Archive for the ' General Election' Category


PaddyPower makes it 3/1 that TMay won’t survive beyond the end of March

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

And it’s 2/1 that there’ll be a general election this year

A spokesman for the bookie said: “Theresa May’s time as PM has been a constant case of one step forward followed by several steps backwards – and that’s just her political viewpoints. The pressure is ramping up on May, and the odds are shortening that she’ll be ousted, prompting another General Election and – likely – another Brexit Referendum.”


2/1 General Election to be called in the UK in 2018

5/2 DUP to remove support for Conservative Government

3/1 Theresa May to be removed as Conservative Leader in Q1 2018

5/1 EU Referendum to be held in 2018

Not sure that I find any of these attractive though there might be something in the DUP bet.

Mike Smithson


Suddenly the money’s going on 2018 being the year of the next General Election

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

Exactly three weeks ago 2018 was rated as just a 3.8% on Betfair’s “Year of Next General Election” market. Tonight it has reached 18.3% and is now the third favourite.

Clearly there is an enormous amount of political turbulence and TMay might find herself in trouble should the problems with Brexit continue but I’ve not shifted my view that the election will take place as planned in 2022.

Rees-Mogg remains betting favourite for next PM.

Thanks to for the chart showing matched bets on the Betfair exchange.

Mike Smithson


The Tory headache that no one talks about – the 3.2m GE2017 CON voters who backed Remain at the referendum

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

These exceed the 2.6m GE2017 LAB leave voters by some margin

We get lots of talk about Labour having to be mindful that a significant part of its voters at the last election also voted Leave in the referendum.

But we don’t seem to hear much about what in terms of a percentage of the overall number of voters at the last election, the total of Conservative Remain voters exceeded them.

The above chart which has been highlighted by Election Data on Twitter is based on data from the BES which carried out extensive studies at both elections.

So far since the last general election the polls suggest there has been very little movement between those who voted Conservative and those who voted Labour but we cannot assume that that position will continue.

The electoral maths suggest that it is Rees-Mogg, BoJo, TMay or whoever leads the blue team at the next general election has by far the biggest challenge keeping Tory Remain voters on board.

Until yesterday, perhaps, the idea that this voting group could be susceptible to Corbyn’s Labour seemed a fantasy.

    Now the challenge is that if we do end up with a softer Brexit than the position BoJo/JRM are identified with then it is Corbyn who is seen as having made the running.

Mrs May has some very dangerous waters to navigate. Her speech this week could be crucial.

Mike Smithson


Why I won’t be surprised to see a general election or Corbyn become Prime Minister this year

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

The Sunday Times report

Three cabinet ministers warned Theresa May during private talks on Brexit at her Chequers retreat last week that her government could collapse this year.

Julian Smith, the chief whip, told May there was a “very real threat” that Labour could unite with 15 to 20 Tory rebels to defeat the government on their decision to rule out membership of a customs union.

Senior ministers say there are discussions about whether the prime minister should turn the vote into a confidence issue, threatening a general election if Tory MPs vote with the opposition.

In the same discussion Karen Bradley, the Northern Ireland secretary, warned May that the Democratic Unionists propping up the government should not be relied upon to “turn up” and vote to save her. The Brexit war cabinet even discussed the prospect of Sinn Fein’s six MPs taking their seats, a move that could dramatically erode the Tory majority.

David Davis, the Brexit secretary, told May that the emergence of Jacob Rees-Mogg as leader of the hardline Eurosceptic group of backbenchers had led to MPs “militarising” against her. Downing Street officials fear they will submit letters demanding a leadership contest if she accepts a customs union.

A few weeks ago I said Mrs May had to reject a customs union or be toppled as Prime Minister, now she’s facing the opposite situation, with the added complication of her government falling as she faces up to a no win scenario.

Yesterday Dominic Grieve, like the true patriot he is, said he was going to put the country ahead of his party, even if it meant the government falling over a customs union, I expect he is not alone on the Tory benches.

From a betting perspective I’ve started to back 2018 as the date of the next election & laying 2022 as the date of the next general election.

The other betting position I’ve taken is to minimise my potential losses on Jeremy Corbyn as next Prime Minister. If the government falls over a customs union vote there’s a chance Corbyn becomes Prime Minister without a general election.

One thing that genuinely unites the Tory party is the belief that Jeremy Corbyn would be a disastrous Prime Minister who will ruin the country long term. However some Tories may decide that managing Brexit is just too damaging for the Tories and they might abstain in a Parliamentary vote and make Corbyn PM.

Mrs May isn’t the only Tory facing a no win scenario, no wonder Mrs May has delayed the vote on a potential customs union until May.


PS – I hope the Brexit war cabinet are willing to bet on whether Sinn Féin take up their seats in Parliament, I’ll be backing the No side of this bet.


After last week’s shock YouGov 4% CON lead LAB edges back ahead

Friday, February 16th, 2018

And the female split is with the red team once again

One of the things that always seems to happen is that when a shock poll comes out it that people try to rationalise it with their own reasons and theories.

