Archive for the ' General Election' Category


The NT should repeat “This House” – a taste of what happens when you have a minority government

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

This should be screened again before May 7th

Suddenly people are talking about a possible minority government after the general election because of the way the maths appear at the moment. With the polls looking so tight with UKIP and the SNP expected to have much bigger contingents at Westminster it’s quite likely that neither LAB or CON will secure a majority and a future coalition very difficult to achieve.

Last year I wrote enthusiastically about James Graham’s “This House” chronicling the period 1974 until Mrs. Thatcher’s victory in 1979. It enjoyed a second sell-out run at the Olivier at the National Theatre and was also part of the NT Live when productions are screened to cinemas and other venues throughout the UK.

It is set in the whips offices of both Labour and Tories from the February 1974 election being called through to 1979. We watch first the period when Labour tried operate without a majority and then as it tries to govern with a majority of 3 after the October 1974 election.

Death, defections and by-elections soon whittle that down to zero and the play portrays some of the apparently crazy measures taken to keep the ship afloat when Labour didn’t have the numbers. The need to bring even critically ill MPs into the Palace of Westminster for major votes is a major part of the drama.

The Callaghan government, of course, fell on March 28th 1979 when it failed to win a confidence motion by the smallest of margins – just one vote. The SNP voted with the Tories.

It’s wonderfully funny but also very contemporary illustrating the huge difficulty party managers have in working with “the odds and sods” – the other parties who might help.

    Given the current political numbers I’ve suggested to the NT that it should screen it again in the run up to the general election. It could be highly relevant

It would be a reminder of the huge challenges of minority government which, I’d suggest, are much greater now than in the 70s.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble

Mike Smithson

For the latest polling and political betting news


Latest betting prices – GE2015 and possible UKIP defections

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014


David Herdson on Saturday: We might have passed peak UKIP?

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Is the message from Rochester that 2015 will be ‘close but no cigar’ for Team Farage?

Politics can be a contradictory old business. In many ways, UKIP has been the Party of the Year for the second year running. The SNP might dispute that but the reality is that the SNP lost their big vote in September while UKIP won theirs in May, becoming only the third party since WWI to win a national election. To add to that, they gained over 160 councillors at the local elections, have polled in a comfortable third place all year (apart from with ICM – a notable exception), and have, of course, made the Westminster breakthrough. Indeed, in winning Rochester and Strood, they become only the fourth party since WWII to gain two Commons seats in the same parliament, never mind the same year.

And yet those achievements can be misleading. In reality, 2014 was a year of consolidation, not one of advance. Last year marked their promotion to politics’ second division; this one has seen them maintain that status and the victories in Clacton and then again this week doesn’t change that. The gains in the Euros, locals and – to an extent – by-elections are a feature of those cycles operating over four or five years. Their polling, in the low- to mid-teens, is only marginally up on twelve months ago and is of a level that would not return a significant number of seats at a general election given their vote distribution.

It is a measure of how high expectations are about UKIP’s performance that the result of a win in a seat they didn’t even contest last time is being described as disappointing, particularly given the effort put in by the Conservatives. On the other hand, the narrative in politics is often about momentum, and UKIP winning by a smaller margin than any of the polls found has checked theirs a little.

In so doing, it also gives a bit of a pointer towards next year. We know that the Ashcroft poll found that voters in the constituency were likely to swing back to the Conservatives come the general election (all else being equal), and that UKIP undershot the lead Ashcroft reported for the by-election. Those two facts combined make it less likely that there’ll be any more defectors (or at least, any more who plan on standing again), and less likely that UKIP will make as many gains as they would have come May had they met expectations. Indeed, the two are not unrelated.

Part of this is because UKIP is riding two horses in opposite directions. On the one hand, those politicians most likely to defect are still Conservatives. On the other, UKIP is increasingly chasing the Labour voter, perceiving – probably rightly – that there are now more soft votes in the red column than the blue one. However, the net result of that contradiction is the sort of awkward and unconvincing speech Mark Reckless gave after his win where he tried to proclaim himself the voice of White Van Man. To nail that strategy, what UKIP really needs is a Labour MP to defect. I’m not holding my breath.

David Herdson

p.s. The Lib Dems dodged a bullet on Thursday. It might have been their worst-ever share of the vote, but it could have been worse still. One factor in the demise of the Owenite continuity SDP was when it finished behind the Monster Raving Loony Party in the May 1990 Bootle by-election; something which did much to destroy claims to be taken credibly as a serious party. At that election, the Loonies won 418 votes; in Rochester, the Lib Dems won 349.


CON GE15 prices moves up because Rochester wasn’t as bad as many in the blue team feared

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Tories helped by UKIP/Farage’s poor expectation management

This morning’s movement means that the CON price has advanced by 7 seats since SPIN opened its market 11 days ago.

