Archive for the ' General Election' Category


When TMay apologists try to excuse her GE17 humiliation by bragging about increased CON vote share show them this chart

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

It’s the relationship with the LAB vote that matters

In the run up to the CON conference at the start of October you are going to hear a lot about about how the Tory national vote share on June 8th went up to levels higher than Mrs Thatcher achieved with the implication that it wasn’t quite as bad as might appear.

This is a desperate effort to try to whitewash TMay’s disastrous decision to go to the country three years early and the fact that that under the scrutiny of a general election campaign she became huge electoral negative.

    The increased vote share bragging would have been a big deal except for one simple fact that the apologists try to gloss over – the LAB vote went up by much more.

This was the main reason why the party had 25 net seat losses in England and Wales a figure that was partly ameliorated by Ruth Davidson’s 12 Scottish CON gains.

South of the border the main detriment of seat gains and losses was the CON vote relationship with the LAB share. Only ten of the 572 seats in England and Wales were not won by Labour or the Conservatives.

All this is why it is the CON vote relationship with LAB that matters so much.

The chart, which I’ve presented here in a different form before seeks to look at the relationship between between the two main parties by looking at historical splits in the LAB+CON vote aggregate.

As can be seen on this measure TMay certainly did better than the Tories in the Blair years but worse than David Cameron in both 2010 and 2015.

The big vote move on June 8th was the collapse of UKIP something that was widely thought would help TMay most. It didn’t hence the losses.

Mike Smithson


The August 2017 silly season continues – Ladbrokes now taking bets on “the Democrats” for the next General Election

Monday, August 14th, 2017

The party doesn’t even exist yet

I’m always impressed by the way bookies can sometimes create markets that appear to be designed to appeal to the wishful thinking of some punters. Today sees Ladbrokes offering 250/1 on the “Democrats” , currently a theoretical party suggested in a Tweet by James Chapman, winning most seats at the next general election.

Much as personally I want to remain in the EU I’m not tempted by the bet.

Mike Smithson


In spite of her general election humiliation TMay still leads in the “who’d make the best PM” polling

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

Corbyn isn’t seen as an alternative

There’s little doubt that if the general election had been on May 4th, local election day, then Mrs. May would have got her landslide. The general election polling that was coming out at the time with leads of 15%/20% was broadly reflected in the way that the country voted in the range of elections on that day. The build up to that Thursday, and her dramatic visit to the Palace on May 3rd and speech in Downing Street afterwards very much set the tone for the elections the following day.

In the run up to May 4th TMay had leads over Corbyn in the best PM polling of 30-40%. Anything in the general election five weeks later seemed possible.

Party workers in the May local elections were being told on the doorstep that their choice was just “Theresa” – her brand had extraordinary support and went way beyond just the Conservatives.

    Is it any wonder then that Lynton Crosby’s £4m campaign for the Tories advised that making her the main plank of the Tory campaign was the right way to go. She was an electoral phenomenon and he sought to cash in on it.

Unfortunately for the blue team there were still five weeks to go and when TMay faced the serious scrutiny of a general election campaign she moved from being an electoral asset to an electoral liability. Her inability to interact comfortably with ordinary people became more apparent as the days went by and her refusal to take part in a TV debate with Corbyn in the closing stages was a huge mistake as the BES polling has shown.

So in spite of her overall public image taking a battering because of the result it is striking that when pollsters ask ho they think would make the best PM they do not choose Corbyn. He’s only led in one poll since the election.

Mike Smithson


The key battlegrounds for next time – whenever that is

Friday, August 11th, 2017

The above charts are taken from an excellent new paper just published by the Commons Library and is available to download. This will certainly be a key resource for punters at the next election.

They show the most marginal seats for the three main parties at Westminster. In the case of the SNP all seats are listed.

We all know that there were many very tight results on June 8th and the number of seats that were held or changed hands with margins below 100 is quite extraordinary.

For me the most striking list is that of the SNP held seats the biggest majority was relatively small. With more pro-union tactical voting Sturgeon’s party could be whittled down even more at a new election.

It is interesting on the CON list that only two of its 12 Scottish gains from the SNP was by a tight enough margin to feature which suggests that they might continue to be blue.

The LAB list puts some of the party’s and surprise and extraordinary gains into context. Very few were predicting any gains at all for Corbyn’s party which at one point had been 23% down in the polls.

Mike Smithson


Amber Rudd moves to joint 3rd CON leader favourite following speculation that she’s got Ruth Davidson’s backing

Sunday, August 6th, 2017

The big unknown is whether there’ll be an early contest

There’s been a flurry of speculation over Amber Rudd’s leadership chances following her trip to Scotland and a private meeting with the Scottish Tory leader, Ruth Davidson.

