Archive for the 'UK Elections – others' Category


Professor Steve Fisher – the political scientist who got it right yet again

Friday, May 5th, 2017

On Tuesday afternoon professor Steve Fisher who runs the Elections etc website produced his predictions for the locals which were very different from what other academics and analysts were saying.

His projected numbers particularly for the LDs ran very much against the narrative. This was my response in a Tweet.

It might be recalled that well before the last general election professor Fisher started predicting that the Conservatives were going to get a majority all and all the other pointers suggested that it was going to be a hung Parliament.

Fisher is also a leading part of the team behind general election exit polls

He was dead right about GE2015 and I have learned to take him seriously.

Well done.

Mike Smithson


Huge CON gains, LAB collapse UKIP wipe out – the story of the night do far

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Thanks to RobD’s great resource here part is featured above. We have a brilliant tracker of what’s happening.

The virtual wipe out of UKIP and the switch of those voters has put the Tories in an extraordinarily powerful position as the numbers shows. This all augurs well for TMay’s party on June 8th.

The LDs have put on votes but look set to end as seat losers.

The super mayoralty results will mostly come during the day and it is hard to see anything other than big CON victories.

Mike Smithson


For the latest numbers on what seems a bad night for LAB check out RobD’s great spreadsheet

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Rob’s great resource is here and part of what it is showing is featured above.

This is better than anything you’ll find elsewhere.

Mike Smithson


Tonight’s battle grounds – the seats that are being defended

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

There is a whole series of different sets of elections taking place today and the chart focuses on English council seats which were last fought in 2013.

Mostly the seats being contested are in the old shire counties so this is not fertile territory for Labour in any circumstances period as can be seen. The Tories completely dominated last time these were fought.

2013 was the third year of the coalition waspretty bad year for the Lib Dems. It was also when UKIP reached it’s high point. It’s 20%+ vote share on that day 4 years ago, however only produced 145 seats.

What it does mean is that there are a lot of UKIP votes there to squeeze and given the way the national polls have been going then that is going to be the main driver of the likely Conservative success.

The other set of English elections are for the new elected Mayor position in the combined local authorities. Andy Burnham is the Labour contender in Greater Manchester while in Birmingham the Conservatives have got high hopes of taking victory which will be a huge blow to Labour.

There are also local elections in Scotland and Wales and here the seas were last contested in 2012 just after the famous “Omnishambles budget” and Labour’s speak in the last Parliament. This means that we can expect considerable losses for the red team.

The Scottish local elections use a complex form of PR where as in Wales it is standard first past the post.

This is the first time ever that the local elections have taken place in the middle of a general election campaign so it is likely that national issues will play a more important part than usual.

Mike Smithson


Get ready for a big psephological debate on Friday on how much you can read in to the locals

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

How much a general election pointer will the locals be?

The timing of the 2017 General Election has created an almost unique situation. This is the first time in the modern era when a general election has been called before the May local elections and the campaign period covered those elections.

Since 1992 all general elections have been held on the same day as the local elections scheduled for those years. The impact has been that the turnout in the locals has been at general election levels, 60%+, way above turnouts in the 30s in non general election years.

The effect has been that the big picture from the locals have been akin to the general election. The general election results were broadly though not entirely reflected in the council votes.

In 1992 John Major went to the country four weeks before that year’s locals with LAB doing much worse in the May locals than in the April general election.

We have to back to the June general elections 1983 and 1987 for anything similar to what we have this year – May locals and June general elections. The only problem is that that in those years Mrs Thatcher went to the country AFTER she had seen how well her party had done in the locals. So those two general elections cannot be seen, as Anthony Wells of YouGov is trying to argue, as relevant precedents for GE2017.

    People will be voting on Thursday in the knowledge that they’ll be doing so again on June 8th. Inevitably national considerations will impact on voting behaviour.

The two critical sets of numbers that will come out on Friday will be Prof John Curtice’s national vote projection and the national equivalent vote share projection from Professors Rallings and Thrasher.

These are likely to be different from the latest general election polls and will be seized on by parties that are doing better to assert that they are a better reflection of public opinion.

