Labour reveals some of its English targets for the next election

January 20th, 2018

All but one of them is outside London

Even though we could be four and a half years away from the next general election LAB is clearly getting ready and today it has announced that candidates have been put in place in 24 key targets in England.

The seats involved are listed in the table above which include the names of the incumbent Conservative MPs as well as the swings required.

This comes from a confident party that did far better than most, but not all, of the polls projected ahead of June 8th.

The geographical location is interesting with none being within Greater London. Most are English towns although a couple, Graham Brady’s Altrincham (61.5% Remain) and Anna Soubry’s Broxtowe (52.5% Remain) are part of bigger conurbations.

Labour felt it was caught on the hop when it believed TMay’s assertions that there would be no early election only to break that repeated assertion last April. The result was often a scramble to put candidates in place creating things like the O’Mara selection in Sheffield Hallam.

Candidates are still to be selected in about 50 further targets. Whatever those chosen could spend 4+ years a PPCs which can be a real grind.

I assume that someone has combed through the back social media posts of all of the above.

Mike Smithson


UKIP: circling the plughole

January 20th, 2018

The problem is the leader – but could anyone else do better?

Revolutions devouring their own creators is hardly a novelty but UKIP are giving a fascinating new take on an old theme. They were never the most disciplined of parties and perhaps that was, for some, part of their attraction. Even so, since their crowning glory with their success in the referendum, they’ve not been so much undisciplined but ungovernable.

After Nigel Farage stepped down in September 2016, they’ve worked through no fewer than five leaders or acting leaders in the space of 16 months. By next week, they could be onto their sixth if Henry Bolton is forced out over his girlfriend’s racist tweets and over whether he was truthful in his statements as to whether they’d subsequently split up. This is taking the Throwaway Society to a whole new level – and as with other one-time use items, there’s a cost that comes with such excessive consumption. (To be fair to UKIP, they did make Nigel Farage reusable but even that’s no longer a solution).

With infighting, incompetence and instability on this scale, UKIP’s voice has become completely absent from the political debate at a time when their core issue is still very much live and when the fight to prevent Brexit – forlorn though that may be – still has vocal and powerful advocates. Certainly their support is a fraction of what it was but they still polled nearly 600,000 votes at the 2017 general election: around 70,000 more than the Greens despite standing 89 fewer candidates. Media access would be there for the asking.

The simple analysis would be to say that UKIP’s central problem is that Brexit has robbed it of its purpose and identity – and to a large extent, that’s true. But it’s far from the whole story and shouldn’t be used as an excuse for their subsequent collapse, for two main reasons.

Firstly, Brexit is a process and one which is likely to take much longer than many expected and leave Britain much closer to the EU than many natural UKIP voters would have expected. There is a story there to be sold and resentment there to be mined.

That opportunity would only take UKIP so far. The political class may be obsessed with Europe at the moment but few of the public are. Sure, it scores highly on polls measuring issues of concern because there is a lot of risk involved and because it’s in the news a lot. For all that, few members of the public are bothered about the detail and few votes will be won campaigning on it. There might be enough for a party polling in low single figures to progress but probably not much further than mid-single figures if its campaigning was limited to that alone. Even then, once Brexit is done and dusted, the issue will again drop off the public’s radar.

However, there’s no reason for a radical anti-establishment right-of-centre party to limit itself in such a way and a populist party campaigning on domestic issues as well as international ones would have plenty of scope to eat into the vote shares of a Tory party which has been on the defensive ever since the shock of last year’s election result, a Labour Party whose leadership stance is widely at odds with the values of many of its traditional supporters, and Lib Dem and Green parties which have wholly failed to capture the NOTA vote. There are more than enough examples across Europe and beyond to demonstrate what’s possible when the old order struggles. Indeed, we don’t even need to look abroad: capturing that vote in 2012-13 was precisely what prompted Cameron into promising the referendum in the first place.

But that was then: when it had money, an effective leader and an esprit de corps. With a highly talented leader now, it would still stand a decent chance of capitalising on the numerous opportunities before it and transitioning for a post-Brexit role. Instead, if it can’t sort out its internal problems – and given the depth of current divisions and the paucity of talent available, that looks the most likely outcome – it is heading for utter irrelevance.

David Herdson

p.s. I did think about writing about the impending US government shutdown or Nick Boles’ comments on Theresa May. But on the former, this is just more of the same: it will change very little unless a shutdown goes on for weeks. On the latter, the only point of interest is that he’s said it publicly. Again, it’s not going to change anything.


For the first time since August the YouGov Brexit tracker has referendum “right” in the lead

January 19th, 2018

A blip or a trend?

Ask PB regulars will know I make a point of reporting the YouGov Brexit tracker which is the one that has the most data points and for which we have a detailed records going back right to the referendum.

After a phase since August when all the polls found that “wrong to leave EU” was in the lead the latest from YouGov, with fieldwork this week, has right back ahead.

Basically what this shows is that opinion is very very evenly divided.

What has driven this latest change has been a significant shift amongst Tory remain voters saying Brexit that Brexit is wrong. It was averaging 23 to 24% per survey now it is 19%.

