Archive for November, 2009


UPDATED: Sorry folks – We’ve been subject to an elaborate hoax

Friday, November 27th, 2009

CON ????
LAB ????
LD ????
OTHERS ?????

Only detail so far – “Tories 16% ahead”
According to the blog of the Independent’s political editor, Andrew Grice, there’s a Comres poll in his paper tomorrow that will have the Tories 16 percent ahead. That compares with the C39-L25-LD17 from the most recent survey from the firm where the fieldwork finished a fortnight ago. (HAT-tip Planetnokia)

So it looks as though ComRes is in the same broad area as PB’s exclusive Angus Reid poll on Monday that had a 17% lead.

What this means is that the only two full voting intention poll published since the Ipsos-MORI “Labour on six points behind” have both recorded increases in the Tory lead

This post will be updated as we get more details.

Mike Smithson


Stand by all you punters on northern seats

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Is Labour improving on the PH marginals poll?

Thanks to Wibbler on the previous thread for spotting this – which looks intriguing particularly because the last major marginals poll that had a lot of detail from the north, the PoliticsHome one in September, showed a disproportionate move from Labour to the Tories.

It had LAB>CON swings of around the 10% mark in the North-West, West Yorkshire and the North-East and suggested that at least 31 seats could change hands.

It’s trying to work out what Brogan means by “fascinating”.

The other big issue, of course is to see whether the Ipsos-MORI poll with the Tory lead reduced to six points is being supported by others surveys. PB’s Angus Reid poll on Monday suggested that it wasn’t – what will YouGov have to say?

Mike Smithson


Has Johnson made the wrong decision over Gary?

Friday, November 27th, 2009

BBC News

Could there be an electoral price to pay?

If the Radio 5Live phone in that I was listening to this morning is anything to go by then home secretary and former Labour leadership favourite, Alan Johnson, has provoked a mass of anger over his decision to allow the extradition to the US of hacker, Gary McKinnon.

He’s the man with Asperger’s syndrome, who is accused of breaking into US military computers in his search for evidence of UFOs.

Johnson’s problem is the new extradition arrangement with the US which at the time of it going through was seen as very one-sided.

Gary’s lawyers are looking at other avenues to stop the extradition taking place and whichever way that goes it’s now become a lose-lose situation for the home secretary. If Gary goes then Johnson is to blame – if the legal moves to prevent it succeed then Johnson looks foolish.

You can now bet on whether this is going to happen. The issue of whether McKinnon goes or stays is one of a number of political markets that a new betting exchange, Matchbet, is opening up.

Another is on whether Tory communications boss, Andy Coulson, will survive following the industrial tribunal case that has awarded one of his ex-reporters at the News of the World, nearly £800,000 in damages for bullying.

I think that Gary’s prospects are bleak but that Coulson will survive.

Mike Smithson


05/05/05: When a 2.9 percent Tory deficit became 6.1

Friday, November 27th, 2009

House of Commons research paper

Can we expect a big shake-up in the boundary system?

The above is part of a table that is featured in a House of Commons research paper and covers just about all the statistics that you’ll ever want about May 5th 2005.

For me the striking feature is the contrast between the actual vote shares chalked up by the parties across Britain and the comparison with the final column. The latter is calculated by averaging the percentage vote shares each party got in each of the constituencies they fought.

So the overall vote share percentages across Britain take on a different look when you see how that worked out in each of the 627 constituencies that the main parties fought.

The Tory share of 33.2% became 31.6% when averaged across the seats while Labour 36.1% moved up to 37.8%. So a 2.9% Labour lead became 6.1%.

This is a stark illustration of how the electoral system worked for what was then Tony Blair’s party in 2005 – the product of the election being fought in England and Wales on the same boundaries that had been used in both 1997 and 2001. For the average size of the electorate in Labour seats was smaller than those of the other parties.

Next time, of course, there will be new boundaries everywhere apart from Scotland and I would expect a much smaller gap between the two columns.

A political consequence of this is that an incoming Tory government will take steps very early on to shake up the boundary review process as part of an overall effort to cut down on the number of MPs.

One potentially controversial Tory plan is to abolish the process of appeal in the current boundary review structure thus allowing changes to take effect more quickly and slash costs.

