Archive for the ' General Election' Category


Unless LAB can win back Scotland then there’s little chance of Corbyn becoming PM

Friday, May 25th, 2018

The latest Scotland only polls have LAB down in third place

The biggest impact on the Labour-Conservative seat balance in the past decade was the virtual wipeout of LAB north of the border at GE2015.

Five years earlier at GE2010 when Labour lost power there were, extraordinarily, no seat changes at all north of the border with what was then Gordon Brown’s party retaining all 41 seats that it held on an overall increased Scottish vote share. The SNP had just 6 seats with the LDs 11 and the Tories just 1.

Then came the 2014 IndyRef which although Yes lost it totally changed the political environment leading to at the following general election SLAB losing all but one of the 41. The LDs lost 10 of their 11 and the Tories remained with just one Scottish MP.

It is not often remembered that Ed Miliband’s LAB actually made progress in England gaining 15 more seats. It was the Scottish wipe out that overshadowed everything and the SNP found itself with 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats displacing the LDs as the third party at Westminster.

    Move on to GE2017 which proved to be something of a setback for Sturgeon’s party losing 21 seats and holding onto 35. But, alas, it was Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Tories who were the main beneficiary not Scottish LAB

To put this into context in England Corbyn’s party made just 21 net gains which wasn’t much better than what EdM had done two years earlier.

If Corbyn’s LAB is to return to government then much of the current seat deficit it has nationally with the Tories will need be made up from battles with the SNP and current Scotland only polling doesn’t look good.

The most recent Panelbase survey had LAB on 25% in Scotland trailing the Scottish Tories and way behind the SNP.

Mike Smithson


On the betting markets punters don’t buy the speculation that there’ll be a 2018 election

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

A vote this year is rated as just an 11% chance

At the weekend we saw reports in the media about the possibility of the huge divide in the Conservative over Brexit being of such a magnitude that an early, 2018, general election was the only way of ending it.

I thought the Sunday Times report was over-egged simply because Mrs. May was so scarred by her failure to retain the Tory majority last year that there were no circumstances in which she would take such a gamble again. The idea of her going into another campaign for which, as we saw, she was so psychologically unsuited to handle is hard to comprehend.

It is also hard to see another party leader being put in place this year for it is convenient for both sides within the party to leave her in the role until Brexit at the earliest. In any case the party’s processes make it difficult to oust her.

    Sure it only takes 48 CON MPs to write letters demanding a confidence vote of he parliamentary party for one to be triggered. But the other key number is that for her to lose that ballot requires 150+ CON MPs to vote against her and there isn’t that level of support.

On top of that there appears even within the parliamentary party to be a lack of appreciation of the Fixed Term Parliament Act and what is required to trigger an election.

The other factor that helps Mrs. May is that the Tories have established what is looking like a solid lead in the polls which diminishes the threat of Prime Minister Corbyn.

The Betfair exchange did see the odds on a 2018 election move to 15% but there was little to support it staying at the level and the price has slipped back.

Mike Smithson


Of the last 22 published voting intention polls LAB has led in just one

Monday, May 21st, 2018

Now increasing CON leads have become the norm

The above table from Wikipedia shows the published national voting intention polls over the past three months.

What is very striking is how there are almost no surveys showing Corbyn’s party ahead at the moment. That compares with January when LAB led in six and was tied in two.

We are coming to a point in a parliament when oppositions need to be recording solid leads if they are to have any chance of forming a government after the next election.

    Too much of LAB thinking, it appears, is based on the hope that what happened last time will also occur next.

Maybe but maybe not. Three things are for sure – the Tories are going to run a better campaign than a year ago; Nick Timothy won’t be involved in the production of the manifesto, and the CON leader will appear in TV debates with the LAB one.

Also the campaign period, when Labour can expect equal coverage in the broadcast media, will be much shorter than the 7+ weeks of last year.

Mike Smithson


Not another one. Oh for God’s sake, honestly I can’t stand this. There’s too much politics going on at the moment.

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

Today’s Sunday Times report

Conservative MPs are preparing for another snap general election as they fear the Brexit deadlock will become insurmountable for the prime minister.

Some have spoken to their local party associations asking to be readopted as prospective parliamentary candidates in readiness for an autumn election.

The back-bench MPs acted after meeting Theresa May last week for a private Brexit briefing as she tried to stop a row over Britain’s future customs relationship with the European Union tearing the party apart.

But far from being reassured by meeting the prime minister, they left Downing Street convinced that another election could be around the corner.

One Tory Brexiteer said he could not see how the government could “square the circle” and come up with a solution on Britain’s future trading relationship with the EU that would appease both sides of the warring party.

“It’s becoming clear there’s no compromise that will keep remainers such as Nicky Morgan, Anna Soubry and Dominic Grieve happy as well as the likes of myself and Jacob Rees-Mogg,” the MP said.

“The numbers are against us and if we face repeated defeats when the withdrawal bill returns to the Commons, the only alternative will be to kick over the table and trigger a vote of no confidence in the prime minister, which will likely lead to another general election.

