Archive for the 'Coalition' Category


Why the SNP’s MPs would probably not support a vote for an early general election

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Sturgeon’s party has too many vulnerable seats

Ever since it became clear that Mrs. May’s June election gamble had failed and she’d lost her majority there’s been lots of speculation that this parliament will not go through to its full term in June 2022. Maybe but there is the obstacle to surmount of the Fixed Term Parliament Act which was part of the coalition deal in 2010. The days when a PM can pop along to the Palace and call an election are long gone.

One of the routes allowable is if the government loses a no confidence motion which is not rescinded within two weeks. The other route, as deployed by TMay last April, was to seek a Commons vote with two thirds of MPs giving the move their backing.

A confidence vote is probably where the Tories are most vulnerable although at the moment there is the deal with he DUP. Things could change over the parliament through defections, rebellions and by-election losses that it.

Such a confidence vote would require LAB to secure the full backing of other parties in the house including the SNP and there must be some doubt that they would go along with the idea.

A key factor that is illustrated in the Commons Library table above is the vulnerability of the SNP in many of the 35 Scottish seats that they currently hold. We saw how in the two years between the last two general elections SNP dropped from 56 MPs to just 35 on a Scottish vote share down from 50% at GE2015 to 36.9%.

Voting for LAB confidence motions that would lead directly to a new general election being held and would not, on current party standings, be in the SNP’s interest. Chances are that they’d lose even more seats.

It has been calculated that if LAB, CON and the SNP each finished up on 30% in Scotland then the SNP could be reduced to just 6 seats. That sliimness of some of their majorities is shown in the chart.

Mike Smithson



ICM finds that just 38% want Charles to be King

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

46% want the monarchy to skip a generation

We don’t often have Royal Family polling but there is a new ICM survey out in Prospect magazine on what should happen following the Queen’s death.

The figures aren’t good for Prince Charles. Just 38% want him to be the successor with 46% going for Prince William. The balance, 16%, declined to back either.

To another question on whether the thought of Prince Charles as King made people more or less likely to suppoort the monarchy just 7% said more with 21% saying less.

There’s a big age gap in views of the monarchy. Tom Clark in Prospect notes:

“.. While Charles enjoys narrow majority support among the oldest voters—with 51 per cent of those aged 65 and over backing him against the jump to William—this falls to just 18 per cent among the youngest voters, aged 18 to 24. Even among 25-34 year olds, he commands the support of barely one in four respondents on this question—just 27 per cent.

…his (Charles) support is now notably less marked among Labour backers, 33 per cent rather than 48 per cent among Conservatives.”

What is becoming increasingly possible is that the succession could become a big political issue in the not too distant future.

Mike Smithson


Angela Merkel looks well placed to continue as German Chancellor after next month’s German election

Sunday, August 6th, 2017


One major political betting market that so far we haven’t covered on PB is the German Federal Election on September 24th. On Betfair this is currently attracting ten times as much bets as the next CON leader.

From a British perspective it will determine who will lead the most powerful economy in the EU during the Brexit negotiations.

For some reason which I have never been able to fathom the French elections get far more coverage in the UK than the German ones.

There had been some concerns that Merkel’s approach to refugees and immigration would make her vulnerable but, as the table shows, her CDU/CSU is looking strong. But this is early days. The campaign won’t really get under way until the end of the month.

In the betting Merkel is rated as a 93% chance of remaining as Chancellor.

Mike Smithson


Today’s move against petrol and diesel vehicles will move the narrative on from Brexit

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

This morning’s big political news is that the Government is set to announce that petrol and diesel vehicles will no longer be sold in the UK from 2040.

It represents a big change but the environmental and health benefits are strong and the change won’t happen for 22 years.

Given the parliamentary arithmetic and the overwhelming obsession with BREXIT this has some strong political benefits for ministers. It moves the main talking point on and it looks to have wide support. The VW group diesel scandal has brought to the fore the very real problem of air pollution in the cities which is killing people.

With the nature of the BREXI deal becoming increasingly controversial and Farage going on the attack this looks like smart politics. It at least shows that the government is doing sonething and will be widely talkied about.

The development also coincides with the news from BMW that an electric version of the Mini will be assembled at its Oxford plant.

Another interesting development in the past 24 hours is that Toyota, the firm that pioneered the hybrid, is working on an all-electric car that can be charged “within moments“.

