Archive for December, 2009


What do you think was the biggest story of the decade?

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Angus Reid

There were some interesting non-voting question in the PB/Angus Reid pre-Christmas poll which have just been published – one of which is featured above.

Interestingly men respondents placed Iraq at number one while the women in the survey went for the July 2005 London bombings.

It’s a good question and I wonder what PBers would have answered?

I’ve got little doubt and that was the Labour government’s Tony’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003 alongside the Americans.

Mike Smithson


Do “class war” issues really poll well?

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Latest Ipsos-MORI issues index

Is Sunny Hundal misreading the data?

There’s a fascinating debate going on amongst Labour/left bloggers over whether the party’s apparent “class war” strategy is the right way to go.

The Scottish Labour MP, Tom Harris, is very much against arguing that “.the only strategy Labour should even consider is one which aims to see us re-elected with a working overall majority in the Commons. Setting our sights anywhere lower than that would be a betrayal of our country and our party.”

Liberal Conspiracy’s Sunny Hundal takes the opposite viewpoint arguing: “..Class War remains an electorally viable strategy because: (a) a majority of voters are persuaded by the implication; (b) it highlights wedge issues Labour needs to advance to narrow their defeat; (c) extensive polling shows that most ‘class war’ positions are deeply popular.

I suggest both of them take a close look at the regular Ipsos-MORI monthly “Issues Index” where interviewees are asked, totally unprompted, to suggest the ” the most important issues facing Britain”. They can list as many as they like and this has been asked in this way for more than thirty years. What I like about it is that we get a real sense of the importance in people’s minds of different policy areas.

If in the face-to-face interviews people put or don’t put issues forward then that is a measure, surely, of the level of importance they attach to them.

Thus if Hindal’s assertion that “most class war issues are deeply popular” was correct then they would figure higher than the 7% for inequality and the 3% for “low pay/fair wages” that were recorded in the last such poll.

Tom Harris is on the right side of the argument here.

  • PB Poster of the Year election When voting closed at 9am there was just one vote in it between Richard Nabavi and Yellow Submarine. Richard has been gracious enough to suggest that they should be joint winners and I agree. So the PB Posters of 2009 are Richard and Yellow Submarine. Well done to both and all the others who featured in the voting. We had a great field.
  • Mike Smithson


    Is this further ammunition for the anti-Brown plotters?

    Monday, December 28th, 2009

    Why I’m still not betting on the general election outcome?

    Another morning and the speculation over Brown’s leadership continues in the papers. So how will those “leading cabinet ministers” who are said to want Brown out view this polling data?

    For after yesterday morning’s examination of the long-term leader approval rating trends today I’m looking further at the Ipsos-MORI leader approval data but from another angle – what those who told the pollster they are voting Labour think of Mr. Brown. And as can be seen from the chart the numbers are not good for Brown Central.

    For just over one in two of the Labour voters in the survey said they were satisfied with Mr. Brown – and more than a third said they were dissatisfied.

    That is hardly the base to mount a general election campaign and suggests that with Mr. Brown still in post it’s going to be quite a challenge to motivate even the core vote.

    Just contrast that with how declared Conservative supporters rate their leader, Mr. Cameron.

    My strong view is that any change of Labour leader will have a beneficial impact on the party’s performance and it is for this reason that I am still not predicting a general election outcome or making long term bets on the spread markets. Brown going could dramatically change the whole environment.

    For even more worrying for Labour is that the detailed data shows that 33% of declared Labour supporters say they are “satisfied” with Cameron’s performance.

    You can get a bet at 5/1 with Ladbrokes that Brown will not lead Labour at the general election. Yesterday morning it was 8/1.

    I think those odds are about right.

    Mike Smithson


    Does this sad news make an early election more likely?

    Sunday, December 27th, 2009

    Leicester Mercury

    Will Labour want to avoid the by election?

    My apologies for immediately thinking of the political implications of the death yesterday of Leicester NW, MP, David Taylor, but that is the way politics is especially during a febrile period like that we are going through at the moment.

