Archive for the 'Coalition' Category


Just 19% of current LAB voters think the vote to leave the EU was right

Thursday, June 21st, 2018

You’ve got to marvel at Team Corbyn’s ambivalence

Just 19% of Labour voters in today’s YouGov poll think that the decision to leave the EU was right with 72% saying wrong. I think this is the widest split there’s been.

Yet in spite of being out of line with party supporters the leadership has pursued an approach to Brexit that is very different. The remarkable thing is that this has not become an issue.

Voters in most of the LAB seats went for leave at the Referendum and the majority of LAB gains at GE2017 in England and Wales were in leave seats.

In many ways Corbyn is enjoying the luxury of opposition. In government, as Mrs May would not doubt tell you, things are very different.

Mike Smithson


Kirsty Wark heads the betting for the next QuestionTime host

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Several bookies have now got odds up who is going to succeed David Dimbleby as the host of the long running BBC series Question Time. Most of them showing a similar assessment to Ladbrokes which features in the panel above.

My understanding is that the program is made by an independent production house which clearly will have a view about who should take over from Dimbleby. So this is not going to be a sole BBC decision. The Producers will be looking for somebody who is nimble enough to be fully aware of who is in the audience and the sorts of views that they might wish to express.

This choice is very important politically because not only is there the run of the mill series of weekly shows but at General Election times the main TV event featuring the leaders has been the Question Time special hosted by David Dimbleby. I thought that TMay lost her majority with that tin-eared “there’s no magic money tree” response the the nurse who hadn’t had a pay rise for eight years.

The Newsnight presenter, Kirsty Wark, is currently the favourite and certainly she would appear to have the qualities that would make her a strong successor successor in the in the role.

No doubt there will be a lot of speculation within the Westminster village and within the media generally and it is hard to make a judgement.

Given that the only men presenters of the programme since it was first broadcast have been man then that is, surely, a strong case for a woman to take this on.

there are other “runners” in the betting – I’ve just listed those at the top.

Mike Smithson


On Betfair 2018 is once again favourite for TMay’s exit

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

Is she going to be able to survive?

Over the past year I’ve had a pretty good record with my political bets which have come to fruition. I was on the Democrats in the Alabama and Pennsylvania special elections and, of course, backed the LDs to beat the Tories in last week’s by-election. I lost on the Arizona special election and my long-shot for the Tory leadership, Damian Green, fell by the wayside earlier in the year.

My other significant losing bet was on the above market – TMay’s exit dates. I didn’t think she would survive 2017 which, much against many predictions, she did. Her resilience has been and still is remarkable.

The latest machinations over the Brexit bill and the House of Lords vote have once again pushed this year into the favourites slot on Betfair for the year when Theresa May ceases to be Prime Minister but I’ve not been tempted.

The odds, though, are not that tight and this is moving about a fair bit depending on how successful the parliamentary moves are for her.

    My reading of the prime minister is that she has no very fixed views on the sort of Brexit she would like. What she wants to do is to achieve that which she said she would and take the country out of the European Union at the end of next March as planned. Everything is about what’s expedient so deals will be done and then undone as she seeks to get from one day to the next.

Her problem remains – the massive gulf that has dominated Tory politics for a quarter of a century over Europe.

The only circumstance that would lead her to going early is if there a commonality of interest between both sides of the party for a new leader.

Mike Smithson


A very British coup. A way back for the defeated centre?

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

These have been dark times for pragmatic politicians. Both the Conservative party and the Labour party have been taken over by politicians pursuing projects for ideological reasons, uninterested in any evidence as to whether those projects were actually beneficial for the nation. In both parties, moderates have been marginalised as the extremists compete to apply purity tests for their projects.

Since the election last year, neither group of ideologues has yet established a decisive polling lead. In the wake of the election, Labour appeared to move ahead a little. Earlier this year, the polls swung back the other way, with the Conservatives establishing a small lead. Just possibly there has been a fresh oscillation: the last two polls have shown the two main parties dead level.

This Parliament has potentially another four years to play out. In that time, the Conservatives could make a success of Brexit, establishing a decisive lead. Or they might see their coalition fall apart as the reality of Brexit alienates one or more groups. Labour could collapse into internecine warfare. Or Jeremy Corbyn’s campaigning could see them surge to success at the next election.

So far as we can tell anything at the moment, it seems that the two main voting blocs look surprisingly sturdy: the differences are at the margins. It’s entirely possible that the current deadlock could continue to the next election. There has to be a good chance that Britain will have a fourth successive close election.

What might this mean in practice? Let’s use the most recent Ipsos-MORI poll as a base. In that poll, Labour and the Conservatives were tied on 40%, the Lib Dems were on 7%, the Greens were on 5% and UKIP were on 2%. Electoral Calculus predicts that this would translate into the following tallies in the House of Commons:

Conservatives: 298

Labour: 276

Lib Dems: 14

SNP: 39

Greens: 1

Plaid Cymru: 4

Northern Ireland: 18 (I’m assuming the DUP again get 10)

As you can see, this would be what is technically known as a gigantic heaving mess. Labour, the Greens and the nationalists would get to 320, while the Conservatives and the DUP would get to 308. Neither of these constitute a working majority. In each case, it cannot be assumed that these blocs would coalesce.

The role of the Lib Dems would potentially be crucial. They could work with either bloc to establish an unstable working majority. Or they could work against either bloc.

Who would they choose to work with? The Conservatives would have lost seats but would remain the largest party. Labour would have gained seats but would remain very much second. Neither line-up looks particularly stable. Both main parties’ leaderships look very distant from the Lib Dems’ policy position.

