Archive for the 'Brexit Party' Category

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And now the Tory Brecon bar chart to try to beat off the Brexit party

Friday, July 12th, 2019


From a Tory campaign AD Brecon & Radnorshire by-election

Boris’s first electoral test – getting more by-election votes than Farage

It might be a too big an ask to expect the Tories to retain the Brecon and Radnorshire seat where the by-election takes place on August 1st but the party would dearly love to win more votes than Farage’s Brexit Party.

The circumstances, the fact that their candidate is the former MP who was deprived of his seat following the successful recall petition after his criminal conviction for expenses fraud is not a good starting point.

On top of that the many sheep farmers in this huge constituency who rely on exports to Europe are not enamored by the prospect of a no deal Brexit which would mean that their products would have a 40% tariff placed on them. Their livelihoods and those in the constituency who rely on the sheep trade are at stake.

The main opposition and 1/5 odds-on favourites to retake the seat lost at GE2015, the Liberal Democrats, are the only remain party in the race following agreements with the Greens and PC applied not to field candidates.

Such tight odds have not made the by-election overall winner an attractive betting market though there is now a another option from Ladbrokes which looks extremely interesting. Which of the Conservatives and the Brexit Party party will win most votes?

Currently the bookie makes it 1/2 for the Tory and 6/4 for Farage’s party. Given how well the latter did in Peterborough a few weeks ago coming with in a few hundred votes of beating Labour then the 6/4 looks attractive.

The one thing that could change that, of course, is that by August 1st there will be a new Conservative leader, most likely Boris Johnson, and my guess is that the expectation that he will give a boost to the Tories is priced into those odds.

Failing to beat the Tory vote total here would severely blunt the momentum that Farage has built up for his party since the successes in the May euro elections.

The Tory battle to recover the ground taken by Farage is the first electoral battle for the new leader.

Mike Smithson


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The Midas touch. Living in a world of abundant knowledge

Sunday, July 7th, 2019

In the middle ages, Timbuktu was fabulously wealthy. It controlled the gold trade and it had all the riches that you would expect from that. Mansa Musa, the sultan, had a fortune that you couldn’t dream away, you couldn’t wish away.  

The sultan, as a good Muslim, performed the hajj, making the pilgrimage to Mecca. Being fabulously wealthy as well as a good Muslim, he travelled with a retinue of 60,000 men. All along the way, he gave gold to the poor and did good works.

He was like the sultan in one of the stories in the One Thousand Nights And One Night. However, his good deeds had terrible consequences. He gave so much gold away that he destabilised every country he passed through. The foundations of their economy, built on the scarcity of gold, were rocked.

Less dramatically but with long-lasting effects, when Spain conquered the New World, the vast quantities of silver and gold brought home caused enduring inflation in Europe for centuries. El Dorado hid dangers.

When something previously scarce becomes much more common, we value it much less. If the streets of London really were paved with gold, that would imply that Londoners didn’t value the stuff very much.

Suddenly, we find ourselves in a world of abundant knowledge that is effortlessly accessible. This is a blessing, but a disruptive one. It is an irony that the current era is often referred to as an Information Age and that we are said to live in a Knowledge Economy. The value attributable to raw information has declined vertiginously. Knowledge now litters our world like oranges in the streets of Seville and most of it is about as valued.

There are exceptions. Personal information, time-sensitive information and information exclusively held by one provider are all examples of information that may still have substantial value. The norm, however, is for information to be freely available and thus customers expect to pay, if at all, only for convenient access to it.

This has disrupted many industries. Whole professional castes were initially built around their control of access to information: lawyers, doctors and journalists, to give three examples. The barriers are being broken down. To retain relevance, professionals need to prioritise selling other services. Doctors and lawyers have positioned themselves with success by selling their skill in interpreting the data (in fairness, they had been doing this long before their knowledge base became widely publicly available).  

Journalists have had less success with this approach: their skill in interpreting data has not been demonstrated to enough potential customers to be sufficiently superior to amateurs for them to retain their role as paid guides to the modern world. Why buy a dog if you can bark yourself?

