Archive for the 'Lib Dems' Category


Betting opens on Beaconsfield which almost certainly will be one of the top constituency markets at the general election

Monday, October 7th, 2019

Ladbrokes make it CON 5/6: Grieve 5/6

The news at the weekend that the Liberal Democrats have decided to stand aside in the Beaconsfield constituency at the general election in order to give the incumbent MP, Dominic Grieve, a clear run has inevitably set off a betting market which looks likely to be a big one.

Grieve, the former Attorney-General, has played a big part in opposing Johnson’s plans for Brexit for which he was booted out of the Conservative Party following the first of the six votes that went against Cummings/Johnson last month.

Grieve’s prominent role and legal expertise in the parliamentary opposition to the PM has inevitably led to him working closely with the Lib Dems and others who have been opposed to the way Number 10 has been approaching matters.

At the last general election Grieve held the seat with 65.3% of the vote while the Lib Dems were in third place on 7.9% which was about the same as their GB vote share.

A better figure to look at in determining the impact of the move is, I would suggest, is the 2010 General Election when they were near to 20%. That of course, was at time when the LD were polling at 20%+.

Another key number to look at it what happened in the constituency at the referendum and this went Remain by a split of 51 to 49.

Grieve has got a very high profile and has served in the constituency since 1997 and I guess is that he will have a reasonably large personal following.

That the Lib Dems are standing aside will send a message to LAB voters in the constituency and might encourage tactical votes for Grieve as a means of stopping the official CON candidate.

Given that Beaconsfield voted Remain in June 2016 and he’ll be the clear Anti-Brexit contender I would rate his chances of holding on at 50%+ but everything, of course, depends on the circumstances at the time.

My guess is that we might see a similar pattern of other Remain parties standing aside in seats where prominent former CON MPs seeking to hold on.

Mike Smithson


Mayor of London Siobhan Benita? Don’t rule it out

Friday, September 20th, 2019

SV means the Lib Dems could pull off something extraordinary

In the absence of big names and big characters, London politics has dropped off the media radar a bit. After the controversial Ken Livingstone and the future PM Boris Johnson, Sadiq Khan has been – spats with Donald Trump aside – a lower-profile mayor.

Khan’s term ends, however, in less than eight months, when he’ll bid for re-election. Until recently, this was all-but assured. The Tory candidate, Shaun Bailey, looks lightweight and gaffe-prone while all other candidates seemed doomed to be also-rans. No candidate from the minor parties (which in London included the Lib Dems) has ever polled more than 15%, other than exceptional case of Livingstone in the initial election of 2000; in the last two elections, none outside of Con/Lan polled more than 6%. Add in the dominance of these two parties in the polls at the start of the year and everything looked set for something like a repeat of 2016. Not now.

For one thing, Sadiq Khan’s popularity ratings generate a ‘meh’ response from Londoners. In a July YouGov poll, he recorded 30% satisfied and 33% dissatisfied, for a net -3 rating. Overall, that’s not bad and certainly much better than many politicians rate (though London has been a strongly Labour city through the 2010s so they’re maybe not quite as good as they first appear). On the other hand, there are a lot of Don’t Knows in there, which allied to the negatives suggests there is opportunity for an opponent.

However, the revolution in party support this year opens everything up. Across the country as a whole, Labour may be down by close to half what it polled in January, with the Tories down by at least a quarter. In London, the main beneficiaries have been the Lib Dems, who finished first across the capital in the European elections and have polled first in Westminster VI there too in some polls (albeit in unweighted and small subsets, with consequently large margins of error).

Of course, it’s one thing to do this in an election no-one really campaigns in or in opinion polls; quite another to produce that result when the parties are running near full-throttle. Do the Lib Dems have the manpower and resources to match Labour? That’s still a very open question and without positive evidence to suggest so, we have to assume that the campaign factor still works strongly to Khan’s favour.

On the other hand, Siobhan Benita has three things going for her (besides the quality of the other candidates and her ability to hold her own on that score). Firstly, London is a very strongly Remain city and the Lib Dems are very strongly Remain. Secondly, Khan doesn’t have a great track record and is likely to be the subject of far more negative campaigning from all parties than she will, especially on crime.

And thirdly, the Supplementary Vote system. Benita probably doesn’t need to win the first round in order to win outright: she can probably expect more transfers than Khan. This is, admittedly, finger-in-the-air stuff from me but if she can beat Bailey in the first round, then transfers will either be coming from the right-of-centre or from left-of-centre voters who have chosen not to back Khan. In both cases, I’d guess that she should win the greater number if the first round is close (although there may be high levels of non-transferable votes). If she can reach the low-30s in the first round – a level the Lib Dems have polled at in London – she’d stand a good chance of winning.

Now, it has to be said that the polling doesn’t yet bear such a prediction out. We’ve only had one poll since the party ructions in the Spring, and that was in early May, which had Benita polling fourth on 10%, behind the Green candidate Sian Berry (16%), with Bailey still second on 23%. Clearly, there is some work to do in convincing the public – to which end the EP election results, bar charts and “can’t win here” allegations would no doubt feature.

There are two other critical factors to consider. Between now and next May, there’s a good chance that at least one and perhaps two things will happen: Brexit will finally occur, and a general election will take place. Both have the capacity to do a lot of damage to the major parties. It is possible that come May, Corbyn could be in a honeymoon period, having restored post-No Deal order with an agreement, so providing Khan with a nice clear national backdrop against which to sweep to re-election.

