Archive for the ' General Election' Category


That Survation 7% LAB lead poll looks very much the outlier – but then so did the firm’s final GE2017 survey

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018


Looking at all the published polls for 2018 that Survation 7% lead survey a couple of weeks back looks and very much out of place.

The other best polls for LAB this year were a Survation 3% lead one in January and a similar margin in Ipsos-MORI phone survey with fieldwork starting three days beforehand.

In normal circumstances we would just regard the latest Survation as one on its own and concentrate on the latest ICM/Opinium/YouGov which have CON leads of two or three percent.

The problem is that Survation’s final GE17 survey, with a 1% CON lead, topped the accuracy table when all the other established firms were showing blue margins of up to 12%.

This is going to continue until we see the polls tested once again in a general election and we might have to wait for four years.

Mike Smithson


The bad news for LAB from Prof John Curtice – Corbyn has NOT solved its turnout problem

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

Relying on previous non-voters not a viable winning strategy

The conclusion from John Curtice’s new analysis:

After the collapse in turnout in the 2001 election (and, indeed, in local elections held at the same time) considerable concern was expressed about the apparent disengagement of voters from the electoral process. A particular source of worry for some was the marked decline in turnout amongst the latest generation of new voters who, it was feared, might now never adopt the habit of voting, thereby depressing turnout in the longer term. Much of the increased turnout amongst the youngest cohort of voters was in evidence in the 2015 election, and indeed the 2016 referendum. The 2017 election seems to have witnessed little more than the continuation of that pattern

A decade later, it appears that the picture is not as bleak as it sometimes was painted. Turnout has recovered considerably amongst the electorate as a whole, albeit not as yet back to above the 70% mark. Voters’ motivation to vote seems to have strengthened, while the increased polarisation of political debate (most likely about Brexit as well as the differences between the parties about domestic policy, see Curtice, 2017) seems to have created a greater incentive to vote than was in place when New Labour moved to the centre and came to dominate the political scene. Meanwhile, although still relatively less likely to vote, the latest generation of young voters have not aped their predecessors in shunning the ballot box in unprecedented numbers.

What, however, this development seems to have had relatively little to do with was the particular appeal of Labour’s campaign in the 2017 election. Much of the increased turnout amongst the youngest cohort of voters was in evidence in the 2015 election, and indeed the 2016 referendum. The 2017 election seems to have witnessed little more than the continuation of that pattern. Meanwhile, there is little evidence that Labour particularly benefitted from the increased turnout that did occur. In the event, Jeremy Corbyn struggled just as much as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to persuade those who sympathised with the party to turn out to vote.

The Labour leader would be unwise to presume that winning over the previously disengaged will prove a likely route to securing the keys to 10 Downing St. next time around.

The full paper can be found here.

Mike Smithson


To election junkies like me the Cambridge Analytica stuff is fascinating but where is it going to lead?

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Isn’t it just election losers seeking to undermine the legitimacy of results?

Given the amount of publicity the Cambridge Analytica story has had over the past few days both in the UK and in the US the big question is where is this all going to lead politically?

The Westminster SNP leader, Ian Blackford, used both his allocated PMQ questions in the clip shown above.

    In the US are the revelations going to make it that bit harder for Mr Trump to continue in office and in the UK will it assist those who are still trying to stall the referendum outcome to leave the EU?

What makes all this rather confusing is that using Facebook is not new. Obama in his 2012 campaign was the first to utilise social media in a big way in order to reach new audiences to ensure his re-election.

We then have the UK Conservative campaign in 2015 which is said to have used social media to enable the party to identify and target key voters in marginals resulting in an outcome that was far better than anybody had been predicting and indeed secured Mr Cameron his majority.

Nobody is questioning the validity of these two earlier uses of social media but they are now in relation to Brexit and of course to Mr Trump.

So far, from my perspective at least, there’s yet to be a “gotcha” moment which could have a political impact. Maybe that will change.

Mike Smithson


If its Corbyn versus May again next time my money would be on the Tories

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Tories now back as odds-on favourites

We could be more than four years away from the next general election and it is possible that neither Corbyn or Theresa May will be leading the parties by then. But if the two were to be the main party leaders next time, whenever that is, my money would be on the Conservatives.