Politics has also been disrupted by this abundance of information. More than in most areas, the rewards for using false, misleading or partial information are high. If a doctor gives a patient incorrect information, the patient may die. If a politician gives a voter incorrect information, the politician may get elected.

Even so, the same general point stands. For generations, politicians have presented themselves as experts: “the man in Whitehall knows best”. Now he doesn’t. Anyone who is interested can bury themselves in reliable official statistics, public reports (and those of thinktanks) and review comparative studies from other countries. 

Civil servants have trained their entire career to weigh competing policies, but politicians, the decision-makers, generally have not. A citizen who is well-informed on his or her chosen subject will probably leave the politician flatfooted.

This is a career crisis. If politicians are not going to offer policy, what are they going to offer?

If there’s one thing that the politics of the last few years has shown, it’s that standing as a leader who puts capable administration before ideology does not have the same appeal to the public that it used to do. The public are looking for rousing themes, not triangulation.

Commentators have written much about the rise of populism. Certainly Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders, Donald Trump and Matteo Salvini match this well. It doesn’t really explain the parallel success of the Greens across Europe, the Lib Dems’ recent resurgence in Britain or for that matter Jeremy Corbyn and Die Linke in Germany. Other commentators have written much about the fragmentation of politics, which is certainly not happening in the US and is a questionable explanation in Britain, given the two main parties scored their highest collective tally for generations in 2017.

I suggest that both of these explanations capture some but not all of what is going on. We live in a world where information is near enough free for anyone who wants it and so politicians selling evidence-based policies have been correspondingly devalued. Those who can peddle simple and easy big ideas are rising in value relative to them.

As a result, politics by mood board is in the ascendancy. Politicians about whom the public say “say what you like about X but…” can say what they like.  Parties whose policies can be summed up in three words will take votes off parties with nuanced policy platforms. There’s a reason why Nigel Farage is abandoning the idea of a manifesto for the Brexit party.

Still, it feels that politicians have yet fully to grasp what the public needs in the age of abundant information. By and large, so far the populists are strikingly unpopular among the populace as a whole, with loyal followings but a low ceiling on their support. At some point a gifted politician with a captivating personality is going to articulate a simple vision that forges a consensus. That politician will have the Midas touch.

Alastair Meeks




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The best test of a pollster is not how they’re currently doing against other firms but what happened last time they were tested

Sunday, June 30th, 2019

I am afraid that I have to disagree with David Herdson on his latest Saturday thread about YouGov understating Labour. Firstly you cannot judge pollsters’ based on their current surveys when less than 5 weeks ago they were tested against a real election involving real voters.

In the two charts above I compare LAB and LD vote shares for the May Euros in their final published polls.  Just two of them can claim to have come out of the election well with the rest trailing some way back.

Just examine some of the exaggerated figures that some pollsters were record reporting for LAB where we had a range from 13% to 25%. The actual GB figures was 14%.

Now look at the second chart showing the final LD shares. These range from 12% to 20%. The actual GB share was 20,4%.

Apart from Ipsos MORI and YouGov the rest really did rather badly.

Because of the low turnout, the 37% that actually happened was broadly anticipated, this was always going to be a challenging election for polling because turnout was everything. If one party’s supporters were less likely to vote  then that presents the pollsters with serious challenges .

The other challenge, of course, was tactical voting generally by remain backing LAB voters to the parties they saw as being most likely to succeed in their region and so the vote could produce the maximum number of MEPs. This helped the LDs and, of course, the Greens to achieve the success that they did. Whatever mechanisms YouGov and Ipsos Mori use they were able to detect better what was the big characteristic of this election.

So when I look at the current polls I regard Survation and Opinium, of the recent ones, as LAB over-staters.

Mike Smithson




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Brexit: Some Inconvenient Facts that the Tories need to face

Saturday, June 22nd, 2019

“A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep” – Saul Bellow

There are illusions aplenty amongst Tory MPs about how Brexit is going to be achieved by the current candidates for leader, Boris chief among them. Perhaps – like Baldrick – he has a cunning plan. One can but hope. It seems almost indecently rude to spoil these illusions with something as vulgar as facts. But here goes, anyway.

