Archive for the 'Local Elections' Category


This year’s local elections, including Sadiq Khan’s defence of London mayoralty, put back for a year

Friday, March 13th, 2020

City Hall London

In a move that was probably inevitable Number 10 has announced this afternoon that the English local elections won’t be taking place in May and have been put back till next year.

The last time that elections had to be deferred was in 2001 when there was the Foot and Mouth outbreak. Then the deferral was for a month and included the 2001 general election that saw Tony Blair’s win with a second landslide and a turnout of less than 60% turnout.

The elections for seven English regional mayors and for English police and crime commissioner are also part of those being deferred.

The only one of these which had a significant betting market was the London race which has attracted much less coverage than normal because Khan looks a certainty.

Mike Smithson


The Ladbrokes 7/2 that the LDs will come top in London looks a good value bet

Friday, May 17th, 2019

Today’s YouGov/Times Euros poll with a 7k+ sample has LAB on 15% nationally below the LDs who are now second in the race. The Tories on 9% are fifth behind the Greens.

All this should help the LDs underpin their claim to be the strongest anti-Brexit party in the three-way battle in England between them and CHUK and the Greens. In Scotland the strongest anti-Brexit party is the SNP and in Wales PC.

Looking at the betting the Ladbrokes London market is, as far as I can see, the first for a region and the latest odds are above. Hopefully there will be other regional markets put up.

This one is on votes and the standout bet for me the 7/2 that the LDs will be top in the capital. The YouGov poll has a large sample which means that the regional subsets are more meaningful. In London BXP are on 25%, the LDs 21% and LAB on 20%.

In 2014 UKIP got 16.87% of the London votes and it is hard to see BXP+UKIP getting that much more.

The LD 7/2 looks good value.

Mike Smithson


Out of excuses. Jeremy Corbyn, serial loser

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

The Conservatives got hammered in last week’s local elections, that much is unarguable. Worse from their viewpoint, contrary to the assertions of some there was little evidence of a voter strike or of angry Leavers spoiling their ballot papers, but instead on a normal local election turnout the Conservatives were turned out. It was a pummelling.

What is particularly interesting is who took those seats. All the profits were taken by minor parties: the Lib Dems, independents and Greens. The Lib Dems have been flat on the canvass since their years of coalition with the Conservatives and the Greens have been suffering in the shadow of a Labour leadership that has adopted similar policies, yet in the week that Norwich City won the championship, another set of yellow and greens were also flying high.  

With the greatest respect to both political parties, unlike Norwich City neither seems to have been doing much to capture the zeitgeist. Perhaps the Lib Dems benefited from the focus on Brexit. Perhaps the Greens benefited from the extinction rebellion. Or perhaps both benefited from voters not wanting to vote Labour.

For Labour’s performance was dismal in the context of a deeply unpopular government being hammered in an election. Labour lost 84 councillors net and control of 6 councils net. If the Conservatives were losing over 1,300 seats, surely a Labour party on course for power should be picking up their fair share, arguably the lion’s share?

The Labour leadership’s flunkeys came up with positives. But this is not a new story.  We have now seen a full cycle of local elections for Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.  

Cumulatively, they have made net losses of 15 councils and 405 councillors. In the same period the Lib Dems made net gains of 15 councils and 783 councillors. In only one year under his leadership (2018) did Labour make a marginal net gain of councillors and in no year did they make a net gain of councils.

Any fair assessment would conclude that Jeremy Corbyn is doing worse in local elections than Ed Miliband.

This is not just true of local elections. In the Holyrood elections of 2016, Labour fell to third behind the Conservatives. In the Welsh elections in the same year, Labour also fell back. In election after election, Labour under Jeremy Corbyn has gone backwards. In opposition, Labour should be expecting to make steady progress. There comes a point at which the only reasonable conclusion is that the common link is the common problem.

When you examine all the waffle and distraction tactics put forward by his apologists, the common underlying theme of almost all of them is a simple one, that somehow the only elections that matter are general elections (and somehow despite the near-constant retrograde movement of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn that these results show that Labour is poised to do well in the next one). But this is not true. Local elections do matter.

The way in which local councils administer their local area makes a huge practical difference to the daily concerns of the public. The Scottish Parliament elections and the Welsh Assembly elections matter even more. Why do Labour not care about them? Why, despite the collapse of their main opponents, do they have no compelling message for the public in relation to them?

And surely it is time for those loyal to the Labour leadership to start asking themselves why Labour are not doing better against a hopeless government. Might it not be that Tony Robinson has a point after all: its leadership are complete shit?

Alastair Meeks


2019 opens with a bang and some leavers are getting aerated about the fireworks

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

There’s going to be a lot more of this before March 29th

Mike Smithson


Local By-Election Review : November 2018

Sunday, December 2nd, 2018

The nights may be starting to draw in and people’s minds are starting to turn to the thoughts of Christmas presents, but for the electors in the 22 council wards where there were local by-elections in November, the main discussion point was who to vote for in those local by-elections.


