Archive for the 'Labour' Category

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Whilst the Tories plough on totally divided over Brexit LAB has its worst polling month since GE2017

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

If ever there was a period when LAB should be making headways in the polls then surely it has to be at the moment well that always continue to be divided on brexit.

The latest David Cowling table above showing the monthly polling averages for each party has LAB at 35%, the worst since the general election. February was also only the second time since then that Corbyn’s party has failed to have at least one polling lead. Generally all published them have been poor for the party.

Of course much attention has been focused on the splits within LAB with the launch of The Independent group and the ongoing divisions over antisemitism that just don’t seem to go away. Quite jow Umunna’s spin off will progress is hard to say but it does need more recruits or something to keep the media momentum going.

As a general rule I pay much more attention to leader ratings than voting intention polls because the former historically have given a better guide to where things stand and electoral outcomes. Hear the same picture as in the polling table is reflected with Corbyn’s numbers, at a low point in the few polls that do asked some form of leader question.

Yet on the betting markets Mr Corbyn is assessed by punters as the main party leader who looks most secure in his job. Theresa May is odds on favourite to go first with Vince Cable not far behind. Both of those, of course, have indicated that they won’t be leading their parties at the next general election.

Meanwhile LAB’s divide has got worse with the new role that the deputy, Tom Watson, appears to have established. A big question is whether the informal grouping of MPs that he is trying to establish will actually lead to something more is hard to say. But there’s little doubt that Corbyn continues not to have the level of backing from his MPs as you’d expect an opposition leader to enjoy.

Mike Smithson




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At GE2017 CON voters were SIX TIMES more likely to say Brexit was the key factor in deciding votes than LAB ones

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019


Lord Ashcroft polls

Why Brexit is much less of an issue for the red team

On General Election day in June 2017 the Conservative peer, Lord Ashcroft, carried out a large sample poll to try to find out why voters had decided in the way they had.

A key question was asking what was the main factor in determining the votes and the outcomes for each main group of parties are featured in the chart above.

As can be seen 48% of Conservative voters named Brexit as the prime influencer whereas just 8% of Labour once said the same. That is a huge difference.

From this, I’d suggest, it is possible to deduce that Brexit is much less an issue amongst those who voted for Corbyn’s party than those who backed Theresa May’s. We don’t know whether we would get the same gap 20 months on but my guess is that this continues to be an issue that concerns the blue team much more than voters of the red one.

On top of that of the 8% LAB voters saying Brexit was the key factor then quite a lot were like me, tactical voters.

One thing that we have heard repeatedly since that election is that about two-thirds of Labour MPs represent constituencies that voted Leave in the referendum a year before. The significance of this is put into context by this polling.

If LAB voters, as it appears, are much less inclined to say that this is the issue that affected their vote then the challenges facing remain LAB MPs in seats which voted Leave are that much less.

Mike Smithson




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Independents’ day. The implications for Jeremy Corbyn

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

Let us now praise obscure women. With the launch of the Independent Group, much attention has been given to the more visible members of the seven MPs. Chuka Umunna briefly stood to be leader of the Labour party. Chris Leslie was shadow Chancellor. Luciana Berger has had the most public of battles with anti-Semitic opponents. I suggest, however, that the most significant of the defecting MPs is the least commented-upon: Ann Coffey.

I hope that Ms Coffey will not be upset if I suggest that she is not particularly well-known. She has been in Parliament for over quarter of a century, rising no higher than Parliamentary Private Secretary in all that time. I expect that she will look back at her extensive efforts made towards the protection of children as her political work that she is proudest of.

What she is not, however, is a rentagob. Media outlets have not found it difficult to find Labour MPs who have been willing to say exactly what they think of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Ms Coffey is not one of those. With Margaret Hodge, she jointly tabled the motion of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn in the wake of the original Brexit vote in 2016. Otherwise, she has largely kept her own counsel.

Until Monday, when she jumped ship.  Ms Coffey is 72. She will no doubt be standing down at the next election. She could easily have served out her time quietly, slipping away without fuss. She chose not to. Yes, in a sense it was cost-free. In another sense, however, in a party which still regards Ramsay MacDonald as its greatest villain, the price was enormous.

