Archive for the ' General Election' Category


A Labour view of the party’s looming electoral disaster

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Don Brind looks at landslides past

I have a soft spot for Lib Dem peer Dick Taverne even though I cut my teeth as a Labour Party press officer trying to end his political career.

His letter to the Guardian this week struck a chord. “Mrs May is riding high, apparently heading for a general election triumph, idolised by the tabloids for defying those beastly Europeans who seek to do Britain down. Today’s winners often end up as tomorrow’s losers,”

Taverne has always been a strong Europhile and fell out with his local party in 1973 when he supported the Tories in voting for entry to the Common Market. His resignation to fight a by election saw me drafted in by Transport House.

I failed to stop him romping to victory in the by election but my contribution to his demise was the suggestion to local party chairman Leo Beckett that they would do better with a woman candidate. I recommended a Transport House colleague Margaret Jackson who went on to defeat Taverne in the second of the 1974 General Elections. Margaret married Leo and as Mrs Beckett ascended briefly to the leadership of the party and Briatin’s first woman Foreign Secretary.

Taverne descended into relative obscurity and waited until 1996 to get his peerage. We are all now on the same side of the Europe argument. I was very taken by his four examples of Prime Ministers whose triumphs turned sour.

• “In 1902 Salisbury delivered a Tory landslide with the Liberal opposition deeply divided in the aftermath of the Boer war. Four years later saw an all-time record anti-Conservative landslide.

• “Chamberlain was a hero when he came back from appeasing Hitler in 1938 and proclaimed “Peace for our time”. The few dissidents led by Churchill were denounced as warmongers. Then Hitler annexed Czechoslovakia.

• “In 1956 Eden launched the Suez war with strong nationalist support. It proved a disaster and soon his reputation lay in tatters.

• “In 2003 the invasion of Iraq led to a widespread outbreak of patriotic fervour – but destroyed public trust in one of Britain’s most successful and popular recent prime ministers.”

Another cautionary example is offered by my old journalist mate Denis McShane, former Labour MP and minister for Europe writing in Prospect  He dubs Theresa May’s philosophy “Rectory Toryism” which he argues looks like a return to the 1960s, “when state control of society and economy was at its apogee.” It was also the era of Harold Wilson who led Labour to a landslide in 1966.

McShane suggest this election “ may turn out to be curiously similar to that of 1966, in which Harold Wilson obtained a large majority. Worryingly for Theresa May, his government only lasted four years and Wilson lost the next election, after becoming not the master of events, but their prisoner.”

Neither Taverne nor McShane mention 1992 but to me there are echoes of John Major’s short-lived triumph. As Tim Montgomerie observed on Conservative Home some years ago,  “John Major presented the party unashamedly as the low tax party. The Tory campaign relentlessly attacked Labour … Major picked a combative party chairman. Chris Patten (who) fought against Labour with rottweiler determination.” Remind you of anyone? Lynton Crosby?

Less than six months after amassing a record 14 million votes Major saw his government implode on Black Wednesday, never to recover.

The obvious point about Taverne McShane and myself is that we all fear the worst – we believe the polls and expect Team Theresa to get their landslide.

That said, I am hoping London may buck the trend. Having done some door knocking at the weekend I am cautiously sanguine about the prospects for the re-election of the charismatic Rosena Allin Khan in Tooting. And according to a friend of the redoubtable Joan Ryan Labour in Enfield North have been buoyed by a recent council by election. Labour matched the Tories in increasing their votes by around 13 per cent as the Green and UKIP voters collapsed.

Green switchers may be less easy to detect than UKIP switchers but they could be important. In 2015 there were a group of seats where the shift of a small number of Green voters would have deprived the Tories of a gain: (Tory majority in bold) Gower 27 1161; Derby N 41 1618; Croydon C 165 1454; Bury N 378 1141; Morley&Outwood 422 1264; Plymouth S&D 523 3401; Brighton Kempton 690 3187; Weaver Vale 806 1183; Telford 730 930

If Labour are to spring any surprises on June 8th they will probably come from this list.

Don Brind


A prolonged suspension of the campaign at this critical stage is bad for democracy

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

The GE2017 campaign should be resumed by Thursday at the latest

We are just two weeks and two days from the General Election and next week, with the Spring bank holiday, sees large numbers, particularly parents of school age children, going away.

It was right that campaign activities were suspended by the parties today but things need to be restored in order to allow the proper scrutiny ahead of this huge political decision that the nation will be taking.

Michael Crick surely has it right with this Tweet

Thursday seems about right for a re-start.

GE2017 betting meanwhile is carrying on. Both Sporting Index and SpreadEx have CON 383-389 seats with LAB at 171-177.

Hopefully the suspension won’t apply to the polling.

Mike Smithson


GE2017 campaign suspended though what that means is hard to say

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

The awful events in Manchester last night have inevitably caused the general election campaign to be paused. All parties are saying that campaigning activity is being suspended.

The LDs, for instance, have told activists that until further notice, public campaigning activity – that includes canvassing, campaigning online, leaflet delivery and any street stalls should not take place.

I would assume that the broadcasters will postpone planned events which could stop UKIP leader Paul Nuttall’s Andrew Neil interview tonight.

The other set piece BBC events, the debate and Question Time specials are scheduled to begin on May 31st so I’d guess probably will go according to plan.

With the final batches of postal ballots arriving this week a lot of votes will be cast and the candidates’ freepost deliveries are all in the system and are hard to delay.

At GE2015 21% of all votes that were made were by post a large proportion of them being returned within a couple of days of being received. So this week will be a big voting week irrespective of the Manchester tragedy.

