.30pm we have the first big set-piece with TMay and Corbyn appearing before a live studio audience on Channel 4 and Sky News.

They won’t debate directly with each other – TMay ruled that out from the beginning. But she’ll face questioning from the audience and from Jeremy Paxman.

Neither leader is particularly good under pressure of which there is likely to be a lot tonight and it’s a programme where anything can happen.

Earlier se was in Twickenham, where the Tories are facing a strong LD challenge, for what was said to have been a manifesto re-launch. Parts of the event were shown live on TV and the most newsworthy part was Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail calling TMay a “glum-bucket”. You can see it here.

Mrs. May looked far from happy with this observation from a senior journalist at a newspapers which has been one of her main backers.

Mike Smithson


TMay’s much repeated assertion that Corbyn becomes PM if CON loses 6 seats doesn’t stand up to scrutiny

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Starting 99 seats ahead gives the PM a big cushion

One of the practices that is followed at general election times is for comparisons to be made with what happened at the election before not taking into account defections or by-elections. So for the purposes of comparison the above table is the starting point. UKIP has one MP while the LD total excludes their Richmond Park by-election gain.

As can be seen Team TMay starts in a very strong position – 99 seats ahead of LAB and 12 seats ahead of all other parties combined and would need to lose 50 to LAB for JC’s party to be top on seats. That seems an almost impossible ask give current polling.

The 326 seats required for a majority conceals the fact that Sinn Fein do not take up their seats making an effective majority of 16.

The idea that Corbyn could become PM with 6 CON losses assumes that MPs of every other party would be ready to back him and that he could retain the support of the entire Labour parliamentary party.

Given JC’s record on Northern Ireland is it implausible to think that the DUP and other unionists would back him for number 10.

On top of that Farron has made a very specific pledge not to go into coalition after June 8th.

TMay’s statement is a classic turnout motivator which is not underpinned by the reality.

Mike Smithson


It’s the economy, stupid. And Team Corbyn aren’t stupid.

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Don Brind on final phase of the LAB campaign

It may all end in tears but for now the diverse team of Corbyn fans and old media sweats who make the Leader of the Opposition comms team can pride themselves on helping the party and their leader to narrow the yawning gap in the polls since Theresa May called the snap election the best part of a month ago.

Because they are smart I expect them to make a decisive switch to highlight economy and business in the last ten days of the campaign. And they have plenty of ammunition to fire.

British families will be getting poorer over the next few years as incomes fail to keep pace with inflation.  Only Greeks, Italians and Austrians have a bleaker outlook according to the OECD.  At the same time the NHS will be in a state of unending crisis caused by underfunding and schools will be cutting teachers and increasing class sizes because of budget cuts. Nothing in the Tory manifesto offers to changes that.

These key facts give the lie to Conservative claims to have created a “strong economy”. The claim is pure fiction. The reality is that after seven years with the Tories in charge the British economy is weak and shaky.

According to OBR forecasts we are in the middle of a catastrophic decade for earnings says Torsten Bell Director of the Resolution Foundation and formerly Ed Miliband’s policy chief. It’s the worst squeeze in over two centuries.   “History teaches us two things, says Bell. “First, that Prime Ministers do not normally choose elections at times like this, and second that when an election happens anyway, the incumbent government gets a kicking rather than the increased majority the current polls imply.”

Against that back drop of Tory failure I expect Labour to highlight how the plans to get the economy growing through investment in infrastructure and skills is the way to create prosperity and security for British families.

Labour have also to decide shortly who to send along to the BBC TV  debate on Wednesday where Theresa May ’s stand-in will be Home Secretary Amber Rudd. For me there is no contest about who should stand at the Labour podium in the 7-way debate. It should be Angela Rayner, the Shadow Education Secretary who has been spearheading Labour campaign against school budget cuts. She is a gutsy performer who will be well able to expose the shaky economy and what she calls the “weak and wobbly” Prime Minister.

It’s not just Labour who think May has failed to live up to her self-styled “strong and stable” leadership. The “dementia tax” debacle has raised questions the Prime Minister’s fitness for the job of negotiating Brexit, according to a quartet of pundits whose columns will have made for unpleasant reading in CCHQ — Phil Collins and Rachel Sylvester of the Times, The FT’s Janan Ganesh  and the Spectator’s Fraser Nelson .

Collins says her replies on social care were “ weak and untruthful and Mrs May was exposed as not being quite the woman advertised. She has been rumbled as not very good and there is no turning back from that.

Sylvester “the debacle reveals the shortcomings of the prime minister’s controlling and occasionally paranoid approach to power .. it does not bode well difficult Brexit negotiations that will require flexibility and empathy as well as determination.”

Ganesh “The complex work of EU exit starts in June … the question is no longer what this government stands for but whether it is any good. Or at least whether it is good enough, given the work ahead.”

Nelson “Her shambolic U-turn over the so-called ‘dementia tax’ has given everyone cause to doubt whether she is as ‘strong and stable’ as she says she is. In fact, she can look indecisive and a bit dozy.”

