Archive for the 'Corbyn' Category


Corbyn would be taking a huge gamble going into an election so out of step with LAB voters on Brexit

Friday, January 11th, 2019

Yesterday in what was billed as his “big Brexit speech” LAB leader Corbyn called for a general election should TMay lose fail to win backing for her Brexit deal in the vote next week. But he’s been far more reluctant to allow Labour to give any backing to the increasing clamours for a specific referendum on the deal.

As is widely known Corbyn has been anti the EU just about all his political career and he’s not going to change now – a position that could be very dangerous at a general election whenever it is held. For the vast majority of those who vote for his party have a very different view of the EU from him.

The chart above is based on data from the mega-poll with a 25k sample from YouGov that was published a few days ago. The question featured is how LAB voters would vote if there was a new referendum.

    I’d suggest that a party leader who is so out of line from what the bulk of his party’s support base wants is treading a very difficult path.

At GE2017 Corbyn was very much helped by the general perception tha LAB didn’t stand an earthly and he came under very little scrutiny. Next time that will be very different.

Mike Smithson


Even if Labour secures an early election it is hard to see how the party wins It

Monday, January 7th, 2019

Corbyn needs CON converts which isn’t happening

The main objective of Labour, we are told, during this period of extreme uncertainty over Brexit is to secure an early General Election. To do that it will need to win enough backing for a confidence motion that defeats the government that is not rescinded within two weeks.

The MP totals for each party make that very difficult except if some means can be created for the DUP’s 10 MPs to back Labour on the confidence vote.

My guess is that the long-standing antagonism of the DUP towards Corbyn’s approach to Northern Ireland is going to make it very hard for them to join a move that causes an election and a possible Corbyn government.

One interesting theory that was going round over the weekend was that LAB MPs would abstain when Theresa May’s EU deal finally gets put to the Commons thus ensuring that the UK leaves the EU on March 29th. Those developing the theory hope that this would encourage the DUP to back an early election move.

Even assuming we get to the point where the country is going to vote in a 2019 general election there is not a lot to suggest that LAB is in a position to gain enough seats to come out as top party. The party’s gains in 2017 were down to non-voters actually turning out and anti-Brexit tactical voting.

    What we didn’t see then and are unlikely to see now is evidence of many CON voters switching to LAB. However split on Brexit the Tories might be that is not causing blue to red voting moves.

Also there’s be zero sign of any LAB recovery in Scotland and some recent projections have them losing to the SNP almost all of the seats gained at GE2017. There’s another factor that hasn’t been discussed – oldie turnout numbers returning to GE2015 levels which will very much reinforce the CON vote.

So GE2019, if it happens, is not going to be a piece of cake for Labour.

Mike Smithson


New polling finds just 28% of GE2017 LAB voters support the party’s stance on Brexit

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

And Corbyn slumps to a post-GE2017 YouGov leader rating low

New polling data just made available on the YouGov website shows the scale of the gamble LAB is taking with the party’s stance on Brexit. To the question “Do you support or oppose the stance that the Labour party have taken towards Brexit?” GE2017 LAB voters split by 28% to 25% on whether they supported or opposed.

This is an incredibly low proportion given how important Brexit dominates current politics and the question must be asked whether the leadership could be heading for electoral trouble by refusing to countenance a new referendum.

The poll also has the latest YouGov leader meeting in which those sampled are asked to state whether various party leaders are doing well or badly. Overall 33% thought TMay was doing well 56% saying badly – a net minus 23%. On Corbyn the split was 19% well to 62% – a net minus 43% and his worst figures since GE2017.

    Amongst LAB voters at GE2017 41% said Corbyn was doing well and 45% said badly – a net minus 4%. This is quite extraordinary because you’d expect party voters from 20 months ago to be having a positive view of the leadership.

Until now Labour’s strategic ambivalence on Brexit has seemed to work. These latest numbers suggest that this is failing to resonate with voters that the party must keep next time if it is to have any hope of being in government.

Mike Smithson


Matters of confidence. What to expect if the government loses a vote of no confidence

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

Care to make it interesting? As if politics wasn’t already volatile enough, the government faces the persistent threat of a vote of no confidence. Jeremy Corbyn made a complete ass of himself and several of his most senior colleagues before the Christmas break with an on-off-on-again-off-again vote of no confidence, but he will have other opportunities.

