Archive for June, 2017


Local By-Election Review : June 2017 (post General Election)

Friday, June 30th, 2017

Dawdon on Durham (Lab defence)
Result: Labour 693 (52% +6% on May 2017), Independent 633 (48%, no candidate in May 2017)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 60 (4%)

Hedge End and Grange Park on Eastleigh (Lib Dem defence)
Result: Liberal Democrat 668 (56% +14% on last time), Conservative 316 (27% +4% on last time), Labour 144 (12% +7% on last time), Green Party 41 (3%, no candidate last time), United Kingdom Independence Party 14 (1% -29% on last time)
Liberal Democrat HOLD with a majority of 352 (29%) on a swing of 5% from Conservative to Liberal Democrat

William Morris on Waltham Forest (Lab defence)
Result: Labour 1,923 (68% +11% on 2014), Green Party 524 (19% +2% on 2014), Conservative 365 (13% +6% on 2014)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 1,399 (49%) on a swing of 4.5% from Green to Labour

Derby on West Lancashire (Con defence)
Result: Our West Lancashire 705 (42%, no candidate last time), Labour 596 (36% +1% on last time), Conservative 362 (22% -28% on last time)
Our West Lancashire GAIN from Conservative with a majority of 109 (6%) on a notional swing of 20.5% from Labour to Our West Lancashire (Actual notional swing: 35% from Con to OWL)

June 2017 Monthly Summary (post General Election)
Labour 7,114 votes (39% +10% on last time) winning 3 seats (unchanged on last time)
Conservatives 3,683 votes (20% -7% on last time) winning 4 seats (unchanged on last time)
Green Party 3,154 votes (17% +6% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Liberal Democrats 1,974 votes (11% -3% on last time) winning 1 seat (unchanged on last time)
Independent Candidates 1,454 votes (8% +6% on last time) winning 0 seats (-1 seat on last time)
Local Independents 767 votes (4% -4% on last time) winning 1 seat (+1 seat on last time)
Plaid Cymru 101 votes (1% +1% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
United Kingdom Independence Party 14 votes (0% -7% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Other Parties 2 votes (0% -1% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Labour lead of 3,431 votes (19%) on a swing of 8.5% from Conservative to Labour

Compiled By Harry Hayfield


If LAB is pinning its hopes on by-elections in CON held seats then history is not on its side

Friday, June 30th, 2017

There’s been just one by-election in past 16 years caused by death/illness of CON incumbent

There is a lot of hope on the Labour side that the small CON working majority with the DUP could be cut as result of a by-election loss.

The only problem with this is that historically there have been very few by-elections caused by the illness or death of the CON incumbent. Since 2001 there has been just one compare with 15 Labour health/death ones. Note that I have excluded Jo Cox.

Most by elections in Tory seats have been caused by the voluntary resignation of the Sitting MP such as David Cameron in 2016 or the weird resignation by David Davis in the 2005-2010 Parliament when he quit and stood again to make a point the purpose of which has long since been forgotten.

In 2014, of course, we had two resignations in CON seats caused by the defections of Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless to UKIP.

Last year, Zac Goldsmith, quit his Richmond Park seat seat and the party to fight a by-election over LHR3. He regained it on June 8th by 45 votes a margin somewhat down on the 23k of GE2015.

In the current parliamentary situation the TMay’s Tories are going to do everything in their power to stop voluntarily by elections.

So we could experience something like the 2001 to 2005 Parliament when the Tories did not have to defend a single seat.

Mike Smithson


One and a half nations, how a longstanding trend has for now been checked

Friday, June 30th, 2017

Picture: The current political map of the UK (via the BBC)

Britain is a geological seesaw.  After the last ice age retreated, the release of the weight of the ice has resulted in the bedrock on the northern half of the island rebounding, forcing the southern half of the island as a consequence to sink.

