The polling says UKIP are the most extreme and the least fit to govern party

September 22nd, 2014

From the Ipsos-Mori that featured this morning, Ipsos-Mori asked the following

“I am going to read out some things both favourable and unfavourable that have been said about various political parties. Which of these, if any, do you think apply to…”

The two findings that stood out were UKIP were comfortably viewed as the most extreme, and the least fit to govern in answer to that question.


My own thinking is these are the kind of findings that will increase tactical voting against UKIP in next year’s General Election, add in the fact UKIP are the most net disliked party, then you’ve got a potent mix for their opponents to exploit.

In politics, sometimes perceptions matter more than the facts, and I think in this instance this damages UKIP, it could well be a by-product of David Cameron’s (in)famous characterisation of UKIP being “a bunch of … fruit cakes and loonies and closet racists mostly”.

I know, people will point out that UKIP won the Euros earlier on this year. There will also be a risk of reading too much into UKIP’s expected victory in the Clacton by-election, where the UKIP candidate is the widely liked incumbent (and former Tory MP)

However, a nationwide election conducted under PR, is very different to a General Election, which is 650 elections conducted under FPTP. In the Newark by-election, there were reports that the Tories appealed to tactical anti-UKIP voter and they received such votes from these voters, which could well be a harbinger for 2015.


Note, Nick Palmer and I holding a meet up in Manchester, Tuesday night at 7 pm. The plan is to meet up at the Atrium by Bridge Street which is located on 74 Princess Street. If you are planning to attend, please drop an email to pbmeet@yahoo.co.uk, if you have any questions about the meet, please drop an email to the same email address.


Understanding the Ed Miliband polling paradox

September 22nd, 2014

How are Labour’s maintaining its poll leads, despite Ed’s poor ratings?

One of the things that has been consistent in the last few years, the voters don’t rate Ed Miliband and he often trails David Cameron on most polling questions. In the past, I’ve shown that Ed Miliband’s ratings as Leader of the Opposition are very poor compared to his predecessors, only Michael Foot had worse ratings one year before a General Election, yet Labour still continue to generally lead in the polls. 

For example this weekend’s YouGov for the Sunday Times, had some polling that would made Ed and his supporters wince, such as only 20% agreeing that Ed Miliband is up to the job of Prime Minister, or only 9% agreeing that Ed Miliband has been a strong leader of the Labour Party, but that same poll had Labour leading by 5%, there are countless other examples of this kind of polling.

I know people across the political spectrum say Miliband’s poor personal ratings will eventually catch up with the party.

But perhaps, Labour supporters need not to worry about Ed’s ratings, if we look at the Ipsos-Mori like/dislike ratings published last week.

On a net basis Ed is the most disliked leader of the four main British wide party leaders, so yes, Ed is more disliked than Nick Clegg and even the Tory party, but if we look closer, there’s only one party or politician with a net positive like rating, that is the Labour party.

So perhaps it is the Labour brand (and the net dislike of the other parties) that is ensuring the Labour lead is being maintained, and despite Ed’s poor ratings, that is what will ensure Ed Miliband is Prime Minister next May. Perhaps rather than focussing upon Ed, Tory strategists should focus on weakening the Labour brand if they have any chance of David Cameron remaining in Downing Street after the election.


Note, Nick Palmer and I holding a meet up in Manchester, Tuesday night at 7 pm. The plan is to meet up at the Atrium by Bridge Street which is located on 74 Princess Street. If you are planning to attend, please drop an email to pbmeet@yahoo.co.uk, if you have any questions about the meet, please drop an email to the same email address.


The SNP might have lost the referendum but its support reaches new high

September 21st, 2014

Survation find that one in two Scot would gibe it their vote

Details have been published this afternoon of a Survation phone poll in Scotland carried out in the immediate aftermath of the referendum defeat. The figures are in the chart above and show shares which I believe have the SNP at a new high in any poll.

Clearly the high profile and the hugely energised electorate have given the party a huge boost.