The current government is a minority government, kept in power through the offices of the DUP. Right now, however, the DUP are not happy. They loathe the proposed deal and are making ominous noises. So far those fall short of agreeing to support a vote of no confidence but that might change. Some of the Conservative hardline Brexiters might not be unhappy at that prospect either.  

Equally, some of the more fervent Europhile Conservative MPs might consider their options if Britain looks definitively to be heading for no deal. The government is undeniably vulnerable.

What happens if the government loses such a vote? A clock starts ticking. Either another government succeeds in getting a vote of confidence past the House of Commons in 14 days or there will be a general election.

Yes that’s all well and good, but who gets to choose? The single most important thing to realise is that Theresa May does not necessarily need to step down immediately. Precedent isn’t much help – there have been just three votes of no confidence in the last 100 years and only one since the Second World War.

In the past, votes of no confidence have led to swift changes of government or dissolutions of Parliament. However, even then, the government did not need to step down immediately. In 1979, Parliament was not dissolved for another week, Now the matter is set out by statute, so Theresa May can argue that she can stay in situ and let everyone explore the alternatives in the time available.

With that in mind, Theresa May could seek to hold office in the very short term to allow effective exploration of the options. (She might even try herself. As leader of the party with the most seats and the incumbent, she would have the authority to do this. Ted Heath and Gordon Brown both exercised their right as incumbent to seek to form a government for some time despite being only the second party in Parliament. Theresa May’s claim to continue to seek to do so would be comparable to either of theirs.)

If she did, she would not be the only one trying.  If this kicked off in January, there could be at least six camps. As well as Theresa May, there would be Conservative loyalists seeking to establish whether the majority could be reconstructed simply by replacing her. There would be hardline Leavers looking to establish a no-deal government. Jeremy Corbyn would be looking to form a Labour minority government. There would be unreconciled Remainers looking to relitigate the 2016 referendum. And there would be some MPs who would simply want the general election straight away. Perhaps there would be other camps.

These groups would overlap and different MPs would have different second and third preferences. Institutionally the two main party leaders would have strong advantages because they are entitled to call on the loyalty of their nominal Parliamentary supporters. In practice both would struggle more than usual. Theresa May has already had a visible demonstration of the lack of confidence of over a third of her MPs. Jeremy Corbyn could only wish for such levels of loyalty.

Let’s return to the single most important thing. Theresa May does not need to step down. If no other candidate in her judgement looks likely to command a majority she could in theory try to see the clock tick down and proceed to a general election. Theresa May has always used time as a weapon. She might do so again.

In practice my assessment of Theresa May, a woman who appears to feel her duty keenly, is that if she could not form a government she would not stand in the way of a candidate who stood a fair chance. It would be her responsibility as Prime Minister to advise the Queen on who she should call for next. I expect she would do so according to her best assessment of the lay of the land. As an instinctive conservative, she would want to help the monarchy as best she could.

Theresa May could not be expected to hurry to that point though: she never has believed in hurrying. It would not help Jeremy Corbyn if the time established that he was not going to able to command a majority: as she is a Conservative as well as a conservative, this would be a welcome effect for her.

Conversely, extra time might help the unreconciled Remainers whose support spans four or more parties in identifying a potential candidate to lead them and a prospectus to sell to possible supporters. The experience of the 2016 Labour leadership challenge is that on the Labour side at least those MPs are poorly organised when time is of the essence. They chose a weak candidate by a shambolic process who was comfortably defeated – perhaps they have planned better this time around but candidly I doubt it.   

This is perhaps their biggest obstacle – if they are to persuade foot soldiers of the two main parties to work with them, they are going to need to offer someone who they will feel good about getting behind even on a limited prospectus. The problem is easier to identify than the solution.

The party hierarchies would have time to issue such threats as they thought would be effective. We would soon find out what was left of party discipline. With the stakes so high, my guess is that both parties would find their structures under severe strain.

A lot of briefing and disinformation would be done through the media during this period. For that reason, we should consider now what different groupings really want or would settle for. For example, what would the DUP like best? My guess is that they would be very happy to have another general election to see the clock tick down on a no-deal Brexit and will vote accordingly – some of the hardline Leave Conservative MPs might well try to do the same thing.  

