Archive for the 'London and local elections' Category

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The battle for Wandsworth from a LAB perspective

Monday, May 7th, 2018

Theresa May had a bit of a cheek turning up in Wandsworth and claiming a victory where the Tories came within a whisker of losing their jewel in the crown council

Another hundred votes in the right places would have put Labour in power after forty years in opposition. A close examination of the results  show that n St Mary’s Park the bottom Tory was a mere 3 votes clear of Labour’s top candidate and the second just 16 head of Labour’s next best. In Earslfield a Labour candidate was pipped by 10 votes. In Shaftesbury Labour came within 35 votes of splitting the ward and Nightingale the Tory margin of safety was 62. The Tory majority on the 60 strong council has been cut from 34 in 2010 to just seven today.

The Tories deserved to lose. Their claim to run a tight ship is in tatters. The £9 billion Battersea Power scheme is a symbol of how they are a soft touch for developers – at the expense of local people crying out for a decent home. Wandsworth has a homelessness crisis but the scheme has just 9% affordable housing. The homeless are paying the price for decades of Tory failure. They sold thousands of affordable homes but built only a few hundred in their place.

Another symbolic failure was the Ofsted report  which judged children services as inadequate’. It was judged to be putting vulnerable children at risk. Setting this right has already cost Wandsworth council an extra £14 million.

Theresa May was right, of course, to claim that Labour had thrown everything at seizing this Tory crown jewel. While taking numbers outside my local polling station I was hugged by my old mate Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of london and by a new mate Laura Parker, the national director of Momentum who had brought with her a contingent of activists who were deployed to the wards which produced such close results. It’s true that some Momentum members are horribly ideological and divisive but the majority are as hard working and committed as long standing party members.

Another voter who turned up at my polling station was the Observer’s Andrew Rawnsley who lives at the bottom of our road.

His verdict that “against such a shambolic government, Labour should be doing better than this” reflects a widespread view inside and outside the party. Nonetheless I think he is wrong to argue that the current “stalemate is a result that a government at midterm can live with… A draw is not good enough for the main opposition party.”

That view isn’t supported by the latest prediction from Martin Baxter of Electoral Calculus which has the Tories, with a lead over Labour of just over one per cent in polling averages falling 18 short of a Commons majority.

That is certain death for Theresa May or whoever replaces her. The deal that bought 9 DUP votes would be redundant.

Baxter’s prediction is that there would be 38 SNP, 15 Lib Dems and 3 Plaid. They have two things in common. They would all find any kind of deal with the Tories electoral suicide and they are all anti Brexit.

That raises the intriguing question of whether Jeremy Corbyn has the leadership skills to run a minority government in those circumstances or whether another Labour needs a new leader better suited for the task.

I ran my colours to the mast here a few months ago.

I hope that one day Jeremy will do the decent thing for the party he loves and make way for a woman.

Don Brind



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Has Labour lost its momentum?

Saturday, May 5th, 2018

Are we past Peak Corbyn or was LE2018 just a bump in the road?

You can tell a lot about how well a party has done by where a leader goes to celebrate their election victories. Theresa May (no doubt unwittingly) re-emphasised her caution-first nature by travelling all the way to Wandsworth: a council the Tories have held since 1978. She could have gone to Nuneaton, where the Tories stripped Labour of a sizable majority (unlike Wandsworth, where it was the Tories losing seats), or to Redditch, Barnet or Basildon – but she didn’t.

Vince Cable, meanwhile, visited the wealthy Remain bastion of Richmond-upon-Thames, where the Lib Dems stormed to a tremendous win; one which by itself accounted for around one-third of their entire national net gains.

But the party HQ which must have had most re-planning to do was surely Labour’s. After ramping up their chances of taking Wandsworth and Westminster, they failed to take either. He could have headed for the former Tory northern jewel of Trafford but instead he headed off to Plymouth. That wasn’t an unreasonable choice – it was Labour’s only direct gain from Con this week – but that fact alone indicates Labour’s failure to move forward significantly.

