Archive for August, 2018


Local By-Election Summary : August 2018

Friday, August 31st, 2018

Conservatives 6,874 votes (33% -6% on last time) winning 7 seats (-1 on last time)
Labour 6,203 votes (30% +1% on last time) winning 3 seats (-1 on last time)
Liberal Democrats 5,202 votes (25% +12% on last time) winning 3 seats (+1 on last time)
Independent candidates 1,887 votes (9% +2% on last time) winning 1 seat (+1 on last time)
Green Party 427 votes (2% -3% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
UKIP 298 votes (1% -5% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Plaid Cymru 73 votes (0% +0% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Conservative lead of 671 votes (3%) on a swing of 3.56% from Con to Lab

August 2017 – August 2018
Conservatives 149,231 votes (35% +2% on last time) winning 114 seats (-27 on last time)
Labour 134,799 votes (32% +6% on last time) winning 93 seats (+5 on last time)
Liberal Democrats 71,847 votes (17% +7% on last time) winning 46 seats (+26 on last time)
Green Party 18,718 votes (4% -2% on last time) winning 4 seats (+4 on last time)
Independent candidates 17,395 votes (4% -1% on last time) winning 12 seats (+1 on last time)
Scottish National Party 13,565 votes (3% +1% on last time) winning 3 seats (unchanged on last time)
UKIP 9,113 votes (2% -10% on last time) winning 0 seats (-12 on last time)
Local Independent candidates 6,992 votes (2% unchanged on last time) winning 4 seats (+2 on last time)
Plaid Cymru 1,345 votes (0% unchanged on last time) winning 2 seats (unchanged on last time)
Other Parties 3,966 votes (1% unchanged on last time) winning 3 seats (+1 on last time)
Conservative lead of 14,432 votes (4%) on a swing of 1.97% from Con to Lab

Compiled by Harry Hayfield


Is Ruth Davidson the new Alec Douglas-Home?

Friday, August 31st, 2018

Video: Excerpt from a January 2016 episode of Newsnight

We’ve been here before, the best hope for the Tory party winning the next general election is a Scot that isn’t an MP and yet the Tory Party yet somehow engineers the situation for that non MP to become Tory leader & Prime Minister and an MP shortly thereafter.

Today’s Sun newspaper reports

RUTH Davidson has told friends she may move to Westminster to become a Cabinet minister as a stepping stone for a Tory leadership bid.

Under the fledgling plan, she would abandon Scottish politics and take a peerage instead.

The move could happen as soon as late next year when pregnant Ms Davidson returns from maternity leave after giving birth to her first child.

The surprise move would electrify the mounting scramble among senior Tories over who will succeed struggling Theresa May as PM.

The popular Scottish Tories boss has always insisted she will stay north of the border to fight the 2021 Holyrood elections.

But the party’s rising star has been told by senior Tory pals that she needs to prove her mettle in a big national job like running a government ministry to boost her chances of taking the Tory crown.

A friend of Ms Davidson told The Sun: “Ruth told me that she is having a rethink about the next few years.

“It’s dawning on her that she needs to prove she can run something bigger than just the Scottish Tory party to show members she would be good leader of the party and the country.

“You can renounce peerages these days, so that’s how she’d do it as a stop gap before fighting a Westminster seat at the next general election, whenever it comes.”

I can understand why quite a lot of Tories would like to see Ruth Davidson as Theresa May’s successor. After the revival of the Scottish Tories she’s overseen as no one cracks any panda jokes. Without Ms Davidson’s leadership ad performance last June Jeremy Corbyn might well have become Prime Minister.

Ruth Davidson is a very effective media performer and she’d be able to lay a glove or two on Jeremy Corbyn in a way Mrs May has failed to do so. You’d be willing to bet substantial amounts on Ruth Davidson not chickening out of the debates like Mrs May.

My betting position to date has been not to back Ruth Davidson to be Theresa May’s successor because there’s no realistic way for her to become an MP before the time of the next Tory leadership contest which I expect will be before the next general election.