Nelson’s article is headlined “Could Theresa May blow this election? The answer is probably not according to the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush.He reckons the Tory’s falling poll lead is believable – but May still has her “purple fire wall” — the 2015 Ukip voters who switched to the Tories in this year’s local elections.

May is undoubtedly having a bad campaign but unless the ex-Kippers desert her, Labour supporters can expect that watching the TV exit poll on June 8th is likely to be every bit as painful as it was in 2015.

Don Brind


Memo to the Labour party, stop sending Diane Abbott to do interviews for the rest of the campaign

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

I’ve only just caught up with the quite literally hair raising interview with Diane Abbott had on this morning’s The Andrew Marr show. If you can’t watch the video above here’s an excerpt from The Spectator.

When Marr moved onto Abbott’s questionable views on the IRA, she came up with an even more novel answer. Comparing her words of support for the IRA to her decision to have an afro, Abbott said her views — like her hair — have changed:

AM: Jeremy Corbyn got into some trouble in his Andrew Neil interview when he said he had not met the IRA and he was then photographed with lots of people from the IRA. You yourself said that it would a defeat for the British state would be a great liberation, a great move forward. Do you regret your support for the IRA back in the eighties?

DA: That particular quote you’re referring to comes from a now defunct left wing newspaper.

AM: But you said it…

DA: … but what I’m saying is: it was 34 years ago, I had a rather splendid afro at the time. I don’t have the same hairstyle and I don’t have the same views. The hairstyle has gone and some of the views have gone.

And again:

AM: Do you think those statements now are wrong?

DA: It was 34 years ago and I’ve moved on.

Given her previous problems earlier on this campaign over police funding and numbers, it might be wise for Labour to use other members of the shadow cabinet, people like Sir Keir Starmer and Tom Watson, who have been underused during this campaign, even John McDonnell with his even richer back story with the IRA would have done a better job than Diane Abbott.

Perhaps Diane Abbott should take some advice from Emily Thornberry on how to give impressive interviews, let’s not forget how she managed to skewer Sir Michael Fallon on this sort of subject a few weeks ago.

Also, can I  apologise to anyone who followed my 100/1 tip earlier on this year on Diane Abbott being next Labour leader, what was I thinking? was I even thinking?



Analysing Labour’s rise in the polls

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

Popular policies might be the explanation for Labour’s increase in the polls since the start of the campaign

At the start of this general election campaign, I thought there was a chance that my 10/1 bets on Labour polling sub 20% might be in play but during this general election campaign if the polls are accurate, Labour’s share of the vote has risen, and Labour might end up polling close to 40%.

Now there’s much discussion about what is driving up Labour’s share of the vote, what it isn’t is the Tories collapsing, the Tory share of the vote has been strong and stable and relentlessly polling in the 40s.

If we look at the chart above from YouGov, we can see Labour’s manifesto seems to have improved the perceptions around Labour, whilst the chart below shows the Tory manifesto hasn’t been that much of a hit, with the main Tory policy people seem to recall was the Dementia Tax

YouGov observe

For both parties around 60% of people could remember at least something connected to a manifesto promise (though in many cases that was barely more than “tax the rich” or “Brexit”). And in this sense, the two parties’ proposals gained a similar resonance. However, there was a big contrast in the types of policy that people took away from the two manifestos.

For Labour the more “positive” policies received clear cut-through: 32% of people recalled the pledges to axe tuition fees, 21% remembered promises to increase NHS funding, 20% recalled commitments to nationalise the railways, Royal Mail and the National Grid. All of these are also policies which our polling has found the public support, and which are relatively clear and easy to understand.

For the Conservatives, though, only one policy was recalled by more than a fifth of voters: the changes to care funding (or, to use the more negative term used by many respondents, the “dementia tax”). The one cut-through promise from the Tory manifesto was both unpopular and complicated, a stark comparison to the more straight-forward and popular pledges made by Labour.

The other Tory proposals that were noted by the public did not achieve a great amount of recall. Policies around going ahead with Brexit was remembered by 12%, while means-testing the Winter Fuel Allowance was acknowledged by one in ten (10%).

It is worth noting that even when people do recall policies, they are not necessarily what they base their vote on. Ballot box behaviour is much more about the broader perceptions of the parties, such as what it stands for, its leaders and their perceived competence. Here too, however, there seems to be clear evidence of damage that the Conservative manifesto caused the party.

Before the manifesto were published, 45% of people thought the Conservatives had plenty of policies, with 35% thinking they were well thought-through, while 38% believed they weren’t. But following the manifesto launch, only 19% thought the party’s policies were well thought-through, while over half (54%) did not.

For Labour, the traffic went the other way. Before its manifesto launch only 25% of people thought the party had well-thought through policies, but following publication, this figure rose to 31%.

Given a key plank of the Conservative party’s offering to the country is the claim that it is the strong and steady party of competence, the notable drop in the proportion of people thinking they have well thought-through policies for the country should be worrying. But there are still two weeks until poling day so there is time enough for this to change.

My advice to Labour is that Labour should try and ensure that the rest of the campaign is fought on policy and not personality nor the back stories of Labour’s front bench.



