Archive for the 'Mayors' Category


Some pretty grim polling in London for the Tories, Labour, and Sadiq Khan

Monday, September 10th, 2018

Brexit, anti-Semitism, and crime all seem to be having an impact

I think the collapse in the Tory and Lab vote shares is down to a mixture of Brexit not appealing to London and the anti-Semitism issues swirling around Labour.

For me the most interesting aspect has been the collapse in Sadiq Khan’s ratings, albeit he just maintains a net positive rating. The Standard report

Sadiq Khan’s ratings have plunged to their lowest yet after a long summer of violent crime.

The Mayor has fallen behind among key target groups including the over-Fifties, working-class voters, white people and the outer London “doughnut”.

Overall, Mr Khan’s ratings have slipped from +22 in May this year down to +4 today, according to the YouGov study commissioned by Queen Mary University of London.

It revealed that both Labour and the Conservatives have slumped in popularity in London over the summer, with the Tories falling to a dismal vote share of barely one voter in four. And former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who has hinted at running in the 2020 mayoral contest, is overwhelmingly rejected by Londoners.

Professor Philip Cowley, of Queen Mary’s Mile End Institute, said: “Sadiq Khan has suffered a noticeable hit in his ratings, down from being the most popular politician in Britain just 18 months ago, to being ahead but not by much.

“The 2020 contest is looking a lot more interesting now than it did even before this summer. Justine Greening and other big Tory beasts might now regret their decision not to have a tilt at him.” Key details of the survey include:

Londoners are divided over Mr Khan’s record. Overall, 44 per cent say he is doing well, while 40 per cent say he is doing badly. That is a major change since May when the figures were 52 per cent well, 30 per cent badly.

It is even more pronounced compared with March 2017 when his ratings were 58 per cent positive and 23 per cent negative.

Several key voter groups have turned against Mr Khan. He remains hugely popular among younger voters but now people in the 50-64 age group give him a negative rating of -5.

While Mr Khan was previously ahead among all ethnic groups, now white Londoners rate him at -5, while among black and minority ethnic Londoners he is ahead by +21.

Mr Khan has slipped among the C2DE social class, where he is seen as doing badly by 46 per cent and well by 39, a net -7. He is backed in the wealthier ABC1 social class, with 48 per cent rating him as doing well and 35 badly.

Voters in the big outer London ring now say Mr Khan is doing badly by 44 to 39 per cent, while inner Londoners say he is doing well by 49-35.

So whoever is the Tory candidate there’s potential for them to do well, although after the year Khan’s had that he still has positive ratings might indicate a certain Teflon like qualities that Khan possesses.

I suspect demographics, Brexit, and the fact the next Mayoral election will take place after a decade of Tory or Tory led governments, which will make it sub-optimal for any Tory candidate.

But Sadiq Khan winning in 2020 isn’t the slam dunk many think it is, especially if the crime rates deteriorate further.



Nearly two years before election day the Tory party is going to select their London Mayoral candidate this summer

Monday, June 4th, 2018

Conservative Home reported earlier on this week that

The Conservative candidate for mayor of London will be chosen this summer, during a three-month campaign culminating in a selection in time for the Party’s annual conference.

The newly-agreed timetable provides for nominations in June, hustings and other campaigning during July and August, followed by a vote in September.

I do think Sadiq Khan is vulnerable, particularly on crime, he might blame Tory austerity but the counter argument might be that the perception is crime didn’t surge under Boris Johnson, particularly knife crime that a heavyweight Tory could exploit but I don’t think a heavyweight Tory will stand.

The things in Sadiq Khan’s favour will be is that London is seriously pro Labour, last month in the locals Labour recorded their best result since 1971 and there’s still the fallout from the Brexit referendum which I expect will be sub-optimal for the Tories.

The next Mayoral election should take place  whilst the UK is still in the transition phase so I’d expect Brexit to still be a factor in this election.

Assuming we don’t fall out of the EU with no deal then the post transition deal will still be being negotiated and that could lead to politics being even more polarised.

