Archive for the ' General Election' Category


To win the next election LAB need to find converts and it’s hard to see where these are coming from

Monday, October 15th, 2018

Current polling finds LAB shedding support – not gaining it

With all the current speculation about a new election and the possibility of Corbyn becoming PM the latest polling is being sidelined and the question of where LAB’s required new support is going to come from is hardly mentioned.

The shock result at the last election has impacted greatly on both main parties in very different ways. The Tories fear the Labour threat and can’t take comfort in their polling position however strong it might appear. LAB, on the other hand, appears convinced that it doesn’t need to worry about the present because last time showed what could happen during the campaign when, as they will point out, the broadcasters have to be impartial.

    I’d argue that LAB was helped at GE2017 because nobody gave the party an earthly and they shouldn’t rely on the precedent of last time for the next election.

LAB and its leader, as will be recalled, received far less scrutiny during the campaign than a party that appeared on the brink of power would have come under. This made it so much easier or Corbyn because at no time did he come under serious pressure. We’ve seen over his initial responses to Salisbury and the antisemitism row that he doesn’t handle criticism and pressure well.

The current political environment is so unlike the build-up to the party last returning to power in 1997. The leader at the time, the one they don’t like talking about, realised that if the party was not to be defeated for a fifth successive time it needed to extend its base way beyond what it had at GE1992. Tony Blair made it “safe” for whole segments of the electorate to vote LAB for the first time.

To have any chance Corbyn’s LAB needs to retain the support of last year and to add some. So where are Corbyn’s converts going to come from and how is he is going to go about bringing them on board? That is as

Mike Smithson


A reminder of how GE2015 UKIP voters voted at GE2017

Sunday, October 14th, 2018

History suggests assuming Kippers will strongly back the Tories when UKIP don’t stand is a mistake.

Since the announcement of the Chequers deal in July UKIP have experienced a bit of a polling surge with some polls having them polling 7% and 8% but generally in the 4% to 6% range.

I’m expecting UKIP at the next general election will repeat their 2017 strategy of not standing in many constituencies. Right now UKIP seem happy to be the political wing of the EDL and their leader, a convicted fraudster, the man arrested for being an illegal immigrant, and assaulter of police, and all round bad egg Tommy Robinson. All of this seesUKIP potentially reconfiguring into a street movement than a political party.

So who will these current UKIP voters vote for at the next general election if UKIP don’t stand many candidates? The graph below shows how 2015 UKIP voters voted at the 2017 general election based on some analysis by YouGov.

Anyone adding most of the current UKIP vote share to the Tory share will be making a huge mistake based on past performance. In 2017 centre left voters put Jeremy Corbyn on cusp of Downing Street, at the next general election Tory to UKIP defectors might end up putting him Downing Street.

I suspect how these current UKIP voters vote at the next general election will mostly be determined by 1) The type of Brexit we achieve and 2) Who the Tory leader is. Someone like Jacob Rees-Mogg will see them back the Tories in greater numbers, less so if the Tory leader is someone like Philip Hammond or Sajid Javid.

Hopefully YouGov and other pollsters will track these switchers, and further analyse their long term past voting past behaviour so we can work out if this just typical mid term blues for the governing party or a more fundamental switch.



DUP-No10 relations mean that 6/1 for Corbyn as Next PM is value

Saturday, October 13th, 2018

There is enough uncertainty over the next year to give him a decent chance

When Ian Paisley said “No!”, people believed that he meant what he said. The Big Man may be gone but his party lives on and it would be extremely unwise for anyone to assume that when Arlene Foster says “no”, she means any different from her predecessor. The DUP do not bluff. Ever. They might occasionally change their minds but when they do, they do so in their own time and on their own terms.

All that ought to be obvious to anyone who has paid any attention to N Ireland politics, which presumably rules out the N Ireland secretary. Which is why it was a measure (and perhaps an explanation) of the difficulties the government is in to see a tweet from the political editor at UTV stating that many senior Tories at Westminster believe that the DUP is bluffing when they threaten to veto the Budget and, implicitly, bring down the government in the Confidence vote that would inevitably follow.

Presumably, the government’s thinking is twofold. Firstly, that the DUP have the balance of power and, hence, huge leverage. To bring down the government and precipitate an election would very likely throw away that position. And secondly, to call an election, particularly at a moment when the Tories were in turmoil, would be to invite IRA-sympathising and United Ireland supporting Jeremy Corbyn into Number Ten: not exactly an appealing prospect for hardline unionists.