And for the first time since July, the UKIP decline seemed to benefit everyone with Con, Lab and Lib Dem all advancing and as a result of that the swing from Con to Lab (which has been around 2% – 3% in recent months) has been reversed to record a small swing to Con


However since the general election, there has been no real change in the general trend with the Conservatives barely moving and both Labour and the Liberal Democrats benefitting from the UKIP collapse.


And part of the reason for this surge in the Lib Dems is thanks to the fact that they, by far and away, have seen the greatest increase in the number of candidates standing suggesting that the collapse in both morale and support that they suffered post the 2010 general election (as demonstrated in the 2015 general election) may be starting to recover.

And as a result, the Liberal Democrats have a forecast result that would put many a smile back on the faces of several people I know who have wondered if the Liberal Democrats would ever reach their long term average of the low 20’s, but that should be tempered by the fact that even in the best polls for the Lib Dems, they seem unable except on rare occasions to break into double figures.

Harry Hayfield


Some pretty grim polling in London for the Tories, Labour, and Sadiq Khan

Monday, September 10th, 2018

Brexit, anti-Semitism, and crime all seem to be having an impact

I think the collapse in the Tory and Lab vote shares is down to a mixture of Brexit not appealing to London and the anti-Semitism issues swirling around Labour.

For me the most interesting aspect has been the collapse in Sadiq Khan’s ratings, albeit he just maintains a net positive rating. The Standard report

Sadiq Khan’s ratings have plunged to their lowest yet after a long summer of violent crime.

The Mayor has fallen behind among key target groups including the over-Fifties, working-class voters, white people and the outer London “doughnut”.

Overall, Mr Khan’s ratings have slipped from +22 in May this year down to +4 today, according to the YouGov study commissioned by Queen Mary University of London.

It revealed that both Labour and the Conservatives have slumped in popularity in London over the summer, with the Tories falling to a dismal vote share of barely one voter in four. And former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who has hinted at running in the 2020 mayoral contest, is overwhelmingly rejected by Londoners.

Professor Philip Cowley, of Queen Mary’s Mile End Institute, said: “Sadiq Khan has suffered a noticeable hit in his ratings, down from being the most popular politician in Britain just 18 months ago, to being ahead but not by much.

“The 2020 contest is looking a lot more interesting now than it did even before this summer. Justine Greening and other big Tory beasts might now regret their decision not to have a tilt at him.” Key details of the survey include:

Londoners are divided over Mr Khan’s record. Overall, 44 per cent say he is doing well, while 40 per cent say he is doing badly. That is a major change since May when the figures were 52 per cent well, 30 per cent badly.

It is even more pronounced compared with March 2017 when his ratings were 58 per cent positive and 23 per cent negative.

Several key voter groups have turned against Mr Khan. He remains hugely popular among younger voters but now people in the 50-64 age group give him a negative rating of -5.

While Mr Khan was previously ahead among all ethnic groups, now white Londoners rate him at -5, while among black and minority ethnic Londoners he is ahead by +21.

Mr Khan has slipped among the C2DE social class, where he is seen as doing badly by 46 per cent and well by 39, a net -7. He is backed in the wealthier ABC1 social class, with 48 per cent rating him as doing well and 35 badly.

Voters in the big outer London ring now say Mr Khan is doing badly by 44 to 39 per cent, while inner Londoners say he is doing well by 49-35.

So whoever is the Tory candidate there’s potential for them to do well, although after the year Khan’s had that he still has positive ratings might indicate a certain Teflon like qualities that Khan possesses.

I suspect demographics, Brexit, and the fact the next Mayoral election will take place after a decade of Tory or Tory led governments, which will make it sub-optimal for any Tory candidate.

But Sadiq Khan winning in 2020 isn’t the slam dunk many think it is, especially if the crime rates deteriorate further.



A little local difficulty. A forgotten part of English democracy

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

I’m a dutiful son and I visit my parents regularly. They live in Hadleigh, a quiet market town in south Suffolk. Hadleigh has never quite made it onto the tourist trail. This is a little odd because Kersey, a couple of miles away, is a staple of Christmas cards and meerkat adverts and Lavenham, a few miles further away, is besieged with visitors.

Hadleigh has a magnificent guildhall and deanery tower and charming medieval buildings in abundance, many of which are slathered in pargeting, but it has somehow missed the attention. So it is largely left in prosperous quiet.

I was paying my filial dues at the weekend. Mum knows I have a bit of an interest in politics (the gambling is not discussed; non-conformists don’t approve). So she shows me a couple of election fliers she’d received. What did I make of them? I took a look.

