Archive for the ' General Election' Category


For the first time since GE2017 consecutive polls have Corbyn’s Labour behind

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

His ambivalence over Brexit impedes LAB on the biggest issue

Two Westminster voting intention polls in the past 24 hours have both got the COM in the lead and of course LAB in second place. This is the first time since the general election that consecutive polls have showed this.

    Labour’s real problem is that it is failing to have a clear distinctive voice that resonates with the vast numbers of Labour voters Who are strongly for remain.

Brexit is by far the biggest issue of the day yet Mr Corbyn seems extraordinarily reluctant to talk about it and exploit opportunities where the Conservatives appeared to be divided. An opposition leader worth his salt would have seized upon the divisions in government and be piling the pressure on now.

Last week at PMQs, it will be recalled, the Labour leader totally failed to mention what was then the biggest embarrassment for the government – the statement by David Davis earlier to a committee that there were no impact assessments as he had been talking about for months.

Today an opposition leader worth his salt would have really being tearing into the government over the comments made by David Davis which have now been seized on by other European leaders has reasons to delay proper trade talks.

Corbyn has two problems: He doesn’t really believe in staying in the EU which means he is very much out of line with party voters. Second is that he simply does not have the mental flexibility to seize issues that could embarrass the government and develop them.

One of the findings in today’s YouGov poll has Theresa May extending her lead by five points as who is the best prime minister. She was up and he is down.

How different it all looked in the summer when he made his Glastonbury appearance a week or so after the general election. Then we were being told that he had predicted that he would be in Downing Street by Christmas . Well it ain’t going to happen.

Mike Smithson


Welcome to the new age of despair in British Brexit politics

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

This’ll chime with a lot of people – right, left, leaver or remainer

For the past two and a half weeks I have been semi detached from British politics being on holiday on the West Coast of the United States. I didn’t take my laptop and my main means of finding out what was happening was with my phone.

So it has been something of a shock to return to find the spirit of despair and almost desperation, epitomised in today’s Daily Record front page, at the way politics is developing.

Yesterday’s PMQs was a case in point. The revelations earlier in the morning by David Davis about the non existence of his impact papers should have provided a superb opening for Corbyn. In fact the LAB leader completely failed to exploit the situation and was barely forensic in his questioning of Mrs May. As a result the PM escaped proper scrutiny.

Davis is even a less a figure than he was and each néw development raises questions about his competence and TMay’s judgement in appointing him in the first place.

At the top of the tree is Mrs May herself and even former defenders are now deserting her.

A particularly damming analysis is from Iain Martin in the Times

“..The situation in Downing Street is even worse than commonly reported. No 10 is about as weak as it has been in living memory. The place resembles a morgue, according to a sample of visitors, or a Second World War brigade headquarters in a French chateau during the fall of France. Gavin Barwell as chief of staff is struggling to hold it all together. Nick Timothy, the former chief of staff, is at the end of a telephone providing counsel. Damian Green, the de facto deputy prime minister, is lost.

Those who say it is not all that bad are simply being lied to about the limited extent of May’s engagement and animation. There is no leader, in the sense that the British system of government requires. This absence of grip should frighten people, because government is drifting.

It means that there needs to be an urgent change. This is a point at which (Andrea Leadsom apart) anyone injecting a bit of energy and cracking the whip in No 10 and Whitehall would be better than May…

I just wonder whether we are now seeing the end game for Mrs May. Certainly the betting markets see that. 2018 is now the favourite as the year of her departure.

Perhaps the parties should be getting ready for the Maidenhead by-election. If she leaves Number 10 she surely won’t want to remain as an MP.

Mike Smithson


In late April the Tory data chief, Jim Messina, told senior Tories that his modelling pointed to a CON majority of 290

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

Put this on your “Christmas” list

I’m just back in the UK after my holiday on the West Coast of the US visiting my son, Robert, and his family who have moved to LA from London in July.

Part of my holiday reading was Betting The House: The Inside Story of the 2017 Election by Tim Ross and Tom McTague which was published last month.

