Archive for the 'Boris' Category


There’s been definite damage to Boris Johnson in the polls following Dominic’s Cummings and Goings

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

The last time I saw a Prime Minister needlessly trash their reputation like this was in the autumn of 2007 when Gordon Brown denied he had been planning on holding a snap election. Even one of his MPs wrote ‘Shortly there will be an election, in which Labour will increase its majority’, such a denial of reality damaged Brown’s ratings and they never really recovered which saw Labour lose power and they haven’t been in power since. These rapid falls in approval ratings are usually a harbinger of a major fall in the voting intention figures.

Political authority is a lot like virginity, once it goes it is very hard to get back, so why has Boris Johnson wasted so much capital on Dominic Cummings? Does the Prime Minister think the party and country will find out he’s a political eunuch with his human codpiece gone?

This little farrago on its own won’t guarantee the Conservative Party will lose the next election, but can confirm a wider narrative, especially when you factor in the disastrous care homes policy and the second highest death toll in the world* then the government communications strategy needs all the help it can.

Black Wednesday alone didn’t ensure the Conservative shellacking in 1997, after all some polls taken weeks after Black Wednesday still had the Conservatives in the lead. It was other narratives, such as sleaze, weaved in with Black Wednesday that ultimately led to the Labour landslide.


*There is an irony in this government, a government led by Boris Johnson, aided & abetted by Dominic Cummings, suffering from a dodgy statistic, but as the old cliche goes, you live by the sword you, die by the sword.


The front pages after Dom’s big day

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

Can he survive and what’s this going to do to lockdown compliance?

One telling reaction has come from Mark Wallace of ConHome under the headline “I admire Dominic Cummings – but he needs to resign now“. He notes:

Voters’ fury is real, justified and widespread. The political damage is serious and lasting. The Prime Minister might expend yet more capital to defy the uproar, and Cummings might stay on. But to do so would be a mistake. If he pauses, and coldly analyses the situation in the way that made him famous, he will conclude that for the sake of his own cause he should resign.

The problem he’s got is that the revelations about his approach to the lockdown that he played a big part in creating has inevitably changed things. The hostility towards him on the comment threads of the Daily Mail should be most concerning.

It’s still a tight odds on bet that he will remain in post.

Mike Smithson


The paper that should worry the Tories this morning is the Daily Mail

Monday, May 25th, 2020

Inevitably the papers big story this lockdown bank holiday Monday is the decision by Johnson to retain Cummings in spite what appears to be a clear breach of the lockdown rules.

Tens of millions of people in the UK have had to make very difficult decisions in the face of the pandemic and the government’s lockdown that came in at the end of March. The polls suggest a compliance rate of 85-90% which is a big reason why the story of the PM’s top aide flouting the rules is so politically dangerous. This is not just a bubble story.

Today’s nationals have generally covered the non-sacking of Cummings in line with what you would expect. The big exception is the Daily Mail which has a longstanding reputation of getting it right with its audience.

The front page above is one of the harshest and it main editorial pulls no punches. Quite simply Boris has alienated the big circulation paper that you would most expect to back him.

Given the prominence it has given this the Mail is not going to let this one go.

I’ve got £50 on at Ladbrokes at 2/1 that Cummings won’t still be in his job at the end of the month. I haven’t written that bet off.

Mike Smithson


In other news Starmer moves to a net 24% lead over Johnson in latest Opinium approval ratings

Sunday, May 24th, 2020
Opinium May 21 ’20

A third of Tory voters disapprove of Starmer compared with three-quarters of LAB voters disapproving of Johnson

The latest Opinium poll carried out before the Cummings lockdown affair came out overnight and the big change has been in the approval ratings of the PM and LOTO. The charts above show the recent trends.

A big development is that for the first time Starmer has moved ahead of Johnson and he’s done it with a spectacular jump in just seven days. Last week he was just behind the PM. This week he is on a net plus 30% while Johnson is on a net 6%. So a gap of 24 points.

This week, of course, has seen the PM u-turn on NHS fees for overseas NHS workers and another lacklustre PMQs.

What’s really interesting in the figures is that Tory voters are viewing the LAB leader far more positively than you normally expect and Starmer only gets 33% of Tories voters disapproving of him which compares with 76% of LAB voters disapproving of Johnson.

Normally you expect to see high levels of disapproval both ways with CON and LAB backers being highly partisan in their view of the opposing leader.

Mike Smithson


Team Boris should be very worried about the first Cummings polling from YouGov which goes very much against what he did

Saturday, May 23rd, 2020

The political splits here should be worrying for Number 10. By backing Cummings they are going very much against what voters think .

Thus looking at the party splits a majority of CON voters think he was wrong while Leave voters split 45% to 37% that he should resign.

No doubt we’ll see more polling in the next few hours.

Mike Smithson


Who loves Dom?

Saturday, May 23rd, 2020

Cummings has burnt too many bridges to survive committing the cardinal British political sin: hypocricy

25 January 2016 is not a date that has gone down in history. Despite that, the events of that day were critical to Britain voting to leave the EU, with all that’s meant since. That morning, Dominic Cummings was summoned to a meeting that was intended to remove him from running the Vote Leave campaign.

