Archive for the 'London and local elections' Category


Nearly two years before election day the Tory party is going to select their London Mayoral candidate this summer

Monday, June 4th, 2018

Conservative Home reported earlier on this week that

The Conservative candidate for mayor of London will be chosen this summer, during a three-month campaign culminating in a selection in time for the Party’s annual conference.

The newly-agreed timetable provides for nominations in June, hustings and other campaigning during July and August, followed by a vote in September.

I do think Sadiq Khan is vulnerable, particularly on crime, he might blame Tory austerity but the counter argument might be that the perception is crime didn’t surge under Boris Johnson, particularly knife crime that a heavyweight Tory could exploit but I don’t think a heavyweight Tory will stand.

The things in Sadiq Khan’s favour will be is that London is seriously pro Labour, last month in the locals Labour recorded their best result since 1971 and there’s still the fallout from the Brexit referendum which I expect will be sub-optimal for the Tories.

The next Mayoral election should take place  whilst the UK is still in the transition phase so I’d expect Brexit to still be a factor in this election.

Assuming we don’t fall out of the EU with no deal then the post transition deal will still be being negotiated and that could lead to politics being even more polarised.

I’m also not sure of the wisdom of the Tory party selecting their candidate so far in advance. Labour tried the same approach for the 2012 Mayoral election when they selected the UK’s leading Hitler expert in the autumn of 2010 but an early selection didn’t ensure Ken Livingstone’s victory in May 2012.

A 40% return in less than two years seems like the best option, I expect the only way this doesn’t pay out if Sadiq Khan doesn’t stand, he might have loftier ambitions, especially if the Tories maintain (or extend) their polling lead which leads to Corbyn becoming vulnerable.



The London election polling test finds that LAB was overstated by 4 points in the final polls

Friday, May 18th, 2018

What does this say about current national polling?

It is not often we get a real election against which we can compare final polls and this month’s London elections provided one such opportunity.

The LAB/CON/LD shares in the final polls from YouGov and Survation are shown in the chart and compared with the overall result.

As can be seen both pollsters had LAB at 51% which compared the 47% that actually happened. Survation got the Tories spot on while YouGov understated the party by 2 points.

Both pollsters understated the LDs – YouGov by 2 points and Survation by a point.

London Borough councillors are elected by block voting. This means that voters could cast as many votes as there were seats in their wards. In most cases this meant three. The vote totals in the chart totals reflect the total number of votes cast for that party in London on May 3rd.

It will be recalled that Survation did best at GE2017 last June.

Mike Smithson


Heidi Alexander: Could she be the LAB mayoral nominee in 2020 so Sadiq can return to the Commons to challenge Corbyn?

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

There’s a fair bit of speculation doing the rounds about why ex-Lewisham E MP and former shadow health secretary, Heidi Alexander has quit her seat for a job with Sadiq Khan at City Hall.

One theory that has been put to me is that she is being lined up as Labour’s candidate for the next London Mayoral election in 2020. This would free up Sadiq and allow him to seek a return to the Commons. Alexander has never been a Corbyn fan while Khan has had many differences with his leader.

In London Khan has retained positive leader ratings for two years and is rated by London voters far more favourably than Corbyn is nationally.

On the face of it this sounds plausible which does not mean that it is right. The question for punters is could there be a betting opportunity at longish odds?

Two markets standout – the 2020 London Mayoral election and Corbyn’s successor. In the former I have not seen Alexander listed as an option from any bookie though that could change. Another bet could be to lay (bet that he won’t do it) Sadiq Khan on the Betfair exchange. He’s currently rated as the 67% favourite.

For next LAB leader you can get 25 to 30/1 on Betfair.

Mike Smithson


The last LE2018 post: How the main academic election predictions did

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

A key part of election analysis each year are the two academic seat projections which seek to project party Council gains and losses. These play a big part in setting the media narrative over party expectations.

Professions Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher have been doing this for years and their projections are based on what has been happening in the local council by-elections in the run up to polling day.

The other is from Oxford Professor Stephen Fisher who is a key member of the general election exit poll team. He runs the Elections etc site and this was his post
when he made his predictions last week. It should be noted that he allowed wide ranges of possibility in his calculations. He had the LDs, for instance, at -335 seats to +169.

