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LEAVE’s repeated refusal to accept that its £50m a day claim is untrue could cause problems if it wins

May 27th, 2016

The basis for ministers to dismiss such a referendum result perhaps?

Yet again the independent statistics watchdog has had to step in a declare that the key number that forms the basis of the LEAVE campaign is untrue.

This has been used consistently by the outers and it has formed the basis for the core message. It has been saying that “£50m a day saved” could go into the NHS yet the amount of the actual cash available would be far less. Post election the INNERS would have very strong ground for complaint and you could just see Cameron dismissing a LEAVE outcome.

To make a claim knowing that it cannot substantiate could put them on shaky ground if they win by a narrow margin. It really is rather surprising that it has continued to pursue this approach.

Why not use the IFS approved figure of £150m a week? It still sounds a lot.

Mike Smithson






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Making sense of the EUref polls? Watch discussion with Matt Singh, Keiran Pedley & Mike Smithson in PB Polling Matters TV Show

May 27th, 2016

We’re back. After a gap of three weeks while our hosts, Tip TV, moved into new premises the PB/Polling Matters TV show is on the air and inevitability it was dominated by the referendum.

Keiran Pedley and I were joined by Matt Singh from Number Cruncher Politics. Is Leave really losing and what changes are pollsters making to their methods as polling day approaches? We also look ahead at the implications of the referendum on British politics in the longer term including David Cameron’s future and who might replace him.

The show is also available as an audio podcast

Mike Smithson





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Local By-Election Preview : May 26th 2016

May 26th, 2016

Northallerton South (Con defence) on Hambleton
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 27, United Kingdom Independence Party 1 (Conservative majority of 26)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,414, 758 (49%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 762 (26%)
Labour 739, 654 (25%)
Candidates duly nominated: Caroline Dickinson (Con), Chris Pearson (Yorkshire First), Dave Robertson (UKIP), David Tickle (Lab)

Northallerton (Con defence) on North Yorkshire
Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 45, Independents 8, Liberal Democrats 8. Labour 7, Liberals 2, United Kingdom Independence Party 2 (Conservative majority of 18)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Conservative 825 (52%), United Kingdom Independence Party 489 (31%), Labour 259 (16%)
Candidates duly nominated: Michael Chaloner (Green), Caroline Dickinson (Con), Chris Pearson (Yorkshire First), Stephen Place (UKIP), David Tickle (Lab)

The North Yorkshire section of the Green Party probably cannot believe their luck. In a week of a local by-election to the county council (caused by the death of the sitting member who was also a district councillor on Hambleton) the county go ahead and vote in favour of hydraulic extraction (or “fracking” as it is commonly known) despite the fact there his a lot of anger and hostility to the policy which the Greens themselves also oppose.

If the Greens don’t manage to win this (and get their first seat on the council ahead of the local elections next year) then maybe it is possible that economic considerations outweigh environmental concerns in the leafy Conservative shires.

Stapenhill (UKIP defence) on East Staffordshire
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 25, Labour 12, United Kingdom Independence Party 1, Liberal Democrat 1 (Conservative majority of 11)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 1,251, 1.235, 865 (32%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 1,228 (31%)
Conservatives 963, 819, 714 (25%)
Green Party 488 (12%)
Candidates duly nominated: Sally Green (UKIP), Thomas Hadley (Green), Craig Jones (Lab), Susan Paxton (Ind),
Michael Teasel (Con), Hugh Warner (Lib Dem)

UKIP have a problem when it comes to local by-elections. It’s a problem that has been demonstrated in Wisbech, Camborne, Watton and Newington and that problem is “being simply unable to hold a local by-election defence”. Since the general election up to the local elections at the start of May UKIP have managed to lose six of the eight seats they have been defending in local by-elections and (to make matters worse) seen their vote share drop from 10% at the last elections to 7% now

Fervent UKIP supporters will of course say “But that’s in the past, we have shown that we can win seats where we have contested before, look at Thurrock!” (and yes, whilst I agree that in Thurrock, compared with 2012, UKIP’s vote increased by 21%) they have yet to show this resilience at the local by-election level.

Harry Hayfield



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This looks like how REMAIN will play the closing four weeks

May 26th, 2016

Sowing seeds of doubt has been successful before

The poster above has started being circulated on Twitter and my guess is that its is part of the Saatchi & Saatchi campaign for IN. The clarity of approach with a very simple message and even the typeface appear to be Saatchi house style.

Whatever it is a clear message of just how REMAIN looks set to play the final period. People are unsure what OUT actually means and we’ve had mixed messages from the various LEAVE organisation so far during the campaign.

