Archive for the ' General Election' Category


Only problem Paul (Mason) is that Corbyn’s LAB needs 7-10% vote lead to win majority

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

We are miles away from seeing the required LAB vote breakthrough

Mike Smithson


If LAB’s vulnerable on Brexit how come the majority of its GE17 gains from CON were in Leave areas?

Saturday, January 6th, 2018

And how come that the majority of CON gains were in Remain areas?

One of the ongoing narratives over the past year has been that Labour is particularly vulnerable on Brexit because about two-thirds of its constituencies voted leave in the referendum in June 2016.

This has continued even though Labour made inroads into the Conservative base on June 8th and only lost 5 seats.

What is interesting is looking at the referendum outcomes in the 28 seats that Labour gained from the Conservatives in the general election. Remarkably 15 of them were in areas that voted LEAVE. These were:

Bury N
Weaver Vale
Warrington South
Portsmouth South
High Peak
Derby North
Crewe and Nantwich

The Conservatives offset some of their losses making 20 gains just seven of which were in constituencies which had voted Leave. The rest were Remain. That, admittedly, is distorted by the 12 gains in Scotland from the SNP all but one of them had voted Remain.

But Tories regained from the Liberal Democrats Richmond Park as well as taking Southport, both Remain areas. Tim farron’s team made 5 gains from the Conservatives including one, Eastbourne, which had voted Leave.

Judging by what happened the Leave-Remain split in a constituency was and is less of an indicator than many assert.

Mike Smithson


The New Year starts with little cheer for any of the parties

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

My big 2018 prediction: The stalemate will continue

The above Wikipedia table shows all the final polls of 2017 with the exception of the latest YouGov which had LAB 2% ahead.

So at the close of an extraordinary year in British politics which saw a shock General Election the signs are that the two main parties are very close to each other.

Labour and its leader Mr Corbyn can take some satisfaction that it wasn’t annihilated, as many, though by no means all, of the polls were predicting, on June 8th. But they still ended up 56 seats behind a fact that seemed to be ignored in the post election period. Brown’s LAB at GE2010 came within 48 seats of the Tories and that was regarded as a disaster for the party.

Even though Labour has led in most polls since the general election it has not seen the sort of leads that many were expecting given the divisions within the Tories. Back in conference season in September many were predicting that Labour would be at 50% by now. Well they’re not and the margin is very close to what it was after the summer. Also a 2-3 point margin isn’t going to be enough for Corbyn to secure a majority.

    Labour’s big hope that the Brexit splits in the Tory party will lead to an early election will be frustrated by the Fixed Term Parliament Act. Corbyn’s declared goal of becoming PM by Christmas 2018 looks very slim indeed.

Mrs May can take some comfort from the fact the Tories ended up as top party and are still in government with her at the helm in spite of her failed election gamble. The deal with the DUP makes a successful no confidence motion, which would almost certainly be required for an early election, against the government highly unlikely. There simply aren’t the MP numbers there amongst the other parties.

That they are only a couple of points behind Labour has certainly helped Theresa May’s position and the talk of a challenge to her position, which was widespread just 3 months ago, has evaporated. While there is no credible alternative she is safe.

One of the little noticed features of the June 8th election was that the SNP suffered proportionately massive losses from holding 56 of Scotland 59 seats in 2015 to just 35 in the general election. Many of the seats they do hold have wafer-thin majorities that could be vulnerable to even quite narrow swings.

The widespread pro Union tactical voting in Scottish seats which drove the losses could be even more strong next time. Voters appear to back the party most likely to stop the SNP and Sturgeon’s party didn’t secure a majority of the GE2017 vote in any Scottish constituency – the highest vote share was 46%.

The Lib Dems might have increased their MP total on June 8th from the 8 of 2015 to 12 in the general election but the performance was nothing like the expectations given the fact that they are the only party which is unequivocally against Brexit and for a another referendum. The new leader, Vince Cable, is getting a bit more attention than Tim Farron before him but they struggle to be part of the political conversation. Whilst they appear irrelevant there’ll be no improvement in the polls.