1. There is only one Withdrawal Agreement agreed with the EU which is consistent with both the EU’s own red lines and those of the British government, at least as they currently stand. Under that agreement there will be a transitional period. Without it there is no transition.

2. The EU has stated – and made it a legal condition of the extension of Article 50 to 31 October – that the Withdrawal Agreement will not be renegotiated.

3. The EU has also stated that it is not going to abandon the backstop contained in the WA. Ireland is a member of the EU. Britain is currently seeking to become an ex-member. The EU is not going to place the interests of the latter over those of the former, no matter how much this might offend Britain’s amour propre or sense of superiority over a country it has often treated with condescension or contempt.

4. Unionist politicians consider the maintenance of the link with Great Britain more important than anything else. It is their raison d’être. Any different treatment of Northern Ireland implying that it is not somehow as British as the rest of Britain will get a “Never, Never, Never” response.

5. Different British red lines could result in a different Withdrawal Agreement. What those different red lines might be – and their implications, whether for the relationship with the EU or for UK domestic politics – have not so far been discussed by Tory leadership candidates. There is still a little time. Whether there is a will is quite another question.

6. Any different Withdrawal Agreement will need the agreement of the EU and need to be consistent with its red lines.

7. If a new Withdrawal Agreement is to be negotiated and agreed and approved by Parliament, this will take time. It will almost certainly take more time than is available between now and the expiry of the Article 50 deadline given the summer holidays, the Parliamentary recess, the disbanding of the EU’s negotiating team and the fact that the EU is currently in the process of changing its key personnel, who will not be in place until after the deadline has expired.

8. Therefore, for a new Withdrawal Agreement to be agreed and approved by Parliament, an extension of Article 50 will be required. As implied by the remarks of Mark Rutte, the Dutch Prime Minister, the EU will almost certainly want to have some substantive and credible evidence that (a) there has been a change in the British government’s negotiating position; and (b) it can get the required Parliamentary approval for whatever is agreed. The EU has already spent some considerable time negotiating Cameron’s deal (rejected) and the Withdrawal Agreement (rejected three times). For Britain to rock up to Brussels saying “Let’s have another go. Third time lucky, eh!” is unlikely either to impress or be effective.

9. An extension beyond Halloween is not consistent with the promises made by either Johnson or Hunt, assuming that they have been saying the same things in private to all their supporters as they have in public. Quite why Trick or Treat day has been fetishised by the Tories to the extent it has (despite having been imposed on Britain by those frightful Eurocrats) is a matter best left to whoever provides therapy to Tory MPs these days. The important fact is that it has been. In Continental Europe, the following two days are All Saints and All Souls.  From April Fools to the Day of the Dead. Someone in Brussels had a dark sense of humour when the date was chosen.

10. If the date is key, then the only option for the Tories is to take Britain out of the EU on that date without any sort of deal.

11. Whether Parliament will seek to stop this or be successful in doing so is unknowable. There is a lot of sound and fury from some MPs. Whether it will signify anything who can say.

12. An election may change the Parliamentary arithmetic. Or it may not. The last PM who tried to get a large majority to strengthen their hand found that that elections are, polls notwithstanding, easier to call than to win. The polls are much less favourable for the Tories now. What an election certainly won’t do is create any more time.

13. The EU is assuming that Boris Johnson will be Prime Minister, a relatively safe assumption. It is also assuming that he will change his policy once he becomes PM, that promises or statements made during a campaign will be ignored or finessed away once he is in power. This may be a dangerous assumption to make.

14. Others here have a faint hope that Johnson’s very untrustworthiness means that he can be trusted to break his promises and avoid a No Deal exit. It is a curious and slender peg on which to hang one’s hopes.

15. It is unlikely that the country will be ready for No Deal or for what could happen thereafter. See, for instance, this report in relation to medicines.