It is an absorbing read giving a detailed account of GE2017 based on conversations with many of the key players and provides interesting revelations that look remarkable given what we know now.

The top point for me that put all this into context is the one highlighted in the heading – what Tory chiefs were being told ten days into the campaign. This is an extract.

“.. Ten days into the campaign, Jim Messina, the American data consultant working with the Tories, told Stephen Gilbert, Lynton Crosby, Mark Textor and other senior figures that his modelling suggested the Conservatives would win 470 seats – enough for a staggering majority of 290, more than double Margaret Thatcher’s 1983 landslide – and an exponential improvement on David Cameron’s winning margin of twelve.

It was an extraordinary moment and one that caused serious concern among those at the top of the campaign who already feared expectations were spiralling out of control. Messina’s forecast was the high-water mark for the tide of Tory optimism, but right up to election day the most senior campaign officials thought they would make strong advances into Labour territory… “

Although this inevitably got ratcheted down as the campaign progressed the view throughout the seven weeks that an increased majority was a certainty had a totally adverse impact on Conservative thinking. Quite simply it skewed the party’s whole management of the election and approach to seat targeting.

This is how the authors describe what happened when in late May a poll had the lead narrowing sharply. They were so convinced of the outcome that it was dismissed.

“.. On May 25th YouGov ran a poll in the Times, cutting the Tory lead over Labour to just five points. It was the first clear sign that a real change could be happening but was widely dismissed by commentators and analysts as unrealistic. Five days later, YouGov produced something even more dramatic: a seat projection model that said the Tories were on course to lose their majority in a hung parliament. Jim Messina and Mark Textor did not believe it. Sitting inside CCHQ, Messina composed a message on Twitter: ‘Spent the day laughing at yet another stupid poll from .@yougov. Hey .@benleet do you want to bet for charity? I’ll take the over.’ Messina showed it to colleagues and asked if he could tweet it, before doing so…”

But it wasn’t just the Tory campaign that was getting a distorted view of what was happening. Labour’s private pollsters were also giving a gloomy picture for their client. This from just before polling day:

“.. The picture from Labour’s own pollsters BMG was pessimistic. For most of the campaign, BMG had been forecasting a Tory majority of 150. On election day, they thought May was on course for a majority of 80…”

In a telling point on LAB targeting the authors report that activists believe they would have come a lot closer to the CON seat totals if they’d known what was really happening.

If you are being pressed to suggest ideas of Christmas presents for yourself then mention this book. It is a must read for all who follow polls and election forecasting.

Mike Smithson


Iff this is true then the chances of a 2018 general election have increased, the DUP will bring down Mrs May’s government

Monday, December 4th, 2017



Trying to understand why the Lib Dems aren’t doing better in the polls

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017


The Lib Dems are still paying the price for being hollowed out in local government during the coalition years.

One of the mysteries of current politics for me is how badly the Lib Dems are doing in the  polls. Since the general election every opinion poll bar one has the Lib Dems polling in the single digits when the current political terrain should be fertile for them.

With Brexit being so polarising I’d have thought the only staunchly GB wide anti-Brexit party coupled with the Tories and Labour being led by two flawed leaders would see the Lib Dems polling a lot better than they currently are, so why aren’t they, the chart above might explain it.

Like their MPs, since the Lib Dems entered the coalition their councillors were shellacked every May, that hollowing of the party sees the influence of the party weakened and perceived to be an irrelevance. My own feeling and experience is that a strong councillor base helps you win and hold Parliamentary seats, and that’s why the Lib Dems have lost so many MPs in recent years.

Earlier on this year the Lib Dems hit their highest ever membership numbers, so it isn’t all doom and gloom for them. Assuming the next general election is in 2022, that gives the Lib Dems four rounds of local elections to rebuild their local government presence.

If they can rebuild their footprint there, and undo the near two thousands council seats the Lib Dems have lost since they entered the coalition it might help them see an increase in the polls and the number of MPs they have.