The Lib Dems will certainly use them to make the case that they are doing better than the polls.

Mike Smithson


A week tonight and we have 2017’s first big set of elections

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Harry Hayfield looks forward 7 days

So as there are no local by-elections this week, here’s the final part of my estimates for the local elections in Wales and Scotland.

As for the estimates for the English counties, I had a look at the by-elections in Wales since the referendum, tallied the changes on 2012 and noted if the council had voted to REMAIN or LEAVE and made the following observation. In REMAIN councils, the change was Lab -6%, Green -5%, Others -1%, Con unchanged, Ind unchanged, Lib Dem +1%, UKIP +2% and Plaid +8%. In LEAVE councils the change was Lab -16%, Con unchanged, Green unchanged, Others +1%, Plaid +2%, Ind +3% with the Lib Dems and UKIP both up 5%. A few days ago Prof Roger Scully of the Welsh Governance Centre at Cardiff University (him with his own Twitter parody account in the style of John Curtice) published a local election poll purely for Wales and I noted that the forecast results I was getting from that were pretty much in line with the forecast results I had been getting looking at the change by council’s view on the referendum, so therefore the figures published below are based on that poll (the details of which were tweeted by Britain Elects at the time)

Welsh Council Elections Forecast 2017
Blaenau Gwent: Lab 33, Ind 5, Con 2, Plaid 2 (Lab HOLD)
Bridgend: Lab 22, Con 15, Ind 11, Lib Dem 3, Plaid 3 (Lab LOSS to NOC)
Caerphilly: Plaid 39, Lab 29, Con 4, Ind 1 (Plaid GAIN from Lab)
Cardiff: Con 39, Lib Dem 16, Plaid 12, Lab 8 (Con GAIN from Lab)
Carmarthenshire: Plaid 52, Ind 13, Lab 7, Con 2 (Plaid GAIN from NOC)
Ceredigion: Plaid 23, Ind 11, Lib Dem 7, Lab 1 (Plaid GAIN from NOC)
Conwy: Con 30, Plaid 12, Lab 7, Ind 5, Lib Dem 5 (Con GAIN from NOC)
Denbighshire: Con 28, Plaid 10, Lab 6, Ind 3 (Con GAIN from NOC)
Flintshire: Lab 28, Ind 21, Con 12, Lib Dem 7, Plaid 1 (No Overall Control, unchanged)
Gwynedd: Plaid 54, Ind 11, Llais 4, Con 2, Lab 3, Lib Dem 1 (Plaid GAIN from NOC)
Merthyr Tydfil: Lab 24, Ind 5, Plaid 3, Con 1 (Lab HOLD)
Monmouthshire: Con 27, Lab 10, Ind 4, Lib Dem 2 (Con GAIN from NOC)
Neath and Port Talbot: Lab 41, Plaid 18, Con 3, Ind 2 (Lab HOLD)
Newport: Con 39, Lab 11 (Con GAIN from Lab)
Pembrokeshire: Ind 32, Con 13, Lab 9, Plaid 5, Lib Dem 1 (Ind HOLD)
Powys: Ind 33, Con 21, Lib Dem 12, Lab 6 (Ind LOSS to NOC)
Rhondda, Cynon, Taff: Lab 46, Plaid 20, Con 5, Ind 3, Lib Dem 1 (Lab HOLD)
Swansea: Con 35, Lab 24, Lib Dem 6, Plaid 2, Ind 3, Swansea Independents 2 (Lab LOSS to NOC)
Torfaen: Lab 13, Con 12, Ind 10, Plaid 8 (Lab LOSS to NOC)
Vale of Glamorgan: Con 32, Lab 8, Plaid 6, Ind 1 (Con GAIN from NOC)
Wrexham: Lab 17, Ind 15, Con 10, Lib Dem 6, Plaid 4 (No Overall Control, no change)
Ynys Môn: Plaid 12, Ind 11, Con 6, Lib Dem 1 (No Overall Control, no change)

