Archive for July, 2017


The betting sentiment is moving away from David Davis for next CON leader but he’s still favourite

Thursday, July 20th, 2017


TMay’s now a net 24 points behind Corbyn in Ipsos MORI leadership satisfaction ratings

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Not a good start for TMay as the Commons breaks up for the summer recess

Seven weeks on from the General Election Ipsos MORI’s new Political Monitor finds that the negative shift in TMay’s personal ratings continues. Her ratings are the worst from the pollser for a Prime Minister in the month after an election. The firm has been polling in the UK since the mid-1970s

One in three (34%) say they are satisfied with her performance as Prime Minister. This is down 9 points from last month (one week prior to election day), and down 22 from April, when she called the election.

Three in five (59%) are dissatisfied with her (up 9 points from last month), leaving her a net satisfaction score of -25. – Jeremy Corbyn meanwhile has seen improvement in his ratings with 44% satisfied with him doing his job (up 5 from June) and 45% dissatisfied (down 5 points) leaving him with a net satisfaction score of -1.

JCorbyn is now more popular amongst his own party supporters than Theresa May is with hers. Three quarters (75%) of Labour supporters are satisfied with Corbyn while one in five (19%) say they are dissatisfied. This compares with just two in three (66%) Conservative supporters who are satisfied with May and 27% who are dissatisfied.

The firm’s first voting intention figures following the election show both main parties neck-and-neck. CONcurrently stand on 41% with LAB on 42% while the LDs are at 9%.

Mike Smithson


In Tory leadership races the assassin rarely becomes the replacement

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

There’s almost a story a day running on who’ll be TMay’s successor although she’s given no indication other than that she’s staying put at Number 10 and would probably like to remain to beyond Brexit and beyond.

But the PM’s personal authority was badly dented by the shock outcome to GE17 and, of course, her parliamentary position is neither strong nor stable. Her party, of course, has been riven with divisions on Europe for decades and arguably it brought the three previous CON PM’s down.

As in the previous thread Andrea Leadsom has hinted strongly in the Commons that she’s considering running again and, of course, Davis, Hammond and BoJo also have a strong interest.

The surprise in the betting in recent days has been the interest in Jacob Rees Mogg who earlier in the week became the second favourite behind David Davis. His price slipped back after making it clear that he wasn’t interested.

The real problem for the party is that there are no obvious alternatives to May and all the potential replacements have big question marks over them. Who would dare to make the first move against TMay? We all know how it was John Major who picked up the prize in 1990 after Mrs. T was ousted not Michael Heseltine.

    The more I have watched him the more convinced I am that the best choice for the party would be the current First Minister, the articulate and intelligent Damian Green, who was relatively unknown until a month or so ago and has a lot of John Major about him.

A friend who was active in the Oxford University Tories in the late 1970s tells me that Green and May were the dominant figures of his era and that the former was always seen as the one most likely to succeed. I’m on at 70/1.

Mike Smithson


Leadsom might not ever have a better chance of becoming PM than the 2016 leadership race that she flunked

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Her withdrawal then was a great disservice to the party

It is being reported that Andrea Leadsom is ready to stand if there is move within the parliamentary party to try to anoint a successor to GE2017 failure, TMay, without the necessity of going through a full fledged leadership contest.

The Tory leadership election system dates back to William Hague’s days in the 1997-2001 parliament with the final choice being made by via a members’ postal ballot from a shortlist of two agreed by the party’s MPs.

A year ago Leadsom had, through a series of well documented freak circumstances, made it to the final two and was all set for the next leader and PM to be decided by members’ ballot.

However she pulled out of the contest after an unfortunate interview with Rachel Sylvestor of the Times when she appeared to suggest that she was better qualified to be leader because unlike TMay, she was a mother.

    Leadsom’s decision meant that TMay got the job by default and was never tested fighting for the support of party members – an experience, I’d suggest suggest that would have prepared her better for leading the party at a general election.

May would have had to go through hustings meetings with Leadsom, TV debates and tough probing interviews – all things that the very private Mrs May finds hard to deal with. It would have been much harder ducking out of Woman’s Hour in a leadership contest than as an incumbent PM.

But the overall experience would have honed her up and made her more cautious about calling a general election.

Given what we now know about how the PM performs under such electoral scrutiny there’s also a possibility that TMay might not have beaten Leadsom who did well for her side in her public appearances during the EU referendum.

You can get Leadsom at 20/1 on Betfair to be TMay’s successor.

