Archive for March, 2020

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We might all be confined to our homes but the PB NightHawk cafe is open

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

The best place for late night political convesation

Clearly the fight against the coronavirus continues to dominate and looks set to do so for weeks if not months. There are so many factors and the increasing death toll in the UK with the knowledge that it will go much higher must be seriously worrying for ministers.

What are your thoughts? Even if you have never posted on PB before you will be most welcome.

Have a good night.

Mike Smithson



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UK coronavirus death toll up 381 in a single day – the worst yet

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

This had been widely predicted and, indeed, follows the pattern or some other countries but even so the scale of what is happening comes as something of a shock. The forecasts earlier in the week of the eventual UK death total being 20k don’t now look exaggerated.

One thing is for sure the more old people are losing their lives the more people are taking note of the government warnings.

Quite where this will end is hard to say but the growing toll certainly adds to the fear in the vulnerable groups.

Mike Smithson



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Ever since the first LAB leadership YouGov poll came out the result has never really been in doubt

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020
What the polls were showing for the final preferences

Ever since that first YouGov labour leadership poll come out at the start of the year there has never been any real question that the next LAB leader would be the former DPP, Sir Keir Starmer. His margin in that first poll came as quite a shock it will be recalled, because the assumption was that at the candidate favoured by the current leadership, Rebecca long Bailey, would secure the backing of the same groups in the party that were behind Corbyn’s 2015 and 2016 leadership elections.

That didn’t happen and all the indications were that many Momentum members were not going with with long RLB but were supporting Starmer. The detail from several of the polls indicated that the overwhelming issue for large numbers of those taking part in the election was which candidate would most likely lead the party to victory at the next general election.

It should be noted in the polling list above that the first Survation poll used a very different sampling approach than the one in the firm’s February survey.

In many ways this contest was decided on December 12th in the North West Durham parliamentary constituency where the then favoured contender of the Corbynistas, Laura Pidcock, lost her 18.3% majority to the the Tories. Without Pidcock there was no obvious figure to lead for left other than RLB.

Looking back over the campaign Long Bailey has done better than many expected and has improved markedly, The big problem is that she has faced Starmer who is a very different proposition having entered politics already a Knight and having been in the high-profile role of director of public prosecutions. He was a big beast right from the start.

A big interest for me when the results are announced on Saturday morning will be how good the pollsters were and will YouGov maintained its incredible record since of of getting right every membership leadership of every party.

YouGov’s biggest failure, if that is the right term to use, was actually last July with the CON leadership contest when the final lead it was reporting for Boris was 15% higher than that which he actually achieved.

Mike Smithson



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And now after five years the return of PB NightHawks

Monday, March 30th, 2020

For the best in late night political conversation

For many years a regular feature on PB was nighthawks – an overnight open thread. For some reason we stopped doing it and I am bringing it back following calls by a couple of longstanding PBers.

The nighthawks “logo”, inspired by the original Edward Hooper painting, was designed by Marf.

For me there are two big unknowns – how long this is going to last and how the world will have changed when, hopefully, coronavirus has been vanquished?

If you are a longstanding lurker why not join the conversation tonight?

Over to you.

Mike Smithson



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Even LAB voters are giving Johnson positive leader ratings

Monday, March 30th, 2020

There haven’t been many opinion polls of late but this afternoon we’ve got the detail of the latest Deltapoll which includes its regular well/badly leader ratings. The detail is shown in the panel above together with what those sampled did at GE2019 and the referendum.

For me the most interesting numbers are the views of Johnson particularly the sub-set of LAB voters just three and a bit months ago.

Generally there is a very clear party split in views of a PM and what’s most striking to me is LAB GE2019 voters give him a net positive number. Interestingly LAB voters give both Johnson and Corbyn the same positive rating of 50%. I cannot recall a precedent in recent times.

Interestingly on another question the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak does best on who people would like to take over if Johnson had to stand aside to self-isolate. The designated stand in, Dominic Raab, comes bottom as this chart shows.

There is high level on don’t knows on this question.

Mike Smithson



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Michigan Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, the woman who’s got under Trump’s skin, moves up in the Dem VP betting

Monday, March 30th, 2020

At 15/1 she’s worth a punt

One of the features of the coronavirus crisis is that we are hearing a lot more from some American state governors. We’ve already seen the developments relating to Andrew Cuomo of New York and another one whose role in the crisis is getting a fair degree of national coverage is Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan.

You can tell she’s being effective because her approach is causing a lot of irritation from President who who refers to her as “that woman from Michigan”. His basic complaint is that she has been less than appreciative of the help that the Federal Government has been providing for her state.

In the current political context just seven months before the presidential election it doesn’t do any Democrat any harm to be seen to be attacked from the Oval Office especially in a manner that appears unreasonable.

Over the weekend the Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post wrote this piece headed “Why Joe Biden should pick ‘that governor’ to be his running mate”.

While Whitmer was waiting for Washington to approve disaster aid for Michigan, the president attacked her during a call-in interview Thursday on Sean Hannity’s show. His complaint: She was insufficiently obsequious at what is a life-or-death moment for her constituents. Servility is a condition of employment at the White House, of course. But there is something in particular about a woman who refuses to pay him homage that seems to drive Trump around the bend. ..Trump does not like having the federal government’s failures put under that kind of spotlight. “She is a new governor, and it’s not been pleasant,” Trump told Hannity. “We’ve had a big problem with the young — a woman governor. You know who I’m talking about — from Michigan. We don’t like to see the complaints….Don’t call the woman in Michigan,” he instructed his vice president during his news conference on Friday, adding: “I want them to be appreciative.”

You can get her at about 15/1 on Betfair. I’ve had a punt at slightly longer odds.

Mike Smithson



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Biden trailing badly in terms of the enthusiasm of his backers

Sunday, March 29th, 2020

These are worse numbers than Hillary was getting at WH2016

This is a good polling question and one that I attach importance to – just how enthusiastic are your backers. This, surely is something that will show when it comes to election day and how many of your backers will actually be bothered to turn out. The comparison with Trump supporters is striking.

What should worry the Democratic establishment is that when a similar question was asked of party supporters four years ago Hillary Clinton was getting a 32% “very enthusiastic” rating.

I have always been doubtful about Biden as the nominee. He’s 77 years old and his age is very apparent in his public appearances. He’s also very gaffe-prone and even though he’s in a strong position after the first round of primaries you could see either something happening on the health front or him coming under incredible pressure from senior figures in the party to stand aside.

If he does go through to become the nominee then he’s going to need a powerful figure as his VP pick and someone who could take a greater than usual role in the campaign.

Mike Smithson



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Tuesday is the 54th anniversary the last time a Labour leader other than Tony Blair won a working majority

Sunday, March 29th, 2020

As we approach the end of the Corbyn era I thought it would be look at what winning the argument actually looks like. This is not meant as an attack on Corbyn or Labour per se because winning a working majority is bloody hard.

Prior to Boris Johnson’s victory last December in the last 49 years no Tory had won a working majority other than Margaret Thatcher. It shows the difficulty of Corbyn’s successor, whoever that may be, winning a working majority. Although I wouldn’t rule out Labour taking power at the next election if the result is a hung parliament.

But whilst we’re on lockdown it has been fun to rewatch election night coverage.

TSE