Archive for July, 2013

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The constituencies where the LDs will be most vulnerable at GE2015 and those where they are likely to do best

Monday, July 29th, 2013

The incumbency experience for the yellows at GE2010

There’s been some discussion over the weekend about the impact of incumbency and how it can help the parties achieve better outcomes in terms of seats won than the uniform swing might suggest.

In a post on Saturday I looked at the GE2010 experience of the Tories and Labour.

Today’s it’s the turn of the Lib Dems and the chart above shows how it performed on average in different types of seats that it was defending.

As can be seen the party did far worse in those seats where the candidate was new saw an average vote loss compared with GE2005 of 4.7%. Incumbents MPs standing again did better seeing on average a slight improvement.

But the biggest change was for those who were defending their seat for the first time seeing an average increase in vote share of 3.1%.

    So the spread the yellows was getting on for four time as big as for the blues and reds.

As well as the personal element of an incumbent being better known it’s also very likely that organisational strengths are much greater where you have a sitting MP.

  • The chart above is based on data from a post-2010 paper by Prof John Curtice, Dr Stephen Fisher and Dr Rob Ford, and looks at the impact of incumbency at the 2010 general election.

    Mike Smithson

    For the latest polling and political betting news




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    The big July polling news: The decline of UKIP and the launch of the twice weekly Populus online survey

    Sunday, July 28th, 2013

    All the firms have UKIP in the same direction

    The easing off of UKIP support is one of the factors that has helped the Tories in recent weeks.

    We should get a sense on Thursday of whether this movement in the polls is reflected in UKIP’s performance in real elections. Two of the County Council divisions won by the purples on May 2nd are up.

    The ever so stable new polling series from Populus

    There should be another Populus online poll tomorrow.

    Mike Smithson

    For the latest polling and political betting news




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    How the first time incumbency bonus can impact on the uniform national swing seat projections

    Saturday, July 27th, 2013

    Labour incumbents also did better at GE2010

    The Tories will have many more first time incumbents

    The charts above are based on data from a post-2010 paper by Prof John Curtice, Dr Stephen Fisher and Dr Rob Ford, and looks at the impact of incumbency at the 2010 general election.

    As can be seen the type of CON seat where the party did least well were in seats they were trying to retain but with a new candidate. Next up are those seats where incumbents were standing and the third column shows how first-time incumbents standing again fared.

    The difference is quite marked ranging from 2.9% where a new candidate stood in a CON seat to 5.9% in those seats which had been won in 2005 and which the incumbent was defending for the first time.

    One of the drivers of the first time incumbency bonus is that new MPs build up the party organisation in their constituencies as well as developing a bigger local profile through surgeries, case-work and the like. The overall impact is that they achieve bigger swings compared with candidates for their party standing for the first time or those seeking a second or subsequent re-election.

      If that happens at GE2015 then it could help the Tories in the marginals they are trying to defend.

    What will be very interesting will be what happens where Labour re-select the former MP who was defeated last time. Will that reduce the impact of first incumbency?

    Mike Smithson

    For the latest polling and political betting news




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    Now is the time to tackle party funding reform

    Saturday, July 27th, 2013

    It’s not healthy for parties to be reliant on a few large supporters

    July 2013 may well come to be seen as the turning point in this parliament.  The economy looks to have decisively turned the corner.  We only hear talk of triple-dip recessions in the context of no longer talking about triple-dip recessions.  Employment is rising, unemployment is falling, growth is accelerating and confidence is returning.  One would expect that to feed through to the key battleground of the deficit before long.

    This month has also seen Ed Miliband’s initiative on reforming the relationship between Labour and the trade unions, prompted by the Falkirk selection troubles and leading to a row between the leaderships of the Labour Party and the Unite union.  While this clearly won’t have the same level of public interest or immediate impact, anything which causes parties to behave differently from how they otherwise would have done is of import.

    The proposals are not mere tinkering: Miliband is gambling millions of pounds of membership-related income on being able to persuade enough affiliates to join (figures released yesterday showed that union affiliation fees were worth £8m to Labour in 2012).  If he’s successful, Labour has a mighty election machine to work with; if he’s not, he could bankrupt his party.

