Archive for the 'UK Elections – others' Category


UKIP has suffered most in real elections in LEAVE areas since BREXIT – the pro-EU LDs the best

Friday, January 6th, 2017


A few months ago Harry Hayfield, PB’s local election specialist, introduced a new element in his regular monitoring of local by-election: dividing them up into whether the local authority areas voted REMAIN or LEAVE on June 23rd. This enables us to compare the two areas.

A lot of focus has been put on seat changes but the above data looks at how the vote shares have changed in the two types of seat. The vote change relates to what happened in the wards in comparison to when when they were last fought.

We all know that the LDs have been having a particularly good time in local by-election of late but I was quite surprised by the vote share changes that have the most pro-EU party doing far better in places that voted for BREXIT than those that didn’t.

Turnout, of course, is a key factor. The referendum saw it top 70% in most parts of England while in local by-elections he number of voters participating is a lot fewer so you cannot assume that the make-up of by-election voters will reflect the referendum pattern.

Mike Smithson


The Tories must be hoping that the newly created elected mayoralties will lead to some CON victories

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

The blues are badly represented in this government tier

When Zac Goldsmith failed in his effort to become London mayor in May the total number of these posts held by the Tories was reduced to just one – Torbay. This is an electoral segment where the party has struggled and even at its peak only held three of them.

A big reason, of course is that they’ve tended to be set up in towns and cities where the Tories have struggled. The only other place apart from London which has had a CON directly-elected Mayor was until 2014 North Tyneside.

The Labour Mayors are in London, Bristol, Doncaster, Hackney, Leicester, Lewisham, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Newham, N Tyneside, Salford and Tower Hamlets. The LDs hold the Watford and Bedford mayoralties while independents have Copeland and Mansfield.

The holders of these pots are very powerful figures in their areas holding a high degree of executive authority. This impact on the role of councillors which have a much more limited role than elsewhere.

There are ten elections in May and the blues must pick up a few.

Mike Smithson


It’s not just Manchester where there’ll be 2017 directly elections for the mayors of newly created combined authorities

Monday, December 19th, 2016

The Osborne restructuring plan comes into effect

On May 4th there’ll be huge wave of new elections for the newly created combined mayors in the place listed above. Electors in large parts of England will have their chance to vote for these new positions which have been created largely because of George Osborne.

A lot of powers are being devolved to them and the elected mayors are set to become major figures in their areas.

Looking at the list the Tories must have hopes in East Anglia and Lincolnshire and be competitive in several places elsewhere. These are not just the inner cities but their hinterlands as well.

My guess is that the non-Labour areas of the new authorities will have higher turnouts which has been very much the pattern in London. Here it is the overall number of votes in each authorities that matter.

Mike Smithson


Andy Burnham’s victory in first Gtr Manchester Mayoral Race should not be regarded as a foregone conclusion

Monday, December 19th, 2016

Manchester Evening News May 19 2016

Former LAB Health Secs have flopped in mayoral races before

The biggest election, in terms of the one involving the most number of voters, planned for 2017 is the May contest for the elected Mayor of Greater Manchester. The bookies make ex-LAB health sec and twice failed leadership candidate, Andy Burnham the tight odds on favourite. Ladbrokes have him at 1/6. As well as the City of Manchester itself it covers a huge range of local authorities from Wigan in the West to the Yorkshire border in the east.

This is an area that at GE2015 was almost solidly Labour and in the referendum on June 23rd went 53% to LEAVE. The city of Manchester itself saw a REMAIN share of 60.4%. The area has pockets of former Lib Dem strength which got wiped out in 2015.

One of Burnham’s big problems is that he’s a scouser and they don’t go down well in Manchester. This is how the Manchester Evening News reported his decision to fight last May:

“Andy Burnham yesterday became the latest Labour figure to throw his hat in the ring for Greater Manchester mayor – but was immediately hit by a flood of criticism that had nothing to do with his politics or his policies.

Many of the comments on both the M.E.N’s story, social media and elsewhere online claimed one thing and one thing alone should primarily rule him out.

