Archive for September, 2015

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Suddenly the polls and the betting move away from Donald Trump

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Check out the above Fox News report



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Jeremy Corbyn needs saving from his “friends”

Friday, September 25th, 2015

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This week’s column from Don Brind

Jeremy Corbyn has done remarkably well in attracting MPs into the big tent, which his closest ally John McDonnell says he wants to inhabit.

Although the leadership failed to recruit some of the front benchers they wanted to keep there has been none of the flouncing out that Polly Toynbee warned against.

There has been a search for common ground rather than the highlighting differences – an approach I urged in a previous post.

But some Corbyn supporters don’t seem to get the big tent idea

A local activist denounced Croydon North MP Steve Reed as a “hypocrite” for accepting the number two job in the Community and Local Government team. His crime was to have supported Liz Kendall in the election and allegedly “slagged off” Jeremy Corbyn.. In a twitter exchange with the self-styled “senior volunteer” I suggested that if Reed was a hypocrite for taking a job so too was Corbyn for offering it.

I should admit to a bias. I was Labour’s media officer in the Croydon North by election in 2012 where Reed was elected. I thought he was a great candidate. And his new boss is one of my favourite senior Labour politicians, Jon Trickett. A plumber by trade and a keen cyclist he’s a blunt speaker with a sharp political brain. He was PPS to Gordon Brown and confidant to both Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn.

Both men can draw on an impressive track record as innovators in local government — Reed in Lambeth and Trickett in Leeds. Local government will be one of the key battlegrounds with the Tory government and I have high hopes of their partnership. And it’s vital that such partnerships between Corbyn pros and antis are made to work – both for Corbyn and for the party. But they won’t work unless the leader himself creates the right atmosphere.

My old boss, the BBC political editor John Cole said “one of the duties of a political leader is to chip away at the prejudices of his followers.” Next Tuesday, in his conference speech, would be a good time for Jeremy to start doing a bit of chipping.

Many Corbyn supporters – including, no doubt the Croydon activist, have a simple view of what happened on September 12th. Jeremy won with a landslide and he has a mandate for his policies. The 90 per cent of Labour MPs who didn’t vote for him should knuckle down and apply those policies. Any backsliding and they will face re-selection.

If Corbyn encourages that view his big tent will quickly be in shreds.

The new leader will get lots of advice about what should go into his speech. Whether he gets time to read it is another matter. But two are definitely worth heeding. One is from Marcus Roberts, who managed Sadiq Khan’s successful campaign for the London Mayoral nomination. He says the Corbyn conference should talk to the country and not just to itself.

The other is from former MP Chris Mullin.

“My advice: address the nation rather than the party and learn to use an autocue”

The two things go together. It’s hard to make a mark with the millions of television viewers if you are peering down at your notes over the top of your glasses.

Don Brind



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Polling shows the Labour Party brand in big trouble

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

This Thursday’s poll by Ipsos Mori is bad for Jeremy Corbyn but even worse for Labour, says Keiran Pedley.

Today’s poll looked at public perceptions of Jeremy Corbyn and David Cameron and the Labour and Conservative Party brands in detail. In addition to voting intention and asking respondents which of Cameron or Corbyn would make the ‘most capable Prime Minister’, the poll also listed a series of statements and asked which of them applied to each party and their leaders. It’s a useful exercise to go beyond simple voting intention which, let’s face it, is suffering from a lack of credibility at the moment anyway – not least given that the next General Election is due in 2020.

Tough start for Corbyn

The headline figure doing the rounds earlier highlighted that Jeremy Corbyn’s initial net satisfaction rating (-3) is the worst of any new leader in my lifetime (I am 31 in November). In addition, Cameron leads Corbyn on who would make the ‘most capable Prime Minister’ by 53% to 27%. Even the most ardent Corbyn supporter must privately concede that this is a difficult start.

Ipsos Mori

The problem Corbyn faces is that despite this poll showing that Cameron is seen as ‘out of touch’ (64%), he is also seen as a ‘capable leader’ (62%), ‘good in a crisis’ (51%) and having a ‘clear vision for Britain’ (56%). He is seen as competent and I suspect that this is why Lord Ashcroft’s recent book won’t hurt him too much. The public know he is posh but they trust him as PM. (Incidentally, I suspect that as long as Labour attack Cameron for being ‘out of touch’ and posh – rather than attack on the substance of his perceived competence – I suspect that they won’t get very far either).

It isn’t all bad for the Labour leader though. 54% agree that Corbyn is ‘more honest than most politicians’ whilst perhaps more importantly some 31% say that they ‘don’t know’ whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied with him. In contrast, just 7% say the same about David Cameron who has a net satisfaction rating of minus 10. This means that, theoretically at least, Corbyn has time to improve his standing with the voters. He just doesn’t have much of it. However, as we know, should Corbyn make it to 2020, he won’t be standing against Cameron anyway which is another plus.

Personally, as I wrote on this blog last week, I don’t think Corbyn will make it to 2020. Therefore Labour’s chances in 2020, if you think they have any, largely rest on who replaces him as leader and the state of the Labour Party brand when they do. It is here where today’s poll should be most worrying for Labour.

Labour’s brand is in big trouble

Today’s poll showed that the Conservative Party brand largely mirrors that of its leader. They are seen as ‘fit to govern’ (56%) with a ‘good team of leaders’ (49%). Both measures have improved since April and worrying for Labour there isn’t a great deal of difference between the parties on ‘keeps its promises’ or ‘looks after the interests of people like me’.