    Fo the last thing that Labour needs just now is a by election in a marginal where the Tories are the main challengers – and this could become a consideration over the timing of the general election.

    Apart from the cost (the expenses limit is £100,000) a Tory victory would add to the pre-general election momentum.

    The seat was unaffected by boundary changes and in May 2005 the result was LAB: 21449 (45.5%): CON : 16972 (36%): LD:5682 (12.1%): OTH 3037 (6.4%) – a majority of just 9.5% which would go with a swing of 4.75.

    This is one of the leading Tory targets for the general election which they absolutely have to win if they are to stand any chance of securing a majority. If there is a by election it’s hard to see this as anything other than an easy Tory gain.

    The question is whether Labour would prefer a contest to take place, presumably in February/March and stick with the suggested May 6th election date or whether this makes the possibility of March 25th or April 8th that more likely?

    My guess is the latter though they could try to leave the vacancy open.

    Mike Smithson


    Are these numbers the killer for Mr. Brown?

    Sunday, December 27th, 2009


    Is survival from this position nigh on impossible?

    One of my best Christmas presents was a personal copy of the invaluable reference source – David Butler’s Twentieth-century British Political Facts, 1900-2000. This contains polling data going back every month to February 1945 – and until now I’ve had to go to the library to look this up.

    As well as the outcomes of voting intention question the book also lists the PM and opposition leaders’ approval ratings which have been asked in a broadly standard way for all that time.

    And looking back through the pages of detailed tables there is simply no precedent for a Prime Minister who has sunk to the position that Mr. Brown is now in going on to hold on to power at the following general election.

    Of those PMs who lost ensuing general elections in 1964 the lowest Gallup approval rating that Alec Douglas-Home slumped to was 40%.

    Six years later the Tories came to power with Harold Wilson on a 51% approval rating. Ahead of the February 1974 election the low point for Edward Heath was 34%. During 1978/78 “the winter of discontent” Jim Callaghan’s numbers slipped to 33% but had recovered to 43% by polling day. He still lost to Maggie Thatcher.

    And we all know what happened to John Major in 1997.

    Is it any wonder, then, that this morning the Mail on Sunday is reporting that Jack Straw is leading a group of five cabinet ministers who want Brown ousted before the election. It’s hard to argue with their analysis – with Mr. Brown remaining Labour is almost certainly doomed.

    PaddyPower, Ladbrokes, William Hill, and Victor Chandler are among the on-line bookies that have Labour leadership markets.

    UPDATE: There’s a good article by Dr Roger Mortimore, head of political research at Ipsos-MORI, on this broad point putting the focus on leader approval ratings from the last time that the Tories won back power in 1979. The firm has also published online for the first time polling data from the 1976 – 79 period.

  • PB Poster of the Year Don’t forget to vote. The election closes tomorrow morning and currently it is extremely tight.
  • Mike Smithson


    The 2009 PB Poster of the Year – the final round

    Saturday, December 26th, 2009

    Voting is open to all PBers whether they post or not

    The PB Poster of the Year – The Final Five. Please vote for one only.
    Richard Nabavi
    David Herdson
    Yellow Submarine
    Peter the Punter

    And don’t forget the PB Tipster of the Year

    In the first round of voting Richard Nabavi came top just ahead of David Herdson and Yellow Submarine. There were only going to be four places but when I checked at the appointed time this morning Easterross and Peter the Punter were tied – so both have been included.

    Voting starts now and will continue until 9am in Monday morning.

    Next week over the New Year break there will be the election for the PB Betting Tipster of the Year. There are many good candidates including:-

  • Roger for his guidance on the Oscars
  • Richard Nabavi for his solid analysis and all year round tipping successes.
  • Morris Dancer for his great guidance on F1.
  • The Twin Towers (standing as a duo – Peter the Punter and Peter from Putney) for their consistent and regular betting advice.
  • URW for his regular and reliable betting analysis month month by month
  • MORUS (Greg Callus) for what for me was the tip of the year – Cathy Ashton for the EU foreign supremo position when Ladbrokes had her at 50/1.
  • There are several others like StJohn who has very much added to out betting enjoyment and the other members of the PB Super Six.

