Archive for the 'Coalition' Category


How the Tories are using the the appointment of the new Home Secretary

Monday, April 30th, 2018

The big news of the day has been the appointment by Theresa May of Sajid Javid as the new Home Secretary – the first time a member of the BAME communities has been appointed to one of the main officers of state.

Given the background for the demise of his predecessor this appears a smart move which the Tories are hoping will help the win greater support from the non white communities a segment of the electorate where they’ve really struggled.

The poster above, based on a very similar one on John Major twenty years ago, appears highly effective even if the idea is nor new.

What the new HomeSec does about the Windrush generation we shall have to wait and see but clearly a lot is expected of him. and he’s got an opportunity to change things in a positive way.

Mike Smithson


Amber Rudd resigns

Sunday, April 29th, 2018


The Tories hold on against an SNP challenge in Scotland but lose 2 seats to the LDs in England

Friday, April 20th, 2018

Highland on Perth and Kinross (Con defence)
Result: Con 1,907 (47% +2% on last time), Lab 239 (6% no candidate last time), Lib Dem 78 (2% -1% on last time), Green 104 (3% -1% on last time), Ind (Taylor) 280 (7%), Ind (Baykal) 12 (0%), SNP 1,466 (36% +1% on last time)
Conservative lead over SNP of 441 (9%) on a swing of 0.5% from SNP to Con
Total Independent vote: 292 (7% -4% on last time)
No candidate elected on first count, Baykal (Independent) elminated
Details of further counts not published save Conservative HOLD

Lymm South on Warrington (Con defence)
Result: Lib Dem 769 (43% +11% on last time), Con 649 (36% -2% on last time), Lab 328 (18% -1% on last time), UKIP 25 (1% -9% on last time), Green 24 (1% no candidate last time)
Liberal Democrat GAIN from Conservative with a majority of 120 (7%) on a swing of 6.5% from Con to Lib Dem

Thatcham West on West Berkshire (Con defence)
Result: Lib Dem 820 (48% +9% on last time), Con 523 (31% -17% on last time), Lab 130 (8% -6% on last time), Green 130 (8% no candidate last time), UKIP 91 (5% no candidate last time)
Liberal Democrat GAIN from Conservative with a majority 305 (17%) on a swing of 13% from Con to Lib Dem

Compiled by Harry Hayfield


Why betting on the 2020 Republican nomination is better value than the Trump survival market

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

Time for a bet on him not getting the GOP 2020 nomination?

While the focus on in the UK has been on the Syrian crisis, Mrs May and the Windrush generation and the ongoing divide within LAB over anti-semitism the news from the United States has been less promising for the survival of the President.

The ramifications of the former FBI director, James Comey, going on TV last night together with speculation over what will come out of last week’s raid on the Trump family lawyer have started to raise a little bit more doubt about whether he’s actually going to make it through to January 2021.

This has been reflected in the Betfair exchange betting market as can be seen in the chart above. But even with all the latest developments the balance is that punters still think he will make it through his first term.

The position of the controversial property magma turned reality TV star turned president is very much dominating the news agenda in the US with every twist and turn been given it lots of coverage.

As I have said before I find it very difficult to come to a view on this because the general presumption with politicians in trouble is that they generally survive but not always.

Although Mr trump has only actually been in office for 15 months the US election cycle will move very quickly after the November midterms to who will win the presidential election in 2020.

    To my mind the best “will be survive” bet is not on the above market but whether he’ll get the 2020 Republican nomination. That currently rates his chances at a 58% chance so you a lay would give you better odds than evens. That’s in line with the above market with more options

Trump could still get to the end of his first term and not be the nominee.

Mike Smithson


Latest PB/Polling Matters podcast: Are you racist? Syrian airstrikes & the Lords report on polling

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

On this week’s PB/Polling Matters podcast Keiran Pedley is joined by Matt Singh (Number Cruncher) and Adam Drummond (Opinium) to discuss:

1) Why voting intention polls and perceptions of party leaders seem to be moving in different directions

2) Reactions to the Windrush scandal and how pollsters deal with sensitive questions around immigration

3) An exclusive survey from Opinium for PB that shows 1 in 10 Brits believe the Russian military accusation that Britain staged the Douma chemical attack in Syria

4) What the Lords has to say about the future of polling and how pollsters should react

You can find data tables for the Opinium poll on Syria here

Follow this week’s guests:





MPs were right to oppose action in Syria in 2013 and may well be right now

Saturday, April 14th, 2018

May must come to parliament and make her case

Ed Miliband’s legacy to the world cannot just be measured by his inadvertently handing the Labour leadership to Jeremy Corbyn*. He also played a decisive role in preventing the UK joining proposed action against the Assad regime after Syria used chemical weapons in 2013. The effect of Britain withdrawing from planned operations – and doing so because of opposition in the legislature – was to cause Obama from drawing back from his ‘red line’ on Syrian chemical use, to open the region to Russia, to stabilise Assad in power and to normalise the use of chemical weapons in Syria (and, quite possibly, beyond).