    She explained her decision to the Manchester Evening News in simple clear words. Of course antisemitism is an issue, of course the leadership is an issue and the line on Brexit. We are seeing a party that used to be a broad church in which there was a possibility to have discussions turned into a party in which any criticism of the leader or any different voice is responded to by being called a traitor. There comes a time when I have got to do something about it.

These words should terrify the Labour leadership. Instinctively paranoid, they will now be wondering how many other MPs are quietly weighing similar calculations. Some, such as Ian Murray, have not been quiet on the subject.

So far, however, the tone of the inner circle has been woefully misjudged. Jeremy Corbyn’s response, given above, was not far off “don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out”. His outriders on social media have been predictably less restrained, demanding loyalty pledges from those perceived to be unreliable, branding the group the Blair Rich Project and posting the lyrics from the Red Flag about cowards flinching and traitors sneering. The pièce de resistance was the news emerging the same day that Derek Hatton had been readmitted to the Labour party. Quite how any of this is supposed to reassure the doubters is wholly unclear.

The move has demonstrated the depth of the party divide. Tom Watson, the deputy leader, was notably much more sympathetic to those leaving, setting out his views in a soul-searching video. Yvette Cooper approvingly quoted his message in a tweet.

In a sense, it does not matter now whether other MPs also head for the exit. Whether dissident MPs remain onboard or jump into a lifeboat, they have to decide whether they can back Jeremy Corbyn as next Prime Minister. There now seems to be ample evidence that considerably more than these seven feel that they cannot.

This has two consequences, one for this Parliament and one for the next.  The consequence for this Parliament is that it looks extraordinarily hard for Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister in any circumstances without a general election. Even if the DUP were to abandon the Conservatives for Labour, these new independents would presumably not back him in a vote of confidence (and it must now be very doubtful whether all of the MPs who remain in the Labour party would do so if it came to the crunch). And that assumes that the Lib Dems, the SNP, Plaid Cymru etc could all be corralled into supporting him: given that they have already said that they will not support another vote of no confidence in the government, that looks a brave assumption.

Theresa May has already indicated that she intends to step down before the next election. So his chances of becoming the next Prime Minister look slim.

Let’s assume, however, that somehow the next general election is fought between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn again. Stranger things have happened. Nothing in the polling currently suggests that Labour are going to get an overall majority. The single best chance Labour have at present to take power is in a hung Parliament.

With Labour’s leader so widely distrusted, he is going to struggle to put together a minority government with himself as Prime Minister, especially when he can place no reliance on his own Parliamentary party’s support of him. The price of Labour taking power might well be someone different as leader, just as the Lib Dems’ price for talking about a coalition with Labour in 2010 was Gordon Brown’s head. Many Labour MPs would be privately delighted.

All this points one way. It is much much harder than currently appreciated for Jeremy Corbyn to become next Prime Minister. Yet you can still lay him on Betfair at 7. (This looks like a clearcut bet to me if your market position is such that placing this bet would not be tying up money, and given Theresa May’s job security is arguably a clearcut bet anyway.) These seven MPs may well crash and burn as independents, but they may well have put the nail in the coffin of the ambitions that Jeremy Corbyn has to be Prime Minister.

Alastair Meeks




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On the Betfair exchange LAB’s chances of winning most seats next time drop to a 41% chance

Monday, February 18th, 2019


Betdata.io chart of movement on the Betfair exchange

On what is quite a momentous day in British politics it is quite hard to single out a specific market that has seen change. The one I’ve chosen is the next general election where punters who only last month rated LAB as a 50-50 chance to win most seats now put it at 41%.

A lot depends on reaction to the move and whether the development gets traction in the media. For the individuals concerned these are massive personal decisions but they have made their choices.

For Corbyn’s LAB this isn’t good news and, as David Herdson was pointing out on Twitter, means that with other MP losses this parliament we have seen the equivalent of getting on for half the LAB gains from GE2017 are now wiped out. The smaller LAB is at Westminster the less powerful it is to influence events.

In many way this was always on the cards. In 2016 Corbyn, as I pointed out on the previous thread, only managed to win support of 20% of the parliamentary party in a confidence vote.

