Archive for the 'BREXIT' Category

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Mapping across – how the Brexit vote might translate onto the next general election

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017


(Source: Prof John Curtice)

The referendum vote cut across party loyalties.  While Conservative supporters primarily voted Leave and Labour supporters primarily voted Remain, substantial minorities of both party supporters dissented from their colleagues.  This gives both major parties a potential headache about how to proceed in the wake of the vote, the more so because the British Election Study found in October that people were more likely to identify themselves as Remain or Leave supporters than followers of a particular party.  Stray too far from their self-identification and these voters will be off.

To date, all the discussion has revolved round how Labour should respond – not surprisingly, given their steady spiral of decline in the polls and at by-elections.  But the Conservatives have a potential problem too that they would be unwise to lose sight of.  A third of their present support comes from Remain supporters and they need to find ways to keep them on board the good ship Brexit.

Many commentators have noted that over 400 constituencies voted Leave.  The estimate of Leave/Remain seats comes from the work of Chris Hanretty of the University of East Anglia, which can be found here.  These estimates are not exact, as Chris Hanretty has readily acknowledged.  But they are right enough for our purposes.

As a result, many have concluded that backing Brexit is therefore where the action is.  With nearly two thirds of seats voting Leave, that superficially looks like a landslide.

Certainly, some of the most strident Labour Remain-backing MPs have constituents who take a very different view of the matter.  Ed Miliband, for example, represents constituents who voted almost 3:1 for Leave (more emphatically than Douglas Carswell’s constituents).  But it should also be noted that some prominent Leave MPs are just as awkwardly placed. Kate Hoey represents a constituency that voted nearly 80% Remain – the 10th most Remainian seat in the country according to Chris Hanretty.  Gisela Stuart represents a constituency that voted nearly 60% Remain.  They are all going to need to hope that their constituents (and, in the case of the latter two, their constituency parties) have either moved on by the time of the next election or regard other matters as more critical to their vote.  MPs on both sides of the divide are going to find themselves awkwardly placed.

But how did a vote that ended up 52:48 result in such an imbalance of seats?  And is it the right measure to be working to anyway?

From Chris Hanretty’s table we can see that the Remain vote strongly clustered in specific areas – inner London and Edinburgh, for example.  That, coupled with the fact that a lot of seats were just “won” by Leave (114 in Britain fell in the 50-55% Leave band, while only 75 sat in the 45-50% Leave band, for example), resulted in the imbalance.

So the first thing to note is that many of these “Leave” seats are only marginally Leavey.  It would be a brave candidate who completely ignored Remainers in such seats, not much less brave than completely ignoring Leavers.

But there’s an assumption being made that only needs to be articulated to be shown to be very questionable.  The assumption is that the voters in the referendum will be more or less the same as the voters in the next general election.  But since turnout was a fair bit higher at the referendum than at the last general election, this seems very doubtful.  Indeed, much has been made on other occasions of the fact that infrequent voters had turned out in large numbers for Leave.  Are they going to turn out at the next general election?  Personally, I doubt it.  At least, nothing like all of them.

If it is hard to estimate with accuracy how seats voted at the referendum, it is impossible to estimate with any great accuracy how seats would have voted in the referendum on the turnout at the next general election.  Nevertheless, that is what we must try to do.

I asked regular politicalbetting poster @AndyJS for his view (for those that aren’t aware, AndyJS produced a spreadsheet in advance of the referendum that proved uncannily accurate in its par ratings for each reporting local area, enabling many of us to profit mightily as a result).  His lick of the finger estimate is that on a normal general election turnout, roughly 350 seats would have voted Leave.  That seems entirely plausible to me.

If this is anything like correct, it means that the perceived constituency-based advantage of backing Leave is actually not all that great.  350 out of 650 is under 54% of the Westminster seats.  Other voting motivations (or, indeed, differential voting motivation among Leave and Remain voters) are likely to outweigh this particular consideration in many seats – if voters on both sides of the divide have not been alienated by their MP’s stance on the subject.