However, for all that, parliament was right to block action then, even if many MPs voted against the government then for the wrong reason. Missiles should not be lobbed off as a gesture, or to virtue signal, or as a response to “do something!”. To take any direct involvement in a war is either to have a lasting impact in it, in which case the country getting involved must bear some responsibility for the outcome of that war, it is has little or no impact, in which case what is the point?

The ostensible reason put forward both for action in 2013, and last year, and now is that people should be held to account for the use of chemical weapons and deterred from their reuse. That’s all very well but for it to mean anything, there have to been hard objectives achievable from the use of the force deployed. I didn’t see any explanation of how action in the past would achieve those ends and I don’t really see any now. Unless that changes, we should steer clear, at least until we’ve aligned objectives, strategy and capability.

The one thing that was never really determined in 2013 when the West planned on punishing Assad, was who it wanted to win the war. There weren’t really any good options and even if there were, the scale of force that would have been necessary to bring it about would have been huge: vastly costly in money and lives. Without the clarity of an answer to that key question, everything else became murky: the West – the US and Britain in particular but also France in Libya – have already launched more than enough military adventures without properly planning what to do when the fighting ends. Best not to repeat that error.

Which brings us to now. Once Again, Assad has almost certainly used chemical weapons, in contravention of international law. It’s an act which should be punished but the question is how? Is it possible to deny him those chemical weapons? If so, what will it take? If not, is it possible to deter him from reusing them? If it is, what action would be necessary to bring home that deterrence, given the scale of death and destruction he’s been prepared to countenance these last seven years in order to remain in power? We have been given no answers and until we get some, we should be wary of giving the government a blank cheque to act, either as a sop to opinion or as something much more serious.

    Which is why parliament should have been recalled already. Unfortunately, the PM seems to have got into one of her defensive moods and rather than make the case and lead the country, she’s preferring to hide away and convince at close quarters. That’s all very well for the cabinet but it does nothing for the country, nor for its representatives. Given that MPs will undoubtedly get a vote one way or another, it would be much better to lead events rather than being dragged along behind them. Apart from the obvious political necessity of a minority government needing the assent of parliament before taking a gravely important step, having to make the case in public before the nation’s representatives might help the government straighten out its thinking.

If Britain can do something useful in Syria, in alliance with France and the US, to help prevent the abomination of chemical weapons being used again against civilians, then it should. Preventing loss of life in a particularly nasty way and upholding international law are both intrinsically good things (other states which might have a mind to develop and use chemical weapons will no doubt be watching to see what happens to Assad and will take the lessons handed out accordingly).

The question is can it do something useful? Assad seems almost certain to emerge at the head of the last force standing in Syria (apart from Russia), meaning that if action is taken against him now, the West will still need to deal with him later. It’s no longer 2013. There are once again no easy and no nice options, including doing nothing or issuing weasel words and setting impossible preconditions.

The simple answer is that I don’t know. But then I’m not paid to know: the government is. May and her senior ministers should know and should say. The public is not particularly hostile to military action – 43% say they are opposed – but a lot, 34%, are unconvinced, according to a YouGov poll published yesterday. Given the experiences of Iraq and Libya, you can understand that caution (Mrs May should note that Tory voters are even more cautious than Labour ones when it comes to getting troops involved – Blairism still has a place in Labour, it seems). Which is why she needs to come to Westminster.

David Herdson

* Obviously, Miliband didn’t achieve that all by himself: the inability of Corbyn’s opponents to inspire support made a difference too. All the same, had Labour retained the system it used in 2010, Corbyn would have fallen well short of 50% in the first round – mainly because of minimal backing among MPs – and there’s a good chance that once Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper’s votes had been redistributed, Andy Burnham would have won.


Flotsam and jetsam. Britain’s quiet coastal disaster

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

They say that if the outer 50 kilometres of Australia were to fall into the sea, the population of that island continent would drop by 85%. Britain doesn’t have the large hinterland that Australia possesses, but if Britain were to be attacked by a giant cookie cutter from space, it’s not at all clear that some of the places crimped off would get any less attention than before.

The whole idea of going to the seaside is a relatively new idea. Brighton, Bournemouth and Blackpool are all sizeable places. All three were founded in their modern form in the wake of the Industrial Revolution.

For 100 years, the British seaside was a place of raucous excitement, a place of kiss me quick hats and sticks of rock. Then slowly it began to wane. Workers had for 51 weeks of the year contemplated seven days of sun, sea and sex. Package holidays to the Mediterranean allowed them to get more of all three elsewhere. So the country’s seaside towns began to be squeezed slowly.

What do you do if you want to turn round a town centred on an industry in long term decline? You can specialise. Many seaside towns have successfully done just that: for example, Padstow has become a food destination, Aldeburgh has become a music destination and Margate now trades surprisingly successfully on its art heritage.

