The latest PB cartoon on Tony Blair’s Brexit intervention

February 18th, 2017

Cartoon by Helen Cochrane and Nicholas Leonard.


YouGov’s BREXIT tracker is back to exactly where it was just after Theresa May became PM

February 18th, 2017

For all the machinations opinion simply hasn’t changed

Above is YouGov’s BREXIT tracker in which it has been regularly asking the same question “In hindsight, do you think Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave the European Union?” over many months.”

As can be seen the most striking feature is the almost total lack of movement. In fact the numbers in the latest poll are exactly the same as they were at the start of August 2016 shortly after TMay became PM.

Both leavers and remainers have hardly changed their opinions.

What I like about trackers is that the same question is put every time in exactly the same manner. If there had been a movement then we would see it.

These are the party splits in the latest polling.

What will change things is when we start to get a sense of what BREXIT is actually going to look like and we won’t know that until after Article 50 is invoked.

Mike Smithson


Losses for the LDs and Tories in latest local elections plus preview of one more contest tonight

February 17th, 2017

Bollington on Cheshire East (Con defence, resignation of sitting member)
Result: Bollington First 939 (51% +14%), Conservative 319 (17% -14%), Labour 239 (13% -8%), Liberal Democrat 198 (11% unchanged), Green 162 (9%, no candidate at last election)
Bollington First GAIN from Conservative with a majority of 620 (33%) on a swing of 14% from Conservative to Bolington First

St. Thomas on Dudley (Lab defence, resignation of sitting member)
Result: Labour 1,466 (61% +4%), United Kingdom Independence Party 653 (27% +5%), Conservative 249 (10% -6%), Green Party 52 (2% -2%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 813 (34%) on a swing of 0.5% from Labour to United Kingdom Independence Party

Burton on East Staffordshire (Lib Dem defence, resignation of sitting member)
Result: Liberal Democrat 271 (53% +6%), Labour 127 (25% -5%), United Kingdom Independence Party 60 (12%, no candidate at last election), Conservative 56 (11% -12%)
Liberal Democrat HOLD with a majority of 144 (28%) on a swong of 5.5% from Labour to Liberal Democrat

Lydbrook and Ruardean on Forest of Dean (Ind defence, elected as United Kingdom Independence Party)
Result: Green Party 360 (35% +19%), Conservative 248 (24% +7%), Labour 231 (23% +1%), United Kingdom Independence Party 113 (11% -10%), Liberal Democrat 67 (7%, no candidate at last election)
Green Party GAIN from Independent with a majority of 112 (11%) on a swing of 6% from Conservative to Green

Failsworth East on Oldham (Lab defence, resignation of sitting member)
Result: Labour 829 (58% +4%), Conservative 360 (25% +8%), United Kingdom Independence Party 166 (12% -12%), Green Party 49 (4% +1%), Liberal Democrat 16 (1% -1%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 469 (33%) on a swing of 2% from Labour to Conservative

Elsenham and Henham on Uttlesford (Two Lib Dem defences, resignations of sitting members)
Result: Emboldened denotes elected
Residents for Uttlesford 834 E, 716 E (59%, no candidates at last election)
Liberal Democrats 316, 259 (23% -24%)
Conservatives 141, 120 (10% -11%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 68, 64 (5%, no candidates at last election)
Labour 39, 28 (3% -2%)
Green Party 8, 6 (1%, no candidates at last election)
Two Residents for Uttlesford GAINS from Liberal Democrats

Emmbrook on Wokingham (Con defence, resignation of sitting member)
Result of council at last election (2016): Conservatives 48, Liberal Democrats 5, Labour 1 (Conservative majority of 42)
Result of ward at last election (2014): Conservative 1,085 (38%), Liberal Democrat 1,074 (37%), United Kingdom Independence Party 447 (16%), Labour 287 (10%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 55,272 (57%) LEAVE 42,229 (43%) on a turnout of 79%
Candidates duly nominated: Christopher Everett (Lab), Kevin Morgan (Con), Phil Ray (UKIP), Imogen Shepherd-Dubey (Lib Dem)
Weather at the close of polls: Cloudy but dry, 6°C
Estimate: Too close to call between Conservative and Liberal Democrat


Six times as many LD supporters say they’re concerned about BREXIT than UKIP voters

February 17th, 2017

This dynamic could have an impact next Thursday

The above chart is based on data from the latest Ipsos MORI issues index and shows the party splits of those, unprompted, naming BREXIT as the main, or one of the the main, issues facing Britain at the moment.