What about the SNP?  They have a hard call to make – do they seek to support Jeremy Corbyn as the rope supports the hanged man, do they support a fresh referendum establishing the principle that generations can be very short indeed, or, like the DUP, do they also seek a general election with all the chaos that would produce? On balance I think they will look for a fresh referendum, but I might easily be wrong about that.

And what of the quiet pragmatic MPs in both main parties? Would they countenance an outcome that led to no deal Brexit? They would have a huge decision: would they throw in their lot with their party hierarchies and risk no-deal or would they seek a different outcome at the risk of their careers and their party loyalties?

Don’t forget the single most important thing, Theresa May’s role. She is not a chess piece, she has agency. If she is unable to form a government on her own terms, her own second or third preference might ultimately prove crucial. Might she ultimately offer herself as a temporary Prime Minister to effect a second referendum? It might solve several problems at once, while creating many more. What, ultimately, is her best alternative to a negotiated agreement in these circumstances?

It would be, I confess, utterly fascinating. The temptation to put pennies on the railway lines, just to see what would happen, must be enormous for deeply unhappy MPs. The risk of a train wreck would be huge. Buckle up.

Alastair Meeks


This could have been the moment that Cameron and his mother ensured Corbyn would one day become PM

Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

After the referendum Dave’s worst blunder as leader?

Just before Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader in September 2015 I wrote a piece for PB offering Jeremy Corbyn some fashion advice. That piece was inspired by the fact that earlier on that summer I had visited the House of Commons and has seen Jeremy Corbyn living up to the Steptoe Corbyn meme and I wasn’t sure to give Corbyn some loose change.

It wasn’t just me who thought Corbyn had dire fashion tastes, in 2016 British men voted Corbyn as the worst dressed public figure. Corbyn himself referenced his poor fashion choices in this tweet in February 2016.

But since then his fashion sense choices have improved as evidenced in the picture below.

So what triggered this fashion chrysalis in Corbyn? It was David Cameron in the video atop this thread telling Corbyn that his mother would tell Corbyn to ‘put on a proper suit, do up your tie and sing the national anthem’.

Since then Corbyn fashion tastes have improved, it is clear he heeded the advice of the Camerons. He now looks like a Prime Minister in waiting, and who can blame Corbyn for listening to David Cameron, in 2016 the public voted Cameron as the best dressed politician in the country.

If Cameron hadn’t made this intervention I suspect Corbyn’s fashion choices would not have improved and he’d have continued to dress like Harry Enfield’s caricature of Scousers. Now he dresses like a Prime Minister in waiting and a reason why he did so well at the 2017 general election. There’s no way the country would choose a scruff to be Prime Minister.



Corbyn’s “Brexit goes ahead if LAB won snap election” arouses furious response from many witihn his party

Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

Mike Smithson


This surely hits the nail on the head – Corbyn would prefer TMay’s deal to go through than risk another referendum

Saturday, December 22nd, 2018

With this tweet Keiran Pedley, of the PB/Polling Matters podcast sets out what to my mind is a very strong pointer.

From the LAB leadership point of view the last thing they want is another referendum and if pushed they’d prefer the prime minister’s deal to go through if that was what was required to avoid it.

    Corbyn has been a long-standing opponent of the EU and his half-hearted stance during the campaign is testament to that. Remember that on the day after the referendum in June 2016 Corbyn was calling for article 50 to be invoked immediately – hardly what you’d expect from somebody who ostensibly voted Remain.

I’m beginning to think that TMay might not be facing the same struggle to get the deal through the commons as perhaps it looked at before the parliamentary recess.

We dealt with the position of the DUP yesterday and they are surely not going to take action which could possibly lead to a united Ireland. TMay can call their bluff.

Add onto that Keiran’s idea that there might even be unauthorised support for the deal from some of Corbyn’s own MPs the idea of it passing does not seem far-fetched.

So I’m now betting that the agreement will be passed by MPs in Q1 2019.

Mike Smithson


Why Corbyn could be the one to extend Article 50 in the New Year

Saturday, December 22nd, 2018

The Brexit vote could give him a few days of government – what would he do with it?

FTPA doesn’t just stand for Fixed Term Parliaments Act; it can equally be Freedom to Piss About, which seems appropriate given the casually reckless approach taken to the Brexit ratification process by just about all sides.