But to think along those lines is to misunderstand the situation. Governments come and governments go. At some point, the Conservatives will lose power and in all probability, Labour will replace them. That might be this year, it might not be until the 2030s, but at some point it will happen – and the DUP know that. By contrast, the implementation of a border in the Irish Sea would be a genuine game-changer and fundamentally alter the relationship between Britain and N Ireland (and, implicitly, between the Republic and N Ireland). If it comes to a choice between a temporary setback and a permanent one, it’s not difficult to see which the more attractive is.

Which brings us to the betting markets. For a long time, I’ve not seen any value in Jeremy Corbyn as next PM. I’ve always been of the opinion that if it looked likely that Labour would win the next election, the Tories would switch leader meaning that the next PM would come from Theresa May’s party. That thinking was based on the assumption that the Conservative administration would last through to 2022 with DUP support, which with sensible management, it should.

The Ken Reid tweet however has prompted me to reconsider.

    I think there is a very real risk that May could put her initials to an agreement that crosses the DUP’s red lines, in the belief that they, like the ERG, will prove more hot air than substance. That would be a fatal error.

If she does, my guess is that it will come after the Budget and possibly not even this year.

The would present the DUP with an even starker choice. They will not want a deal that contemplates an Irish Sea border to even come to the Commons because of the risk that the government might gain enough Labour support (on what would, after all, be a soft Brexit), to outweigh ERG and DUP opposition. That means liaising with Labour to bring about a Vote of No Confidence before the Commons could vote on the Brexit deal. Given that Corbyn’s main aim is to bring down the government, he would probably go with that. After all, if he could force a general election – and form a government afterwards – he could request an extension to the A50 period and seek a different deal, one which would produce an even softer Brexit but, crucially for the DUP, no GB-NI differential.

As far as the bets go, we might not even need to think about a general election. How governments are formed after a No Confidence vote now that the FTPA is in place is unknown territory. We do have the guidance of pre-FTPA history, the Cabinet Manual, and the Act itself, but these are not exhaustively prescriptive.

If May’s government were to be No Confidenced, I would fully expect Corbyn to demand to be given the chance to form a government, which would not be an unreasonable request in the circumstances. Whether the Palace would accede to such a demand is the crucial unknown, not least because Labour wouldn’t be the only ball in motion (which we’ll come back to). There certainly wouldn’t be time to do full deals with the SNP, Lib Dems, DUP and others; Corbyn and McDonnell would have to wing it and hope for the best. Crucially, however, they would not have to prove that they could form a government: that would be to test in the Commons. The strongest argument would be that with May out of the game, the Tories couldn’t and that they might.

Importantly, as far as the FTPA goes, to head off an election, the Commons has to pass a motion “that this House has confidence in Her Majesty’s Government.” In other words, we are not talking about a potential government; we are talking about the ministers already in office. If Corbyn was to be given a chance to test support in the Commons, he would have to be PM already.

However, the Tories would be unlikely to allow that to passively happen. If May’s ministry were to be No Confidenced, there is a good – but not overwhelming chance – that she would either resign as party leader or be no confidenced, in the hope that some other Tory leader could build something from the wreckage. The problem there is that the replacement would have to be in place almost immediately. There could be no time for the election the Conservative Party constitution demands – unless there were only one candidate. If the Tories could swap leaders within days, that would place them back in the game; if not, it would leave them in a horrible position.

The enormous risk that the Tories would be taking in dumping May immediately would be that if neither Labour nor an alternative Tory could gain the confidence of the House, then a general election would be triggered before the Conservatives had had chance to complete their own election. The Party would be in a state of utter turmoil, without a leader and divided into warring factions, and having failed to deliver a Brexit Deal. The temptation would surely be for Corbyn to not try very hard to win the vote. On the other hand, if May were not ousted, there could still be a general election but in that case, with the Tories stuck with a lame duck leader whose campaigning skills have already been tested and found wanting. (And note – under this scenario, a bet on Corbyn as Next PM would be likely to still pay out).

The chance of a misunderstanding between a No 10 machine which has always been a bit tin-eared, and a DUP which sees what it stands for under existential threat, leading to the government falling means that the 6/1 available for Corbyn to be Next PM is now value.

David Herdson


The one thing we are not getting st the moment is a clear picture from the polls

Saturday, October 6th, 2018

So which pollsters’ numbers do you prefer

Conference season is now over and we now face the final few months before Britain is scheduled to leave the EU. UK politics is set to go through a period of turmoil and there’s not an insignificant chance that there could be an early general election.

