Archive for the 'Leaders’ TV debates' Category


Vote LEAVE is naive if it thinks it can black-ball Farage for the entire campaign

Friday, May 13th, 2016

BBC News list of events planned so far

And Cameron isn’t going face to face with a fellow Tory

So far we haven’t seen any betting markets linked to the referendum TV debates but that’s likely to happen as this becomes a bigger issue following the Vote Leave reaction to the ITV event planned for June 9th. This is when Farage and Cameron are due to appear in the same programme although they won’t debate directly with each other.

Clearly the broadcasters want Cameron involved somewhere but it’s been made very clear he is not going face to face with a fellow Tory. The referendum is doing enough damage to the party already and a Cameron versus Boris event would make that even worse.

The whole strategy of the designated OUT campaign, Vote LEAVE, has been to isolate Farage because it believes that the UKIP leader would be a negative for them. It’s now being reported that it is planning to go to the courts to block the ITV programme. Maybe they are right but it was always going to be tricky trying to isolate the leader of the party that won the 2014 Euro elections and whose rise in 2012/13 was the reason why Cameron agreed to the referendum in the first place.

Farage, let us remember, is a very good debater. His two face to face TV events with Nick Clegg in 2014 showed just how effective he can be.

Boris Johnson is good making rousing speeches but is weak when he has to face questions and ideas put to the test. Michael Gove can be effective but he is not the ideal front man.

Mike Smithson


Farage the 13/8 betting favourite to “win” tonight’s Challengers’ Debate

Thursday, April 16th, 2015


But don’t expect much polling

Farage 13/8 PaddyPower
Sturgeon 9/4 William Hill
Miliband 3/1 Ladbrokes
Wood 25/1 Bet 365
Bennett 28/1 Bet 365

It is perhaps an indication of how tonight’s event is being regarded is that there is going to be very little polling. Survation are doing a survey for the Mirror and as far as I know at the moment that is it.

So the betting markets on who wins will be based on the Survation findings.

I find this hard to read. Ed could sail through or it could be a disaster.

Not too long to wait.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


David Herdson says Ed won the debate because Clegg and Bennett didn’t

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

Why for Dave the strong Sturgeon performance was a sideshow

Earlier this campaign, the Conservatives unveiled the above poster showing Ed Miliband in Alex Salmond’s pocket; the inference being that in a hung parliament it would be the SNP pulling Labour’s strings.

    Nicola Sturgeon’s very capable handling of Thursday’s debate did nothing to reduce the likelihood of a large SNP delegation holding the balance of power after May 7. What it may have done is change people’s opinions of how they’d view that event.

The first question is what underlines the assertion in the poster? Presumably the point is that the SNP would demand ever-greater powers and monies to be sent from England north of Hadrian’s Wall, as Farage put it (one assumes he was using shorthand and doesn’t actually believe they’d demand Northumberland too). The second is who is it aimed at and the third is will they still believe it?

The swing votes this parliament have never been between Con and Lab. The votes the Conservatives have lost since 2010 are predominantly to UKIP (two-thirds of them in the last Populus poll, for example, excluding don’t knows). But do UKIP voters see the SNP as a sufficient threat to their interests to switch to the Tories to block them?

The polling immediately after the debate gave Sturgeon reasonable scores among UKIP supporters. For example, according to ICM, 60% said she performed quite well or very well and with YouGov, UKIP voters scored her at 5.4 out of 10 – the same as David Cameron and behind only their own man. However, that cuts two ways. A capable opponent who stands for the opposite of what you is more of a threat than a poor one, especially if the perception is that the tail has a biddable dog to wag.

So is the thinking behind the poster still viable? I’m not convinced. Although the message is probably strengthened by Thursday’s debate – though Miliband did reasonably well himself – the main problem is the logic: it’s simply too tenuous a set of tactical connections for the great majority of swing voters to act as needed. Put another way, even if you agree with the poster, what are you supposed to do?

And yet the truth of it is real enough: a minority Labour government would be very likely to be reliant on the SNP, vote by vote and budget by budget, and would inevitably look for concessions – which, to be fair, is what they’re there for.

There is one other relevant dynamic. The YouGov poll this week putting the Tories on 37% was probably top-side simply on sampling fluctuation but nonetheless proves the Blues to be within striking distance of their 2010 total. To repeat their seats total, however, requires Labour to be back down where they were too. (As an aside, to have recorded 37% despite having lost so much support to UKIP is quite a remarkable achievement). In essence, assuming they can’t get a direct swing, the Tory campaign has to shave 6% off a combination of Labour’s pre-existing core vote and the Lib Dems they gained in 2010 – and it has to come in England and Wales as Labour’s Scots losses are already maxed out.

Which is why although Sturgeon’s performance matters (a poor one would have brought a lot of expected SNP gains back into play), it’s not as critical as those of Clegg, Bennett or – if he can make disproportionate inroads against Labour, Farage. And the first two did poorly and the latter scored more off Blue than Red. Miliband will be happy enough with that.

David Herdson


Debate day – some facts and figures

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015


Tomorrow night is Nigel Farage’s big opportunity

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Farage’s ratings for a third party leader are pretty poor

With the seven way debate upon us shortly, I was trying to see the circumstances that led to the Cleggasm in April 2010.

Using the Ipsos-Mori leader satisfaction ratings as a proxy,  we can see how Nigel Farage’s net ratings compare to Clegg in March 2010.