The meeting did not turn out as its board intended. Cummings responded by asserting that key senior Vote Leave staff as well as a good deal of the rest of the office, would walk were he sacked; assertions that a few quick phone calls validated. In the face of losing pretty much their whole staff less than five months before the referendum day, they backed down. The rest is well known: the data mining, the social media campaigns, the £350m/week, the signing up of Gove to Leave, and the Boris Johnson – without Cummings at its head, there’s every chance that Leave would have lost (probably not by much but lost all the same).

The crucial point here though is that Cummings needed leverage to see off the coup, in the form of support from his Vote Leave colleagues; support he was confident he would get. It was all very well him being rude to the MPs who were notionally his bosses because ultimately, they didn’t have the power to remove him and once the point had been proven, he could ignore them at will.

This is a lesson he appears to have forgotten. Since ascending the heights of Boris Johnson’s key advisor, he’s retained his legendary rudeness and contempt for norms but without any obvious sign of building up the sort of Praetorian Guard that saved him at Vote Leave. He has a patron, of course – and a very powerful one at that, in the form of the Prime Minister. That, however, may not be enough for at least three reasons.

Firstly, a political patron has to balance the value of retaining their valued adviser against the damage that keeping him does. Johnson’s own political position is strong for now and he won’t be brought down even if he retains Cummings. Doing so, however, would spend valuable political capital with both the public and with MPs; capital the PM might not want to spend.

Secondly, neither the PM nor Cummings seem on top of their game at the moment – perhaps for health reasons. Cummings may well have come up with the “Stay home; protect the NHS; save lives” slogan: it certainly has his feel about it. There would be a deep irony if so. But that apart, the government hasn’t been co-ordinated recently, messages have been mixed, policies have had to be U-turned (the NHS immigrant charges, for example – an obvious bad policy to anyone with any political nous), and the media game is slipping badly. Any Odyssean Project seems still-born. So if he’s not doing much useful, is the pain worth it?

But most of all, Cummings is guilty of that greatest of British sins: hypocrisy. When people are prevented from attending the funerals of loved ones, from meeting critically ill family members, from all sorts of normal interactions in the interests of preserving the nation’s health, he – who quite possibly wrote the slogan that sums up the government’s strategy in eight words – not only didn’t stay home but didn’t stay home when he had Covid-19 symptoms. That kind of hypocrisy is not forgiven by the public.

Nor will forgiveness easily be extended to a protective patron who grants his friends special favours when livelihoods (and indeed lives) are being lost on a great scale. Such matters are not always critical but nor are they necessarily forgotten and they will continue to weigh in the balance.

The only way people usually survive such scandals is if they are effectively unsackable, as Cummings was in January 2016. He no longer has that ultra-loyal bodyguard – and even if he did, he’s in a different position now and is less important to Number 10 than he was to Vote Leave. I don’t see how he survives this. And I don’t see why he should.

David Herdson


Latest UK and US polling not good for Johnson’s government and Trump

Friday, May 22nd, 2020

For the first time since lockdown Johnson’s government gets negative YouGov approval rating

And in the White House race Trump is struggling against Biden

Mike Smithson


Does this Indy writer have a point – is Boris now really that vulnerable and will be out by Christmas?

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

The above article has been posted this afternoon on The Independent website and puts forward what Sir Humphrey would describe as a ” very courageous” prediction. Sure Boris has not had the best of times leading a government facing the pandemic and sure the UK’s comparative record has not been that great.

O’Grady notes in his piece:-

“Every bumbling performance at prime minister’s questions, each stumbling appearance at a coronavirus media conference, each bit of misguided spin that emanates from Downing Street, all the “ramped up” insincere promises and the hasty U-turns serve only to build up the evidence that we have somehow contrived to place a clown with the emotional maturity of a toddler in charge of dealing with the worst pandemic in 100 years..When will the madness end? I think by Christmas. I cannot say how or what the manner of Boris Johnson’s leaving office will be, but I think we can all discern that the pressures will only intensify. Each avoidable, so-called “excess” death represents a tragic, powerful and eventually overwhelming argument for his departure. There will be thousands more. Will they reach 100,000? The worst record in Europe? It is surely possible.”

What the article doesn’t do is set up the mechanics of how this will happen. Boris is the leader who took the Tories to a sensational 80 + majority in the general election last December. He’s a winner and the Tory Party likes winners.

The only way I can see see something like this happening is if the prime minister’s health starts to deteriorate. There’s no doubt he hasn’t quite looked the leader he was prior to him being afflicted by the coronavirus and maybe he should have delayed a return to work.

Whenever this is all over, and it is a bold person who will make that prediction, there’ll be a lot of examination about how each government handled the crisis in there are area.

One thing that hasn’t received much attention is that this came at a particularly bad time for the UK. At the end of January, it will be recalled, we were leaving the EU and that was the overwhelming political focus. Perhaps if this had not been happening then actions could have been taken earlier which would have seen a much smaller death toll but we will never know.

The betting markets are far from convinced that Boris will be out soon. In fact on Betfair at the moment it is a 66% chance that he’ll still be there at the end of 2022.

Mike Smithson