With five days to go a Corbyn boost for the Lib Dems in Richmond Park – he’s to visit the constituency on Sunday

November 25th, 2016



The Blair Impede Brexit Project: Ladbrokes makes it odds-on that UK will still be “fully paid-up” member of the EU on Jan 1 2020

November 25th, 2016

THE UK is now odds-on to still be a full member of the EU on the 1st of January 2020, according to Ladbrokes.

Tony Blair’s claim that Brexit can be stopped has moved the market, making it now just 10/11 Britain remain as full members, with 3/1 offered on another vote taking place before the same date.

As a result Blair is also now at the centre of a long-odds gamble to return to Number 10, as his price of becoming the next PM tumbles to 50/1 from 200/1.

In a New Statesman interview published yesterday Labour’s most successful leader  spoke of the possibility that voters would decide to reverse their decision to leave the EU, but be observed that suggesting led to being condemned “condemned as treason”.

Blair said: “It can be stopped, if the British people decide that having seen what it means, the pain-gain analysis doesn’t stack up…When I say, ‘Well, let’s just keep our options open’, it’s condemned as treason. Why wouldn’t you keep your options open?”

Mike Smithson


EX-CON PM John Major jumps into the BREXIT debate saying there’s a credible case for a second referendum

November 25th, 2016

And he warns against the “tyranny of the majority”

The big BREXIT development overnight has been a speech by the former Tory leader and PM, Sir John Major, which seems to run directly against that which Theresa May is seeking to achieve.

According to a Press Association report he told a private dinner “that the 48% of people who voted to stay in the European Union should have their say on the terms of the deal for breaking away from Brussels.” The report goes on:-

“Major said he accepted the UK would not remain a full member of the EU but hoped the Brexit deal would enable the country to stay as close as possible to the other 27 members and the single market, the Times reported.

Parliament, not the government, should make the final decision on any new deal with the remaining members of the EU and there was a “perfectly credible case” for a second referendum…

“I hear the argument that the 48% of people who voted to stay should have no say in what happens,” he said.

“I find that very difficult to accept. The tyranny of the majority has never applied in a democracy and it should not apply in this particular democracy.”

There’s no doubt that this will enrage the hard BREXIT backers within his own party as well as infuriating Number 10.

His comments came only hours after the man who beat him at GE1997, Tony Blair, declared that the June 23rd outcome could be overturned if voters become convinced leaving the EU will damage the economy.

There’s no doubt that those opposed to a hard BREXIT are becoming more vocal and I think we could see more in the weeks ahead during which we have the Richmond Park by-election and the Supreme Court hearing on whether the PM can start the extraction process by simply using the Royal Prerogative.

Mike Smithson


Local By-Election Preview: November 24th 2016

November 24th, 2016


Tadley South (Con defence) on Basingstoke and Deane
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 32, Labour 17, Liberal Democrats 7, Independents 4 (Conservative majority of 4)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Conservative 1,787 (61%), Liberal Democrat 674 (23%), Labour 454 (16%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 48,257 (48%) LEAVE 52,071 (52%) on a turnout of 78%
Candidates duly nominated: Claire Ballard (Lab), Kerri Carruthers (Con), Phil Heath (UKIP), Jo Slimin (Lib Dem)

Castle (Lab defence) on City of Carlisle
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 29, Labour 20, United Kingdom Independence Party 2, Libearal Democrat 1 (Conservative majority of 6)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Labour 940 (40%), Conservative 671 (29%), United Kingdom Independence Party 343 (15%), Green 193 (8%), Liberal Democrat 145 (6%), Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition 43 (2%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 23,788 (40%) LEAVE 35,895 (60%) on a turnout of 75%
Candidates duly nominated: Neil Boothman (Green), John North (Con), Stephen Sidgwich (Lab), Michael Story (UKIP), David Wood (Lib Dem)