Normally I’m quite dismissive about the practicability and possibility of having a Prime Minister based in the House of Lords but if it was only a short term fix, say less than 12 months before a general election, it could work as it would allow Ruth Davidson to be selected for a Westminster constituency for the next election.

I’d be much confident on betting on Ruth Davidson on being the next Tory leader but one but right now I’m not prepared to stake much on her being Theresa May’s successor. What would be a game changer is Ruth Davidson winning a Westminster by election.

However if she was to join the cabinet soon via a peerage and does well in her role then I’d expect her to be the favourite to succeed Mrs May, it does speak about the paucity of talent in the Parliamentary Conservative Party that the person many see as the Tories best hope is someone who has never been an MP.

Critics would point out Alec Douglas-Home lost a general election within a year of becoming Prime Minister although, many including myself, say he did well to restrict Labour to a majority of just four seats, considering the position he inherited.



NEW PB / Polling Matters podcast: How long will Trump last (and who will run against him)? Plus, how does public opinion on Brexit look ahead of party conference season?

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

Polling Matters returns for an extended episode exploring the latest goings-on in Washington DC and what a recent avalanche of Brexit related polling tells us about public opinion as we head into a crucial party conference season.

In part one, Keiran Pedley and Leo Barasi look at Trump’s approval rating and what that says about his prospects for re-election and the GOP’s prospects in the upcoming midterms. Keiran and Leo also look in-depth at the potential Democratic candidates to face him in 2020, with a special focus on Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders as they compete for the right to lead the Democrat’s progressive wing.

In part two, Keiran and Leo examine a range of recent polls that present conflicting messages about the state of public opinion on Brexit. Keiran argues that polling on the outcome of a second referendum is useless at this stage, Leo looks at whether support for a second vote is increasing and both Keiran and Leo have a few choice words for a recent article in The Mirror suggesting that 4 million people are prepared to vote Labour if Corbyn is clearer on its Brexit policy.

Finally, the pair examine what the numbers mean for Brexit in practical terms as we enter a busy party conference season.

Follow this week’s guests:

Got a question for the Polling Matters team? Why not message Keiran or Leo on twitter?


When some men want to be humiliated and embarrassed they hire dominatrices whereas Nigel Farage is considering running for London Mayor

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

The Financial Times are reporting

Nigel Farage is weighing a bid to become mayor of London, in an attempt to push the Conservative party into third place in the British capital.

Mr Farage, who lives in Bromley in south London, quit as leader of the UK Independence party in July 2016, weeks after the UK voted to leave the EU. He is still a member of the European Parliament, but will lose his position when the UK leaves the EU next March.

Mr Farage — who has stood unsuccessfully for parliament seven times, but has been elected three times as an MEP — said that the London mayoral election in May 2020 would be an opportunity to “make arguments” on a high-profile platform.

“I have been encouraged to [stand] by a group of people, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to,” he said. “I haven’t said no to it, I’m thinking about it.”

“The Tory party are very actively aware that if I did stand, they would probably come third, and they are afraid of that,” he added.

One senior Conservative official said that Downing Street was already braced for electoral embarrassment if Mr Farage entered the contest.

One ally of Mr Farage said that more Londoners had voted for Brexit than for Mr Khan, despite the city’s pro-EU reputation.

Apart from Scotland I cannot think of anywhere less suited for Nigel Farage to do well in than London so I’m expecting the seven times failed Parliamentary candidate to match that record in the London Mayoral election.

Assuming no change of government in 2020 we will have had ten years of Tory government, of various shades, and we’ll be midway through the Parliament so that’s when governments have been historically unpopular so there is the potential for the Tories to finish third. But I don’t expect it will be UKIP, in 2016 UKIP polled just over one tenth of what the Tories did in the first round, so that’s a very low base for Farage to start from.

The Tory candidate will be someone who isn’t seen as a heavyweight politician so there’s a chance for Farage to outshine them, though several people I respect have a lot of good things to say about Shaun Bailey.

However I don’t think Farage’s brand of politics are suited to London and there’ll be a real desire to ensure Farage doesn’t make it in to the final two. The supplementary vote, like the alternative vote system, allows for tactical voting against a particular candidate in the first round. It will be very easy for the Tories to portray themselves as the stop Farage side.