Mike Smithson


The Premiership will be more dominated by teams from REMAIN areas next season

Monday, July 24th, 2017

Not long now before the big kick-off and I’ve updated my chart showing the referendum vote in the local authority areas where the 20 teams have their grounds.

Last season the EPL was spit between 10 REMAIN areas teams and 10 LEAVE ones. The relegation of Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Hull and their replacement by Newcastle, Brighton and Huddersfield means that the split is now 12-8 to Remain.

The pattern is not really surprising given that most of the big clubs are inevitably from the big cities which were much more Remain focused than others.

Mike Smithson


TMay doesn’t need reminding. Within a month of making his CON 2003 conference speech IDS was ousted.

Monday, July 24th, 2017

And he hadn’t lost an election

According to the Indy 15 CON MPs have sent no confidence letter to the the Chair of the 1922 committee. This is part of the party’s formal process for ousting a leader. If 48 such letters are received then there would have to be a confidence vote amongst the parliamentary party.

All this is reminiscent of what happened to Iain Duncan Smith in October 2003. Sufficient letters went in and there was a vote which saw the end of his leadership and the election, without having to face a contest, of Michael Howard.

    What looks decidedly challenging for the prime minister is the Conservative conference in the first week in October. This ends with the leader’s speech and what could be crucial for her future is how well that is received

IDS’s speech, as in the clip above, was very well received by the conference with more than a dozen standing ovations and applause that lasted for a staggering eight minutes afterwards – which is something of a record.

That was no guide, however, to what was going to happen. His fate was sealed.

She is at her best when she is talking TO an audience and far worse when she is having to interact as we saw during the general election campaign.

Based on the Duncan Smith experience in 2003 we should not take too much notice of the number or length of standing ovations. At the end of that speech the audience applauded the leader for more than eight minutes which I believe was a record that has never been exceeded.

This did not prevent the letters going in and the formal challenge and ultimate end of his leadership.

I tend to agree with Nick Palmer’s post before the weekend that TMay will probably survive but this is far from certain.

Mike Smithson


Can Vince make a Brexit-exit work for the Lib Dems?

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

And can he expand new Lib Dems support beyond Europhiles?

In the week when the Brexit talks finally got down to business, the Lib Dems acquired a new leader to head up the fight to – well, that’s the first question: what exactly are the opponents of the government’s Brexit policy (which itself is hardly perfectly defined) themselves advocating?

Vince Cable is already seeking to ride more than one horse on Brexit, advocating both that Britain remain within the Single Market and the Customs Union, and also that there should be a second referendum once a deal is in place, asking the public whether we’d rather stay in the EU after all, thanks very much.

One could argue that these are not contradictory and in a sense, they’re not: remaining in the EU’s key structures is most easily achieved by staying within the EU, and that if de jure membership isn’t possible then de facto membership (bar the influence and appointments) is the next best thing. On the other hand, those who want to keep Britain within the EU might not wonder whether trying to get the very soft Brexit doesn’t work counter to that higher goal.

Whether a Brexit-exit is even possible remains a contentious question. Several authorities, both EU and UK, have voiced the view that Article 50 can be withdrawn. This, however, tends to fly in the face of text and the logic of the Article. If notice could be withdrawn, what’s to stop a member yo-yoing until they get the deal they want? More pertinently, if it is revocable, why doesn’t it say so when it is so explicit about when the treaties cease to apply to the withdrawing member? Either way, without a judgement from the ECJ, no-one can know for sure.

But for the Lib Dems, and for now, that’s not a concern. Britain hasn’t experienced a conversion but there are more than enough who are very keen to Remain (or who are angry about Brexit if remaining isn’t possible), for a smaller party to chase. Some might point out that this was the same strategy that Farron tried in the Spring and which failed (although not for Cable himself). To some extent that’s true but Sir Vince might be more optimistic of making it work, partly because he’s a more authoritative figure and partly because he’ll be able to work in the light of more experience.

Opposition to Brexit (or support for the softest possible Brexit), however, can only be part of the Lib Dems’ recovery plan. To get back to where they were pre-2010, they’ll need to be seen as relevant again, which across large parts of the country, they’re not.

There are many stats which tell the same story. That they lost their deposit in 375 seats is one but perhaps the best illustration is that the average vote per Lib Dem candidate in 2017 was just 3771: it’s not been lower than that since 1886, when William Gladstone was leader and the franchise much more restricted.

