Archive for the ' General Election' Category


Where we are now summed up in two betting Tweets

Friday, March 29th, 2019

And on Betfair

Mike Smithson


What four years of Govey as EdSec did to the teaching vote

Monday, March 25th, 2019

But was this more down to Dominic Cummings?

With Theresa May’s long term prospects in the job not looking very good there’s a lot of focus in the betting markets on who will succeed her as Conservative leader and Prime Minister. Currently the joint favourites are the ex-Mayor and former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson and the current environment secretary, Michael Gove.

It is the electoral potency of the latter that this post is about particularly the way he ran Education from 2010 to 2014.

The data from the above two polls in was first published on PB in July 2014 shortly before the reshuffle that cost Michael Gove his job as Education Secretary in Cameron’s cabinet

The polling was by YouGov and although commissioned by the NUT covered all teachers and not just those who were members.

As can be seen there was a whopping decline in the Tory share and a huge increase in those of EdM’s Labour.  This was much more than the margin of error.

In many ways the contrast between the two sets of data does not come as a shock because it was fairly well known and widely publicised that Michael Gove had alienated the teachers during his period in charge at the Department for Education. It was widely reported that staff in his office use the term the “blob” to describe those working within education.

Perhaps the relationship between the party and teachers wasn’t helped by the fact one of his senior AIDS was Dominic Cummings who was later to make his name running the leave campaign. A very aggressive individual who was determined to make an impact.

It has been widely reported that Gove got the boot in the 2014 reshuffle on the advice of Lynton Crosby who was influenced the PB post. Maybe

Ir is noticeable that Gove’s period at Justice and Environment have struck very different tone.

Mike Smithson


Labour’s path to victory. The seats that could put Labour in power

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

Link to the map above

Imagine, if you will, Jeremy Corbyn beaming and waving from the steps of 10 Downing Street, installed in power after a general election victory. On most current polls this looks unlikely: Labour are well adrift, perhaps as much as 10 points behind the Conservatives. Politics, however, is particularly volatile at present and Labour managed to turn around a much bigger deficit than that in 2017. Such fantasies or nightmares cannot be dismissed as fanciful just yet.

If Labour are going to win the next election, how are they going to do it? For a start, they’ll need substantially all of the 262 seats that they won at the last election, including those taken by those who have since left the party, but on top of that they’ll need gains. Above is an interactive map of Labour’s 100 most attainable targets, representing every seat that could be taken on a 7% swing. That’s a big swing, but Labour would need to take nearly two thirds of these to get an overall majority of one.  

I have categorised these by Brexicity. Where Leave or Remain won with more than 60% of the vote, I’ve labelled them strongly in that category. More close-fought seats are labelled Moderately Leave or Remain (as appropriate).

The first thing to note is just how many of these are in Scotland: 28. Even if Labour would settle for being the largest party, eight of the 30 most attainable targets are in Scotland too. That’s wholly disproportionate – fewer than one in ten seats in Parliament are Scottish.

Labour can win without Scotland but it would make their job a heck of a lot harder.  They would need nearly a 7% swing to get a bare majority. This would mean them taking seats like Southport, Worthing East & Shoreham and Cities of London & Westminster, seats that they have never taken before.

Labour’s dismal polling in Scotland should be a huge concern to them. If turning things around in Scotland isn’t in their top three priorities right now, they are making a big mistake.

What about the question of Brexit? Superficially, it’s more or less a wash.  47 seats leaned Remain and 53 leaned to Leave. But once you take out Scotland and London, just 11 out of 62 target seats voted to Remain in the EU. If you wondered why Labour haven’t seemed more enthusiastic about courting Remain voters, there’s your answer.

(This may nevertheless be a strategic error. Labour’s voters are disproportionately drawn from the ranks of Remainers even in heavily Leave-voting seats and will form a majority of their voter base in almost every seat they hold. A high priority should be keeping these voters happy. Manifestly many of them currently are not.)

Those 62 target seats outside London and Scotland are in the main very different from Labour’s traditional metropolitan strongholds. Labour have been focussing on the concerns of towns and this is why. Gloucester, Colchester, Carlisle, Mansfield and Telford are very different places but all have the similar concerns of third division places in a world that to many seems as if it is increasingly being run for the benefit exclusively of those in the top tier.

Labour is looking to move the conversation on from Brexit. That may be an impossible task but it is its best chance of further progress.

Alastair Meeks


Osborne’s Standard has surely got this right – TMay is in office but not in power

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

As we move into the most difficult fortnight for a prime minister in decades the former Chancellor and now editor of The London Evening Standard, George Osborne, has come out with the above front page about Theresa May.