The government willingly risks no deal as a bargaining tactic to better the chances of its own deal being agreed; Labour willingly risks it to increase the chances of an election; the Lib Dems will vote against to try to force a Remain outcome; the SNP will vote against (with a little more logic) on the mandate from Scotland, but still risk No Deal all the same; the DUP risk a united Ireland by being willing to tolerate No Deal; Tory Brexiteer rebels risk a Labour government by splitting their own Party so divisively. Sure, getting the right deal is a high reward game but is it really one to justify such high stakes?

When parliament does return, the focus will inevitably return to whether the government can win the ratifying vote on the Withdrawal Agreement and Future Arrangement. In effect, that means whether enough Labour MPs will back it to counter the Tory rebels because without Labour MPs in sizable numbers, it will fail.

Let’s assume the vote does fail, and let’s assume further that the government loses a Vote of No Confidence the following day. This second contingency is relatively unlikely but far from impossible. My working assumption is that if the vote does go down, May will – true to form – say that ‘nothing has changed’ and that the deal remains on the table, there is neither the time nor the political space within the EU to deliver a different deal, and that while the government will continue to prepare for No Deal (and may at that point make it its central planning assumption), it will still look to get the original deal ratified. This could be enough to prompt the DUP and/or a small number of Tory Remainers to bring down the government.

Which is where things get even more interesting on a number of levels. What happens if a government is No Confidenced? The simple answer is that we don’t know. We know what used to happen: it either resigned or requested a dissolution. That can no longer happen because the FTPA mandates a two-week period during which parliament can stave off an early election by passing confidence in a government – plenty of time to indulge in the Act’s alternative name.

One provision of the Act would become of critical importance though: that for an alternative government to receive the confidence of parliament, it must already be in office. The motion that the Commons must pass is:

“That this House has confidence in Her Majesty’s Government.”

That’s not a vote in a prospective government, or a list of proposed ministers, or in an individual to form a government; it is in the government on the day of the vote.

What that implies, assuming that the House doesn’t do a U-turn on the previous government (which itself isn’t entirely impossible in current circumstances), is that the Act assumes that the Palace could – perhaps should – invite one or more politicians during that two-week period to try their hand at forming a government and winning the Commons’ confidence. There can be no doubt that if May was given the thumbs down, Corbyn would be focally demanding the chance to try.

My expectation is that unless there was an extremely rapid turnaround within the Tory Party to elect a new leader who then received the endorsement of the DUP (and any rebel MPs from the previous vote), the Queen would invite Corbyn. This would be the safest option from the Palace’s point of view, maintaining impartiality and leaving it to him to convince the Commons.  It would also be in line with precedent. Specifically:

  • – In 2010, Cameron was invited before the deal with the Lib Dems was concluded;
  • – In 1974, Wilson became PM without any understanding with the Liberals, SNP or N Ireland MPs being demanded beforehand;
  • – In 1924, MacDonald formed a government with no formal deal with the Liberals;
  • – In 1916, Lloyd George became PM well before it was clear that he would be able to form a government;
  • – In 1905, Campbell-Bannerman was invited to form a minority government when Balfour resigned.

By contrast, the only alternative for May would be to attempt to run down the clock having already been No Confidenced, which would look appalling (remember the accusations against Brown in 2010 of ‘squatting’ in Number Ten after only a couple of days, while talks still went on?), and likely cause a lot of disquiet at the Palace.

Corbyn would, presumably, be expected to face a Confidence vote himself (it would look equally absurd for him to try to run the clock down and prompt an election), but that needn’t happen immediately – he would surely be given a day or two to form a government before having to submit to its ratification.

And therein lies the Brexit angle. Governments have lots of powers to act independently of parliament, even ones whose foundations are extremely uncertain. And a PM with all the powers could request of the EU an extension to Article 50 (though not a revocation, which would almost certainly require an Act of Parliament).

Might Corbyn do that? Might the EU agree? We don’t and can’t know but we should be open to the possibilities, given the consequences both for the country and (more narrowly) for betting markets on whether Britain will have left by the end of March 29.

There is, of course, a lot of speculation in all this. We’re talking third- and fourth-order contingencies. Even so, if there is a clear and credible route to that outcome, we ought to take it seriously.

David Herdson