    The length of time he’s planning on taking over these reforms represents another significant risk: the discussion, planning, consultation and debate will last close to half the period between now and the start of the general election.  It would be a surprise if the Conservatives and Lib Dems didn’t use Labour’s internal distractions to embed in the public’s mind their critique on the economy (namely that Labour caused the mess and had the wrong solutions both in government and opposition, and that while the measures the government took were painful, they have been proven right by events).

    Another facet of the fallout from the Falkirk situation was Miliband’s renewed call for a cap on donations.  This is another strand to his reforms and in essence makes good sense: political parties should ideally be mass-membership movements with many contributors, not overly reliant on (and potentially beholden to) a few large donors.  Although Cameron has made much of the scale of Unite’s contributions to Labour, it is a bit of a weak point for the Tories too.

    The parties of government then could do far worse than propose legislation to enact the principle of limiting donations to political parties.  The rules would have to be drawn up tightly, to avoid circumvention through third parties or to multiple allied causes, or multiple donations from units within a large organisation, but it should be possible with care.

    One would assume that the Lib Dems – who are regularly outgunned financially by Labour and the Tories – would welcome such a move, both for that partisan reason and on the principles that guide their support for political reform.  Clegg could even be the bill’s sponsor given his remit with other reform legislation.

    It’s true that the Conservatives would take a hit but all things are relative and Labour’s loss of millions of pounds of union funding would equalise that situation, perhaps more than equalise.  Miliband has put the ball in play.  Cameron and/or Clegg would do well to pick it up, run, and see where they can take it.

    David Herdson

    The hr



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    Punters rate a CON majority a bit higher than a week ago

    Friday, July 26th, 2013

    What will the weekend polling bring?



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    Nick Clegg’s ratings move from the negative to the positive with LD members

    Friday, July 26th, 2013

    Maybe this just reflects declining membership

    Every year in the run-up to conference season the LD Voice website carries out an online survey of party members. Today we have the views of the leadership which sees a big change for Nick Clegg.

    Last year’s “poll” took place in a much more hostile environment for the leader and he only start to turn things round when he announced the veto on the boundary reforms.

    A year ago all the talk was of Vince Cable taking over. Now you don’t hear that so much.

    The other factor is declining party membership. You can assume that those who’ve remained are likely to those who have left.

    Whatever having a fairly united party behind him will help when general election hostilities start in earnest in 20 months.

    Mike Smithson



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    How long will it take for the Lib Dems to recover?

    Friday, July 26th, 2013

    Henry G Manson on the junior coalition partner

    This summer Nick Clegg said he wants his party to become a “fully-fledged party of government”. Despite that his party faces wipeout in 2014 and 2015 on top of the electoral hammer blows it’s received since it formed a Coalition with the Conservatives.

    More than half of the people who voted for the Liberal Democrats in 2010 have deserted them. The party has fewer than 3,000 councillors for the first time in Liberal Democrat history and has lost control of flagship councils such as Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle among others in local elections. In the recent South Shields parliamentary by-election the Liberal Democrat candidate finished seventh which was rightly described by the party’s President Tim Farron as “a shocking result”.

    The latest party membership figures have been published and show that the Liberal Democrats have lost a third of their membership since 2010. Losing councillors and members can lead to a dangerous spiral of decline for any party. There are fewer troops on the ground to get your message out and keep opponents on their toes, new talent either doesn’t come through or isn’t cultivated, resources are reduced and more pressure lands on the shoulders of a depleted number of party activists who remain. There is a clear political cause for this.

    When you look at the Liberal Democrat record in government it’s one of resounding failure. House of Lords reform has been shelved. The alternative vote was killed by public referendum. University tuition fees have not been reduced by instead have trebled. VAT has been hiked to 20%. Environmental policies have been undermined by the government with ‘fracking’ now top of the agenda. Discussion on Europe has been led by UKIP and the Conservative Eurosceptics meaning debated is focused on either leaving the EU or repatriating powers. There is no mansion tax and income taxes for the wealthy have instead been cut. The NHS is being fragmented and privatised through the Health and Social Care Act. Record numbers of people are being fed by food banks, civil liberties are being eroded, charities and voluntary organisations are closing due to cuts and immigrants are being told to ‘go home’ by Home Office advertising vans. This is not a liberal conservative government.

