Archive for August, 2013


Angus Reid poll on Scotland

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

There’s a new poll out by Angus Reid for the Sunday Express on the Scottish Independence referendum, which sees an improvement for the Yes side


Note, the changes are from Angus Reid’s last poll on this topic, which was for The Mail on Sunday, the Sunday Express articles references the last poll conducted for the Sunday Express. The Mail on Sunday Poll details can be found here

Other excerpts from the poll

  • 28 per cent of people say they feel “engaged” by the referendum debate compared to 20 per cent who say they feel “bored”
  • Only 55 per cent of SNP voters at the last Scottish Parliament election plan to vote Yes, with more than a quarter – 27 per cent – set to vote No.
  • 30 per cent of Labour voters at the last Scottish Parliament election are set to back independence, along with 22 per cent of Lib Dem supporters.
  • 4% of Conservative voters are planning to back independence

With just under 13 months to go, there is all to play for both sides, especially if 30% of Labour voters are set to back independence, as an aside most of the comment on this poll is “ MORE than half a million Scots would consider moving south of the Border or emigrating abroad if the country becomes independent.” I’m very dubious about these types of question, I’d suspect those planning to move, were most unlikely to ever vote for Scotland to become an independent country.

The fieldwork info was Angus Reid surveyed 549 Scottish voters on August 16 – shortly after Scotland played England at Wembley




Sunday Polling Roundup

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

There are three polls out.

First up is the YouGov poll for the Sunday Times



Second up there’s the usual fortnightly poll by Opinium for the Observer (Also note the responses to fracking and nuclear power stations, which shows we’re a nation of NIMBYs)


As the Observer notes, fitting in with the YouGov pattern on Ed’s ratings

Two weeks ago Labour’s lead slipped by three percentage points compared with the two weeks before, possibly the result of negative media coverage of Miliband’s performance and a lack of energy at the top of the party.

While the lead is now steady, the decline in Miliband’s net approval ratings looked more alarming in poll after poll. Four weeks ago Miliband’s net rating was -22. Now it stands at -31.

The decline is not dramatic but gradual. A fortnight ago 21% said they approved of Miliband’s performance, against 47% who said they disapproved. Now just 19% approve and 50% disapprove.

David Cameron’s personal ratings have dropped since mid summer when they were around -15%. Now 32% approve of his performance against 50% who disapprove, leaving a net rating of -18, while 13% approve of Nick Clegg’s leadership and 60% disapprove, giving the Lib Dem leader a net score of -47.

The most interesting poll (and I suspect the one that will be the most commented upon poll) is the Wisdom poll conducted by ICM for the Sunday Telegraph.


The changes from their last Wisdom Index Poll from a fortnight ago is the Tories down one, with Labour, the Lib Dems and UKIP all unchanged.

As ICM have noted before “At the 2010 GE [the Wisdom Index] out performed every other poll”

Also this polling shows bad figures for Ed Miliband personally,the number of people who think he is doing a “good job” as Labour leader is at an all-time low. 21% say he is doing a good job, compared to 32% who said the same about Dave, and 17% for Nick Clegg.

(Note these are absolute figures, and not net figures)

Martin Boon of ICM compared Miliband’s leadership to Iain Duncan Smith’s spell in charge of the Conservatives.

“Ed Miliband is not in a good place. Only a fifth of voters are satisfied with his performance,” he said. “It’s difficult to imagine that things could be any worse for him, or indeed how he can succeed in turning the public around.

“He is becoming Labour’s IDS and if it carries on like this it’s hard not to think that we’ll be seeing Conservative polling leads very soon.

Overall for Labour supporters, all three polls show Labour leads, two out of the three polls show, even with Ed’s ratings, Labour still enjoy a 6-7% lead.

For the Blues, the ICM poll would give grounds for optimism, as it is the second ICM poll showing the Labour lead in the 1-2% range, but polling at 30% isn’t ideal for retaining power in 2015, but Ed’s ratings across all pollsters, from Mori to these three, could give grounds for optimism, we will see if Martin Boon’s observation will become reality.

No wonder that Dame Tessa Jowell has said Public criticism of Ed Miliband’s leadership by senior Labour figures is creating an impression of “toxic disunity” and risks handing the next election to the Tories




Independence Referendum turnout betting

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

With a little over 389 days to go until Scottish voters decide whether to leave the Union or not.

The table below shows the turnout in Scotland for a variety of elections and plebiscites, going back to 1974.


Westminster election


Holyrood election

1974 F


1974 O


1979 March


1979 May








1997 May


1997 Sep



















As we can see turnout in elections and plebiscites where the vote is purely Scotland only, the turnout appears to be lower than turnout than when Scotland partakes in UK wide elections. So if history repeats itself, the turnout in the Independence referendum will be less than the 63.8% turnout in the 2010 General Election.