Farage’s friendship with Donald Trump and Trump’s history of antagonism with Sadiq Khan havethe potential of working against Farage in a city that seems vehemently opposed to Trump. It isn’t difficult to envisage Trump intervening on Farage’s behalf during the London Mayoral election and the situation developing not necessarily to Farage’s advantage.

I don’t think UKIP have the resources nor the infrastructure to run a proper London Mayoral campaign, just look at how few candidates they put in the 2017 general election.

Also it is a fundamental misreading of electoral physics to compare a low turnout London Mayoral election with several candidates conducted under the supplementary vote to a higher turnout referendum with a binary choice option.

So from a betting position I’d definitely be laying Farage to win the Mayoralty and laying him to finish second. I’m hoping for some bookies to price up Farage actually not standing, I’ll be looking to back Farage not standing.



How the Labour Party would split – and why it won’t

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

A summer of conspiratorial meetings amongst serial rebels has fuelled talk of a split.

Picture the scene. Lord Mandleson hosts a BBQ where “up to” 20 Labour rebels look at their options for a breakaway party. Labour’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson was amongst the group, uniting the remnant Blairite and Brownite camps against Corbyn.

Whether plotting to adopt the IHRA definition against the NEC, or plotting to deliberately lose to spite Corbyn (Stephen Kinnock not being very good at this), there is a clear sense of an internal battle for supremacy coming to a head. MPs vs Members. Let’s consider the options discussed at the Mandy BBQ:

1) Do Nothing. Jeremy Corbyn is an old man. His support claims to be “the membership” yet in practice the majority of members are silent. They do not participate in anything other than leadership elections, do not participate locally in any shape or form, and are already drifting away.

Jeremy Corbyn will retire, and a sizeable chunk of the membership will leave when he goes. When he does the party can change shape, organisation, message. Nothing that has been done – despite shrieking headlines of takeovers at local and NEC levels – cannot be undone.

2) A breakaway group of Labour MPs. Various options are open to them – an independent parliamentary group, the creation of SDP2, leaving to join the Greens, the LibDems, even a takeover of the Co-op was floated. None of these are particularly appealing to Labour rebels. SDP2 means starting from scratch in terms of organising and funding, the Greens and LibDems offer their own aims not the fulment of the rebel’s dreams.

3) A wholesale split in the party. Tom Watson has form plotting to remove unwanted leaders, and his physical shedding of weight has been accompanied by him clearly shedding any pretence at agreeing with Jeremy Corbyn or the Momentum cabal. A Watsonite Labour Party carrying the majority of MPs could try and claim legal title to the party machine, effectively de-merging the hard left into Momentum (“as you already have your own membership structure, branches, executive”)

4) A realignment in British politics. A similar piece could be written about both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats, and Brexit has all the potential to create a big enough bang to fracture the fragile coalitions that make up our parties. Vince Cable went AWOL for a key Brexit vote supposedly attending a dinner party discussing the creation of a new centre party.

Emmanuel Macron broke away from the socialists, founded a new centre party and led it to power. A failed Brexit fracturing Labour and the Tories at the same time could make a new party born out of the wreckage look like the sane option. Especially if the alternatives are a Boris-led Tory Party fighting off a Farage UKIP resurgence or a Corbyn-led Labour Party busy denouncing the Momentum traitors.

The only rule in politics is that everything is possible – look at the 2017 General Election campaign. But from a betting perspective where does my money go? I am a Labour councillor, activist and member of nearly 25 years so I am personally caught up in this. I’m also a Co-op Party member.

My expectation is that “do nothing” is most likely. People like me sick to the back teeth of Corbyn and the dross that surround him will wait him out, as happened with Michael Foot. The split will be the hard left slouching off again post-Corbyn to join scab groups aimed at keeping the evil Labour Party out of power. Until that happens, I would be gobsmacked to see anything more than the odd MP aping James “Who” Purnell.

Unless of course Brexit really does fracture the political parties beyond repair. At which point literally anything is possible. Anna Turley and Anna Soubry as colleagues?

