Archive for the 'Coalition' Category


A cartoon to start this historic week

Monday, January 16th, 2017

Copyright Helen Cochrane & Nicholas Leonard 2017


Getting a sense of proportion over rail fares: the overwhelming majority of voters not affected

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

Map by Ian Warren of @Election_data

The big return to work and the hardy annual – rail fare increases

If ever there was a political issue that highlights the London-centric nature of Britain’s media it is rail fares. Today’s the big return to work after the holidays and the annual price rise come into effect with the usual annual rail fares stories in much of the MSM.

Yet thanks to Ian Warren for his excellent map showing the proportion of the population who travel to work by rail we can see this is concentrated mostly in one part of the country – the south east.

For an excellent explanation on how rail pricing works check the City Metric site.

A problem for rail commuters is that government subsidies have been reduced to almost nothing yet increasing numbers of people still want to travel.

    The political issue is the level of money from tax-payers, the vast majority of whom don’t travel to work by train, should be allocated to subsidising the fares of those that do.

Outside the London commuter belt I have long argued that the cost of petrol is much more politically sensitive than rail fares. Using their own car is how people get to work and when a litre was up to £1.35 and more it really eat into households budgets.

Mike Smithson


The FINAL local elections of 2016

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016


December 21st 2016
Cranleigh West (Con defence) on Waverley
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 53, Farnham Residents 3, Independent 1 (Conservative majority of 49)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,269, 1,155 (56%)
Liberal Democrats 685, 515 (30%)
Labour 321, 192 (14%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 44,341 (58%) LEAVE 31,601 (42%) on a turnout of 82%
Candidates duly nominated: Richard Cole (Lib Dem), Rosaleen Egan (UKIP), Liz Townsend (Con)
Result: Conservative 377 (59% +3%), Liberal Democrat 187 (29% -1%), United Kingdom Independence Party 78 (12%, no candidate in 2015)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 190 (30%) on a swing of 2% from Liberal Democrat to Conservative

December 22nd 2016
Aylesham (Lab defence) on Dover
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 25, Labour 17, United Kingdom Independence Party 3 (Conservative majority of 5)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 1,683, 1,274 (68%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 779, 611 (32%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 24,606 (38%) LEAVE 40,410 (62%) on a turnout of 77%
Candidates duly nominated: Pauline Catterall (Con), Gordon Cowan (Lab)

Hedge End, Wildern (Lib Dem defence) on Eastleigh
Result of council at last election (2016): Liberal Democrats 38, Conservatives 6 (Liberal Democrat majority of 32)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Liberal Democrat 1,183 (42%), Conservative 779 (28%), United Kingdom Independence Party 391 (14%), Labour 336 (12%), Independent 127 (5%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 36,172 (48%) LEAVE 39,902 (52%) on a turnout of 78%
Candidates duly nominated: Ben Burcombe-Filer (Con), Ian Corben (Lib Dem), Terry Crow (Lab)


Westminster and Local By-Election Preview : December 8th 2016

Thursday, December 8th, 2016


Sleaford and North Hykeham (Con defence) to Westminster Parliament
Result of Parliament at last election (2015): Conservatives 331, Labour 232, Scottish National Party 56, Northern Ireland Parties 18, Liberal Democrats 8, Plaid Cymru 3, Green Party 1, United Kingdom Independence Party 1 (Conservative majority of 12)
Result of constituency at last election (2015): Conservative 34,805 (56%), Labour 10,690 (17%), United Kingdom Independence Party 9,716 (16%), Liberal Democrat 3,500 (6%), Lincolnshire Independent 3,233 (5%)
EU Referendum Result (North and South Kesteven combined): REMAIN 58,617 (39%) LEAVE 91,607 (61%) on a turnout of 78%
Estimate vote in constituency: REMAIN 38% LEAVE 62%
Candidates duly nominated: The Iconic Arty Pole (Monster Raving Loony Party), Victoria Ayling (United Kingdom Independence Party), David Bishop (Bus-Pass Elvis), Jim Clarke (Labour), Paul Coyne (Independent), Caroline Johnson (Conservative), Marianne Overton (Lincolnshire Independent), Ross Pepper (Liberal Democrat), Sarah Stock (Independent*), Mark Suffield (Non Party Independent)
* Sarah Stock has been supported by both the Greens and the National Health Action Party

University and Scotsforth Rural (Lab defence) on Lancaster
Result of council at last election (2015): Labour 29, Conservatives 19, Green 9, Morecambe Independents 2, Independent 1 (No Overall Control, Laboour short by 2)
Result of ward at last election (2015) : Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 605, 500, 480 (35%)
Green 555, 440, 417 (33%)
Conservative 405, 391, 339 (24%)
Liberal Democrats 143, 79, 66 (8%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 35,732 (49%) LEAVE 37,309 (51%) on a turnout of 73%
Candidates duly nominated: Xenia Aveyard (Green), Luke Brandon (Con), Nathan Burns (Lab), Pippa Hepworth (Lib Dem)

