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The Corbyn polling could be the 2015 version of what happened to Hilary Benn in 2007

July 30th, 2015

Don’t attach too much credence to numbers at this stage

There have been only two Labour elections in recent times where there has been polling and we are able to look back and compare the survey numbers with the actual votes received.

In 2010, as I’ve reported before, the final YouGov members’ survey taken after the voting had started showed EdM with a 4% lead in this part of the electoral college. David actually won this segment by 8.8%.

Three years earlier when the party elected Gordon Brown leader without him having the inconvenience of facing another candidate all the focus was on the deputy battle.

The deputy leader polls throughout, as shown above, all had the son of that great Labour icon, Tony Benn, the then international development secretary Hilary. The Benn name resonated very strongly with the party members and in each of the three polls he came top.

    Notice how in the first two polls Benn chalked up three times the members’ first preferences that he eventually received and twice as many in the final survey.

    What members were telling pollsters beforehand was very different from hat they actually did

There’s another interesting comparison with Corbyn. Benn had a great struggle securing enough MP nominations to get on the ballot.

We are now 45 days from the election. There is a lot of time for the mood to change. Things can be very different when those eligible to vote are faced with the actual ballot paper.

Mike Smithson






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The Temperate Desert

July 29th, 2015

YouGov Left Right

Antifrank asks who will appeal best to centrist voters?

The centre ground of politics used to be very crowded.  And with good reason.  Roughly half the electorate sit in the middle stratum of electoral geology.  In a YouGov poll taken just after the election, 13% described themselves as slightly left of centre, 19% described themselves as centre, 14% described themselves as slightly right of centre and a further 23% didn’t know where to place themselves (presumably they would regard themselves as having mixed left and right views).  Elections will continue to be won and lost among these voters.  Either they will be met on their ground or they will be persuaded to move onto different ground.

Public perception

YouGov regularly asks the public to place parties on a left-right spectrum.  The results up to July last year are shown in the graphic above.

The public in aggregate, incidentally, see themselves as pretty much in the dead centre.  Up to now, the public in aggregate haven’t regarded the Labour party as being as leftwing as they have seen the Conservatives as being rightwing.

The empty centre

7 May 2015 has left the centre ground looking like a wasteland.  The Lib Dems were reduced from 57 to 8 MPs, with relatively few seats even looking like plausible targets for 2020.  The Conservatives long ago ditched the green crap.  And despite Ed Miliband having aimed to engineer a move in the political centre ground towards the left, the reaction of the Labour party membership in the Labour leadership campaign has been to canter further leftwards in pursuit of a real alternative to austerity.  For a group of voters who are supposedly assiduously and obsessively courted, centrist voters are lacking obvious representation right now, particularly those on the centre left.

In the post-election opinion poll referred to above, 31% of the public thought that Labour was slightly left of centre or centre (exactly the same percentage that thought Labour was fairly leftwing or very leftwing), but 44% of the public thought that Labour should aim to be slightly left of centre or centre.  Among those who expressed an opinion, by a margin of nearly 2:1, the public thought that the next Labour leader should try to take the Labour party towards the centre politically rather than take it towards the left (more recent polling has been more equivocal on this last point, however).  There is nothing obvious in any of the polling that suggests that the public wants Labour to turn to the left.  Labour party members seem to believe that they know better.

That said, winning over these voters is not as simple as just plonking yourself as closely as possible to them.  At the last election the Conservatives gathered a greater share of the vote than it had managed since 1992, yet they were the furthest distant from the average member of the public of Labour, the Lib Dems and themselves.  The voters take many things into account other than how much they identify with policy.

This may sound like good news for a Labour party that is exiting stage left.  It is not.  In May, those other things led to the voters decisively preferring the Conservatives despite their greater ideological distance from the public in aggregate.  That decisive preference in favour of the Conservatives will get still stronger, all other things being equal, if Labour withdraw further from the bulk of the voters.

This time around, the other relevant considerations may well have included the quality of the main party leaders, economic credibility and the wish to have a stable government.  We may also have seen some voters deciding to stick with known quantities.

The relevant considerations in 2020 may be different.  Right now it seems entirely possible that all of those will continue to weigh heavily on voters’ minds.  Becoming more ideologically distant from the voters would only make Labour’s challenge harder.

The hopefuls

Nature abhors a vacuum.  Who is going to fill that gap?  The answer isn’t obvious.

The Lib Dems are ideologically close to the average voter.  They will hope to profit from any move to the fringes by Labour while being able to attack the Conservatives in government.  But the Lib Dems’ closeness to the public’s views did not result in the public giving them their support in May.  And the hammering they received will make it harder to get that support back where it counts.  Voters who are motivated by choosing a government will not linger over the possibility of voting for them, new leader and new direction notwithstanding.  The Lib Dems will only gain votes either by persuading voters that it is a costfree choice or by getting voters to conclude that both of the two main parties have drifted too far from the centre.  Even then, such voters might well just decide to abstain.

After their experiences of government, the Lib Dems may wish to pitch themselves as a party of opposition.  Indeed, they have already taunted Labour after the Welfare Bill fiasco with the tagline “Be part of the real Opposition”.  This may be effective at picking up protest votes (though there is heavy competition for these now) and the votes of those who live in safe constituencies.  Centrist voters in marginals who want to choose the next government will, however, be looking for something more constructive.

Can Labour offer them something more constructive?  If Labour move leftwards, they will need to persuade a sizeable section of voters – from opposition – that their more hardline critique is worthy of trust in government and they will need to do so without frightening a similar sized section of voters into the arms of the Conservative party.  Labour seem likely to embark on this strategy.  I don’t fancy their chances if they do.

