Archive for the ' General Election' Category


Almost all of LAB’s current problems stem from eight years ago today when Gordon Brown recorded this interview

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

The day an autumn 2007 vote was bottled

Eight years today an event took place from which, I’d argue, all Labour’s trouble stem – the decision by the then PM to call off what were very advanced plans to have an early general election.

Everything had been geared up for this to be called in the days after the Tory conference. Even a fleet of limousines to carry ministers about on had been booked and paid for.

Three months earlier Gordon had taken over as leader in an uncontested election and the polls turned from regular CON leads to regular LAB ones. By the end of September Ipsos-MORI recorded a 13% LAB margin and the talk was not whether Gordon would go to the country but of the red team securing a landslide.

Throughout September the new Brown government had been making a policy announcement a day, committing billions of pounds, in the build up to what was widely expected to be an early election. Even the manifesto was at an advanced stage.

    The big question was not whether there would be an early election but when it would be called.

As Labour’s poll ratings remained buoyant all the pressure was on Cameron who’d been almost totally blanked out of the news for months. Was this going to be the moment when his then short-lived leadership would come to an end? Everything rested on maximising the opportunity presented by the guaranteed coverage they’d get for their conference.

Cameron made what until today was his best conference speech and Osborne announced a big easing of IHT which went down very well with the media. Labour’s poll lead began to slip and by the Saturday Gordon had decided to end the speculation.

The above is the famous interview he recorded with Andrew Marr on October 7th 2007. His claims that there had been no change of mind because of the polls seemed totally implausible. Labour, and Brown personally, never recovered.

Mike Smithson


Extraordinary. The union boss who thinks that losing the election was a price worth paying to get Corbyn

Monday, October 5th, 2015

Jeremy Corbyn

Trying to understand what’s happened to the Labour movement

I was completely knocked out by the above Tweet posted last night about comments made by a union boss at the big meeting in Manchester at which Mr Corbyn was speaking at.

The message is that to members of the Corbyn cult politics is not about striving to gain power but about controlling the party and the Labour movement in general.

So the fact that the Conservatives are in government with a majority and are likely to enact things that will impact negatively on the movement is irelevant. The likelihood that the blue team, given the polling response to Mr Corbyn, is heading for another majority victory in 2020 is seen as a price worth paying.

This is about the party and the wider movement not who runs the country.

For someone like myself who looks at politics as being about winning power this seems totally and utterly incomprehensible.

Apparently it doesn’t matter to them what the Tories will do in perhaps 10 years of office. What really concerns them is that they will be running the party and will be able to change it in a manner which suits them.

The insularity is staggering.

Mike Smithson


Pollsters need to wake up to the fact that Cameron has said that he won’t serve a third term

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015


The GE2020 choice won’t be DC or JC

Last night we saw the release of the monthly ComRes phone poll for the Daily Mail showing the CON lead down 5 to 9%. There was much focus on best PM figures showing Cameron 24% ahead of the new LAB leader.

One figure that stood out was that 26% of LAB voters in the survey chose Cameron rather than their new leader.

The only problem here is that as we all know Dave has made clear publicly that he is not going to continue the leadership beyond the general election. The choice will be between Corbyn if he survives till then and Cameron’s successor.

    As I’ve argued here before Cameron enjoys a polling premium attracting support that is greater than his party and we can’t assume that his successor will have the same appeal.

My guess is that a best PM rating where the options are Corbyn and Osborne would see a smaller lead for the former. It would also give us a better pointer to the general election.

In the 2005-2010 parliament when Tony Blair was still at Number 10 there was a lot of polling comparing other prospective LAB leaders, particularly Brown, with Cameron. That was clearly the right thing to do then and should be adopted now.

There’s another reason why the focus should be on measuring views of Corbyn against prospective Tory leaders which is that it deals with the incumbency bias inherent when you compare an Opposition Leader with the sitting PM.

So please let’s see some best PM comparisons between Corbyn and Osborne, Boris, May, Javid etc.

