Archive for May, 2019

h1

Paging all Brexiteers who hate American Presidents interfering in UK politics

Friday, May 31st, 2019

I’m not sure being Donald Trump’s preferred choice as Prime Minister will ultimately help Boris Johnson.

TSE



h1

Corbyn, May and the death of British compromise

Friday, May 31st, 2019

We like to think of ourselves as a temperamentally moderate country, eager to split any difference, respect other viewpoints, find the middle ground. But the sobering lesson from the European election is that – on this issue, at least, we really are not.

There are basically three options open to us.

  1. We can opt for a hard Brexit. That got 34.0% of the vote (Brexit+UKIP).
  2. We can opt to stay in the EU after all. That got 34.9% of the vote (LibDem+Green+ChUK).
  3. Or we can try for a soft Brexit. There were actually two varieties of soft Brexit on offer – Mrs May’s deal and Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal (customs union, regulatory alignment, environment and worker guarantees). Between them they got 22.6%.

Moreover, it’s worse than that. Like most people in politics, I know lots of supporters of both sides. The people who voted Labour or Conservative weren’t, in general, actively supporting compromise. They were voting out of party loyalty or because they felt they wanted to use their vote on other issues.

Conversely, while I know both Remainers and Leavers who say they accept that any Government should aim for a soft Brexit compromise to bring the country together, virtually none of them even considered voting for one. Intellectually, they approve of the concept of national reconciliation. But their gut feeling is hard and tribal: they want to win.

Yes, to win. To Remain without ambiguity (via a new referendum in which supporters expect to triumph), or to Leave without a deal.

Unfashionably, I think that both May and Corbyn have been quite brave, and in keeping with what we say we want in national leaders. They put their reputations on the line to try to find a middle ground that people would grudgingly accept as a way forward. May has paid the ultimate political price; Corbyn is damaged. Many will feel satisfied about that. But we should be clear what we’re collectively doing. We’ve voted for a showdown in which one side or the other utterly defeats the other. If there is another referendum with three options – Remain, hard Brexit or a compromise, there is no real doubt that the compromise will lose.

The Conservatives are being forced into a Hard Leave stance, and I have little doubt that Labour will be forced into a hard Remain position. Ultimately one or the other will prevail.

That is how civil conflict starts. By identifying with one extreme or the other and rejecting the middle ground, even when the country is completely divided. I don’t believe that we will end up fighting each other in the streets: in the end, few people care that strongly about Europe to be willing to go to war.

But, as a lifelong supporter of the European Union, I do have a question for my friends who voted for militantly Remain or dogmatically Leave parties. Yes, I get why you wanted to pitch in for one side or the other. But in the cold light of day, are we sure we want a Government that ignores half the population?

Nick Palmer

Nick Palmer was Labour MP for Broxtowe, 1997-2010



h1

For the first time ever neither LAB nor CON occupy the top two slots in a national Westminster voting intention poll

Friday, May 31st, 2019

LD 24%
BXP 22%
LAB 19%
CON 19%

As had been leaked earlier yesterday evening the latest Times YouGov poll has historic changes in the party order with the Lib Dems on 24% two points ahead of BXP with Labour and the Tories both on 19%.

This has simply not happened before in the history of polling. It is totally unprecedented for neither of the two major parties currently forming the government and the opposition to perform so poorly. Clearly the uncertainty of the Brexit is taking a major toll on the way voters are looking at politics.

It should be noted that the the pollster, YouGov, was one of just two that got the order right ahead of last week’s euro elections.

Whether these positions will be sustained or indeed seen by other firms we shall have to wait and see but there is little doubt that we are going through some very turbulent times.

The two parties at the top in this poll, of course, are the ones which have the clearest view on the big issue of the day Brexit. For the Lib Dems this is its best polling position since the peak of Cleggmania ahead of the 2010 general election.

This all makes next week’s parliamentary by-election in Peterborough even more interesting. This has been a seat that has flipped between Labour and the Conservatives and could it be that the same thing that is happening in the polls be seen there with good results for the Brexit party and the Lib Dems? Could neither LAB nor CON make the top 2?

