Archive for the ' General Election' Category


Why the GRN voters might not swing back to LAB at GE15 even in the marginals

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

When pressed on constituency question just 10% switch to red

Today’s YouGov of CON 31, LAB 34, LD 6, UKIP 17, GRN 7 highlights the need to analyse what is happening to the GRN vote and what might happen in the key battlegrounds that will decide GE15.

As ever the main source of published data is from Lord Ashcroft. The aggregation of a series of constituency polls means that sub-samples can be large enough to draw conclusions with a reasonable degree of confidence. Also, of course, Lord A is the only one asking the two stage voting question.

The chart above is based on the aggregate data from his October round of LAB-CON battlegrounds polling with the two voting questions. After the standard one those sampled are asked to think specifically about their own constituency and in many cases there is quite a difference. It is the change that can be illuminating.

The big picture on the first question is that getting on for half of current GRN support is coming from people who voted LAB or LD in 2010. But look what happens when the second stage question, that relating to the specific seat is asked.

As can be seen above just under three-quarters of those saying Green to the first question still say they will vote for the party on the second. To me what is interesting is what happens to the rest. Yes LAB does best taking a 10% slice but that’s nothing like as large as the red team might hope. A total of 4% say CON and 6% say LD. UKIP at 2% in included amongst others.

Given rising GRN shares generally I plan to keep a close eye on what is happening and will be returning to this in due case.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Alex Salmond fighting a Westminster seat that voted overwhelmingly NO would be a huge gamble

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

You could see this as an attack line?
You voted NO – now tell him you mean it”?

Salmond in debate (1)

It’s been reported widely that the outgoing SNP leader and Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, is thinking about seeking a Westminster seat to fight at GE15. This would mean a return to the Commons.

The one he’s said to have his eye is Gordon in Aberdeenshire where the sitting Lib Dem MP, Malcolm Bruce, is standing down. Generally the Lib Dems are most vulnerable in such situations.

But would this be the shoo-in for Salmond that it appears. Surprisingly Ladbrokes only rate the SNP’s chances there at 8/13 with the LDs on 5/2.

    The relevant fact about the Gordon constituency is that in the IndyRef Gordon it voted by nearly two to one against independence – hardly good territory, you would think, for the NATs

Life is almost always hard for ex-leaders. They don’t have the pulling power that they enjoyed while in the top job and in his case Salmond is vulnerable because on his watch the referendum went the wrong way. He failed in the biggest project of his political career.

On the face of it Salmond would be better deployed fighting a current LAB seat where the vote was for YES on September 18th.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


After a series of polls showing the main parties level-pegging today’s YouGov has LAB creeping back into the lead

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Now a 1% margin is something for the red team to cheer

For whatever reason things have not been going well for LAB in the polls over the past week. Only the Populus online poll on Monday showed a lead while Opinium, Ashcroft, ComRes and three successive YouGovs had LAB and CON level-pegging.

Of course edging up to a 1% lead, as today, is statistically irrelevant – but this is not about statistics but party morale and pressure, perhaps, on the leadership.

When things haven’t been going well then any sign that the worst might just be over is to be welcomed and no doubt EdM’s tightly knit team will be breathing a sigh of relief.

    There’s little doubt that what started the erosion of Labour’s position was Ed Miliband’s lacklustre conference speech in September. The leader’s performance at his final conference before a general election is crucial and Miliband blew it.

Today Ed faces Dave once again at PMQs. He’s got a great issue – the reports that Britain will not support future efforts to prevent migrants and refugees drowning in the Med.

This is precisely the sort of of thing that should play well with his side and the key swing voting group of LD to LAB switchers. He needs to exploit it well.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Why CON could still be losing seats to LAB even if it manages to get a 6% lead

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

The first target for the blues – to be doing better than last time

At GE2010 the Conservatives had a GB national vote share of 37% which was 7.3% bigger than Labour’s total of 29.7%.

So under a uniform national swing CON needs to be ahead by that margin simply to stop losing seats to LAB. That is the starting point for the party at GE15 – to do at least as well as they did last time.

    Thus it cannot be assumed that CON lead of 6% is sufficient for them to hang onto all they hold at the moment from LAB.

This all assumes a uniform swing and, of course, the whole political environment is very different with the rise of UKIP. But in terms of the impact on seats it is the gap between LAB and CON that historically has been the best measure. This at GE10 CON moved from being 3% behind LAB to 7.3% ahead.

Note that all the main national polls shares are on a GB basis rather than an all-UK one. For this purpose the Northern Ireland seats are left to one side. Thus it is the GB shares from 2010 that we work from. CON 37, LAB 29.7, LD 23.6.

Of course the Tories have hopes of taking LD seats but here there’s a huge challenge. As is widely known the yellows have a record of outperforming national swing in the seats that they hold, particularly where the existing MP is standing for re-election.

This is being shown again for GE15 in the Lord Ashcroft CON-LD marginals polling. Although on national numbers there’s a huge gap between blue and yellow Lord A’s latest constituency based findings have a LD to CON swing of just 2%. This would curtail many of the expected gains from current margins in national polls.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


LAB heavyweight Jim Murphy becomes the 2-5 favourite to be next Scottish LAB leader

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

There are 41 Scottish LAB seats at stake

The key fact to remember when discussing the impact of Scotland on UK politics is that there are 59 seats north of the border of which LAB hold 41. So anything that could weaken the party in the eyes of Scottish voters could have a big impact on GE15. Any LAB losses in Scotland would have to be made up from extra LAB gains in England and Wales if EdM’s hope of securing a majority is to be fulfilled.