I’m also not sure of the wisdom of the Tory party selecting their candidate so far in advance. Labour tried the same approach for the 2012 Mayoral election when they selected the UK’s leading Hitler expert in the autumn of 2010 but an early selection didn’t ensure Ken Livingstone’s victory in May 2012.

A 40% return in less than two years seems like the best option, I expect the only way this doesn’t pay out if Sadiq Khan doesn’t stand, he might have loftier ambitions, especially if the Tories maintain (or extend) their polling lead which leads to Corbyn becoming vulnerable.



Heidi Alexander: Could she be the LAB mayoral nominee in 2020 so Sadiq can return to the Commons to challenge Corbyn?

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

There’s a fair bit of speculation doing the rounds about why ex-Lewisham E MP and former shadow health secretary, Heidi Alexander has quit her seat for a job with Sadiq Khan at City Hall.

One theory that has been put to me is that she is being lined up as Labour’s candidate for the next London Mayoral election in 2020. This would free up Sadiq and allow him to seek a return to the Commons. Alexander has never been a Corbyn fan while Khan has had many differences with his leader.

In London Khan has retained positive leader ratings for two years and is rated by London voters far more favourably than Corbyn is nationally.

On the face of it this sounds plausible which does not mean that it is right. The question for punters is could there be a betting opportunity at longish odds?

Two markets standout – the 2020 London Mayoral election and Corbyn’s successor. In the former I have not seen Alexander listed as an option from any bookie though that could change. Another bet could be to lay (bet that he won’t do it) Sadiq Khan on the Betfair exchange. He’s currently rated as the 67% favourite.

For next LAB leader you can get 25 to 30/1 on Betfair.

Mike Smithson


If Scotland has its own Secretary of State then so should London

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

Graphic: The last two general election results in London via the BBC

We were promised a New Year reshuffle.  In the end, it resembled not so much a game of musical chairs as musical statues, with only Justine Greening, Patrick McLoughlin and James Brokenshire falling over.  Theresa May was unable to impose herself more fully on her Cabinet.  The chief points of interest were in the adding of social care to the Secretary of State for Health’s remit and the adding of Housing to the Communities Secretary’s remit.  All the Prime Minister seemed to be able to do is give out some stinking badges.

So let’s have a look at some of the stinking badges.  As with so many aspects of the British constitution, the role of the Secretaries of State has developed haphazardly.  The title of “Secretary of State” came into existence under Queen Elizabeth I, though the role itself dates back to at least the reign of Henry III.

Originally there was just one secretary, but from Henry VIII’s time onwards, two held the office.   The number of Secretaries of State fluctuated between two and three between 1708 and 1854.  From 1858, this increased to five.  After the First World War, grade inflation resulted in there being eight Secretaries of State.

After the Second World War, numbers were briefly reduced to five, but when Harold Wilson became Prime Minister he began the present practice of making most Cabinet ministers Secretaries of State.  The current Cabinet includes 18 Secretaries of State (the other full members of the Cabinet are the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the Leader of the House of Lords and the Chairman of the Conservative Party).

It is a curiosity that while Secretaries of State are allotted different responsibilities, their powers under legislation are not usually confined by government department.  If legislation gives power to a Secretary of State it can normally be exercised, at least in theory, by any Secretary of State.  No Act of Parliament is required to create one.  This explains in part why the Prime Minister can chop and change responsibilities of Secretaries of State so freely.

The remits are not particularly obviously thought-through.  Three are geographical (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).  The rest are thematic.  Two are directly Brexit-related.  Two others (Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs and International Development) are also international in theme.  The other 11 cover those areas that Prime Ministers past and present have deemed most important.  Few of the roles are of any great antiquity.

Theresa May indulged in a bit of tinkering, as noted above, but the whole layout looks ripe for a proper rethink, as and when Britain gets a Prime Minister who is strong enough to bruise egos.  Let me give a bit of help.