That said, given the epochal nature of the upcoming referendum, I can see the arguments for turnout being higher than the 2010 General election turnout. That said, with the franchise being extended to 16 and 17 year olds, I can see the overall turnout being pushed lower, as younger votes have a tendency not to vote in elections.

Paddy Power and Betfair have markets up on the turnout in the Indy ref.


I think the value lies with Paddy Power’s two ranges below 64% and laying the higher turnout percentages over at Betfair, but I can see why other posters may wish to pursue alternative strategies.

  • Many thanks to Dr Spyn and John Loony for providing me and helping to locate the figures for some of the turnout figures.





Is Harriet Harman Labour’s Michael Howard option?

Saturday, August 24th, 2013


Would stability be the prime concern if Miliband went?

Ed Miliband has now been leader of the Labour Party for longer than Gordon Brown was.  For the majority of that time, Labour has been comfortably ahead in the opinion polls and has made steady progress in local council seats and Westminster by-elections.  Even so, doubts continue to be expressed about his leadership.  Labour has not shown much ability to set a policy or media narrative since he became leader and perhaps is not trying to – or at least, not trying hard enough.  On a more personal level, his own ratings are nothing to write home about and while the headline leadership satisfaction figures are better than Clegg’s and similar to Cameron’s, the scores for personality attributes should worry him.

Having said all that, I fully expect Ed Miliband to lead Labour into the next election.  For one thing, Labour has nothing like the tradition or appetite (or easy mechanism) for removing leaders that the Tories have; for another, it would be difficult to publicly justify a change with the polls as they are; for a third, it’s not obvious that Labour have an alternative leader who’d do better or wants to try.

But Miliband being strongly odds-on to stay until at least the election doesn’t mean there’s not value elsewhere.  When the Conservatives dumped IDS mid-term as leader, it was party elder statesman Michael Howard who took over unopposed.  When Charles Kennedy was forced out by the Lib Dems, the beneficiary (of sorts) was his deputy, Menzies Campbell, before they went to the opposite extreme and elected Clegg when Campbell resigned.  There is a clear trend that parties who believe themselves to be under performing choose a leader on the thin-pope-fat-pope principle.

To that end, I very much doubt that if Miliband were to go, he’d be replaced by another of his generation such as Balls, Cooper or Burnham, never mind one from the next (and members of both could be forgiven for having one eye on the post-2015 situation).  The 2010 leadership election was the time to gamble and pick someone who could grow into the role.  An election between now and 2015 would require as the outcome a safe pair of hands.

To that end, the options are very limited.  The experienced members of Gordon Brown’s cabinet have largely melted into the background with most having retired from the front line, voluntarily or otherwise.  Alistair Darling might be a possibility were he not fully occupied (very effectively) leading the unionist campaign in Scotland – a campaign Labour really needs to win.  The other obvious candidate would be Labour’s current deputy leader, Harriet Harman.

Harman is 63 and would have little to lose should a vacancy arise in the scenario we’re considering, much like Howard didn’t in 2003.  Nor would potential future leaders have much to lose in letting her have a go unless people believe they could do substantially better, which sets them an unenviably high bar to start with.  At the time of writing, Harman was 33/1 to be next Labour leader with Ladbrokes and Paddy Power.  That strikes me as generous.

David Herdson


Betting on how many deposits the Lib Dems will lose in 2015

Friday, August 23rd, 2013


A couple of weeks ago, Mike wrote about the potential number of Lib Dem lost deposits in 2015 and how the total of lost LD deposits which, if local trends continue, could run into the hundreds.

Now in 2010, the Liberal Democrats didn’t lose any deposits, whilst the the Conservatives lost just two deposits and Labour lost five deposits.

At the General Election in 2015 I’m fully expecting the Lib Dem resources to be concentrated on around 75-80 seats, the 57 they currently hold, and the 20-25 target seats or so they could gain if the Tories have a relatively poor night.

The remaining 570 seats won’t have much Lib Dem money or resources thrown at them.

Paddy Power have put a market up on the number of Lib Dem lost deposits at the 2015 General Election.

Of the fourteen Great British by-elections held since the 2010 General Election, the Lib Dems have lost their deposit in seven of them.

On that basis, I’ve had a couple nibbles on the over 126 plus ranges.