A different strategy might have been to offer a broad tent based around themes that all strands of left and centrist opinion could rally under.  None of the three mainstream candidates for Labour leader have been able to articulate such themes and the opportunity is going begging.  It seems unlikely now that the Labour party will take that chance in the next few years.

If the Labour party is not going to appeal to centrist and centre-left voters, preferring to broadcast a hard left message, might a breakaway party take up the slack?  All things are possible but the prospect looks unlikely and past precedent is offputting.  Establishing a new national party needs a clear message, big names, organisation, nerve and luck.  Labour moderates do not seem to have any of these right now.  The SDP was stronger on almost all of these counts in the early 1980s and still it ultimately failed to break the mould.  Only two of the eight Lib Dem MPs were in the SDP.  They are outnumbered by Conservative MPs with an SDP past.

Speaking of which, can the Conservatives extend their advantage with centrist voters?  Unlike Labour, they certainly want to try.  The summer budget showed George Osborne gleefully trying on progressive clothes for size.

The Conservatives face a different problem, which is that they have long been seen as further from the centre than either Labour or the Lib Dems, as can be seen from the diagram above.  Changing longterm perceptions takes a lot of doing.  At a time when the government is undertaking extensive spending cuts, are they really going to be able to achieve this?  Also, this Parliament is going to be dominated by the referendum on EU membership.  It would be highly surprising if traditional Conservative rightwingers are not heard at great length in this process, undermining any Tory attempts to colonise the middle ground further.

So far as the Conservatives are concerned, in the short term the question is a bit of a red herring.  They don’t need centrist voters to identify with them.  They only need them to continue voting for them in preference to other parties.  Enough of these voters gave them their support on 7 May, however unenthusiastically.  They would settle for that in 2020 as well.

In the longer term, however, we are looking at an unstable political landscape where the voters must choose between parties with prospectuses that do not enthuse them and a party with a prospectus that they do not believe will stand a chance of being implemented.  This cannot last indefinitely.  Sooner or later, the gap will be filled.

Antifrank



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The issues facing Britain: Immigration and NHS down/ Defence-terrorism sharply up

July 29th, 2015



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What the latest private LAB polling has done to the betting

July 29th, 2015

Burnham the big loser after survey had him 3rd

One of the great features now on the Betfair exchange for those who like trading is that with one click you can cash out and instantly get to a position where you are equal on all outcomes.

Yesterday evening just after news of the latest private polling came out there was nearly £10,000 available on Betfair for those who wanted to lay Andy Burnham at the price of 2.1. Effectively this was a bet on all three other contenders at slightly shorter than evens.

Given the Mirror story the price was then out of line with Burnham’s perceived chances. Tissue Price and others highlighted this on the thread and I took as much as I could.

The price then moved out over the next 45 minutes and I cashed out leaving me with a very nice all green book making a pretty good profit whatever the outcome and having no money at risk whatsoever.

I can’t call this race and I doubt if others can with any confidence. Best play for safety.

Mike Smithson





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“Private poll” seen by Mirror sees Corbyn with 22% lead on first prefs with Cooper pipping Burnham for 2nd place

July 28th, 2015

It’s hard to comment on private polling and I’ve no idea about the veracity of it. But I don’t think that the Mirror would be flagging it in the way it is without it having some confidence about the source.

The Corbyn lead is extraordinary and fits in with other indicators.

The question is which of Cooper/Burnham/Kendall will get to the final round of counting against Corbyn.

    One of the crazy misjudgements of Team Burnham was that the Corbyn second preferences would come their way. If JC is in the lead then his supporter’s 2nd and 3rd prefs simply are NOT going to be counted.

Thanks again Labour for all the entertainment you are giving us during what is usually a quiet time.

Mike Smithson





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Re Mr. Cameron’s plan to appoint many more CON peers – the vote split from GE15

July 28th, 2015



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ORB/Indy poll finds that 76% think that LAB less electable now than it was on May 7th

July 28th, 2015

But does this poll really tell us anything?

An ORB poll for the Independent carried out over the weekend finds that 76% of those who had a view believe that LAB is less electable now than it was at the general election.

We’ve not yet seen the dataset or the precise question wording but the overall picture looks gloomy for the red team and sets out very clearly the challenge facing the new leader when he/she takes over the party on September 12th.

    Aren’t we just seeing what happens to most political parties less than three months after a devastating election defeat?

I can’t recall a similar post general election poll on a party that has lost power and is going through the process of finding a new leader.

How, for instance would the Tories have performed in a similar survey eleven weeks after their 1997 election defeat by Tony Blair’s new Labour or in the aftermath of GE2001 when IDS, Ken Clarke and Michael Portillo were slugging it out. In the latter the blue team ended up with the leader who was the most unelectable – something that was blindingly obvious to many inside and outside the party

Inevitably leadership contests highlight divisions because that’s their very nature and we know that voters are more reluctant to give their support to split parties.

The big question is how LAB will be seen when the new leader is in place.

Mike Smithson





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Why getting a credible leader is so important to LAB: YouGov polling on why the party lost

July 27th, 2015

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The data that underlines the importance of the current election

Whichever of the four ins he/she will have to be perceived a lot better than Ed was if the red team is to have any chance whatsoever.

This polling should be at the heart of the leadership campaign. A non-credible leader means a likely third consecutive general election defeat.

Mike Smithson