Maldon West (Con defence) on Maldon
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 28, Independents 2, United Kingdom Independence Party 1 (Conservative majority of 25)
Result of ward at last election (2015) : Emboldened denotes elected
Independent 1,303 (51%)
Conservatives 767, 692 (30%)
Green Party 498 (19%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 14,529 (37%) LEAVE 24,302 (63%) on a turnout 79%
Candidates duly nominated: Janet Carden (Green), Andrew Francis (UKIP), Martin Harvey (Con), Richard Perry (Fighting Unsustainable Housing Because We Care), Flo Shaughnessy (Independent), John Sweeney (Lab)

Madeley (Ind defence) on Newcastle under Lyme
Result of council at last election (2016): Labour 27, Conservatives 21, Independents 6, Liberal Democrats 3, United Kingdom Independence Party 2, Green Party 1 (No Overall Control, Labour short by 4)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Independent 1,115 (47%), Conservative 636 (27%), Labour 455 (19%), Liberal Democrat 87 (4%), Green Party 74 (3%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 25,477 (37%) LEAVE 43,457 (63%) on a turnout of 74%
Candidates duly nominated: Peter Andras (Lib Dem), Stephen French (Lab), Gary White (Ind), David Whitmore (Con)

Horsehay and Lightmoor (Con defence) on Telford and the Wrekin
Result of council at last election (2015): Labour 27, Conservatives 23, Liberal Democrats 3, Independent 1 (No Overall Control, Labour short by 1)
Result of ward at last election (2015) : Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,280, 950 (43%)
Labour 722, 661 (24%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 534, 498 (18%)
Liberal Democrat 221 (7%)
Green Party 193 (6%)
Libertarian Party 45 (2%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 32,954 (37%) LEAVE 56,649 (63%) on a turnout of 72%
Candidates duly nominated: Dennis Allen (UKIP), Robert Cadman (Con), Rajash Mehta (Lab)

Trench (Con defence) on Tonbridge and Malling
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 48, Liberal Democrats 4, Independents 2 (Conservative majority of 42)
Result of ward at last election (2015) : Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,111, 1,009 (44%)
Labour 497, 451 (20%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 468 (18%)
Green Party 240 (10%)
Liberal Democrat 222 (9%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 32,792 (44%) LEAVE 41,229 (56%) on a turnout of 80%)
Candidates duly nominated: David Allen (UKIP), Fred Long (Lab), Georgina Thomas (Con)


The LDs overturn Zac’s 23k majority with a lead of 1,872

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

Sarah Olney (LD) 20,510 (49.68%, +30.41%)

Zac Goldsmith (Ind) 18,638 (45.15%)

Christian Wolmar (Lab) 1,515 (3.67%, -8.68%)

Howling Laud Hope (Loony) 184 (0.45%)

Fiona Syms (Ind) 173 (0.42%)

Dominic Stockford (CPA) 164 (0.40%)

Maharaja Jammu and Kashmir (Love) 67 (0.16%)

David Powell (ND) 32 (0.08%)

LD maj 1,872 (4.53%)

Zac’s gamble fails

That’s a fantastic result for the yellows and a tragic result for Zac Goldsmith who, of course, was beaten in the London Mayoral race last May.

The seat has, of course, been LD territory in the past and the party has flung everything at it. This has been a huge campaign which I said at the start was an absolute must win for them.

The result cuts Theresa May’s majority by 2 to a theoretical 10.

There was much scepticism when the LDs produced vote projections in the past few days showing they were in the lead. Well these have been proved right.

Mike Smithson


And now what you really wanted to know about LEAVE and REMAIN voters – how often they change their underpants/knickers

Thursday, November 24th, 2016


Remember: Normal polling margins of error apply


Why the 5/1 that President Trump will be impeached during his first term is not an attractive bet

Thursday, November 17th, 2016



Looking at the process and the politics

The man whose business methods can be charitably described as unconventional will take over the most powerful and most heavily scrutinised job in the world on 20 January next. Will his tenure end in impeachment? BetFred are offering 5/1 that Trump will be successfully impeached by 2020.

History of Presidential impeachment

No US President has been impeached and removed from office. Serious proceedings have been launched against three Presidents, Andrew Johnson in 1868, Richard Nixon in 1974 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Briefly, the Johnson and Clinton impeachments died in the Senate (Johnson by only one vote on three separate charges) and Nixon resigned before he could be tried. It is a lengthy and complex process, and effectively brings national political life to a standstill.

There are two conditions that need to be met for an impeachment to happen:

The law: The President must be accused of an impeachable offence; and

The politics: The President’s political support must have drained away to the extent that 2/3 of the Senate votes against him.

The law

Our American cousins do not share our enthusiasm for making up constitutional practice as we go along, and the impeachment process is tightly defined and consists of two stages.

Stage 1 – House

Section LIII of the Jefferson Manual on Congressional Procedure says that the House votes on articles of impeachment. For Clinton, those were drafted by the Judiciary Committee after an investigation by a Special Prosecutor, and this seems the most likely way that an impeachment of Trump would be initiated.