The Green Party managed to hold onto their only seat in the general election but the overall vote share fell sharply and they have been polling poorly ever since.

UKIP only chalked up 1.8% at the General Election and came away with no seats. Whether they can do anything under their new leader remains to be seen.

So much now depends on Brexit and how that is perceived to be going. My guess is that the next round of leader ratings will see a small uptick for the PM.

Mike Smithson


How punters saw 2017 on three key UK political betting markets

Monday, January 1st, 2018

The year of next General Election is based on the last six months. All charts based on Betfair Exchange trades monitored by

Mike Smithson


Can we agree that “Peak Theresa” was the ComRes 25% lead in the S Mirror on April 23rd 2017?

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

S Mirror ComRes poll field work April 19-20
CON 50
LAB 25
LD 11

Over the past day or so may have been lots of eulogies, that’s the best way to describe it, to the extraordinary resilience and staying ower of Theresa May who seems to cope with one crisis after another and still remain at Number 10.

Almost all of the articles seek to highlight the poll lead that she had after calling the general election in April but there is an incredibly lack of consistency as to what that poll lead was. I’ve seen figures ranging from 20% to 24%. Maybe it is just me but this irritates me.

I’ve been through the published data and my conclusion is that it was the poll above – the online ComRes survey in the Sunday Mirror on April 30 that had the Tories with a staggering 25% ahead with double the LAB share

A ComRes phone poll, it will be recalled, was the most accurate at GE2015.

Mike Smithson


Corbyn’s new “I’ll be PM by Xmas next year” boast fails to impress punters

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

The markets remain unmoved

We all remember the heady days of June this year when after doing surprisingly well at the general election Corbyn was reported to have a told people at Glastonbury that he would be PM by Christmas.

Well we are five days away and that certainly isn’t going to happen. But he’s now reported today saying that he expects to be Prime Minister by Christmas 2018. He said “there will probably be another election in the next 12 months’ which he’d probably win.

That is fantasy stuff. Labour is too far behind the Conservatives in terms of seats that even if he could create a coalition with the LDs, SNP & PC LAB would still not be top party.

For Corbyn to achieve his goal there has to be an mass exit from the Conservative Party which seems unlikely or else there needs to be another General Election.

A problem with the latter of course is the Fixed Term Parliament Act which Theresa May used last April when she decided to go to the country after just on 2 years. But that required two-thirds of all MPs to back an early election which they did.

Now I’m sure that Theresa May learnt an enormous amount from what happened on June 8th and one of those, I would suggest, is that PMs have to be ultra-careful careful about calling early elections even when you have 20%+ poll leads. This would resonate as well with other potential successors. What the outcome of the last year’s election has done is effectively to block out governments going to the country early even when they have got massive poll margins

The other way that the fixed term Parliament Act allows an early election is if there is a vote of confidence in the government which is not rescinded within two weeks.

Again it is very hard to see that happening. Even if the DUP had not entered an agreement with the Conservatives it is hard to envisage the party doing anything that could enable Mr Corbyn to secure the keys of number 10. The Labour leader’s Irish links in the past are just too toxic.

On the betting markets there has been a slight movement towards 2022 election on Betfair. 2018, the year that coping was talking about, is still seeing as a 27% chance.

Mike Smithson


Move over right v left: John Curtice says the new political divide is social liberal versus social conservative

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

How politics is changing

There’s a fascinating new analysis of the new Divide in British politics from Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University in the latest edition of Prospect linked to in the tweet above.

This is one of the big conclusions coming out of academic analysis of the referendum and the last general election voting patterns. This is how Curtice describes it;

“….whether someone was “left-wing” or “right-wing” made virtually no difference to how they voted in the EU referendum.

Rather, that ballot was marked by a division between social liberals and social conservatives—that is, between those who are comfortable living in a socially, ethnically and linguistically diverse society and those who place greater emphasis on the need for social cohesion and adherence to common rules and practices. Social liberals tended to vote Remain, social conservatives for Leave.