UPDATE – Thanks to AndyJS – for posting the link to the Lib Dem Share of the vote in 2010 by consituency





Henry G Manson – On the Lobbying Bill

Friday, August 23rd, 2013



This Big Brother Bill Belongs to Zimbabwe Not Britain

Hasty legislation usually makes for the lousy legislation. But for lousy and cynical legislation, look no further than the government’s ‘Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill’. It appears to be the latest sinister stunt from a Conservative Party looking to boost its chances in the run-up to the general election by effectively clamping down on dissenting views.

Under this legislation the staff time, office costs and expenditures of thousands of blogs, think tanks, charities and campaigners are all set to be heavily capped in the year before the May 2015 general election. What’s worse is that the regulation of independent organisations will not only come from the state, but even from the political parties themselves.

The Spectator’s Sebastian Payne explains that political blogs that spend more than is permissible would require the permission of political parties. ‘This new regime, unless clearly defined in the bill, could affect political blogs. Not necessarily due to their funding, but because some bloggers write primarily about the ongoings of a particular party, which could be classed as campaigning. This would give Ed Miliband the power to shut down LabourList, or David Cameron to Conservative Home, if he took a dislike to their coverage.’

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations warns that charities campaigning seeking to change views and attitudes risks being classified as electioneering. ‘This means that a charity that published campaigning material on an issue such as housing or healthcare could be considered to be engaging in political campaigning if it shares a point of view with one party but not another, even if its intention was just to inform the public, and even if it did not even mention the election.’

Respected anti-fascist campaigners Hope Not Hate have highlighted  how they will be legally limited to spending just 2% of what the British National Party is able to spend in the year before the last general election under these new proposals. They describe it as ‘nothing more than a Gagging Bill, limiting democracy, political involvement and criticism. At a time when trust in political parties and politicians is at an all-time low we need to increase involvement and participation in the democratic process rather than limiting it.’

Meanwhile the TUC have calculated that to hold their traditional annual Congress in the year before an election would become a criminal offence due to the expenditure involved. Their General Secretary Frances O’Grady damned the bill as “an outrageous attack on freedom of speech worthy of an authoritarian dictatorship” 

So charities, anti-racist organisations, trade unions and political blogs stand to be hit hard by the bill, while decaying political parties including the BNP will be its beneficiaries.

Presumably such a Bill must well and truly cover lobbyists? Seasoned lobbyist and former head of Public Affairs at Bell Pottinger Peter Bingle says no ‘Only a tiny percentage of the so-called lobbying industry will be covered by the bill, and in-house lobbyists are excluded. This is bizarre, as most lobbying of ministers, special advisers and officials is done by employees of corporations and trade associations and not by public affairs consultants. I will not be covered by the bill as it is drafted and nor will most of the major players in the public affairs consultancy world.’

Guido Fawkes agrees adding that ‘a huge amount of the type of lobbying that needs most scrutiny has been let off entirely’.

Politics simply should not be the sole property of political parties. Thoughtful Conservative MP Douglas Carswell asks, ‘If 38 Degrees or the Taxpayers’ Alliance want to get stuck in during an election campaign, why shouldn’t they? What possible reason can there be to regulate the political engagement of institutions in a free society?’

It is a sad reflection on David Cameron, who once described himself as ‘a liberal Conservative’, that his government seems intent on curtailing the campaigning freedoms of others to buttress support. He refuses to admit how many Conservative members have been lost under his watch yet wants to curtail thriving civic campaigning organisations far bigger than his own. His desperate response through this Bill owes more to Zimbabwe than Britain.

For Liberal Democrat MPs to back such Big Brother measures would surely mark a new chapter in the party’s departure from liberal values. It speaks volumes about Nick Clegg’s leadership that it cannot be ruled out. Chloe Smith is the government minister responsible for this Big Brother bill’s speedy passage. Email her at to tell her what you think. While you can.


Henry G Manson


Local By-Election Preview: August 22nd 2013

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013


Askern Spa on Doncaster (Lab Defence)
Last Local Election (2012): Lab 50, Con 9, Lib Dem 3, Ind 1 (Labour overall majority of 37)

Ward results in last electoral cycle

2010: Con 1,502 (27%), Lab 2,756 (49%), Eng Dems 1,415 (25%)
2011: Con 831 (21%), Lab 2,205 (55%), Ind 416 (10%), Eng Dems 574 (14%)
2012: Con 954 (30%), Lab 2,269 (70%)

At the start of modern electoral history, Doncaster was a fascinating place. A true Con / Lab battleground (worthy of the Worcesters, Harlows and Basildons of today). From 1950 to 1979, Doncaster was keenly fought over and never had a majority of more than 8,000 at any one time.

