Archive for June, 2017


As the DUP prepare to back CON on the Queen’s speech here’s the implied GE17 result under new boundaries

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Electoral Calculus

Will Team Arlene vote to make them Northern Ireland’s 2nd party

One of the issues likely to come up next year is the boundary review and the reduction of Commons seats from 650 to 600 MPs. Martibn Baxter of the Electoral Calculus has produced the above projection of the implied GE17 based on the latest proposals. I thought it timely to publish this given that the DUP will be voting with the Tories this evening ensuring the successful passage of the Queen’s Speech.

As can be seen Baxter’s implied result has the current top dogs in NI politics, the DUP slipping back to seven seats while Sinn Fein see an increase to nine.

Given the contentious nature of the boundary review which has to be approved by the Commons I wonder what the DUP will do.

Can’t see the DUP being very happy.

Mike Smithson


It was the Question Time special exactly a week before polling day that sealed Theresa’s fate

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Reappraising the polling that got rubbished by the so called experts

Last night I watched again the Question Time leaders’ special with Corbyn and TMay from the University of York that took place on June 1st exactly a week before the election. On the night itself the PMs performance was well received particularly by right wing commentators.

The only polling on this event, carried by Survation on the Saturday, had TMay doing badly and Corbyn doing well. The survey , it’ll be recalled, got roundly dismissed because it committed the great sin of not fitting the prevailing “it’s going to be a Tory landslide” narrative.

The high proportion of the sample who said they’d watched was compared with the official audience figure was seized on by the Survation sceptics and used it to dismiss the findings about the leader performances and the huge narrowing to 1% of voting gap that it found.

What wasn’t appreciated was that 72% of those sampled had said they’d had seen or heard something about the debate. This wasn’t an audience figure.

What was really damaging to TMay was the widespread discussion and distribution on social media and news clips of the “no magic money tree” response to the NHS nurse who talked about her effective pay cut. Thus the actual programme “reach” was substantially larger than the official figures.

We now know, of course, that Survation is the only pollster that came out of GE2017 with its reputation enhanced and that its findings on the major set piece of the campaign should be taken seriously. This is from the Survation report of its survey for the Mail on Sunday:

“… In total, 72% of respondents had seen or heard something about the debate.

Among this group, 36% said the event made them more likely to vote Labour, vs 24% who said it made them less likely to vote Labour, a difference of +12.

Among the same group, 32% said the event had made them less likely to vote Conservative, vs 24% who said it made them more likely to vote Conservative, a difference of -8… ”

Other post QT special polls found a huge uplift in young voters saying they were certain to vote some of which can be put down to the programme and how it was reported and discussed. This is a trend chart from ICM’s campaign polls the certain to vote turnout responses from the 18-24 segment.

The young overwhelmingly went for LAB over CON. Look at the turnout gap that opened up in those final two post QT polls. This move didn’t impact on ICM’s voting numbers because, of course, the firm was cutting back young respondents to their GE2015 level.

Mike Smithson


Vince Cable looks set to become the first Strictly contestant to lead a political party

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

The news tonight that ex-coalition cabinet minister, Ed Davey, is not planning to stand for the LD leadership means that that former Business Secretary Secretary looks set to take over from Tim Farron as LD leader.

Davey became the third prominent LD to announce he wasn’t going forward after Jo Swinson and Norman Lamb.

The formal nomination process ends on July 20th which means that Vince will have to wait till then before taking the crown.

As someone pointed out on my Twitter timeline Cable looks all set to be the first Strictly contestant to become a party leader. He was on the show in 2010.

The big question mark about him is, of course, his age. It is 74 which means that if the Parliament runs its full course and he remained in office he would be 79 when fighting a general election.

Mike Smithson


If there was a spread-betting market on how many months Toxic Theresa could carry on I’d be a buyer

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

There’ll always be a reason why now’s not the time for her to go

For a party that has a reputation for knifing failed leaders the Tories have been pretty pathetic so far with Theresa May.

The deal with the DUP makes her position securer and there is always going to be a reason why deposing the woman that got the party into this mess should remain.

Provided there are no defections or by-election losses her parliamentary position should hold and you can see her hanging on all the way till June 2022.

I really wish that one of the spread betting firms opens a market on how many complete months Toxic Theresa will remain at Number 10.

This used to be a popular form of political spread bet whenever question marks hung over a leader’s future. I remember doing well with such a bet on Bill Clinton’s survival when impeachment proceedings were brought in the late 90s.

Obviously it will depend on the opening buy and sell levels but I’d probably be a buyer. Toxic Theresa might be a proven election failure but there appears to be little stomach in the party for getting rid of her.

    She reminds me very much of that failed Labour leader Gordon Brown. He should have got the boot with the abandonment of the October 2007 General Election. As it was he struggled on with terrible ratings and in the end he lost a huge amount of credibility..

The LAB party rules make deposing of a leader much harder and Brown always managed to find reasons why there should be no action now.