Mrs. May’s wonderful dance sequence prior to her Birmingham conference speech might have diverted attention for a short while but decisions that could impact on the nation for generations are in the offing. Yet just look at the polls

The Wikipedia chart above shows the extraordinary range of the next General Election voting polls at the moment. We’ve got YouGov which has a 6% CON while the most recent BMG survey has LAB 5% ahead.

I can’t recall in recent such a gap between the parties. A LAB 5% lead against a CON 6% one in two of the latest polls. We also have the LDs in a range from 9% to 13%.

Which snapshot is the best reflection of the public mood?

The great thing is that there’s something for everyone and as I often point out on Twitter – It is a truth universally acknowledged that the most accurate poll at any one time is the one which has numbers which please you most

Mike Smithson


Given current polls the Tories shouldn’t be spooked by Corbyn but they are

Friday, October 5th, 2018

The shockwaves of June 8th 2017 continue

The Speccies Isabel Hardman has an excellent piece under the heading “Why the Tories feel so spooked by Jeremy Corbyn”. She argues that some of the messages from the LAB leader have the potential to resonate. She goes on:

I understand that the reason Labour has decided to talk so much about the way capitalism has left certain voters behind is that recent polling carried out by the party found it had strong resonance with groups of voters who feel pessimistic about the future of the country…”

Maybe this is a reflection of how LAB’s manifesto at GE2017 appeared to be so successful in bringing in new voters and driving turnout. The question surely is whether Corbyn’s LAB is able to do the same again on a more successful scale that will enable it to make the gains to get closer to Tory seat totals.

The signs from current polling is that the opposition party is struggling to hold onto to its GE2017 support and is not opening up new groups of voters. Labour is also floundering in Scotland where it was once so dominant. It is also very hard to see which new groups of voters the red team will be able to attract because at the moment they are shedding votes from last time

    The only problem here is that after GE2017 Tory trust in the polls remains badly shaken and that is going to linger right until the next election. So the Tories are going to be extra guarded and not really believe anything until the exit poll at the next election comes out.

But there is a possible benefit – Labour complacency. So many Corbynistas appear to believe that because there was such turnaround in 2017 then the same will happen again. The party exceeded expectations, many of them believe, because the broadcasting rules last meant that Labour was presented more fairly and they can look to that once again.

Maybe it will but maybe it won’t. We know a lot more about Corbyn now and his ratings have nose-dived.

My long-term betting prediction is that the spread betting markets next time will overstate Labour’s eventual seat total.

Mike Smithson


Both main party leaders have seen their ratings decline since the last conference season – Corbyn’s more May’s

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

Corbyn needs to turn things round for LAB to have a chance

The end of the Party Conference season is a good time to look back at the past year through the prism of the Ipsos MORI leader satisfaction ratings. This is part of the longest running polling series in the UK and is now in its fifth decade.

As can be seen from the chart both leaders have experienced a marked decline in the levels of satisfaction over the past year but the one that has suffered the most is Mr Corbyn.

It’s very easy to seek to correlate numbers like this with specific events and I am a great believer in the maxim – don’t confuse correlation with causation. But there’s little doubt that things turned for the Labour leader in March which saw the Salisbury attacks and Corbyn’s responses to that together with the emergence of anti-semitism as a big issue in the Labour Party.

At the moment it looks as though Corbyn will be the one of the two who will still be in place at the next general election with a large consensus within the Conservative Party that Mrs May will step down at some stage after Brexit next year.

We should expect any new leader and Prime Minister to get something of a ratings honeymoon as all the focus will be on him or her for the first few months. Remember what happened in 2007/8 to Gordon Brown during his first few months at Number 10.

I don’t need to remind PBers that I put a lot more trust in ratings than I do in voting intention polls when you are actually asking respondees not for an opinion but an indication of what they might do in a few years time.

Mike Smithson


Polling boost for beleaguered Theresa as the Tory conference opens in Birmingham

Sunday, September 30th, 2018

Her party retakes the lead with Opinium

Opinium fieldwprk Sept 26-29
CON 39+2
LAB 36-3
LD 9=

It used to be one of those rock solid polling rules that LAB would always get a boost in its polling position in surveys taken at the end of its September conference and before the Tory one started. After all the media focus has been on the red team and during the week the general perception was that Labour had had a much better than expected conference. The policy ideas paraded for the first time seemed to have been well received.

Well not so the latest poll from Opinium for the Observer which sees the blues team re-take the lead which must come as a relief for TMay after she faces her conference in Birmingham in the most difficult of circumstances.

    Boris, as seen on the Sunday Times front page, is on the war-path and no doubt will get acres of coverage over the next four days but he’s nothing like the star that he was.