Not his shifting stance on devo, or his Blairite past, or the fact he’s left it so last minute. No. It’s that he’s a ‘Scouser’

It may seem petty, but even senior local Labour sources have made the point privately, only half-joking.

And doubtless if a Manc went and tried the same thing in Liverpool, words would be had – and just as loudly..”

I don’t believe this is a petty point. A major part of an elected Mayor is being seen as the embodiment of the area he/she represents. Remember how the “Hartlepool monkey” was successful in that town’s first mayoral elections or the success of Ray Mallon in Teesside.

Party labels are not always a guarantee in elected Mayoral races. In the very first one, London 2000, the official LAB candidate was the ex-health sec Frank Dobson. He came in third behind Tory Steve Norris and Ken Livingstone who stood as an independent after failing to win the party’s nomination.

Also to be taken into account in initial elections for newly created posts is turnout. Remember how pitifully low these were in the first Police & Crime Commissioner elections in 2012. The first London elections achieved 34% far lower than we saw last May.

    Another possible problem for Burnham is BREXIT which will dominate national politics throughout next year. As we saw in the 2015 LAB leadership race he has the ability to get his stance wrong on what matters most to those voting.

The LDs plan to run the Gtr Manchester Mayoral race as a replica Richmond Park making support for the EU their key plank.

If not Burnham then who? That’s hard to say at the moment but he’s far from value at 1/6.

Mike Smithson


The numbers that the pollsters hope will help restore faith in their industry

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

London Mayoral race   Google Sheets
For the past year it has not been much fun being a political pollster. Whenever any new survey has been published it has been greeted with “Well we all know what happened at the General Election”.

So today’s elections where there’s been polling, the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament and most of all London could play a big part in the renewing faith in what they do.

The reason this might sound London-centric is because the General Election Scottish polling was, in the main, pretty good and only one firm, YouGov, does regular Welsh polls. In the two national regions, as well, there is the complication of the list voting system on top of those for individual members of the national parliaments.

Of course there are a large range of contenders fighting for the capital’s mayoralty but voters do have what is known as a “supplementary vote” so this is a sort of AV system.

    If there is a Zac victory or the Khan lead is in low single figures then the doubts over polling will remain – something that’s particularly important in the count down to the June 23rd referendum.

In the list above I have only included those where fieldwork took place during the final week. All the surveys are online.

Mike Smithson


Professor Michael Thrasher introduces The Elections Centre

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

michael thrasher Google Search



When Rallings and Thrasher established the Elections Centre in the early 1980s the principal aim was to collect and publish local election results in the same way that F.W.S. Craig was covering the parliamentary equivalent. In establishing the website,, the aim is to provide easier access for a wide variety of users to the huge amount of data compiled over the intervening years.

Many readers of Political Betting will already be acquainted with the site but a glimpse of future plans can be had from visiting the new interactive pages relating to council political compositions.

The current party political composition of most councils is generally available on their own websites although in many cases it takes a bit of finding. There are also individual data-gatherers that have consolidated these, meaning that listings for particular years are available. Some months ago we took the process a stage further and posted files that enabled users to examine for each year since 1973 (1964 in the case of the London boroughs) the full range of councils across post-reorganisation Britain.

This approach was useful if users were interested in what happened in year ‘x’ but was a bit tiresome if the interest was primarily in council ‘y’ and how its political control had altered over time. It also required a knowledge of spreadsheets which is far from ideal.

Now, we are introducing interactivity (hats off to Robert Merrison-Hort for assistance) on to the website. By clicking on the link the user can simply type in the council name and then see its full council history presented from its origin year to the present.

Because the file that supplies the data is currently about 21,000 rows long (hard-core fans can download the entire file) it takes a little time to load and to have the results displayed. Because the application also searches by text it will provide multiple councils if the user simply inputs words like ‘south’ or ‘shire’ for example. But by the same token it will only find Barking & Dagenham if ‘bark’ is typed.

