Archive for July, 2010


Is Labour the party for “Unequal Constituencies”?

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Should Straw be careful about the “gerrymandering” charge?

Every so often I find myself having to explain to non-election anoraks why it is that Labour can secure an overall majority with 2.7% more votes while the Tories need a margin of 11.2%.

Generally their eyes glaze over as I talk about differential turnouts etc but the point they grasp instantly is that Labour-held seats have, on average, smaller electorates than Tory or LD-held ones.

This is one of the things that on the face of it seems unfair and that should be put right. It’s hard to argue against.

So I wonder whether Mr. Jack Straw has made a mistake in making the Coalition move to create equal-sized constituencies the reason why Labour will oppose the electoral reform bill that includes this and the AV referendum?

For it looks as if he’s trying to find any reason to wiggle out of Labour’s manifesto commitment on the alternative vote and in doing do is allowing it to be portrayed as seeking to continue an unfair system for its own narrow advantage. Using the “gerrymandering” charge, in particular, is over the top and inaccurate.

What Labour’s opposition is doing is uniting the Liberal Democrats a few weeks ahead of what could be a tricky party conference season. The furious reaction by LD deputy leader, Simon Hughes, yesterday is telling because he is not a minister and is a leading figure on the left of his party.

I cannot see David Miliband continuing with the Straw stance when, as seems likely, he becomes Labour leader on September 25th.

  • This morning I’m due on 5Live after about 8.30am to talk about the Labour leadership.
  • Mike Smithson


    Did the Tories come a bit too well prepared?

    Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

    BBC programme info

    Will the programme change our view of the coalition?

    There’s an intriguing snippet on Nick Robinson’s BBC blog about his programme tomorrow night on how the coalition came about.

    “..The Tories have been keen to downplay how prepared they were for hung Parliament negotiations. However, on the day after the polls closed, Letwin appeared to know more about Lib Dem policy than any of Nick Clegg’s negotiators. The Tories arrived at talks with a string of policy concessions to woo their potential coalition partners…”

    This is a programme that I am looking forward to this enormously. For it is about a deal that has changed our politics enormously and we still have only an inkling about what went on and how it all came about.

    I just wonder whether what’s in tomorrow night’s programme might impact on perceptions of the whole arrangement.

    Mike Smithson


    Are people “mis-remembering” about voting Lib Dem?

    Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

    Do more say they were Yellow than actually were?

    We all know the big story of the general election and the polls. When the votes were counted the 23.6% GB share that the Lib Dems chalked up was much smaller than all the pre-election polls. At one point YouGov had Clegg’s party with a four point lead on 34%.

    Yet eleven weeks on from May 6th an interesting trend has developed.

    When pollsters ask how people voted they invariably find that a greater proportion “remember” voting Liberal Democrat than actually did so.

    In fact the “memory” of interviewees is more in line with what people were telling pollsters in the final week – not with what actually happened.

    A big academic post-election survey has observed the same phenomenon.

    After previous elections the false recall element has tended to apply more to declared Labour voters not the other two parties.

    The possibility of mis-remembering is the reason that the pollsters that past vote weight their samples factor in an element to deal with false recall. TICM, Populus and ComRes each have a different formula for dealing with this and different target weightings.

    In its voting intention polls ComRes, for instance, has targets of C24-L19-LD15 – the balance being other parties, refusers, and those who say they didn’t vote.

    Unfortunately, and wrongly in my view, ComRes does not apply these weightings in its surveys for the BBC. So in last Friday’s Newsnight poll a third more people who said they “remembered” voting Lib Dem were included than in their main VI surveys. This can skew the results.

    The one past-vote weighting pollster at the general election that did not have a “false recall” corrector was Angus Reid – and we all know what happened.

    Mike Smithson


    What will this look like after the conference season?

    Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
    Pollster/publication Date CON LAB LD
    YouGov/Sun 26/07/10 42 35 15
    MORI/Reuters 25/07/10 40 38 14
    ICM/Guardian 25/07/10 38 34 19
    YouGov/Sun 21/07/10 44 35 13
    ComRes/Independent 27/06/10 40 31 18
    YouGov/Sunday Times 25/06/10 43 36 16
    ICM/Sunday Telegraph 24/06/10 41 35 16
    YouGov/Sun 24/06/10 43 34 17
    Populus/Times 23/06/10 39 33 18
    YouGov/Sun 23/06/10 42 34 17
    YouGov/Sun 22/06/10 41 37 15
    YouGov/Sun 21/06/10 41 33 18
    Ipsos-MORI/Reuters 20/06/10 39 31 19
    ICM/Guardian 20/06/10 39 31 21
    YouGov/Sunday Times 18/06/10 39 34 19
    ComRes/Independent on Sunday 17/06/10 36 30 23
    YouGov/Sunday Times 11/06/10 40 32 18

    Are we expecting Labour to go into the lead?


    Is DaveM Labour’s only realistic choice?

    Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

    Why I’m reducing my exposure on Ed

    There have been a few bits of news this week that have caused me to reconsider my betting position on Ed Miliband.

    Firstly there’s the campaign itself and the relentless and successful way that DaveM is pursuing the “front runner” strategy. He’s got more MPs and local parties and he also showed flair with the visit to Gillian Duffy which ended with him getting her backing.

