Archive for the 'Jo Swinson' Category


So, how will the LibDems do?

Monday, November 4th, 2019

A forecast from Robert

Let me start by saying this is not an election I have much confidence in predicting. But because that makes for an uninteresting article, I will make some forecasts.

Currently the LDs are polling about 16-17%, which is about five points down on the peak they achieved after the European elections earlier this year. I think there’s around a 40% chance that they end up in the 14-19% range at the coming elections. I reckon there’s a 25% chance they’re in the 10-13% band, and a 25% chance they’re between 19% and 23%. With a 10% possibility they either end up below the 10% or above the 23%.

This post is about the central prediction, the 14-19% one.

Let me add some other (maybe wrong, maybe right) assumptions.

Firstly, UNS still matters.

Secondly, the LDs will do better in Remainia.

Thirdly, local strength is important. The LDs need to have done well in local elections, and ideally have a base of activists to deliver leaflets and knock on doors.

Fourthly, there are more Labour to LibDem switchers than Conservative to LibDem ones. This means that the LDs will do better in seats where there is a Labour vote to squeeze.

In this scenario I think the LDs will win… all of their existing twelve seats. Norfolk North will be close, I’m sure, but I think they’ll hold it. I also think the SNP will fail to unseat Jo Swinson, or any other LibDem.

They will also make the following gains:

Richmond Park. The walk it on UNS. It’s extremely Pro-Remain. They performed very well there in the 2018 locals. The Labour vote is not yet as squeezed as it was in the late 90s. On my central prediction, I think it’s a 90+% chance of a gain.

Ceridigion. PC is a bit of a mess. There are a lot of Remainiac students. I’m not as confident as with RP, but I think they take it. 70% chance.

St Ives. The LDs ran the Conservatives close there in 2017, but it is in the fairly Brexity South West (albeit not a particularly Brexity part of the region). UNS suggests an easy take. I think it’ll be harder, but they’ll make it. 70% chance.

St Albans. UNS says yes. Remainia says yes. Local election results say yes. Big Labour vote to squeeze. I think they’ll get a majority of 5-6,000 here.

Fife NE. The SNP is doing well in Scotland. But it’s full of (not Scottish) students and the SNP is only going to get 33-36% of the vote here. I reckon the LDs squeeze Labour and take it by a few thousand votes.

Sheffield Hallam. I think the locals may have had their fill of Labour MPs for the moment. By no means a certain gain for the LDs, but (a) it’s a 65% Remain seat, and (b) the LDs have done well in local elections.

Hornsey & Wood Green. This is theoretically a bit of a stretch for the LDs. But it’s another very Remain seat where the LDs have performed well in local elections.

Leeds North West. UNS? Check. Remainia? Check. Local election results? Check. Labour to LibDem switchers? Check. My only reservation here is that Greg Mulholland is not restanding. Still, I think they take it back.

South Cambridgeshire. OK. So this is a bit of a gutsy one, because it fails on UNS (by a fair margin). But I think this is a seat that has dramatically changed in the last decade. It’s become a home for Cambridge tech company employees, and it’s got two Cambridge colleges in it. It’s also Remainiac and the LDs marmalised the Conservatives there in the 2018 (i.e pre their surge) local elections. I think the LDs take it from third with a high 30s vote share.

There are other possible gains – Cheadle, Hazel Grove, Wells, Winchester, Lewes – but I think the LDs will fall short on most of these. (And any gains there might be offset by not winning some of those predicted above.) Despite UNS, I think they’ll really struggle in the South West, because (a) the seats are quite Brexity (and Bollocks to Brexit doesn’t work as a slogan there), and (b) in most seats, there’s not that much of a Labour vote to squeeze.

I also don’t think they’ll do quite as well in inner London as they expect. Neither Chuka nor Luciana are likely to be MPs post-election.

Still, the LDs will manage to increase their MP count by about 70%. And they’ll also notch up an increasing number of second places. Their post coalition recovery will continue, albeit not at the pace they might have liked.

Robert Smithson


YouGov boost for Swinson in the TV debates row

Monday, November 4th, 2019

By two to one those polled think she should attend

Further to this morning’s thread on the exclusion of LD leader Jo Swinson from the ITV General Election debate there’s now a YouGov poll carried out today that points to her desire to be there getting support from the public.

Clearly LD voters are most supportive of her presence as the chart shows but there’s strong backing from LAB voters as well and CON ones back her by a small margin.

Interestingly there’s something of a gender divide. Just 20% of women polled backed her exclusion compared with 33% of men.

From her perspective as a new leader seeking to establish herself then the row has been quite helpful getting her media coverage before the broadcasting neutrality rules kick in.

As I observed earlier I think that if she was invited Johnson would pull out.

Mike Smithson


With 23 days to go punters make it a 21% chance that the UK will leave the EU this month

Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

And another ex-CON MP joins the LDs

This is all getting very tight. A new working day starts and there are just 23 to go before the article 50 deadline comes into being with the UK either leaving the EU or a further extension is agreed to.

The above chart shows that the betting money on Betfair going on the UK not actually leaving on the due date. This is the busiest current UK political betting market and I expect to see a lot more activity in the days ahead.

