Archive for the ' General Election' Category


New study finds that in the key general election marginals candidates with local links are likely to have an edge

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

There’s a fascinating report in the Times this morning linked to in the Tweets above about a study by the Think Tank, Demos, on the local links of the 650 MPs elected to the House of Commons on June 8th.

By local Demos defined it as being born, educated or living within 20km of the constituency and the results on the seats that changed handed are striking.

    Of the 28 seats that LAB gained all but two were won by candidates with local links. Of the six seats that went from LAB to CON all of them were won by locals.

Looking at the main two party headcount fewer than a third (32.7%) of Tory MPs are local compared with 64.8% of LAB ones.

The numbers do not surprise me because at the very margin in key battlegrounds just a few hundred votes which might come from local links can make all the difference. The last election was characterised by many more extremely tight races than we have seen at previous elections.

What this does suggest, however, is that in heartland seats with big majorities then there is less need to choose a local.

I live in the ultra marginal of Bedford which has changed hands at two of the past three general elections and all main parties have been careful to choose contenders who meet the local test.

Mike Smithson


Vince Cable slams TMay over bogus student immigration figures which “came on her watch”

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

Coalition battles revived

Vince Cable, the LD leader who as Coalition Business Secretary had responsibility for universities, has attacked TMay, following the news that student immigration figures are nothing like on the scale that the government had previously thought.

As reported in the media earlier new figures have been published based on exit checks from UK ports, that show that 97% cent of foreign students, 4.6k left the UK after finishing their studies.

This compares with the 100k estimate that was previously used. Cable doesn’t mince his words:-

“This debacle happened on Theresa May’s watch at the Home Office. I spent five years in coalition battling her department’s bogus figures on this issue but she responded by erecting a wall of visa restrictions on an entirely false basis.

Cabinet Brexiteers fought a referendum campaign on a flawed prospectus, scapegoating foreign students who weren’t even here, and demonising EU citizens who are now leaving the country voluntarily.

No wonder the government has announced a review into the impact of foreign students because its economically disastrous policy was based on figures that were out by 96%…”

The universities have argued strongly over the years that overseas student bring economic benefits, have a big impact on the fee revenue at many institutions and that it was wrong to include them in official immigration figures.

Given the importance of controlling immigration in TMay’s interpretation of what the Brexit referendum meant this is a big political issue. The Scottish Tory leader whose 12 gains north of the border on June 8th saved the situation for TMay, has argued strongly against TMay on the issue.

Mike Smithson


How leading Tories did in their own seats at the General Election

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

Why I was wrong about Rudd

Over the past few weeks when discussing Amber Rudd’s chances of succeeding TMay I have broadly dismissed those who have said the tightness of her majority in Hastings (346) rules her out of becoming leader. My argument had been that leaders generally do better in their own constituency than their party because of things like local pride.

Not so has been the response of a couple of PBers who have been in touch to suggest I look at how other major Tory figures did on June 8th.

So my chart above is a response to that and I have to acknowledge that my critics were right and I was wrong.

In putting it together I’ve been struck by the huge variation in what happened in the range of seats which is very much a product of the nature of GE2017 itself. This was a very different election than we’ve become used to.

So Justine Greening’s position as the worst performer reflects the huge LAB success in London where, of course, her Putney constituency is located.

Jeremy Hunt’s outcome is striking but maybe that is just part of being a Conservative Health Sec.

Mike Smithson


Hung Parliaments are becoming the norm and we have to get used to it

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

Inevitably it means governments that are weak and limited

The British political system has a reputation for producing strong governments. It is often seen as one of its virtues. For a long time, it was true. From December 1918, the first election in which women could vote, until February 1974, a single party had a majority in the House of Commons for all bar 3 years 3 months of that period.

Times have moved on, though many seem not to have noticed. Since February 1974, Britain has had hung Parliaments on five separate occasions. If this Parliament runs to full term, Britain will have had a hung Parliament for 10 years out of 12. Even during the interlude between 2015 and 2017, the Conservatives only had an ethereal majority.

We might well expect another hung Parliament at the next election too: it is rare for parties in government to gain seats at subsequent elections, particularly where that party has been in government for more than one term, while Labour would need a uniform national swing to them of more than 3% (they achieved half of that at the last election). So in a decade’s time the idea of an elected dictatorship that we used to hear so much about could be a distant memory.

We need to get out of the mindset of thinking of such governments being transient phenomena. They might well be the new normal. What does that mean for the nature of Britain’s government?

It doesn’t automatically have to mean weak government: from 2010-15 Britain had a strong and stable coalition. However, the fate of the junior partners in that coalition in 2015 will act as a powerful deterrent against future coalitions for many years to come. Outside times of national crisis, we can expect minority governments propped up with confidence and supply from minor parties whenever we have a hung Parliament.

So governments will be particularly vulnerable to being pushed around by flash mob opposition. This will be a particular problem for Conservative minority governments: because most of the other parties in Parliament dress to the left, Labour minority governments would often be able to rustle up support on an ad hoc basis even from parties outside the normal confidence and supply arrangements. Governments will struggle to keep finances under control: it is always easier to amass a majority in a hung Parliament for spending money than for saving it.

Policy-making will be chronically incoherent. What reaches the statute books will be driven less by what makes for a coherent policy framework and more by what can be steered through Parliament. Ministers will bring forward only legislation that they have some expectation of getting passed. Law-making will slow down. Eye-catching initiatives will be administrative steps taken under reference to existing laws rather than new legislation that might come under inconveniently harsh scrutiny.

Special interests with substantial backing in Parliament will do well. The DUP have already hauled home a swagload of booty for Northern Ireland in return for their limited support. They are trailblazers for untroubled pork-barrelling. The Lib Dems and the SNP might well reflect on what they might have been able to secure for their base if they had not been so resolutely opposed to dealing with the Conservatives. But this applies within the party of government as well as outside it when particular groups have points of principle to press. This will lead to the deepening of factions within parties of government.

A more positive way of summing up the last three paragraphs is to say that Parliament’s importance is increasing again. This should have the effect of increasing the relative importance of individual MPs, which might in turn help them re-evaluate which are the most important aspects of their role.

When crisis points are reached, major decisions with far-reaching consequences will be made in haste and through expediency or necessity. We have already seen examples of this. The West’s failure to intervene in Syria in 2013 can be traced directly to the then government’s failure to secure Parliamentary support for the idea.. Was this a good thing or a bad thing? That will no doubt be debated for many years to come. But it flowed from the Parliamentary arithmetic.

So to sum up, we are living through a period when governments are historically weak and limited, unable to move speedily or to impose coherence on policy, where major decisions will be taken without any central planning. Good job that Britain doesn’t face any major challenges any time soon then.

Alastair Meeks


Theresa’s Tories still being hit by the GE2017 branding gamble

Monday, August 21st, 2017

No post election poll has matched the CON election share which itself was seen as a disappointment

It was noticing the photograph above of the Conservative battle bus at the general election that reminded me what a huge gamble the blue team made at the last election by putting everything on Theresa May.

Notice that on the bus the words Conservative or Tory don’t appear. The election was going to be all about Theresa but as it turned out by polling day this was no longer a positive but a significant negative.

This was brought home to me by a recent conversation with a regular non-posting PBer PB and Lib Dem canvasser who was working hard throughout April May and early June for his party. He noted that in April and early May often when they knocked on a Conservative supporter’s door they were likely to get the response that people will be voting for Theresa. It was she that was being named and not her party.

By the end of the campaign the tone was completely different. When voters specifically mentioned the PM the term they used was “her” who they were defiantly not voting for.

Since June 8th the Tories have yet to poll above 42% which is 1.5% below what they achieved at GE17 and markedly below what most final polls were saying.

Given the way the polls were in early May backed up by superb Conservative local election results you can understand why the “Brand Theresa” strategy was evolved. Unfortunately as people got to know her better her personal rating declined and now they are in deep negative territory.

Can she pull it round? That’s hard to say but it doesn’t look good and the widespread assumption is that GE2017 was her first and last as leader.

Mike Smithson


The good news for TMay’s successor is that her party’s due to exceed expectations next time

Saturday, August 19th, 2017

The pattern appears to be clear

One of the great things about monitoring election betting is that it gives you a good indication of what expectations were at a particular time and these can be interesting to look back at.

The above is taken from what the spread betting seat levels were immediately before the five general elections since the millennium.

As is shown in the chart the Tories seem to alternate between exceeding expectations or falling short of them.

As we all know Team TMay went into election day in June fully expecting to secure an increased majority. This was in sharp contrast to GE2015 when the expectation was that Cameron would certainly win most seats but would struggle to reach the magical total if 326 seats. He got 332.

Five years earlier at GE2010 the polls were narrowing but it was on the margin as to whether a majority would be achieved. ATories were 19 seats short.

At GE2005 the polls did exceptionally well but Michael Howard’s Tories managed to do better than expectations.

Four years earlier at GE2001 William Hague went into the election having “won” the Euros in 1999. The feeling was that the blues would make some progress from the 1997 hammering by Tony Blair. They closed the vote gap by 3.5% but only increased their seat total by one.

If this alternating pattern continues then at the next election the Tories should do better than expectations.

Mike Smithson


When TMay apologists try to excuse her GE17 humiliation by bragging about increased CON vote share show them this chart

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

It’s the relationship with the LAB vote that matters

In the run up to the CON conference at the start of October you are going to hear a lot about about how the Tory national vote share on June 8th went up to levels higher than Mrs Thatcher achieved with the implication that it wasn’t quite as bad as might appear.

This is a desperate effort to try to whitewash TMay’s disastrous decision to go to the country three years early and the fact that that under the scrutiny of a general election campaign she became huge electoral negative.

    The increased vote share bragging would have been a big deal except for one simple fact that the apologists try to gloss over – the LAB vote went up by much more.

This was the main reason why the party had 25 net seat losses in England and Wales a figure that was partly ameliorated by Ruth Davidson’s 12 Scottish CON gains.

South of the border the main detriment of seat gains and losses was the CON vote relationship with the LAB share. Only ten of the 572 seats in England and Wales were not won by Labour or the Conservatives.

All this is why it is the CON vote relationship with LAB that matters so much.

The chart, which I’ve presented here in a different form before seeks to look at the relationship between between the two main parties by looking at historical splits in the LAB+CON vote aggregate.

As can be seen on this measure TMay certainly did better than the Tories in the Blair years but worse than David Cameron in both 2010 and 2015.

The big vote move on June 8th was the collapse of UKIP something that was widely thought would help TMay most. It didn’t hence the losses.

Mike Smithson


The August 2017 silly season continues – Ladbrokes now taking bets on “the Democrats” for the next General Election

Monday, August 14th, 2017

The party doesn’t even exist yet

I’m always impressed by the way bookies can sometimes create markets that appear to be designed to appeal to the wishful thinking of some punters. Today sees Ladbrokes offering 250/1 on the “Democrats” , currently a theoretical party suggested in a Tweet by James Chapman, winning most seats at the next general election.

Much as personally I want to remain in the EU I’m not tempted by the bet.

Mike Smithson