16. A No Deal exit means a complete break overnight. With no transitional arrangements. There is no such thing as a managed No Deal since the Withdrawal Agreement is the way in which Britain’s exit was going to be managed. On 31 October Britain will be a member of the EU. On 1 November it will be a third country. “Just like that!” as Tommy Cooper might have said. As a comparison, when Britain joined in 1973, there was a 7-year transitional period.

17. The consequences of such an abrupt rupture – on Britain’s economy, its trading relationships, its society, the parties advocating it, those opposing it, its relations with the EU, its relations with other countries – are unclear and potentially far-reaching. They could well overwhelm the administration and make it harder for it to deal with all the many other tasks which a government has to handle.
18. The EU has made it clear that it will do whatever will be necessary to protect its interests following a No Deal exit by Britain. Such actions may also benefit Britain – but by happenstance only. The EU will not feel obliged to do anything to assist Britain to live more easily with the consequences of its choices unless this is also in the EU’s interests. It is quite likely that this will be presented here as the EU “punishing” Britain or being vengeful. The anger which EU countries will feel at having been put in such a position will be ignored.

It was Harold Macmillan who famously said that governments could be blown off course by “Events, dear boy, events”. Too true. Most governments have sought to avoid such events or, at least, be in a position to steer a steady course through them. The Tories now seem intent on creating a veritable tsunami of events – with Britain at their centre – with little more than a wing, a prayer and (most likely) under the guidance of an unprincipled leader with the ability to make jokes. If nothing else, it is an unusual position for a soi-disant conservative party to take.

CycleFree



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Johnson’s first battle as PM with the BXP looks set to be at Brecon & Radnor within a week of him getting the job

Thursday, June 20th, 2019

Farage’s favourite pollster, Survation, has already been active

At 5pm today the six recall petition centres across the B&R constituency will close their doors and late tomorrow morning the sitting CON MP will learn whether or not 10% of those on the electoral roll have signed the petition demanding his recall. If the total tops the required number then the Speaker will be informed formally and a vacancy will be declared.

The petition follows the conviction of the CON MP for expenses fraud – one of the three stated factors in the recall legislation that bring one into effect.

It is expected that the by-election will take place on July 25th or a week later on August 1st. The result of the Tory leadership  election is due in the week of July 22nd so Johnson’s first by-election test be shortly afterwards.

We do know that Survation, which has carried out a lot of constituency polling in the past for Farage, has been running a survey in B&R  no doubt to test the water. The seat was broadly in line with the overall UK result at the Referendum so not as clear cut a leave seat as Peterborough.

Given BXP’s strong Westminster polling position it clearly will want to contest the seat a move that could split the Tory vote and could make the task of LDs, who have been campaigning hard for weeks, a bit easier.

But will Farage want to do something that would undermine arch-Brexiteer Boris so early on in his new job? My guess is that he’s no alternative. BXP needs to fight battles like this and do well in order to keep the momentum going.

The result of the petition is expected tomorrow. The by-election campaigning will start immediately afterwards.

Mike Smithson


 

 



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Get ready for the Betrayals Ahead

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

As CON MPs prepare to vote a look at the bigger picture

There is a political divide in Britain. No, not that one. But one between those seeing Brexit as an end in itself and those for whom it is a means to an end. The former seems to comprise most of the Tory party. The candidates for leader seem to agree. “We must do Brexit” they cry. In some cases, one suspects it is said with all the sincerity of a certain type of English middle class woman on holiday in a favoured part of Europe mwah-mwah-ing the nice couple she’s met saying “Let’s do lunch!” while secretly hoping it never happens.

Brexit is seen as something which simply must be got over with so that they can move on to more familiar political territory. It’s Brexit as a painful toothache. The root canal surgery simply cannot be put off any longer. Once done life can go back to normal. You think I jest. Observe how little actual detail is being provided about how to do Brexit, let alone what happens after. It is almost as if it has to be done not because of the opportunities and improvements it will bring – and there will be some (though there is remarkably little discussion of these gains these days nor whether these will be outweighed by the opportunities lost) – but to avoid being beaten up by the Brexit Party. Brexit is a self-defence move for Tories worried about a grinning marauder opportunistically stealing their voters.