Whilst I used the same method with Scotland (as all of the Scottish councils voted to REMAIN it was a much easier task) I could not make a forecast of the seat allocations thanks to the fact that Scotland uses the Single Transferable Vote to elect councillors, so this list of the councils shows the estimated vote share in that council area with the status based on which party is in the lead (as opposed to how many councillors may be elected). The change is based on Con +11%, Lab -6%, Lib Dem -1%, SNP +3%, Ind -5%, UKIP unchanged, Green unchanged and Others -3%

City of Aberdeen: SNP 34%, Lab 23%, Con 20%, Lib Dem 14%, Ind 6%, Green 2% (SNP HOLD)
Aberdeenshire: SNP 41%, Con 32%, Lib Dem 14%, Ind 10%, Green 2%, Lab 1% (SNP HOLD)
Angus: SNP 46%, Con 28%, Ind 19%, Lib Dem 5%, Lab 1% (SNP HOLD)
Argyll and Bute: SNP 32%, Ind 32%, Con 26%, Lib Dem 10% (SNP GAIN from Ind)
Clackmannanshire: SNP 48%, Lab 31%, Con 20% (SNP HOLD)
Dumfries and Galloway: Con 37%, Lab 23%, SNP 22%, Ind 13%, Lib Dem 3%, Lab 2%, UKIP 1% (Con GAIN from Lab)
City of Dundee: SNP 46%, Lab 24%, Con 22%, Lib Dem 8%, Green 1% (SNP HOLD)
East Ayrshire: SNP 41%, Lab 34%, Con 22%, Ind 3% (SNP GAIN from Lab)
East Dunbartonshire: SNP 29%, Con 27%, Lab 23%, Lib Dem 14%, Others 6%, Green 1%, Ind 1% (SNP GAIN from Lab)
East Lothian: Lab 36%, SNP 33%, Con 25%, Lib Dem 5%, Ind 1% ((Lab HOLD)
East Renfrewshire: Con 40%, Lab 25%, SNP 22%, Ind 10%, Lib Dem 5%, Green 1% (Con GAIN from Lab)
City of Edinburgh: Con 31%, SNP 29%, Lab 21%, Green 11%, Lib Dem 8% (Con GAIN from Lab)
Falkirk: SNP 42%, Lab 31%, Con 22%, Ind 5% (SNP HOLD)
Fife: SNP 34%, Lab 32%, Con 19%, Lib Dem 12%, Green 1%, Ind 1%, UKIP 1% (SNP GAIN from Lab)
City of Glasgow: Lab 40%, SNP 35%, Con 17%, Green 5%, Lib Dem 2%, Others 1% (Lab HOLD)
Highland: Ind 35%, SNP 29%, Con 16%, Lib Dem 12%, Lab 7%, Green 1% (Ind HOLD)
Inverclyde: Lab 38%, SNP 28%, Con 21%, Lib Dem 7%, Ind 6% (Lab HOLD)
Midlothian: SNP 41%, Lab 33%, Con 19%, Green 4%, Lib Dem 3% (SNP GAIN from Lab)
Moray: SNP 42%, Con 28%, Ind 23%, Lab 3%, Green 3%, UKIP 1% (SNP HOLD)
Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Western Isles): Ind 64%, SNP 26%, Con 11% (Ind HOLD)
North Ayrshire: SNP 39%, Lab 26%, Con 20%, Ind 14%, Lib Dem 1%, UKIP 1% (SNP HOLD)
North Lanarkshire: Lab 45%, SNP 37%, Con 16%, Ind 1% (Lab HOLD)
Orkney Islands: Ind 84%, Con 10%, SNP 5% (Ind HOLD)
Perth and Kinross: SNP 43%, Con 36%, Lib Dem 12%, Lab 6%, Ind 2%, Green 1% (SNP HOLD)
Renfrewshire: Lab 40%, SNP 37%, Con 19%, Lib Dem 3% (Lab HOLD)
The Scottish Borders: Con 35%, SNP 24%, Lab 18%, Ind 18%, Lib Dem 16%, Others 7% (Con HOLD)
Shetland Islands: Ind 85%, Con 10%, SNP 5% (Ind HOLD)
South Ayrshire: Con 42%, SNP 32%, Lab 19%, Ind 8% (Con HOLD)
South Lanarkshire: SNP 39%, Lab 36%, Con 21%, Lib Dem 2%, Green 1%, UKIP 1% (SNP GAIN from Lab)
Stirling: SNP 38%, Con 29%, Lab 22%, Green 6%, Lib Dem 4%, UKIP 1% (SNP HOLD)
West Dunbartonshire: Lab 41%, SNP 33%, Con 15%, Ind 8%, Others 3% (Lab HOLD)
West Lothian: SNP 44%, Lab 32%, Con 20%, Others 4% (SNP HOLD)