He’s right. A situation where ministers feel able to ignore the government line is dangerous enough and, without sackings or resignations, almost unprecedented.

I always thought she was wrong to try to hang onto her job after losing the Tories their majority in the needless general election that she called. Clearly this has taken an enormous amount out of her not helped by her voice going at a critical moment.

Later today the Commons is likely to vote for an effort to be made to extend the Article 50 timetable so the UK doesn’t leave the EU as planned on March 29th.

In spite of last night’s vote legislation is required to extend the date from the British perspective and we don’t know how the EU will react.

It must be asked whether the PM has the personal and political strength to take this forward though a Tory leadership contest at this time would simply amplify the crisis.

Meanwhile business is totally unable to make plans because it does not know what will happen. What has been widely underestimated is the extent that so much of commercial and industrial activity is integrated into Europe already.

I always thought that TMay’s objective was laudable. She was trying to honour the result of the referendum while at the same time doing so in a way that caused the minimum amount of damage to the British economy. Unfortunately her lack of flexibility and other personal characteristics have been exposed.

Mike Smithson


In all of this 2019 remains betting favourite for “year of next general election”

Thursday, March 14th, 2019 chart based on Betfair exchange

How punters are seeing the dramatic Brexit moves

Given the parliamentary deadlock over Brexit it is understandable why an early General Election is relatively highly rated by punters. The chart above shows the betting over the past 6 months and although 2019 has been quite a bit higher, at 45%, it still retains its position as favourite even at 37%.

Under the provisions of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act the next election is due to take place in 2022 to and inevitably that retains its position as a second favourite.

The next few days up to the March 29th article 50 deadline could be crucial and we could see anything happening before Brexit itself.

One inhibiting factor, surely, is Theresa May herself. She got badly burnt two years ago by calling an election early when she ended up losing the party its overall Commons majority. If it hadn’t been for her call on going in 2017 then there would not have been the need to rely on the DUP that we see at the moment.

It’s also clear that the Conservative Party is ready to put up with Theresa May while Brexit continues to be a dominating issue but once that’s resolved the support she’s likely to get from her fellow MPs will surely decline. They don’t want her to lead the Tories at the next general election something that she conceded in the confidence move against her in December.

Theresa has been helped, of course, by the fact that there is no obvious successor and although Boris Johnson is currently the favourite he’s not had odds above 20% since that weekend after the general election in 2017.

If Corbyn’s LAB remains in the polling doldrums you could see TMay’s successor being very tempted to underpin his/her position with an early general election.

Mike Smithson


Conservative approach. The seats that will decide whether the Conservatives will form the next government

Sunday, March 10th, 2019

Link to the map above.

Ready for another general election? The last one was less than two years ago but with a hung Parliament dealing with a hugely controversial central question, the threat of another constantly hangs over us. Personally, I very much doubt whether we will see one before the due date in 2022 but as any Boy Scout would tell you, we would do well to be prepared.

In theory there should be a boundary review implemented in this Parliament. That never looked particularly likely when the make-up of the new Parliament became clear and with party discipline breaking down, the chances of MPs voting the changes through now look slim. So it seems that the next election will be fought on boundaries that were last reviewed for the 2010 election (2005 in Scotland).

Anyway, let’s start with the election as it looks for the party of government, the Conservatives. At the moment, the Conservatives look to be ahead in the polls. Poitics is, however, particularly volatile right now. So let’s assess it from both directions.

The result last time was incredibly close in more than one way. The Conservatives held 17 seats with a majority of less than 1000 and missed out on 19 seats by a similarly close margin. A tiny swing either way and the Conservatives would either have had a clear overall majority or would probably have been out of power.

Let’s not confine ourselves quite so closely. There are 44 seats that the Conservatives would lose on an adverse 3% swing and 37 that they would gain with a 3% swing in their favour. These 81 seats will determine the fate of the government.

Overlaying all of this, of course, is Brexit. A seat like Kensington that voted strongly to Remain in the EU seems unlikely to swing in the same way at the next election as a seat like Dudley North that voted strongly to Leave the EU, even though the Conservatives will need just 25 more votes to take each. I suppose that you could argue that Brexit is already priced into the 2017 result and therefore can be discounted as a cause of additional swing. I don’t buy that, myself.

How should we look at these seats? I have compiled a map, set out at the top of this page, that divides these 81 seats into eight groups. Brexicity is based on the estimated Leave vote share. I have arbitrarily assumed that a seat with a Leave vote share of more than 60% is strongly Leave and that a seat with a Leave vote share of under 40% is strongly Remain.

