Archive for the 'UK Elections – others' Category


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


Tonight on the PB/Polling Matters podcast – Prof Colin Rallings on next week’s local elections

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

With the local elections only a week ago I am very pleased to alert to you this evening’s PB/Polling Matters podcast when Keiran Pedley’s guest will be Professor Colin Rallings who with Professor Michael Thrasher are just about the country’s leading experts on local elections. Prof Rallings will also be known to those who watch the ITV general election programmes.

This is something of a first and I think that the podcast format developed by Keiran enables the level of probing and analysis that’s not available elsewhere.

We’ll also have this morning the latest QMUL London YouGov poll which should give pointers to how the elections in boroughs in the capital are going. This is due out at 11am and I plan to post as soon as possible afterwards.

The podcast should be ready later in the evening.

Mike Smithson


LAB and the LDs must be hoping to move up the BBC National vote share projection next week – with the Tories edging down

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

Drawing national conclusions from the local battles

We are only 8 days away from the May local elections which at the moment looks as though will be the most significant UK electoral test that we will have during 2018.

One of the problems with looking for national trends from the locals is that very different ranges of seats come up each year and we cannot simply use the party vote or seat totals for comparison. Over a four year cycle in England different types of councils have elections. Thus with the London boroughs, a Labour stronghold, dominating this year an annual assessment on just the aggregate vote would be distorting in the same way in years when the shire counties dominate.

To get round this each year the BBC team, which includes John Curtice, seek to make a projection for the entire country based on the results that they have available. There’s another team as well making a similar calculation – professors Rallings and Thrasher. The latter do it in a different way and I must admit that I have never comprehended the methodological difference between theirs and the BBC numbers.

If this election is similar to previous ones the chances are that the BBC figure will be published first most likely on the night during their election results coverage.

The chart above show the BBC projected national vote share at every set of local elections since 2000. UKIP only came into the equation in 2013 which explains the shortness of the plot.

Last year things were rather distorted by the fact that the general election was called during the local election campaign and on the day before polling day Mrs May made her highly publicised drive to The Palace followed by a speech in Downing Street – something that completely dominated the headlines and the TV coverage.

Unless she’s got something special up her sleeve this time I’m not expecting that such a boost will be possible.

Mike Smithson


If there’s a high turnout of Jewish voters in this key ward then LAB’s main London hope could be thwarted

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

Sean Fear rates a Barnet CON hold a 50-50 chance

I’ve just had a bet at 23/10 with Ladbrokes that the Conservatives will hold on to Barnet in the local elections on May 3rd. My reason is an assessment by long standing PB contributor, Sean Fear, that this is a 50-50 chance and in such cases the betting option that’s longer than evens is the value bet.

Sean has long experience of London elections and I for one take notice of it.

This is Sean’s reasoning:

The crucial Barnet wards are:-

Brunswick Park. This went Labour 42.6%, Conservative 41.2% Green 11.2%, Lib Dem 4.9% in 2014. Labour won 2 seats to 1 Conservative. It’s on the edge of East Barnet and Southgate. It’s only 5% Jewish, Labour are doing increasingly well in Chipping Barnet, and I think they’ll win the third seat.

Hale. Conservative 43.1%, Labour 40%, Green 10.9%, Lib Dem 6%. 2 Conservative to 1 Labour. This is basically, the parts of Edgware and Mill Hill that don’t fall into Edgware and Mill Hill wards. Although it’s mixed, it’s mostly prosperous. It’s 19% Jewish, and comes into Hendon constituency where the Conservatives have done very well since 2014. I think the Conservatives will win the third seat.

Assuming these two wards are as I predict, this puts the Conservatives and Labour on 30 seats each.

Childs Hill. Conservative 32.1%, Labour 29.8%, Lib Dem 27.5%, Green 10.5%. 2 Conservative to 1 Lib Dem (Cllr. Jack Cohen polled far better than the other two Lib Dems). This lies between Golders Green and Hampstead. It was safe Lib Dem for years, but the Conservatives unexpectedly gained 2 seats in 2014. It’s 17% Jewish, and could produce any result. I think the result of the borough election hinges on Childs Hill. If the Conservatives retain 2 seats, they’ll have 32 out of 63. But, each of the parties could win all three, or it could be split in any direction.

Unfortunately Ladbrokes have now tightened the price to 2/1.

Mike Smithson


The must win the for LAB on May 3rd – Barnet with its sizeable Jewish communities

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

A long-standing PBer with great knowledge of London local elections has emailed me to suggest that the 11/4 on a CON majority on Barnet Council in next month’s locals is a “good value bet”.

I know that he himself is big Tory activist and knows this area very well. If he is getting the message that it might not be the certain LAB gain that was being suggested a few weeks ago then I for one take that seriously.

I’ve not identified him and I hope he might be able to participate in the discussion.

Some parts of Barnet, have the biggest concentrations of Jewish voters anywhere in the UK and I should imagine that the recent machinations within Corbyn’s Labour have gone down like a bowl of sick.

Ladbrokes still has a CON majority at 11/4 with a LAB one at 1/4 and no overall control at 12/1.

Maybe worth a punt? This is not a prediction but a suggestion that the chance of it happening might be better than the odds available.

Mike Smithson


Introducing the Universal Ballot Database – A map which lets you zoom in and get ward level election results

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

Election anoraks can spend hours with this

On PB we always like to hear about innovative means of getting election and other data. Well let me alert you to Lawrence Ware’s grandly titled Universal Ballot Database which enables the user to zoom in, see the mapping of every individual ward n England and Wales and the results.

What it does is link the comprehensive Rallings and Thrasher election data base with Google maps.

