Archive for the ' General Election' Category


Events are boxing May in while Corbyn sits pretty

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

The structural weaknesses of May’s government will leave its impression on the public

Only a fool would try to predict how this parliament will play out after all the extraordinary political upheavals and upsets this decade so far. So here goes.

The central fact in British politics right now is that Jeremy Corbyn is unchallengeable. He will serve through to the next election (and perhaps beyond), unless he chooses to stand aside before it, of his own volition.

He and his supporters are rightly confident in the position, having been castigated by the mainstream before the election as incapable, only to then jump about 15% in the polls during the election campaign and, with 12.9m votes, return the second-highest Labour total in the last 50 years. They will feel completely vindicated in their policies, their methods and their personnel, all of which will continue.

By the same process, those who were criticising Corbyn before the campaign have not only gone quiet or publicly recanted – that was almost inevitable after such a result – but the memory of the 2017 campaign will seriously inhibit future challenges to Corbyn if and when things go wrong again in the future. That inhibition will come partly from MPs, who’ll be telling themselves that ‘it’ll come right again when it matters’, but also from key swing party members in any potential future election, who would likewise now need much more convincing to dump him – and they weren’t easily persuadable in the first place.

But things will go wrong. For all that he was effective hailing populist and expensive policies on campaign stages, when the tiresome business of day-to-day Westminster politics resumes, he’ll still be as bad at it because he’ll still have no interest in it. Indeed, having ‘proven’ the effectiveness of social media and mass rallies, he may have less time for the Westminster Bubble than ever.

So Corbyn is around as long as he wants. Even if Labour finds itself in government – not impossible with by-elections or a DUP strop (the DUP might be nominally deeply hostile to Corbyn but they’re also deeply attracted to cash for Northern Ireland, and they’re ideologically flexible enough to power-share with Sinn Fein) – and Corbyn flounders out of his depth, he will still be revered as only the fifth man in Labour’s history to lead them into government, and two of those five don’t count any more.

Around that fact, everything else revolves. The Tories know, as Labour critics of Corbyn know, that the Labour leader has extraordinary weaknesses as well as formidable strengths. It may be exceptionally rare for a government, once it has started to lose seats from one general election to the next, to start gaining them again but the belief will be that with the right campaign and right leader, it can be done next time.

That ought to mean that May’s days are numbered, however, despite the Tory record of knifing leaders, that won’t necessarily happen. Hers may be something of a zombie government, plodding forward step by step without any guiding plan, but so was John Major’s and that lasted the full five years. Indeed, it did so with no change of leader mainly because there was no alternative who could both unite the party and effectively take the fight to Blair. On the other hand, there were any number of times when it came close to falling. So now. The Queen’s Speech might have been shorn of its more controversial elements but there’s enough left in – most obviously the Brexit bills – to provide scope for rebellion, conflict and defeat. And that’s without the regular set-pieces such as the budget, or events such as fate might decide. But the need to deliver a decent Brexit to keep all the Leave voters on board means that it’ll be difficult to justify taking another two months out to elect a new leader. If the talks collapse or end with a duff deal, that navel-gazing will be blamed.

All of which is likely to give the impression of a government which is not in control of events (not least because given the parliamentary maths and the need to gain agreement with many other countries in a short time, it can’t be in control of events). And the public doesn’t like that; it doesn’t breed confidence.

Can that dynamic be changed? I don’t think so: there are too many constraints inhibiting a major change of course. All of which leads me to a similar conclusion to Alastair yesterday: the 4/1 available on Jeremy Corbyn as next PM (Paddy Power) is generous.

David Herdson


Alastair Meeks makes his first next general election bet: LAB to win most seats

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

The crimson tide is coming in

The Conservatives are in a wretched state. Everything Theresa May has touched recently has turned to ashes. Jeremy Corbyn in his response to the Queen’s Speech stated that the government has no majority, no mandate and no plan. Jeremy Corbyn is right.

Theresa May remains in office for now, a case study in faute de mieux. Everyone, including I suspect Theresa May herself, seems to recognise that the Age of May is concluded. But what comes next?

The Conservatives had a brief moment after the election when they might have worked together for a jointly satisfactory way forward. They chose not to take it. All the possible replacements decided that they were the only conceivable unity candidate. The hardline Leavers and the erstwhile Remainers in their party have each publicly set out their mutually incompatible requirements. It seems that the Conservatives are going to work factionally.

The big beasts are prowling around each other, warily looking for the right time to strike, nervous that by doing so they might be exposing a weak flank. With all of the predators holding each other at bay, the current state of affairs will continue.

For now then, we have reached an island of stability, but where the slightest disturbance in the quantum state could cause the government to decay radioactively with astonishing speed. So the government is reduced to immobility, unwilling to provoke its own collapse but unable to take active steps to shore up its position.

From this state of enervation, the Conservatives can only watch as a newly-invigorated Jeremy Corbyn sinks his teeth into them. This will continue until the Conservatives can regroup, almost certainly under a new leader. Until then, they will remain a confused and leaderless herd.

It is almost certainly the case that Labour’s current euphoria from their unexpectedly strong showing will subside. Jeremy Corbyn has shown no interest since the election in seeking a meaningful reconciliation with his party critics and we can reasonably expect that Labour will have further arguments in the coming years also; there isn’t enough Polyfilla in the world to deal with all the cracks that were on display in the last term.

So both main parties look fractured and flawed in this Parliament. The journalists are going to have plenty of rifts to report on.