Clearly there’ll be lots of speculation about where the group of seven end up. Could we see an enhanced centre party emerging taking in the independents, the LDs and Caroline Lucas? Clearly there will be closer working together.

I also wonder whether Corbyn’s tenure might not be as long as is widely perceived. How will the unions view the weakened party? How will John McDonnell react.

Mike Smithson




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In terms of influence on major policy developments Corbyn today is surely the most powerful opposition leader in decades

Thursday, February 7th, 2019

It’s possible the UK could end up with a Labour Brexit

To me the biggest development of the day was the response by Donald Tusk to the Labour proposal for Brexit. The details envisage a softer brexit then Theresa May’s plan but because of the numbers in the Commons there’s a good chance that this is what could actually be agreed.

If so that will be remarkable and something and it’s almost without precedent. Labour could claim that this was their plan and seek to get the political kudos from it.

Because this appears to be a viable alternative then surely it is going to make the hardliners of Moggsy’s ERG more reluctant to go on opposing Theresa May. They are not going to get their hard brexit and the deal that the Prime Minister has on the table could be seen as the best that’s available in the circumstances.

The question for Labour, which has had to deal with huge demands within the party for a second referendum, is whether what’s in their proposal will be enough to satisfy the party’s largely remainer voters, party members and MPs.

My sense is that it is becoming more likely that the UK will leave on March 29th making the odds of 27% on Betfair good value.

Mike Smithson




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“Being seen to back Brexit worse for LAB than invading Iraq”

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

Tonight ITV News is carrying a report that a private poll that has been seen by Momentum suggests that LAB seen to be backing Brexit would be worse for the party than the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

It is reported that it was commissioned by the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) trade union. An analysis based on the polling has been shown to Momentum and the conclusions are worrying for red team. The ITV News report notes:

“A briefing paper based on the polling has been shared with leading members of the shadow cabinet, including John McDonnell, to increase pressure on Labour’s leader Corbyn to come out in favour of a referendum.

The most powerful conclusion of the research is: “There can be no disguising the sense of disappointment and disillusionment with Labour if it fails to oppose Brexit and there is every indication that it will be far more damaging to the party’s electoral fortunes than the Iraq war.

“Labour would especially lose the support of people below the age of 35, which could make this issue comparable to to impact the tuition fees and involvement in coalition had on Lib Dem support.”

The polling itself was carried out by YouGov.

That the party should be coming under pressure from the trade union movement is no real surprise and this could have been expected earlier.

It is hard to see the circumstances, though, where Corbyn changes his mind.

Mike Smithson




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Leading Corbynista calls for Labour to introduce US-style primaries to select candidates

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

Will party members and the unions be happy about giving up their selection powers?

In a Tweet last night one of Labour’s most prominent and leading Corbyn backers, Aaron Bastani, called for what would be a radical change in the way the party selects candidates for Parliament and other elected offices. Instead of the current system which puts just about all the power with Trade Unions and members he wants US style primaries.

In the US there are different systems for determining who primary electors are. In some states it can be all voters whilst in others it is restricted to those who register as Democrats or Republicans. In many states you can turn up at the polling on the day and register as a party supporter.

Bastani’s plan is a radical departure which was tried by the Tories in a few seats ahead of GE2010 but which hasn’t featured much, if at all, since. For the Totnes seat ahead of that election a full postal primary took place involving all those registered on he electoral roll. It cost the party £40k+.

It proved to be extremely popular with 24.6% of voters taking part in the election choosing a local GP Sarah Wollaston.

    As was widely pointed out at the time having a personal mandate like this meant that Sarah was less in hoc to the party machine and she has proved to be one of the most independent minded Tory MPs ready to fight on the NHS and against Brexit.

In other seats ahead of GE2010 the Tories made selections at open meetings at which any voter could attend and cast their ballots. It wasn’t just restricted to Tory voters. I, myself, attended and voted at such a primary meeting to select The Tory candidate for Bedford’s elected Mayor.

The real issue with the Bastani plan for Labour is that it is hard to see those with the power already, the unions and the members, being ready to give it up. Without any special selection process benefit it would make membership less attractive.

What makes this interesting is that it comes from Bastani who is very close to Corbyn. My guess though is that Labour’s machine will not allow this to happen.

Mike Smithson




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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