So the analysis of last week’s YouGov 4% CON lead poll showed that there had been marked move by female voters towards the Conservatives. All sorts of ideas were put forward including that maybe Labour, and Mr Corbyn, were being hit by the “MumsNet” effect because of support in the trans debate by the party.

I am told that there had been a fierce debate on Mums Net about the trans issue with huge threads and strong views being expressed.

I pointed out at the time that YouGov was alone with its women moving to CON trend and we should wait for other data.

Now we have it in the form of another YouGov poll with different top line results and gender voting split.

What we are seeing is the limitations of polling and the dangers of taking a cross tab and looking at it in isolation.

At this stage in the electoral polls are not seeking to predict the next election but acting as a barometer on current opinion.

So essentially we are where we were with the two main parties very much level pegging.

Mike Smithson


The hard way. Gaining votes is not enough

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

In some ways, the 2017 election went as expected for the Conservative party. When the election was called on 18 April, the seven polls that had been published so far that month had averaged 43.3%. When the election was held on 8 June, the Conservatives tallied 42.4%. Any soothsayer would have been happy with that degree of accuracy. This represented a net increase of 5.5% of the vote share on the 2015 result. Clearly the Conservative message gathered new recruits.

Yet the Conservatives lost seats, lost their majority and came perilously close to losing their grip on government. This was not part of the plan.

What went wrong? It’s important to note that the problem for the Conservatives was not on the vote-gathering side. For all the criticisms of Theresa May’s election campaign, the Conservatives gained votes and, as noted above, polled pretty much what you would have expected them to at the start of the campaign.

No, the problem for the Conservatives was that Labour, completely unexpectedly, got their act together. Labour’s average in those same seven polls in early April 2017 was 25.4%. On 8 June they tallied 40%, increasing their vote share by 9.6%. In the meantime, both the Lib Dems and UKIP collapsed. In early April, those two parties looked set to get more than a fifth of the vote between them. In the end, UKIP and the Lib Dems together didn’t get into double digits.

The Conservatives will reflect that winning additional support is a Pyrrhic victory if the price for doing so is to see their opponents make greater gains. One more such victory and they will indeed be lost.

What we have seen is a re-emergence of the two party system. 82.4% of the electorate voted for one or other of Labour and the Conservatives. Their combined vote share last exceeded their 2017 tally in 1970 (who knows, perhaps EU membership caused party fragmentation). This is a truly remarkable shift, given that Labour and the Conservatives last exceeded 70% combined in 2001.

It appears that Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn have between them converted most of the None Of The Above into One Of The Above, whether for positive or negative reasons. Labour have co-opted aggrieved Remain supporters and those enthused by Jeremy Corbyn and his policies. The Conservatives have brought excited Leave supporters and those horrified by Jeremy Corbyn into the fold. (Aggrieved Remain supporters who were also horrified by Jeremy Corbyn and excited Leave supporters who were enthused by Jeremy Corbyn appear to have broken mainly for Labour in each case.)

The net effect has left Labour and the Conservatives at something close to parity. Neither on reflection should be particularly happy about this state of affairs. The scope for squeezing other parties further looks limited outside Scotland. There is always the possibility of converting non-voters into voters, but 2017 non-voters are going to need to be given a reason that they did not then possess for getting out to the polling booth. The nature of such a reason is not immediately obvious.

So for either to be able to gain a solid overall majority, in all likelihood it is going to need to see the other main party’s 2017 coalition disintegrate or at least flake away. And this needs to happen while they hold their own coalition together. That is quite a balancing act.

There has been a lot of commentary on the static nature of the polls at present. Why is this surprising? The two drivers of votes last year, Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn, remain much as they were. Britain has not yet left the EU, the terms on which it will do so have not yet been agreed and so few have changed their minds about the merits of Brexit. Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn remains in situ.

By the time of the next election, the date of Brexit will in all probability be a historical event. Britain, however, will probably still be in the throes of negotiating its longterm deal with the EU. That process hasn’t actually started yet, though you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise. If you’re sick of hearing about Brexit now, I suggest you stock up on antiemetics for the next decade.

Will the public have decisively changed its mind about Brexit? Candidly, I doubt it. The two sides have become ever more entrenched and the government has done nothing to heal divisions. I can easily imagine Brexit being as strong a driver of votes, especially on the Remain side. One B-Day has passed, Leavers might, however, move onto other subjects of concern which might not be so naturally addressed by the Conservatives. This looks distinctly awkward for the Conservatives.

What of the other vote driver, Jeremy Corbyn? He will by 72 by the time the next election is due. Will he really stand for a five year term as Prime Minister in 2022? It can’t be ruled out but my guess is that he would prefer if he could to pass the baton onto a reliable member of the next generation.

If I’m right, both the pro-Corbyn part of Labour’s coalition and the anti-Corbyn part of the Conservatives’ coalition will be far shakier than before. That would probably be riskier for Labour than the Conservatives, given Jeremy Corbyn’s seven nation army appeal to younger voters. If I’m wrong, Britain will see stasis on the other vote-driver from 2017 as well.

