Archive for the 'BNP' Category


Are OTHERS set to do well on May 3rd?

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

David Herdson asks: Is now their best chance to breakthrough?

The nature of George Galloway’s victory in Bradford West might have been a one-off but the anti-politics mood it fed off is present far more widely. Mike has recently made timely observations that the combined net approval scores for the three leaders with YouGov is at what is probably a record low of -121%, and that despite a rapid drop in government economic trust figures, Labour has barely benefited except in relative terms.

    It’s very rare for all three main parties to be simultaneously unpopular. Perhaps the only recent parallel was during the Expenses Scandal in 2009, which coated the entire political class with contempt.

    The effect of that scandal on people’s voting intention showed up clearly in an increase in support at the time for the minor parties, though ultimately this failed to materialise in the 2010 general election.

Where it did materialise was in the elections that occurred during the scandal – the local and European elections of 2009 (and the reaction to the publicity before and results after these polls may also have fed into the GE VI). The European election was a defeat for all the main parties. Although the Conservatives won, they polled less than 28%. Labour and the Lib Dems did far worse, both coming in behind UKIP. In all, more than two-fifths of the vote went to minor parties.

Against that, it has to be noted that the European elections provide a perfect platform for voters to protest, if they are so inclined. The outcome is not regarded as that important (it’s not like electing a government or even an individual), the PR list means that every voter has the option to vote for any of the larger minor parties as well as some of the very small ones, PR also means that these larger minor parties stand a chance of winning seats in a way they wouldn’t under FPTP (UKIP may well have won seats in 2009 under FPTP but the Greens and BNP wouldn’t have), and it’s also the election on which UKIP have campaigned and which in the absence of more important considerations, some voters wish to send a message.

All those factors mitigate against a breakthrough on anything like the same scale at a parliamentary or even local election for the minor parties. Even so, disillusionment is likely to find an outlet somewhere and if the view is ‘they’re all the same and they’re all useless’, the incentive to vote for the least worst is lessened.

The 2009 European elections coincided with another set of polls, the local elections. Unfortunately in terms of their value to us now, these were mainly in the English shire counties – an almost total contrast to where this year’s local elections take place. Even so, in them minor parties made net gains of more than 40 councillors from the three main parties, adding about a third to their total. In addition, independent or minor party mayors were elected in two of the three contests that year.

So what are the prospects for them this year? One of the biggest barriers is simply being on the ballot paper. The Greens, UKIP and the rest will not be contesting the majority of wards. Galloway’s Respect, which in the immediate aftermath of his triumph he claimed would fight all thirty wards in the Bradford District is in fact contesting only twelve – and virtually none elsewhere.

The one exception, and it’s a big one, is in London, where voters will have the chance to ‘go minor’ in both the mayoral and Assembly elections. While they’ll probably pass up the opportunity in the mayoral poll – Boris and Ken are big characters and somewhat distanced from their Westminster colleagues – there’s a good chance that they’ll perform better in the Assembly poll, where UKIP and the Greens have a full constituency slate, and many parties are standing for the top-up lists.

A second exception, though of a different nature, are the nationalist parties. However, while Plaid and the SNP are minor parties in UK terms, in Scotland and Wales they aren’t – and these are specifically (sub-) Scottish and Welsh polls. For what it’s worth, the SNP can be expected to continue their good run while in Wales, Plaid are unlikely to replicate their nationalist colleagues’ success.

Mid-term governments often suffer unpopularity. When they do, it’s the opportunity for the main or secondary opposition to capitalise. If they can’t, it’s the opportunity for the minor parties but they too need to be in a position to capitalise which is institutionally more difficult for them as any number of inertial factors kick in. Still, this ought to be their best chance for a long time and it will be interesting to see both whether the GE VI polling shifts in the light of it, and whether they can capitalise further at the ballot box.

David Herdson


Opinion polls and postal voting

Monday, April 26th, 2010

The piece by Anthony Wells on postal voting and opinion polls on UKPR is a good reminder that things can now get a bit complex given that perhaps one in five of all votes will be made by post.

What happens when the pollster calls or someone fills in an internet form when they have already voted? Almost all the firms adapt their voting intention question to take into account this possibility but they cannot report them separately.

As Anthony writes: “It is against the law to publish any poll based on people saying how they have already voted until the polling stations close on May 6th, and this includes people who have cast postal votes. In the European elections in 2004 Populus and the Times were investigated by the police over this for publishing voting figures for regions where there were all-postal ballots, which were hence effectively exit polls. No action was taken since it was not clear beforehand that this was against the law, but guidelines on how the law would apply to such things were subsequently drawn up. The result was that pollsters can include people who have already cast postal votes in their figures, but it is illegal to separately report figures for just those who have already cast postal votes.”