Mike Smithson


ICM marginals poll finds the Tories losing their majority

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

house of commons

ICM phone polled in the 20 most marginal Labour target seats  (19 Tory and 1 Lib Dem) on behalf of The Sun on Sunday. This found Labour up 4% since May to 42% and the Tories unchanged on 39%. This represents a Con to Lab swing of 2.1%. This would deprive the Tories of their majority. Though on this swing Labour would only take seventeen target seats at the election, 77 fewer than what they need to have a majority.

The fieldwork for this poll was Tuesday to Friday of this week gone, so not the optimal time for neither Corbyn or Labour. This polling might come as a shock for those who thought the only uncertainty at the next election is the size of the Tory majority.

Martin Boon of ICM said

the small swing could mean Labour retrieving a few Conservative-held seats, including Gower, two seats in Plymouth, and at a push Cardiff North and Nick Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam

But he added: “It’s not good enough – and could even be as good as it gets.”

I have a few caveats on this poll. As usual this is only one poll, the other major caveat is that this polling is in the seats Labour hope to gain in 2020, we need to see some polling in the marginal seats Labour hold as well. Lest we forget that in May 2015 when it came to England & Wales the Tories made nearly as many gains from Labour as they lost to Labour.



Will Cameron’s majority last?

Saturday, September 19th, 2015

Con Majority

As far as Dave need worry, it’s still Europe that matters most

For all the difficulties that have beset Jeremy Corbyn in his first week in charge, when it comes to parliamentary votes, it’s the PM rather than the Leader of the Opposition who should worry. Yes, a more effective whipping operation on the tax credit vote last week would have reduced rather than doubled the government majority but the government would still have won – and a government win is a non-story; majority governments are supposed to win in the Commons. A defeat, on the other hand, defines a media cycle, gives succour to the opposition and can spark a mood of crisis in the government; particularly if several defeats come in short succession.

With a majority of just 10 at the election, the government ought to be vulnerable to even small rebellions, assuming that the other side of the House acts in union. With several serially rebellious MPs on its own benches, that will undoubtedly happen from time to time as it did for John Major and James Callaghan, the most recent prime ministers to govern with little or no majority.

Yet when it comes to the big questions – matters of confidence and supply – rebellions do not happen and the Conservatives should be secure. Unless that majority starts dwindling. Will it?

There are two principal causes for losing MPs: by-election defeats and defections. On the former, one notable trend over recent decades has been the diminishing number of by-elections. There were only five by-elections in the last parliament in seats won by a governing party at the previous election, of which two were called following defections. This compares with 19 during the previous decade, 63 in the 1960s and 70 in the 1950s. If that trend is maintained then Cameron will not lose his majority even were the Conservatives to lose them all, which is itself improbable.

It’s true that the Conservtives’ by-election record in government is nothing special but we should be wary of projecting results from the 1990s, when Labour was thirty or more points ahead in the polls, onto the present. Miliband’s Labour never achieved that sort of lead and it seems improbable that Corbyn’s will either. The Lib Dems or UKIP might pose a stronger threat but unless the government makes an almighty mess of it then safe seats should still be held.

So what of the other cause: defections? Much again depends on the popularity of both the Conservatives and the party the MP’s joining: rats do not join a sinking ship – or even one that looks of dubious seaworthiness.

But not all defections are a matter of expediency, or at least, not solely. Usually there is some element of policy disagreement or personality clash in the mix too, pushing the MP out. And here’s where the big risk lies for Cameron. The last three Tory MPs to defect all went to UKIP. Given that the EU referendum will inevitably result in deep divisions within the Conservatives, can he prevent more from following suit, particularly if the renegotiation results – as seems likely – in him recommending a ‘status quo plus’ rather than a significantly different form of membership? With UKIP likely to be the only party of any size recommending withdrawal, links will no doubt be forged out of necessity on the campaign trail. A victory for In, particularly a narrow one regarded by Sceptics as having been won by deception, media bias or some other form of jiggery pokery, may well extract a very high political price in the Commons.