Davidson is seen as a key player in the party election whenever that takes place following the Tory Scottish successes on June 8th. Those gains helped offset some of the losses to LAB in England. This is from James Forsyth in the Sun.

“The 12 MPs that the Tories gained north of the border is what enabled them to cobble together a Commons majority with the DUP’s help. But unlike so many other senior Tories, she (Daivdson) isn’t interested in touting herself as Theresa May’s successor. Her immediate aim is to be First Minister of Scotland, not PM.

Don’t think this means Davidson will have no influence on the coming contest, though. She is, in the words of one of those being urged to run for leader, “the kingmaker par excellence”. Whoever she backs will be halfway to No10..”

Rudd has two big problems. She was a prominent Remainer during the referendum and at the General Election LAB came within 346 votes of taking her Hastings seat. I’m far from convinced that the latter is a negative. Main party leaders generally get a boost on their home turf because of the media prominence they get during the campaign and also some local pride. Her Brexit position, though maybe more damaging.

What is far from certain is whether there will be an early vacancy. TMay looks determined to carry on and does the party have the stomach to provoke what could be a divisive leadership contest at this stage?

In the betting Davis remains favourite as an 18% chance. Boris is at 10% with Hammond, Russ and Rees-Mogg each on 9%.

Mike Smithson


The failure of the Tories to do a deal on MP pairing will make life miserable for ministers and CON MPs alike

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

Get ready for ambushes and unexpected Commons defeats

For me the biggest UK political news this week has been the FT’s report that the Tories have failed to reach agreement with Labour at Westminster on MP pairing. This is the long standing practice that allows government MPs to miss a Parliamentary votes because an opposition one agrees not to take part as well.

For ministers the ability not to have to be in the Palace of Westminster during a specific period can be critical in order for them to carry out their jobs. Think of those who have to be overseas or, say, get stuck in Belfast because of thick fog at Heathrow.

I must be one of the few people still writing about politics now who were journalists during the 1974-1979 parliament. This was the one when under Wilson and then Callaghan’s LAB quickly lost its majority. Then I was a young man at BBC news doing regular stints at Westminster and watched in amazement at the mechanisms required just to get simple procedural motions through.

Large numbers of opposition MPs, for instance, would appear absent from Westminster giving the government whips confidence to allow some their individual MPs not to be there. Then suddenly, just minutes before the vote, scores of them would flock back, by which time it was too late for the whips to round up the votes to match it and the government faced a defeat.

That looks set to happen time and time again.

Getting the government’s business through is going to be very challenging and Labour, still flushed with what they see as a success in their part depriving TMay’s of her majority, are going look for every opportunity to make life difficult.

The absence of a pairing agreement is stage one.

Mike Smithson


The next election will be decided in Britain, not Venezuela

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

The public is not bothered about Corbyn’s past endorsements (even if it should be)

Unless Theresa May or her successor can overturn over a trend well over a century old, Labour will form the next government. Quite simply, once governments start losing seats from one election to the next, they continue losing seats until they’re in opposition. And not only did the Conservatives lost seats at the last election but the result was so tight that any further loss would make their position impossible.

Defeating that trend will be no small task. It exists for strong reasons. The longer a government is in place, the more responsibility it has to take for the state of the country; the longer a government has lasted, the more people it is likely to have upset; governments tend to promote able administrators while oppositions elevate campaigners, which matters come election time; governments get tired and struggle to renew without undermining what they’ve previously done. So when the public has turned against it (or turned towards someone else), it’s extremely hard to reverse that swing.

Could we see an exception this next election? As always, it’s possible. Politics is a human activity and there are no cast iron rules. Jeremy Corbyn is a highly unusual Leader of the Opposition and the scope for the next Tory campaign to improve on the last one is immense. On the other hand, Brexit – a policy the Tories own for good or ill – will be exceptionally hard to manage on so many levels and if it goes wrong, the knock-on effects on the economy and on any number of other aspects of daily life will be huge. In such a situation, the people are unlikely to blame themselves.

    One factor that doesn’t seem likely to play much of a role, despite the best efforts of the Tories and the right-of-centre press, is Corbyn’s record on support for radical left governments and groups. There are always reasons to think that this time it’ll be different but invariably, it’s not. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the IRA, Hamas, Iran’s Press TV, Venezuela’s government or what, there are an awful lot of people who either don’t believe the stories at all (linked to the source of them), or they don’t believe they’re relevant.