Theoretically at least you would expect polls to be that more accurate for in they will become partial exit polls.

Mike Smithson


Could the Purples come to the aid of the Blues?

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Will the big tactical move be from UKIP backers?

All the talk about tactical voting seems to be about the Lib Dems with polling evidence starting to suggest that they split at least 3-2 in favour of a victory for Brown’s Labour.

But are we wrong to confine our thinking about tactical voting to just Nick Clegg’s party. Is the biggest source of potential movers from “others” – notably GREEN/BNP/UKIP which between them have been getting in excess of 10 point in recent polls?

Just before the June 2009 elections for the European parliament YouGov put its forced choice question to a sample of 7,500 supporters of the three smaller parties. Brown’s Labour was ahead amongst the Greens but surprisingly only by 6 percent. With the other two the split was overwhelmingly for Cameron’s Conservatives with 70 percent of the UKIP segment going for that option compared with just 12 percent the other way.

The essence of the Blue proposition in the marginals is that they are the ones to stop Brown and by polling day I just wonder whether we’ll see something of a tactical switch. Current UKIP supporters are probably Cameron’s biggest hope for an overall majority.

Will their dislike of Gordon exceed their hostility to Cameron over the Lisbon referendum pledge? Lucky for Dave that he faces a Labour leader with a negative rating of 61%.

  • Next week’s PB get-together: If you are planning to come to Dirty Dicks, opposite Liverpool Street station in London could you drop Fat Steve an email here. The previous link I put up was wrong. The event takes place on Wednesday March 31st starting at 6.30pm.
  • Mike Smithson


    Is Labour’s plan to big-up the BNP?

    Sunday, March 21st, 2010

    Will this get the core vote out in the marginals?

    On the latest Radio 4’s Any Questions the schools secretary, Ed Balls, made a revealing comment on what I took to be part of Labour’s defence strategy in the marginals.

    When being pressed over UNITE’s financial support for Labour including his own seat on the outskirts of Leeds he replied: ” “Unite members make contributions from their pay packets to help the fight against the BNP…..”.

    That helped him handle the issue during the programme and was, I suggest, a pointer to the general election campaign.

    For traditionally Labour can do well when it can persuade its core supporters that there is a something to come out to vote against. In 1997, 2001 and 2005 it was the Tories – in 2010 in some seats it could be the BNP.

    For although the Tory share and Cameron’s ratings have slipped, Labour and Brown are still some way behind, so the full frontal “beastly Tories” rhetoric might not be as potent.

    Only five months ago Labour saw the BNP tactic working a treat in the Glasgow NE by-election as I commented at the time. Then a closing argument to core voters was about preventing Griffin’s party from saving its deposit.

    Of course this only comes into play if the BNP is standing in a marginal. So a key element to look at in assessing LAB-CON encounters is whether there’s a BNP candidate. If there is then that might just make Labour’s defence a touch easier.

    Mike Smithson


    What happens if there is no GREEN/UKIP/BNP standing?

    Friday, March 19th, 2010

    How would the vote split?

    Lots of talk today about how many candidates the “others” – GREEN/UKIP/BNP – will actually have standing in the election.

    UKIP looks as though it will have in excess of 500 but the other two parties are probably going to fall short by quite a distance.

    With this segment running quite high in a number of polls the question is how would this go if potential voters have not got someone to support in their constituency.

    This is a question that we ask every month in the PB/Angus Reid polls to those who indicated support for the three parties. These are the findings from the latest survey.

    “What if no GREEN/BNP/UKIP candidate standing in your constituency…” Share
    CON 20%
    LAB 8%
    LD 18%
    Other/DK/won’t say 56%
    PB Angus Reid poll March 15

    PaddyPower has overall vote markets for both the BNP and UKIP.

    Mike Smithson


    Will “others”, UKIP/GRN/BNP, really get a boost from this?

    Friday, February 5th, 2010

    Or will they be squeezed out in the Dave-Gord encounter?

    The general view ahead of the June 2009 Euro elections was that the parties that would gain most from the expenses scandal, which dominated the headlines for the weeks beforehand, would be UKIP, the Greens and the BNP.

    And so it was. UKIP easily beat Labour for second place in the national vote, the Greens had a good election while the BNP secured two seats at the EU parliament for the first time.

