Archive for the 'Corbyn' Category


In spite of her general election humiliation TMay still leads in the “who’d make the best PM” polling

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

Corbyn isn’t seen as an alternative

There’s little doubt that if the general election had been on May 4th, local election day, then Mrs. May would have got her landslide. The general election polling that was coming out at the time with leads of 15%/20% was broadly reflected in the way that the country voted in the range of elections on that day. The build up to that Thursday, and her dramatic visit to the Palace on May 3rd and speech in Downing Street afterwards very much set the tone for the elections the following day.

In the run up to May 4th TMay had leads over Corbyn in the best PM polling of 30-40%. Anything in the general election five weeks later seemed possible.

Party workers in the May local elections were being told on the doorstep that their choice was just “Theresa” – her brand had extraordinary support and went way beyond just the Conservatives.

    Is it any wonder then that Lynton Crosby’s £4m campaign for the Tories advised that making her the main plank of the Tory campaign was the right way to go. She was an electoral phenomenon and he sought to cash in on it.

Unfortunately for the blue team there were still five weeks to go and when TMay faced the serious scrutiny of a general election campaign she moved from being an electoral asset to an electoral liability. Her inability to interact comfortably with ordinary people became more apparent as the days went by and her refusal to take part in a TV debate with Corbyn in the closing stages was a huge mistake as the BES polling has shown.

So in spite of her overall public image taking a battering because of the result it is striking that when pollsters ask ho they think would make the best PM they do not choose Corbyn. He’s only led in one poll since the election.

Mike Smithson


Corbyn’s the one that’s most out of line with his party on Brexit

Monday, August 7th, 2017

YouGov Aug 1 2017 poll

The contradiction can’t continue

While all the focus has been on the leadership machinations within the Conservative Party Labour is getting a free ride at the moment.

One things that Theresa May has got right is that her position is very much in line with the party support base as the the latest YouGov BREXIT tracker shows.

Corbyn’s view on the biggest issue of all is not shared by his voters or, as recent polling has shown, the party’s membership.

Once the post GE2017 red team celebrations have calmed this is going to become increasingly apparent. The coming parliamentary session is going to be dominated by the negotiations and the repeal repeal that there will come a time surely where Corbyn’s ambivalence will become a big issue.

    Just because Corbyn has got away with being out of line so far doesn’t mean it will continue.

In the election campaign Labour was never subject to proper scrutiny because the widespread assumption was that the party was irrelevant. The Tories were going to be returned with a big majority.

As the BES polling showed opposition to Brexit was a big driver of the Labour vote.

PaddyPower have a market on which of May and Corbyn will quit first. The former is 1/12 while Corbyn is 6/1. He could be the value bet.

Mike Smithson


The next election will be decided in Britain, not Venezuela

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

The public is not bothered about Corbyn’s past endorsements (even if it should be)

Unless Theresa May or her successor can overturn over a trend well over a century old, Labour will form the next government. Quite simply, once governments start losing seats from one election to the next, they continue losing seats until they’re in opposition. And not only did the Conservatives lost seats at the last election but the result was so tight that any further loss would make their position impossible.

Defeating that trend will be no small task. It exists for strong reasons. The longer a government is in place, the more responsibility it has to take for the state of the country; the longer a government has lasted, the more people it is likely to have upset; governments tend to promote able administrators while oppositions elevate campaigners, which matters come election time; governments get tired and struggle to renew without undermining what they’ve previously done. So when the public has turned against it (or turned towards someone else), it’s extremely hard to reverse that swing.

Could we see an exception this next election? As always, it’s possible. Politics is a human activity and there are no cast iron rules. Jeremy Corbyn is a highly unusual Leader of the Opposition and the scope for the next Tory campaign to improve on the last one is immense. On the other hand, Brexit – a policy the Tories own for good or ill – will be exceptionally hard to manage on so many levels and if it goes wrong, the knock-on effects on the economy and on any number of other aspects of daily life will be huge. In such a situation, the people are unlikely to blame themselves.