Ipsos Mori 2

In contrast, Labour really struggles on those attributes that would show them as a serious alternative party of government – just 35% consider them ‘fit to govern’. However, it is when Labour’s numbers are compared to the same statements asked in April when we really see the trouble the party is in. This summer (and the election of Corbyn) has not been kind to the Labour brand. There has been a 22 point increase in those that consider the party ‘extreme’ whilst 75% say that the party is ‘divided’ (up a whopping 32 points from April).

And then comes the real kicker, Labour is now seen as more ‘out of date’ (55%) than the Conservatives (48%). This is ‘just one poll’ and Jeremy Corbyn remains a relative unknown to the public right now but if Labour’s brand woes stick it is hard to articulate just how much trouble the party is in. Regardless of who leads it, whilst Labour is seen as more ‘extreme’, ‘divided’ and ‘out of date’ than a Conservative Party deemed to be led competently, it is unelectable. Individual policies matter little. Voters vote based on the brand of the parties and their leaders and rarely on individual policies. Right now, the Labour Party brand is in big trouble.

So make no mistake, next week’s Labour Party conference is already make or break. Leaders get a small window in which to define themselves and time is running out for Corbyn already. Meanwhile, there are worrying signs that the Labour Party brand is moving towards a position where it is unelectable.  Things can change quickly in politics but Labour should be under no illusions – things are serious and Labour needs to do something about it fast.

Keiran Pedley is an elections and polling expert at GfK and tweets about polling and politics at @keiranpedley



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UPDATE Corbyn becomes first LAB leader EVER to record negative ratings in his opening Ipsos MORI satisfaction ratings

Thursday, September 24th, 2015



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“Call me Dave”: The Ashcroft revelations in the Mail appear to have run out of steam

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

The “revelations” from Day 4 of the Daily Mail’s serialisation of Lord Ashcroft’s unofficial biography of Mr Cameron don’t quite have the potency of what we saw earlier in the week.

There’s nothing on today’s front page that struck me as being a must read and interestingly the amount of space being allocated is declining. That’s the problem with serialisations – you get the really juicy bits in right at the start but you do need to hold back material so that there is something that grabs attention every day.

Of the three areas highlighted this morning just one of them, the breakfast with the Queen, appears to provide new information. But surely don’t all Prime Ministers at some stage experience less comfortable sessions with the monarch during their terms of office?

The other two, foreign aid on which Lord Ashcroft has repeatedly set out his views and what appears to be a reference to Cameron’s Handling of the Leveson Inquiry, are about the politics rather than offering new information.

Maybe there are more goodies to come tomorrow or at the weekend but don’t hold your breath.

The big political issue that the book has raised is the timing of Cameron’s knowledge of Lord Ashcroft non Dom status. That could go on.

Mike Smithson





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New YouGov polling for the New Statesman shows the huge gap between Corbyn supporters and the voters LAB needs to attract

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

Peter Kellner has an analysis in tomorrow’s New Statesman which includes the polling featured above on the attitude on a range of matters by Corbyn supporters, current firm and weak LAB voters, and the target groups that the party needs to bring on board at a general election.

Question by question the gap is massive. Those who came to LAB to election the new leader have a very different view of the world.

This is from Peter’s article:

“..Those who voted for Jeremy Corbyn overwhelmingly describe themselves as left-wing. They reject capitalism, and they admire Tony Benn more than they admire Tony Blair. Two-thirds of them want to abolish private schools and the monarchy, and favour higher taxes to pay for greater welfare.

Labour’s target voters think none of these things. Nor do many current Labour supporters. The table gives the main findings. The first column sets out the views of those who voted for Corbyn to be party leader. The final three columns are taken from a separate survey of more than 10,000 electors. Currently, just over a quarter would vote Labour; a further 20 per cent would consider doing so. To win in 2020, Labour must retain the support of almost all its present supporters and at least half its potential voters.

Our figures show how hard this will be..”

Clearly a lot can happen in the next four and a half years but but us hard to see how Mr. Corbyn can keep on side those who supported him in the leadership election and those voters that the party needs to attract.

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Mike Smithson





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Farron’s speech was pretty well received but what a mountain his party has to climb

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

Reaction from leading commentators on final morning of LD conference



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Damian McBride wonders why there’s been no official denial of the pig story from Team Dave

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

There’s a fascinating critique in the Guardian this morning by Damian McBride on the way the Cameron team has dealt with the allegations being made by Lord Ashcroft, particularly the one about the pig.

He argues strongly that they should have been a total an absolute denial of the story right at the very start and by that not being it has been made the situation far worse.

McBride, of course, worked for Gordon Brown and had a lot of experience of situations like this. He observes:

“.. Perhaps the PM’s spin team decided that responding officially to the pig story would oblige them to respond to potentially more damaging allegations regarding Ashcroft’s non-dom status. Better, instead, to say they were not commenting on any of the book’s contents.

If so, it was a major miscalculation, and one I’d suggest they are too experienced to have made. In the absence of an instant bucket of water, the story has caught fire over the past two days. Not only that, it’s allowed other newspapers to declare open season on Cameron’s private life, as we see from today’s “coke parties” splash in the Sun…

Mike Smithson