Archive for the 'Independent Group' Category


If it’s any consolation to LAB – the last CON 10%+ leads were in the days before GE2017 – and we know what happened then

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

The overnight YouGov poll giving the Conservatives an 11% lead was the worst for LAB since the 2017 general election. I like to look at polls in context which is why above there there is the full Wikipedia list of all GB voting intention polls this year.

The big picture is that LAB is on the decline and the Tories are moving up a bit. Although you’ve got a range of Conservative leads between 4% and 11% surveys it’s the trend that matters and there can be little doubt that this has been going against the red team in the past few weeks.

When news of the latest YouGov came out I did a quick check back through the polling to find the last time that the Conservatives were in this territory. This of course this led me to the week before the June 8th general election in 2017. That was such a disaster for some pollsters and obviously will give some consolation to Corbyn and his team.

We also now have a new polling series and that is those where the TIGers are listed. The Wikipedia list of those is reproduced below.

I should be noted that different question are asked by each firm and we are getting very different outcomes for the new group.

Mike Smithson


It appears Blair slayer Tom Watson has his sights on Jeremy Corbyn

Sunday, February 24th, 2019

Tom Watson’s appearance on the Andrew Marr show was very interesting as per the tweets above.

That Labour’s deputy leader has publicly brought the antisemitism issue to Corbyn with the fifty cases makes life very difficult for Corbyn. With a third of voters thinking Corbyn is an antisemite this presents an opportunity for Corbyn to turn around that perception but given past form Corbyn will only make it worse.

Corbynites should be concerned about Watson is doing this, and so publicly, anyone with an understanding of history knows Watson played a crucial role in the early departure of the great Satan Tony Blair. If Watson can help topple the three times general election winning leader he’ll be able to take down the general election loser that is Corbyn.

If the Corbynite fan club is castrated on social media then it will be harder for Corbyn to survive a putsch which makes me think this is part of a very clever plan by Tom Watson.


PS – Meanwhile Mrs May is determined to ensure more Tory defections to the TIGgers as even loyalists who backed the deal are getting exasperated 


New Opinium poll has LAB moving from level-pegging to 8% behind in just a week

Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

LAB 32-5
CON 40+3
LD 5-3

The first of what could number of polls tonight is from Opinium for the Observer and sees the Tories take an 8% lead up from level-pegging a week ago. That’s quite a movement.

Clearly the week has seen another political story dominate the headlines that is not Brexit and much of the focus of the new Independent Group has been critical of LAB and particularly its leader. Corbyn looks less like a prospective PM than just about anytime since GE2017 when his party still lost but not by as much as many predictions.

The polling might reinforce the chatter about Mrs May taking advantage of LAB’s apparent problems and calling a new general election. Bjut that couldn’t not take place before the March 29th Article 50 deadline and if there was a move it would come later.

Even if a whole range of pollsters report 7%+ CON leads I’m far from convinced that she’ll be tempted to go to the country. The memory of what happened two years ago will surely cause the greatest caution.

This post will be updated if there are other polls.

Mike Smithson


TIGgers can reshape politics – but not as a collective of lone wolves

Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

They have declared war on the current party system, and must win or die

Extinction is the usual fate of most political splits. Whether by political defeat or by a subsequent merger into a pre-existing party, any MP resigning from his or her party and not defecting directly to another one usually finds their subsequent career to be one of struggle, isolation and defeat.

Is there any reason to think that this week’s extraordinary events could lead to any different outcome? In truth, the likelihood is the Independent Group will suffer a similar fate to those who have gone before – but there is an unusual opportunity for them, if they can play it right.

To grasp that opportunity though, first they must understand the game they’re playing. The evidence so far suggests that they don’t but that their opponents do. Talk of ‘a different kind of politics’ is all very well but there’s a reason that parties exist as they do, and that’s because they’re effective. Our political system is built round them, from media exposure at elections to Short money to parliamentary processes to the nature of campaigns. A group of independents has no future without a party structure to support them, not least because they can have no hope of re-election.

It’s all very well to choose not to organise as a party immediately – and perhaps with Brexit less than five weeks away (perhaps), they have a legitimate argument that they have higher and more urgent tasks to attend to. Apart from a strong opposition to Brexit, their policy agenda being a blank sheet could be an advantage in finding new recruits, though personally I’m not sure about that: if an MP is thinking of jumping ship, they might just as easily be put off by the prospect of disagreeing with as-yet-unknown policies as they might be attracted by the absence of anything to currently dissent from.

But to stake a claim to any permanence, they need a party structure: organisation, membership, local branches, policies and leader – and a party name (the Centre Party would be good, in my opinion). Again, while the defections are in flux, there’s a good argument for delaying the selection of a leader – what if someone better comes along later? – but the question can only be put off for so long. Wait beyond that point and the group loses cohesion and media attention.

And unusually, there is that chance that the splits could work because so many different factors play to their advantage.

Firstly, the government, Jeremy Corbyn and the Lib Dems are all unpopular, and are all finding Brexit extremely difficult, if for different reasons. Corbyn is out of step with his MPs and activists and, to a large extent, his voters; the government is the one tasked with a probably-impossible balancing act but which has succeeded only in antagonising all sides rather than just most of them; and the Lib Dems have made absolutely no traction whatsoever in the media or with the public. There is a space for a new force with a Remain message.

Secondly, both main parties are split on Brexit. The parties have gradually been realigning on EU policy to the point where Labour is broadly Remain and the Tories are broadly Leave – but with the substantial caveats that Labour’s policy is enabling Brexit, while the government’s policy might deliver a substantial dose of Brexit In Name Only, at least for some years (or might deliver a complete car-crash of No Deal, followed by goodness knows what). A full-scale political realignment on Brexit is possible, with the Centre Party advocating Remain for now, and Rejoin for the future, should some form of Brexit occur.