And moving forward is what oppositions should be doing if they hope to win power at the next GE. Granted, Labour came very close to winning power last year but not only did they not do so but in relative terms, they went backwards on Thursday.

If you match their score against 2014, when these seats were last fought, then the 35-35 level pegging in this year’s national equivalent vote was two points worse than the Lab 31 Con 29 shares last time round (Labour is rather fortunate that a heavily disproportionate number of seats contested this time were in London, where it’s doing better than average, meaning that despite going backwards in the NEV, it ended up with more gains than the Tories). Labour was also two points ahead (37-35) in 2011 and one point ahead in 2016 (31-30), both one year into the new parliament.

Fervent Corbyn supporters will claim (and are claiming) that these historic parallels count for little, in the light of the extraordinary gains made by Labour during the last general election campaign. There’s an obvious truth that no measure of current opinion can accurately predict future elections – because minds do change between the poll and the actual vote and, in the case of local elections, because people are frequently voting on a different basis compared with a general election. Even so, the last two oppositions that went on to win a general election were to be doing much better one year into the parliament. Cameron led the Tories to a 13-point win in 2006, while in 1993, John Smith’s Labour was eight points up.

All of which begs the question: has Corbyn’s bubble burst? Is Labour incapable of turning those hundreds of thousands of members into new, additional votes, despite what ought to be opportune circumstances for an opposition?

As yet, the evidence is inconclusive. We do know that they made a difference when it really mattered last time – but is that a new rule or an aberration? What we do know is that the next election will be fought under different circumstances, with different levels of media coverage, different expectations and probably with a different prime minister and Tory campaign team. That should be enough uncertainty to place substantial question marks on both sides of the equation – but more so on Labour’s

David Herdson



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With just about all the LE2018 results now in the clear winners were the LDs gaining most seats and councils

Friday, May 4th, 2018


BBC News

One of the things that generally happens on local election nights is that the media narrative is determined by what happens in the first few hours of results. So the big coverage was of Lab’s failure to take its key targets in London and of course the antisemitism element of the result from Barnet.

But now that we’ve got just about all the results in we seen clearly that the big winners were the Lib Dems who have clawed a fair bit back from the abyss that they entered following the decision to go into coalition with the Conservatives in 2010. This is their best set of local elections since then. It also fits into the big trend that we have seen in council by-elections.

Unfortunately for them in terms of the media coverage most of the big action has happened during the daytime rather than last night when the major success was restricted to just one Richmond upon Thames. Today has seen them take the London Borough of Kingston with some huge gains, Three rivers in Hertfordshire as well as South Cambs.

Clearly all these were strong remain areas and were not places where in recent times where LAB has had much presence.

What the yellow team desperately need are some parliamentary by elections which have been somewhat scarce. It is now expected that we could see two being called pretty quickly – Lewisham East and Barnsley Central. Both have wapping LAB majorities but Cable’s team ought to be making them a key target now. They have the skilled activists and the expertise and they should go for it while the two main parties are both going problems periods.

Mike Smithson




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So far tonight LAB doing worse than expectations while the Lib Dems and the Tories doing better

Friday, May 4th, 2018

But there’s still a long way to go

I’m off to bed!

Mike Smithson




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Tonight the results from what looks like the final major electoral test before Brexit

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

How will the big picture compare with the polls?

Although large parts of the UK do not have elections today this, unless something exceptional happens, will be the last big electoral test before Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29th next year.

Because of the nature of the seats that are being fought it is expected that Labour will do very well. A total of 42% of them are in London which is very good territory for the red team. The big question is what the results tell us about the overall party situation and here we will be relying on the Projected National Vote share that Professor John Curtice and his BBC team expect to produce later on in the evening.

There’s an interesting article here by Profs Curtice and Fisher on how they do it and the particular challenges.