    One factor that doesn’t seem likely to play much of a role, despite the best efforts of the Tories and the right-of-centre press, is Corbyn’s record on support for radical left governments and groups. There are always reasons to think that this time it’ll be different but invariably, it’s not. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the IRA, Hamas, Iran’s Press TV, Venezuela’s government or what, there are an awful lot of people who either don’t believe the stories at all (linked to the source of them), or they don’t believe they’re relevant.

That’s linked to a different comment that I’ve heard more than once since the election (as well as before it): that politicians are all the same. In reality, this is less the case now than for many years but reality is not intruding. The assertion is made not because people have genuinely compared the actions, policies and records but because they want to believe it because that then absolves them of blame: if politicians are all the same, how can a voter be to blame if something subsequently goes wrong? It also means that stories of extremism can’t be true because most politicians aren’t extreme, therefore if they’re all the same, then none can be extreme and attacks on individuals for it must be false.

This much is supposition. In terms of hard facts, what we have are opinion polls that continue to show Labour in front (and while May still outscores Corbyn, the margin is tight rather than the 3- or 4-to-1 majorities she was chalking up in March and April.

Renewed prominence for Corbyn’s warm words towards Chavez and Maduro has not had the slightest impact on voting intention: yesterday’s YouGov actually showed a slight swing to Labour and the local by-elections, while a mixed bag, saw Labour make two impressive gains (alongside a loss to the Tories).

That his comments and his record should affect the public’s opinion of him is beside the point. At the very least they say something about his judgement; they quite possibly also reveal something about what he considers legitimate behaviour from a state in pursuit of a legitimate goal or to counteract opposition. But the natural conclusions to be drawn from such an assessment are so beyond the range which we are accustomed to UK politicians operating in (hence the ‘they’re all the same’ comment, despite the evidence), that they recoil from the conclusions and reject them.

We are in a different world from March and April now. Theresa May cannot undo her election campaign and the public cannot unsee it. The time for fuzzy words and bold claims on Brexit has passed and the time for detail is here. Even if the government were united and fully prepared to crack on with the negotiations, there’d be much for the public to disagree with (see border controls and fishing rights today, for example). And the government is not united nor fully ready.

As things stand, the 4/1 for Corbyn to be the next PM doesn’t look attractive it’s more likely that the Tories would dump May first were a defeat on the cards, she may go of her own accord before 2022 anyway and even if you win, your money could be locked up for near five years. All the same, we should reconcile ourselves to the likelihood of him entering Number Ten.

David Herdson


Whatever happened to the summer LAB leadership contest which looked all set to be an annual fixture?

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

For the first time for years an August without active political betting markets

One of the things about running a website about political betting is that we need events on which we can risk our money. Summer is generally a quiet time particularly in August but over the past couple of years we have had the spectacle of a Labour leadership contest both of which were won by Mr Corbyn. In August 2016, as well, we were less than three months away from the US presidential election.

The summer of 2014 was in the run-up to the Scottish IndyRef which was a big turnover market.

Even though most PBers don’t actually bet the analysis of those that are risking their money add a lot to the discussions.

I must admit that I had thought before we knew the GE2017 outcome that Labour would now be involved in a contest. Alas no. and TMay, the person who lost most in the election, is still in there confounding those who said that the blue team were the most ruthless with leaders who fail.

    William Hague’s much quoted description of the Conservative party as being an absolute monarchy moderated by regicide does not seem to be applying this time.

There is betting on TMay’s replacement but at the moment there is no vacancy and it could be years before there is a contest.

It did look as though the Lib Dems we’re going to have a members’ election but that got spoilt by no other Lib Dem MP being ready to put themselves up against Vince Cable.

There is the UKIP leadership, I suppose, but the party is a fraction of its former self and if you are really interested there are betting markets.

The will Trump survive betting is available but what that makes that unattractive to punters is that you can get barely evens on either side and your stake could be locked up for three and a half years.