Well it may work. Still, once the Tory party has stopped treating its own survival as the country’s most important concern, it might question its comforting assumption that Leave voters will reward the Tories for doing Brexit, particularly if it’s a No Deal Brexit. Yes, I know: the polls and the Euro elections. Bear with me. How seductive a clean slate No Deal Brexit sounds: just up sticks, walk away, no backward glance, all eyes fixed on the shining horizon, the great adventures ahead. Who hasn’t sometimes dreamt of closing the door quietly on demanding families, in-laws, chores, bosses, bills, responsibilities, the endless cycle of obligations, of compromise, the feeling of being taken for granted? This sort of step can be taken, of course, if one is oblivious to those affected. Still, just do it already: that seems to be the message of the Euro elections. It is, alas, never as simple as that.

There are two issues with the No Deal Brexit now being presented as the only proper Brexit (three if one includes the idiotic belief that keeping No Deal on the table is a viable negotiating tactic when the status quo is not an option in the negotiations). First, it is not an end point but the start of a journey? Where next? What sort of architecture does Britain envisage for its relationship with the EU? Or is it simply a rehash of  Vicky’s “Very well. Alone” cartoon? What sort of economy does Britain want? Pointing at Australia or Singapore or Switzerland really isn’t an answer. What sort of role in the world, given the new chill between the US and China and Russia reverting to an unfriendlier bellicosity? And how to get from where we are now to there? Merely saying that “mojo” and “belief” and “charisma” are needed because poor Mrs May had none of these is insufficient. Personality without a plan makes for an amusing party guest not a leader.

Merely repeating WTO is not a plan. It’s not even a destination. What effect will WTO tariffs have on different sectors of Britain’s economy? On different parts of the country? What about rules of origin? Tax? Or services? Or medicines? Or security matters? Or the cross-border sharing of information, pretty much essential for any modern economy? Or peace in Northern Ireland: an issue which has rather more terminal consequences for its people than technical questions about tracking cattle over a porous border. Questions, questions everywhere. And ne’er an answer.

And so to the the second more important issue. Those who voted for Brexit did not do so because they wanted something called Brexit, whether No Deal or otherwise. They wanted what they thought (or were promised) it would – or might – bring. If the vote for Brexit was, in part, a cry of pain by those who felt that the status quo did little or nothing for them, a complaint that its costs and benefits had not been fairly shared, if it was a demand that their voice be heard, their needs met, that policy should be made for that part of the country lying outside the M25, a wish to be insulated from some of the effects of globalisation, a desire to preserve the familiar even at the cost of not being completely a la mode – and it was, how will those voting for it feel if it delivers none of those things? Or if it makes matters worse? “We gave you Brexit. It’s made things worse for you. But, hey, vote for us anyway. And Corbyn – he’ll really mess things up, you know.” It’s not an obviously winning slogan, certainly not from a party now willing to contemplate shutting down Parliament to get its way. Do No Deal Tories really think they will hold onto the votes of those facing unemployment or the loss of businesses or finding themselves as ignored as before just because they’ve delivered a Brexit which, it turns out, provides no solutions to the problems that led to it? Do they even care – beyond some platitudes about the “left behind”?

Judging by the likely candidates’ policy proposals, they mostly seem to assume that a No Deal Brexit itself will have no consequences beyond maybe some customs disruption and a few traffic jams and that some reheated Thatcherism, complete with a handbagging of those obstinate Eurocrats, will do the trick. One even had a photo of her when launching their campaign. Imagine likely successors to Blair in 2007 touting photos of Harold Wilson (a PM who had left office 31 years earlier) to see how odd this looks. At a time of pressure on councils, on schools, on those facing the heartless rigidities of Universal Credit, on graduates facing an interest rate on their loans unobtainable to any saver other than those entrusting their money to fraudsters, tax cuts for those on salaries unimaginable to many in Bridgend or Sunderland or Port Talbot is, apparently, the solution. Money set aside to mitigate the effects of No Deal is to be spent on the haves, the have-nots presumably being expected to be grateful for having got Brexit.