Yesterday the YouGov/Times poll found 57%, more than any other contender, think the ex-Mayor would be a poor leader, Gove had a negative rating of 56%, with Hunt 47%, Rees-Mogg 40% with Javid at 30%. The same poll found that 55% of CON voters want TMay to lead the party into next general election. 33% thought she should go earlier.

One thing I’m very confident of for this year’s conference – if there is a sign behind TMay when she’s making her big speech the letters will remain in place!

Mike Smithson


The Conservatives must join and win the battle of ideas

Saturday, September 29th, 2018

The Thatcherite consensus is dead; the case for choice, freedom and opportunity is not

In full, the United States’ Declaration of Independence is not a very good document. It bears the classic mark of the composite motion, being too long overall and unbalanced in its structure: very nearly half of it is a list of twenty-seven grievances. Fortunately, for history and for the revolutionaries, it was drafted by someone who knew not only how to turn a phrase but where to place it. There may have been more than a smidgen of dishonesty in Jefferson’s assertion (abridged here) that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, with the unalienable rights of life and liberty; that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed; and that it is the Right of the People to abolish unjust forms of government”, but that’s not the point. The point is that he defined what the war was about in words that were inspiring, simple and righteous, and did so at the outset of the document, before people lost interest amid the detail. It is the masterpiece in political framing.

Few political battles have such high stakes but whether physical or electoral, framing the question on which the contest is fought remains critical. In Britain, at the moment, it is Labour who is setting the terms and as such, are gaining for themselves a huge advantage.

The reasons why Labour is evangelising their beliefs and the Conservatives are not aren’t hard to pin down. For one thing, Labour has much more space and time in which to do so. The government is spending a huge amount of time and effort on a policy it doesn’t really want and probably can’t deliver without some – perhaps a great deal of – damage to the country. Domestic politics, where the battle-lines are being drawn, is taking a back-seat. In effect, the Conservatives are still fighting the last war, to a large extent among themselves.

Secondly, there has probably never been as big a gap between the managers at the top of the Tories and the activists at the top of Labour. Governments always tend to grey as their time in office increases, as competent administrators rise and firebrand populists who made their name in opposition fall, but May and Hammond are particularly lacking in any sense of ideological fervour.

By contrast, Corbyn has spent his entire life as an activist: decrying injustices or fighting for (or more often against) some cause or another. These were frequently fringe or unpopular causes – some of his pet topics still are – but allied to the more politically savvy McDonnell, Labour has now put together a superficially plausible critique of society and the economy that appeals to a lot of people because many of the problems he campaigns on, from housing to inequality to funding of public services, have an element of truth in them that resonates with those struggling. And Labour’s the only party proposing change.

And the third part is that the Conservatives have got out of the habit of making the ideological case. Their consensus – the Thatcherite consensus, seemingly cemented in place by New Labour’s conversion to its basic structure – was in place for so long that they have never needed to argue for why the mechanisms that underpin the Conservative model of the economy, public services and society are best. It’s a complacency that can no longer be taken for granted: that consensus is dead.

It wasn’t always like that. In the 1980s, it would be a rare interview when the likes of Thatcher, Tebbit or Lawson wasn’t advocating policy just because it was (in their eyes) effective but also because it was an ethically good thing for people to, for example, own their own homes, keep more of their income or own shares in the nation’s great industries: it gave them both a greater stake in the country and a return on its success. Choice and markets were good because competition drives up choice and quality, and drives down prices (assuming the market works effectively).

In reality, forty years of experience have produced some notorious examples where that model has failed – though usually in implementation rather than concept – and that’s what’s given the Labour left both the opportunity and the confidence to fight back. But without a Conservative leadership ready and able to take to the field on behalf of the moral and practical benefits of individual choice, regulated competition and a smaller state, the argument is in danger of going by default.

    If the Conservatives want to be reasonably confident about their chances in 2022, they need to do a lot more than deliver a satisfactory Brexit and manage the economy effectively. They need to inspire, as Corbyn has inspired.

They need to reconnect with people – particularly the 25-49 age group – whose aspiration and ambition to get on in live is being blocked by structures that the government has the power to reform. Those people need to be able to buy their own house and put down roots; they need to know that their investment in education is worth-while; they need to believe that the thrifty will not be disadvantaged in their old age as against the reckless.

To do that, Theresa May or her successor needs to frame the Conservatives’ own vision of what a fair and successful Britain looks like, what’s preventing that at the moment, how those obstacles will be removed, and – above all – why that journey is worth joining. The Tory top brass might regard those truths to be self-evident but, like Jefferson did, they need to spell them out all the same.

David Herdson