    Given everything the Liberal Democrats have stood for, has there ever been such a pitiful record of any UK political party when in government? And how can they possibly turn it around? I can’t see how the party has any hope of recovering while propping up a classically right-wing Conservative government and with Nick Clegg as its leader. To the outsider, the lack of consideration of a new leader and approach in the Lib Dems seems more to be one of weary resignation rather than of unity, pride and purpose. That will delay the party’s recovery and could even be fatal to its future.

    Henry G Manson



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    Local By-Election Preview: July 25th 2013

    Thursday, July 25th, 2013

    Braintree East on Braintree (Lab Defence)
    Last Local Election (2011): Con 47, Lab 9, Greens 2, Ind 2 (Conservative overall majority of 34)
    Ward Result: (Emboldened denotes elected)
    Elwyn Bishop Lab 762 41.9%
    David Messer C 759 41.7%
    Collette Gibson Lab 756

    Eric Lynch Lab 710
    Luke Harrington C 691
    Rikki Williams C 668
    Wendy Partridge Grn 297 16.3%

    “The Only Way is Essex” could be a by word for how to win a general election. At the 1997 general election, the county was full of marginals that Labour had to win. Harlow (1.58% swing to gain) and Basildon (2.19% swing to gain) would have seen a small Labour majority (and both seats did indeed vote Labour) but when Braintree went Labour (11.55% swing to gain), Harwich (13.47% swing to gain) and Castle Point (15.73% swing to gain) also went to Labour, the Labour landslide was a foregone conculsion (and the same happened in reverse in 2010). Thurrock was a Con gain on a 7% swing, Harlow 6% swing, South Basildon 7% swing and the recent history of Braintree council reflects this. Back in 2003 the council was hung (with the Conservatives four short of an overall majority) but that was no problem as part of the 2007 Conservative sweep that saw them gain 15 seats (11 from Labour) and take overall control with a 24 seat majority, a position confirmed in 2011 by more Conservative gains (this time from the Ratepayers) but as Braintree East shows, just because the Conservatives won a seat, it does not mean that they won them with a massive ward majority.

    Weybridge South on Elmbridge (Con Defence)
    Last Local Election (2012): Con 31, Rates 21, Lib Dem 6, Ind 1 (Conservative overall majority of 3)
    Ward Results (in current electoral cycle)
    2010: Con 1,434 (64%), Lib Dem 649 (29%), Lab 152 (7%)
    2011: No Election
    2012: Con 638 (69%), Lib Dem 173 (19%), Lab 107 (12%)

    Elmbridge is a bit like Ceredigion in that for ages it never read the normal electoral rulebook. Back in 2003, in a world that saw the Conservative and Liberal Democrats battle it out in the leafy shires, Elmbridge yawned and said “Nah, not our style” and demonstrated this by elected a majority Ratepayers council (albeit with a majority of two) and in the 2004 local elections they held on. However, by 2006 the Conservatives started to make inroads as they robbed the Ratepayers of their overall majority and in 2008 gained an overall majority themselves. “Not so fast” said the Ratepayers as since 2010 they have slowly been crawling their way back into contention.

    Beverley on Kingston upon Thames (Lib Dem Defence)
    Last Local Election (2010): Lib Dem 27, Con 21 (Liberal Democrat majority of 6)
    Ward Result (Embolden denotes Elected)
    Derek Osbourne LD 2138 40.6%
    Trevor Heap LD 2081
    Simon James LD 2044

    Caroline Bowis C 1738 33.0%
    Darren Spraggs C 1591
    Mike Head C 1530
    Duncan Braithwaite Lab 657 12.5%
    Chris Walker Grn 581 11.0%
    Roger Price Lab 566
    Dyan Sellayah Lab 474
    Valerie Hancock CPA 158 3.0%
    David Campanale CPA 139
    Mark Riley CPA 139

    Kingston upon Thames (or to give it formal title, the ROYAL Borough of Kingston upon Thames) has been that strange event of a place where the Liberals have always had local election success (even when the rest of London has been voting against them in spades) this was proved without a shadow of a doubt when Kingston and Sutton were the only two councils where the Lib Dems had been the largest party in the 2006 local elections to record an increase in the number of Lib Dem councillors (Sutton saw an increase of 11 and Kingston and increase of two) and yet on that same election day, in the constituencies that cover that part of London (Carshalton, Kingston, Richmond Park, Sutton and Twickenham) there was a 1% swing to the Conservatives. Does this suggest that Liberal Democrat local voters do not vote Liberal Democrat at general elections (and given that the Liberal Democrat vote has collapsed since those elections, is any Liberal Democrat seat in London where the Conservatives are challenging truly safe?)