No Deal Brexit may now indeed be inevitable, however unprepared the country is. It is being presented – now – as the only possible fulfilment of the referendum’s mandate. It is in reality the result of a failure of negotiation, a failure to realise that compromise is necessary, a failure to realise that how Brexit was implemented would send a strong signal to the rest of the world about how Britain would meet this challenge. Whatever blame can be attached to the EU for such a failure, it is Britain which, having failed its first test – leaving on reasonable, orderly terms – will need to strike new deals, work out a new strategy, persuade investors of its worth and reliability.

No Deal Brexit will have costs – as all such unilateral steps do. And those costs may not be borne fairly or by those most fervently advocating it, a point studiously ignored by those politicians pushing it the hardest. In their desire to get it off their backs, the Tories have forgotten what mischiefs Brexit was intended to remedy and seem oblivious to the fact that the world has changed from a time when tax cuts and labelling Labour as dangerous was all it took to win. They do not seem to know whether Brexit is a chance for Britain to retreat to a more comfortable, quasi-protectionist niche (see the rush to warn the US off the NHS), even at the cost of falling behind. Or is it a chance to become globally adventurous, opening itself up to all sorts of new markets, turning itself into a low tax, low regulation, low welfare state country. Perhaps their confusion is understandable: some Brexiteers want the former, others the latter. Yet others want all the benefits of globalisation and the EU with none of the obligations.  Some just want fewer foreigners.  Someone will end up disappointed.

The Tories are gambling that ticking Brexit off the To Do list will be enough and that voters will have short memories. It is an insouciant, not to say reckless, approach. Of course, the country will adapt. Eventually. But there will be costs. These may be significant. Who they fall on and who bears them will be the central question of British politics post-Brexit, whatever choices are made. What those choices should be is something the Tories seem remarkably unwilling or unable to address. In trying to deal with one charge of betrayal, the Tories are simply ensuring there will be many more betrayal narratives in the future.

CycleFree



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The Peterborough Chronicle. About that by-election

Friday, June 7th, 2019

What to make of the result? There are lots of hot takes all over the internet.  So here’s a tepid take, with an assortment of observations all jumbled up in a heap.  Make of them what you will.

1) No one really had a handle on what was going on

The Brexit party got backed below 1.2 on Betfair to win the by-election.  They were heavy odds-on favourites, largely it seems off the back of their results in the EU elections. It’s all very well saying that their backers were far too enthusiastic but layers weren’t exactly all that much in evidence either. It turns out nobody knew anything. Remember that when reading all those hot takes. Remember it next time you’re betting too.

2) Especially not Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage turned up triumphantly for the count, only to slip out of a side door once it became apparent that his party had lost. That minor humiliation can be brushed off, but much more concerning for the Brexit party is that they did not have a handle on their own support. The Brexit party’s ground game needs a lot of work.

This is unsurprising for a new party. We saw this at the Newark by-election in 2014, where UKIP transparently had no idea where their voters were. In a first-past-the-post system, knowing who your voters are and getting them out is important.

3) Leave secured 60.9% of the vote in Peterborough in 2016 and only 51% of the vote in Peterborough in 2019

Hat tip to Matthew Goodwin for pointing this out, as linked to above. This implies a 10% swing from Leave to Remain if taken on a naive basis, implying a 58:42 Remain lead nationally at present. That is ahead of most current opinion polls, which show a smaller Remain lead.

Remain optimists will take this at face value and see this as evidence that Britain is turning its back on Brexit.  Leave optimists will argue that this reflects Labour’s superior ground game and the silent majority of voters break heavily in their favour. Or perhaps it is somewhere in the middle. Pick your preference.