Mike Smithson


Marf on GE2017 looking a bit more competitive and TMay’s “social care” turnaround

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

As well as what’s being described as a U-turn over her manifesto pledge on social care there’ve been two new polls during the day all showing LAB making progress.

The one that has shown the biggest move is the YouGov Wales poll for ITV. The figures, if repeated, suggest that LAB’s lead over CON is now greater than it was at GE2015 in the Principality.

The one national poll so far has been ICM which is showing a similar picture of LAB progress but still a long way behind.

The betting markets have been relatively stable.

Mike Smithson


Survation phone poll has CON lead down 10 points in a week to 9% now

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Tory “squeaky bum time”? Maybe not yet

Since TMay launched her CON manifesto last Thursday we have had just three published polls where all or part of the fieldwork took place afterwards – the Sunday Times YouGov, the Mail on Sunday Survation online poll and now, this morning, a Survation phone poll for Good Morning Britain.

We’ve seen the same direction in all of them – a narrowing of the Conservative lead. This latest Survation has with changes on last week CON 43% (-5); LAB 34% (+5); LD 8% (NC); UKIP 4% (NC).

The Good Morning Britain polling series itself is highly unusual in that it covers all of the UK and not just England, Scotland and Wales. All the Northern Ireland responses were for “other” parties.

What might concern the TMay team is that that the margin over LAB that Survation is showing is getting closer to the 6.5% that David Cameron’s party achieved two years ago. If this snapshot is what happens on June 8th then there will be a CON victory with a comfortable margin but not a landslide.

This comes just as millions of electors receive their postal voting packs.

On Saturday night I “sold” the Tories on spread-betting markets at 393 seats which I’m feeling comfortable with at the moment.

There are just two and a half weeks to go which includes the bank holiday weekend and school holidays when many people will be away.

Mike Smithson


CON drops 9 seats on the spread-betting markets following the first post manifesto polling

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Spread betting is the form of gambling for those with deep pockets that are ready to take big risks and are attracted by the idea that the more you are right the more you win.

Unfortunately the converse is the case. The more you are wrong the more you lose so developments like the latest post-manifesto polling are being keenly watched by spread betting punters.

For most of the campaign the Conservative spreads have been hovering around the 400 Mark suggesting a massive majority of 170 or more.

That’s now moved a notch backwards following the publication overnight of the Survation and YouGov polling. The latter survey was carried out on Thursday and Friday so only partially reflected the post manifesto reaction.

My guess is that the downward trend could continue if other polls indicate the same trend. If not then we could see a reversal.

Mike Smithson


Suddenly this election becomes a lot more difficult to call – maybe not a CON landslide after all

Sunday, May 21st, 2017


Will TMay get her landslide or could the result be a lot tighter?

The launching of the Conservative manifesto on Thursday has changed the whole narrative of this election.

From a situation where the only real outcome that appeared possible was a very substantial Conservative majority, certainly more than 100, we now have the first post manifesto polls with the gap closing sharply.

It was very bold of the Prime Minister and her team to include items within the manifesto that were not going to appeal to large numbers and would be controversial. The thinking appeared to be that having this there with the specifics spelled out would make things easier to enact and implement after the election.

What were particularly bold were the measures that seemed to hurt that key Conservative voting group, the oldies – a segment who have been sheltered from many of the welfare cuts that younger generations are having to deal with. This was a very clear signal from Mrs May that she was going to be different.

The exemption of Scotland from the ending of winter fuel allowance for wealthy pensioners looked very tricky. Also closing down other areas of public spending such as free school meals for the for the 4-7 year olds hasn’t polled very well at all.

    Maybe this is all part of Lynton Crosby’s cunning plan? Those 20%+ poll leads could have impacted on turnout and he needs the perception to be that this is close.

    The message that’s going to key voters in the marginals is that if the Tories lost just six seats then Mr. Corbyn could end up as PM. But Project Fear GE2017-style needs the numbers to back it up.

It has been widely assumed for months that Mr. Crosby has some hard-hitting ads such as reminding voters of the Birmingham IRA bombings all ready for this moment. These will of course highlight the stances at the time of Mr. McDonnell and Mr. Corbyn.

At least the final two and half weeks are going to be much more interesting than appeared likely.

Mike Smithson


Steve Fisher’s model finds betting markets more pro-CON and anti-LAB than other projections

Saturday, May 20th, 2017

Elections Etc

At a polling conference ahead of GE2015 Prof Phil Cowley of Queen Mary University told me that it was wise not to doubt Oxford’s Prof Steve Fisher when it came to election numbers. Alas I didn’t take any notice then!

Fisher’s calculations were then pointing to a CON majority well ahead of just about everybody else and, of course, he was vindicated.

Earlier this month Steve had another good set of elections with the locals and this time I followed Phil Cowley’s wise words.

Fisher is a key member of the team general election exit poll team which enjoys a good track record. His site, linked to above, is well worth following.

The latest set of projections are in the table above and as can be seen the betting markets are giving the best CON sets numbers and the worst LAB ones. Much of the data for the betting column is coming from the spreads where the big money is wagered.

In the past the spreads ahead of election day have tended to overstate what the Tories eventually achieve. Election day betting is a different matter and I’ll no doubt turn to that on the day.

The spread firms tell me that the most activity at the moment is on LD seats. Sporting Index have them at 15-18 with Spreadex on 14-17. At the moment I can’t see any value either way.

Some of the polls tonight should reflect the impact of the CON manifesto but watch carefully for fieldwork dates. We are looking for those where it was carried out after Thursday.

Mike Smithson