Jim Murphy, who at one stage was both defence and Scottish secretaries in the last LAB government, played a key part in the IndyRef campaign with his 100 towns in 100 days tours putting the case for NO. He faced some nasty confrontations with YES campaigners and came out of the referendum with his reputation enhanced.

For some time he’s been one my long-shots bets, at 33/1, for EdM’s successor and would easily be a match for the SNP’s new flag carrier, Nicola Sturgeon. He’s articulate, tough, and like Sturgeon is from Glasgow.

    A lot has been written in recent weeks about the SNP threat to LAB. The big problem Sturgeon’s party has is there there are few seats where at GE10 her party was in striking distance.

The following chart shows every single Scots LAB seat ranked in majority order with those where the SNP is in second place highlighted. The numbers speak for themselves. Labour Scottish heartlands look like tough nuts to crack.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


The battle does seem to be getting tighter: Both tonight’s online panel polls have CON & LAB on 33% each

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

But the big political news..


The Westminster Big Three: zen-like serenity or zombies in action?

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

How come poor CON/LAB/LD polls are being accepted so readily?

Time was when you could be reasonably sure that a party struggling in the polls would lead inevitably to speculation about its leader’s position.  The media would talk about it, backbench MPs would talk about it and cabinet or shadow cabinet members would let their friends talk about it.  What is remarkable about the last few years is that despite unprecedented combined unpopularity of both leaders and parties, there has been so little such talk never mind action.

Of course, the fact that all three main Westminster parties are so unpopular simultaneously may have something to do with that: it’s easy to console yourself that you stand a decent chance of recovery when your opponents are doing badly too.

Even so, this is very far from a zero-sum game.  All three parties face an existential threat.  UKIP has the potential to replace either the Tories or Labour (but not both) after the next election as the main party in their part of the spectrum if the cards fall well for it.  Neither has a right to exist, never mind to success, and both parties’ former core vote is disillusioned.  At the moment, Farage’s party’s mid- to upper-teens score would probably see them pick up only a handful of seats but were that to be upped to the mid-twenties that would do real damage.

The prospect of such a step-change in UKIP’s polling is far from inconceivable: they have polled up there on occasion, by-election victories between now and April would reinforce their current momentum and the debates – if they happen – provide a further opportunity to advance.

Strangely, a half-reasonable performance may be worse in the long run than a bad one as it’s far harder to fight off the threat while in government.  Clacton has already demonstrated the risks to the Conservatives and Rochester may reinforce that message.  Should Labour regain government, the danger may be even worse, polling as it is in the low thirties with the support of a great many 2010 Lib Dem defectors.  A majority Ed Miliband-led government could easily leak that support straight back on one wing while being assailed by UKIP on the other.  Gordon Brown’s Labour government bottomed out at 18% in the polls; an Ed Miliband one could go further still – and that might drop it to fourth place by vote share.

For the Lib Dems the threat is greater still and more immediate: their party has lost more than two-thirds of their 2010 vote, a level meaning it’s dicing with oblivion.  True, local strongholds appear firm for now but results from the constituency polls sit uneasily with the national ones: my guess is that it’s the national ones and we’ll see Lib Dem support edge up as May approaches and people think more about their local situation.  But it may not and didn’t in Scotland in 2011, where the Yellows lost all but two of their constituency seats (and Orkney & Shetland is just one seat for Westminster).

    With threats to their existence such as the parties have not faced in many decades, if ever, what’s remarkable is how calm the leaderships and parliamentary parties are. 

There is grumbling about Miliband but no serious threat this side of the election.  Cameron has suffered two defections – one reinforced by a by-election defeat – but despite their reputation for deposing leaders, Tory backbenchers have remained unusually quiet on the subject.  Even quieter have been Lib Dems, who are polling worst of all and perhaps have most opportunity for change (their leader has the worst ratings, plausible alternatives are available and one of the causes of their woes – being in government – could be resolved by a well-timed withdrawal).

Will one or more of the parties brake out of their zen-like calm – or zombie-like sleepwalking if you prefer – before the election?  I doubt it.  It’s almost too late now to change strategy or leader and will be by the New Year.  These things need pressure to build and that rarely happens quickly.  It also needs anger, focus and division, and such factors simply aren’t present in sufficient quantity, particularly when there’s the belief that the other side(s) might hand you victory by default.  It is somewhat ironic that the biggest upheaval in the political system since at least the early 1980s has produced so little reaction.  But then maybe that’s the point: the changes are so far outside their experience, they can’t reach for a stock response and like rabbits in Farage’s headlights, produce none.

David herdson


Best tip on PB in the past year: UKIP at 40-1 to win Cambourne and Redruth

Friday, October 24th, 2014

betsPP (1)

To whoever suggested this my thanks

I’ve just been reviewing my current open political bets and one, which I’d completely forgotten about, was UKIP to win Cambourne & Redruth at an amazing 40/1. It was placed with PaddyPower a week before Christmas.

My recall is that this came out of a discussion one evening and I think Peter the Punter was involved. If I’ve named the wrong person then my apologies.

Five months after that bet an Ashcroft poll of the seat had CON 29%, UKIP 26%, LAB 24%, LD 14%. Currently UKIP are second favourites at 7/2.

Given what’s happening and the possible consequences of a Tory defeat in Rochester then UKIP in seats like this become great value bets.

Mike Smithson

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