If Labour are defeated at the 2010 election then the fight to return to power might be that more challenging. For one of the great things about being in power is that you control the electoral system as we’ve seen with the massive extension of postal voting. If you are in opposition then another party is calling the shots.

Mike Smithson


Could this impact on the election outcome?

Thursday, November 26th, 2009


Or will it all be forgotten by May?

The latest stage of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war gives a sense of problems ahead for the government over what turned out to be Tony Blair’s signature policy – the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Of course the main actor, Tony Blair, is no longer on the scene and it was all a relatively long time ago. But the circumstances now being described of how the UK got into this conflict could just cause problems.

You can understand why the initial plan was to do all this in private and just how critical it was that in the end parts of it are being held in public.

Mike Smithson


Can you suggest a non-voting question?

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Is there an area of opinion that we could test?

As part of its arrangement with PB, Angus Reid Strategies, have offered to include one or two non-voting questions in the weekly surveys they do from their polling panel.

These could relate to current issues or there might be more general points that it would be worth testing.

The idea is simple – we would play round with a few ideas on a thread and I’d put forward a couple for consideration.

  • PB Gathering in the City I’m off to London in an hour or so for the PB gathering in the City of London organised by Fat Steve. We are simply getting together in a pub near Liverpool Street station where an area is being made available for us. If this works then such informal events can be replicated elsewhere.
  • Mike Smithson


    What are these doing to the seat calculators?

    Thursday, November 26th, 2009

    Could their rise be disguising the scale of the swing?

    The big trend from almost all the polls in recent weeks week has been the increase in the share for “others” – UKIP, the Greens, the BNP and SNP/PC in Scotland and Wales. In some surveys they are now more than double the 8.2% that they got between them at the 2005 general election

    A question for anybody wanting to bet on and/or predict the outcome is whether these historically high levels might be distorting the standard seat calculators that we use to project how many MPs the parties will end up getting?

    With the exception of perhaps just one or two seats the impact of this dynamic in a first past the post system is to reduce the aggregate shares going to the main parties and it is on that last group of numbers that we seek to project seat numbers

    Taking England alone it might be an idea for projection purposes only to regard the UKIP/GREEN/BNP effect as being broadly neutral in terms of impact on the main parties and do some rule-of-thumb calculations from there. So you would assume a 2005 level for others and try to extrapolate.

    You could see a formula evolving where you take the difference between a current survey’s total for others and the 8.1% of 2005 and divide that between Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems in the same proportions as the headline figures in the poll.

    Thus the most recent ComRes poll had C39-L25-LD17 – an “other” aggregate of 19 points or 11 up from 2005. You would then apportion that figure, for seat projection purposes only, in accordance with the three party split.

    On a simplistic projection using the Anthony Wells calculator that adds 14 seats to the Tory total. All of this is only a thought and I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has been giving it thought.

    The challenge of factoring in the others is another reason why I’m increasingly more sceptical of the much repeated mantra that the “Tories need a 10% margin for a majority” argument. I think that the bar is probably a couple of notches lower.

    Mike Smithson


    The “Super Six Predictions” part 3

    Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

    This is the third and final part of the general election constituency bets by half a dozen regulars who call themselves, with appropriate modesty, The PB Super Six.

    Thanks to Peter the Punter and ScottP for getting this together.

    The one I like is Norwich South where the incumbent is Charles Clarke – the former home secretary and long-standing Gordon Brown critic. Look how we have four separate views of the outcome.

    This is the Norwich South 2005 notional result from the Rallings and Thrasher “official list” – Lab 15,275 (37.40%); LD 12,252 (30.00%); C 8,917 (21.83%); Green 3,032 (7.42%); Others 770 (1.89%); UKIP 596 (1.46%)

    There’s also Aberdeen South where there are bets on three parties. There are no boundary changes in Scotland and this was the 2005 result. Begg (Lab) 15,272 (36.69%); Harris (LD) 13,924 (33.45%); Whyte (C) 7,134 (17.14%); Watt (SNP) 4,120 (9.90%); Reekie (Green) 768 (1.85%); Munro (SSP) 403 (0.97%).

    Mike Smithson