Mike Smithson


 



h1

YouGov LAB party members polling finds that just 45% backed the party last Thursday

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

Putting Alastair Campbell into context

I find the above polling of LAB ,members really quite remarkable and shows the huge difficulty the leadership has pursuing its Brexit agenda which is alien to a large part of the membership base. That in a major election fewer than half the membership voted for the party says an enormous amount about the challenges facing the party.

This doesn’t come as a surprise. I personally know LAB members and activists who did exactly the same in the Euros.

YouGov, it should be said, has built up a good reputation with its surveys of the various parties membership.

No doubt this will be used to further ratchet up the pressure on Milne and Corbyn.

Mike Smithson


h1

At least TMay and Jezza have one record they can claim

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

The Ipsos-MORI leader satisfaction ratings have been carried out in the same manner since the 1970s with the question being put in the same way over the decades. It is the longest lasting series of leader ratings in British politics and we can make historical comparisons.

Normally when one of the opposition leader or PM is up the other one is down. So the current trend of both Corbyn and TMay having terrible figures is something of a rarity and the current numbers say something about post Referendum UK politics. That narrow victory for LEAVE three years ago has changed so much.

As as I have pointed out many times the historical record is that leader ratings are a much better guide to electoral outcomes than standard voting intention polls. Given that the Tories are changing their leader this summer then it can be expected that the new person will get something of a boost whoever wins the leadership contest. At the very minimum they will have the advantage of not being Theresa May.

The same is not the same for the Labour because whatever happens it appears Corbyn seems absolutely rock solid in his position of leader. That he is proving to be electorally toxic doesn’t seem to bother the party and it is likely that it will lose another parliamentary by-election next week.

Normally opposition parties proper in parliamentary by-election while governments struggle. In fact Corbyn was two years ago the first Labour leader since 1982 to suffer the loss of a seat while the party was in opposition.

But he ain’t going anywhere.

Mike Smithson


h1

Boris Johnson – The False Favourite for the Tory leadership

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

Right now British politics and British political betting is consumed by the race for next Conservative leader and next Prime Minister. Conventional wisdom on both is that Boris Johnson is the man to beat. He has traded below evens on Betfair for the roles and after an initial rush of excitement, he has settled down in both next Conservative leader and next Prime Minister markets at about 5/2 at the time of writing.

Certainly there is evidence to back up his favourite status if you go looking for it. All the polls and surveys that we have suggest that if the members get to vote for him, he will win. One commentator last week suggested that he was so much the front runner that he might not even be opposed (a prediction which, as we now approach 15 candidates, has not aged well).

Cards on the table, I have long been a BoJo-sceptic. He has been tested as Foreign Secretary and has been found wanting. Just as tellingly, he has not shown any vision about Brexit, just tactical manoeuvring. He seems to have been constantly seeking to insert himself into the debate about the future of Brexit whether or not he is adding any new insights.  

He saw David Davis quit after Chequers and sprinted after him, for fear that he might be left behind in the affections of Leavers. His Telegraph columns have become pale pastiches of his earlier work, fluent but lacking point or insight. He announced that Theresa May’s deal was worse than Remaining in the EU, but nevertheless eventually voted for it. In short, he seems to have lost it.

None of this seems to have put off Conservative members, who evidently think about this very differently from me. I have to accept that I have previously been too hasty in writing off his chances. Lack of ability and faded Norma Desmond stage presence are obviously not the deal-breakers for diehards I would have expected them to be. There’s a lesson to learn there.

So, clearing my head of preconceptions, what are Boris Johnson’s chances now? If he gets to the last two, he has to be heavy favourite.But will he? To do that, he has to be one of the last two standing among MPs.

Half the Parliamentary Conservative party have declared their allegiances. Boris Johnson is in the leading pack but he is not at the head of it. Given that MPs do not need to vote in accordance with their stated allegiance (it’s a secret ballot), this would be an ideal opportunity for careerist MPs to curry favour with someone who they thought was an inevitable winner. They’re not taking it. The logical conclusion is that they don’t think he’s a done deal by any means.

But there is a clearer tell than this. I may have no feel for what makes Conservatives tick. I do, however, have some table presence from years at card tables and boardroom tables. And there has been a gigantic tell that Boris Johnson is up against it to reach the last two.