“…my forecasting models this year are based on changes in the gaps between polls shares. For the Conservatives, who have traditionally faced many contests with the Liberal Democrats, their leads over both Labour and the Liberal Democrats matter. For Labour, the model is primarily based on the Labour lead over the Conservatives. Meanwhile, for the Liberal Democrats, their changing opinion poll performance relative to the Conservatives, but not Labour, has historically been correlated with headline local election seat changes.”

What made it more difficult this year was that a large number of wards were electing up to 3 councilors rather than the standard practice in many parts of 1/3 of the councillors being up at a time.

All three of the councils that the Lib Dems gained had all the councillors up for election which actually makes life so much easier for campaigners. Just about the same campaigning effort is required in winning a single seat as a multi member election.

The LD Council gains of S Cambs, Richmond and Kingston all had all seats up last Thursday and are in areas where there’s LD organisational strength both in the area and nearby.

The Tory activist and long standing PBer, Sean Fear in his observations of Wandsworth where he was working has spoken of the apparent lack of campaigning experience of the many LAB volunteers.

People who are well managed and know what they are doing can make a huge difference in the run up and on polling days particularly in local elections where turnout levels are low.

Mike Smithson


The battle for Wandsworth from a LAB perspective

Monday, May 7th, 2018

Theresa May had a bit of a cheek turning up in Wandsworth and claiming a victory where the Tories came within a whisker of losing their jewel in the crown council

Another hundred votes in the right places would have put Labour in power after forty years in opposition. A close examination of the results  show that n St Mary’s Park the bottom Tory was a mere 3 votes clear of Labour’s top candidate and the second just 16 head of Labour’s next best. In Earslfield a Labour candidate was pipped by 10 votes. In Shaftesbury Labour came within 35 votes of splitting the ward and Nightingale the Tory margin of safety was 62. The Tory majority on the 60 strong council has been cut from 34 in 2010 to just seven today.

The Tories deserved to lose. Their claim to run a tight ship is in tatters. The £9 billion Battersea Power scheme is a symbol of how they are a soft touch for developers – at the expense of local people crying out for a decent home. Wandsworth has a homelessness crisis but the scheme has just 9% affordable housing. The homeless are paying the price for decades of Tory failure. They sold thousands of affordable homes but built only a few hundred in their place.

Another symbolic failure was the Ofsted report  which judged children services as inadequate’. It was judged to be putting vulnerable children at risk. Setting this right has already cost Wandsworth council an extra £14 million.

Theresa May was right, of course, to claim that Labour had thrown everything at seizing this Tory crown jewel. While taking numbers outside my local polling station I was hugged by my old mate Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of london and by a new mate Laura Parker, the national director of Momentum who had brought with her a contingent of activists who were deployed to the wards which produced such close results. It’s true that some Momentum members are horribly ideological and divisive but the majority are as hard working and committed as long standing party members.

Another voter who turned up at my polling station was the Observer’s Andrew Rawnsley who lives at the bottom of our road.

His verdict that “against such a shambolic government, Labour should be doing better than this” reflects a widespread view inside and outside the party. Nonetheless I think he is wrong to argue that the current “stalemate is a result that a government at midterm can live with… A draw is not good enough for the main opposition party.”

That view isn’t supported by the latest prediction from Martin Baxter of Electoral Calculus which has the Tories, with a lead over Labour of just over one per cent in polling averages falling 18 short of a Commons majority.

That is certain death for Theresa May or whoever replaces her. The deal that bought 9 DUP votes would be redundant.

Baxter’s prediction is that there would be 38 SNP, 15 Lib Dems and 3 Plaid. They have two things in common. They would all find any kind of deal with the Tories electoral suicide and they are all anti Brexit.

That raises the intriguing question of whether Jeremy Corbyn has the leadership skills to run a minority government in those circumstances or whether another Labour needs a new leader better suited for the task.

I ran my colours to the mast here a few months ago.

I hope that one day Jeremy will do the decent thing for the party he loves and make way for a woman.

Don Brind


Has Labour lost its momentum?

Saturday, May 5th, 2018

Are we past Peak Corbyn or was LE2018 just a bump in the road?