“After speaking with like-minded colleagues, I have raised this with my association chairman and asked them to get on with readopting me as the candidate in my seat in anticipation that we could go to the polls as early as the autumn. I am even preparing my first leaflet drop for the summer.”

Labour MPs are also discussing the prospect of an October poll. A Labour Party insider said: “I heard two separate reports from MPs who said they had heard Conservative MPs planning for an early election.”

This chimes in with my own long standing views that a 2018 election wouldn’t surprise me as Mrs May would struggle to reconcile her party as she and the party discover that Brexit isn’t as easy as some Brexiteers promised.

As a Tory and a patriot sadly I think far too many Tories are playing Russian roulette with a fully loaded gun, even if they don’t know it. The Sunday Times report ‘At least a dozen hardline Brexiteers think leaving the EU with no deal would be better, according to reports. They are expected to renew calls for the appointment of a “no deal” cabinet minister to show that Britain is prepared to walk away from the negotiations.’

Although I was struck by John Rentoul’s observation this morning that as Mrs May moves us to the softest of soft Brexits ‘The prime minister is boiling the Brexiteer frogs: the water is getting hotter and none of them has jumped out of the pan.’ Perhaps some of the Leavers have decided pragmatism is the only way when it comes to Brexit rather than risking Corbyn as Prime Minister.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice that the polling of the Tories and Mrs May has improved since Mrs May has started talking about delivering a softer Brexit.

Several bookies are offering 6/1 on a 2018 election and Betfair’s latest price is a 7.6, this is a market I’m not going play any further at these prices.

As the headline of this piece is channelling Brenda from Bristol, I suspect the Tories will take a hit if they force another election on the country, so that’s why it probably won’t happen.



On the third Thursday of May exactly a year ago Mrs May launched the Conservative manifesto

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

The anniversary of the #DementiaTax

On the third Thursday of May exactly a year ago Mrs. May was enjoying huge leads in the polls as she travelled to key Tory target of Halifax (LAB GE2015 majority 428) to launch the Conservative manifesto.

The polling in that week was pointing to a landslide. GfK and ICM had her party 20% ahead with leads of 18% by Kantar and 15% by Ipsos-MORI. The spread betting markets had a CON “buy” level of in excess of 400 seats and virtually no one had any doubts about the outcome. Mrs. May’s gamble of going to the country three years early was going to pay off big time.

The election itself was just four weeks off and postal voting packs were due to go out in the following few days.

    A key proposal that got picked up on social media while she was still speaking was to make people pay for their care if they had assets £100,000+. Suddenly the term “#DemntiaTax” starting flooding Twitter and it became apparent that this was not going well at all.

This became the peg for the media to get public reaction to the whole manifesto and that evening we had vox pop after vox pop of older voters not being happy with the idea.

I must admit that at the time I thought the move was laudable – the Tories being ready to use their apparent strong position to take on one of the toughest issues of the day, funding elderly care, with a very clear proposal that wasn’t going to be popular.

The first round of voting intention polls carried out after the launch suddenly showed a very different picture. YouGov and Survation both had the Tory lead down to single figures.

It was that weekend that I placed what would turn out to be my most profitable political bet ever – I ‘sold’ Tory seats at 393 on the spread betting markets. They ended up with 318 MP a gap of 75 which was then multiplied by my stake level.

Halifax rather than being a CON gain saw LAB increase its majority from 468 to 5,376.

Mike Smithson


The Buckingham constituency where there must be a high chance of a by-election within 18 months

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

There’s not been a “normal” election here since GE2005

One of the intriguing facets of the current speculation over the Speaker, John Bercow, is that there could be a by-election within the next year and a half in the Buckingham parliamentary constituency.

There were reports at the weekend that Mr Bercow has indicated to friends that he plans to stand down in 2019 though there could be something earlier if the pressure on him continues. If he does step aside he’ll almost certainly quit as an MP and would probably be elevated to the Lords.

The normal convention which is honoured by the main parties is that Speakers are not challenged when they stand for re-election in their own constituencies. So at GE2010, Bercow’s first general election as Speaker, Labour and the Lib Dems did not put up candidates although Nigel Farage challenged him as did a prominent pro-EU former Conservative MEP, John Stevens. Bercow won easily but Stevens beat Farage for second place and the former leader of UKIP only picked up 17% of the vote.

That election will be remembered for the plane crash that Nigel Farage was in while flying in a light plane over the constituency on election day itself. My understanding is that quite a few Tory activists were helping on the Farage campaign while some Lib Dems were supporting Stevens.

The fact that it has been held by the Speaker for so long is that there are no previous elections for us to make comparisons with. At GE2005, with different boundaries, Bercow stood as a Tory and got 57% of the vote.

At GE1966 the seat was won for Labour by the controversial former media magnate Robert Maxwell. He lost it to the Tories at GE1970.

A 2018/2019 by-election would likely be a battle between the Tories and the Lib Dems who would fancy their chances of putting up a challenge in a seat that went Remain at the referendum. No doubt both parties have already got contingency plans for fighting such an election.