Devoting four different Secretaries of State to different aspects of international affairs seems extravagant, even at the time of Brexit.  But a still greater anomaly is the fact that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are each allocated their own Secretary of State.  After the early decades of the 18th century, Scotland made do without a Secretary of State until 1926.  Wales didn’t get one until 1964 and Northern Ireland had to wait until 1972.  So none of them have any particularly antique constitutional claim to a dedicated Secretary of State.

All three have had extensive devolution in the last 20 years, so they now have plenty of politicians looking after them locally – or should do, in the case of Northern Ireland.  Wales and Scotland were allocated only part of Secretaries of State under Labour between 2003 and 2008.  Civilisation did not obviously crumble.  A Martian might wonder why there isn’t a single Secretary of State for Devolution.

The contrast with the governmental status of London is stark.  London is more populous than Scotland and Wales put together.  Its GDP is bigger than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland put together.  Its Mayor has far more limited devolved powers than Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.  It is disproportionately important to the economy of Britain as a whole and the tax revenues it produces keep the rest of the country in the style to which it has become accustomed. 

At the same time, some of the worst examples of deprivation are found in London and it faces very pressing social problems largely absent elsewhere.  London is more different from the rest of the country than any parts of the rest of the country are from each other.

You might have thought that London would merit a Secretary of State, given its obvious great importance, unique nature and unique problems.  But in fact it has only a part-time junior minister, who is separately expected to act as a minister of state for transport.  (Lest this be thought to be a party political point, it should be noted that Labour does not have a shadow minister for London.)  It seems that London barely registers in the government’s thinking.

As things are currently set up, the government is unthinkingly treating London as a cash cow and sending out the signal that London’s needs are of third order importance to it.  With London profoundly alienated from the present government in the wake of the Brexit vote, that looks a dangerous line to take in the long term.  There’s only so long that Londoners will put up with being taken for mugs.

Alastair Meeks


Don’t expect a Street Coronation in the West Midlands Mayoral election

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

A look at the Mayoral elections betting

‘The young princes who now stride the parade ground with the confidence born of aristocratic schooling can never be afraid. They never have been. Like latter day Pushkins drilled in the elite academy of Brownian blitzkrieg, they are bursting with their sense of destiny.’ 

Is part of a text that will be studied throughout history as one of the great polemics of our era. Anyway, not withstanding there are a couple of mayoral by-elections coming up. One in Greater Manchester and the other in the West Midlands.

Andy Burnham is the candidate for the Greater Manchester seat, and is generally a 1-5 shot. The other very interesting mayoralty is “West Midlands”. Now note the two pie charts for the 2015

Combined Westminster vote in each seat:

As much as the Lib Dems have done excellently in by-elections recently, either seat looks a ‘big ask’ in football parlance. And with UKIP’s failure to do anything in “Capital of Brexit” Stoke, I certainly can’t advise them in either seat at any price.

However the 1-5 shot (Andy Burnham/Greater Manchester) is on the left, and Sion Simon (6-4 shot) is on the right.

Now if there is a Copeland size swing, then the Conservatives will almost certainly win the West Midlands – but the West Midlands combined authority area is much more urban, and more favourable ground for Labour, even in their current sickly state.

In addition, and this is by far the biggest factor – Sion Simon can make this campaign about himself, and the wider Labour brand rather than Corbyn; who is electoral toxicity personified. Simon’s opponents will be trying to make this about Corbyn at every turn I am sure though.

Electoral Calculus projects at the next GE that the Tories will take the West Midlands in terms of votes in 2020 (37.5% to 36.4%), whilst Labour holds Greater Manchester by 40.3% to 30.7%. So don’t go wagering your life savings on Sion, but it is worth a tickle.

Andy should win Greater Manchester, though I can’t advise it at 1-5.

As a further, and final aside I’d expect the Conservatives to outperform their aggregate performance here in 2020 where Corbyn (If he remains leader) will definitely be at the forefront of the almost certainly doomed Labour campaign. A win for Sion Simon here doesn’t necessarily mean Labour are out of the woods in the West Midlands, though.

Full disclosure : I am on £28.50 to win £50 @ 7-4 (Sion Simon)


Pulpstar is a long standing gambler and contributor to PB