Then in April 2010 the public for a short time, ended up liking someone they already liked a bit more.

Given that that Farage and UKIP are the recipients of the None of the Above voters that the Lib Dems used to attract, and are effectively the third party of Great British wide politics, in the polls at least, compared to his predecessors of the third party/second opposition party, Farage’s ratings aren’t that good.

This may be a by product of the voters’ perception of UKIP, which sees them as the most extreme and least fit to govern party,  as the most sleazy and disreputable party, and a racist party likely to have candidates with racist/extreme views.

So does this mean no Faragasm tomorrow night? I suspect the format of the debate is what is more likely to stop a Fargasm tomorrow night rather than Nigel’s poor ratings as a third party leader, but it does present Farage an opportunity to regain the UKIP voters he seems to have misplaced recently, as Lord Ashcroft’s marginals polling today was the latest to confirm this trend.



The official campaign Day 1: The line-up for Thursday night and an interesting betting market for the 7 sided event

Monday, March 30th, 2015

The line up on the stage was decided by lots being drawn this morning. It is hard to work out who has come out best. Farage has Clegg on his left and Miliband on his right though he’s some way along from Cameron.

My guess is that Farage would have preferred to be closer, if not next to, Cameron. Sturgeon has done well – directly next to Dave.

Ed is centre stage – that might be good and it might be bad. Cameron will be please to be some places away from Farage. My betting tip, Leanne, is in a good poistion given her main opponent in Wales is Labour.

The SportingIndex betting market is intriguing.

Polling: Populus had LAB & CON level pegging and this afternoon at 4pm we’ll get the weekly Ashcroft poll. There’ll be a round up later.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


By accident or design, the election’s got a debate series that could work

Friday, March 27th, 2015


Multiple structures will probe the parties & leaders

In a little over nine months’ time, the US presidential hopefuls will be campaigning hard in the then snow-bound small rural state of Iowa, the first in a long process of state-wide elections that will ultimately determine the two parties’ nominations. That process has evolved over the years, partly organically, partly by design but the main reason there’s been little wholesale reform in the schedule, despite offerings to that end being put forward from time to time, is simple: it works.

The reason why it works is in the asymmetry of the challenge. Small states are intermingled with large ones, caucuses with primaries, one-off elections with multi-state dates; the campaign jolts around the country in no particular order. There is no particularly natural progression and no obvious logic to the order of the series. What that means is that for any one candidate to be nominated, he or she has to demonstrate a wide range of campaigning talents, from the up close and personal in Iowa to mass fundraising for the TV onslaught of Super Tuesday. One-trick ponies need not apply.

And after the months of to-ing and fro-ing over the debates in Britain, we’ve landed on something similar over here. The innovation of the debates in 2010 was to be welcomed; the excessive influence they had in the election was not. Apart from crowding out local campaigns (yes, in theory we vote for individual MPs locally but most people in most seats vote on national issues or preferences), they also made it harder for the leaders to be held to account in other ways.

This time, with the sequential interviews this week, the big 7-way debate next week, the 5-way opposition leaders’ debate mid-month and the 3-way Question Time event at the end, the leaders cannot just rehash the same arguments against each other as each event has its own dynamic and its own line-up. On top of which, the two two-week breaks in April mean that they ought to spend more time on the road and less time prepping.

Of the four events, the 7-way ought to be the most significant. It’s the only one where all the leaders are present and the first in the campaign proper. Much will depend on the moderation, as with so many people on stage the twin risks of the discussion being either stilted or a shouting match will be ever-present, but if it’s done well then the arguments made and public perceptions gained will frame the rest of the election. I wouldn’t be surprised if the viewing figures are three times the size of those for the Paxman interviews. Thereafter though, we should be back to something like normal campaigning for much of the rest of the month. It strikes a good balance.

The big question is who will benefit from that apart from, hopefully, the public? The answer to that lies in their credibility. Put simply, the major parties have to look like competent parties of government; the minor parties have to look like the voice of that part of the electorate they’re fishing in. As throughout the parliament, the direct Con-Lab battle is likely to be secondary to those between both Con and Lab on the one hand, and UKIP, the SNP and the Greens on the other, with the Lib Dems as something of a wild card.

In particular, this is Nigel Farage’s moment as kingmaker. Although UKIP has taken votes from both Con and Lab, he doesn’t have time to attack both Cameron and Miliband equally and expect to score two hits so his choice in where to direct his fire in that debate is probably one of the biggest specific variables of the election (particularly when combined with whether he’s effective in doing so). Having both gained hugely since 2010 and slipped since 2014, he has votes to defend and to win back. There is a strong argument to go for Miliband, whose electoral support will already be under attack from the Greens and SNP and so he has less chance to respond; there’s also a strong argument for him to go for Cameron given that more UKIP support has come from the Tories than anywhere else. If he does try both, he may fall flat and invite a shellacking in return. With the polls so close nationally, upon that call may turn the course of the election.

David Herdson


And the winner so far is – Update ICM calls it for Dave

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Jeremy Paxman proved why he’s the best in the business.

But I do wonder if Ed Miliband’s “Hell Yeah”when Paxman asked him if he was “tough enough to deal with the likes of Putin” maybe the most memorable event from the whole debates and interviews. Whether it is for good or ill, we will soon find out.

Though Paxman’s off mic comment at the end to Ed of “Are you all right, Ed?” could also be a big talking point.

Overall will it shift any votes?

I’ll update this when the polling comes out later on.