It also has a longstanding political north-south seesaw.  The timescales are not quite as long term as the geological seesaw but they have proved enduring and over the last two generations the divergence had steadily increased.  In 1992 the Conservatives secured 161 out of their 336 seats in the eastern, south eastern and south western regions, just under half their tally.  By 2015 those same three regions accounted for 181 out of 330 Conservative seats (55%).  A mass of blue weighed down on the rural south, while Scotland and urban England had headed leftwards.

2017 was a bit different.  The Conservatives’ stranglehold in the south was significantly weakened, losing 12 seats (net).  At the same time, the Conservatives achieved big swings further north, taking seats like Derbyshire North East, Mansfield and Middlesbrough East & South Cleveland, and still bigger swings in Scotland, taking 13 seats, their best performance there since 1983.  53% of their seats are held in the three southern English regions, a small reversal of the previous trend. 

The converse is true of Labour.  They were net gainers of seats and did so in wealthier southern areas.  Seats such as Brighton Kemptown, Canterbury and Stroud are all held by Labour MPs.  After the 2015 general election 55% of Labour’s seats were in London and the English Core Cities (the next eight biggest English cities after London).  That has dropped to just over 50%.

This small move for the country from swathes of red and blue into a more patchwork affair has one conspicuous exception.  In the largest urban centres, the Conservatives continue to be driven out.  They lost Battersea and Kensington, came close to losing Putney and even the Cities of London & Westminster constituency has become semi-marginal.  This new incarnation of the Conservatives has accelerated their extinguishing in London.

This illustrates that this reversal of the previously widening divide isn’t just some form of reversion to the mean.  Both main parties are also becoming less class-based.  Labour continue to improve their support levels among ABC1s, as the Conservatives continue to improve their support levels among C2DEs. 

Ironically, this shift has taken place while both main parties have leaders who embody the stereotypes of their parties.  Theresa May embodies middle class middle England woman.  Jeremy Corbyn is every inner London right-on instinct incarnate.  Neither seems remotely well-suited to taking their parties into new terrain.  Yet under their stewardships, both parties have done exactly that.

That suggests that the shift is bigger than either of them and reflects a deeper realignment.  Brexit is the obvious candidate.  By seeking to own Brexit, the Conservatives captured the support of many voters who sought to ensure that Britain would be represented in negotiations by an able leader.  The price, however, was to drive many of those who were appalled by Brexit into the Labour column, Labour having shrewdly courted such voters with a smart retail proposition.

It also suggests that the opportunity exists for both parties to continue to progress in their new directions if they so wish (in both cases probably under new leadership).  As in the USA, the two main parties are becoming primarily values based.  Their names have long been misnomers.  In 2017, the Dreamers Party (anthem: Imagine) faced the Provincialist Party (anthem: If I Could Turn Back Time).  Both propositions have very obvious defects, to which each set of supporters seems utterly blind.  If those defects are to be addressed, the parties will both need a substantial rethink, Neither party since the election has as yet shown any interest in this.  Perhaps that will come with time.

The very fact of having new MPs in seats with different problems from those faced by the most traditional party base should assist the parties in their rethinking.  Astute party leaderships will listen to their new MPs.  They have much to learn from them.

Why should they do this? Well, the most successful governments since the Second World War have remade the governing party coalitions.  Tony Blair led Labour to make common cause with the English middle classes rather than to seek to subdue them.  Margaret Thatcher led the Conservatives into alliance with the skilled working classes against corporatism and the monopolists of the public sector.  Clement Attlee matched full-blooded socialism with full-blooded patriotism.

If successive recent elections have shown anything, it is that the public are restless for a new direction.  They have rejected bloodless managerialism on every occasion that it has been offered to them.   The parties would therefore do well to offer them something else.  Time to start looking for it in earnest.

Alastair Meeks


Tonight’s council by-elections

Thursday, June 29th, 2017



Turns out the Queen’s Speech has caused more problems for Jeremy Corbyn than Theresa May

Thursday, June 29th, 2017



It would appear some Tory MPs are determined to see a British En Marche happen

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Why else would they back Leadsom? It is very reminiscent of Labour MPs backing Michael Foot just before defecting to the SDP so their old party was saddled with an unappealing leader.