4) Leave secured 60.9% of the vote in Peterborough in 2016 and the Brexit party secured 28.9% in 2019

That implies the Brexit party are tallying just under half of the Leave vote, which in turn implies that they are getting somewhere around the 24-25% mark nationally. However, in the special circumstances of a by-election, you would expect a party with momentum to do rather better than their actual polling as voters choose to send a message.  I’d knock quite a few percent off that notional national polling, given that.

5) But Peterborough was not, even though a strongly Leave-voting seat, particularly promising ground for the Brexit party

The excellent analysis by Chaminda Jayanetti linked to above shows that while the Brexit party did well among Leave voters across the country in the EU elections, it did less well in urban, ethnically diverse places and best in southern English suburbs and market towns. It is a party that appeals most of all to affluent reactionaries. They are not particularly in evidence in Peterborough.

The Brexit party are doing well, but their supporters are getting ahead of themselves. Success is performance minus anticipation. On that basis, this was a poor result for the Brexit party. They need to work on both halves of that equation.

6) It was a terrible night for the Conservatives

They have been eclipsed among Leave voters by the Brexit party. The chief mystery is who is voting for them at present. What is it that they have to offer to anyone? Don’t tweet me, please.

7) This was a really good result for Labour

The circumstances of the by-election were sub-optimal, to put it mildly. The previous MP had been ousted after being convicted of a serious criminal offence.  Their new candidate ran into trouble. They faced an opponent with their tails up after success in the EU elections. But they won.

Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters are crowing and they are right to do so. Yes, their vote share dropped but they increased their majority. It’s about relative performance not absolute performance and this by-election suggests that in some seats at least they are well-placed to benefit from a more fragmented electorate.

8) Reported candidate quality was once again an inverse predictor of success at the by-election

Lisa Forbes, the Labour candidate had odium poured on her for some unsavoury online activity and she had to agree to deepen her understanding of anti-Semitism. The Brexit party candidate received widespread acclaim as a local businessman made good. The Conservative candidate also got good reviews.

It seems that when parties stress the quality of the candidate they are often masking other weaknesses in their offering that are more important to the electorate. That’s something to remember in the future next time a party boasts of their excellent by-election candidate.

Alastair Meeks




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Remembering the time Boris Johnson implied Tory defectors to Farage’s party are the kind of people who have sex with vacuum cleaners

Sunday, May 26th, 2019

If as anticipated the Brexit party wins the European elections well ahead of the Conservatives then I expect the discussion will move towards who will be best placed to win the support of the Brexit Party’s voters and many will say Boris Johnson but that will be a mistake, here’s why.

Nigel Farage would ruthlessly exploit the past comments of Boris, for example the pre referendum comments by Boris Johnson about ‘support[ing] a second referendum on Britain’s relationship with the EU even if the UK voted to leave.’

Then there’s Boris Johnson’s support for an amnesty for illegal immigrants which someone like Nigel Farage and his vast history of inflammatory rhetoric on immigration would ruthlessly exploit to portray Boris Johnson as another member of the liberal metropolitan elite.

Then there’s the comments in the video atop this thread about switchers to UKIP are the kind of people who have sex with vacuum cleaners. Whether fair or unfair that these defectors to Farage’s party are the sort of people who have sex with vacuum cleaners it has the potential to cause grief in the way David Cameron’s prescient comment about UKIP members being “a bunch of fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists” did.

In mitigation of Boris Johnson when he made these comments it was days after Mark Reckless defected from the Conservatives to UKIP at the start of the 2014 Conservative party conference.

Many Conservatives were very angry at Reckless, the normally mild mannered David Cameron said some very uncomplimentary things about Mark Reckless, another Tory MP said Mark Reckless is ‘a f**king c**t who deserves a hot poker up his arse’, my own views on the treachery of Mark Reckless were unfit to publish on a family friendly website like politicalbetting.

But the argument about Boris Johnson as Conservative leader being the panacea to getting back Conservative to Brexit party switchers doesn’t survive slight scrutiny, Nigel Farage will ensure that, Boris Johnson’s past gives Farage so much material.

TSE