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In other news Starmer moves to a net 24% lead over Johnson in latest Opinium approval ratings

May 24th, 2020
Opinium May 21 ’20

A third of Tory voters disapprove of Starmer compared with three-quarters of LAB voters disapproving of Johnson

The latest Opinium poll carried out before the Cummings lockdown affair came out overnight and the big change has been in the approval ratings of the PM and LOTO. The charts above show the recent trends.

A big development is that for the first time Starmer has moved ahead of Johnson and he’s done it with a spectacular jump in just seven days. Last week he was just behind the PM. This week he is on a net plus 30% while Johnson is on a net 6%. So a gap of 24 points.

This week, of course, has seen the PM u-turn on NHS fees for overseas NHS workers and another lacklustre PMQs.

What’s really interesting in the figures is that Tory voters are viewing the LAB leader far more positively than you normally expect and Starmer only gets 33% of Tories voters disapproving of him which compares with 76% of LAB voters disapproving of Johnson.

Normally you expect to see high levels of disapproval both ways with CON and LAB backers being highly partisan in their view of the opposing leader.

Mike Smithson




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Why Dominic Cummings Should resign (from a fan)

May 23rd, 2020

A guest slot from Richard Tyndall

First a declaration of my view of Dominic Cummings. 

I am a huge fan both of the man himself, of what he has tried to achieve over many years, and of his successes as a political advisor and brains behind the Leave campaign. So it should be clear that my views on the Durham-gate affair are not based on personal antipathy towards him. In an ideal world I would want nothing more than for him to stay as Chief of Staff at No 10 for the next 4 years. 

Sadly I do not think that is now a tenable position. 

There has been lots of debate over the last 24 hours about the rights and wrongs of Cummings’ actions and what the consequences should be. These have been broadly but not exclusively along the expected fault lines of pro and anti-Brexit, pro and anti-Johnson and Left and Right. What most of the arguments have done is mixed up three distinct lines of debate into a single position of attack or defence. So I think it is worthwhile unravelling those three strands of argument.

Firstly there is the argument of whether or not Cummings was right to do what he did from a personal point of view of doing what was best for his family. This has been the primary line of defence from those seeking to absolve him of wrong doing but it was actually ydoethur – who is no fan of Cummings – who took the measured view on this. If Cummings felt that he was best protecting his family by taking them to Durham so his child could be cared for by relatives then he was completely right to do so. I suspect that almost all of us, if we genuinely believed that our families well-being was being put at risk, would have taken the same decision. He may have been wrong in his assessment but there is no point trying to second guess someone trying to do their best for their family in a time of crisis. So I have nothing but sympathy on this point. 

However I do not consider it to be a valid defence.  

The second line of argument – and the one I think is most important when deciding the rights and wrongs of Cummings’ behaviour – is whether or not what he did was best for the good governance of the country and the safety of the population.  Like it or not, Cummings is at the heart of power, helping to frame decisions that have massive consequences for the whole country including, in these extraordinary times,  literally matters of life and death. His actions cannot help but undermine the message the Government has been trying to hammer home for months now. And in undermining the message, he has undermined the whole Government strategy,  the apparent rule of law and the safety of tens of thousands of people who might now believe that it is reasonable and safe to ignore the Government guidance. This is not a matter of politics but of basic good governance and on that basis Cummings has failed entirely.  

That does not mean Cummings should not have done what he did. One reason why I and many others recognise we could never be in positions of power is because we could never put the good of the country before the good of our own close family. And whilst it might be rare, there are times when one has to make that choice when you are at the heart of government. What Cummings should have done, having chosen family over duty, is to resign. It would have shown he knew that he was wrong to have undermined the Government message and that there are consequences to making these difficult decisions. Instead what he ash tried to do is square the circle and claim that doing something because it was best for his family means he can ignore his duty to the country as a whole.  That is an untenable position. 

Finally, and to my mind least important, is the politics of it all. This of course is what will ultimately decide whether Cummings stays or goes. The Government are hoping this is the proverbial storm in a teacup and by this time next week the whole news cycle will have moved on. The Opposition are hoping it does not but are also not necessarily going to rush and push for Cummings to go. They will be banking on him being far more of a liability to the Government staying in power as damaged goods than being sacked to draw a line under the issue. This makes the whole thing difficult to call in terms of Cummings’ survival. But to my mind at least this is immaterial. The question as to whether he will survive may be difficult to call. The question as to whether he should survive, for me at least, is very, very clear. 

For the good of the country and the future health of countless citizens, he should go now.   

Richard Tyndall  

Richard has been a longstanding PBer

 



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Team Boris should be very worried about the first Cummings polling from YouGov which goes very much against what he did

May 23rd, 2020

The political splits here should be worrying for Number 10. By backing Cummings they are going very much against what voters think .

Thus looking at the party splits a majority of CON voters think he was wrong while Leave voters split 45% to 37% that he should resign.

No doubt we’ll see more polling in the next few hours.

