Archive for September, 2016


If Seamus Milne really is going then that could help efforts to help unify Labour

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

Is he becoming the sacrificial lamb?

We don’t know yet whether the highly controversial Milne is actually going but judging by the Tweets that’s been the buzz from Liverpool overnight.

There’s no doubt that Milne became a very powerful figure in Corbyn’s party as was seen in the controversy over reports that he altered the speech of the shadow defence secretary to water down its impact.

Him out of the way should certainly make it easier for the party to come together following JC’s re-election and those MPs opposed to the leadership will feel that their efforts have not been totally in vain.

As a former PR person myself (at one stage working for Milne’s dad in the 80s when he was BBC Director General) I’ve been underwhelmed by the way Seamus has approached his job. He appeared to have all the power of Alastair Campbell at his peak but without the skills to get good media coverage.

Let’s see how this develops.

Mike Smithson


At least the divisions within LAB at the Liverpool conference have not quite got as bad as this

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016


Labour’s TINA* nightmare.

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016


Don Brind evokes Mrs Thatcher’s memorable assertion

It’s International Peace Day and I’m in the strange position, for me, of defending Jeremy Corbyn. My audience is someone who ought to be a natural Corbynista – a veteran campaigner for peace and international development.

“I like Jeremy as a person,” I tell her”. He’s a decent man.” She is having none of it. “I think he’s a vain old man. He’s loving all that adulation but he’s peddling false hope.”

Fast forward to Liverpool and the Labour Women’s conference, where a delegate from Tooting gets into conversation with one of the leader’s most ardent and longstanding supporters. “He needs to shape up,” says Tooting woman. The reply is an eye-opener. “The trouble is, he is difficult to manage.”

Labour’s nightmare is that after a second leadership landslide this “difficult to manage, vain old man” is Labour’s TINA*. There Is No alternative to him — no credible rivals either on his own side or amongst his many doubters.

But the need for Corbyn to “shape up” and raise his game as leader was emphasised by the inept way his media chief Seamus Milne made last minute autocue changes to the speech by Shadow Defence Secretary Clive Lewis.

I know and like Lewis but I haven’t seen him face-to-face to get his reaction to being Milned but his treatment is depressingly reminiscent of the experiences of Lilian Greenwood, Chi Onwurah, Gloria de Piero, Sharon Hodgson, Nia Griffiths and others that led them to resign from the Shadow Cabinet.

So it shouldn’t have come as a shock to Lewis – and indeed it won’t have done. When he declared his support for Corbyn’s in late July Lewis said: “We must also acknowledge that the leadership of the party has not been good enough yet – that is Corbyn’s fault, just as much as it is mine and my colleagues.”

Lewis’s speech in which he effectively sank Corbyn’s hopes of committing Labour to opposing Trident renewal was hailed by Owen Jones as evidence of his potential as a future leader.

And while the polls remain so dire the leadership question will hang over the party despite a declaration by Chuka Umunna that Corbyn’s victory had settled the issue. The idea that a change may be necessary is supported by Corbyn’s critical friend Owen Jones. He argues that “If the challenges aren’t being met, and the polling remains disastrous, then it will be time to consider somebody else better placed to communicate radical ideas in a way that convinces and inspires, perhaps from the new intake of MPs.”

But for now the issue is making the party an effective force in Parliament. It’s in this context that I believe Corbyn ought to embrace the idea of elections to the Shadow Cabinet elections — rather than “not ruling it out”.  It would be the most substantial olive branch he could proffer.

It would allow those who resigned or refused to serve an honourable way back. Implemented in the right spirit it could promote mutual respect between the leader and those who are asked to confront the Tories at Westminster.

It will be a signal from the leader that he knows he has fault and limitations but that he is determined to be the best that he can be.

*It was, of course, Margaret Thatcher who was nicknamed TINA for her repeated assertion that her neo-economic policies were the only show in town.