Mike Smithson


Be wary of YouGov’s finding that Britain’s voting intentions is classless

Saturday, May 12th, 2018

It isn’t new, and it isn’t really backed up by other pollsters or elections

Class is supposed to define British politics. Perhaps that explains the flurry of surprise yesterday when YouGov’s latest poll gave the Conservatives a 3% lead among the C2DE group (43-40-7 among the main parties), and showed Labour doing worse with them than with the ABC1s (43-37-11).

We shouldn’t be overly surprised. For one thing, the sub-groups aren’t statistically balanced and the figures are close enough that it’s quite possible that Labour is actually ahead with the C2DEs; for another, YouGov consistently produce results more favourable to the Tories than, say Survation – which reported a 1-point overall Con lead yesterday, against YouGov’s 5-point margin; but also, and most importantly, that finding is nothing particularly new.

Before going there, a big word of caution: not all pollsters are finding the same thing. ICM’s last poll gave Labour a lead of about 5% with the C2DE group, despite an overall 3-point Con lead. Survation, though they don’t use the standard social group definitions, found a more traditional – and marked – split among income groups, and a very even set of results when voters are grouped by educational level. Mori, which does use the usual groups, reported even more distinct findings: a 6% Con lead among the middle-class and no less than a 17% lead among C2DEs (though the weighting changed a 4-point Labour lead into a 1% Con one overall, so we should perhaps apply a blue shift to those subsamples too). The same is true of ComRes. YouGov seems to be very much the exception.

All the same, while the company might be the exception, its poll isn’t. Go back before the last general election, to when the Tories were racking up big double-digit leads and again, they were clearly ahead with both middle and working-class voters. To take one example, the first poll YouGov conducted in 2017, which produced overall figures of 39-26 to Con (plus UKIP 14, LD 10), had an ABC1 split of 41-26 and a C2DE one of 37-27. Those findings are not unusual for the time.

This is where the assertion, made in the light of YouGov’s poll yesterday (and without reference to other pollsters), that “Corbyn is losing the working class” is a bit of a fallacy. He has already, within three years, lost it, regained it, and lost part of it again. Even if we accept YouGov’s subsamples, the 37% share they give Labour among the working class is still well above what it was in the first four months of last year.

In fact, whether or not the gap between how the classes vote has closed (or even reversed), what is clear is that it has been reducing for a long time. This tweet helpfully summarises Labour’s lead among the working class over the last 40 years. What’s notable is how that lead has shrunk when measured against the overall figures.

In 1992, Labour did 18% better with the working class than they did overall. Blair’s landslide changed nothing in that respect: it was still 18% in 1997. Come 2005 and it had dropped to 12%, in 2010 it was just 8%, in 2015 it was back up to 13% but in 2017 it fell right down to 4%.

We can explain the spike in 2015 as a consequence of working-class Tory voters defecting to UKIP; a phenomenon which lasted just one election. So while Labour certainly has a problem in retaining its traditional vote under Corbyn, that problem started well before him. (It is of course true that the reverse also holds: Labour might be losing working-class votes but it’s picking up middle-class ones to compensate).

In theory, this should mean that safe seats on both sides should be becoming less so, and indeed there is evidence of that, both from the general election and this recent round of local elections. We should, however, beware of being blinded by the exceptions. For all that Kensington or Canterbury were spectacular in the 2017 general election, or that London and the South East saw a relatively poor Tory performance while the Midlands and North generally saw a strong one for a party eight years in office, the great majority of seats did not change hands.

My gut feeling is that YouGov are out on this and the other pollsters are closer to being right (which also has to raise a question about YouGov’s top-line figures). However, while the trend it’s picking up on might be exaggerated, it is still there. That raises very interesting questions about all the parties’ strategies for the next election. It also implies that with both middle- and working-class voters leaving their traditional political homes, firewall seats won’t be anything like as safe as they once were – on all sides.

David Herdson


The pollster that got GE2017 most right now has CON in the lead

Friday, May 11th, 2018

Ever since the general election when Survation came closest to getting the final outcome right there has been a special regard for Survation amongst Labour supporters.

In the past 11 months since the general election it has continued to be the one firm which has broadly had the best figures for Corbyn’s party with leads of upto 7%.

Whenever I have Tweeted polls from other firms in recent months many Labour supporting followers have responded to say they will wait for Survation to see what it is showing.

There’s little doubt that the last few months have been more troubling for the Labour Party than perhaps anyone imagined. The anti-semitism row, which started a 2012 Facebook comment by Corbyn about a mural being publicised, continues to linger and has undoubtedly damaged the leadership. That was confirmed last week with the failure to take Barnet which became a CON gain instead of a LAB one.

Yet the government party, the Conservatives, are totally divided over Europe as the countdown to Brexit gets closer every day. The general theory is that divided parties get punished by voters . Well if that is the case we are not seeing that effect in the blue poll position.

Next month’s by-election in Lewisham East could prove to be interesting and Labour’s candidate choice could be critical. The LDs who came second there pre-Coalition, are choosing their candidate this weekend.

Mike Smithson