    Firstly it is always the case that we look at elections through the prism of what happened last time rather than what is actually happening at that moment. The assumption would be that message Mrs May would campaign as poorly as in 2017 and that Corbyn would campaign as well.

One thing’s for sure that if May is still heading blue team, which she wants to do, then she is going to perform a lot lot better than she did a few last year. What happens with failure is that it causes a lot of soul searching and you are able to look at the future more critically to work out the lessons to be learnt.

Labour, of course, lost the last general election even though their performance was substantially better than most of the polls were suggesting. But in terms of the red team seat haul compared with the Tories Corbyn’s Labour did worse than Gordon Brown 7 years earlier. Yet Corbyn was almost declared the de facto victor and this appears to be impacting on LAB thinking.

Last time the Tories had great plans to undermine Corby by highlighting some of his controversial past positions on things like Ireland and the wars Britain had been involved in. That didn’t have the desired potency because for many voters it was all about things a long long time ago.

Next time Corbyn’s approach to Russia and the Salisbury attack will be fresher in people’s minds and will be used more effectively.

One little bit of data should be worrying LAB. For the first time since the general election Opinium this week found Corbyn trailing Theresa May in its leader approval ratings.

The Tories have now moved to odds-on favourite to win most seats at the next election.

Mike Smithson


Oh those Russians, you may have just ended the Labour party as we know it

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

Today’s Sunday Times report

Senior Labour MPs appalled by Jeremy Corbyn’s performance over the Salisbury poisoning have been in secret talks with the Liberal Democrats and at least one Conservative MP about forming a new political party called Start Again.

Plans for a new pro-European centre party have been openly discussed as part of cross-party discussions on Brexit, according to sources present.

One of those involved in the plotting — a former member of the shadow cabinet — told The Sunday Times that Corbyn’s refusal to blame Russia for the attack would cause MPs to abandon Labour. “This is a watershed moment,” the MP said. “It has caused a number of people to question why we are in this party.”

Sources say a number of possible names — including the Democrats, Back Together and Regain — have been discussed for a new party to launch after Brexit in the spring of 2019, but Start Again has emerged as the “working title” of the new party

Details of Start Again emerged after reports last week that Chuka Umunna, the former shadow business secretary, recently called Sir Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, to complain that he had “jumped the gun” by publicly revealing that Labour MPs might join forces with the Lib Dems.

Pro-remain MPs and peers, including Umunna and Chris Leslie, the former shadow chancellor, and Wirral South MP Alison McGovern meet every Wednesday to discuss tactics.

Others present include Anna Soubry, the Tory MP for Broxtowe, who told the New Statesman magazine in March last year: “If [a new party] could somehow be the voice of a moderate, sensible, forward-thinking, visionary middle way, with open minds — actually things which I’ve believed in all my life — better get on with it.”

I can’t see this happening, Anna Soubry has already denied any involvement.

Additionally the first past the post voting system really does hinder an entrant/emergent party, whilst many the cite the 1 MP UKIP got in 2015 with 12.6% of the vote the better example might be the 23 MPs the Alliance got with 25.4% of the vote with many defector incumbents.

As Simon Danzcuk can attest to, being the incumbent MP counts for very little when you’re up against an official Labour candidate. More and more people will be regretting voting against adopting AV in 2011.

I suspect we’ll see grumbling from Labour MPs but it appears to be all light and no heat but no substance. Corbyn polling 41% in Great Britain at the last election and currently leading the Tories by 7% with the most accurate pollster at the last election makes in my view any defections from Labour unlikely.




If the DUP can make Martin McGuinness Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland then we shouldn’t rule them out making Corbyn Prime Minister

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

A Brexit deal that separates the Six Counties from the rest of the UK could rupture the DUP and Tory alliance for years.

Over the last few years many observers on politics, myself included, have made assumptions that turned out be very wrong. Lib Dem incumbency would save them from a catastrophic seat loss in 2015, the electorate wouldn’t vote to make themselves poorer by Leaving the European Union, and Jeremy Corbyn’s backstory & a divided Labour party would see a Corbyn led Labour party pummelled at the 2017 general election to name but three assumption that proved hugely wrong.

But I’m starting to wonder if another assumption might turn out to be similarly wrong, that assumption being the DUP will never do anything that makes Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister. I’m not going to repeat the many reasons why Jeremy Corbyn & John McDonnell are repulsive to the DUP, but then I remember the photograph above.