At present, Leave voters are far better catered for electorally than Remain voters, even though at a general election they will be roughly even in number.  The Conservatives and UKIP are both firmly Leave parties while Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is lukewarm Leave.

John Curtice has recently noted that Labour have been losing support not to UKIP but to the Lib Dems.  The Lib Dems have made ultra-Remain their USP for now, but with Lib Dem seats and plausible targets barely more common than lapis lazuli, ultra-Remain is going to be out of reach for most voters.  In any case, while Remain voters by and large have not revised their decision as to the correctness of their choice, many of them also believe that the referendum verdict must be seen through as a matter of democracy.

So right now a lot of potential votes are going unsolicited with no natural home at present.  Yet it is far from clear that soliciting them is a losing proposition, with a crowded field chasing Leave votes.  You would have thought that a Brexit-sceptic party that accepted the referendum vote but that keenly harried every hard Brexit choice that the Conservatives made would have good prospects.  But are there politicians willing to step into that void?

Alastair Meeks




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Unless LAB make a disastrous candidate choice then it’s hard to see them losing Gorton

Monday, February 27th, 2017

A seat where 62.1% voted REMAIN should in theory be challenging for Corbyn’s LAB

Yesterday I Tweeted expressing the wish that the next by-election along would be somewhere that voted to stay in the EU last June 23rd. Sadly that has come about following the death of the long-standing Labour MP, Sir Gerald Kaufman, at the age of 86.

As can been seen by the map the seat is rather odd shaped covering an area to the south of Manchester city centre and the university area. Thousands and thousands of students live there as well as many who work at the city large universities. Between GE1997 and GE2010 the LDs were in a strong second place at every general election.

At one stage after the Iraq War in 2004 the yellows held 19 of the 21 council seats in the constituency and in the following two general elections had vote shares of 30% plus.

The seat is just to the north of Manchester Withington and close to Hazel Grove which until GE2015 were held by the LDs. There is a largish activist base close by.

If it wasn’t for their disastrous GE2015 performance the LDs would fancy their chances in Manchester Gorton.

Unfortunately for them it was the Green who came second at GE2015 which makes it very much harder for the LDs to establish themselves as the tactical anti-LAB choice.

We could see a debate between the Greens and the LDs over who should fly the Ant-BREXIT flag.

The Tory vote could be interesting.

A lot depends on who gets selected by Labour. They need an unequivocal remainer who is prepared to disagree with Corbyn’s parliamentary BREXIT strategy.

Mike Smithson




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Are we seeing the Tony Blair effect on BREXIT? Those saying LEAVE vote “wrong” now same as those saying “right”

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

The party splits show Corbyn out of line with party voters

I love trackers because the same question is asked in exactly the same way each time the question is put so and as PBers will know I’ve regularly report the above BREXIT finding from YouGov.

The latest movement is all within the margin of error and we need to see further polling before any conclusions can be drawn but it does come out at a key moment politically with the Article 50 Bill going through the Lords.

I just wonder, and I know people will howl at me, if we are seeing the Tony Blair effect. Labour’s most successful leader ever might have a bit of a reputational problem at the moment but he is lucid in a way that none of the current party leaders are.

This was the first time the tracker question has been asked since he made his speech. To another question:

Government managing BREXIT well or badly? (YouGov)
WELL 33% -3
BADLY 46% +3

Mike Smithson




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Brexit: We wuz robbed but is Tony the one to stop it.

Monday, February 20th, 2017

Don Brind on the Blair intervention

Like many 48 per centers I believe last year’s referendum victory for Leave was built on a mountain of mendacity, epitomised by that bus promising £350 million for the NHS.

So it was good to hear Tony Blair declare, in his speech to Open Britain last week, that Brexit “will not mean more money for the NHS but less; actually it probably means a wholesale rebalancing of our healthcare towards one based on private as much as public provision.”

I don’t trust Theresa May, now the zealous convert to Leave after being a virtually silent a Remain campaigner. So, again, I enjoyed Blair’s withering assault on her. “The Government are not masters of this situation. They’re not driving this bus. They’re being driven.”