As can be seen there is a huge gap between the LDs, with 79% raising it, to UKIP voters where the figure is 15%. The Tory figure is highish well ahead of LAB.

    I’d suggest that this might be reflected in the turnouts in the two Westminster by-elections next Thursday. The main challenge for UKIP is to convert perceived anger about BREXIT into votes actually cast.

How strong is that feeling for UKIP backers to go to the polls to give LAB a good kicking? We’ll know next Friday morning. There’s also the question of whether LD voters are more motivated.

Each month for 40 years Ipsos MORI has been operating a totally unique poll – its Issues Index. On this those sampled are simply asked face to face “What do you see as the main/other important issues facing Britain today?”. They are given the time to respond and can name any number of things that come into heads.

Because of the unprompted nature of the approach this has been regarded over the decades as one of the best tests of the salience of issues without the question wording itself having an impact on the responses. This has stood the test of time.

Mike Smithson


The return of Butskellism

February 17th, 2017

On seeing Sarah Bernhardt play Cleopatra a Victorian matron exclaimed: “How different, how very different, from the home life of our own dear Queen!”  Leave supporters might voice similar sentiments about the very different ways in which Theresa May and Donald Trump have chosen to capitalise on their respective ascents to power.

President Trump has chosen to lead the nation as he campaigned – divisively, aggressively and with scant regard for longstanding conventions.  His spokesman has pronounced that the president’s national security actions will not be questioned, including by the judiciary, and he warned about judicial intervention, “we will make sure that we take action to keep from happening in the future what’s happened in the past.”  President Trump has become deeply embroiled in a scandal over the extent of Russian links and influence over his administration.  Meanwhile he has found time to quarrel over the size of his inauguration crowd and go into bat on his daughter’s behalf with a department store that had dropped her range of clothes.  He seems intent on dismantling longstanding conventions and consensuses and rewriting ethical rules in order to ram through whatever he wants to achieve.

Mrs May has gone in a very different direction.  In order to understand this, we first need to see how policy stood when she took over.  David Cameron and George Osborne had run an administration that was in the main socially fairly liberal but economically dry as dust.  The 2015 election was fought on the basis of the Conservatives offering eye-watering financial discipline for the current Parliament in order to generate a budgetary surplus and then branding Labour as profligate for failing to match this.  The Conservatives’ election victory was fought and won on austerity.  Ever since 1979, the Conservatives had stood on a platform of economic rigour.  David Cameron’s leadership was unusually liberal but otherwise entirely in keeping with his predecessors from Mrs Thatcher onwards.

Theresa May’s administration has upended this completely.  With Philip Hammond, she has quietly junked the economic machismo.  The projected fiscal tightening has been completely abandoned. 

Instead, Theresa May has focused on meeting the concerns of the “just about managing” – echoing Ed Miliband’s focus on the “squeezed middle”.  She has taken the opportunity given by Labour’s disarray to steal some of Labour’s policy proposals from the last election.  Ed Miliband himself has wryly noted that his idea of seizing land that was not developed quickly enough had gone “From Mugabe to May in a few short years”.  The government is also looking at developing longer tenancies for renters – another Miliband policy that was fiercely attacked by the Conservatives when it came out.

In short, Theresa May has moved the economic consensus sharply left, spotting vacant territory.  Having won the last election on traditional Conservative terrain, the Conservatives have found themselves abandoning it without even noticing.