Sovereign (Con defence) on Eastbourne
Result of council at last election (2015): Liberal Democrats 18, Conservatives 9 (Liberal Democrat majority of 9)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 2,707, 2,366, 2,219 (41%)
Liberal Democrats 1,684, 1,360, 1,287 (25%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 1,395, 1,081, 984 (21%)
Labour 514, 463, 437 (8%)
Green 321 (5%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 22,845 (43%) LEAVE 30,700 (57%) on a turnout of 74%
Candidates duly nominated: Roger Howarth (Lib Dem), Paul Melcalfe (Con), Louis Thorburn (Lab)

Warsop Carrs (Lab defence) on Mansfield
Result of council at last election (2015): Labour 19, Mansfield Independents 15, United Kingdom Independence Party 2 (Labour majority of 2)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Labour 1,069 (73%), Mansfield Independent 391 (27%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 16,417 (29%) LEAVE 39,927 (71%) on a turnout of 73%
Candidates duly nominated: Debra Barlow (Non Party Independent), Andrew Burgin (Lab), Ryamond Forster (UKIP), Daniel Redfern (Con)

Blakelaw (Lab defence) on Newcastle upon Tyne
Result of council at last election (2016): Labour 55, Liberal Democrats 20, Independents 3 (Labour majority of 32)
Result of ward at last election (2014): Labour 1,897 (71%), Liberal Democrat 485 (18%), Conservative 308 (11%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 65,405 (51%) LEAVE 63,598 (49%) on a turnout of 68%
Candidates duly nominated: Oskar Avery (Lab), John Gordon (Newcastle upon Tyne Community First Party), Gerry Langley (Con), Ciaran Morrissey (Lib Dem)

Reedley (Lab defence) on Pendle
Result of council at last election (2016): Conservatives 21, Labour 17, Liberal Democrats 10, British National Party 1 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 4)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Labour 1,711 (54%), Conservative 1,348 (43%), Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition 99 (3%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 16,704 (37%) LEAVE 28,631 (63%) on a turnout of 70%
Candidates duly nominated: Mohammad Hanif (Lab), Pauline McCormick (Con), James Wood (Lib Dem)

Turn Hill (Con defence) on South Somerset
Result of council at last election (2015): Liberal Democrats 29, Conservatives 28, Independents 3 (No Overall Control, Liberal Democrats short by 2)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Conservative 1,071 (58%), Liberal Democrat 635 (34%), Labour 142 (8%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 42,527 (43%) LEAVE 56,940 (57%) on a turnout of 79%
Candidates duly nominated: Sean Dromgoole (Lab), Julia Gadd (Lib Dem), Gerard Tucker (Con)

Valley (Lib Dem defence) on Tandridge
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 35, Liberal Democrats 6, Independent 1 (Conservative majority of 28)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Liberal Democrat 725 (35%), Conservative 701 (34%), United Kingdom Independence Party 358 (17%), Labour 289 (14%)
EU Referendum Result: REMAIN 24,251 (47%) LEAVE 27,169 (53%) on a turnout of 80%
Candidates duly nominated: Jeffrey Bolter (UKIP), Dorinda Cooper (Lib Dem), Paul Shipway (Con), Mark Wood (Lab)

Compiled by Harry Hayfield


And now what you really wanted to know about LEAVE and REMAIN voters – how often they change their underpants/knickers

November 24th, 2016


Remember: Normal polling margins of error apply


Hammond moves up the betting as next CON leader/PM

November 24th, 2016


Latest next PM betting


The new Chancellor gets a good press this morning following his first set piece appearance since getting the job in July. He’s someone who has been up there within the party a long time but has never sought to hog the limelight. After GE2010 he should have become number 2 to Osborne at the Treasury but the demands of the coalition meant that had to go to a Lib Dem. Since then he’s held senior cabinet posts, most recently Foreign Secretary, that don’t get you much media exposure.

One of the great strengths of Hammond is that is something he does not seek. In many way he’s very much like John Major was in the final days of Mrs. Thatcher.