The Lib Dems would no doubt pursue policy objectives. This would make the Conservatives hard to work with, given how hostile the recent Lib Dem members have been towards Brexit (their past experience of coalition with the Conservatives would also not be likely to make the idea of a repeat particularly appealing). They would no doubt seek to drag Labour in a more pro-EU policy direction.

But they might be bolder. It is no secret that many Labour MPs have little time for their current leader: they failed to oust him in 2016 and have since retreated into a sullen silence. In the main they have not obviously been converted to his merits since. In 2010, Nick Clegg told Labour that he would not countenance a deal with them unless Gordon Brown was replaced as Prime Minister. Might the 2022 Lib Dem leader try the same trick?

The Labour membership would be incandescent. But after the election their leverage would be limited. Above all, they cannot control the Lib Dems, who could vow to vote no confidence in any attempt at a government headed by someone who they believed did not have majority support in the House of Commons.

If matters were forced to such a vote and the Commons indeed passed a vote of no confidence, then at that point, things would get interesting. The House of Commons would then have 14 days to pass a vote of confidence in a government or a fresh general election would be held. Would the present Labour leadership acquiesce in the Lib Dems’ replacing their candidate for Prime Minister? Would Labour Parliamentary party discipline hold if the leadership set its face against such a demand? Would the Conservatives try their luck?

Politics would be a white knuckle ride for those two weeks. One of the more likely outcomes would be that a fresh Labour candidate for Prime Minister (not necessarily a fresh Labour leader) would emerge, probably from the soft left to keep as wide a span of support in Parliament as possible.

And suddenly the moderates could have got hold of the reins of power again.

This is of course just one scenario. But it illustrates a wider point. Ideologues can and have taken control of the main political parties. But in a hung Parliament, the preponderance of moderates on the Parliamentary benches can make themselves felt.

However, we may not need to wait for the next election. The Brexit bills are returning to the House of Commons next month. That preponderance of moderates in a hung Parliament have their opportunity to take back control from the government. They should have the courage of their convictions and grab that opportunity.

Alastair Meeks


Think of this weekend on PB as being like the Thameslink changes

Friday, May 25th, 2018

Thanks to Liverpool getting through to the Champion’s league final and the ongoing series of strikes on SNCF – the French railway system we have a problem this weekend running PB.

TSE is off to Kiev to support his beloved Liverpool while I am having to bring my holiday forward by two days so our train trip down to Andalusia won’t be disrupted by the strikes. The result is there is no one “on duty” over the weekend.

So we have lined up a number of guest slots as well as posts prepared in advance. But if something current happens, like TMay having a re-think on something while on her holiday break, it probably won’t be covered. Any betting prices quoted are those that applied today.

TSE, hopefully reinvigorated by the outcome of the match should be back after the holiday weekend.

Mike Smithson


Bercow needs to take inspiration from Arsene Wenger’s exit from Arsenal

Friday, May 18th, 2018

Ladbrokes make it 6/4 that he’ll be be out this year

It hasn’t been the best of periods for Commons Speaker, John Bercow, who now finds himself embroiled in a row of what he might or might not have said about Andrea Leadsom. This follows the bullying allegations that have been aired a lot recently.

The big issue for prospective punters is whether he’s reached a point where his position is untenable and I don’t think we are there yet. Because of the power the Speaker over Commons it is almost inevitable that the government of the day cannot be counted always to support him. The question is whether there’s a consensus across the House.

Potential punters should read this from New Statesman Patrick McGuire.

“Any sense of government involvement in the campaign to oust Bercow – and that is how MPs such as Bradshaw will likely view this morning’s intervention – will only shore up his support. The waters continue to rise around the Speaker, but it will take more for the dam to break.”

I think that tha is fair and he is reported, also, to have indicated to friends that he plans to step aside next year – something which will deter some of those pressing for immediate action.

In many ways his position is akin to that of Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger over the past season or so. The majority of fans appeared to want him out but didn’t want to press it. Arsene announced his departure before he was pushed and was given a hero’s farewell.

Mike Smithson


New YouGov finds Corbyn’s best PM ratings amongst the young holding firm but overall a post GE2017 low point

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

This is the first published polling since last week’s local and the findings also include the latest voting intention numbers from the firm – CON 43%+1, LAB 38=, LD 9+2.

My view is that non-voting intention numbers are probably a better way of measuring the political climate simply because those sampled are being asked for an opinion not a prediction how how they might or might not act in four years time.

The young-old split has dominated polling for the past couple of years and notice how the YouGov young segments go up to the age of 49.

Mike Smithson


If you want to compare main party/leader performances from past elections use this chart based on the CON + LAB aggregate

Saturday, May 5th, 2018

No Owen, Corbyn’s GE2017 performance didn’t match Blair’s at GE2001

Last night in a discussion on LE2018 on Newsnight the Oxford-educated Corbyn cheerleader, Owen Jones, sought to suggest that his man’s performance at the 2017 General Election was comparable with what Tony Blair achieved in 2001. He did it by taking the national percentage vote shares rather than looking at seat total or size of majority or some other measure. Certainly LAB got 40.3% at GE2017 compared with Blair’s 40.7% at GE2001

It suited Owen’s purpose not to mention that Tony Blair’s LAB won 412 seats compared with just 166 for Hague’s Tories and the 262 LAB MPs that LAB returned on June 8th last year.

The problem with national vote shares is they get messed up when there are other parties attracting sizeable proportions of the vote. In 2001 the Lib Dems were starting to move forward and took 18.3% of the overall UK national vote. Last year that was down to 7.4%.

A better way of comparing the two main party performances is to look at the CON+LAB aggregate which is what I have done with the above chart.

Mike Smithson