The numbers are a timely reminder to Westminster of the strength of the party ahead of constitutional and financial discussions.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


The IndyRef maybe over but a fierce flare-up is going on over the polling

September 21st, 2014

The Mail on Sunday this morning

YouGov’s Kellner responds

Some polling lessons for an EU referendum?

Two things gave that 2% YES lead its greater potency: the advance hyping on Twitter by Rupert Murdoch and the fact that until a few weeks beforehand YouGov had been the firm showing NO with 19-20% leads. Those earlier polls came at a time when others firms like ICM, Panelbase and Survation had the battle much closer.

Thus on that weekend a fortnight ago Panelbase was reporting almost no change.

A driver of the movement at YouGov, I’d suggest, was the big methodology change in mid-August. Until then, surprisingly, YouGov had not included 16-17 years olds in its samples. Also it introduced a new weighting based on whether those polled had been born in Scotland or not. All the evidence suggested that they were big opponents of change and the YouGov measure meant that their views could be scaled back if there was a disproportionate number of them in a sample.

A feature of the 2% lead survey was that there was significant oversampling in this “born elsewhere in the UK” segment. This moved from 174 unweighted to 108 weighted which is quite some movement. Without that there probably would not have been a YES lead.

Overall in this controversial poll YouGov had an unweighted 475 YES and 538 for NO.

It is important after massive events like the IndyRef to look at the polling because so much can be learned and applied later.

Maybe we’ll be reviewing these old polls if ever there is an EU referendum?

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Do as I have done and re-invest some of your IndyRef winnings on Mayor Dorothy in Watford

September 21st, 2014

PaddyPower’s 5/2 is a great bet

One election result from Friday that barely got reported was the selection by the Watford Lib Dems of Mayor Dorothy Thornhill as candidate for the general election.

This is something that I had been anticipating and over the months and have built up what is my biggest GE2015 betting position on her with a best price of 11/2.

Dorothy Thornhill is a remarkable figure in the town who on the disastrous May 2014 elections day for her party was returned for the fourth time as elected Mayor. Watford is one of the 18 English local authorities which after local referenda have this system of local government.

To give you an idea of Dorothy’s appeal her first round vote share of 45.9% was the precisely the same as what she achieved on general election day in 2010. Check out her electoral record here. Although the parliamentary seat is not quite contiguous with the local authority area it mostly is there.

The May 2014 Ashcroft constituency poll pointed to this being a tight contest with just five points separating the three main parties. At the time of that poll the Lib Dems had not selected their candidate.

General elections are not, of course, mayoral elections and different consideration probably apply. But voters are not selecting a party or a prime minister but an individual to be their champion at Westminster. Watford looks set to be what will be a very rare result on May 7th 2015 – a Lib Dem gain. I rate Dorothy’s chances at better than evens.

PaddyPower have her at 5/2. That won’t last long.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


The winner of the PB Indyref competition is….

September 20th, 2014

….David Evershed, who got the Yes percentage spot on.

David, can you contact Mike here so you can receive your £50 worth of free bets from Shadsy.

You can check out your own performance by clicking here.

Many thanks once again to Shadsy of Ladbrokes politics for donating the prize, and Mark Hopkins for developing the software for us to submit our entries.



The simple solution to the question of Scottish MPs: Do what was done in Northern Ireland in 1920

September 20th, 2014

Look at how Northern Ireland’s numbers were changed

Reduce the number of Scottish MPs

I love the wonderfully simple solution to the Scottish MPs question by JohnO on the previous thread:-

“We have been here before. Until 1972 the former Northern Ireland Parliament at Stormont enjoyed full devo max powers. What was the messy, rough and ready, probably anomalous but characteristically ‘British’ answer to compensate the rest of the country? Simple. Just make the NI constituencies at Westminster far larger than their counterparts on the mainland.

Forget about the monstrosities of an English Parliament or the ghastly complexities of EV4ELs, simply reduce the number of Scottish MPs….

And, that’s it. Problem solved.”

