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Lewisham East: Five take aways

June 15th, 2018

Voters tend to avoid avoidable by-elections

The most striking statistic from the overnight result was the turnout which dropped from 69% at the general election just over a year ago to 33% yesterday. This is one of the biggest falls compared with the previous General Election on record and simply underlines what has been observed before. If a vacancy is avoidable, the incumbent MP has not died or become incapacitated, then voters tend to be less keen to participate and also punish the incumbent party. This effect was exacerbated here because the former LAB MP went less than a year after the general election.

The Tory vote is hard to squeeze
The LDs put a lot of effort into trying to persuade Tory voters to vote for them as the party most likely to beat Labour. Although the blue team saw a decline it was nothing like on the scale LAB in Richmond Park in December 2016 when the total Labour vote was fewer than the number of members in the constituency.

The LD canvas projection yet again proved to be remarkably predictive

When the party first issued one of these, before the Richmond by-election, I thought it would undermine their credibility if the result proved it to be wrong. Well Lewisham East has given further credence to this means of working out how the by-election will go. I put this down to the sheer size of the party’s voter contact effort and their skill at processing it.

Getting 50%+ is not too bad for Corbyn

All the talk beforehand was that Labour voters might wish to punish the leadership for having a broadly different view on Brexit to what most of them feel. Well Corbyn’s party vote went down a fair bit but nothing on the scale of that which was predicted and maybe we are overstating the impact on brexit on party allegiances.

The LDs have got their by-election mojo back
Being 65 percentage points behind Labour at the June 2017 election meant that the task facing the party was pretty massive and the chances of a shock victory were really very remote. But they did well pulling up 21 points on GE2017 most of it at the expense of LAB. The campaign A-team was running this election and this will give them a lot of encouragement.

Mike Smithson




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The lastest Lewisham East odds and expectations

June 14th, 2018

TSE



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The Worst Economic Statistic?

June 14th, 2018

There are many economic statistics, some broadly useful, others bizarrely esoteric. Only one manages to be both useless and dangerous. Worse: it’s trumpeted by journalists, so you may even have been taken in yourself. Welcome to the worst economic statistic.

Robert Smithson

Robert tweets as MarketWarbles follow him by clicking the follow button below




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NEW PB/Polling Matters podcast: Trump meets Kim and Brexit edges closer

June 13th, 2018

On this week’s Polling Matters podcast, Keiran Pedley and Leo Barasi discuss Trump’s historic meeting with Kim Jong Un in Singapore. Keiran and Leo debate the significance of the meeting and what happens now whilst Keiran takes us through the latest polling on Trump in America that shows what his re-election campaign might look like, why he remains in a tough spot and why these negotiations with North Korea could make or break him.

Later in the show, Keiran and Leo discuss this week’s events in parliament. Leo then takes us through some recent polling by Opinium on what the public think of the single market, freedom of movement and the impact that Brexit will have on their own personal finances.

Finally, Keiran and Leo take some time to give their thoughts on what might happen in the Autumn and what successfully navigating Brexit will mean for Theresa May’s legacy.

Follow this week’s guests:





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This looks like a spectacular bust up between the SNP and the Speaker but it does look staged

June 13th, 2018

TSE



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Threatened women live longest. Bet against Theresa May going quickly

June 13th, 2018

We read in the weekend papers that the Brexiters within the Conservative party are mustering for an attempt in July to despatch Theresa May, once Royal Assent has been received to the withdrawal bill.  Sources close to David Davis and Jacob Rees-Mogg are covering their retreat in the face of the Prime Minister’s obduracy over future customs arrangements with the EU with a hail of Parthian shots.  Her opponents already have 42 MPs ready to lodge letters for a vote of no confidence, we are told.  48 would mean that a vote would be held.  We are told to expect an “almighty reckoning”. 

Forgive me if I am sceptical.  Such Lear-like ravings threatening the terrors of the earth advertise Theresa May’s opponents’ weakness, not their strength.  If they were sure of their ground they would be acting now.  Because if they were sure of their ground they could impose their will on the rest of the party.  Evidently, they are not.