An extension, of course, is something that the UK cannot insist on unilaterally. This will have to be agreed by the EU27 at their big meeting next week.

On the domestic front the fiercely anti-brexit Lib Dems see another prominent former Tory MP join their ranks. Heidi Allen, who sits for South Cambridgeshire, has been a key player in orchestrating the “Unite to Remain” effort and I assume some sort of deal has been done between her and Jo Swinson about whether she can stand in the seat at the coming general election.

This means that the Lib Dems are up to 19 MPs compared with the 11 they were on when Jo Swinson became leader only two-and-a-half months ago. I wonder whether she might be joined in the coming days by some of the other ex-CON MPds who were booted out of the parliamentary party on the orders of Cummings/Johnson.

I’m asking the bookies to put up a market on what the size of the parliamentary LD party will be on Halloween.

Mike Smithson


Ipsos-MORI has the LDs at a post-GE2010 high with a big increase in awareness of Joe Swinson if not her net satisfaction figures

Thursday, September 19th, 2019

At the Euro elections in May two pollsters stood out for the accuracy of the final polls – YouGov and Ipsos MORI. These were the only ones to have all the parties in the right order and were also pretty close with most of the final shares. They compared very well to the final results of all the other pollsters which did pretty badly.

As can be seen in Keiran’s Tweet the Lib Dems see an increase of 3% putting them on the the highest level, as David Herdson has Tweeted, since the final poll before GE2010.

Although Swinson’s net satisfaction is down the big change is in those having an opinion about her. A former regular PBer who used to follow leader ratings closely, Rod S, always maintained that the negative numbers were irrelevant – what mattered was the percentage giving positive rating

Given that we could be within in a couple of months of a general election the pollsters appear to be gearing up. I’ve just completed an Opinium survey that wanted to know my constituency and what I would do given, as the questionnaire said, this would be a battle between LAB and CON.

I’m not sure that this is right. The LDs have the elected Mayor and in the locals in May the Tories failed to win a council seat within the constituency that they held until GE2017.

Mike Smithson



The first full poll after Swinson’s Brexit gamble sees the LDs up 4 ahead of LAB into second place

Thursday, September 19th, 2019

Today’s YouGov: Con 32%= LD 23+4 Lab 21-2 BXP 14=

There is a new YouGov poll in the Times this morning which is the first one to have taken place since the Lib Dems at their conference voted to stop Brexit even without a referendum.

The figures are above and will give a lot of reassurance to the new Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, with what has been widely criticised as a massive gamble in terms of policy. It has however got her really noticed in the media something that the LDs have struggled to get since GE2015.

Before the yellows get too over excited I should post a note of caution about political polling during conference season. Generally there is a tendency for whichever party has been up last in the conference cycle to get a boost and really we don’t know what the full picture will be until mid October.

Having said that the party that will be most concerned about this latest move, particularly if it is supported by other pollsters, will be Labour. Boris Johnson’s Tories have now fully established themselves as the party for Brexit with Jo Swinson party appearing to be overwhelmingly the party that is opposed.  Given that this is the biggest issue of the day it is hard to see where LAB stands and its equivocal position might be hard to defend in a general election campaign.

I think the LDs are benefitting from having total clarity on the overwhelming  big issue of the moment and are also helped by having a new, young (Swinson’s 39) and female leader. This is in sharp contrast to Labour who are stuck with a leader whose been around a longish time, has personal ratings that are amongst the worst ever recorded for an opposition leader and whose ambiguity on Brexit looks set to be hard to defend in an early general election campaign.

How LAB responds to the LD tanks on its lawn will dominate the upcoming Labour conference. I’d argue that the more Swinson gets attacked by LAB the better it is for her.

Mike Smithson



Get ready for a weekend’s intense campaigning for the Westminster by-election that might never happen

Friday, August 16th, 2019

This weekend hundreds of LAB and LD activists will be heading for Sheffield Hallam, home of PB’s TSE, where there might or might not be a Westminster by-election in the next couple of months.

This has been triggered by the statements last month by the man who won it for LAB at GE2017 that he plans to resign as an MP on September 3rd. Jared O’Mara was the person who took this off the ex-LD leader and Deputy PM, Nick Clegg and the LDs, flush from their Brecon success would dearly love to win it back.

Now there are two big question marks over whether this will take place. A general election could be called in early September which would take away the need to elect a replacement MP. Secondly we don’t know how much we can rely on O’Mara’s statement about standing down. This is what he said last month:

 “Let everyone be assured I will be tendering my resignation via the official parliamentary procedure as soon as term restarts.

“I reiterate my apology to my constituents, the people of Sheffield and the people of the UK as whole.”

Mr O’Mara had said he planned to take time out from his official duties to deal with “mental health and personal issues”.

Whatever the party machines of the LAB and the LDs have got to assume that it is happening hence the weekend of campaign activity.

Against the background of the Brexit deadline and the resurgence of the LDs the  attacks by LAB against Jo Swinson might just help their efforts to win over Tory tactical voters.

The LDs are currently 1/14.

Mike Smithson