To sum up, after a period of volatility Britain might be about to see a period of trench warfare, with neither side making substantial advances and both struggling to consolidate their recent gains. If so, we can expect to see both sides going over the top regularly and a constant feeling of senseless waste.

Alastair Meeks


Case Not Proven: The suggestion that there’s been a LAB>CON shift amongst women

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

This has only been picked up by YouGov

With the apparent sharpish shifts that we’ve seen in recent days in the polls to the Conservatives there has, inevitably, been a lot of examination of the detailed data.

One thing that’s featured is there’s said to have been a noticeable move by women voters from LAB to CON who, in recent times, have mostly leaned more to Labour. This has led to a lot of speculation as to why this has happened including one suggestion that Jeremy Corbyn had alienated the Mumsnet audience over transgender issues!

The discussion come out of detailed analysis of the latest YouGov/Times poll that had CON overall 4 points ahead.

In order to establish whether others pollsters have found the same I’ve produced the above chart based on the datasets which have just come out.

This is based on the three polls so far in February:

Opinium/Observer; fieldwork Feb 6-8; sample 2002
YouGov, fieldwork Feb 5-6; sample 2000
ICM, fieldwork Feb 2-4; sample 2021

The chart is self-explanatory. YouGov is showing very different gender splits from ICM and Opinium. It might be that YouGov is supported by other polling but at the moment there’s nothing to reinforce the analysis based on one poll.

There’s an aspect of male-female splits in polling that is quite important. Women have a tendency to be less certain about their likelihood to vote which means their responses are discounted in the certainty computations. So the numbers we see have a male response bias which is not supported by actual voting behaviour.

Has there been a move as described? Maybe. Maybe not. We need to see it in more polls.

Mike Smithson


The star who plays a LAB MP in tonight’s new BBC political thriller is worried about state of the party

Monday, February 12th, 2018

Why Don Brind thinks he shouldn’t be

David Mars is a Labour MP worried about the state of his party and at odds with his leader. Described as a “frustrated but hard-working member of the shadow cabinet” the central character in tonight’s BBC2 thriller Collateral “despairs at the state of the Labour Party and many of its policies .. he’s not afraid to be outspoken and on more than one occasion he finds himself in hot water with the party leader.”

John Simms, the man who plays the fictional MP, is also worried about what he sees as Labour’s ineffectiveness. He told the Big Issue  “Everything is all fucked. And until Trump leaves the Oval Office, I will not think we are not fucked,” he says.

“Every day I am expecting the end of the world. It is terrifying. I despair. Like most people, I am horrified by all of it at the moment.

“This government is in disarray, and I can’t see any immediate challenge from Labour, really. They are standing in front of an open goal and no one is really putting it in the net.”

You wouldn’t have to go far at Westminster to find a real life Labour MP to echo the worries of John Simms and his character. Even before the run of recent polls showing the Tories in the lead there was a nagging concern that Labour is level pegging with this uniquely incompetent government.

“Why, then, is the leadership not more depressed? The question is posed and answered by the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush, the journalist you turn to for the best insights into what is going on in Team Corbyn.

The leader’s inner circle, he says, reckon last year’s election realigned politics – the trouble is “that realignment wasn’t enough to deliver a Labour government.” The reason they remain upbeat, says Bush, “is a belief that time favours Labour. The government will have to deliver a Brexit deal that falls short of May’s rhetoric, the public realm, particularly the NHS, will continue to be under growing pressure, and the housing market will continue to shut out growing numbers of voters under 45.”

    Another way of putting it is that Team Corbyn believe are doing the right things and will eventually get the reward.

For instance, having recently chided Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott for not campaigning hard enough on crime I was delighted to see her boss get stuck into the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions – winning this plauditfrom Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul: “ I never thought I’d say it but Jeremy Corbyn manipulates PMQs brilliantly. Simply by raising the subject of crime, Corbyn is winning.”

More substantially there is a great deal of policy development going on, some of which was on show at last weekend’s Alternative Models of Ownership conference. The top line was the assertion by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell that public ownership would have zero cost for taxpayers.

A friend who attended the conference was mightily impressed by John McDonnell’s “careful and reasonable-sounding presentation”.

For the record, my friend is not easily impressed – definitely not a Corbynista rather a very savvy, business-friendly former MP.

What came across was that “while the Tories were obsessing about Brexit and who was going to be their next leader, Labour was putting together a serious agenda for government.”

The plan is to use Labour’s powers at council level effectively (especially if Labour win more in May’s elections) to make the blueprint for municipalisation work. “This would improve Labour’s electoral chances even more.”

On the issue of privatisation and outsourcing “McDonnell accused the Tories of dogma and an ideological commitment to an idea they knew didn’t work. The alternative model being presented was free of dogma and ideology but was looking at “what works” (very Blair).”

The verdict on the conference — “The Labour Party seems to have a very clear strategy of what it needs to do between now and the general election while no-one else seems to.

So how to answer John Simm’s point that Labour can’t put the ball into an empty net? What more could Team Corbyn be doing at the moment?

The answer, rather boringly, is Not Much.

Don Brind