Am I right or am I completely wrong? Well, we shall know next week (including whether I have been successful in winning a seat on Ceredigion council) although looking at the forecast for the council this may be a rather opportune clip


Labour’s May 4th prospects are looking appalling in England, Wales and Scotland

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

And UKIP are in for a pounding as well

UKIP’s set to have more losses that its actually contesting

Today I have been in London for the annual local elections briefing organised by the Political Studies Association. The panelists were Professors Colin Rawlings and Michael Thrasher for England with Rodger Scully for Wales and Professor John Curtice for Scotland.

    Rawlings and Thrasher focused on their by-election prediction model which just covers England and suggested that there’s a possibility that Labour could end up as third party behind both CON and the LDs.

The slides above are from their presentation.

A massive problem for UKIP is that the seats up next week are those that were last fought four years ago which was when the party was at its absolute peak.

It was noted that many upper UKIP candidates elected in 2013 had switched parties or formed new groupings. The gains and losses calculation is based on what happened in the 2013 elections and does not take this into account. This is important because the number of UKIP losses predicted is higher than the number of seats that they are contesting.

For the model Ralling and Thrasher make their own calculations of the implications of boundary changes and that means that their change numbers will be different from those from the Press Association which will be issuing information on the night.

In Scotland the seats up are those last fought in 2012 and things have changed dramatically in the politics north of the border since then. The Tories are almost certainly look set to end up as a second party and we’re going to see spectacular losses for LAB like control of the city of Glasgow.

Wales is going to be equally appalling for Labour as we saw in yesterday’s YouGov poll.

What is important for the general election from the local council results is the narrative that will be created.

Mike Smithson


What ‘good’ will look like for the parties in this year’s May elections

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

Who should win what, and what will the misses and bonuses mean?

The expectations game is an unavoidable part of politics and one that pundits and practitioners play with relish. It is, of course, such an intrinsic part of betting that it’s difficult to meaningfully isolate betting from expectations.

There are more direct practical consequences of how a party performs against expectations. It’s one thing to lose seats; it’s another to lose more than people expect – or, for that matter, to lose fewer. Leaderships and the fates of parties and countries can turn not on the absolute results themselves but how they matched up against what people thought they should or could have been.

The local elections are a very good case in point. In any normal year, the Tories and SNP could expect to be taking losses. Governments in mid-term are generally unpopular and almost always so in their second and subsequent terms. The usual expectation game would be in setting what scale of losses would be survivable. Not so this year – and that’s all because of Labour.

Labour is facing a triple-whammy, suffering from the effects of the Corbyn leadership nationally, but also their existential-level disaster in Scotland, from which they haven’t even begun to work out an answer, and also the effects of running the Welsh governent for 18 years. As just mentioned, under normal circumstances, Labour should be looking to make sizable gains in England and Scotland but no-one expects that and rightly so.

The prediction by Thrasher and Rallings of 50 losses in England seems reasonable to me but if Labour can hold their UK score to Lord Hayward’s forecast of 125 losses they will have done very well. Scottish Labour won nearly 400 seats on 31% of first-preference votes in 2012. With the party now polling in the low teens at best, they might easily lose at least half that total. On a similar note, Welsh Labour gained 237 seats in 2007, an election where it held a lead of 20% over Plaid and Con. Given current polling, a three-figure loss this time should be expected.