Expect a large amount different data coming out over the next few hours from all sorts of sources so it will take some time for a picture to develop.
Quite a large number of the seats at stake will not be counted until the morning and this might affect the overall picture of what’s actually going on.

A good way of supplementing your reports is to watch the thread here because so many PBers as will be scouring Twitter and other sources for information as it comes out.

Welcome to another PB election night.

Mike Smithson




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The Tories go into Thursday’s locals in a much better national polling position than when the seats were last fought in 2014

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

TMay’s Tories doing better over Corbyn’s LAB than Cameron’s party was doing over EdM’s

Given that context is everything I thought it might be useful to show the national polling gap between the main two parties this year compared with what it was in 2014 when most of the seats up on Thursday will last fought.

Rather than show every single poll that was carried out in April 2014 and this month I have taken the average gap tha the Conservatives had over Labour for comparison. The big picture is that this year the Conservatives have a small but significant lead whereas four years ago Ed Miliband Labour had an even bigger margin

If this does reflect opinion and can be applied to local elections, and I do think that there are a lot of questions over that, then it adds more force to the view that maybe that LAB is not going to be a successful on Thursday as perhaps some of the earlier predictions.

This will of course be Mr Corbyn’s first major set of elections since the extraordinary recovery that the party saw at the general election in June 2017.easy

I should add a word of thanks to David Cowling for providing the data that has made this comparison easier for me to produce.

Mike Smithson




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Prof John Curtice suggests that LAB is not going to have an easy ride in Thursday locals as many of the forecasts

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018


John Curtice

In an article in the Independent and a presentation at the annual Political Studies Association local election briefing John Curtice has cast doubts on the suggestions that Corbyn’s Labour is going to have an exceptional performance in this week’s locals.

The big thing in his analysis is that there is a huge divide on Brexit between London, where 42% of the seats will be contested, and the councils in the rest of England where elections are being held. The split on voting in the referendum is shown in his chart above.

As we saw at GE2017 there was a big gap between the LAB performance overall in areas that were strongly Remain and those which weren’t and the signs are that this will spill over on Thursday. Writing in the Independent he notes:

“.. outside of London, Thursday’s elections are taking place in districts where, on average, only around 45 per cent voted Remain, a figure that matches the outcome of the EU referendum across provincial England as a whole. Making progress in these elections looks like a much tougher test for Labour..”

And on London he had this observation:

“… Even if there is a swing to Labour in London, it might not cost the Conservatives that dearly. The only low-hanging Tory fruit available for Labour to pick is control of Barnet. However, at 15 per cent, the borough’s Jewish population is the largest anywhere in the UK and Labour must be concerned that the row about alleged antisemitism within its ranks might cost the party dear...”

It looks like there will be an interesting Thursday night and Friday morning ahead.

Mike Smithson




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After all the wait the YouGov London local poll has just margin of error changes

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

So we are almost back where we were UPDATED

The big story from the poll is that there has been a disproportionate drop in the LAB vote in inner London.

Labour 59 (down 8 from Feb)
Cons 22 (up 5)

This puts into question whether the red team can take Wandsworth which is a key target and one which has remained in Tory hands for 40 years. It also, if the poll is right means that Westminster will remain Tory.

The main hope for LAB remains Barnet.

UPDATE – Comment from Prof Phil Cowley of QMUL

“The latest poll predicts that the Conservatives will hold both Westminster and Wandsworth, where previous polling had Labour on course to take both. In Barnet Labour is set to become the biggest party, something that has not happened since the council was created in 1964.

Professor Cowley added: “The small decline in support for Labour should mean that both Westminster and Wandsworth will be held by the Conservatives. We should however, be careful about applying a London-wide survey to individual boroughs with any certainty. Should the Conservatives manage to hold these seats, it will not be a sign of success, merely the avoidance of utter disaster”.

On the basis of this the value bet, I’d suggest, is No Overall Control in Barnet. I’ve just bet with Ladbrokes at 9/1

Mike Smithson