Why the Tory plotters wanting to oust May need have no worries about letting Corbyn in

Monday, November 13th, 2017

A new CON leader WILL NOT mean an early general election

With the Sunday newspaper reports that the CON MPs plotting an early retirement for Mrs May being just 8 MPs short of the 48 required for a confidence vote we could be very close to a formal move against Mrs May.

One of the big arguments that May backers and the Tory whips are apparently making to MPs is that if she goes early then it heightens the risk of an early general election in which Jeremy Corbyn could be Prime Minister.

The same theme is taken up by the New Statesman George Eaton in an article in which he sets out how the fear of letting Corbyn in is being used.

… , having lost their majority earlier this year, the Conservatives are loath to do anything that could prompt a second general election. Labour would begin as favourites and Tory MPs sincerely fear the consequences of a Corbyn victory.

Faced with a choice between bad and worse, most Tory MPs believe that May’s survival represents the former. “

This, of course, is completely bogus and overlooks the legal mechanics of how general elections are now called. No longer does a Prime Minister have it in her or his gift to trot along to the Palace to call a general election.

For while the Fixed-Term Parliament Act, enacted as part of the coalition deal, is still on the statute book it is very hard to envisage the circumstances in which Mr. Corbyn enters Number 10 in the foreseeable future.

The FTPA lays down just two ways that an election can be called early: by two thirds of all MPs voting for one as happened last April or by a vote of no confidence in the government which is not rescinded within two weeks. Given what happened to Tories in June it is hard to see any TMay successor being foolhardy enough to risk either route.

In any case the next Tory leader is likely to have been elected in a members’ ballot which would give him or her more legitimacy. It was the avoidance of such a vote last year which was one of the factors that drove Mrs May to use the FTPA process in April.

There is no other legal mechanism for an early election to be called which is something which many close observers and active politicians don’t seem to have fathomed.

Mike Smithson


The first poll of November finds a tad of comfort for Mrs. May and raises questions of LAB

Friday, November 10th, 2017

YouGov/Times carried out Tues/Wed
CON 40%=
LAB 43%+1
LD 6%-2

YouGov Times poll “best PM” ratings
TMay 34%+1
Corbyn 31%-2
DK 35%

YouGov Times poll – should TMay stand down?
Should 32% -6
Should not 42%+3
Changes on month ago

44% tell YouGov Times poll that TMay should sack Boris against 26% saying she should keep him. Rest of sample don’t know

With Mrs. May having to say goodbye to two of her 22 cabinet ministers in less than a week you’d have thought that Labour and Corbyn would have seen an increase in their position in the polls.

Well this morning sees the first published poll of the month with fieldwork carried out on Tuesday and Wednesday and the numbers are nothing like as bad as the Tories must have feared and nothing like as good as LAB must have hoped.

Sure on voting intention LAB sees a minuscule within margin of error one point uplift but on “best PM” TMay extends her lead.

Labour’s failure to capitalise on the Tory turmoil should be a cause for concern and certainly raises question about the red team’s leadership.

    We are a long way from Corbyn’s Glastonbury hubris in late June when he was telling people he’d be PM by Christmas.

Mike Smithson


The big question is how much Corbyn’s LAB can capitalise on the Tory turmoil

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Will the red team start to replicate its 2012 polling performance

With the Tory difficulties that appear to mount by the day the time has come surely for Corbyn’s LAB to make significant advances in the polls.

What’s been quite striking since June when LAB exceeded expectations is how the gap between the two main parties has remained relatively constant and on the low side. There’s been the odd poll showing a 6 point gap but mostly it has been down at 1 or 2 points.

    Compare this with the first half of 2012, the year that saw the “Omnishambles” budget with the granny and pasty taxes, when for a time most polls had LAB with double digit leads some as high as 15 points.

Remember those 2012 polls mattered for nothing three years later when Cameron won his surprise majority.

I’d argue that in terms of perceptions of government competence what has been happening at the moment is far worse than what happened five years ago.

Will the upcoming November polls reflect this? We shall see.

Mike Smithson