You can tell a lot about how well a party has done by where a leader goes to celebrate their election victories. Theresa May (no doubt unwittingly) re-emphasised her caution-first nature by travelling all the way to Wandsworth: a council the Tories have held since 1978. She could have gone to Nuneaton, where the Tories stripped Labour of a sizable majority (unlike Wandsworth, where it was the Tories losing seats), or to Redditch, Barnet or Basildon – but she didn’t.

Vince Cable, meanwhile, visited the wealthy Remain bastion of Richmond-upon-Thames, where the Lib Dems stormed to a tremendous win; one which by itself accounted for around one-third of their entire national net gains.

But the party HQ which must have had most re-planning to do was surely Labour’s. After ramping up their chances of taking Wandsworth and Westminster, they failed to take either. He could have headed for the former Tory northern jewel of Trafford but instead he headed off to Plymouth. That wasn’t an unreasonable choice – it was Labour’s only direct gain from Con this week – but that fact alone indicates Labour’s failure to move forward significantly.

And moving forward is what oppositions should be doing if they hope to win power at the next GE. Granted, Labour came very close to winning power last year but not only did they not do so but in relative terms, they went backwards on Thursday.

If you match their score against 2014, when these seats were last fought, then the 35-35 level pegging in this year’s national equivalent vote was two points worse than the Lab 31 Con 29 shares last time round (Labour is rather fortunate that a heavily disproportionate number of seats contested this time were in London, where it’s doing better than average, meaning that despite going backwards in the NEV, it ended up with more gains than the Tories). Labour was also two points ahead (37-35) in 2011 and one point ahead in 2016 (31-30), both one year into the new parliament.

Fervent Corbyn supporters will claim (and are claiming) that these historic parallels count for little, in the light of the extraordinary gains made by Labour during the last general election campaign. There’s an obvious truth that no measure of current opinion can accurately predict future elections – because minds do change between the poll and the actual vote and, in the case of local elections, because people are frequently voting on a different basis compared with a general election. Even so, the last two oppositions that went on to win a general election were to be doing much better one year into the parliament. Cameron led the Tories to a 13-point win in 2006, while in 1993, John Smith’s Labour was eight points up.

All of which begs the question: has Corbyn’s bubble burst? Is Labour incapable of turning those hundreds of thousands of members into new, additional votes, despite what ought to be opportune circumstances for an opposition?

As yet, the evidence is inconclusive. We do know that they made a difference when it really mattered last time – but is that a new rule or an aberration? What we do know is that the next election will be fought under different circumstances, with different levels of media coverage, different expectations and probably with a different prime minister and Tory campaign team. That should be enough uncertainty to place substantial question marks on both sides of the equation – but more so on Labour’s

David Herdson


With just about all the LE2018 results now in the clear winners were the LDs gaining most seats and councils

Friday, May 4th, 2018

BBC News

One of the things that generally happens on local election nights is that the media narrative is determined by what happens in the first few hours of results. So the big coverage was of Lab’s failure to take its key targets in London and of course the antisemitism element of the result from Barnet.

But now that we’ve got just about all the results in we seen clearly that the big winners were the Lib Dems who have clawed a fair bit back from the abyss that they entered following the decision to go into coalition with the Conservatives in 2010. This is their best set of local elections since then. It also fits into the big trend that we have seen in council by-elections.

Unfortunately for them in terms of the media coverage most of the big action has happened during the daytime rather than last night when the major success was restricted to just one Richmond upon Thames. Today has seen them take the London Borough of Kingston with some huge gains, Three rivers in Hertfordshire as well as South Cambs.

Clearly all these were strong remain areas and were not places where in recent times where LAB has had much presence.

What the yellow team desperately need are some parliamentary by elections which have been somewhat scarce. It is now expected that we could see two being called pretty quickly – Lewisham East and Barnsley Central. Both have wapping LAB majorities but Cable’s team ought to be making them a key target now. They have the skilled activists and the expertise and they should go for it while the two main parties are both going problems periods.

Mike Smithson


So far tonight LAB doing worse than expectations while the Lib Dems and the Tories doing better

Friday, May 4th, 2018

But there’s still a long way to go

I’m off to bed!

Mike Smithson