    Tulse Hill on Lambeth (Lab Defence)
    Last Local Election (2010): Lab 44, Lib Dem 15, Con 4 (Labour overall majority of 25)
    Ward Result (Embolden denotes Elected)
    Marcia Cameron Lab 3232 50.8%
    Adedamola Aminu Lab 3186
    Toren Smith Lab 3160

    Oliver Clifford-Mobley LD 1764 27.7%
    Nicholas Wright LD 1748
    Lule Tekeste LD 1668
    Bernard Atwell Grn 759 11.9%
    Kate Whitehead Grn 698
    Jane Hersey Grn 656
    Hugh Bennett C 608 9.6%
    Joanna Hindley C 556
    Gail Thompson C 503

    This is a problem that Lambeth Liberal Democrats know only too well. In the 1986 local elections, Lambeth was a Lib Dem no go area with just three councillors and with just one gain in the 1990 local elections things were looking bleak but after a series of problems that plagued the council the Lib Dems made twenty net gains (sixteen of which were from Labour) to force the council into a state of No Overall Control. Sadly that state did not last long and Labour regained control in 1998 but in 2002 the national vote against Labour saw the Lib Dems surge this time making eleven gains and becoming the largest party but just as in 1998, Labour recovered in 2006 (bucking the national trend) and regained control and in 2010 cemented that result. But as we have seen just because the Lib Dems are able to make gains from Labour in major urban areas does not rule out Labour losing a seat to another party.

    North Worle on North Somerset (Con Defence)
    Last Local Elections (2011): Con 42, Ind 7, Lib Dem 6, Lab 5, Green 1 (Conservative overall majority of 23)
    Ward Result: (Emboldened denotes elected)
    Philip John JUDD (Conservative) 1293 votes
    Marcia Louise PEPPERALL (Conservative) 1183 votes
    Sonia RUSSE (Conservative) 1101 votes

    Peter James HARDAWAY (Liberal Democrat) 686 votes
    Ronald Charles MOON (Liberal Democrat) 671 votes
    Richard Geoffrey SKINNER (Liberal Democrat) 609 votes
    Jacqueline SCHOLES (Labour and Cooperative) 600 votes
    Darius FOSTER (Labour and Cooperative) 596 votes
    Andrew HUGHES (Labour and Cooperative) 559 votes

    North Somerset (although given as the new name for Woodspring, the constituency of the former Defence Secretary Liam Fox) has had an electoral history that would make Liam slightly embarrassed. Between the 2001 and 2010 general elections, the constituency returned Mr. Fox with stonking majorities and yet the council was anything but. Back in 2003, the council was actually hung (Con 24, Lib Dem 23, Lab 10, Ind 3, Green 1) which might explain why at the previous election the Conservatives failed to gain Weston Super Mare (having lost it in 1997) but gain it they did in 2005 and so the 2007 local elections were perhaps a little expected (Con 43, Ind 6, Lib Dem 5, Lab 3, Green 1) on the back of a Conservative lead of 20% in the council area. And given that Labour do not have much in the way of support in the South West of England, perhaps that fact that in the 2011 elections there were only three gains across the whole council gives an idea of why the Conservatives must start as favourites to hold this ward.

    Felsted on Uttlesford (Con Defence)
    Last Local Election Result (2011): Con 34, Lib Dem 8, Ind 2 (Conservative overall majority of 24)
    Ward Result: (Emboldened denotes elected)
    David Crome C 1204 79.0%
    Stephanie Favell C 1113

    Brian Flynn LD 320 21.0%
    David Richardson LD 314

    If Braintree represents the Conservative / Labour battleground in Essex, then Uttlesford (the only council in Britain to start with the letter U) is a classic Conservative / Liberal Democrat battleground. In 2003, the Lib Dems ruled the roost (Lib Dem 31, Con 10, Ind 3) and yet despite this domination at local government, the Liberal Democrats could only record a tiny swing in their favour in the Saffron Walden constituency (which combines both Braintree and Uttlesford), so it should come as no surprise that in 2007 it was all change (Con 26, Lib Dem 15, Ind 3) with the Liberal Democrats being beaten back again in 2011.