It turned out that the middle classes were willing to pay for an artisan ice cream and stay in tasteful luxury as they did so, not worrying too much about the uncertainties of the British weather. That only worked, however, for places that had something extra to sell and that had a charm that extended beyond a sandy beach and a gaudy pier. You can’t make bricks without straw.

You can double down, looking to increase market share of a declining market. Blackpool tried this for many years. The difficulty with that approach is that at some point the market declines to a point where increased market share is no longer available.

Or you can go into different industries. Both Brighton and Bournemouth did this fairly successfully. Neither is now unhealthily dependent on tourism. But many tourist resorts are relatively remote, giving rise to serious problems of infrastructure and logistics. This is not a serious option for many places.

So while some seaside resorts made the transition, others did not. The social consequences have been unfolding for a generation. As a consequence of their low accommodation costs (all those empty rooms), many seaside towns have acquired a population who are too rootless to be Somewheres and too lacking in get-up-and-go to be Anywheres. These are Britain’s Nowheres.

There is concrete proof that misery does not love company. Blackpool and Skegness both feature in the top three areas of the UK for most antidepressants prescribed (twice the national average in Blackpool’s case). Seven of the top ten areas for heroin and morphine deaths are on the coast, including Blackpool, Thanet, Hastings and Bournemouth. Jaywick, just outside Clacton, has twice been named England’s most deprived area. Hastings and Blackpool both feature in the top five for suicide rates. Unlike most of the country, life expectancy is stalling or even falling.

Something clearly must be done. But what? Labour when it proposed supercasinos offered a policy with the potential to revitalise seaside resorts. But the policy was abandoned in the face of stiff opposition and since then the tale has been one of unmanaged decline.

I don’t have immediate answers. However, we shouldn’t confuse the problems of the places and the problems of the people who live in them. The people are much more important. The problems that many of the present residents of these seaside resorts have been brought with them. They may not be helped by staying in these coastal towns without jobs, prospects or support but their problems will still need addressing if they move elsewhere.

That said, towns do not have an inevitable right to survive. Three hundred years ago, few of these towns existed at all. With their purpose apparently past, perhaps Britain should be looking to dismantle them again in an orderly manner rather than just leaving them, and their inhabitants, to rot.

The sea has given and the sea takes. In the early middle ages, the city of Dunwich was England’s sixth largest city. But it was washed into the sea over the course of 80 years. Today, it is a tiny hamlet notable only for its fish and chip shop. As you play ducks and drakes on the beach, you supposedly can hear church bells ringing underwater. Meanwhile, around much of the rest of the coastline, politicians are playing ducks and drakes with the lives of Britain’s Nowhere Men.

Alastair Meeks


Gains for the LDs and Greens the highlights of this week’s local elections

Friday, April 6th, 2018

Caol and Mallig on Highland (SNP defence)
First Preferences: Con 183 (9% unchanged on last time), Lib Dem 658 (31% +22% on last time), Campbell (Ind) 98 (5%), MacKinnon (Ind) 146 (7%), SNP 574 (27%, Wood (Ind) 454 (21%) (No Lab candidate this time -6%,
Total Independent vote: 698 (33% -19% on last time)
Liberal Democrat lead of 84 (4%) on a swing of 20.5% from Ind to Lib Dem

No candidate elected on first count, Campbell (Ind) eliminated
Second Count: Con +5, Lib Dem +13, MacKinnon (Ind) +30, SNP +37, Wood (Ind) +17 Non Transferable 16
No candidate elected on second count, MacKinnion (Ind) eliminated
Third Count: Con +12, Lib Dem +35, SNP +24, Wood (Ind) +68 Non Transferable 53
No candidate elected on third count, Con eliminated
Fourth Count: Lib Dem +85, SNP +2, Wood (Ind) +41 Non Transferable 125
No candidate elected on fourth count, Wood (Ind) eliminated
Fifth Count: Lib Dem +177, SNP +120 Non Transferable 408
Liberal Democrat GAIN from SNP on fifth count

Heyhouses on Fylde (Con defence)
Result: Con 655 (58% +11% on last time), Lab 202 (18% -13% on last time), Lib Dem 138 (12% -10% on last time), Green 133 (12%, no candidate last time)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 453 (40%) on a swing of 12% from Lab to Con

Milford on New Forest (Con defence)
Result: Con 1,057 (76% -4% on last time), Lib Dem 200 (14%, no candidate last time), Lab 126 (9% -11% on last time)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 857 (62%) on a swing of 9% from Con to Lib Dem (3.5% from Lab to Con)

Wiveliscombe and West Deane on Taunton Deane (Ind defence)
Result: Green 600 (45% +32% on last time), Lib Dem 389 (29% +13% on last time), Con 352 (26% -6% on last time) (No Independent candidate this time -39%)
Green GAIN from Independent with a majority of 211 (16%) on a swing of 9.5% from Lib Dem to Green (notional swing: 35.5% from Ind to Green)