Instead, the Conservatives are differentiating themselves by moving to the right on social concerns.  This is embodied by the way that Theresa May has interpreted the Brexit vote.  She is prioritising controls on freedom of movement and aggressively seeking to reduce immigration, even to the point of reneging on previous commitments to take in child refugees.  We have learned that she doesn’t approve of self-described citizens of the world and she gracelessly poked at Emily Thornberry for not taking her husband’s name.

So Theresa May has completely reversed the political dividing lines.  Instead of seeking to differentiate the Conservatives from Labour on economics, she is seeking to do so through social conservatism. In contemporary terms, she appears to be seeking to make the Conservative party into a Christian Democrat party – more like Angela Merkel than Margaret Thatcher or Queen Elizabeth I.  The irony in that, given that Brexit looms over everything else at present, is obvious.

In British historical terms, what Theresa May seems to be setting up post-Brexit is a return to the post-war consensus commonly nicknamed Butskellism (a hybrid of RAB Butler’s and Hugh Gaitskell’s names), where the two parties basically agreed on leftish economics and slugged it out over social matters.  It would leave UKIP purposeless and the left divided for the foreseeable future.  So it’s easy to see why it would appeal to a Conservative Prime Minister in the current political landscape.

Also ironically, many of the most enthusiastic Leavers, including the erstwhile head of Vote Leave Michael Gove, are fervent economic Thatcherites and socially fairly liberal.  How much they welcome political developments since the vote must be open to doubt.

Of course, Butskellism is now widely regarded to have been a generational failure, leaving Britain as the sick man of Europe lagging far behind the more dynamic nations on the continent.  Let’s hope that history doesn’t repeat itself.

Alastair Meeks


Tonight sees biggest round of local by-elections so far this year

February 16th, 2017

Vote aggregate of the year’s contests so far

Bollington on Cheshire East (Con defence, resignation of sitting member)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 53, Labour 16, Independents 3, Middlewich First 3, Liberal Democrats 2, Nantwich Independents 2, Ratepatyers 2, Bollington First 1 (Conservative majority of 24)
Result of ward at last election (2015) : Emboldened denotes elected
Bollington First 1,743, 1,380 (37%)
Conservatives 1,435, 1,403 (31%)
Labour 1,006 (21%)
Liberal Democrats 511, 427 (11%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 107,962 (49%) LEAVE 113,163 (51%) on a turnout of 77%
Candidates duly nominated: Sam Al-Hamdani (Lib Dem), Phillip Bolton (Con), James Nicholas (Bollington First), Richard Purslow (Green), Rob Vernon (Lab)
Weather at close of polls: Cloudy, but dry, 7°C
Estimate: Bollington First GAIN from Conservative

St. Thomas on Dudley (Lab defence, resignation of sitting member)
Result of council at last election (2016): Labour 35, Conservatives 29, United Kingdom Independence Party 8 (No Overall Control, Labour short by 2)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Labour 3,351 (57%), United Kingdom Independence Party 1,310 (22%), Conservative 918 (16%), Green Party 258 (4%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 56,780 (32%) LEAVE 118,446 (68%) on a turnout of 72%
Candidates duly nominated: Jonathan Elliot (Con), Shanelia Mughal (Lab), Francis Sheppard (Green), Phil Wimlett (UKIP)
Weather at close of polls: Cloudy but dry, 7°C
Estimate: Labour HOLD

Burton on East Staffordshire (Lib Dem defence, resignation of sitting member)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 25, Labour 12, Liberal Democrat 1, United Kingdom Indepenence Party 1 (Conservative majority of 11)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Liberal Democrat 560 (47%), Labour 354 (30%), Conservative 270 (23%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 22,850 (37%) LEAVE 39,266 (63%) on a turnout of 74%
Candidates duly nominated: Hamid Asghar (Con), Helen Hall (Lib Dem), Phil Hutchinson (Lab), Peter Levis (UKIP)
Weather at close of polls: Cloudy but dry, 8°C
Estimate: Liberal Democrat HOLD