You would think that conditions now ought to be ideal for a centre party. Labour has marched off to the left and looks set to stay there for the foreseeable future given the hugely increased authority Corbyn has received from Labour’s – his – campaign and election result. The Tories are weighed down by the Brexit talks and the internal divisions that’s causing, on top of an economy that might be stuttering and public services struggling after seven years of spending restraint. UKIP has served its purpose and even the SNP has peaked.

And they are ideal. The question is whether he can succeed where Farron failed and establish himself as a more credible opposition than Corbyn. He has form, of course. His brief acting leadership after Ming Campbell ’s resignation was notable for his ‘Stalin to Mr Bean’ quip to Gordon Brown. He also cultivated useful links with the media, notably Robert Peston. Getting in front of the camera as often as possible must be a key aim.

Which brings us back to Brexit. Barring something completely unexpected, Britain’s withdrawal from the EU will dominate British politics for at least the next 18 months. Labour’s internal divisions and particularly Corbyn’s disinterest in and ambivalence toward the EU should give Cable a tremendous platform to put an opposing case to the government, as well as to link it to the economy and potentially the NHS, social services and other issues.

The stakes are high. An effective performance from the Lib Dem team, led by Cable, could well see the party back into the high-teens or twenties. The coalition of ardent Remainers and pragmatic free marketeers is a sizable one but not one being particularly courted elsewhere at the moment. On the other hand, were he to fail as his two predecessors did, the future for his party would be grim indeed. Nature abhors vacuums and someone must fill the one in the centre. Logic suggests that should be the Lib Dems. But then logic has had an unusually weak relationship with politics these last few years.

David Herdson


Good night for LAB, bad one for the LDs in this week’s local by-elections

Friday, July 21st, 2017

Alston Moor on Eden (Lib Dem defence)
Result: Labour 407 (56%, no candidate last time), Conservative 253 (35% -10% on last time), Independent 57 (8%, no candidate last time), Green Party 13 (2%, no candidate last time) No Liberal Democrat candidate (-55%)
Labour GAIN from Liberal Democrat with a majority of 154 (21%) on a notional swing of 33% from Conservative to Labour

Billingham North on Stockton on Tees (Lab defence)
Result: Labour 719 (40% +5% on last time), Conservative 687 (39% +19% on last time), Local Independent 196 (11% -13% on last time), Liberal Democrat 95 (5%, no candidate last time), Others 80 (5%, no candidates last time) No UKIP candidate (-21%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 32 (1%) on a swing of 7% from Labour to Conservative

St. Michael’s on Knowsley (Lab defence)
Result: Labour 716 (87% +13% on last time), Liberal Democrat 58 (7%, no candidate last time), Green Party 53 (6%, no candidate last time) No Conservative candidate (-8%), No UKIP candidate (-17%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 658 (80%) on a notional swing of 3% from Liberal Democrat to Labour

Leek East on Staffordshire, Moorlands (Con defence)
Result: Labour 505 (45% +26% on last time), Conservative 325 (29% +1% on last time), Independent 219 (20%, no candidate last time), Liberal Democrat 74 (7% +1% on last time) No Local Independent candidate (-21%)
Labour GAIN from Conservative with a majority of 180 (16%) on a swing of 12.5% from Conservative to Labour

Ketton on Rutland (Con defence)
Result: Conservative 459 (69% +13% on last time), Liberal Democrat 208 (31% +4% on last time) No UKIP candidate (-17%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 251 (38%) on a swing of 4.5% from Liberal Democrat to Conservative

Wissendine on Rutland (Lib Dem defence)
Result: Independent 258 (66%, no candidate last time), Conservative 102 (26% -1% on last time), Liberal Democrat 32 (8% -57% on last time) No UKIP candidate (-8%)
Independent GAIN from Liberal Democrat with a majority of 156 (40%) on a notional swing of 33.5% from Conservative to Independent

St. Helier on Merton (Lab defence)
Result: Labour 1,508 (75% +16% on last time), Conservative 318 (16% +1% on last time), Liberal Democrat 98 (5%, -1% on last time), Green Party 61 (3%, no candidate last time), United Kingdom Independence Party 15 (1% -19% on last time)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 1,190 (59%) on a swing of 7.5% from Conservative to Labour

Compiled by Harry Hayfield