How is this likely to pan out in practice? Nothing is certain but when assessing the future we should be working in probabilities. On this occasion, the probabilities look fairly easy to assess. The government faces the most demanding peacetime challenge since the first post-war government and does so against a hard deadline with a divided party, a leader with no authority and with no majority in the House of Commons. Professor Philip Cowley has identified eight factors that help governments get legislation through. He scores the current government at 0/8. The chances of this ending happily for either the country or the Conservative party look slim.

Whatever travails Labour might face, they have the enormous advantage that they will not be in government during this period. Pretty well by default they can expect to take large leads in the polls at times during this Parliament. There is no obvious reason why they should lose them.

It follows that Labour should be a very clear favourite to win the next general election. Yet Ladbrokes rate them no better than an evens shot to get most seats (on present boundaries they now need a uniform swing to them of just 1.63% to achieve this). The 4/6 that William Hill offer looks a much more realistic price, given the challenges the government faces.

With long range bets of this type it’s always worth considering the time value of money – this market might not be settled until 2022. One way of dealing with this is to place your bets on Betfair, so that you can trade out of them at a later date. The prices on Betfair are at present not quite as good as with Ladbrokes (you can back Labour at 1.94 or lay the Conservatives at 2.08 at the time of writing) but this feature, giving the potential for much earlier access to the stake, probably justifies taking the inferior price.

Anyway, however you choose to do it, the bet to me seems marked. I’m on.

Alastair Meeks


It is the trend in TMay’s YouGov “best PM” ratings that should really worry the Tories

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

The miniscule lead with YouGov that Corbyn now enjoys as “best PM” is not what should concern her party but the trend which is illustrated in my chart above.

It all peaked in the first polling after she made the brave, and in retrospect disastrous, decision in April to go for a general election three years ahead of schedule. Then she was a walloping 39% ahead.

As can be seen this has moved steadily downwards ever since and now she is behind.

    The election campaign exposed her weaknesses to such an extent that it is hard to see how she can recover.

Her attempt to avoid media scrutiny and the manner she merely repeated platitudes when pressed on key issues didn’t go down well. Not taking part in a leaders’ debate was a mistake as was avoiding programmes like Woman’s Hour.

My view is that TMay was not helped by the manner of her election as CON leader last July. If she had secured the post by going through the Tory members ballot her campaigning skills would have been enhanced and she’d have been better able to cope with the scrutiny of a general election campaign.

Andrea Leadsom pulling out after the race had been reduced to the final two in the MP ballots was bad news for her.

Her now poor leader ratings are going to be used against her even assuming that she gets through next week’s Queen’s Speech vote.

Will she survive? It is becoming less likely.

Mike Smithson


New YouGov poll has Corbyn ahead of TMay as “best PM”

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

Numbers like this will add to the pressure on the PM

Just two weeks to the minute after we saw the exit poll there’s some sensational new polling from YouGov for the Times. The figures are above. TMay is now trailing Corbyn as best PM.

This could provide the ammunition for those in the Tory party who are said to have been pressing for a new leader following TMay’s GE2017 campaign. The Tories don’t like losers is how she is being portrayed.

In first YouGov poll after calling the general election TMay was leading Corbyn by 54-15% as who would make the best PM. Now Corbyn’s ahead

The news of this latest finding came to the minute exactly two weeks after the stunning exit poll.

Mike Smithson


Norman Lamb says he not standing in LD leadership race

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

So now it looks like Cable versus Davey

The busiest UK political betting market at the moment is on the LD leadership and within the last few minutes the Guardian has published the piece linked to above by the ex-health minister, Norman Lamb.

This has come as a shock because Lamb did very well against Farron last time and the recent Mark Pack survey had him just ahead of Cable if Swinson wasn’t on the ballot. This is the reason given by Lamb.

“I have just fought a gruelling campaign to win my North Norfolk seat. Attempting to win a seat for the Liberal Democrats in an area that voted quite heavily to leave the EU was bound to be a challenge. Not only was the party’s position on Brexit toxic to many erstwhile Liberal Democrat voters in North Norfolk, but I found myself sympathising with those who felt that the party was not listening to them and was treating them with some disdain.”

So the race looks set to be between the 74 year old Vince Cable and Sir Ed Davey who was a cabinet minister in the coalition government.

Cable is currently the very strong odds-on favourite.

Two weeks ago Lamb did well to hold onto his North Norfolk seat – an area that had voted very heavily for LEAVE. Almost all the other LD MPs are in areas which were strongly REMAIN.

Mike Smithson


NEW PB/Polling Matters podcast: Queen’s Speech, Brexit negotiations, LD leadership and the importance of the youth vote

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

On this week’s podcast, Keiran is joined by Dr Mark Pack of Lib Dem Newswire and Adam Drummond of Opinium.

The team discuss this week’s Queen’s Speech and the start of the Brexit negotiations and what happens next for the Lib Dems now that Tim Farron has resigned.

The panel also discuss Ipsos Mori’s data on ‘who voted for who’ at the General Election and what impact younger voters might have on British politics in the coming years.

Listen here

Follow this week’s guests:





A fortnight on from the eve of GE2017 and a look back at those final polls

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

They all understated LAB

Mike Smithson



The Ipsos MORI guide to what happened segment by segment at GE2017

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

This morning Ipsos MORI produced their regular analysis of what happened segment by segment at GE2017. The firm has been doing this at every election for many years and it is generally regarded as a leading source ahead of the full BES study.

The most newsworthy element is that the very narrow range of turnout amongst those registered to vote. The young groups saw increases while the oldest one saw a decrease.

It was this that deprived Mrs. May of her majority and has led to the current uncertain political situation. Labour won every age segment up to the 55+ group.

Age is now the big dividing line and if the young ones continue to vote at these or higher levels it will have a big impact.

The full Ipsos MORI report can be found here.

Mike Smithson