Data are organised into columns – authority name, year, council (total number of seats) and then the seats won by the various parties are shown. The final column states the type of control, including NOC for no overall control. We are strict about whether a council is majority run or not – only if a single party has more than half the seats. While hardliners prefer to include the ‘mayor’s casting vote there is no possibility of knowing this for all councils over a half century or longer. For the same reason our files do not allow for occasions when councillors are elected for one party only to defect to another or to sit as independent. Even with those caveats in place there is still scope for differences between our file and the information published elsewhere but nothing is perfect.

The selection of parties may upset purists. Additional to Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat (including all other predecessors but now excluding current Liberals) and Nationalists (SNP and Plaid Cymru) there is the ubiquitous ‘Others’. More than anyone we know that local government has its Independents and a whole raft of smaller parties but this is time series, big picture stuff. The alternative was to have many more columns to display.

Because the data are organised by columns this provides the user with possibilities other than simply listing a particular council’s composition. So, if someone inputs ‘2015’ only council compositions for that year appear. If ‘2015 NOC’ is typed then only councils currently under no overall control in 2015 are displayed, while the text ‘Ply Lab’ would only display a list of the years when Labour had majority control of Plymouth.

It is also possible to sort the data in each column. This is particularly useful if there is a desire to know the best (or worst) year for any party.

This is our first venture in making the data available interactively but we hope that it attracts interest not only from election watchers but also from a wider public. Feedback and suggestions for other data presentations can be sent to but we’d like users to subscribe so news about up-dates can be sent automatically.


The task for Corbyn’s LAB on May 5th: Match previous opposition leaders in non general election years

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016


Kinnock 1984 Net gains LAB in locals
Kinnock 1985 Net gains LAB in locals
Kinnock 1986 Net gains LAB in locals
Kinnock 1988 Net gains LAB in locals
Kinnock 1989 Net gains LAB in locals
Kinnock 1990 Net gains LAB in locals
Kinnock 1991 Net gains LAB in locals
Smith 1993 Net gains LAB in locals
Smith 1994 Net gains LAB in locals
Blair 1995 Net gains LAB in locals
Blair 1996 Net gains LAB in locals
Hague 1998 Net gains CON in locals
Hague 1999 Net gains CON in locals
Hague 2000 Net gains CON in locals
Duncan Smith 2002 Net gains CON in locals
Duncan Smith 2003 Net gains CON in locals
Howard 2004 Net gains CON in locals
Cameron 2006 Net gains CON in locals
Cameron 2007 Net gains CON in locals
Cameron 2008 Net gains CON in locals
Cameron 2009 Net gains CON in locals
Miliband 2011 Net gains LAB in locals
Miliband 2012 Net gains LAB in locals
Miliband 2013 Net gains LAB in locals
Miliband 2014 Net gains LAB in locals
Corbyn 2016 ????

We are just two months away from the May 5th set of elections which looks set to be a good test for the parties with new leaders- LAB and the LDs.

As well as the London Mayoral election, Holyrood and the Welsh Assembly there are police commissioner elections throughout England and, of course, the usual round of local elections. It is the latter which should give us an indication of party popularity and activist morale.

A key indicator for Labour is whether they achieve net council seat gains. As the table at the top shows the main opposition party has made net gains in every set of locals in non-general election years since the Falklands war in 1982.

So the challenge facing Mr. Corbyn is at the very minimum to maintain the record and come away with net gains.

This could be quite hard because many of the seats being contested were last fought in 2012 weeks after Osborne’s “Omnishambles” budget when Labour was riding high.

Corbyn needs a good May 5th.

Mike Smithson


Zac to win mayoralty, Corbyn to survive, Trump to fail: Ipsos MORI poll on what people think will happen in 2016

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

Welcome 2016 – Prediction Time

It’s that time of year when people look to the next year and start making predictions. One new development on this that I don’t recall seeing before is a national phone poll as seen in some of the charts above from Ipsos MORI.

On the political list the one that is out of line with the betting markets is who’ll replace Boris as London Mayor. The poll, as can be seen, has Zac as the strong favourite. Punters make Sadiq a strong favourite. On this we need to remember that this is a national poll one not just restricted to London. My guess is that a survey confined to just those living in the capital would have a different view.

Corbyn to survive is broadly in line with the betting as is for Donald Trump not to become US president.

Mike Smithson