It does use an enormous amount of computing resource and although it work on my phone with 6GB of Ram it is not ideal. Much better on a modern laptop.

Have fun and get your own data fast.

Mike Smithson


You can’t fault Corbyn’s ambition in going to Trafford to launch Labour local election campaign

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018


Ladbrokes make it 12/1 that they’ll take the council

Expect to hear a lot more than usual about this year’s local elections for the simple fact that the London boroughs are voting and this tends to alert the London based media into realising that elections are actually taking place. The only problem is that they will focus on the London boroughs and perhaps not give the same attention to what’s happening outside.

At the local election briefing on Monday by Conservative peer and elections specialist. Lord Hayward, about threw quarters of all the questioning and discussion from the assembled journalists was about London. Lord Hayward anticipated that by leading off on what’s happening outside the capital. Alas it has ever been thus.

So good on Corbyn for heading north for Labour’s local elections launch a measure the party will hope might help them gain the council. Lord Hayward had it moving to from CON hold to no overall control.

Giving the red team’s performance on June 8th last year there is still a lot of optimism about. Labour has a non-secret weapon which no other party can claim – its half million members. For local elections require activists on the ground knocking on doors and delivering leaflets – areas where the reds have a huge advantage if they can persuade enough within the party that activism is more than sending Tweets.

Ladbrokes, to their credit, have quite range of local election markets up focusing on who will win control of councils which could swing. I cannot recall a bookmaker with so many bets available cthis far out from the local election which gives an indication of how they feel their interest will grow

Hopefully Betfair will take notice and we could have some exchange betting going on.

Mike Smithson


Ahead of the May local elections Prof Michael Thrasher on the resources of The Elections Centre

Saturday, March 17th, 2018


Several recent up-dates and have been made to the Elections Centre website that should interest followers of Politicalbetting as we approach what appear to be an intriguing set of May local elections. The website also has two important additions – a new section covering council by-elections and another that hopefully will push the local elections database beyond the million candidate mark.

The councils compositions calculator now covers the position up to and including last May’s local elections. There are other websites that track recent changes, particularly useful when councillors switch party allegiance or vacancies arise, but no-one else as far as we know lets users look at each council’s composition over time. In the case of the London boroughs, of course, the starting year is 1964. Another modification is that the data are now arranged in descending rather than ascending year order, figuring that most people want to focus on recent electoral history. Summary data from both the 2016 and 2017 May local elections have been added to what we refer to as ‘theme’ and ‘year’ tables. Those familiar with the Local Election Handbook will know that these tables replicate the summary information contained in that series. So, those looking for data on turnout, contestation, the fate of incumbents, numbers of women standing and elected, for example, then the themed tables would be the place to start:

Alternatively, if the user wants to view the overall picture or examine each party’s performance in specific authorities then the year tables are more useful. So, with one eye on May 3 people may want to note how the parties fared in the 2014 equivalent local elections, the proportion of seats contested last time compared with this and the likely efficiency of each party’s votes to seats conversion. Of interest will be party shares of votes and seats for each council. The parties of interest are Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green, UKIP, Independents and Others. In the case of Wales, Plaid Cymru is added.

We’ve been covering council by-elections since the early 1980s. In the early days, there were very few published sources for these data but that has changed markedly over the past decade. Some websites specialise in alerting everyone to new vacancies and impending by-elections while others provide invaluable background information about each contest. Another group of sites provide details of each result, whether the seat represents a gain/loss and in some cases the change in vote share since the last May election. A frustration for us has been that sites often overlook the percentage turnout of voters and/or the ward electorate. Most (though still not all!!) council websites contain these figures but finding the relevant page is sometimes a challenge.

Our frustration is now over, it appears. One of the growing legion of election enthusiasts is now sharing his extensive by-election data with us . The data include by-elections from the beginning of each May (i.e. coincident with the main May elections) through to the following April. The series, thus far, begins in 2015-16. The most recent file covers the period since May 2017 but please don’t expect up-dates to occur on the Friday morning following the latest batch of Thursday contests.

The huge merit in these new files is that the author includes not only the electorate and turnout data but a wealth of hitherto difficult to extract information. For each by-election there is also a list of the candidates, the name of the previous incumbent and the cause of the vacancy. Useful summary sheets provide an overview of seat gains and losses, the results in chronological order as well as breakdowns by type of authority (London, metropolitan boroughs etc) and country/region.

Please leave feedback via email on the website if you like this new development or have suggestions for ways in which it might be presented differently.

Our own data on by-elections (more than ten thousand results and counting) covers a much longer period but we have never recorded details of the candidates standing, only the parties represented on the ballot paper. Nevertheless, depositing these data online is something that we’ve discussed and in principle agreed to do. Watch this space, therefore.

Finally, a new development for a long-term project. The British Local Elections Database, available at the data archive at Essex University, contains results for council seats from the late nineteenth century onwards. At the last count the database contains details for over nine hundred thousand candidates that have stood for local election over the past 130 years. Although the data include all elections held since the 1973 reorganisation the period 1945-1972 is patchy and is largely restricted to the former county boroughs.

However, Alan Willis has been busy rummaging through the local newspaper archives that have recently become available online. He has compiled a series of 27 spreadsheets (no elections held in 1948) for the more than three hundred non-county boroughs, ranging alphabetically from Abergavenny to Yeovil . For some authorities the information is reasonably good but for others it is not. We are appealing for assistance in building the data coverage. So, for those who might have newspaper clippings stored in the attic or know of alternative online sources for some of the missing data then look at the current data and get in touch. Help us past the one million candidate mark!

Michael Thrasher