This division between social liberals and social conservatives has never been entirely absent from Britain’s electoral politics. The Liberal Democrats have always been relatively successful amongst social liberals, while, more recently, Ukip advanced most amongst social conservatives.

But so far as the two main parties are concerned, it has hitherto been very much a secondary argument—the Conservatives did a little better amongst social conservatives, Labour amongst social liberals, but the differences were much smaller than those between those on the left and those on the right.

However, in precipitating the election in June, in order to secure a mandate for her vision of Brexit, the prime minister ensured that this second dimension of British politics became more important, cutting across the familiar divide between left and right.

As a paper published on the WhatUKThinks:EU website today shows, despite the apparent reluctance of both the Conservatives and of Labour to define their stance on Brexit too closely during the election campaign in June, the Conservatives gained votes amongst Leave voters while it lost them amongst Remain supporters. Meanwhile, although Labour gained some ground amongst Leave supporters, it made a much bigger advance amongst those who voted Remain.

As a result, the distinction between social liberals and social conservatives was much more in evidence in how people voted in June. Nearly three-fifths of social conservatives voted Conservative, but no more than a quarter or so of social liberals did so. Meanwhile, at least half of social liberals voted Labour while no more than a third of social conservatives backed Jeremy Corbyn’s party.

True, the distinction between left and right did not disappear. Those on the left were around three times more likely than those on the right to vote Labour—while those on the right were about three times more likely than those on the left to vote Conservative..

..the increased importance of the division between social liberals and social conservatives does mean that both the Conservatives and Labour are now having to ride two ideological horses at once. And in both cases this ride is potentially decidedly uncomfortable.”

This all sounds highly plausible and offers a significant pointer to the way politics has moved. What is striking is that the previous Conservative leader, David Cameron, was clearly in the social liberal camp while the current one Mrs May is perceived more as a social conservative.

I have often wondered how much the legislation of gay marriage by the Coalition government impacted on the political divide.

Mike Smithson


Making Amber Rudd Tory Leader & Prime Minister might be the only way to ensure she holds her seat.

Sunday, December 17th, 2017

Every Tory leader since WWII has increased the Tory share of the vote in their constituency in their first general election as leader except Mrs May

It appears Amber Rudd’s majority of 346 in Hastings & Rye is seen as a bar on her being Theresa May’s successor as some Tories don’t want the symbolic moment of the next general election to be the Tory PM losing their seat. Nor do they want their leader spending most of the campaign in their constituency trying to hang on when they could be more effective across the country.

But if we look at the charts above, we can see every Tory leader since World War Two, except Mrs May, has seen an increase in their share of the vote in their constituency their first general election as leader. It appears being party leader meets with the approval of your local electorate.

On swings to the Tories, every Tory leader has seen a swing to them except Theresa May, John Major, and Edward Heath, the swing against Heath can be attributed to the snap election called by Harold Wilson which say Labour increase their majority.

In 1992 John Major saw his majority increase from an impressive 27,044 to an eye watering majority of 36,230. By contrast in June Mrs May saw her majority fall from 29,059 to 26,459. The notional swing against Major was from the fact that the previous general election the party in second place was the SDP who by 1992 were defunct, and in Huntingdon both the Liberal Democrats and Liberals stood splitting the vote and allowing Labour to come through the middle to take second place, a situation that seems unlikely to happen in Hastings & Rye.

So long as Mrs Rudd doesn’t run a general election campaign as bad as Theresa May’s 2017 campaign, history suggests Amber Rudd will hold her seat if she’s the incumbent Prime Minister and Tory leader, having such a small majority shouldn’t be a bar on her becoming Prime Minister.


N.B. For Alec Douglas-Home I have calculated the increase/swing as the change from the 1963 by election, as he wasn’t the incumbent at the previous general election. I nearly excluded him from the list given the unique circumstances of his ascension to the Premiership