Lydbrook and Ruardean on Forest of Dean (Ind defence, elected as United Kingdom Independence Party)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 21, Labour 13, United Kingdom Independence Party 7, Independent 6, Green Party 1 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 4)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Independent 927 E (24%)
Labour 865 E, 813, 534 (22%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 817 E, 704 (21%)
Conservatives 636, 631, 572 (17%)
Green Party 621 (16%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 21,392 (41%) LEAVE 30,251 (59%) on a turnout of 77%
Candidates duly nominated: Roy Bardo (UKIP), Karen Brown (Lab), Heather Lusty (Lib Dem), Sid Phelps (Green), Kevin White (Con)
Weather at close of polls: Cloudy but dry, 8°C
Estimate: United Kingdom Independence Party HOLD

Failsworth East on Oldham (Lab defence, resignation of sitting member)
Result of council at last election (2016): Labour 45, Liberal Democrats 9, Conservatives 2, Independents 2, United Kingdom Independence Party 2 (Labour majority of 30)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Labour 2,571 (54%), United Kingdom Independence Party 1,118 (24%), Conservative 809 (17%), Green Party 156 (3%), Liberal Democrat 73 (2%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 42,034 (39%) LEAVE 65,369 (61%) on a turnout of 68%
Candidates duly nominated: Anthony Cahill (Con), Shaun Duffy (Lib Dem), Nicholas Godleman (UKIP), Andy Hunter-Rossall (Green), Paul Jean Jacques (Lab)
Weather at close of polls: Cloudy but dry, 8°C
Estimate: Labour HOLD

Elsenham and Henham on Uttlesford (Two Lib Dem defences, resignations of sitting members)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 23, Residents for Uttlesford 9, Liberal Democrats 6, Independent 1 (Conservative majority of 7)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Liberal Democrats 1,009 E, 912 E (47%)
Independent 590 (27%)
Conservatives 455, 444 (21%)
Labour 110, 102 (5%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 25,619 (49%) LEAVE 26,324 (51%) on a turnout of 80%
Candidates duly nominated by party:
Green Party: Paul Allington, Karmel Stannard
United Kingdom Independence Party: David Allum, Sharron Coker
Conservatives: Alexis Beeching, Joe Rich
Liberal Democrats: Lorraine Flawn, Sinead Holland
Residents for Uttlesford: Garry LeCount, Petrina Lees
Labour: Carl Steward, Hilary Todd
Weather at the close of polls: Light rain, 7°C
Estimate: Two Liberal Democrat HOLDS

Compiled by Harry Hayfield


Ipsos MORI has LAB, the traditional party of the working classes, 16% behind amongst C2DEs

February 16th, 2017

How long can the red team keep Corbyn at the controls?

The latest Ipsos MORI poll is out and has more polling numbers to fuel the Corbyn must go narrative.

Perhaps the most striking figures are in the socio economic split featured above with Corbyn’s party trailing by 16% amongst the C2DEs – the working classes. Essentially under the current leadership LAB has lost its core vote.

Other data in the poll is hardly encouraging. These are the leader satisfaction ratings amongst declared LAB voters.

A lot is is hanging on the two by-elections a week today. If LAB loses one of them then Corbyn will be in even more trouble.

Mike Smithson


Trump’s approval ratings, fake news, leader ratings, and immigration – all in this week’s PB/Polling Matters Podcast

February 16th, 2017

On this week’s PB/Polling Matters podcast Keiran is joined by Leo Barasi and Harry Carr (Head of Sky Data) to discuss Donald Trump’s approval rating and latest controversies, YouGov polling on ‘Fake News’ and the latest Polling Matters / Opinium survey which this week takes a look at immigration (see image above) and the approval ratings of Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and other party leaders including (topically) UKIP leader Paul Nuttall.

Our poll on immigration looks to take an in-depth view of public attitudes on the issue. Perhaps the most striking finding is that 68% think that ‘immigration places too much pressure on public services like housing and the NHS’. On this week’s podcast, Keiran argues that this perception is key to the Brexit vote last June and often the untold story when immigration is debated by politicians and pundits. Whether this perception is right or wrong it is clearly widely held.

Follow this week’s guests below: