Archive for the 'Boris' Category


With ten days to go before the July 4th lockdown easing the numbers continue to look good for the government

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

The above Tweet comes out every afternoon and as can seen the numbers are very much down and the hope must be that they will be a lot smaller on July 4th when the first round of changes come in.

Note that the death total only refers to those who had been tested and proved positive. There is another group of people who died during the period without having previously been tested. The data for this segment tends to take longer to emerge and is based on the cause of death as recorded on the death certificate.

One thing is for sure and that is that the daily totals now are only a bare fraction of when things were at their peak in the first part of April.

The numbers game on this is high risk for Johnson because they are a daily reminder of how successful the government’s strategy has been. It might be unfair but on COVID19 this is the performance indicator for him and the lockdown bandit, Dom Cummings.

Mike Smithson


First YouGov polling response to the lockdown changes looks positive for the ministers

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020


The lockdown is being eased from July 4th but the virus has not gone away

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

Is this going to change the political trends?

As expected the man who desperately needs a haircut, PM Johnson, has announced a range of measures that will ease the lockdown from a week on Saturday which will be exactly three months to the day since Keir Starmer became opposition leader.

In that time the Tories lead has been slashed from 26% in two polls in April to the blue team being just four or five points ahead. Johnson’s personal ratings have slumped from net positives of 40%+ to minus four or five.

Surely this news is going to make people feel a bit happier and the question for political watchers is what this is going to do to Johnson’s ratings and the voting intention polls. Can we expect a boost?

There is a tendency for the public to get behind their leaders at a time or crisis which might explain some of the exceptionally good blue numbers in April. My guess is that there might be a small uplift but not by very much and it might not last.

We should get the first indication in the next few days.

Mike Smithson


Johnson’s big gamble – setting a time table for the lockdown regulations to be eased

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

Lockdown bandit Cummings and his team have certainly been hard at work briefing the media on the changes in the lockdown regulations that are due to be announced by the Prime Minister in House of Commons today

The papers, as can be seen above, are pretty positive and are giving the changes the big treatment because, clearly, any easing of the strict controls that people have been living under since March is massive news.

This, of course, represents a big gamble by ministers firstly that the easing won’t lead to a big upturn in coronavirus infections and deaths in the weeks to come. The second gamble is whether the public are ready to respond because over the last months they have invested an enormous amount by complying to these huge controls on their lives. The reason there has been such a high degree of compliance is because many are very worried about the virus itself.

As yet, of course, there is no vaccine or treatment and the possibility of an early upturn is very real. Just look at what is happening in Portugal at the moment which until now had seen relatively few infections and deaths.

Johnson, of course, came under strong criticism for not locking down earlier enough and you can argue that many more thousands of British people died as a result. What if he has got the timing of the easing wrong?

How realistic, as well, is it going to be for pub-goers to provide names and addresses to be admitted so that they can be identified in future if a fellow pub-goers at the same time contracts the virus? Popping in for a pint is going to be quite a routine.

Of course there is a huge pressure on the economy and the massive cost to the public purse of the measures that have been introduced.

So we are about to enter a new phase.

Mike Smithson


On the day the Premiership returns the big political story is the Johnson meal voucher U-turn following a campaign by a leading footballer

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020

And Cameron’s GE2010 pension “triple lock” could be suspended

The big political news for the tabloids is the huge concession that Boris Johnson has made over the provision of meal vouchers to a million plus poor children. This followed an intervention by the Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford.

The move coincides with the resumption of professional football today albeit with the remaining Premiership matches being played behind closed doors.

The climb down from the government followed an emotional letter to MPs from Rashford who himself had received free school meals when he was growing up.

There is a danger in a government conceding to pressure of this sort from a high profile sporting figure. Not only does it highlight the initial decision not to supply the free meal vouchers for the summer for children from very poor families but its sends a message that it only takes a bit of bad publicity to force ministers to change their minds. No doubt Mr. Starmer will raise this at PMQs.

The other potentially big political challenge for the government is on the front page of the FT that the Chancellor is planning to suspend the so called “triple lock”. This was the commitment made by Cameron at GE2010 to increase state pensions by the level of wages rises, inflation or 2.5% whichever was the highest.

There is concern that the bill for the government could soar because of the impact of the  furlough scheme, which has been paying millions people 80% of their wages during the lockdown. This could mean that next year average earnings will rise considerably which would mean very big rises in the state pension if the formula was adhered to. Explaining that might be difficult.

Mike Smithson


It is beginning to look that a no-deal Brexit could be off the agenda

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020

While the media has been almost totally focused on the pandemic the time is running down on the transition period for the UK’s exit from the EU at the end of the year. This might change following the latest reports emanating from Brussels and Downing Street that suggests a deal is looking a bit more likely.

A big issue is fishing where until now Brussels has EU demanded that Britain must respect the right of fleets from EU countries to access UK waters on the same basis as exists at the moment. If, as now seem possible , this is not going to be a deal breaker then it clears the decks for possible progress on the trade deal aspects.

Johnson is under enormous pressure because the pandemic and the lockdown look set to impact on the UK economy more strongly than in most of the EU countries. The risk of a no deal Brexit is greater than it appeared at the start of the year before coronavirus completely changes the political agenda. According to the Times:

Brussels is preparing to back down over a Brexit fishing deal and acknowledge for the first time that European fleets do not have an automatic right to fish in British waters. In a concession to help to unlock negotiations, Michel Barnier is understood to accept that the UK will have to be treated as an independent coastal state and have annual negotiations with the bloc over fishing quotas from next year.

After a video conference yesterday the PM said the EU and the UK were “not that far apart” on the future relationship. What was needed was “a bit of oomph” in the negotiations which he suggested could be concluded by the end of July.

The Tories won their big majority six months with the slogan “Get Brexit Done” which makes it much less likely that a further transition period extension is possible.

Mike Smithson


Scoping the damage of the Cummings road trip and Johnson’s decision to ignore it

Monday, June 15th, 2020

Johnson leader ratings

We all know that on Friday May 22nd the Guardian and the Mirror first broke the story of the trip to Durham by Cummings and his family just before the Easter Weekend. Over the following few days it was just about the biggest thing dominating the UK media and everybody it seemed had an opinion.

The question is how has this hurt the Tories and Johnson. The above tables show the voting intention and leader ratings from the relevant period.

On voting intention things were moving a bit away from the previous heights that the Tories had achieved during April so the trend was downwards anyway. It looks as though the party has dropped about four points since the Cummings indiscretion was revealed.

The big impact, though has been on Johnson’s leader ratings which have moved very sharply. YouGov’s latest well/badly ratings have Johnson down 20% on early May. Opinium is down 14% while with Survation the slippage is in single figures.

A big question is whether the voting intention position is the best indicator or the leader numbers. What I find remarkable is how little the leader rating change is reflected in the voting figures.

Mike Smithson


Johnson’s Tories still ahead with Opinium but he’s a net 30% behind in the approval ratings

Saturday, June 13th, 2020