Mike Smithson


NEW PB/Polling Matters podcast: Jeremy Corbyn is Britain’s most popular politician – but there’s a catch LISTEN

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

On this week’s PB/Polling Matters podcast, Keiran Pedley and Leo Barasi discuss exclusive polling from Opinium that looks at how popular a series of frontline British politicians are.

The poll asked a nationally representative sample of UK adults to rate the following politicians on a scale of 0 to 10 on the basis of how favourable they were to them:

  • Jeremy Corbyn
  • Sadiq Khan
  • Yvette Cooper
  • Keir Starmer
  • Emily Thornberry
  • Diane Abbott
  • Ed Miliband
  • Theresa May
  • Boris Johnson
  • David Davis
  • Phillip Hammond
  • Ruth Davidson
  • Michael Gove
  • Amber Rudd
  • Vince Cable
  • Nicola Sturgeon
  • Arlene Foster

Jeremy Corbyn was the winner – but there’s a catch. Listen to the podcast to find out more.

Keiran and Leo also discuss Tony Blair’s recent Brexit intervention and ask whether he is a help or a hindrance to his cause. You can listen to the show below:

Follow this week’s guests:




Well red, Alastair Meeks on Labour’s new MPs

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

One in five of Labour’s current MPs did not serve in the last Parliament.  With more than 50 new MPs, the new crop is going to make a big difference to Labour’s political balance.  So what does it look like?

As with the new Conservatives, many of the new Labour MPs have been assiduous in tidying up their online presence.  It’s only human to wonder what indiscretions lurk among the deleted tweets.  I expect we’ll find out in due course.  I expect that some of the new MPs on both sides of the house will find that it isn’t the crime but the cover-up that really causes damage.  Part of the damage that’s caused is that these MPs don’t stand out from the crowd.  If they’ve expressed forthright views in the past, it would be good to hear them.  Who knows, those views might find a ready audience.

There are five returning MPs: John Grogan, Chris Ruane, Tony Lloyd, David Drew and Chris Williamson.  Four out of these five are on the left of the party (John Grogan is the exception), and two are strong supporters of the Corbynite wing of the party.  Four out of these five have immediately been given jobs by Jeremy Corbyn (John Grogan is again the exception).

The new Labour MPs include plenty who come from the traditional routes of Labour power: Parliamentary and union apparatchiki, charity executives, public sector officialdom and a sprinkling of lawyers, teachers and health workers.  But this time there are several new MPs who have significant experience of running small businesses.  This is a departure for Labour and one that might provide an infusion of fresh thinking.  What’s missing?  As with the Conservatives, I can see no significant experience of science, nor any of engineering.  It seems like Britain is going to have to wing it when it comes to really technical stuff.

Nearly half the new intake are women, and it also includes the first turbanned Sikh MP, the first MP of fully Cypriot origin, at least two disabled MPs and at least four gay MPs.  For all the discussion about anti-Semitism in the Labour party, one of the new MPs is in the Jewish Labour movement.  At least two are very committed Christians.

There are two obvious tests for incoming Labour MPs: their attitudes to Brexit and their attitudes to Jeremy Corbyn.  For different reasons, quite a few seem reticent about expressing their views on both fronts.

The new Conservative MPs spanned a wide range of opinion on Brexit.  Not so for the new Labour MPs.  Only David Drew looks like a likely Leave voter.  A couple more seem pretty uninterested in the subject.  The rest were Remain supporters of varying degrees of intensity.  Many Leavers had hoped that Parliament would become much more evenly balanced between Leavers and Remainers after the election.  With no more than a quarter of the new intake originally supporting Leave, that hope has been dashed.

For now, most of the new Labour MPs look set to be quiescent on the subject.  They had their opportunity to make their feelings known when they were given the opportunity to vote on the Queen’s Speech amendment to seek to stay in the Single Market.  Only three took that opportunity.

Almost all the new Labour MPs seem enthusiastic about Jeremy Corbyn for now.  That was not always the case.  Some, like Paul Sweeney, called for him to stand down last year, but are now enthusiastically extolling his virtues – since he has immediately been appointed a shadow Scotland minister it seems that Jeremy Corbyn has a forgiving nature.  On my reading, just 9 or 10 could be called Corbynites and a further two or three seem to be Core Group Plus.  However, when you consider that only 40 of the Parliamentary Labour party supported Jeremy Corbyn last year and only 36 pledged their nomination for him in 2015 (with quite a few of those being loaned), that represents a considerable proportionate increase in his support as compared with the older part of the Parliamentary Labour party. 