I was impressed by this from veteran political commentator, Bruce Anderson in an article headed “Watch out for Hammond, the potential PM no one saw coming“. Contrasting TMay’s PMQ performance and Hammond immediately afterwards Anderson wrote:

“..Assailed by Jeremy Corbyn’s slightly bumbling earnestness, Mrs May displayed no mastery. She seems incapable of big pictures or generosity of spirit. Reverting to that unfairly maligned-region, the Home Counties, she sounded like the crackling of autumn leaves heading for the wheelbarrow in an upper-middle class garden. There was none of the size – moral, mental, political – that we should expect from a Prime Minister. It was much the best performance Mr Corbyn has given. Afterwards, a number of the boys were wondering aloud: ‘Is the girl up to it?’

That was after Mr Hammond had sat down. He did display mastery. It was clear that he had an absolute intellectual command, which allowed him to indulge in a few donnish jokes. There is an obvious point and a satisfactory point. First, Philip Hammond would never make a living as a comedian. Second, he would never try to. If anything, he underestimates his powers of wit. That is a fault on the right side…”

I took a flyer long-shot bet on Hammond next PM at 20/1.

Negotiating BREXIT is going to be a massive challenge for Theresa May and the chances of an upset must be there. You can see Hammond as the “steady as you go” replacement.

Mike Smithson


The biggest cheer shadow chancellor McDonnell got was when he declared “…in conclusion”

November 23rd, 2016

Britain needs an opposition far better than Labour is providing

It’s been a day dominated by Philip Hammond’s first big event as Chancellor, the autumn statement. The big political points were the increasing size of the projected deficit and the likely impact of BREXIT.

At the budget in the spring the former is that the first response comes from the leader of the opposition. At the autumn statement, which is now being abolished, it’s slightly different with the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, being the first to respond. This is a tricky one because he has little time to analyse and reflect and then he is on his feet.

He was heard in almost silence by his own MPs. The Telegraph declared “John McDonnell reacted to the Autumn Statement like he was hungover. Thank God it’s being abolished”.

In fact the only assertion from McDonnell that got any response was when he said “..inconclusion”,

The Spectator’s Isabel Hardman hit the nail on the head with this:-

“..Labour has become rather irrelevant, particularly in a Commons context. Its position in the polls is the main reason ministers don’t fear probing from shadow ministers so much, but the lack of seriousness with which Corbyn and McDonnell treat parliament in general has also diminished the party’s scrutinising force. This force is then further diminished by the lack of seriousness with which most Labour MPs treat their party’s leadership: moderate backbenchers have been focusing on their own scrutiny strategy rather than on trying to help McDonnell with his…”

It is hard to see anything changing until there’s a new leadership and that’s not likely to happen this side of the general election.

Lucky Theresa May.

Mike Smithson


Today’s autumn statement is the first big Treasury event since GE2005 when Osborne has not been Chancellor or Shadow

November 23rd, 2016

But don’t write off George yet

For a man who still looks quite youthful Osborne has been at the top of British politics for a long time. He was in his mid-30s when the then CON leader, Michael Howard, made him shadow chancellor. He kept hold of this brief throughout the coalition years and when the Tories won a majority in May last year.

His sacking by the incoming May leadership in July marked the end of an era. He’s now a backbencher. For unlike his close colleague, David Cameron, Osborne decided to stay around under the new ledership even though he doesn’t have an official role anymore.

But Osborne is still a player and my guess is that when the Theresa May leadership is eventually toppled George will still be there.

I’ve always had a respect for him after him meeting him for the first tine even before he was an MP a few months before the 2001 General Election. Tony Blair was totally at his peak dominating everything. He seemed to be unstoppable.

The occasion was a college dinner Oxford and I found myself sitting next to the then PPC for Tatton. How could, I quizzed the aspiring MP, Blair’s NewLab ever be beaten. He responded with a suggestion that turned out to be highly prescient – “Labour could be vulnerable if we played the English card”.

He’s always been the great political strategist. Watch this space.

Mike Smithson