The size of her majority will determine the sort of PM Theresa May can be and what sort of Brexit and other radicalism we might see, or not see from her

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

Shortly there will be an election, in which the Tories will win a majority

Despite all the light and heat generated with recent polling, I still expect the Tories to win a majority, unless Nick Timothy decides to add another Nimitz class sized barnacle to the Tory boat between now and June 8th

The Tories still lead in the polls, the leadership and economic polling also favour the blue team, but the size of the majority will determine how her government can and will operate for the next five years, and will also determine when Mrs May will depart as Prime Minister and will it be at a time of her own choosing. So I’m going to look at what different sized majorities might mean for, inter alia, Mrs May, the Tory Party. the country, and of course Brexit.

A majority of 0-24 seats

This would be frankly embarrassing for Mrs May, given her opponent, the size of the leads she and the party enjoyed at the start of the general election campaign. It would be the nemesis that follows the hubris of trying to take the seats of Tom Watson, Richard Burgon, Dennis Skinner, Tim Farron, Angus Robertson, and Pete Wishart and to end up with a majority similar or smaller than David Cameron achieved in 2015.

As the climb down on national insurance increases and the unprecedented u-turn on her manifesto, Mrs May isn’t strong and stable, but weak and wobbly, this does not bodes well for her Brexit negotiations or for her to pursue any radical reform during the next parliament.

As we saw when with the proposed changes to family tax credits and national insurance, a majority of this size is no majority at all.

She will become a very diminished figure, trashing her reputation, a bad Brexit outcome and Labour consistently leading in the polls would mean she’s ditched as leader, because unlike the Labour party, the Tory party don’t fanny about when it comes to toppling their leaders. She maybe also forced out by the most passionate Leavers who want a hard Brexit whilst Mrs May tries to be pragmatic with a softer Brexit.

I would expect her to be forced out within 18 months if this result happens.

A majority of 26-50 seats

This would be a tepid result for Mrs May, as the old adage goes, success equals performance minus anticipation, the anticipation when she called the election was the Tories would absolutely shellack Labour back into 1983 result or a 1997 in reverse result.

Like winning a majority of 24 seats it will feel a bit of an anti-climax, but the closer to 50 the majority, the safer she will feel, but consistent Labour poll leads will probably see her forced out in around three or four years. I’d expect a lot of Tory rebellions over the social care changes and resistance from the free market Thatcherite wing if she tries to introduce her Ed Miliband lite policies on energy prices and racial pay audits.

A majority of 52-98 seats

An 80 seat majority is what Tory MPs reportedly consider as par, this is the sort of result that should make governing easy for Mrs May, it would take a substantial rebellion for her to lose any votes in the Commons and see off the awkward squad that every Prime Minister has to deal with. It allows her to get rid of poorly performing ministers without having to worry about them causing trouble on the back benches. It does give her some scope for being bold and radical.

A majority of 100-198 seats

Now we’re in landslide territory, not only will Mrs May become unassailable she’ll have a majority to be radical in all things from Brexit to social care and all things in between like involving the government in energy prices.

Mayism will be a word that will soon be added to the OED, as she is spoken in the same breath as Thatcher and Blair, majorities of this magnitude lead the PM to be bold. It also means Mrs May can say she’s a bona fide election winner when difficult times come up during the next Parliament, again she will be safe and secure as Tory Leader during the next Parliament.

A majority of 200 seats or more

Now a 200 seat majority is the ceiling/best case scenario for many in the Tory party, if she achieves it, she might well claim to be, with some justification, the Tory party’s most electorally successful leader since Stanley Baldwin and his 324 seat majority in 1931, even outdoing Margaret Thatcher in scorching socialism from the face of the Earth. I do not expect this outcome, and merely add it for the sake of completeness.


PS – If the Tories fail to win a majority, I will accept this is my Sion Simon moment


Tonight’s YouGov and ORB polls have the Tory lead in the single digits – update ICM has the Tory lead at

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

Well if these polls turn out be accurate then Mrs May’s gamble to hold an early election will turn out be a mistake.

What will keep Mrs May and CCHQ happy is the Tories consistently polling in the 40s, they last polled sub 40% in early April, and that was the only time since the 1st of February, though she might be worried that the Tory lead with these polls is less/fractionally above the lead David Cameron achieved in 2015.

If these polls are accurate then I’ll owe Jeremy Corbyn an apology, he’s not the voter repellent I thought he was and he polling above or near what Tony Blair achieved in 2005 when Labour last won a majority, indeed Corbyn might well poll higher than what Cameron received in 2015 to win a majority.

I’m hoping we might see a couple more polls tonight




The first two polls of tonight show the Tory lead halving in a month

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

These polls should relax the Tories following the YouGov poll earlier on this week, but the general poll trend is a reflection of the piss poor campaign the Tories have led, especially over social care changes.

Both pollsters see Mrs  May’s rating taking a hit, but she’s still ahead of Jeremy Corbyn on most metrics, and further ahead of where David Cameron was of Ed Miliband

I’m expecting quite a few more polls this evening.