It’s worth recapping the mechanics of the Conservative Party leadership provisions. If at any time the chair of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady, receives letters from 15% of Conservative MPs so requesting, a vote of confidence is held in the leader. The Conservatives have 316 MPs at present so that is where the figure of 48 MPs comes from.

The vote of confidence is then held by secret ballot among all MPs. If Theresa May wins, even by one vote, she cannot then be challenged for another year. If she loses, she must resign and is barred from standing in the subsequent leadership election contest. So the second important number of Conservative MPs is 158. It’s one thing to trigger a vote of confidence, you then have to win it.

Some suggest that Theresa May’s bar in practice is higher: how could she credibly govern if more than (say) 100 of her own MPs had privately declared that they had no confidence in her? This looks wrong to me. She has a year’s immunity from challenge.

She could and presumably would call for the party now to rally around her given that the question had been definitively settled for a year. She might even risk an aggressive reshuffle, safe from challenge from malcontents for 12 precious months. This would be unlikely to be to the benefit of the hardline Brexiters. You come at the queen, you best not miss.

How certain are the ERG and its penumbra of having 159 MPs ready to vote no confidence in Theresa May?  Not at all, I suggest.  They aren’t that numerous themselves.  So they’re going to have to persuade some of the less monomaniac of their colleagues to join forces with them. 

I have no doubt that there is a lot of dissatisfaction across the Conservative Parliamentary party with Theresa May.  But the question that has hovered over the party for a year now, keeping her in the role, and which has yet to land on a conclusion is: who would be better?  As importantly, who would get the job in practice?

If the ERG cannot identify a leadership solution that appeals to a broad enough cross-section of the Parliamentary party and, just as importantly, confirmation that unacceptable but potentially viable candidates are not going to be in the mix, unconvinced MPs will vote for Theresa May rather than risk making the problem worse. 

So the ERG would need first to identify a suitable candidate and then to persuade them to allow themselves to be advertised to doubters in such a way.  This is at best a work in progress.  From the outside it looks like a work not yet started.

All this leads me to believe that this story is an empty threat.  The ERG and its ministerial allies are seeking to cover their own weakness and perhaps to try to ensure that Theresa May does not seek to pull them further down the soft Brexit line.

Betfair have two markets on Theresa May’s exit date, one divided into quarters and one by year.  In the last few days I have been laying the possibility of her leaving between July and September 2018 at odds of under 3/1 and laying the possibility of her leaving in 2018 at odds of under 2/1.  Both odds have lengthened since, but the continuing absence of a potential successor who plotters can be confident of installing means that Theresa May is a lot safer than she looks.

If you disagree with me, there is an alternative bet (which is a good bet anyway).  Jacob Rees-Mogg is a highly divisive figure and the possibility of him becoming next leader would be anathema to many outside his coterie.  If Theresa May is to be deposed, he will need to make it quite clear that he will not stand for next Conservative leader, or the waverers will stick with the devil they know.  So he’s an easy lay at present prices, which have been drifting anyway, if you think action is imminent.

His route to next leader looks very difficult whatever your view of the timing of the election.  His present appeal is based around his positioning as Brexit’s Robespierre.  But by 29 March 2019, Britain will be on the outside of the EU and at that point Jacob Rees-Mogg becomes just another backbencher with a hobbyhorse. 

He might get there eventually (though he looks a poor bet to me, lacking anything other than superficial fluency and ideological orthodoxy) but it looks highly likely that the next Conservative leader will not have a double-barrelled name.  I’m keeping a big red number next to his name in my book and my current intention is to do so right the way to the contest itself.

Alastair Meeks




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Soon there might not be a single Tory MP not p*ssed off at Theresa May’s duplicity (and or incompetence)

June 12th, 2018

At least Mrs May can say she’s united the Tory Party on Brexit

TSE



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Italy: 50 ways to leave the Euro

June 12th, 2018

The latest video analysis from Robert Smithson

This is the most recent production from Robert who has been associated with PB right from the start in March 2004 and, indeed, was the person who suggested to me in the first place to establish the site.

Most PBers will know him from his regular and illuminating comments on the discussion threads.

He’s now producing regular video examinations on key business and economic issues and relevant one will now be published on PB. This is the latest on Italy and the Euro.

To make sure you don’t miss subscribe to the YouTube channel.

Mike Smithson