Mike Smithson


Bad night for LAB in latest local elections losing a seat to CON in one of its heartlands

January 19th, 2018

Hulton on Bolton (Lab defence)
Result: Con 1,455 (49% +16% on last time), Lab 1,179 (40% +3% on last time), UKIP 190 (6% -18% on last time), Lib Dem 67 (2% unchanged on last time), Green 52 (2% -1% on last time)
Conservative GAIN from Labour with a majority of 276 (9%) on a swing of 6.5% from Lab to Con

Newport Pagnell North and Hanslope on Milton Keynes (Con defence)
Result: Con 1,604 (53% +15% on last time), Lab 749 (25% +12% on last time), Lib Dem 672 (22% +7% on last time) (No UKIP candidate this time -24%, No Green candidate this time -10%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 855 (28%) on a swing of 1.5% from Lab to Con (19.5% swing from UKIP to Con)

Downhall and Rawreth on Rochford (Lib Dem defence)
Result: Lib Dem 794 (77% +17% on last time), Con 237 (23% +6% on last time) (No Lab candidate this time -8%, no local Independent candidate this time -15%)
Liberal Democrat HOLD with a majority of 557 (54%) on a swing of 5.5% from Con to Lib Dem

Throop and Muscliff on Bournemouth (Ind defence)
Result: Independent (Wilson) 533 (31%), Con 511 (30% +1% on last time), Lab 402 (24% +13% on last time), Independent (Lucas) 117 (7%), Lib Dem 107 (6% no candidate last time), Green 33 (2% -7% on last time) (No UKIP candidate this time -15%)
Independent HOLD with a majority of 22 (1%)
Total Independent vote: 650 (38% +3% on last time)
Swing: 1% from Con to Ind

Harry Hayfield


Trump ends his first year in the White House with punters giving him a 60% chance staying till 2020 or later

January 19th, 2018

With the exception of the period of the UK General Election the biggest political betting markets of the past year have been on Donald Trump. Is he going to survive a full first term? Will he win again in 2020? What will be the year of his actual departure from the White House?

These are obviously going to be linked to how the news media are treating him but even the controversial Michael Wolff book did not take his survival chances below 50%.

A big question is whether he can win again at the next presidential election in 2020? Currently he is just a 28% chance of wining a second term. He has two main obstacles assuming he’s still around then – securing the nomination of his party and then, of course, winning the election. The current second favourite on Betfair is Oprah Winfrey at 7%.

A lot for Trump depends on the mid-term elections this November when big defeats for his party for the Senate and House could change perceptions. The betting at the moment points to the Republicans holding on in the Senate but losing the house If he’s seen as an electoral liability then that could undermine his chances.

On top of that we have the ongoing investigation into the alleged Russian help that he is said to have received at WH2016. It is hard to say how that will go though it continues to be a thorn in his side.

He’s a polarising figure and a turnout driver for both sides. His base, mostly white male working class, is hugely loyal. His opponents are fired up to get rid of him.

Mike Smithson


Laura Pidcock – the 33/1 newbie MP who is being tipped as Corbyn’s successor

January 18th, 2018

A small flutter might be worthwhile

Following what was perceived to be a success at the last general election, although Labour finished 58 seats behind, there have been few questions about the future of Jeremy Corbyn. He looks pretty secure and the biggest issue he faces is that he will be in his early 70s if the next election does take place, as planned, in 2022.

Will LAB want to go into the election with their flag carrier being in his late 70s if the next parliament runs a full term?

One indicator of his strength was this week’s elections to Labour’s NEC with the Corbynites having strengthened their position within the party. All three of those elected were part of his support group and we must expect the party to remain like this for least as long as Corbyn is at the top.

The big question is how long he will stay and who will succeed him.

A good sign of who is in favour have been Corbyn’s shadow cabinet changes which went to plan and haven’t been given much attention. Surely JC’s successor could be one of those who have been promoted?

There is a general mood within the party that the next leader will be a woman and one of those who we should expect to see a lot more of is Laura Pidcock.

Stephen Bush in the New Statesman noted

“….One emerging candidate who could unite them all is Laura Pidcock, the 31-year-old newly elected MP for North West Durham. She arrived in Westminster already respected by the big trade unions but with little profile beyond them. She quickly made a splash by telling the left-wing website Skwawkbox that she had no intention of making friends with Tory MPs.

Pidcock has been given the role of shadow minister for labour, a coup twice over. The first boost is that Corbyn is committed to creating a fully fledged ministry of labour, which means the position is effectively that of a secretary of state in waiting. The second is that it gives her licence to deepen her ties with trade union officials, something that has not gone unnoticed…”

I’ve had a small bet at 33/1.

Mike Smithson


PB’s lunchtime cartoon for the day of the Macron visit

January 18th, 2018

What’s TMay’s strategy?


NEW PB / Polling Matters podcast: Vote blue go green? Farage, Boris & 2nd referendums (again) plus Labour NEC election fallout

January 18th, 2018

On this week’s podcast, Keiran and Leo continue with the new format of the show where each guest chooses a news story that has interested them from the past week and provides some polling analysis on a key issue of the day. Topics discussed this week include:

1) What the Tories’ new focus on environmental issues says about their brand and future electoral strategy

2) Why Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson are indicating support for another referendum on Brexit and what recent polling tells us about public opinion on the issue.

3) What’s going on with Labour following the NEC elections, is a Corbynite succession now inevitable and will Corbyn’s age be an issue at the next election?

Follow the podcasters here: