A fortnight on from the eve of GE2017 and a look back at those final polls

June 21st, 2017

They all understated LAB

Mike Smithson



Marf on Queen’s Speech day – and we still don’t if the Tories will get a majorty

June 21st, 2017


The LDs appear to have chosen their next two leaders without a single vote being cast

June 21st, 2017

The veteran former Business Secretary, Sir Vince Cable, has now moved to a 60%+ chance in the betting of becoming Farron’s successor following an extraordinary 36 hours when the party appears to have decided who should get the job AND who should succeed Vince.

As soon as Farron announced that he was going last week the LD blogger, Mark Pack, ran a survey of party members on the succession. In the past these have usually been fairly good pointers to the actual outcome.

On Monday the results were published and the woman who took back Dunbartonshire East at GE17, Jo Swinson, was found to have the support of a staggering 57% of the members who participated.

Inevitably she became a strong betting favourite with the only question being whether she wanted it or not. In fact she didn’t at this stage and has now become deputy leader – a position that is selected by the parliamentary party.

Her announcement left three potential runners, Cable, Norman Lamb the ex-health Minister, and Sir Ed Davey, the former cabinet minister who retook Kingston & Surbiton in the election.

Yesterday morning the 74 year old Cable became the first to formally put his hat into the ring with heavy hints that he’d stand aside in two or three years.

It didn’t take much working out for disappointed Swinson supporters to figure that a time limited Cable leadership would best suit their woman. Lamb and Davey are much younger than Vince and they would be looking to be in the job for the long term.

So there we have it and the reason there’s been such a move to Cable in the betting.

Mike Smithson


Marf’s afternoon cartoon on the Brexit talks

June 20th, 2017

The period of political confusion continues

With the first round of the Brexit talks apparently marked by the David Davis agreeing to the EU’s negotiating timetable and this afternoon the DUP raising doubts about whether they will support the Tories we are entering uncharted territory.

Having worked at Westminster with BBC news during the 1974-1979 parliament where LAB soon lost its majority every commons vote is going to become an issue. Ministers are going to be brought back from overseas trip for critical votes, rebel CON MPs will find that they hold an enormous amount of power and we might get the sight of critically ill MPs being brought by ambulance for key votes.

I’d mark down Anna Soubry and Ken Clarke as ones who won’t necessarily follow the party line on Brexit related issues.

Labour and the other opposition parties will be looking all the time for opportunities to ambush the government just to add to the tension.

Whether its Theresa/Boris/David/Philip as PM life will be the same. Very tiring and stressful for ministers and backbenchers who are not going to enjoy this parliament.

With LAB now having poll leads the Tories are going to avoid another general election at all costs.

Mike Smithson


The Ipsos MORI guide to what happened segment by segment at GE2017

June 20th, 2017

This morning Ipsos MORI produced their regular analysis of what happened segment by segment at GE2017. The firm has been doing this at every election for many years and it is generally regarded as a leading source ahead of the full BES study.

The most newsworthy element is that the very narrow range of turnout amongst those registered to vote. The young groups saw increases while the oldest one saw a decrease.

It was this that deprived Mrs. May of her majority and has led to the current uncertain political situation. Labour won every age segment up to the 55+ group.

Age is now the big dividing line and if the young ones continue to vote at these or higher levels it will have a big impact.

The full Ipsos MORI report can be found here.

Mike Smithson


The polling numbers that should really scare the Tories – the oldies are abandoning Mrs May

June 20th, 2017

The narrative of what drove the shock result in the general election is becoming well established. Those in the younger age segments turned out to vote on a scale that hadn’t been anticipated and they were much more pro LAB than CON.

The result was that instead of losing seats to CON Corbyn’s LAB made gains off the Tories, the SNP and the LDs on a scale that alongside a handful of LD gains from CON caused Mrs May to lose her overall majority. This was in spite of the blues making gains off the SNP north of the border.

There’s one group of voters that traditionally the Tories have been able to regard as bankers – the oldies, those in the growing 65+ age segment.

In its only published post GE17 polling YouGov asked its favourability questions on parties and party leaders. These found TMay in serious negative territory almost across the board and almost on par with Corbyn at his worst.

My analysis of that, reflected in the chart above, finds that the PM is struggling to hold onto to the oldies. The chart numbers are based on subtracting those who have an unfavourable view of TMay from those who have a favourable one.

As is shown she had been doing extremely well with the 65+ group with huge favourability margins. In the latest polling she’s still in positive territory but only just by just 4 points. It used to be 55%

This doesn’t bode well for the blue team if there is a new general election which the party’s precarious parliamentary position might well lead to.

She used to be an electoral asset. Now it is looking like she is an electoral liability.

Mike Smithson


We could find out how good Corbyn is at herding chickens

June 19th, 2017

What if Labour tried to form minority government?

“That would be like herding chickens,” was how a member of the Shadow Cabinet responded when I suggested Labour’s leading campaigners should all be using the “weak and wobbly” counter to the Tory “strong and stable” slogan.

I was delighted when, eventually, the phrase popped up in utterances from both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

So, maybe there is someone in Team Corbyn with the chicken herding skills which will undoubtedly be needed in keeping together the quasi coalition of Labour, Lib Dems, nationalists and Green that would be needed to allow a minority Corbyn government to function.

Forming such a government is Corbyn’s declared aim and he got some perhaps surprise support for his ambition from the Tory grassroots in David Herdson’s PB blog

Some of the Left are not on sure it’s a good idea. The Guardian’s Larry Elliot has argued that the Tories should be left to fix their own mess

The overwhelming political logic for taking power was set out by Shadow Health secretary Jonathan Ashworth when I queried, all those weeks ago, whether it was wise for Labour to be voting for Theresa May’s snap election. “The NHs§ is in a mess and I want to get in there to fix it,” he declared. I would have got a similar answer if I’d put the same query to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, Shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner.

Democratic Legitimacy

Just as in the US the electoral college trumps the popular vote so in UK it’s seats not votes that decide who wins a General Election. So the Tories won and get the first chance at forming a Government.

But is that the DUP deal falls apart the only alternative to another election is Jeremy Corbyn. There’s no doubt it would be messy. Hence the herding chickens metaphor

The Tories would outnumber the combined forces of Labour, the Lib Dems, the nationalists and the Green.

But fewer than 14 million voters, just over 43 % backed the Tories and the DUP, whereas 17 million voters — 52.5% backed Labour and the other four parties.

Constitutionally that is insignificant but politically it creates a the space for Labour to push forward with popular policies –that make voters better off and which the other parties would support and the Tories would find hard to oppose.

If Jeremy Corbyn gets the chance to walk in to Downing he should do it and he will do it.

Donald Brind


David Davis moves up in sharply in the betting for TMay’s successor. Now a 27% chance

June 19th, 2017

What we don’t know is whether there’ll be a vacancy or not

What a totally crazy political period. The Brexit negotiations have started and Mrs. May’s Tories go into Wednesday’s Queen’s speech without a formal deal being announced on whether the 10 DUP MPs will support the blue team and enable the Tories to get a majority at the end of the debate.

In all of this the 2005 CON leadership loser, David Davis, now moves up sharply in the betting.

It could be that TMay, in spite of the huge failure of her GE17 gamble, remains in post and it might be years before the market is settled. Alternatively it could all happen this or next week.

Happy punting.

Mike Smithson