I was surprised to see just how strongly many of the newbies had supported the outrageously-named Women Against State Pension Inequality.  This grouping of 50-something women, who contrary to their name wish to retain the preferential state pension terms (relative to men) that they were originally in line to receive, have succeeded in bagging the very active support of more than a fifth of the newcomers.  This should be an inspiration to any group with a grievance, no matter how misplaced – if such a ropey cause can enlist so much Parliamentary support, there’s hope for anyone.

Who should we watch out for?  Jeremy Corbyn is not afraid to promote new talent – in part this has been a necessity for him given the past refusal by old hands to serve under him.  And he has already promoted some brand new MPs into shadow positions.  The most senior is Lesley Laird, his shadow Secretary of State for Scotland.  He looks to have chosen well in this case.  She comes across as a highly capable pragmatist who hasn’t forgotten why she’s in politics.

He has also immediately promoted Afzal Khan, who has a long political pedigree in local and European politics.  Some of his past (and regretted) comments on Israel will not allay concerns among some about the direction the Labour party is taking on that subject but again he comes across as a pragmatist.

Anneliese Dodds has a special interest in tax justice which she has already pursued as an MEP.  It is no surprise to see her already appointed as a shadow treasury minister.

Ellie Reeves (sister of Rachel, wife of John Cryer) is already a very well-known figure on the Labour right.  She is immediately going to be the focus of attention, both friendly and unfriendly.

Laura Smith looks like a doer. She expresses herself clearly and simply, and seems like the type to roll her sleeves up and get on with things.  Ged Killen looks cut from the same cloth.  In a just world, they would be given the opportunity to show what they can do.

You can view a document on the Labour’s new intake by clicking here

Alastair Meeks


This might be a bit late but PBers are invited to a post GE17 event tomorrow at the London Olympic Park

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

This event provides an exploration of the momentous 2017 General Election from the perspectives of those most intimately involved as strategists, journalists and analysts.

It will feature contributions from the campaigning, news and social media as well as polling organisations involved in the election. Participants include Ric Bailey (BBC), Jay Blumler (Univ of Leeds), Greg Cook (Labour), Ivor Gaber (Univ of Sussex), Gaby Hinsliff (The Observer), Michael Jermey (ITV), Dennis Kavanagh (Univ of Liverpool and co-author, The British General Election of 2017), Damian Lyons Lowe (Survation), Keiran Pedley (GfK), Gideon Skinner (Ipsos MORI), as well as myself.

The event takes place in Loughborough Univeristy’s London campus on the Olympic park. Full details here.

There is no fee.

Mike Smithson


Remember when David Davis quit to fight a by-election the purpose of which was soon forgotten

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

His weird 2008 move will raise questions about his judgement

If failed 2005 leadership candidate and current Brexit secretary, David Davis, does find himself campaigning to be TMay’s successor then every bit of his political career will be scrutinised for pointers to whether he’s up to the job or not.

One weird bit of his political CV that has been long forgotten but surely will be focused upon was his resignation as an MP for the Yorkshire seat of Haltemprice and Howden in 2008 to fight a by-election on the issue of freedom. His announcement of the move is featured in the Sky News clip above.

The problem was that it was quite hard to work out what he was trying to achieve and why resigning as an MP and re-fighting the seat was the best way of doing it. His effort to make it a protest against the then LAB government’s detention without trial period was effectively thwarted by Gordon Brown’s party not putting up a candidate against him. The LDs also stood aside.

As the campaign developed Davis added reason after reason for his move which were all packaged under a campaign titled “David Davis for Freedom” whatever that meant. This was the logo.

He also set up YouTube Channel which which barely attracted any interest with the total number of subscribers failing to reach triple figures.

He had, following the resignation as an MP, to resign from the shadow cabinet where he’d been shadow Home Secretary.

The CON leader David Cameron came to campaign with Davis for just one day. The whole exercise appeared an embarrassment for the party which had just chalked up a spectacular gain from LAB in the Crewe & Nantwich by-election. Davis was never to make a return to the top team until TMay’s arrival a year ago.

He won of course with 71.6% of the vote with turnout down to just 34%.

The problem was that the issue failed to resonate and looking back it is hard to disagree with those that at the time described it as attention seeking.

Davis is currently 7/2 favourite to succeed TMay.

Mike Smithson