The DUP went into a power sharing agreement with the political wing of the IRA and made a former IRA Chief of Staff Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. If they can do that then they can easily make Corbyn Prime Minister.

They may do that if Mrs May is seen to betray Northern Ireland in the Brexit negotiations and see Northern Ireland more aligned with the EU than with Great Britain.

Jacob Rees-Mogg’s takes his whip from Rome, will he take his whip with the DUP too?

As an agnostic someone’s Catholicism isn’t really an issue for me* but the Catholicism of the favourite to succeed Theresa May might be an issue for the DUP and for Jacob Rees-Mogg. Throughout the history of the DUP there’s been a lot of things that will alarm Catholics and make you wonder if they’ll ever make a Catholic the Prime Minister.

  1. Ian Paisley Senior said of the European Union it was ‘a beast ridden by the harlot Catholic church.’
  2. When Pope John Paul II addressed the European Parliament Paisley held up a red poster and shouted ‘”Pope John Paul II – Antichrist” and began shouting, ”I renounce you as the Antichrist!”’
  3. When the late Queen Mother visited the Pope in The Vatican he observed ‘Her visit to the Vatican was spiritual fornication and adultery with the Antichrist.’
  4. He also said of Catholics that ‘they breed like rabbits and multiply like vermin.’ I wonder what the DUP think of the father of six Jacob Rees-Mogg and vice versa.
  5. Paisley also said ‘he considered all Catholics to be members of the Irish Republican Army, which he branded as a collective of terrorists.’

Whilst you can argue that Ian Paisley’s time has gone no one senior in the DUP ever repudiated Paisley’s comments, additionally you regularly still see articles like ‘Anti-Catholic bigotry of many in DUP still significant.’

Back in 1994 when the Loyalist Paramilitary the UDA came up with a Doomsday plan in the event of a British withdrawal from Northern Ireland. The plan discussed taking Catholic hostages as part of creating a Protestant Homeland. The ”Doomsday” scenario recognises there would be large numbers of Catholics left within the Protestant homeland and offers three chilling options on dealing with them — expulsion, internment, or nullification.

Current DUP MP Sammy Wilson described the Doomsday plan as ”a very valuable return to reality”.  Would Jacob Rees-Mogg really want to ally himself with such a party?

With Jacob Rees-Mogg admitting he takes his whip from the Roman Catholic Church then in some DUP eyes Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister might seem the attractive option.


*Unless their opponent were a Pastafarian, that would make me more likely to vote for the Pastafarian.


Theresa May may well yet achieve her ambition of leading her party at the next election

Friday, March 16th, 2018

There’s no talk now of letters calling for a confidence vote

One of the features about the current Russia crisis is what it is doing to perceptions of Theresa May. The latest polling overnight showing her getting huge backing from voters for the way she is handling things reflect how her approach is very much resonating with the public mood.

I thought yesterday her walk-about in Salisbury contrasted so much with some of the awful public appearances at the general election campaign less than a year ago when her discomfort with people became so clear and was almost certainly a factor in why she didn’t win a majority.

She’s helped, of course, by the fact that Jeremy Corbyn is having a bad crisis having got the public mood wrong and looking isolated even within the parliamentary Labour Party.

    It has become just a touch harder to see Labour, under Corbyn, winning the next general election and him becoming Prime Minister.

When the overnight YouGov/Times poll asked about the response of the party leaders, 53% think TMay has responded well to the incident, 23% badly; 18% think Corbyn has responded well, 39% badly with saying 43% don’t know.

If it continues in this vein then this is only going to reinforce Theresa Mays position even more. In a sense she has looked even more prime ministerial well Corbyn has looked less.

To think that only a few weeks ago there was renewed speculation about the number of CON MP letters calling for a confidence vote in Mrs May going to the 1922 committee chairman Graham Brady.

This could all carry Theresa May through unchallenged as Conservative leader to way beyond Brexit and who knows she might even now make it to the next general election.

  • The YouGov the voting intention figures were CON 42%(+1), LAB 39%(-4), LD 7(=).
  • Mike Smithson


    Moving the dial. How Britain swung last year

    Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

    Mansfield, Kensington, Canterbury and Stoke-on-Trent South: when political commentators wanted to demonstrate the weird and conflicting swings that took place at the last general election, that quartet’s names kept being brought up. That’s all well and good, but there has been surprisingly little interest in the broader picture.