    Secondly there was the argument by James Forsyth in the Speccie Coffee House blog that David, rather than Ed, posed a greater long term threat to the coalition.

    “.. The two Miliband brothers—who are also the two serious contenders—pose very different threats to the Coalition’s vulnerable party, the Lib Dems. Ed Miliband would probably be more effective at attacking them in the short term. His allies say that he would try and shame their left-wing supporters into abandoning them.

    But in the medium to long term, I suspect David would be the greater threat. As a less tribal politician, he would be more able to speak in terms that would resonate with disaffected Liberal Democrats…”

    Thirdly there’s an insightful piece by the ever excellent Philip Stephens in the Financial Times in which he concludes “..a centre-left opposition serious about winning office needs a leader to take it out of its comfort zone – to admit the books must be balanced and, dare one say it, to imagine how its values can be advanced through a smarter rather than bigger state. For all his present caution, Mr Miliband senior is the only candidate who comes close…”

    Whether DM being the only realistic choice for the party will actually come about I don’t know. There’s a lot that could go wrong – but from a pure betting perspective I’ve reduced my exposure on EdM and am comfortably in the green on both brothers.

    Polling news: Labour move to 38% with MORI

    The figures are C40: L38: LD 14. See here.

    So seriously good news for the reds and bad news for the yellows.

    Mike Smithson


    How votes have churned since the election

    Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
    Latest voting intention CON-May 6 LAB-May 6 LD-May 6
    Conservative 83% 2% 6%
    Labour 1% 80% 15%
    Lib Dem 2% 2% 54%
    UKIP 1% 1%
    Greens 1% 1% 3%
    BNP 3%
    Would not vote 3% 2% 2%
    Won’t say/don’t know 10% 12% 18%

    Some data from Ashcroft’s 6,000 sample Populus poll

    The above table showing current voting intention linked to what respondents said they did at the election is from the 6,000 sample Populus poll of marginals in England that was funded by the Tory peer, and owner of ConsrervativeHome, Michael Ashcroft. Morus discussed the main findings in a thread here a few days ago.

    Although it was restricted to respondents in just 200 English constituencies the size of the sample, six times larger than standard ICM, ComRes or MORI phone polls, makes it significant.

    It provides an interesting snap-shot of how voters might have changed their view since the election on May 6 and the formation of the coalition.

    As we’ve seen in other polling both Labour and the Tories are doing attracting more support than they are losing. It’s the Lib Dems that are taking the hit with just 54% of May 6 voters saying they’ll do so again. Of the balance a fair slice is taken up by the won’t say/don’t knows with 15% switching to Labour and 6% to the Tories.

    Interestingly both the BNP and the Greens do quite well from the yellows. On the positive side for Clegg’s party they are picking up 2% of both the general election Tory vote and Labour vote.

    What should please the blue team here is that in spite of all the noise UKIP is barely registering. The idea that the coalition could prompt a slippage of vote from the Tory right flank does not appear to be happening.

    To repeat – this was restricted to a specific set of seats and does not include Scotland or Wales.

    Today I’m hoping that we’ll see the latest MORI poll.

    MORI Just out
    CON 40
    LAB 38
    LD 14

    So seriously good news for the reds and bad news for the yellows.

    Mike Smithson


    Does the Guardian ICM poll have C38-L34-LD19?

    Monday, July 26th, 2010


    Have the figures been published inadvertently?

    My understanding is that the Guardian might be holding over its latest ICM poll because of its Afgan leaks coverage but thanks to Tim on the previous thread we can make a good guess at the numbers anyway.

    For it appears that the latest numbers, based on polling over the weekend, are included on the interactive graphic which I’ve reproduced above.

    Last time, nearly five weeks ago, it was C39-L31-LD21 – and from the chart it looks as though the latest poll has C38-L34-LD19 C38-L34-LD19.

    Compared with the more recent ICM poll in the Sunday Telegraph on June 24th the figures are: CON 38 (-3): LAB 34 (-1): LD 19 (+3)

    This will provide much relief for the yellows, please the reds but be a disappointment for the blues.

    UPDATE: I’ve changed it to Labour at 34.

    0030 PB Numbers for the poll now confirmed

    The Guardian has now published details of the poll and the figures that we had here earlier in the evening have been proved to be correct. See Julian Glover’s report here.

    Mike Smithson


    YouGov boost for Clegg on the war’s legality?

    Monday, July 26th, 2010
    The Iraq War – Legal or illegal? ALL CON LAB LD
    Legal 24 21 39 12
    Illegal 47 52 35 64
    Don’t know 29 27 25 24

    According to the data from the Sunday Times YouGov poll, just published the above was the response to a question on the legality of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. As can be seen there’s a sharp divide between party supporters.

    The precise question was: “On Wednesday the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg described the war in Iraq as “illegal”. Leaving aside whether you personally supported or opposed the war in Iraq, from what you know, do you think it was LEGAL or ILLEGAL?”

    The VI figures were: CON 41: LAB 35: LD 14.

    In the next 24 hours I’m hoping for both ICM and MORI polls.

    Mike Smithson