The money’s now going on CON to retake the seat next May

Harry Hayfield’s round-up of all yesterday’s results

Bramhall South and Woodford on Stockport (Con Defence)
Result: Conservative 2,080 (53% +8%), Liberal Democrats 1,502 (38% +5%), Green 197 (5%, no candidate last time), Labour 132 (3% -6%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 468 (13%) on a swing of 1.5% from Lib Dem to Con

Uplands on Swansea (Lab Defence)
Result: Independent 671 (33%, no candidate in 2012), Labour 533 (26% -18%), Liberal Democrat 215 (11% -23%), Green 179 (9% -1%), Swansea Independents 158 (8%, no candidate in 2012), Conservative 154 (8% -4%), Plaid 104 (5%, no candidate in 2012), TUSC 31 (2%, no candidate in 2012)
Independent GAIN from Labour with a majority of 138 (7%)

Peninsula on Medway (UKIP defence from Con defection)
Result: UKIP 2,850 (48%), Conservative 1,965 (33%), Labour 716 (12%), Green 314 (5%), Lib Dem 60 (1%)
UKIP HOLD (from defection) with a majority of 885 (15%)

Rochester and Strood (UKIP defence from Con defection)
Result: UKIP 16,867 (42%, no candidate in 2010), Conservative 13,947 (35% -14%), Labour 6,713 (17% -11%), Green 1,692 (4% +2%), Liberal Democrats 349 (1% -15%), Independents 188 (0%), Loony 151 (0%), People Before Profit 69 (0%), Britain First 56 (0%), Patriotic Socialists 33 (0%)
UKIP HOLD (from defection) with a majority of 2,920 (7%)


New Survation/UNITE poll has CON holding onto Stockton S where it’s defending a majority of just 310

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Finally for tonight

UPDATE: CON back in lead with YouGov


Survation finds dramatic LAB collapse in Scotland but not on the scale of Ipsos-MORI in October

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

What we need now are Scottish constituency polls

The second part of the Daily Record Survation poll of Scottish voters was published overnight and finds a big increase in SNP support since the IndyRef with an even bigger drop in the Labour share.

It doesn’t really need to be said that the prospect of losing a significant part of its current base of 41 seats North of the border is going to make Labour’s challenge at the General Election that much harder.

    On some computations these latest numbers would leave Scottish LAB with just five seats out of the 41 it currently has.

That might sound an awful lot but it is far better than the same calculations that were being made three weeks age when the Ipsos-MORI quarterly Scottish poll had the SNP on 52% with LAB on 23%. Then the talk was of just one Scottish LAB MP remaining.

So in one sense today’s Survation poll could have been worse for LAB. It wasn’t as bad as Ipsos-MORI.

The best way of working out the impact in terms of seats is through single constituency polling which Lord Ashcroft had said he had in the pipeline. He asks a two stage voting question with the second requesting those sampled to focus on the specifics of their own seats. And as we have seen this can make a big difference.

One thing of course to bear in mind is that the loss by Labour of Scottish seats to the SNP has no impact on the Tory ambition of winning an overall majority. That requires the blues to win seats not LAB to lose them to another party.

As I wrote yesterday full Scottish polls have been something of a rarity since the IndyRef. This is just the third so we have not got too much data to base things on. But all three surveys have pointed to catastrophic LAB losses the only differences between on the scale of what might happen.

And to reiterate Lord Ashcroft’s regular caveat – polls are a snapshot not a prediction.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


For the first time in a month the Ashcroft National phone poll has LAB in the lead

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Ashcroft becomes the 4th pollster in a row to have LAB ahead

All the movements are very small and well within the margin of error but it will come as a relief in Miliband towers that the national VI polls seem to be moving back to LAB.

The shares vary considerably across the firms no more so than today. Just look at the chart to see the very real differences between Ashcroft and Populus – the latter having a CON+LAB aggregate that is is five points up on the 2010 general election. This is all very different from some other recent surveys that have had CON+LAB at below 60%.

    UKIP at bottom of party positive/negative ratings
    Cameron at top of leader ratings


How voting patterns can be very different depending on the tactical situation in each constituency

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

What will this mean with the UKIP surge next May?

The chart above seeks to look at the mean vote changes of the main parties in different categories of seats based on which came first and second in 2005 and in doing so gives an interesting picture of what happened with, perhaps, some pointers to next May.

The LAB vote showed the largest range with, interestingly, the biggest drop-off in support in those seats where it didn’t matter – those where the Tories were in first place over Labour in 2005. Notice how in that segment the LDs enjoyed their best performances – where it had no impact on the overall election outcome.

    Could it be that the UKIP surge will be like the Cleggasm movers of 2010 – with the purples doing best in terms of votes in the seats least likely to change hands?

In seats where the yellows were fighting Labour there was no sign of any anti-Labour tactical voting from Tory supporters. In LD/LAB seats both the Tories and Labour did better than average whereas in LAB/LD seats the vote share for Clegg’s party rose by only 0.4 percent – half the national average.

In CON-LD battle-grounds there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of any new tactical voting by Labour supporters to stop the blues making progress.

All of this, was, of course, then. It could all be very different on May 7th as is being suggested in Lord Ashcroft’s constituency polling.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble