Archive for April, 2017


Why a 1997 style landslide or even a 1983 style landslide might not happen, but maybe a 2005 style majority of 66 could

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Judging by the polls, the political mood, the intuition of most political watchers, and pretty much everyone in the country, sans the Corbynites, are expecting Mrs May’s Tories to win so comprehensively the only thing in doubt is which three figure number will be the size of the Tory majority, but today I’ll explain why that might be wrong, and why Mrs May could end up with just a modest double digit majority.

But here are the reasons why I think the Tory majority won’t be as massive as people think

1) Tory complacency

It seems every day new record breaking polls come out implying that the Tories are going win a stonking landslide on June the 8th, whilst Jeremy Corbyn and Labour would suffer less punishment if they booked 400 dominatrices concurrently that night and chose ‘mower’ as their safe word.

This is likely to depress turnout as voters, especially Tories think the result is in the bag. This could see Labour holding on to seats they should be losing if the polls are accurate because of low turnout.

2) Shy Labour voters

With Jeremy Corbyn as leader, you can see why Labour voters would be shy about admitting voting for Labour, this isn’t just conjecture on my part, there’s actual evidence for it.

ICM’s spiral of silence adjustment is reducing Tory leads on a regular basis by a few per cent each time. It is entirely possible that ICM are underestimating it because of 3)

3) The Love Labour, hate Corbyn voters.

If you’re a long standing Labour voter who hates Corbyn but like your local Labour MP, such as Wes Streeting or John Woodcock for example, who happen to be a vocal critics of Corbyn, what are you going to do? A) Let in a Tory MP, or B) back that anti-Corbyn MP? It’s B isn’t it, a no brainer as some would say.

These are the sort of people I suspect tell pollsters they won’t vote Labour as way of trying to force Corbyn out.

4) Labour could get the ‘sympathy shag vote’

This is  the antonym of 1) There are lots of voters out there who like the Labour party as an idea, as a concept, as a force for good and who whilst might not like Jeremy Corbyn want neither a result so bad that Labour can’t ever recover from/or take decades to recover from, nor do they want the Tories to have such a huge majority so they can do whatever they wish. So these voters pity Labour’s plight in the polls and give them their vote out of sympathy.

5) Whisper it very carefully, Mrs May might not actually be that popular

First of all there’s the polling that shows her popularity is equally down to her not being Jeremy Corbyn nor would she be losing the majority of the Tory gains from the Lib Dems that her election strategist found, a PM with polling leads of 25% really shouldn’t be doing that.

People compare her to Mrs Thatcher, but what has Mrs May really achieved that is comparable to Mrs Thatcher had prior to her 1983 and 1987 landslides? No war won, no massive reform of the UK, so far only a slogan, ‘Brexit means Brexit.’

Plus Mrs May’s a crap campaigner, no wonder she’s frightened to meet real voters or to debate Corbyn, given her failure to consistently crush him at PMQs. Macavity May hid during the EU referendum, as PM she can’t hide during a general election campaign. Mrs May is a crap campaigner, this is a narrative I and others expect to develop, especially if she refuses to debate Corbyn and the other party leaders.

6) Sir Lynton Crosby might not have enough time to work his magic at this general election

In 2015 Sir Lynton spent two years polling, focus grouping, and message testing the hell out of what strategies and memes would win the election, such as the long term economic plan. This election he might have only a few weeks to do all that, and his end product might not be his best or even a match to his 2015 work product.

7) Perhaps Sir Lynton is overrated and not the master strategist we think he is

Yes he did help win the 2015 general election, and oversaw Boris Johnson’s two wins as London Mayor, but he also oversaw the Tory election defeat in 2005, and the less said about the his contribution in Zac Goldsmith’s unsuccessful campaign to be London Mayor last year. Even Zac’s sister criticised the whole approach, that’s how bad a campaign it was, with many describing it as “dog-whistle racism.”

Perhaps 2015 was won purely down to Cameron’s leadership, Osborne’s magnificent stewardship of the economy, and the fear of a Labour/SNP coalition government.

8) No Lord Ashcroft constituency polling to blindside the Tory opponents this time

One Tory activist I spoke to in the aftermath of the election victory in 2015 said the party owed Lord Ashcroft a debt of gratitude for his constituency polls, which inadvertently led the Lib Dems to feel more confident (and possibly) overconfident about their chances of holding their seats from the Tories.

Whilst the polls also reinforced Labour’s belief in the ground game, where the polls indicated Labour was doing better in the Lab/Con marginals.

This allowed the Tories to campaign under the radar and win whilst their opponents believed the Ashcroft polling.

9) That expenses saga might be game changers on two levels which doesn’t help the Tories

Given allegations from last time, I suspect we won’t see Tory activists being bussed in to key seats, this  might make the Tories  to lose seats they hold and fail to take the seats they are expected to gain.

Secondly if charges are brought during the campaign, as Hillary Clinton found out, things like this can change the polls.

10) After all the polling failures in recent years, is anyone 100% confident that the polls are accurate.

Just look at that (in)famous Guardian front page from two years ago, during the last general election campaign, and the failures some pollsters had during the EU referendum, is anyone truly confident the polling problems have been entirely sorted out, especially with the reasons listed above? Last night’s polls and the reactions therein had a similar feel at times, or even the Cleggasm, and we all know how those turned out.

I expect Mrs May will win a decent majority, and I know a few PBers who last night bought the Tories at 378 seats for £30 a seat, I’ll be joining them in the morning, but if come June 9th that bet becomes a loser, it’ll be for the reasons listed above. Success equals performance minus anticipation. Right now the anticipation is for a three figure majority, anything less will feel like a disappointing night for Mrs May, she should help lower expectations.




Labour reduce the Tory lead to 23% with YouGov in the most incredible polling night I can ever remember

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017


The polling that made me swear out loud. Scotland could have 12 (Twelve) Tory MPs

Betting post – William Hill: Total Conservative Party Seats In Scotland Over/Under Over 9.5 at 20/1 – FILL YOUR BOOTS

The real story of tonight is the cratering of UKIP which is helping the Tories, for those in Labour who think things can only get better…..

There are some other polls due tonight, I’ll try and update the thread when they come out.



Opinium sees the Tory lead up 10% in a week to 19%. Labour are on course for an absolute hammering if the polls are right

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

Since Theresa May announced the general election, we’ve had three polls, with leads of 21%, 24%, and now 19% for the blues. The trend is not Labour’s friend. We might need to come up with a new adjective for  just how rubbish Corbyn is.

This poll presages an absolute shellacking for Labour. If Labour had any sense they’d depose the voter repellent in the next week.

In the write up

Separate analysis by Opinium, which has been tracking the same 2,000 voters throughout this parliament, found that only 53% of those who had said they intended to vote Ukip in February are still planning to do so in the 8 May election, with 30% of them saying they will transfer allegiance to the Tories.

The crumbling of backing for Ukip appears to be the main reason for the dramatic surge in enthusiasm for May’s party. Labour’s fall may be the result of voters who were strongly in favour of Remain in the Brexit referendum last June deserting the party for the anti-Brexit Lib Dems.

When those who now choose the Lib Dems were asked to give the main reason they are deciding to back Tim Farron’s party, 50% said that it was because of its stance on Brexit. Just 6% of Labour voters said Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on Brexit was their main reason for backing Labour.

For me one of the most interesting aspects of this poll is the Lib Dems are on 11%. Due to the house of effects Opinium, the Lib Dems do quite poorly with this pollster, they had the Lib Dems on 4% last summer. So 11% with this pollster is very impressive for Tim Farron’s party.

Depending on the right odds I might fancy a bet on whether we will have at least one poll from a BPC registered pollster to see the Lib Dems ahead of Labour.

Tonight I’m also expecting a GB wide YouGov poll in The Sunday Times and a Scottish poll in one of the Scottish papers.



The French ban on opinion polls came into effect at midnight with Macron still ahead

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

Will that hold good when real voting starts tomorrow morning?

France has some very tight laws on opinion polls including a complete ban on then being published on the day before an election. So the Wikipedia chart above represents all the polling that we will see until we get the exit polls tomorrow evening.

The young independent, Emmanuel Macron, is still in the lead and has seen it move up just a touch in the final few days. Le Pen is in second place with the Republican Fillon and the far-left Melenchon not that far behind.

There are a total of 11 candidates and the first round of voting involves narrowing this down to just to for the run-off a fortnight tomorrow

France has very high turnout rates usually around the 80% mark and there is no reason to think that it will be much lower this time. .

We should get news of the first French exit polls tomorrow evening after about 7 p.m. UK time.

The betting markets make Macron the strong favourite with a current 57% chance. Le Pen is down on 21% with Fillon at 17% and Melenchon at 5%.

The polling is so tight that it is within the margin of error for neither Macron not Le Pen to make it to the final.

UK betting interest has been the highest ever for a non-UK/US election. On Betfair alone £803k has been matched over the past 24 hours.

Mike Smithson


Being realistic on the prospects for Lib Dem gains

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

Alastair Meeks takes a hard look

The Lib Dems’ emblem is the liberty bird.  In 2015, it was put on the critically endangered list, found only in eight locations where volunteers toiled night and day to protect it from poachers.  Pundits, including me, gloomily pondered whether extinction was on the cards.

It’s a compelling case study how climate change is not necessarily bad for everyone.  In the wake of Brexit, the Lib Dems have found a new purpose as the party of ultra-Remain.  It has gained vote share in every Parliamentary by-election held since the referendum that it has contested.  Following the announcement of a snap general election, former MPs who had previously retired from politics, like Vince Cable and Stephen Lloyd, have deretired in an attempt to win back their seats.  Hopes are high of substantial gains.

The bookies have by and large bought this story.  The current midpoints of their seat counts range between 26.5 and 29.5 (with prices at 5/6 on offer over or under the set midpoints).  Given that the Lib Dems currently only hold 9 seats, this implies a major bounceback.  Is this right?

Bluntly, I don’t think it is.  You can look at this lots of different ways and none of them stack up.

Let’s look at this first by swing.  Here are the Lib Dems’ top 100 targets organised by swing.  They pick up 18 seats if they get a 6% swing to themselves in these seats.  But at present the Lib Dems are suffering an adverse national swing to the Conservatives of 2% or so if the polls are to be believed, and 11 of those 18 seats are Conservative-held.   There are going to need to be some major special factors to buck the national swing to that extent (I’ll come back to Brexit, don’t worry) – or other gains from other parties.  But there simply aren’t that many targets within reach on a uniform swing from other parties.  The Lib Dems would need a 7.5% swing to them from the SNP to pick up six seats and an 8% swing to them from Labour to pick up six seats.  In the absence of any national swing in Scotland from the SNP to the Lib Dems, they’re going to need some serious unionist tactical voting.

What special factors might there be?  Two are usually mentioned in relation to the Lib Dems.  First, their indefatigable local campaigning, effectively treating each constituency as a by-election.  And secondly, Brexit.

Let’s deal with Brexit first.  The line of argument goes that 48% of the public voted for Remain.  No one else is going into bat for the Remainers, so the Lib Dem ratings can soar from the 8% that they tallied in 2015.  There’s only one problem with this line of argument: not that many people seem to be ready to vote just on Brexit.  In ICM’s poll conducted immediately in the wake of the election announcement, just 17% said that it was a second referendum by proxy, with 67% treating it as a normal general election.  Of course, a substantial number of that 17% will be wishing to underscore the need to Leave, and they will not assist the Lib Dems one little bit.

Roughly 95 constituencies voted Remain by more than 60%.  But very few are the Conservative/Lib Dem marginals and semi-marginals that the Lib Dems would need to build up a head of steam in if they are to start making substantial gains.

As for the Lib Dems’ indefatigable local campaigning, clearly that has got better in the last year – both local and Parliamentary by-elections show that.  But the main two parties have got wise to the Lib Dems’ approach and are using it themselves.  At the 2015 election, the Conservatives took a very localist approach in their campaigning and reaped the rewards.  Their new MPs will have been building up incumbency ever since.  They will not be pushovers.

Is it possible that the Lib Dems might catch the zeitgeist and we might see Farronmania at some point? Possible, but unlikely.  25 seats looks very stretching indeed – the Lib Dems should be very happy if they get to 20 seats.  So I recommend that you do as I do, and take the “under” side of the bet on the Lib Dem seats wherever you can find it.  To me it looks like a very good bet indeed.

Alastair Meeks


Now the Electoral Commission orders an investigation into LeaveEU’s referendum finances

Friday, April 21st, 2017


The Indy is reporting that the Electoral Commission is to launch an investigation into the finances of Leave.EU.

“The Electoral Commission has launched an investigation into spending at the European Union referendum by the campaign group Leave.EU, it has announced.

The Commission says the investigation will focus on whether the Brexit-supporting campaign took “impermissible” donations and said there were “reasonable grounds to suspect that potential offences” may have been committed by the campaign.

A spokesperson for the Commission said: “The Electoral Commission has begun an investigation into Leave.EU’s EU Referendum spending return. This followed an assessment which concluded that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that potential offences under the law may have occurred.”

This could get messy particularly during the election campaign given the closest of the results – 51.9% to 48.1% – and that TMay is making BREXIT her key GE2017 campaign plank.

Mike Smithson



Gloomy local by-election news for LAB in the week a General Election was called

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Blacon on Chester West and Chester (Lab defence, resignation of sitting member)
Result: Labour 1,556 (59% +1%), Conservative 574 (22% +4%), Independent 434 (16%, no candidate at last election), Liberal Democrat 70 (3%, no candidate at last election)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 982 (37%) on a swing of 1.5% from Lab to Con (notional swing of 1% from Lab to Lib Dem, 0.5% from Lib Dem to Con)

Kenton East on Harrow (Lab defence, death of sitting member)
Result: Conservative 1,585 (52% +19%), Labour 1,328 (44% +1%), Liberal Democrat 65 (2%, no candidate at last election), United Kingdom Independence Party 54 (2% -9%)
Conservative GAIN from Labour with a majority of 257 (8%) on a swing of 9% from Lab to Con (notional swing of 8.5% from Lib Dem to Con, 0.5% from Lab to Lib Dem)

Monthly Summary: April 2017
Conservatives 5,303 votes (39% +6% on last time) winning 5 seats (+3 seats on last time)
Labour 4,137 votes (31% -2% on last time) winning 1 seat (-2 seats on last time)
Liberal Democrats 2,189 votes (16% +5% on last time) winning 2 seats (+1 seat on last time)
Green Party 778 votes (6% +1% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
Independents 752 votes (6% -1% on last time) winning 0 seats (unchanged on last time)
United Kingdom Independence Party 339 votes (3% -9% on last time winning 0 seats (-2 on last time)
Conservative lead of 1,166 votes (8%) on a swing of 4% from Lab to Con
Liberal Democrat swings: Lib Dem to Con of 0.5%, Lab to Lib Dem of 3.5%


Yvette Cooper moves into favourite slot as Corbyn’s successor

Friday, April 21st, 2017

But being the most capable within LAB not always an advantage especially if you are a woman

At PMQs on Wednesday there was no doubt about the best intervention from the opposition benches. It was from Yvette Cooper the former cabinet minister and contender in the leadership election after Labour’s defeat in 2015.

Her point, questioning the reasons for the election, was strong and Mrs May made heavy weather in her response as she is prone to do. It was this intervention that caused a surge in interest in Cooper’s prospects and now she is the betting favourite.

I rate her highly and do not hide the fact that I am very much an Yvette Cooper fan. Yet in the 2015 leadership race she was beaten into 3rd place by Andy Burnham.

But I’m not tempted to bet on her because one thing we know about Labour it that it will not make rational choices and women can often struggle.

Also we might be wrong to assume that Jeremy Corbyn will do the decent thing sometime on June 9th and announce that he’s quitting the job after Labour’s likely election defeat. He could go on and on because of the lack of an effective mechanism to depose a failing leader.

In any case her odds are not long enough given the many uncertainties ahead. There are also many other things to bet on at the moment.

Mike Smithson