Rochdale Pioneers

Rochdale Pioneers is a member of the Labour Party and a long standing contributor to PB.


Corbyn’s leader ratings have slumped sharply since the start of the year

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018

I’ve just discovered a Wikipedia page which seeks to record all the main leader ratings from the leading pollsters. The page describes itself as being confined to “approval ratings” which it doesn’t. Instead we see a range of four or five different formats.

Unfortunately the page isn’t quite as comprehensive as it suggests and I have had to add to the polls covered in my version of the spreadsheet above of 2018 ratings for Mr Corbyn.

The trend for the year is clear and there has been a marked negative movement for the current Labour leader since January. The latest numbers from YouGov have him at his lowest level since GE17.

Mike Smithson


After delivering Brexit TMay’s follow-on objective will be blocking Boris4PM

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018

The Cape Town message is that she’s not going of her own accord

With Mr Corbyn apparently totally secure as Labour leader for as long as he wants the main UK political betting activity, as we get ready for the conference season, is focused on the Tories particularly on Mrs May’s survival.

There was a widespread view following the last general election 15 months ago that she will be “allowed” to stay in the post until Brexit has been achieved and then she will be going. Based on what she has said in Cape Town that does not fit with her own view of her personal situation. This is from the Guardian report link to in the Tweet above:

When asked specifically if she would contest a leadership challenge from Johnson, the former foreign secretary, May said she hoped to fight on as prime minister: “I am in this for the long term. I am in this for delivering for the British people, and that’s what I’m focused on.”

Under current CON leadership rules there can be no “challenge from Boris” only an MP no confidence move to force her out. This is not like it was in Mrs Thatcher’s final days.

Katy Balls in her latest email from the Spectator, the magazine that Johnson used to edit, has this interpretation:

“..A number of May’s inner circle privately concede that her departure is not a matter of if but when. Although most Tory MPs still think that she should steer the party through the final stages of Brexit — if only to ensure Britain does actually leave — there is a growing consensus that her job will then be done. ‘It’s very difficult to justify her existence past March,’ explains a normally loyal MP. Ministers who still stand behind her do so on a number of caveats. ‘If she doesn’t give a resignation timetable after Brexit, there will be moves against her,’ explains one cabinet minister.

Given that there isn’t much of a happy precedent when it comes to prime ministers pre-emptively announcing their exit, perhaps insisting one is in it for ‘the long term’ is the least worst option.”

I’m not convinced because I don’t believe there’s the stomach within the Parliamentary party to oust her. And like Gordon Brown in the years ahead of GE2010 the longer she survives the closer it gets to the next general election and the less the case for a potentially divisive leadership contest.

What really underpins her position is the suggestion that she would be succeeded by the former Mayor of London and ex-Foreign Secretary, Mr Johnson, who is, according to the latest ConHome membership surveys, the top preference for next leader. His challenge is that he’s not popular with fellow party MPs whose votes would be required first to oust her and then to make the top two in the CON MP election to choose the final two to go to the membership.

Betfair has it as a 48% chance that she’ll be out next year. I’m far from convinced.

Mike Smithson


A big August polling development has been the restoration of TMay’s double digit “best PM” lead

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

I love tables like the one from YouGov featured above showing the trend in responses to a political tracker question. This one is on who would make the best prime minister and what seems quite striking is that Theresa May has held up pretty well apart from July when her numbers slipped following the critical response to the Chequers agreement.

The big mover, of course, has been the Labour leader Mr Corbyn who has seen a fair amount of slip back which if you look at the dates sort of links to the start of the anti-semitism row which began at the end of March.

The problem with best prime minister ratings is that the incumbent almost always gets a boost and I think the numbers have to be looked at in that context. The other highlight thing about recent polling on this question is that the don’t knows are now the biggest segment.

What appears to happen is that when Corbyn’s numbers slip it is the don’t knows that increase which could point to something worrying for the Labour leadership.

What might have helped the Prime Minister during this holiday month is that the has been much less focus in the media on the huge Brexit divide within a party. When that starts to be getting the attention of the media again then maybe we could see a slippage.

Mike Smithson