In reality, if Labour can keep UK losses below 300, they’ll have outperformed current polling (though critically, not current expectations). To make it a good night, they’ll need to hold on to their English councils – the Scottish ones are surely beyond hope – and sweep the mayoral contests outside Cambridgeshire.

By contrast, the Conservatives will be looking for and expecting gains. For a government to make gains in anything other than a general election year is highly unusual – it happened in 2011, when the Tories made enough gains from the Lib Dems to offset losses to Labour, but otherwise not since the 1980s. With the Scottish Tories riding higher than at any point in a generation, the UK party enjoying consistent double-digit leads and UKIP faltering badly (particularly in local elections), a good night would see the Conservatives pick up at least 250 seats.

Of more prominence will be the mayoral contests. These are now the highest-profile races after the UK, Scottish and Welsh general elections and the London mayoralty. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough should be a comfortable win but can the Tories pick up one or more of the urban mayoralties? To win one would be good; to win more would be excellent. These elections are of course held under SV, which will play a part although it’s rare (but not unknown) for transferred votes to switch the outcome. Probably the biggest prize in play is the West Midlands – Greater Manchester is surely a step too far – but any of the contests outside Lancashire might see a high-profile Con gain.

If the fates of the Tories and Labour are running counter to normality, the Liberal Democrats will and should expect something closer to traditional form. They’ve always been strongest in local elections and while the coalition years were deeply attritional to the party’s council base, the losses weren’t as bad as those suffered by their MEPs and MPs. So as they survived, now they (and others) expect them to recover.

That strength, however, has generally been the result of targeting – wards, constituencies and at most, councils. So just as the losses were minimised by local strength (in 2013, the Lib Dems won more than twice as many councillors as UKIP despite polling 8% behind on NEV), so that same effect will now limit gains. Even so, a good night for the Lib Dems will see a three-figure net seat gain across the UK and winning control of at least one county in the South West.

Targeting will also limit chances of winning the big mayoralities. Unlike the Tories, Labour, UKIP and SNP, neither the Lib Dems nor their predecessors have won a million-voter contest in the last 100 years. The ‘West of England’ (or Greater Bristol) contest is the only one that might just be within range, particularly given the split in the Labour vote.

    The biggest potential cherry on the Lib Dem cake is Manchester Gorton. The party has always prided itself on its by-election ability and after a fallow period during Cameron’s leadership of the Tories, the Lib Dems are now back in the game. However, it’s a massive ask, even given the Lib Dems’ pre-2010 record there. No party (never mind an opposition party) has ever lost a 24,000 majority at a by-election.

If the Lib Dems can go into the elections in a confident frame of mind, UKIP has no such luxury. That the party is contesting fewer than half the seats (and fewer than the Greens) tells its own story. Indeed, UKIP’s whole local government story has come full cycle: 2013 was their breakthrough year and those initial gains are now the seats being defended.

Rallings and Thrasher predict a decline from a 22% NEV in 2013 to just 10% this year. I’ve never been convinced by that 22% figure, which had to be calculated somewhat blind given the lack of prior knowledge about areas of UKIP strength. Even so, a sharp decline in vote share seems inevitable, combined with an even sharper decline in seats won. For UKIP, a good night is likely to be one where their performance is mostly ignored. If they keep their losses in double figure (defending fewer than 150) they will have done well.

In stark contrast to UKIP (in just about every way), the 2017 Scottish local elections are the last set in which the SNP can make sizable gains, which after 2015 and 2016, is the minimum expected. Salmond talked about gaining Glasgow in 2012; his successor should pull off the feat. That alone would make for a good night, though outside Scotland few will notice the detail, particularly as the STV system means not that many seats will change compared with FPTP, and most councils will end up NOC anyway.

May 4 is going to provide a lot of material for the media but only three stories at most will be chosen because there simply isn’t space for more and because the media love ‘leader under pressure’ narratives. Those that are will very probably be those which don’t fit expectations. On that basis, I’d predict Lab losses, Con gains (though this will be more patchy), and, possibly, Manchester Gorton.

David Herdson