Thirdly, not only is the centre ground wide open, the current occupants are weak and have a possibly terminally-tarnished brand. If enough MPs defect to the Centre – say, three dozen or more – there would be a strong argument for them to merge into the Centre, bring their activists, organisation and data with them. The fact that Leslie, Umunna, Soubry and Wollaston chose not to defect to the Lib Dems says a great deal about the Lib Dems’ continued toxicity outside those areas where the Party has a strong local base.

And fourthly, opinion polls suggest that the public has a strong appetite for a new party. Granted, these things often sound better in the abstract than the reality, but when Opinium find – as they did yesterday – that 35% of Tory voters “would be likely to vote for a new centre-ground party”, that 36% of Labour ones would, that some 72% of Lib Dems would, and that no less than 40% of UKIP voters would, then you have a big pond in which to fish. Even if only half of those people actually did switch, a Centre Party could be looking at around 17% (allied to a further 6% for the Lib Dems) but there’s clearly the potential to score well beyond that.

With more people identifying with their Brexit preference than with a political party and with all three established parties split and/or weak, the scope for a major realignment is real. TIG could be the vehicle for that.

As such, TIG is an existential threat to Labour, which is – beyond the sense of betrayal – no doubt why the defectors have been subject to such vituperative attacks and why a key line of attack from the left has been to paint the project as a mission of and for the rich and powerful (an attack which would be echoed by the likes of UKIP, were it able to get its act together).

These sort of attacks will continue because, in Game of Thrones style, the two are challenging for much the same space and much the same voters and in such circumstances, you win or you die.

However, unless TIG consolidate themselves into a party and build the sort of electoral coalition and political machine necessary to maintain their voice and presence beyond Brexit Day, that opportunity will be missed – and missed forever. TIG would not only have failed to break the (still-brittle) mould but would have failed to even try.

David Herdson


Labour needs a better response than the TIGers should resign and fight by-elections

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

One of the problems for Labour in pursuing its TIGers should quit seats and fight by-elections argument is that there’s a whole host of examples of switchers to them from the Tories and others where the MP involved has not done this and there were no calls from Labour that they should.

There is a case, the Preston by-election but you have to go back 90 years to 1929.

The idea that there is some sort of convention about this is without foundation as the Seth Thévoz Tweet above shows.

This week’ split and the threat of more, possibly, to come, has been a massive challenge to Corbyn and his close team. He’s not been helped by the responses of his elected deputy, Tom Watson, who has a realisation of the damage this is doing to the party.

Whether switching MPs should resign their seats is another matter. Looking back at where this has been done the objective to keep the media focus on the issues involved as with Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless in 2014.

As a lover of by-election then the more reasons to have them the better.

Mike Smithson


William Hill make it odds-on that none of the original LAB and CON TIGers will hold their seats

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

The basic bet is whether any of the founding 11 TIGers are going to be returned as MPs at the next general election.

The names listed are Heidi Allen, Luciana Berger, Ann Coffey, Mike Gapes, Chris Leslie, Joan Ryan, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Anna Soubry, Chuka Umunna and Sarah Wollaston.

I’d reckon that Chuka Umunna and Sarah Wollaston would be in with a fighting chance with, I’d guess. high name recognition in their constituencies. I think Heidi Allen in Cambridgeshire South might be in with a good chance given that her main opponents when she was a CON candidate was the LibDem.

Anna Soubry has a high profile and you cannot write her off.

My reading of the bet is that they could stand in seats other than their current constituency though I’d guess they’d fare better on home turf.

The experience of the switchers to the SDP at GE1983 was that most struggled to hold on but some did. That’s possibly a good guide.

I’ve had a small bet that at least one will be returned.

Mike Smithson


Newport West – the first electoral test for the TIGers?

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019


One thing that we learnt from the launch of the SDP in 1981 is that a new party has to achieve and demonstrate electoral success quickly. Although the Independent group has made great efforts not to be a political party it will achieve success faster if it can show in real elections that both LAB and CON voters and others are more inclined to it than the parties led by Mr Corbyn and Mrs, May.

Back in 1981 I remember the great sense of excitement when the new party fought for its first by-election at Warrington. The candidate was Roy Jenkins a previous LAB home secretary who had served as a European commissioner. The SDP Lost only after achieving a considerable swing against the incumbent Labour Party.

Roy Jenkins himself returned to Parliament some months later at the Glasgow Hillhead by election.

Coincidentally what is now only the second GB by election to be held this Parliament is due in the coming months at Newport West following the death of 84 of the incumbent Labour MP Paul Flynn. My guess is that Labour will seek to schedule it on the day of the local elections in early May.

A good performance there could be critical in determining the electoral potency of TIG.

A big question might be whether the Liberal Democrats will be ready to stand aside in the interests of helping the new grouping. Back in the 80s the old Liberal party and the SDP used to do that at by-elections to let the other a clear run.

These are the results from the last two general elections in Newport West.

Back at GE2010 the LDs had 17% which might be a good pointer.

Mike Smithson


Now CON MPs defect to the TIGers

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

That’s four times as many who switched to the SDP

As expected The Independent Group is dominating the headlines with an announcement a few minutes ago that three women Tory MPs have decided to switch. None of them is really a surprise.

So that gives the new grouping ten MPs exactly the same as the DUP.

Back in the early eighties when the SDP was first formed just one CON MP decided to make the move – so the TIGers are ahead on this count.

Mike Smithson