That’s not to say it will happen. There are plenty of ‘if’s to line up first (though there’s also more than one route to the same end). But nonetheless, it’s far from impossible that the Conservatives could lose their majority by midway through the parliament.

On that score, both 2018 and 2019 look like good value for the year of the next election, at 12/1 and 10/1 respectively with SkyBet. Not only is there the risk of the government being brought down having lost its majority, there’s also the possibility that it may seek to force an early election itself if events develop more benignly. That’s harder under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act but still achievable, particularly if there’s no viable alternative government available. A new PM may well try to seek his or her own mandate in the way that Gordon Brown nearly did; all the more so if Labour’s alternative is regarded as unelectable.

David Herdson


Corbyn’s English challenge

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

Labour need to stop piling up votes in their safe English seats

Looking at the chart above we can see that in England Labour did best where it didn’t need to and the Tories did best where they did need to do well. In England overall there was a swing of 1.1% from the Tories to Labour but in the crucial battle ground of the fifty most marginal Tory held seats there was a swing of 0.9% FROM Labour to the Tories.

One of the reasons for this was probably down to Labour’s much hyped ground game being focussed in the wrong places. A few months ago Labour’s Jon Ashworth, MP for Leicester South, said he and his canvassing team between January and May of this year had 16,000 doorstep conversations in his constituency. Which struck me as odd. Why were Labour wasting resources in a safe seats like that when there were winnable marginals seats in the Midlands that Labour needed to gain to become the largest party/have a majority?

This was comfort canvassing by Labour, those resources should have been focussed on places like Warwickshire North and Sherwood. In those Tory held hyper-marginal seats of Warwickshire North & Sherwood the Tory majority went up from 54 and 214 respectively to 2,973 and 4,647. Across England there are other examples like this from Stockton South to Nuneaton to Waveney. This explains in part how the Tories increased their lead over Labour in seats despite Labour reducing the Tory lead in the popular vote in England.

If Labour have any hope of taking power in 2020 they need to stop piling up votes in safe seats and start winning them in Tory held marginal seats. I’m not sure Jeremy Corbyn is the man to achieve that as I expect Jeremy Corbyn will be even less appealing in the Tory held marginals than Ed Miliband was.

Many thanks to PBer Disraeli for producing the figures that this article is based on.



Hills starting taking bets on when we’ll see the likes of this again – LAB winning a majority

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

The Exit poll. 10pm May 5th 2005

Will Corbyn make the red-team unelectable?

AS JEREMY CORBYN’s LAB leader odds are cut to their shortest yet at 2/9 (stake £9 for potential £2 profit) by William Hill, the bookies have also opened a market on when Labour will next achieve an overall majority government – and make between 2026-30 their 5/2 favourite – offering just 3/1 that it will not happen before 2031.

Hill’s spokesman Graham Sharpe said ‘With so many Labour figures predicting that a Corbyn victory could make the Party unelectable, we decided to start betting on just when the next Labour government will take office, and we don’t see it happening any time soon -probably not for at least fifteen years, in fact’.

Certainly it is hard to see this happening very soon and with the likely permanent loss of most of what were its Scottish strongholds it is hard to see the party recovering to win an overall majority.

As to the bet I can’t see the point of locking up cash for so long.

Mike Smithson


Why it is not smart making non-voters your main priority

Friday, August 28th, 2015

If you couldn’t be arsed last May then the chances are that it will be the same next time

It’s a seductive strategy that all parties try from time to time – make going for non-voters the main strategy but it is a wrong one. I’d argue that it is easier to persuade interested election participants to change than it is to get those who never turnout to alter their habits.

Just look at how well the Tories did on May 7th keeping the UKIP vote down in key marginals while not worrying about the purples making progress where it didn’t matter.

We underestimate how big a thing it is to vote for the first time and all the evidence is that the more you skip elections the chance of you voting the next time decline.

Boothroyd’s Tweet is spot on.

Mike Smithson