Archive for July, 2018


Just out: new PB/Polling Matters survey from Opinium on political ideologies/systems

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018


Leave voters rate leaving the EU as more important than peace in Northern Ireland

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

Do they really want a return to the killings?

I must say that I find the above poll finding quite shocking. It is a reflection on just how our memories can fade and also my age.

The troubles in Northern Ireland were far and away the biggest UK domestic issue of my lifetime starting in the late 1960s and only really coming to some sort of conclusion with the Good Friday Agreement in the late 1990s. Since then a fragile peace has existed.

Anything that threatens to undermine that has to be taken seriously. Remember this did not just impact on the lives of those living in the Province but many other parts of the UK.

I like this response to Joe Twyman’s Tweet.

Mike Smithson


The Brexit day party

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

Looming over the back of all the sound and fury of our day to day politics is the inexorable approach of Brexit day. The 29th of March 2019 will be the day when something happens, maybe. We will start an orderly transition to somewhere, or an abrupt and disorderly crunch into somewhere else. There will be some kind of Brexit that might happen, whether it’s hard or soft (my personal bet is on squidgy). Unless we get an extension, which we won’t, probably. We might keep going with a Mexican stand-off on a falling nuclear bomb waving cowboy hats as we go, MAD all the way down.

There are a wonderful range of countdown options to choose from, traditionalists can see we’re now under 250 days to go, while the Brexit Countdown twitter account offers hourly updates showing us approaching 5800 hours until something might will have possibly happened.

Perhaps we can dig out the Olympic clock and set it up in Parliament Square like a particularly ominous version of Countdown.

We should have the 30th as a national holiday, out of consideration for a great national hangover and for a chance to adjust to the new state of affairs, whatever it will be. Leavers can get the celebratory rounds of strictly British booze (splitting the bill in very creative ways)  meanwhile in the next room Remainers drown their sorrows and mournfully hum Ode to Joy.

Nigel Farage will be back in his familiar pint-handed pose, Arron Banks is facing questions about how he paid for the party (but the roof is missing some lead). Theresa May is still in charge of organising the Conservative’s drinks order, which to has led them all to a team-building retreat with padded rooms and all sharp objects confiscated. A few members sneaked off to call Steve Bannon and Jeremy Corbyn keeps slipping back and forth between the two rooms disappearing as soon as he’s trapped into committing to saying hello and dreaming nostalgically of the days when it was only Brexit questions he had to avoid.

(The Lib Dems unfortunately had a prior engagement elsewhere and were just as inconspicuous in their absence as in person).

Maybe it’ll all feel like a dream, or at least the gap-filled memory haze of a heavy night before. Maybe the last two years will make more sense that way. The future is certain, give us time to work it out.



Javid now back as favourite to succeed TMay

Monday, July 30th, 2018

Even if Mrs May survives as Conservative leader until after Brexit we could still be less than 9 months away from a leadership contest that would choose not just the blue team’s flag carrier but, of course, the Prime Minister.

As can be seen from the chart which plots Betfair changes over the past month there is an incredible amount of movement with money going in and out of one candidate after another. I’ve long felt that the former favourite, Jacob Rees-Mogg, was going to have big difficulties at the first stage in the contest which is, of course, securing the backing of Conservative MPs and getting into the final two for the members’s ballot.

Javid is a very new face and is already making an impact as Home Secretary, the Department, of course, that used to be run by his boss Theresa May.

Boris, of course, is always going to be there but after what happened years ago I’m less convinced of his chances.

Maybe the future Conservative leader who will take the party into the next general election is somebody who simply not on the radar at the moment? Maybe TMay hangs on until the next general election in 2022?

Mike Smithson


If today’s SkyData poll is on the money Brexiters should begin to worry

Monday, July 30th, 2018


The planned new boundaries give CON 40 more seats than LAB for the same national vote shares

Monday, July 30th, 2018

GB vote split C38/L38/LD10 on new boundaries: CON 40 seats ahead

This makes Corbyn’s task much harder

One of the big political developments that could have a huge impact on the outcome of the next general election will come in the next two or three months when the final report of the Boundaries Commission comes out.

Under what was agreed by Parliament seven years ago the number of MPs will be reduced from 650 to 600 and each constituency will be about the same size in terms of the number of voters.

For this to come into effect there needs to be a simple vote of the House of Commons and given that the DUP are not, as in earlier plans, going to be penalised then there must be a good chance that this will go through.

The above seat projections are by using the excellent calculator in Martin Baxter’s Electoral Calculus. They are based on what could happen if the country voted at the next election with Labour and the Conservatives on 38% each and the Lib Dems on 10%. I chose these numbers because they were the shares in the Ipsos and YouGov polls that came out at the end of last week.

    The critical thing here is that the Tories benefit so much more with a significant bias in its favour.

Even without the changes the Tories now benefit most from the system. Without the new boundaries the Baxter projection is that the Tories would be 21 seats ahead on the same 38% vote share as LAB.

About a month before Mrs May made her ill-fated decision to call the 2017 general election I wrote that there was little chance that she would go early because the benefits of the boundary changes were so favourable to the Conservatives that she would want to wait for these to be in force. Alas my prediction about there not being an early election proved to be wrong.

The big question now is whether Mrs May will seek to push the new boundaries through the Commons in the autumn and whether she will succeed. We cannot assume that all Conservative MPs will be happy with the proposal because of the reduction in the overall number and the fact that some might have to fight with neighbouring MPs in order to retain a place in the Commons.

But the gains for the blue team are so great and provide a very comfortable cushion against the prospect of a Labour victory.

Mike Smithson


The Welsh vote could give Thomas the edge for SPOTY

Sunday, July 29th, 2018

I’ve just put a bet on Geriant Thomas for the 2018 Sporting Personality of the Year. I got 3/1 on Betfair.

It used to be that cyclists tended to have an edge in the voting that takes place shortly before Christmas because they were better organised. Not so long ago Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins picked up the title the titles in successive years.

Then Chris Froome came on the scene and he struggled when it came to the voting.

Now we have another British winner of the Tour de France in Thomas but my guess he will be a very different proposition when it comes SPOTY. The reason is the Welsh vote.

The outpouring of Welsh National pride in relation to Thomas over the past 24 hours has been extraordinary. He is also a much more engaging personality on TV and gets favourable coverage.

The current favourite in the betting is England’s World Cup captain, Harry Kane who surely would have been a near certainty if England had beaten Croatia. But that didn’t happen and England went on to lose the third place play off.

Mike Smithson


A second Jewish LAB MP who has dared to criticise Team Corbyn on antisemitism faces party discipline

Sunday, July 29th, 2018

Meanwhile the latest Tweet that’s doing the rounds

This could play out very badly

After disciplinary steps were taken first LAB MP critic of the party’s antisemitism approach, Dame Margaret Hodge, there’s now news that another outspoken critic of the leadership, Ian Austin, is also to face action from the party.

What this does, of course, is keep the row in the public eye and create the impression of a divided party. It suggests that Team Corbyn’s answer to the crisis is get get tough on the internal critics in the party in the hope that this will eventually quieten down. Maybe it will but there’s a big chance that it won’t.

It is noticeable how at recent PMQs TMay has used the row to attack Corbyn and we should expect more of that. It gives the beleaguered Tory leader a peg to raise questions over Corbyn’s whole political background something that failed to resonate during the GE2017 campaign.

Clearly it is in TMay’s interest at this time to portray in Corbyn in the most negative light. The threat of him becoming PM is the main plank of her team’s efforts to maintain the semblance of party discipline during the Brexit split. You can expect a lot more of this in her conference speech.

    Uniting the blue team against the threat of a Corbyn government is made much easier if the actions of the LAB leadership itself provide the material.

It is noticeable that LAB’s lead in the polls has appeared to evaporate and the latest ones from YouGov and Ipsos in the past week both have CON and LAB level pegging on 38% each.

Mike Smithson