    Please give your thoughts on this thread.

    Mike Smithson


    Could fox-hunting be the winning formula for Labour?

    Saturday, December 26th, 2009

    Is it more ammunition for the class war strategy?

    According to ConHome, at the time of July’s Norwich North by election the above was an official Labour flyer used in the failed defence of that seat.

    The approach was also used in the Eddisbury by election in 1999 when the climate was much more clement for NuLab.

    Well according to the Indy this morning there are, indeed, Labour plans to make an apparent commitment by David Cameron to repeal the controversial 2004 act into an election issue to run alongside the IHT campaign.

    Is this going to stick and is it going to help Labour get more of its voters out on election day?

    Did it, for instance, make a difference in Norwich where Labour’s 2005 vote of 21,097 was cut down to 6,243? Given the circumstances of that contest it could be argued that it might have just got a few more people out and the size of Labour’s defeat could have been confined just a little.

    The down-side is that it could motivate those on the other side of the argument.

    The problem with the fox-hunting ban is that although most people have got views on the issue and support the act there’s not that much evidence that many feel strongly enough about it to influence their voting.

    December 26th is almost always a slow news day and it will be interesting to see if the Labour moves are used as a peg to report on the standard TV bulletin coverage of the Boxing Day hunts. Maybe that’s the whole point?

  • The PB Poster of the Year Election Voting will close as soon as I get up at about 10am. The fight for the fourth place in the final run-off is very tight. Vote here.
  • Mike Smithson


    The Third Annual StJohn Christmas CrossWord

    Friday, December 25th, 2009


    1.Lay on the drink. (3,6).
    6.Murdoch helped to start The People. (5).
    9.A master of expression, Dalyell reflected on one ship’s direction of travel. (7).
    10.Condition set in cruel arrangement of Prince of Darkness. (7).
    11.Metropolitan chap Boris sacked, within an hour. (10).
    12.Perhaps Man City’s leader quit? (4).
    13.Conservatives are the party without a prayer. (5).
    15.Softly spoken political enforcer, carrying a stick initially – before Democrat. (9).
    16.Report blocked by special interest group holding a grievance. (9).
    18.Cook take away at home. (5).
    20.Brown dismissed Irish politician in the Queen’s name. (4).
    21.Pinter seen playing to the gallery. (10).
    25.After a make over, Sarah is hot stuff. (7).
    26.Peel angrily penned first letter. (7).
    27.Ben-Hur lead lost out as a political figure. (5).
    28.Set new dividing lines to capture the right audience. (9).


    1.Steps introduced by the US Ambassador. (5).
    2.Not definite if it’s an item. (7).
    3.A cooked breakfast provides the key to Number Ten’s residents. (4,6).
    4.French born Private Secretary accompanies Scottish Chieftain. (5).
    5.Effect of The Sun is becoming more Liberal. (9).
    6.Short, one of Foot’s constituents. (4).
    7.Deduce that our special relations are invited – so one makes a brew. (7).
    8.Place to set about a writer. (9).
    13. Gently knock political defector with, “No time for a novice”.
    14. Prime Minister’s visit leads to Afghan withdrawal by the beginning of February. (9).
    15. Government has the will to change but lacks direction. (9).
    17. Head of the English Church after Roman Reformation. (7).
    19. Barb’s display of anger. (7).
    22. Leaders of the blogosphere. (5).
    23. Drawing from Macmillan’s greatest challenge – resigning the Tory leadership. (5).
    24. Brother of Israel is partial to some sausage. (4).

    St.John is a long-standing PB poster and regular attender at PB events. This is the third time he has sought to entertain us on Christmas Day with his crossword.