    So I have taken the time to put together a map of the swings in Britain, which you can see above. It is interactive, so you can zoom in on specific areas where the seats aren’t easy to see otherwise (like London or the Scottish Central Belt).

    I hope that it is fairly intuitive. The key is as follows:

    A – no swing (less than 1% either way)
    B – swing of under 5% to Labour
    C – swing of 5-10% to Labour
    D – swing of over 10% to Labour
    E – swing of under 5% to the Conservatives
    F – swing of 5-10% to the Conservatives
    G – swing of over 10% to the Conservatives
    H – swing of under 5% to the Lib Dems
    I – swing of 5-10% to the Lib Dems
    J – swing of over 10% to the Lib Dems
    K – swing to the Greens
    L – swing to others

    The map, as you can see, looks very different from the traditional political map that we are familiar with. The map is dominated by the pink colour indicated by a 1-5% swing to Labour: that is to be expected, since the national swing was just over 2% to Labour. Nevertheless, the predominance of pink should not be overlooked. Perhaps the swings in 2017 weren’t that weird after all.

    Both main parties seem to have been pretty inefficient in targeting last time, spending a lot of time preaching to the choir. The Conservatives didn’t need a 5% swing to themselves in Boston & Skegness and Labour already had an iron grip on York Central without a 10% swing on top. If either main party was effectively focusing on winnable seats, it’s not obvious from this map.

    You will note that I have no code for swings to the SNP. None was needed. As can be seen from the map, the story was one of carnage for them, with 10% swings in favour of both the Conservatives and Labour quite routine. Labour benefited in the Central Belt while elsewhere the Conservatives dominated in Scotland. The SNP need to work out how to stop the rot.

    You can still see London on the map. It’s that angry splodge of deeper red shades in the south east. London Conservatives will be hoping that it’s fixable and related to the concerns of youngish Londoners about housing. Personally, I can’t see why housing should have been the vote driver. It looks much more likely to be anger about Brexit. That, awkwardly for the Conservatives, is much less fixable given it’s their main policy plank.

    There are just 19 seats south of the Severn and the Wash that saw a meaningful swing to the Conservatives. Of those 19, six were seats where a former incumbent from the Lib Dems or UKIP hadn’t stood again. It seems that the Conservatives found a message calculated to undermine their stranglehold in the south. The Conservatives should be very worried about that rash of deeper red in urban seats around London. It looks as though a clutch of seats are acting as exurbs of London, particularly north and west of the capital and on the south coast. The alarm bell should be sounding loud.

    Immediately north of the Severn-Wash line and it’s a different story. (Bear in mind that there was a national swing to Labour, so even seats with no swing represent relative outperformance by the Conservatives.) In a band that stretches from the northern fringes of Birmingham to the Lincolnshire coast, the Conservative message obviously fared better. Even the People’s Republic of South Yorkshire found more people willing to mark the blue box (if not fly the blue flag).

    North of that, the story flips back. You could walk on a band of seats that meaningfully swung to Labour from Anglesey to the North Yorkshire coast with particularly heavy swings south and east of Manchester and around Leeds. But in the most northernmost English seats, the trend is once again towards the Conservatives. Forget a north-south divide, England has swung in stripy way (largely to Labour’s benefit).

    Wales is a microcosm of England. South Wales swung very like southern England while North Wales swung very like Lancashire and North Yorkshire (in Labour’s favour in both cases). Meanwhile, the mid-Welsh seats behaved more like the English midlands. The net balance greatly favours Labour.

    It’s important not to get too carried away. Many of the unusual swings were recorded in safe seats. Labour are not imminently going to take Huntingdon and Bolsover looks like a big ask for the Conservatives next time too. Much of the shifts are caused by erstwhile Lib Dems and kippers getting behind whichever of the big two they like the look of best. Often the other main party saw a rise in vote share even as they saw a swing against them.

    Nevertheless, the patterns on this map might suggest how Britain’s electoral landscape might be evolving. The battle for 2022 will need to factor them in.

    Alastair Meeks

    PS – Many thanks to PBer Viewcode for their assistance in creating the above map.