That was until the 1983 boundary changes when Doncaster was replaced by Doncaster Central, Doncaster North and the Don Valley and then politics in Doncaster got just a little on the boring side. Huge Labour majorities (topping 50% in Doncaster North at the 1997 election) and even though the majorities have shrunk since then with such Labour lights as Caroline Flint (Don Valley), Rosie Winterton (Doncaster Central) and a certain Ed Milliband (Doncaster North) are likely to get re-elected with massive majorities again.

So Doncaster is a boring town, electorally speaking. Well, not quite. Doncaster suddenly erupted into the news in 2009 when in the third election for an elected mayor in Doncaster it threw a massive spanner into the works by electing an English Democrat. Yes, that party who at the last general election polled a grand total of 64,826 votes (half that of Plaid Cymru, in very nearly three times as many constituencies) had hit the electoral jackpot by winning an election.

Naturally the media leapt on this reporting it as “a sign that Britain was fed up with what the parties were offering” however it wasn’t long before the media cottoned on the fact that this new Mayor has some very interesting policies including “The one thing to be said about the Taliban is that they do have an ordered society of some sort and that they don’t have hundreds of cases of children under threat of abuse from violent parents, as we have in Doncaster” a few months after his election.

He left the English Democrats in February of this year and sought to retain his post as an Independent against an official English Democrat candidate. In the first round of voting held in May at the same time as the county elections, he polled 590 fewer votes than Labour but qualified for the run off where he only managed to cut the gap by 49 votes meaning that Labour gained the mayoralty and have re-established their complete control of Doncaster at all levels.

Bracebridge on Lincoln (Con Defence)

Last Local Election (2012): Lab 24, Con 8, Ind 1 (Labour overall majority of 15)

Ward results in last electoral cycle

2010: Con 1,632 (42%), Lab 1,143 (29%), Lib Dem 775 (20%), BNP 206 (5%), UKIP 148 (4%)
2011: Con 1,134 (49%), Lab 932 (41%), UKIP 234 (10%)
2012: Con 712 (41%), Lab 719 (41%), Lib Dem 82 (5%), BNP 49 (3%), UKIP 183 (11%)

Lincoln is another example of a battleground and tracks what has happened to all the parties since the Labour landslide of 1997. In the first elections post that landslide, Labour enjoyed success after success and made a very healthy 21 seat majority by the 2003 local elections. However from there on, things started to go downhill and in 2007, they lost control to the Conservatives, however any hopes the Conservatives had of establishing control were short lived as in 2010 the Conservatives lost overall control and Labour gained overall control the following year before really piling on the pressure in 2012 (and inflicting seven net losses onto the Conservatives) and with this ward voting Labour by seven in 2012, it would be a confident fellow to say “Conservative HOLD” but with Ed Milliband’s popularity at an all time low, will Labour be able to repeat last year’s success or (despite their problems) will Lincolnshire’s opposition on the county council (UKIP) strike at the heart of the county?

Newby on Scarborough (Ind Defence) / Ramshill on Scarborough (Con Defence)
Last Local Election (2011): Con 25, Ind 14, Lab 6, Lib Dem 3, Green 2 (No Overall Control, Con and Opposition tied)

Newby Ward Result (Emboldened denotes elected)

Name of Party

First Candidate

Second Candidate

Third Candidate







Liberal Democrats






Green Party


Ramshill Ward Result (Emboldened denotes elected)

Name of Party

First Candidate

Second Candidate






Liberal Democrats




Green Party


“Are you going to Scarborough Faire?” sang Simon and Garfunkel, putting their twist on the song from the middle ages and after listing a seemingly random selection of herbs, they plead “Remember me to the the one who lives there, for she was once a true love of mine!”.

A sentiment that could easily apply to all the parties on Scarborough council (as they all seem to have had a go at being in charge). Back in 2003 it was the Conservative who had an overall majority (albeit three) but a majority is a majority, but despite the national swing to the Conservatives in the 2007 local elections, in Scarborough things did not go according to plan.

The Conservatives lost two seats, the Independents gained one, Labour gained two, the Liberal Democrats gained three and although the Greens stayed still, their share of the vote went up leaving the council hung but with the opposition having two more seats than the Conservatives. Naturally following the general election in 2010, the natural assumption was “Labour will have a barnstorming election”.

Well, as in 2007 the electorate of Scarborough had clearly not read the script. Con +2, Ind -1, Lab +2, Lib Dem -3, Green no change, thus leaving the council in the position it is in now. Which gives the electors of Ramshill especially, an interesting question. Do they follow the rule book and elect a Labour councillor or ignore it completely keep their Independent streak and hope that the electors of Newby (who clearly also have an Independent streak) throw a spanner in the works and declare an Independent GAIN from Con (and put the opposition back in control)?

Harry Hayfield


Ipsos Mori Issues Index out

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

The Augusut Ipsos-Mori issues index is out