For prior to the the 1920 Government of Ireland Act 105 MPs were elected for the whole of Ireland, of whom 30 represented constituencies in the six counties which we know as Northern Ireland. Along with the creation in the new state in the south an elected parliament for the six counties remaining in the UK was set up. This move was accompanied with a reduction of Northern Ireland seats at Westminster to just 12.

That continued to govern until, when, because of “the troubles” direct rule was introduced in the early 1970s. This meant that Northern Ireland was under-represented at Westminster. That was changed in 1982 when the total was increased to 17.

Simple. There is a precedent.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


English votes for English laws (EV4EL) – the question is whether Cameron is able to deliver

September 20th, 2014

Election pledges won’t count after the Lisbon Treaty experience

In 1787, a group of Americans came together and wrote a whole new constitution for their country from scratch in the space of four hot and humid months.  Two and a quarter centuries later, it’s still going strong.  True, they didn’t have the complicating factors of histories and traditions or established institutions that the UK has now but they did have to contend with other barriers to success, perhaps at least as high.  There is absolutely no reason why Westminster cannot resolve the West Lothian Question between now and April, if it has a mind to.

That David Cameron has placed that question centre-stage, linked to the issue of greater fiscal autonomy for the Scottish parliament, is both just and prudent.  The unfairness giving rise to the question has lingered far too long and tensions within the Union should be reduced if some parts are not given preferential treatment.  On the other hand, linking the two issues – when the Scottish one is a matter of honour for all three leaders – does as much as possible to ensure it’ll be addressed.

What is lacking is urgency.  Considering how little else parliament has to do in what remains of its time, that’s not good enough.  Never mind a draft bill; Westminster should pass a full Act by the dissolution.  That is the only guarantee that it won’t renege on the vow made by Cameron, Miliband and Clegg – a suspicion Scots could justifiably hold were nothing done beforehand given the experience of 1979.  After the more recent ‘cast iron’ promise Cameron made on the Lisbon Treaty , many might also be sceptical of his word if nothing’s done beforehand having had the chance to do so (unlike Lisbon, it has to be said, where Cameron couldn’t meaningfully deliver).

Dealing with the Question now also removes the possibility that a future different government might choose not to act.  After all, no parliament can bind its successor (nor, for that matter can any group of party leaders bind their current parliament without its consent), and one of the reasons the Question has lain unaddressed since 1999 is that it wasn’t in Labour’s interest to do so.  Already, Miliband is making sceptical noises but that shouldn’t stop the government putting legislation forward.  Much louder noises may come from behind the PM if he doesn’t.

What form that legislation should take is another matter – though determining that is precisely what parliament’s supposed to be there for.  The simplest solution of banning MPs from voting on matters that are not applicable to their constituents brings its own problems.  For example, there’d be multiple majorities in the Commons, potentially leading to gridlock if a government had an overall majority, so could decide how to raise the money to be spent on a service but not how to spend it.  It would also mean that England would still share its government with the UK, unlike any other component country of the UK: the same ministers (some perhaps from Wales or Scotland), and the same civil service.

As a first and immediate step, that might still be the best option and perhaps the only one that could be agreed by April next year, preferably with all-party support but by majority if necessary.  Nonetheless, it would still be a second-class resolution and would do little to address the disparity in the distribution of power and spending within England.  Some favour a full English parliament (and, presumably, government), but that would look too much like duplication with Westminster, leading to inevitable rivalry.

Regional parliaments and governments, on the other hand, with similar powers to that enjoyed by Holyrood, would bring greater equality in spending as well as (one would hope) more responsive government and greater diversity of policy.  Some would argue that such a move would merely produce local fiefdoms to be controlled by one party or another but the nature of politics is that opposition always finds a way.  Labour dreamed of Scotland being theirs forever, likewise London.  At some point there’ll be a non-Labour First Minister of Wales.

That, however, is for the future.  Now is the time to make good on the promise to Scotland, and to make good the democratic deficit to England.

David Herdson