Mike Smithson


Mr. Corbyn is playing a dangerous game with the majority of LAB voters who want to remain

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017


He’s got away with it so far but that could end abruptly

One of the extraordinary features about the current febrile political situation is that Corbyn is taking a totally different line on Brexit from the vast majority of Labour voters. His ambivalence survived the GE2017 campaign because, frankly, no one believed his party stood an earthly and it didn’t receive the critical attention Team TMay had to deal with.

Now LAB is leading in the polls (2% up in today’s YouGov) and the leader is coming under greater scrutiny.

The latest YouGov Brexit polling tracker is above and shows the party splits and highlights the vast gap between the rhetoric from the LAB leadership and those who actually support the party.

There’s a good article from Hugo Rifkind in the Times (£) this morning about the widespread misconceptions about Corbyn. This is what he notes on Brexit.

“…..Another misconception, albeit one that may have somewhat hit the skids this weekend past, is the idea that Corbyn, at heart, is sad that we are leaving the European Union. “So what,” his Remainer supporters shrug, “if he voted to leave the common market (1975), voted against the single market (1986), opposed Maastricht (1992), opposed Lisbon (2007), and campaigned for Remain (last year) with all the keen enthusiasm of a chap with vicious haemorrhoids having his annual prostate check-up? He’s still one of us!”

This misconception survived even his sacking of three shadow ministers for backing a pro-single market amendment to the Queen’s Speech, which led Nigel Farage, of all people, to declare “he’s almost a proper chap”. Billy Bragg, the folk singer, immediately declared that Corbyn must be playing a cunning “long game”, with a plan to soften Brexit once the Tories had self-destructed over it. Hey, it’s a theory. This weekend, the Labour leader told the BBC that his party would leave the single market so as to end “wholesale importation of underpaid workers from central Europe”. Is this the great antidote to Tory Brexit? Is it the politics that the crowds of Glastonbury gathered to cheer? Doubtless, some will be frenetically triangulating, right now, to find a way to insist that it was…”

The LAB leader has got away with it so far but I get a sense that the pro-Corbyn media narrative is starting to fade and when that happens things can change very quickly. His explanation on on what appeared to be a campaign promise on student fees looked feeble.

Mike Smithson


NEW PB/Polling Matters podcast: Jeremy Corbyn is Britain’s most popular politician – but there’s a catch LISTEN

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

On this week’s PB/Polling Matters podcast, Keiran Pedley and Leo Barasi discuss exclusive polling from Opinium that looks at how popular a series of frontline British politicians are.

The poll asked a nationally representative sample of UK adults to rate the following politicians on a scale of 0 to 10 on the basis of how favourable they were to them:

  • Jeremy Corbyn
  • Sadiq Khan
  • Yvette Cooper
  • Keir Starmer
  • Emily Thornberry
  • Diane Abbott
  • Ed Miliband
  • Theresa May
  • Boris Johnson
  • David Davis
  • Phillip Hammond
  • Ruth Davidson
  • Michael Gove
  • Amber Rudd
  • Vince Cable
  • Nicola Sturgeon
  • Arlene Foster

Jeremy Corbyn was the winner – but there’s a catch. Listen to the podcast to find out more.

Keiran and Leo also discuss Tony Blair’s recent Brexit intervention and ask whether he is a help or a hindrance to his cause. You can listen to the show below:

Follow this week’s guests:




Tony Blair: Must we love him or loathe him? Don Brind says No

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Tony Blair was at his brilliant best in his Sky interview with Sophy Ridge who introduced him as someone people either love or loathe. Blair demonstrated his supreme ability to present evidence and argument in an accessible and compelling way. I didn’t need convincing that Brexit is a looming disaster but it was a joy to hear the case made so impressively.

The big question, though, is whether anyone now listens to Tony Blair? What does he need to do better to influence the debate on Brexit about which he clearly cares so deeply.

In so far as these labels are helpful I think of myself as a Kinnockite. I always bridle at the “Tony Blair won three landslide victories” mantra. This is not to say that Blair wasn’t a skilled leader and a gifted communicator — just that his inheritance from Neil Kinnock, John Smith and Margaret Beckett was a handsome one.