Stage 2– Senate

Stage two is set out in the Constitution. The relevant sections of the Constitution are Article 1 Section 3, which sets out the process:

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.  .  When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside:  And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present ...

and Article 2 Section 4, which describes the crimes for which they can be impeached:

The President shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors

One can assume that Trump will not be guilty of treason, at any rate as it is defined in the Constitution, where the definition is deliberately narrow. It also seems unlikely that he will be guilty of receiving a bribe, given the intense scrutiny of his finances and his enormous wealth. The odd-sounding and vague phrase “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is therefore crucial to whether Trump will be impeached. Rather surprisingly, the phrase goes back to 14th century English law and the impeachment of the Earl of Suffolk. But it currently understood to involve some bad action by the President in the course of his duties. If the President committed a murder outside the course of his duties, therefore, he could not be impeached, but would be dealt with through normal criminal law. Issuing himself a pardon for that murder, however, could render him subject to impeachment.

How likely is it that Trump will commit such crimes? My own impression is that it is fairly likely. His business methods seem on occasion to be one step above the criminal and people of 70, used to getting their own way, do not often change radically. In addition, the President must take so many decisions every day, and the scrutiny is so intense, that if people dig through enough trash cans they may well find things they can use against him. It is worth noting that a recent, well publicised book claimed that US law is so widely drafted that the average American professional commits three felonies per

day, and no doubt the President could be said to commit considerably more.

The politics

Impeachment has the appearance of a judicial process, with the House as Prosecutor and the Senate as the Judge, but impeaching an extremely popular President is unthinkable. Congressmen have to think of their own re-election, and the unpopularity of Clinton’s impeachment seems to have been a factor in the Republican losses in that year’s mid-terms. More than half the House must vote for the Articles, and two-thirds of the Senate must vote to convict. Much will depend on the crimes and the articles of impeachment, but the latter is a high hurdle. I doubt they will be met while the two Houses are in Republican hands, and while the President is relatively popular. This means that an impeachment is only likely after the 2018 mid-terms, and only then if there are heavy GOP losses in the House. Members of Congress will be chasing their own re-election and, given the obvious pointlessness of pursuing a President who could be out of office fairly soon anyway, the proceedings would have to be launched sometime in 2019.

So, there are two ways I think impeachment could happen:

Trump commit such an egregious abuse of power that even his own party desert him. I think that is possible, and, given how much many of them seem to despise him, an outside chance, but given that the President surrounds himself with lawyers, I think it unlikely;

The Democrats win control of the House and Senate in 2018, and try to blow some smaller scandal out of all proportion. This seems far likelier, but a quirk of the American system could save Trump. It is not mathematically possible for the Democrats to reach 67 Senators in 2018, since only 8 Republican seats (and two independents who caucus with the Democrats) are up for grabs. Even if the Democrats swept the House and all available Senate seats in 2018, therefore, they would have to persuade large numbers of their opponents to support them, as the Republicans utterly failed to do in 1999.

Finally, briefly, a word on the alternative. If Trump is impeached, America will be looking at President Pence. From his record, Pence is an anti-environmentalist, pro-trade, fundamentalist Christian. The Democrats who would probably have to lead any impeachment would want to be sure that facing him as an incumbent in 2020 would be better than facing a weakened Trump.


Given all the above, am I going to place the second political wager of my life on this question at 5/1? At this stage, I am not tempted. Too much needs to come together. As there is virtually no prospect of successful impeachment happening by the middle of next year, I will wait a few months and see what his style of government is like, and how deep his support is. If he is autocratic and his support is shallow, I would be tempted to wager at shorter odds than 8/1, say down to 5/1. If he seems to have charisma and luck, I’d struggle to back it at 20/1. Either way, I don’t think it will happen before 2019, barring some unprecedentedly awful act on Trump’s part. That can’t be ruled out, but is hardly something on which a cautious cove like me would risk his £50.

Either way, 2019 is the year to watch: if the midterms are unfavourable and if Trump is abusing his power, odds could shorten dramatically.

A guest slot by “Fishing”


Just a third of voters tell ICM that they’re happy with “unconditional BREXIT” with the young most opposed

Monday, November 14th, 2016

And the oldies seemingly less concerned about “unconditional BREXIT”

As we move towards the formal start of the UK’s extraction process there’s going to be a lot of polling like this latest from ICM on voters view the current options.

This is a very hard thing to poll on because of the tight-lipped approach by Theresa May who won’t reveal anything except to bosses of big Japanese car manufacturers who employ a lot of people here. Her refusal “to give running commentary” is getting a bit tired and she’s fortunate that the official opposition leader, Mr Corbyn, is so piss-poor. Facing sharper questioning her position would be harder to maintain.

To what extent is Britain ready to undermine its economy in order to curb immigration? The polling we see is very mixed and determined to an extent by how the question is put.

This latest ICM polling came out at the weekend but I refrained from writing about it here until I saw the dataset. It really is important to look at the actual question wording and that’s only just become available.

The data shows a huge age split with younger voters far less incline to accept unconditional BREXIT.

Mike Smithson