Archive for June, 2008

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Tory lead at 17% with Ipsos-MORI

Friday, June 27th, 2008

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The first national opinion poll to be published from Ipsos-MORI since the end of April is just out and shows the Tories with a 17% lead. The main figures are above.

The fieldwork was carried out by phone from June 13th – June 15th – so the polling was done at the start of last week.

The pollster has also revealed its figures for May which were CON 45%: LAB 13% 33%: LD 14%. These had been held up pending the review of the firm’s methodology which has now been completed.

I will be doing a separate piece on that over the weekend.

The main conclusions from these two latest pieces of data is the strong Tory showing – 45% in both polls which is very similar to the numbers we have been seeing from the other firms which have different approaches.

All this underlines the fact that Brown’s government has lost a lot of public confidence.

Mike Smithson



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Gordon’s Brown’s year on the betting markets?

Friday, June 27th, 2008

    How punters have reacted to his first twelve months

At almost exactly 3.30pm on the afternoon of June 27th 2007, just after Gordon Brown had started works as prime minister, I took the snap-shot below of the main general election betting markets. I did this partially as a matter of record.

This afternoon, at almost exactly the same time I took another snap-shot of the same markets so we can see how things have changed.

General Election betting – June 27th 2007

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General Election betting – June 27th 2008

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Mike Smithson



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Is this the man who could pose a problem for Davis?

Friday, June 27th, 2008

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    Will Walter Sweeney attack from the right on 42 days?

Amongst the massive list of contenders for the Haltemprice and Howden by election is a Dublin-born former Tory MP who looks set to attack Davis from the right on 42 day detention period issue.

He is Walter Sweeney who held Vale of Glamorgan for the Tories by 19 votes in 1992 and who had plenty of run-ins with David Davis during the Maastricht votes in the final years of the Major government.

By a striking coincidence there’s a profile of Sweeney by Paul Linford in the first edition of Total Politics that was launched this week.

Linford writes: “…Some say he was prevented from rebelling after locking himself in the loo during the division, others that burly whip David Lightbown held his 18st frame against the toilet door to prevent him leaving..As the general election loomed, Sweeney became more outspoken, calling for Chancellor Ken Clarke to be sacked and replaced by John Redwood, who had stood against John Major for the party leadership in 1995..And in a final flourish, he introduced a Private Members’ Bill which would have given an absolute legal defence to any householder who found themselves having to shoot a burglar.”

That final sentence gives a strong hint to his attitude to law and order issues.

I have my own personal links with him. In May 1989 I took Sweeney’s Bedfordshire County Council seat off the Tories. Sweeney is now a local solicitor on Humberside.

Mike Smithson



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Happy first anniversary Gordon

Friday, June 27th, 2008

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    Will this have an impact on Brown’s survival?

As predicted and recommended here over the past week the most certain bet on the Henley by-election was that Labour would lose its deposit which they did dropping from 6,862 votes at the general election to 1,066 and end up in fifth place behind both the Green party and the BNP.

With the Lib Dems fighting hard it was always going to be that the Labour vote would get squeezed and in the event the overall percentage of 3.1% was not as bad as the party has seen in other similar contests. In Winchester in 1997, for instance, Labour was reduced to just 1.7%.

But given the current precarious position for the Prime Minister the result could ratchet up the pressure and raise further questions about his future.

    Perhaps the most significant thing about Henley is that alongside Crewe and Nantwich it shows that the Conservative have a proven capability of doing reasonably well in by elections – a form of campaigning that they have struggled with for decades.

The Lib Dems will be disappointed that they didn’t get closer and this might have consequences for their general election strategy. How much effort should go into trying to win Tory seats or should all their focus go into defending what they have got and looking for opportunities against Labour?

There will be relief in the three mainstream parties that it was the Greens and not the BNP who finished in third place.

Mike Smithson

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YouGov boost for beleaguered Labour

Friday, June 27th, 2008

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    Does this signal that a recovery is on the way?

As we wait for the Henley result there’s some goodish polling news for Labour in the June YouGov poll for the Daily Telegraph.

So the shares with the changes on the last YouGov poll in the Sunday Times twelve days ago are – CON 46%(-1): LAB 28%(+3): LD 15%(-3)

The main move is a 3% fall in the Lib Dem shares and a similar increase in the Labour share. The Tories are down a point so the their lead is now down to just 18%. That 15% shares for Clegg’s party is very close to the 14% seen by BPIX in the Mail on Sunday at the weekend. The fieldwork for that pollster is carried out by YouGov so it’s not surprising that the numbers are in the same ball-park.

Now let’s sit back and see what Henley has to offer.

Please note
that my comparisons are with the last poll from the relevant pollster NOT from the last poll in the paper – this is the standard way of reporting polling numbers on PB.

Mike Smithson



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Could the BNP have made third place?

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

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Reports coming onto the last thread from on the ground in Henley suggest that the BNP have done quite well – there’s even talk of them getting into third place.

Such a result would certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons. We’ll know the result in a few hours.

There’s be no indication from the betting markets that this is going to be anything other than a Conservative victory. The big questions are how close the Lib Dems will have got and whether Labour has got above 5% of the vote – the proportion required to keep its deposit.


Mike Smithson



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Could Henley be a tipping point like Bradford?

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

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    Could a collapse on this scale seal Gordon’s fate?

I’ve just had a long phone call with my closest Labour party link and he was suggesting that Henley could have the same impact on Gordon Brown’s leadership as the reverberations within the Tory party from the Bradford North by election in November 1990. It was this result – a 16% CON>LAB swing – that provided the backcloth for the dramatic events that month that eventually led to Maggie’s departure.

My contact, who has worked right at the heart of the party, says there’s widespread recognition at all levels within the movement that the only hope for Labour is for Gordon to go. The only question is how? Who would make a move?

Recalling how the pressure was ratcheted up Tony Blair in September 2006 when Tom Watson resigned with the threat of others to follow my contact said that something equivalent should happen now. A positive side of a Henley deposit loss would be that it could be the catalyst.

Unless the Lib Dems take the seat or come reasonably close then the big story tomorrow might be Labour. We shall see

UPDATE: The original graphic from Wikipedia was wrong. This has now been updated.


Mike Smithson



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Was it John Major’s fury that turned the tide?

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

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    Did his intervention change the mood in Gord’s election U-turn week?

On the final day of Gordon Brown’s first year as PM the media look-back continues with an excellent breakdown by Patrick Wintour and Nicholas Watt in the Guardian of the events that led to that fateful decision to abandon a November 1st 2007 general election.

Step-by-step each move during September and early October is examined and the authors come to a view that I have not seen before – that “the key moment came when John Major appeared on television”. This happened, it will be recalled, on the day the day that Brown had made his visit to Iraq during the Tory party conference.

In an interview the former PM launched a furious attack concluding “What is pretty unattractive is the nods, the winks, the hints, the cynicism, the belief that every decision is being taken because it is marching to the drumbeat of an election rather than to the drumbeat of solid, proper government. He has been letting the speculation run riot. It is clearly an attempt at destabilisation of the opposition parties.”

These look-backs are always fascinating because with the benefit of hindsight you can see more clearly how the sequence of developments evolved and how the public mood and, the media narrative changed.

I don’t remember feeling that the Major comments were a decisive development at the time through looking through my Spreadfair account and I note that it was in the evening of that day that I stepped up my position that there would not be an early election.

But I do think there is something in what Wintour and Watt suggest. The power and authority of Major’s comments seemed to crystallise what people were thinking and resonated with the public mood.

If, and most likely when, David Cameron reaches Number 10 will he acknowledge the decisive role of the last Tory general election victor? Somehow I doubt it.

Mike Smithson