On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that Labour could be in a right mess following either victory or defeat (likewise the Tories, though that’d matter less for these purposes). If YouGov’s methodology rather than Survation’s is correct then Electoral Calculus has the Lib Dems making eight gains across London, four from both the Tories and Labour on the most recent poll. For reference, YouGov got the Lab-LD gap at the recent EP elections right to within 0.2% (understating both by about 1%); Survation missed the mark by some 17%! Such a sweep of gains would surely greatly affect public perceptions as to which parties are serious contenders for the mayoral race.

Does all this make the Yellow Team favourites? Not at all. That honour still lies with the Reds and the power of incumbency, political inertia and the hard facts of such polling as we have. However, this is a race to keep an eye on, particularly on how intensely the Lib Dems are ramping up their campaign efforts on the ground in London. If they do, then the current odds for Benita, as long as 7/1, would be value.

David Herdson


The first full poll after Swinson’s Brexit gamble sees the LDs up 4 ahead of LAB into second place

Thursday, September 19th, 2019

Today’s YouGov: Con 32%= LD 23+4 Lab 21-2 BXP 14=

There is a new YouGov poll in the Times this morning which is the first one to have taken place since the Lib Dems at their conference voted to stop Brexit even without a referendum.

The figures are above and will give a lot of reassurance to the new Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, with what has been widely criticised as a massive gamble in terms of policy. It has however got her really noticed in the media something that the LDs have struggled to get since GE2015.

Before the yellows get too over excited I should post a note of caution about political polling during conference season. Generally there is a tendency for whichever party has been up last in the conference cycle to get a boost and really we don’t know what the full picture will be until mid October.

Having said that the party that will be most concerned about this latest move, particularly if it is supported by other pollsters, will be Labour. Boris Johnson’s Tories have now fully established themselves as the party for Brexit with Jo Swinson party appearing to be overwhelmingly the party that is opposed.  Given that this is the biggest issue of the day it is hard to see where LAB stands and its equivocal position might be hard to defend in a general election campaign.

I think the LDs are benefitting from having total clarity on the overwhelming  big issue of the moment and are also helped by having a new, young (Swinson’s 39) and female leader. This is in sharp contrast to Labour who are stuck with a leader whose been around a longish time, has personal ratings that are amongst the worst ever recorded for an opposition leader and whose ambiguity on Brexit looks set to be hard to defend in an early general election campaign.

How LAB responds to the LD tanks on its lawn will dominate the upcoming Labour conference. I’d argue that the more Swinson gets attacked by LAB the better it is for her.

Mike Smithson



Before you bet on the next Lib Dem leader market just remember the next leader might be in another party right now

Sunday, September 15th, 2019

All things considered I think I’ll give this market a swerve until things settle down, I maybe waiting a long time.

One of the things that is little discussed is just how much the Lib Dems are changing, the current influx theoretically will stretch the the party given that they are attracting both Labour and Tory defectors. How will the Lib Dem membership respond? We’ve seen the big two fracture after seeing an influx of new people, albeit this influx of new people is in Parliament.



Will the last One Nation Conservative left in the Tory Party please turn off the lights

Saturday, September 14th, 2019



On the eve of the Lib Dem conference defection speculation goes in to overdrive

Friday, September 13th, 2019

The tweet by Michael Foster, a former Labour MP, has seen speculation increase about who might be defecting, I’ve long suspected the Lib Dems have a defection or two ready for their conference, we shall see if it turns out Michael Foster’s tweet turns out to be accurate. My reading of his tweet was the defection was not related to Brexit but anti-Semitism.

I understand why people may have thought it was Rosie Duffield, her constituency party tried to censure her last year after she criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of the anti-Semitism issues swirling around Labour.

Hopefully some bookmakers will open markets on who may defect.




The main lesson from the Brecon result: Demonstrating the effectiveness of Remain parties working together

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

A model for the next General Election?

Reflecting on the Brecon outcome the most striking feature which hasn’t really been commented on is that in a seat in Wales that PC felt able to step aside in order  to help defeat the pro-Brexit Tories.

Given the relative closeness of the outcome it’s clear that this decision and that of the Green Party played a crucial part in this election and no doubt lessons will be learnt .

We have a first past the post voting system that almost helps the Tories and Labour at the expense of smaller parties. Here, in this by election, there was only one option for voters who wanted to express their choice for a Remain party and that was the Lib Dems. My guess is this decision of the Greens and PC made it easier for for Labour supporters to vote tactically.

There is little doubt that this lesson will be noted and acted upon. You can see situations where the Lib Dems step aside  in seats where the Greens look as though they have the best chance of winning and, of course, there might be other seats in Wales where similar decisions can be taken by PC.

It also shows the impact of the referendum result on British politics and how it can be impacting on the traditional party system.

There had been many rumours that a number of those MPs who switched from the Tories and LAB earlier in the year might be ready to move to the yellows. This has many practical consequences particularly where you have a sitting LD parliamentary candidate in a seat where the CON or LAB MP switched to TIG or whatever it is called now.

The Brecon result demonstrates that collaboration can work.

Mike Smithson





Jo Swinson wins the LD leadership contest

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

She takes over with the party on the up

It has just been announced that 39 year old Jo Swinson has won the Lib Dem leadership race with 62% of the vote against her former ministerial colleague in the coalition, Ed Davey.

She’s the first woman to lead the party and was first elected as an MP at GE2005. She lost her seat, East Dunbartonshire, at GE2015 only to win it back two years later.

Her leadership starts at a time when the party has started to turn the corner from the coalition years coming second in the May Euro elections and making 700+ gains in this year’s locals.

Her party is the one that has the clearest position on the big issue if the day, Brexit, and has big hopes of winning the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election a week on Thursday. It has also attracted a leading LAB defector Chuka Umunna with talk of possible other MPs dissatisfied with their parties.

In the betting she was clear leader from the start,

Now the bookies are standing by to open up betting markets on Swinson’s successor.

Mike Smithson