Mike Smithson



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The Cummings Durham trip during the lockdown – the reaction continues

May 23rd, 2020


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Who loves Dom?

May 23rd, 2020

Cummings has burnt too many bridges to survive committing the cardinal British political sin: hypocricy

25 January 2016 is not a date that has gone down in history. Despite that, the events of that day were critical to Britain voting to leave the EU, with all that’s meant since. That morning, Dominic Cummings was summoned to a meeting that was intended to remove him from running the Vote Leave campaign.

The meeting did not turn out as its board intended. Cummings responded by asserting that key senior Vote Leave staff as well as a good deal of the rest of the office, would walk were he sacked; assertions that a few quick phone calls validated. In the face of losing pretty much their whole staff less than five months before the referendum day, they backed down. The rest is well known: the data mining, the social media campaigns, the £350m/week, the signing up of Gove to Leave, and the Boris Johnson – without Cummings at its head, there’s every chance that Leave would have lost (probably not by much but lost all the same).

The crucial point here though is that Cummings needed leverage to see off the coup, in the form of support from his Vote Leave colleagues; support he was confident he would get. It was all very well him being rude to the MPs who were notionally his bosses because ultimately, they didn’t have the power to remove him and once the point had been proven, he could ignore them at will.

This is a lesson he appears to have forgotten. Since ascending the heights of Boris Johnson’s key advisor, he’s retained his legendary rudeness and contempt for norms but without any obvious sign of building up the sort of Praetorian Guard that saved him at Vote Leave. He has a patron, of course – and a very powerful one at that, in the form of the Prime Minister. That, however, may not be enough for at least three reasons.

Firstly, a political patron has to balance the value of retaining their valued adviser against the damage that keeping him does. Johnson’s own political position is strong for now and he won’t be brought down even if he retains Cummings. Doing so, however, would spend valuable political capital with both the public and with MPs; capital the PM might not want to spend.

Secondly, neither the PM nor Cummings seem on top of their game at the moment – perhaps for health reasons. Cummings may well have come up with the “Stay home; protect the NHS; save lives” slogan: it certainly has his feel about it. There would be a deep irony if so. But that apart, the government hasn’t been co-ordinated recently, messages have been mixed, policies have had to be U-turned (the NHS immigrant charges, for example – an obvious bad policy to anyone with any political nous), and the media game is slipping badly. Any Odyssean Project seems still-born. So if he’s not doing much useful, is the pain worth it?

But most of all, Cummings is guilty of that greatest of British sins: hypocrisy. When people are prevented from attending the funerals of loved ones, from meeting critically ill family members, from all sorts of normal interactions in the interests of preserving the nation’s health, he – who quite possibly wrote the slogan that sums up the government’s strategy in eight words – not only didn’t stay home but didn’t stay home when he had Covid-19 symptoms. That kind of hypocrisy is not forgiven by the public.

Nor will forgiveness easily be extended to a protective patron who grants his friends special favours when livelihoods (and indeed lives) are being lost on a great scale. Such matters are not always critical but nor are they necessarily forgotten and they will continue to weigh in the balance.

The only way people usually survive such scandals is if they are effectively unsackable, as Cummings was in January 2016. He no longer has that ultra-loyal bodyguard – and even if he did, he’s in a different position now and is less important to Number 10 than he was to Vote Leave. I don’t see how he survives this. And I don’t see why he should.

David Herdson



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Dom Cumming alleged to have lockdown rules by travelling to Durham when he shouldn’t

May 22nd, 2020


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Latest UK and US polling not good for Johnson’s government and Trump

May 22nd, 2020

For the first time since lockdown Johnson’s government gets negative YouGov approval rating

And in the White House race Trump is struggling against Biden

Mike Smithson



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Klobuchar sees big move to her in the WH2020 Dem VP betting

May 22nd, 2020

By far the most active political betting market at the moment is on who will be the Democratic nomination for VP – a job, given Biden’s age, could be a huge stepping stone to becoming President.

This was all triggered by this report from CBS News

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) “has been asked by Joe Biden to undergo a formal vetting to be considered as his vice presidential running mate, one of several potential contenders now being scrutinized by his aides ahead of a final decision,” If a potential contender consents, she should be poised to undergo a rigorous multi-week review of her public and private life and work by a hand-picked group of Biden confidantes, who will review tax returns, public speeches, voting records, past personal relationships and potentially scandalous details from her past.”

Quite clearly a nominee for the presidency does not want to risk his/her effort being compromised by scandals about the chosen running make to come into the open once the nomination has been made. That has happened in the past after Walter Mondale chose Geraldine Ferraro to be his running mate in 1984.

My view is that the reaction on the betting markets is over-done. A bigger story would be if Klobuchar, who sits for Minnesota in the US Senate and was one of the main runners for the WH2020 nomination, was not being vetted.

I’d expect other figures who are high up in the betting to also be asked because this is all part of the normal process.

So I don’t think that this report should be seen as that significant and I do not think Klobuchar is value at the current odds.

Mike Smithson