We can see pretty quickly that even in 2017 Brexit wasn’t everything.  Some of the Conservative targets are seats that they lost despite being stuffed with staunch Brexiteer voters. Peterborough and Crewe & Nantwich stand out in this regard, but Ipswich, Bedford, Lincoln and Derby North all voted Leave in 2016 and all left the Conservative column in 2017. Labour’s focus on other topics in the election proved more important in those seats. Equally, the Conservatives made good progress in Scotland even in strongly Remain-voting seats like Stirling and Gordon where their stance on the union proved more important.

There is a fairly even scatter of Remain and Leave-voting seats in this set.  If this card is to be played by either the Conservatives or Labour, they are going to have to be prepared to lose as many seats as they gain by the gambit, unless they can do it with a bit more subtlety. Perhaps, as last time, the Conservatives can campaign on Brexit in England and Wales and on the union in Scotland. It didn’t work very well last time, mind.

The next thing that stands out to me is how small-time this battleground is. There are ten seats in London but the metropolitan areas of Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Bristol, Sheffield, Hull, Cardiff, Swansea, Glasgow and Edinburgh are represented by just four seats: Edinburgh South West, Bolton West, Dudley North and Wolverhampton South West. The election is going to be won and lost in small and medium-sized towns. Labour has spent a lot of time talking about its policy for these places. This is why.

The Conservatives should be thinking very carefully about London. They have seven seats to defend in the capital and all of those seats voted Remain. Are they going to abandon them or how are they going to tailor their message to these seats, bearing in mind that Iain Duncan Smith, Theresa Villiers and Zac Goldsmith, all strident Leavers, represent three of them?

The Conservatives have traditionally been strongest in the area south of the line between the Severn and the Wash. But just 12 of their 37 easiest targets are in that area this time. They are going to have to go outside their comfort zone if they are to make progress.

North of that line, just two seats on the list outside Scotland voted Remain: Pudsey and Westmorland & Lonsdale.  The north midlands and Yorkshire look to be central to the next election result. If the Conservatives are going to play the Brexit card, they should be doing so with a northern accent.

Conversely, 23 of their 44 most vulnerable seats are south of the Severn-Wash line.  Labour should and will be thinking about how it talks to that audience. The battleground seats in this area are much more evenly divided between Remain and Leave. Last time they did well by simply shifting the conversation away from Brexit completely. They are no doubt intending to do the same thing again this time too.

To sum up, the Conservatives will win or lose the next election in small and medium sized towns. Brexit doesn’t look as if it will be a magic bullet for them and may lose as many key seats as it gains for them. Two things might give them hope: new policies that appeal to local England and their opponents’ ability to alienate the voting public. Right now, the second looks a more reasonable hope than the first.

Alastair Meeks


If it’s any consolation to LAB – the last CON 10%+ leads were in the days before GE2017 – and we know what happened then

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

The overnight YouGov poll giving the Conservatives an 11% lead was the worst for LAB since the 2017 general election. I like to look at polls in context which is why above there there is the full Wikipedia list of all GB voting intention polls this year.

The big picture is that LAB is on the decline and the Tories are moving up a bit. Although you’ve got a range of Conservative leads between 4% and 11% surveys it’s the trend that matters and there can be little doubt that this has been going against the red team in the past few weeks.

When news of the latest YouGov came out I did a quick check back through the polling to find the last time that the Conservatives were in this territory. This of course this led me to the week before the June 8th general election in 2017. That was such a disaster for some pollsters and obviously will give some consolation to Corbyn and his team.

We also now have a new polling series and that is those where the TIGers are listed. The Wikipedia list of those is reproduced below.

I should be noted that different question are asked by each firm and we are getting very different outcomes for the new group.

Mike Smithson


New Opinium poll has LAB moving from level-pegging to 8% behind in just a week

Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

LAB 32-5
CON 40+3
LD 5-3

The first of what could number of polls tonight is from Opinium for the Observer and sees the Tories take an 8% lead up from level-pegging a week ago. That’s quite a movement.

Clearly the week has seen another political story dominate the headlines that is not Brexit and much of the focus of the new Independent Group has been critical of LAB and particularly its leader. Corbyn looks less like a prospective PM than just about anytime since GE2017 when his party still lost but not by as much as many predictions.

The polling might reinforce the chatter about Mrs May taking advantage of LAB’s apparent problems and calling a new general election. Bjut that couldn’t not take place before the March 29th Article 50 deadline and if there was a move it would come later.

Even if a whole range of pollsters report 7%+ CON leads I’m far from convinced that she’ll be tempted to go to the country. The memory of what happened two years ago will surely cause the greatest caution.

This post will be updated if there are other polls.

Mike Smithson