Business Insider report today that

Dozens of Conservative MPs have urged Andrea Leadsom to run for the party leadership since Theresa May’s failure to win a majority in the general election.

Leadsom — who stood to replace former prime minister and Tory leader David Cameron in 2016 — has been urged by a growing number of her parliamentary colleagues to put her name forward a second time, friends of the MP for South Northamptonshire have told Business Insider.

May has been under pressure ever since the Conservative Party failed to retain its parliamentary majority at the June 8 election. The party lost 13 seats while Labour gained 30, despite most polls predicting a comfortable Tory victory.

Looking at the odds, you can get 50/1 on Mrs Leadsom being next Tory leader, and as far as I can see she’s not listed on the next PM markets, which tells you everything about her chances, even as a trading bet it doesn’t seem very appealing.

In a lot of ways Mrs Leadsom was very lucky that during the last Tory leadership election Michael Gove’s transformation into the lovechild of Francis Urquhart and Niccolò Machiavelli effectively took out the two most prominent Leave campaigners in the Tory party.

I suspect she wouldn’t be that lucky this time, plus there might be other more appealing Leavers that would stand, and the other consideration is since that infamous Mother superior interview, she has in no way managed to rehabilitate herself with the public nor the party, or even tried to do so.



GE17 saw the emergence of a new type of “shy Tory” – those opposed to Corbyn but didn’t want a big CON win

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

One of the features of living in a super LAB-CON marginal less than an hour from London that regularly changes hands is that you get a lot of attention at general elections. Corbyn’s first big outside visit after the election was called in April was to Bedford which was a regular port of call by David Cameron and earlier LAB leaders at GE10 and GE15.

So what was striking about TMay’s GE17 campaign is that it was almost invisible here until the final few days and we were not graced with a visit from the leader herself even though the CON incumbent had a majority of just over 1k. My guess is the the seat was seen seen as a certain CON hold right from the start and the PM could focus her attention on Labour’s heartlands where, if some of the polling was correct, she was well placed to make serious inroads.

That this didn’t happen both a PM visit and that the Tories actually lost seats like Bedford was one of the remarkable features of the campaign. This was a massive shock.

Nobody really knows what actually happened and why a party with double digit leads right to the end fared so badly. There’s going to be a lot coming out in the next weeks and months which might illuminate us.

A really interesting analysis is by Ed Smith in today’s issue of the New Statesman in which, amongst many things, he writes about CON Remain supports who, while opposed to Corbyn, didn’t want TMay to get her landslide.

“..When the election was called, initially it seemed like another pragmatic masterstroke; the Tory party, which understands power better than any other party in the world, was doing what it does best: reorganising itself to benefit from the new political reality. Yet there was a different kind of shy Tory during this election: not the shy Tory who doesn’t want to own up to Toryism, but the shy Tory who sought a modest win. Many Conservative supporters I know wanted May to win the election but not too handsomely. They feared a landslide would lead to a resurgent Europhobic Tory right. Far from the original spin that the election was needed to create a bulwark against the hard Brexiteers, Tory-Remain voters feared the opposite. And when lots of your own potential supporters don’t want a big win, you scarcely win at all..”

Quite how these shy Tories voted I don’t know. My guess is that some abstained and that some others actually voted Labour.

Mike Smithson


David Davis continues to be the favourite to succeed TMay as CON leader

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

The big question is whether there’ll be a contest or will TMay hang on

So TMay got her Queen’s Speech through the Commons with a majority of 14 thanks to the DUP and that probably reduces the immediate pressure on the PM.

But without a majority it looks set to be an interesting time ahead. Unlike the CON-LD coalition the DUP obligation to vote with the Tories is limited to very specific issues and the chances are that there’ll be regular Commons defeats.

As long as there are no by-election losses or defections they should just about manage for the short term.

One thing that is likely is that the situation will be very draining on ministers and CON MP who are going to have to be at the Commons for much longer periods than normal. Labour could spring an ambush at any time and will do.

All this makes it less likely that we will see an early CON leadership contest provided that TMay’s health holds up.

Mike Smithson