It turns out that all is not well in Hadleigh. The town council has been riven with factional in-fighting. This has percolated into the pages of the Suffolk Free Press and the East Anglian Daily Times. Now a group of well-organised dissidents, under the banner “Hadleigh Together”, have forced a referendum of confidence in the town council, alleging mismanagement and that it is dysfunctional. The town goes to the polls on Thursday. Both sides had issued leaflets putting their case. The dissidents’ case can be found here and here.

I can honestly say that I had never heard of such a thing. So I did some digging. And I found out that I know rather less about the English political system than I thought. For parish residents have long had the right to call for parish polls on whatever topic they choose, provided that a third of electors present at a parish meeting are in favour (and not fewer than 10). At this point the local district council must hold a poll. The result is advisory only.  The Hadleigh Together group have called for just such a parish poll.

This mechanism has been used hundreds of times over the years (no one seems to know how often, no one seems to have been interested enough to keep track). The subject matter has been many and varied: at least one parish conducted a parish poll on whether to hold a referendum on EU membership – it passed convincingly, as it happens.

All this time commentators have been telling us that referendums weren’t a longstanding part of British politics and it turns out they were wrong. Voters up and down the country have been passing judgements on car parking arrangements, low level radioactive waste and whether to allow a Tesco’s for many years. No doubt you all knew this. I didn’t.

It’s easy to be condescending about this and allude to Passport To Pimlico insular localism. Easy, and wrong.  The decisions of town councils have direct impact on the residents and giving the residents a direct say is a safety valve.  If, as in Hadleigh, there are electors unhappy about the plans for the cemetery, it is healthy for them to be able to take direct action about that.

All politics is local.  It would be amusing if what finally definitively killed Boris Johnson’s chances of leadership was his pusillanimous response to the Heathrow third runway vote, given his vaulting ambition, but no MP can afford to neglect the interests of the area that he or she represents.

The government consulted on whether to tighten up the rules on parish polls at the fag-end of the 2010-15 coalition government, but so far as I can see nothing came of it.  Instead of treating this voter power as an irksome anomaly, perhaps the government should extend its use to borough and district councils.  If voters felt more empowered, perhaps they would be more engaged with the political process more generally.  This is, after all, something that politicians of all stripes claim to want.  If, like parish polls, such council referendums were advisory only, the risk of batty decisions being mandated on low turnouts would be much reduced.

One way or another on Thursday, Hadleigh’s local politics are going to be given a jolt.  All sides seem to agree that the logjam on the town council needs to be broken in one way or another.  The parish poll looks to have been an efficient way of seeking to do just that.  Isn’t this something that British politics at rather more elevated levels than town councils might benefit from right now?

Alastair Meeks


General Election 2017 : One year on

Friday, June 8th, 2018

At 10.00pm this evening, a year ago, the Prime Minister’s gamble backfired. Whether this was due to the polls being misleading from the start (indicating a Con lead of 25% at the start of the campaign), the so called “youthquake” (identified by the Britsh Election Study) or reasons best summed up by Brenda from Bristol of “Oh, no, not another one!” we simply cannot tell, but we do know this. The Conservative overall majority was lost and if it had not been for saving grace of twelve Conservatives gains in Scotland (all from the SNP), the Prime Minister would not have been able to govern with the DUP and the whole history of the UK from that moment could have changed.

But what has happened in that year since? Well, completely unnoticed by everyone (save us who have a vested interest) 397,562 real votes have been placed into no fewer than several hundred real ballot boxes across the United Kingdom electing no less than 255 real councillors, and in those 255 by-elections the people of the United Kingdom have told us this: “Thank you, UKIP, and good night”

Yes, if proof was ever needed that the age of UKIP is over, then here it is. UKIP in the year since the general election, have seen their vote share fall by 10.48% compared to last time.In fact it is even worse than that for them. Last time, in these 255 by-elections, UKIP had a candidate in 88 of them (35%), now they only had a candidate in 69 of them (27%).

It is now that I am expecting those surviving UKIP supporters to declare “Now come on, all parties have problems fielding candidates in the year after a general!” to which I would reply “Then please explain why there are 90 more Conservatives, 89 more Labour, 110 more Liberal Democrats, 50 more Greens, 21 more Independents and even 9 more Local Independents standing than last time” and add that compared to last time UKIP are the only major party who are fielding fewer candidates than last time.

And what of the main parties? Well, it’s clear that the Labour and the Liberal Democrats are picking up the UKIP spoils, to which of course Labour supporters in Mansfield will be screaming “But we lost Mansfield to the Conservatives!” and Conservative supporters will be screaming “But we lost Oxford West to the Lib Dems!” so let’s look at those changes through the prism of the referendum.

In those councils that voted REMAIN Con +2%, Lab +5%, Lib Dem +6%, UKIP -6%, in those councils that voted LEAVE Con +3%, Lab +6%, Lib Dem +7%, UKIP -11% and yet these changes have a very marked difference in seat changes

Well, there’s your answer. I cannot say what answer it is but that’s the answer the UK is giving a year since that general election.

Harry Hayfield