LEAVE needs to find a coherent and commonly agreed message of what going out will actually mean. All need to be singing from the same hymn book – something that’s not happened so far.

My view is that the approach epitomised in this poster is likely to resonate.

Mike Smithson





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Judging by his betting price collapse Boris’s back LEAVE decision hasn’t been good for his career ambitions

May 26th, 2016

If the vote is REMAIN the ex-mayor could be the scapegoat

Yesterday the Daily Mail’s renowned columnist, Katie Hopkins had a big go at the ex-Mayor under the heading “I thought Boris was going to save Britain from the EU, instead he has turned out to be a big fat fraud.”

In it she registered in her own inimitable style her disappointment at Johnson’s performance in the three months since he made his announcement on February 21st. She concludes:

If the Brexit side does lose, much of the blame will lie with Boris – who will have no compunction about scampering back aboard the government bus if he gets half a chance.

So let’s hope Cameron doesn’t forgive him. Because I won’t.

Whatever happens on June 23rd there will be a huge fall-out across the political scene but most of all within the Conservative party. A LEAVE win or a very narrow REMAIN victory look set to be the peg for Cameron’s exit and we will move into contest.

To become Tory leader Boris has first to surmount the parliamentary test and come in the top two of exhaustive ballots of party MPs. Assuming Osborne or an Osbo-backed contender gets one of those slots the big fight looks set to be amongst the Brexiters. That could be down to “Boris” or the “Stop Boris” choice. So the ex-Mayor’s future could be in the hands of his fellow BREXIT Tory MPs and their perception of his contribution to the outcome will be crucial.

It has been said ever since his decision on February to back leave that he was doing this solely for career purposes. Maybe that will turn out to have been a huge gamble that failed.

Mike Smithson





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Gov. John Hickenlooper – my 80/1 longshot for the Democratic VP nomination

May 25th, 2016

This afternoon I got a tip from someone in Colorado that the state governor, John Hickenlooper, was in with a good chance of becoming Hillary’s VP choice.

I quickly went into Betfair and got £11 at an average price of 81.59 without knowing a thing about him. I then Tweeted what I’d done and since then the price has moved in sharply.

A little bit of time on Google later indeed confirmed that he was widely being talked about for this role and other factors seemed right.

Clinton’s big problem is that she cannot possibly risk choosing a senator from a state which currently has a Republican governor. The battle for the Senate in November is going to be critical and the her party needs four gains to win control. She simply cannot add to the pressure by choosing one of a number of likely Senator VP picks.

The way it works is that if a Senator was elected VP then a vacancy would occur which would be filled by the choice of the Governor in the relevant state. That rules out some front runners in the Veepstakes.

Hickenlooper, and I just love that name, comes over very well and his being on the ticket could help the Democrats to take the state in the presidential election.

Mike Smithson





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Survation phone survey continues the EURef polling divide: Remain 8% lead remains

May 25th, 2016

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EU Ref polling   Google Sheets (1)

I’m off to London this after to record the first PB/Polling Matters TV Show in our new studios near Victoria. Keiran Pedley and I will, no doubt, spend a lot of time discussing the polling and trying to make sense of it.

There’s also been news of a London EURef poll.

Mike Smithson





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Ex-Treasury minister & Brexiter, Andrea Leadsom, is having a good war and should be given a bigger role

May 25th, 2016

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She’s starting to look like a possible leadership contender

A new YouGov referendum poll published overnight has both sides level-pegging – a marked change from last week’s 4% REMAIN lead. It is a sharp reminder that this could be very close and reinforces the big polling story of this election – the huge divide between phone and online.

If it is a very tight outcome then there will be enormous pressure on David Cameron and we could have a new CON leader and PM within a few months. The question for punters is who?

Of the Tory Brexiters IDS, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling and, of course, Boris Johnson have been the most prominent but I don’t think any have done their leadership prospects much good. Boris has been all bluster and he’s seen a sharp decline in his position on Betfair. As to the others it is hard to see Michael Gove as a leader although he has wide support within the party.

    The one who is impressing most at the moment is Andrea Leadsom the former Economic Secretary to the Treasury and now climate change minister of state.

She became an MP at GE2010 after a very successful career in the city. During the LIBOR scandal in 2012 she made a name for herself with some of her cross-examinations on the Treasury committee and for criticising George Osborne. On Monday’s Newsnight EURef discussion she was the lead for her party and showed how hugely effective she can be

She comes over as a fearless and powerful communicator and should be given a bigger role in the LEAVE campaign which is so dominated by men. She was state school educated and a graduate of Warwick.

I’ve had punts on her overnight as next CON leader a PM at longshot odds at up to 90/1.

Mike Smithson