    But can we assume the same for the general election – where there’s the first past the post voting system and where the battle will be framed by the media as the Dave and Gord show with a bit of exposure for Nick Clegg?

    And unlike last June when the electoral system meant that voting for one of the others could increase their chances of getting a seat that’s only going to apply in two or three of the 650 Westminster battle-grounds.

    For the harsh reality is that votes for the minor parties are almost certainly going to count for almost nothing on May 6th – if that is indeed the day. And if there’s little point in turning out then the chances are that electors will be more reluctant do so – expenses scandal or not.

    Interestingly the PB/Angus Reid polls, which don’t weight by likelihood to vote, do put the following options to those who’ve expressed a party choice – “I will definitely vote for this party” or “I could change my mind before the election takes place“. Every survey that we have done has had supporters of the “others” responding that they are much less likely to opt for the former than Tory, Labour or Lib Dem supporters.

    So my guess is that in spite of the expenses scandal the overall shares going to UKIP/GRN/BNP will not be that much greater than 2005. The big difference is that the best known figure in each of these parties is in with a fighting chance in Buckingham, Brighton Pavillion and Barking respectively – so one or more could see an MP elected for the first time. I’ve got money on Farage and Lucas.

    There is likely to be a bigger focus on independent candidates which could in certain seats be talked up by the media. By polling day, however, the election will be seen as a sharp choice between the main parties in England with the addition of SNP/PC in Scotland and Wales.

    There’s also the question of the impact of the scandal on turnout – which I’ll cover in a separate post.

    Mike Smithson


    Has ICM adopted PB’s turnout weighting plan?

    Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

    Is this putting the squeeze on the “others”?

    Well done to Anthony Wells as UKPollingReport for spotting this but ICM seem to have introduced a significant methodology change in this week’s Guardian poll which looks as though it will reduce the shares it reports for UKIP/BNP/GRN.

    For the firm has introduced a change that I’ve been pressing for since 2007 – that greater weight be given when assessing likelihood to vote to those respondents who have a record of voting.

    This is how the firm explains it: “If someone is 10/10 certain to vote, they are given a weight of 1.0. If someone is 9/10 certain to vote they are given a weight of 0.9 etc. People who tell us they are likely to vote in the next General Election but did not vote in the last, are further down-weighted. If someone says they are 10/10 certain to vote but did not vote in 2005, they are given a weight of 0.5. If they say 9/10 certainty, the weight becomes 0.45 etc.”

    This is not as radical as my original proposal in August 2007 but it is going a long way down the route of recognising that the people most likely to turnout next time are those who did so at the last election.

    My initial reaction is that the parties most likely to suffer will be UKIP/BNP/GRN where a much higher proportion of their support in previous surveys has come from 2005 non-voters. In this latest poll with the new calculation these three parties between them only get 4%.

    Perhaps we ought to look again at the vote betting markets from PaddyPower

    Mike Smithson


    Has Labour got most to lose from polarisation?

    Wednesday, January 20th, 2010


    How will it split as the share for “others” gets smaller?

    Following Tuesday’s thread on the decline in poll shares for the other parties a key question is who will benefit the most?

    For working out where these votes will go could be the key element in predicting what is going to happen on the day and whether Labour will be able to stop Cameron’s Tories from forming a majority government.

    A problem is that there’s so little polling data available. Most firms now break-down their non-voting findings by main party allegiances but in standard sized polls the small party totals are not big enough to produce meaningful figures.

    But there is one resource available from last summer that we have looked at before – the YouGov mega-poll with a 32,268 sample that was carried out just before June 4th EU elections. Here the firrm was able to segment GRN/BNP/UKIP voters and provide breakdowns on the other questions that were put.

    The findings I’ve reproduced above are the responses to the pollster’s standard forced choice question – when faced with just two option would respondents prefer a Cameron-Conservative government or a Brown-Labour one?

    Now these are not voting intentions and we have no idea whether the findings can be seen as an indication of what respondents would do. But as often happens this is all the data that we have.

    A key element here, of course, is that many GRN/BNP/UKIP supporters simply won’t have the chance of backing their favourite party. None of these three parties is going to be able to contest every seat.

    Even with the caveats set out above it is hard looking at the numbers to conclude other than that the Tories have most to gain.

    I have yet to make a call on the overall election outcome – but I’m getting closer to believing that Cameron will get a majority if only because the data shows that there are fewer negatives than Brown.

  • Today I’m going to be fairly detached from the site because I am at a big conference on polling at which a number of PBers are attending.
  • Mike Smithson