That’s linked to a different comment that I’ve heard more than once since the election (as well as before it): that politicians are all the same. In reality, this is less the case now than for many years but reality is not intruding. The assertion is made not because people have genuinely compared the actions, policies and records but because they want to believe it because that then absolves them of blame: if politicians are all the same, how can a voter be to blame if something subsequently goes wrong? It also means that stories of extremism can’t be true because most politicians aren’t extreme, therefore if they’re all the same, then none can be extreme and attacks on individuals for it must be false.

This much is supposition. In terms of hard facts, what we have are opinion polls that continue to show Labour in front (and while May still outscores Corbyn, the margin is tight rather than the 3- or 4-to-1 majorities she was chalking up in March and April.

Renewed prominence for Corbyn’s warm words towards Chavez and Maduro has not had the slightest impact on voting intention: yesterday’s YouGov actually showed a slight swing to Labour and the local by-elections, while a mixed bag, saw Labour make two impressive gains (alongside a loss to the Tories).

That his comments and his record should affect the public’s opinion of him is beside the point. At the very least they say something about his judgement; they quite possibly also reveal something about what he considers legitimate behaviour from a state in pursuit of a legitimate goal or to counteract opposition. But the natural conclusions to be drawn from such an assessment are so beyond the range which we are accustomed to UK politicians operating in (hence the ‘they’re all the same’ comment, despite the evidence), that they recoil from the conclusions and reject them.

We are in a different world from March and April now. Theresa May cannot undo her election campaign and the public cannot unsee it. The time for fuzzy words and bold claims on Brexit has passed and the time for detail is here. Even if the government were united and fully prepared to crack on with the negotiations, there’d be much for the public to disagree with (see border controls and fishing rights today, for example). And the government is not united nor fully ready.

As things stand, the 4/1 for Corbyn to be the next PM doesn’t look attractive it’s more likely that the Tories would dump May first were a defeat on the cards, she may go of her own accord before 2022 anyway and even if you win, your money could be locked up for near five years. All the same, we should reconcile ourselves to the likelihood of him entering Number Ten.

David Herdson


The BES data that appears to show the impact of the CON manifesto/dementia tax and TMay skipping the debate

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

Day by day percentage age saying something happened that changed their view (BES)

From the Manchester University write-up of their latest findings

“Towards the end of the questionnaire, we asked our respondents a new question that we asked for the first time in wave 12: ‘has anything happened in the last few days that has changed your view of any of the main political parties?’ Most respondents had clearly made up their minds about the parties well in advance of the election, with only 13% answering ‘yes’ over the whole of the campaign, though as the graph below shows, this proportion increased markedly over the course of the campaign, starting out at about 7% in the first week before increasing to an average of about 15% for the final weeks of the campaign.

For respondents that answered yes to this question, we asked them an opened ended question about what it was that changed their mind about one of the parties. This animation shows the evolution of these responses over the course of the campaign. Note that because they are frequently mentioned alongside the specific issues that people mention, I have removed the names of the parties and party leaders from the clouds. Without doing that the wordclouds would be dominated by these names throughout the campaign and we would not be able to see the specific issues that people mentioned in their responses.

At the start of the campaign wave, when not many respondents said something had happened that changed their mind about the parties, the largest word is ‘Abbott’ – a consequence of Diane Abbott’s interview about police funding a few days earlier. Other issues that appear in the first few days are the local elections (in particular people commenting on Labour’s poor performance and the evaporation of the UKIP vote), the triple lock on pensions, and Brexit.

On May 10, following Theresa May’s announcement the previous day, fox hunting briefly dominates responses. However, the leak of the Labour manifesto the next day quickly takes centre stage, with the word ‘manifesto’ being the most common until May 23. From May 18 onwards, ‘social care’ and ‘dementia tax’ steadily rise in prominence, until ‘care’ is the largest word on May 23 and remains prominent thereafter.

The aftermath of the Manchester bombing brought with it many respondents critical of the government’s handling of terrorism and security (and quite a few respondents saying they were unhappy with both parties for trying to score political points in the wake of the attack).

Following Corbyn’s late appearance and May’s nonappearance in the BBC leader’s debate on May 31 many respondents make debate related comments and the word ‘debate’ becomes the most common word for the next four days. Amongst these respondents, the most frequent comment was not anything that happened in the debate itself, but rather the fact that Theresa May hadn’t bothered to show up at all.

In the final few days of the campaign, the London Bridge attacks bring with them renewed concerns about terrorism, and in particular, anger about police cuts.

Together, these responses paint of a picture of the campaign influenced by a combination of the policies, campaign interviews and (non)appearances made by party leaders, and unforeseen and tragic events. Undoubtedly, these things influenced the outcome of the election and resulted in one of the most dramatic polling shifts ever seen over the course of the campaign.”

Thanks to Dr. Chris Prosser for this.