The big difference between Gordon Brown and Theresa May is that the latter has a proven record of being an appalling campaigner and for making disastrous election decisions. With Gordon we always thought that that was the case but there was never anything specific we could point to.

In the meantime come on the spread betting firms and make an interesting Theresa May survival market available.

Mike Smithson


Ex-strong favourite BoJo slips even further in the next CON leader betting to just an 8% chance

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

This appears to be between Davis and Hammond

There’s been a lot movement on the next CON leader betting markets since we last looked at it a week ago. BoJo continues to decline and, indeed, has stated that he would not want it at the moment.

The race, if that is indeed what we re watching, seems to be polarising around the Brexit Secretary, David Davis and Chancellor Philip Hammond. If there was to be an early contest, and that is far from certain, these are the two that punters think have the best chance.

Of the other options Ruth Davidson is not an MP while the accomplished Amber Rudd has a very small majority in her Hastings and Rye constituency.

    I’ve been impressed with both Davis and Hammond in the post election period and believe they’d both do better than the incumbent who will be tarred forever by her disastrous decision to call the general election and the manner in which she fought it.

There’ve been consistent reports that Tory MPs will “move” soon against TMay and even reports that we could see a repeat of Michael Howard’s elevation in 2003. Then there was a vote of no confidence in IDS and Howard was the agreed only contender to put himself forward.

Looking back at that period there appeared to be more consensus within the party then than we see now.

I’d suggest Davis probably needs a vacancy to occur faster than Hammond. His chances are closely linked to the Brexit negotiations and he could be damaged if he’s not seen to have done well. Because of the weakness of the woman who got the party into its electoral mess the reassuringly nick-named “Spreadsheet Phil” is in a strong position and can probably bide his time.

Mike Smithson


Labour hubris equals Tory hope

Monday, June 26th, 2017

Socialism is on the march and about to seize power in the UK, so many on the Labour left believe. This, argues Joff Wild, should give the Tories hope

Socialism is on the march and about to seize power in the UK, so many on the Labour left believe. This

If I were a Tory I would be loving that faint smell of Labour hubris in the morning. As I contemplated the wreckage of the general election, that grubby-looking deal with the DUP and a shambolic Brexit strategy, I would be consoling myself with the thought that the Labour left may be in the process of coming to many of the wrong conclusions about why the party did did so unexpectedly well on 8th June. It could just be, I’d be saying to myself, that Jeremy Corbyn and his colleagues are setting themselves up for a big fail when the government finally gives up the ghost and is forced to go to the country once more.

To begin, how should we define big fail? Well, from where Labour is now, and with the Tories in the state that they are in, at a minimum Labour should win most seats in the Commons when the next election does take place. But really it should be looking at an overall majority. After all, the electoral map has now been transformed – a swing of just 2% will gain Labour an extra 38 seats; make it 3.5% and that rises to over 60. Not doing at least the former of these would be a major setback for Mr Corbyn and his team.

Back in May, I honestly thought I would never see another Labour government in my lifetime, now the prospect is so close you can almost touch it. But, let’s not forget, the extra seats still have to be won, while those gained earlier in the month all have to be retained.

As I wrote on here just after the election, Jeremy Corbyn deserves huge credit for what Labour achieved earlier this month. It is doubtful that any other leader could have delivered the result the party secured. He galvanised young voters, ignored the right wing press and focused on delivering a positive message aimed squarely at those who feel left behind and ignored. Like the Tories, many Labour moderates thought that Corbyn would be horribly exposed during a six weeks electoral campaign. But he wasn’t; instead it was Theresa May whose standing collapsed.

However, Labour did not win. Despite May’s meltdown and running what is generally considered to be the worst campaign in living memory, the Tories won dozens more seats, hundreds of thousands more votes and a higher vote share than Labour. They are in government; Labour is not. For that to change, more people have to be persuaded to vote for the party than last time; a lot of seats that are currently blue have to turn red. That will not happen unless the Labour leadership and its cheerleaders come to understand that although Corbyn and the manifesto were a significant part of the reason why the party’s vote surged, they were not the only one.

First off, the Tories ran an abysmal campaign. In a two party, first-past-the-post system, if you do not like option number one, your only choice is option number two or not voting at all. And while we now know that more young people voted this year, we also know that fewer older people did. Labour cannot rely on that happening again. There’ll be no Dementia Tax in the next Tory manifesto.

Then there is Europe. My own constituency – Warwick & Leamington – turned Tory in 2010 and went even further blue in 2015. Then it voted Remain in 2016 and returned to Labour in 2017. It could be that voters here have now embraced red-blooded socialism and decided that, as per the Labour manifesto, the UK should leave the single market; or it might just be that a lot of them were voting against what they considered to be the destructive Tory line on Brexit. I don’t know which it is (though I have my suspicions), but as Warwick & Leamington was not the only Remain area that saw a big swing to Labour, it should surely be something for the party to give a great deal of thought to.