As I write, there are seven candidates for Conservative leader who voted Leave. Besides Boris Johnson, we have Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey, James Cleverly and Kit Malthouse. We might also be treated to Steve Baker, Graham Brady, Priti Patel and Penny Mordaunt. There may yet be others.

If the view of Leavers in Parliament was that Boris Johnson was the man to lead Britain out of the EU, he would be facing no serious opposition for the role. He would also be gathering the support of other heavyweight Leavers. They can see his immense popularity with members. If they thought he was supportable, they would be supporting him.  

These are men and women who have worked closely with him. Kit Malthouse was his deputy Mayor of London. But they are instead fighting against him. The logical conclusion is that they do not think that he is the man for the job (or that too many others do not think that he is the man for the job). If this is the view of the leading Leavers, it is likely to be the view of the lesser lights too.

It seems he has drawn the same conclusion, since he has recruited Amber Rudd to his cause in a bid to enlist Remainer MP votes, trying to forge as unlikely a union as that forged between Ken Clarke and John Redwood in 1997. This latest gruesome twosome seems doomed to be as unsuccessful as the previous one.

All of which leads me to the conclusion that Boris Johnson is a false favourite and that his odds should be far longer than they currently are. So despite my past failures to read his enduring popularity with Conservative members, he looks like a clear lay. Like last time, he might well pull out.

It is hard to see who will emerge from the swamp of candidates as the Leaver candidate of choice (Dominic Raab has the public support and Andrea Leadsom has the better track record, it might yet be someone quite different), but we are all being dazzled by Boris Johnson. Don’t be.

Alastair Meeks




h1

In the TMay successor betting Gove replaces Raab as second favourite – Johnson still clear favourite

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

There have now been two working days since TMay announced her exit programme and there has been quite a lot of movement on the Betfair exchange where £0.75m has been gambled in the past week.

The big change as can be seen in the chart is the growing support for Michael Gove who has replaced Raab as second favourite.

All sort of new betting mark with 12 CON MPs now having declared themselves as runners.

Unless there is any whittling down between now and the MP ballot stage there could be several days of MP voting as one contender then another fails to make the split.

Mike Smithson


h1

Let’s put an end to this rubbish thinking about LAB being vulnerable in its Leave Westminster seats

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

"There is some chatter in the Labour groups about the party adopting a radical Revoke and Reform policy at a September General Election. Not the usual suspects, this comes from Corbyn supporters. In which case Labour better prepare for annihilation by the Brexit Party in its Leave seats in the North and Midlands and Wales even if they hold onto London and other big cities and university towns"

The majority of its GE2017 gains from CON were in seats that voted for Brexit

One of the ongoing narratives that makes me want to scream is in the the above comment on the previous PB thread. The idea that Labour is vulnerable in Leave area presented as some immutable “law” that doesn’t stand up to serious examination.

Firstly the polling after the last election showed that FIVE times as many CON voters had made Brexit main reason for voting as they did at GE2017 as LAB ones. Brexit is a much much less of an issue for LAB ones than Tories.

This is backed up if you look at the pattern of the results from that election. Corbyn’s LAB made 28 gains from the Tories the majority of them in seats which had voted leave.

These were:

Bedford
Bury N
Weaver Vale
Warrington South
Stockton
Portsmouth South
Plymouth
Peterborough
Lincoln
Keighley
Ipswich
High Peak
Derby North
Crewe and Nantwich
Gower
Clwyd

Note with the by-election in mind that the list of LAB gains from CON includes Peterborough.

The Conservatives offset some of their losses making 20 gains overall just seven of which were in constituencies which had voted Leave. The rest were Remain. That, admittedly, is distorted by the 12 gains in Scotland from the SNP all but one of them had voted Remain.

The Tories also regained from the Liberal Democrats Richmond Park as well as taking Southport, both Remain areas. Tim farron’s team made 5 gains from the Conservatives including one, Eastbourne, which had voted Leave.

Mrs May called the 2017 general election and tried to make it all about Brexit. She lost her majority because that wasn’t a sustainable position to carry her party through the campaign. Other issues came into play.

Just because the headbangers are obsessed with Brexit doesn’t mean that everybody else is.

Labour might be vulnerable at the next election but it will be the party’s leadership rather than Brexit that will be the problem.

Mike Smithson