No party was ever in better shape than the Labour party when Tony Blair took over the leadership of the Labour party in 1994. If that was acknowledged by Blair and the Blairites they would boost not diminish his influence.

The 1997 triumph was a long time in the making and involved many people – among them Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Mo Mowlam, Harriett Harman, Clare Short, John Prescott, Peter Mandelson, David Blunkett, Robin Cook and Jack Straw – to name but a few.

There was also one other indispensible ingredient –  a Tory leader who had nose-dived in the polls. It was equally important to Labour’s better than expected result in June.

John Major had been living on borrowed time ever since Black Wednesday in September 1992. Britain’s departure from the European Exchange Rate mechanism exposed Tory economic mismanagement –as Brexit is now exposing how weak and shaky the economy is after seven years of George Osborne and Philip Hammond.

One of the failings of Jeremy Corbyn and his close allies is their unwillingness to defend and celebrate the achievements of the Blair-Brown government. By the same token I believe Blair would do himself a favour if he engaged more seriously with current Labour policy under Corbyn.

Take austerity, where Blair appears to have bought into the Tory caricature of Labour’s programme being all about nationalisation and unfettered public spending. As I argued here  there is a strong economic case for ending the public sector pay cap as part of a drive to get the economy growing.

Austerity is also under challenge on a European level. It’s significant that the new French President Emmanuel Macron is putting German driven austerity under the spotlight.

He said Germany benefits from the woes of other euro countries and warns that the Eurozone cannot survive on such foundations. Monetary union must be rebuilt in a radically-different way. “It doesn’t work because it has brought about divergences. Those that are already indebted have become more indebted: and those that are competitive have become more competitive,”

Blair and Corbyn should be cheering Macron forward.

In his Sky interview Blair lauded the Germans for their industrial strategy. He can be forgiven for not having heard of Labour’s industrial strategy, which deals with many of the issues he is concerned about. One of the failures of the Labour election campaign was that this thoughtful document was launched on the day of the BBC Question Time leader programmes — and so was guaranteed virtually no coverage.

Blair should also reconsider Corbyn’s signature of policy scrapping university tuition fees. His Downing Street head of policy Andrew Adonis,  who was responsible for the introduction of higher fees in 2004 now says “tuition fees at their current level are politically dead,” and should be scrapped.

And for an excellent “warts and all” analysis of Labour’s manifesto the Huff Post article Richard Angell the director of Progress is highly recommended.

“There was much in it that I, and every progressive in Britain, would like to see achieved under a future Labour government, says Angell. “This manifesto will be the blueprint for a future winning Labour manifesto, in the same way, as Stephen Bush at the New Statesman has pointed out, much of the contents of the 1983 manifesto were reiterated in the 1997 successor and then implemented by Tony Blair’s government. I look forward to this happening; I just hope there are not 14 years in the intervening period.”

I would like to see Blair playing an influential role in the debate on Brexit. The danger for him is that he appears muttering “plague on both your houses” from the lofty perch of his global institute  and from television studios. What he needs to do is to engage with the dilemmas and choices the leader of the Opposition. He’s done the job. He knows how hard it is.

Don Brind


Jeremy Corbyn is becoming a very confident and assured politician

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

A few days Theresa May asked the other political parties for the their help and ideas, the tweet above is Jeremy Corbyn’s response. I think that’s the response of a man who quite unexpectedly received nearly 13 million votes and 40% of the vote a month ago.

One of my criticisms of Corbyn in the past is that outside of his comfort zone he wasn’t all that confident or persuasive, but he’s clearly learning and adapting although facing a weakened Prime Minister helps.

The worry for the Tories will be that by reaching out to Corbyn, Mrs May is in danger of legitimising Corbyn and negating any future Tory attacks on Corbyn and Labour. A few weeks ago the Tories were portraying Corbyn as an extremist terrorist sympathiser who would turn the United Kingdom into Venezuela, now the Tories are asking him to come up with policies and ideas that the government will try and implement.

This whole episode does confirm that Theresa May is in office but not in power, all thanks to that needless election she called.