This takes me back to the hubris. For instead of delving deep into the electoral data to work out exactly what happened on election day and why, all the indications are that the Labour left has

decided that for victory to be secured next time it merely requires one more heave; that 12.8 million votes are now in the bag, and that many others are on the verge of taking the plunge. The idea that moderates may have voted Labour, that those who merely did not like the May campaign did so or that convinced Remainers joined them seems to have been dismissed. Instead, a Labour vote on 8th June is being regarded by the Labour left as an unequivocal endorsement of socialism.

You can see this viewpoint in Corbyn’s failure not only to reach out to moderates and those from the soft left when he announced his new shadow cabinet, but also in his decision not to expand the wider shadow front bench because doing so would inevitably involve calling on members of the parliamentary Labour party closer to the centre. Then there is the re-emergence of stories about firing Labour general secretary Iain McNichol and purging the staff at Labour HQ because they are not perceived as Corbynite enough; while it is unmistakeable in the articles, speeches and Tweets of left-wing commentators close to the Labour leadership. On Saturday, for example, Paul Mason was advising Labour moderates in Progress to go and form their own party; in Monday’s Guardian Owen Jones wrote that the election showed “that socialism can convince both middle-class and working-class voters alike”.

It is beyond dispute that the left is now in charge of Labour and that all decisions about party policy and strategy will be made from the left for the foreseeable future. The upshot of that is that Labour should no longer be seen as a coalition; instead, it is unashamedly left-wing. That is fair enough: Corbyn and his supporters have won that right. But with the leader they want, a party united behind him, the Tories in turmoil and the economic storm clouds gathering, there can be no excuses for failure. It’s time to deliver.

So, to return to the opening line of this piece: if I were a Conservative, I would not be in despair or sorting out my assets to keep them from John McDonnell’s grasp just yet. Instead, I would be asking myself whether places like Leamington and Warwick, Peterborough and Lincoln, Canterbury and Ipswich have irrevocably decided to pledge their allegiances to the red flag, and whether others such as Hastings, Hendon and Milton Keynes really are about to join them.

Having done that, I might just permit myself a smile. Surely, I’d conclude, if the Tories ran a better campaign next time, with a more engaging, confident leader and some positive policies that appeal to voters in the centre, they might just have half a chance. After all, they will be facing a party that gives every impression of having convinced itself that at the next election the British are set do something they have never before done in peacetime: turn dramatically to the left.

Joff Wild posts on Political Betting as SouthamObserver. You can follow him on Twitter at @SpaJW

Joff Wild


Cost to tax-payers of TMay’s calamitous election decision and terrible campaign: £1bn

Monday, June 26th, 2017

This gives the Tories an effective majority of 15

A deal has been done. The Tories are to be propped up in Parliament by the 10 DUP MPs who have negotiated a £1bn deal for the province.

So TMay’s party will be able to struggle on although the parliamentary arithmetic still looks tight and is nothing like as comfortable as during the 2010-2015 CON-LD coalition. We are going to see some very tight Commons votes with the opposition parties seeking to ambush the government all the time. It is not going to be comfortable being an MP.

As well as the controversial cash payment Team May has had to cut some of the manifesto commitments such as abandoning the pensior trip lock, the move against the winter fuel payment and the social care plans.

In return the DUP will support the Tories over the Queen’s Speech, in confidence motions and on budgets. The combined CON+DUP contingent is 328. My calculation is that with Sinn Fein MPs continuing their refusal to take up their seats the Tories have an effective majority of 15 for the key votes.

This should create some stability though the SNP are going to put a lot of pressure on the Scottish Tory MPs who were elected two and a half weeks ago.

The deal makes an early election much less likely which has been reflected in the betting.

Whether it secures the future of the person who created this mess for the blue team, Mrs. May, is hard to say. It was her decision to go for an election three years early and her lack of campaigning skills that lost the party its working majority.

As for where the £1bn comes from – that’s likely to be a contentious issue whenever the Tories try to bring in any cuts.

Mike Smithson


The scale of LAB’s lead in the parliament’s first polls is unprecedented

Monday, June 26th, 2017


Never before has main opposition party had such margins after an election

We have now had three voting polls since the general election and all of them, as can be seen in the table above, have shown clear leads for Labour.

This is highly unusual and almost unprecedented. Almost always the first polls after a general election see the winner doing better than it did in the voting on the day.

Thanks to Mark Pack’s excellent Pollbase place we can ascertain that there has only ever been one case before of the main opposition party beating the election winner in the early polls of a new parliament.

The exception could bring some cheer to the Tories because Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives struggled in the early days of her Parliament after her 1979 General Election win. Then Gallup and NOP recorded LAB leads of up to 1.5% in the first surveys and we all know that Mrs T went on to win a landslide four years later.

But 1.5% is nothing like the scale of the first three voting intention polls of this parliament which have seen gaps of 3-6%.

My reading is that Corbyn is still benefiting from the sheer shock of the June 8th result partly because most of the pollsters got it so wrong. If all of them had been producing numbers like Survation then my guess that the impact could have been less.

We move on this week to the vital vote on TMay’s Queen’s speech and what has actually been agreed with the DUP.

Mike Smithson