Don Brind


The WH2016 betting moves markedly back to Clinton after convincing first debate performance

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016


On Betfair it is now Clinton 68% Trump 30%

Well over £3m was traded on Betfair as the market moves back to Hillary Clinton following a confident first debate performance against Donald Trump.

This is how Taegan Goddard of Political Wire summed up the night’s event:

“. Clinton was particularly effective when needling him on not releasing his tax returns, saying, “Why won’t he release his tax returns? Maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is.”

Trump couldn’t resist and in the resulting back-and-forth, he actually bragged about not paying his workers and not paying taxes. “It’s called business,” he repeatedly said.

On the substance of the debate, Clinton was the clear winner. She was controlled and methodical in making her case. Trump was constantly interrupting and spit out jumbled talking points that sounded like they came from some obscure corner of the Internet.

It wasn’t even close. Clinton crushed him…”

There are still two more Clinton Trump events as well as the VP debate and we must remember that in 2012 Romney hammered a lacklustre Obama in the first session but was beaten in the remaining two encounters. My guess is that Trump will learn from what’s happened and be better prepared next time.

The Clinton campaign will be clearly hoping that the narrative of the election will move back following a difficult period when everything seemed to be moving against her.

The next national and swing state voting polls are eagerly awaited.

Mike Smithson


The Clinton versus Trump debate thread

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016


The PB LAB leadership Election Prediction Competition Winners: Alex Bolton and John Loony get closest

Monday, September 26th, 2016

This was the election result.

Eligible voters: 654,006
Votes cast: 506,438
Spoilt ballots: 1,042
Corbyn: 313,209 – 61.85%
Smith: 193,229 – 38.15%
Margin: 23.70%

Alex Bolton and John Loony will win in addition to the bragging rights copies of what’s set to be the political best seller of 2016 which has just been published. This is the follow up to the 2015 hit “Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box” called imaginatively “More Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box”. It is by two very notable academics Phil Cowley and Robert Ford.



Also I’m delighted to announce that the Referendum Prediction Competition was won by Mike K. Sorry if this has been a long time coming but there was so much news in the period after June 23rd that this got squeezed out week after week and then I went on holiday. My apologies.

Thanks again to Mark Hopkins of Nojam for setting up the system to operate both competitions.

Mike Smithson


Voters old enough to remember WW2 the least likely to be attracted by Mr. Corbyn and his party

Monday, September 26th, 2016

Findings from the latest ICM and ComRes polls


Tonight’s the big one in WH2016 and the betting could be turned on its head

Monday, September 26th, 2016

In previous White House Races the first debate has been seen as a sort of official start to hostilities. This is said to be the point when voters start to get engaged. This time that is much less so because public interest in the fight to succeed Obama has been far higher than anything we’ve seen before.

The fight for the GOP nomination saw the biggest TV debate audiences ever and records are expected to be broken overnight.

The reason is, of course, the ultimate marmite contender, the real estate magnate turned TV star and now GOP nominee, Donald Trump. He’s a totally divisive figure who is up against an opponent who arouses equal hostility or backing. Never before have the two contenders had such negative personal poll ratings.

As the CNN report at the top shows it is going to be very hard for TV viewers to avoid the debate because it is being carried on so many networks and no doubt Tuesday will be dominated by reporting, analysis and reaction.

For WH2016 punters there’s a good chance that things could look markedly different tomorrow. There’ll be the initial polling reaction on who won and this will be followed by new national and state voting polls over the next few days.

In past elections it is not who is deemed to have came out of the debate best that mattered but how they looked and what their responses said about them. In 2008 when McCain faced Obama a big and damaging story was that the Republican had not even looked at his opponent for the entire debate.

I am long on Trump after betting on him on July 25th on Betfair when his price was not as tight as it is today. I can’t decide whether to take my profits now or risk things changing post debate.

For UK viewers both Sky and BBC news will be showing this live.

Mike Smithson