So why did the speech leave me feeling uneasy? And why did Jenny Chapman, MP for Darlington and a member of the Shadow Brexit team tweet: “I defend Tony Blair as a great Labour leader who improved lives of my constituents. I do this a lot. His speech today won’t help.”

Blair says he accepts the result of the referendum and that “there is no widespread appetite to re-think.” He asserts that people voted without knowledge of the terms of Brexit. “As these terms become clear, it is their right to change their will. Our mission is to persuade them to do so.”

But the big question is how do we get from here to there? Who is best placed to get them to think again? Is Tony Blair somebody Leave voters will listen to?

They certainly won’t be listening to Ed Vulliamy in the Observer that” Corbyn and his MPs want to appease xenophobia in Labour heartlands, at whatever price of principle, to keep their seats warm at Westminster.

Such patronising tosh is not only unfair to Labour MPs, it part of the Brexit problem. “In politics, firstly, you have to earn the right to be heard” says Labour backbencher Wes Streeting in a wide-ranging New Statesman article that deserves to be as widely read as the Blair speech.

Streeting, a frequent Corbyn critic and a “Blairite” to leadership loyalists, represents Ilford North on the London Essex border which voted narrowly to Remain. He, nonetheless followed Jeremy Corbyn’s lead in voting to trigger Article 50. He explained his reasoning in a joint article with Chuka Umunna

Defying the referendum result, they say, would “deepen Labour and the country’s divisions and undermine our ability to build a coalition uniting the cities with the towns and country, the young with the old, immigrant with settled communities, the north with the south.
“We have to build this coalition in order to win an election to form a Labour government.”

The fact is that if Tony Blair’s dream of beating Brexit is to be realised it will Labour MPs who will do the hard graft of persuading Leave voters to think again.

Don Brind



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The latest PB cartoon on Tony Blair’s Brexit intervention

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

Cartoon by Helen Cochrane and Nicholas Leonard.



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YouGov’s BREXIT tracker is back to exactly where it was just after Theresa May became PM

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

For all the machinations opinion simply hasn’t changed

Above is YouGov’s BREXIT tracker in which it has been regularly asking the same question “In hindsight, do you think Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave the European Union?” over many months.”

As can be seen the most striking feature is the almost total lack of movement. In fact the numbers in the latest poll are exactly the same as they were at the start of August 2016 shortly after TMay became PM.

Both leavers and remainers have hardly changed their opinions.

What I like about trackers is that the same question is put every time in exactly the same manner. If there had been a movement then we would see it.

These are the party splits in the latest polling.

What will change things is when we start to get a sense of what BREXIT is actually going to look like and we won’t know that until after Article 50 is invoked.

Mike Smithson




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Six times as many LD supporters say they’re concerned about BREXIT than UKIP voters

Friday, February 17th, 2017

This dynamic could have an impact next Thursday

The above chart is based on data from the latest Ipsos MORI issues index and shows the party splits of those, unprompted, naming BREXIT as the main, or one of the the main, issues facing Britain at the moment.

As can be seen there is a huge gap between the LDs, with 79% raising it, to UKIP voters where the figure is 15%. The Tory figure is highish well ahead of LAB.

    I’d suggest that this might be reflected in the turnouts in the two Westminster by-elections next Thursday. The main challenge for UKIP is to convert perceived anger about BREXIT into votes actually cast.

How strong is that feeling for UKIP backers to go to the polls to give LAB a good kicking? We’ll know next Friday morning. There’s also the question of whether LD voters are more motivated.

Each month for 40 years Ipsos MORI has been operating a totally unique poll – its Issues Index. On this those sampled are simply asked face to face “What do you see as the main/other important issues facing Britain today?”. They are given the time to respond and can name any number of things that come into heads.

Because of the unprompted nature of the approach this has been regarded over the decades as one of the best tests of the salience of issues without the question wording itself having an impact on the responses. This has stood the test of time.

Mike Smithson




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Tonight’s PB cartoon – Who is the Brexiest of them all?

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

Cartoon by Helen Cochrane and Nicholas Leonard.