Archive for the 'UK Elections – others' Category

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With the first LE2018 postal votes being cast the signs are not good for the Tories

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

The first of next month’s two electoral challenges for the Tories

While everybody seems to be getting excited about the May 23rd Euro elections there has been little focus on the big hurdle that the Tories have to surmount three weeks before that. These are the local elections in England which cover almost all of the country excluding London and just one or two counties.

Each year during a four years cycle a different set of local elections takes place and it is a particular challenge for the Tories at this difficult time that the group of council elections up on May 2nd are the ones where the party traditionally does very well.  Indeed back in 2015, when, most  were last fought, the Tories won more than 4000 which was in excess of half the overall number of contests.

Four years ago, of course, was on the day of GE2015  when the Tories did far better than had been predicted and secured a Commons majority.  This success was seen in the locals as well so it was always going to be the case even without the Brexit turmoil that May 2nd 2019 was going to be hard because there are so many seats to defend.

In his annual media presentation on the coming local elections the week before last the Tory elections analyst, Lord Hayward, observed that the one thing that could help his party between then and the May 2nd election day was the Brexit deal being approved. For there’s little doubt that the events of the past months have made life on the doorstep for Tory campaigners quite challenging and there’ll be a sense of relief once Brexit is settled. Alas that is not going to happen.

Reports from the ground suggest that the Tory vote is weak. It is not that there will be much switching to other parties but a concern that traditional CON voters simply won’t turnout. The thing about local elections is that turnout is everything. The national average is in the mid 30s which puts a premium on local parties ability to get their vote out.

This was a PB comment yesterday from ex-LAB MP, Nick Palmer on his experience:

Interesting 3 hours on the doorstep this afternoon (and no, people don’t mind being canvassed at Easter) in deepest Surrey. I think the Lib Dems are going to do well – I’m used to their voters showing up as don’t knows till the last minute, but there’s some definite enthusiasm out there. Labour’s core vote seems solid but not especially enthusiastic – it’s mostly about fighting the Tories. The Tory vote is crumbling at the edges – unusual number of former Tory voters going out of their way to say they wouldn’t ever vote Labour but definitely not Tory any more either – even met some Brexiteers voting LibDem ias an anti-big party protest. But the Tories too have a core vote which is loyal – I don’t expect a real metldown.”

All of this fits with the reports I have been getting and it is possible that the number of Tory losses could be in the hundreds which will reinforce the negative narrative for the party in the lead up to May 23rd.

Normally by this stage before the May locals we have had projections on likely party gain and losses based on what’s been happening in local by-elections. In the past these have set expectations but I don’t think we will be seeing numbers this year.

My guess is that the Lib Dems will do better than at any set of local elections since going into coalition with the Tories in May 2010. They should make a significant increase in their councillor numbers and that will be the backcloth for Vince Cable to announce his resignation as leader thus triggering off a leadership contest.

Mike Smithson




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LAB’s huge post-Corbyn increase in members has had almost no impact on the number of council seats being contested

Monday, April 8th, 2019

LAB’s fighting 77% of the seats compared with the Tories’ 96%

One of the things that Corbynistas always take great pride in is the number of members who have been attracted to the party since Corbyn’s victory in the 2015 leadership election. With a reported 500k+ the red team is four or five times bigger than the blue one.

One the face of it you would assume that this would reflect itself at election time particularly local ones where turnout is about half general election levels and where so much is dependent on having capable ground troops to get the vote out.

One measure is how many seats are being contested and here LAB lags a fair degree behind the Tories.

The LDs are on a contestation level of 56% which is a fair bit higher than in 2015.

The figures have been collated by the Conservative election analyst Lord Hayward who presented them at a special session in London this lunchtime.

Hayward also noted how in local by-elections this year that Corbyn’s party has been struggling to maintain its vote share.

The map above shows where elections are taking place locally on May 2nd and as can be seen there is a vast swathe of blue. The Tories have most to defend and look set to make some losses though mostly to the LDs

A big issue is the absence of UKIP from many wards compared with 2015 when these seats were last decided. In a few local authority areas Nigel Farage’s Brexit party has put up candidates.

Mike Smithson




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Changing the subject – our first look at the May 2nd local elections

Monday, April 8th, 2019

Will feelings about Corbyn and TMay impact on activists?

Somewhat overshadowed by the ongoing brexit saga we will get a further chance to test the political temperature in this year’s local elections which take place on May 2nd – three weeks on from Thursday. Nominations closed before the weekend.

Because London is not involved then expect less media coverage than normal but the seats at stake, covering almost all of England outside the capital, represent the biggest wave in the four-year local election cycle.

What is interesting is that most of the wards seats being contested are those that were last fought on General Election day in 2015 when it will be recalled the Tories did far better than was expected winning an overall majority at Westminster and making 540 local gains

That day the Lib Dems not only loss almost all their parliamentary seats they saw 400 local election losses – something that they’ve not recovered from. Given the current national situation with the party now regularly in double figures in the polls then the their hope must that they can get some groundback – the question is how much.

Four years ago UKIP had it’s best performance ever chalking up 176 local election gains and securing 202 Council seats. They did this with a vote share that was higher than the Lib Dems who came out with 658

Because on the ground activists put more effort into fighting local elections than national ones the outcomes on May 2nd will be an indication of the organisational states of the parties. This surely will be an issue given the problems that both Labour and the Conservatives appeared to be having with members and activists.

This morning I am off to London for the annual statistical local election analysis by the CON peer Lord Robert Hayward.

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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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




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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




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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




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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