The next election will be decided in Britain, not Venezuela

August 5th, 2017

The public is not bothered about Corbyn’s past endorsements (even if it should be)

Unless Theresa May or her successor can overturn over a trend well over a century old, Labour will form the next government. Quite simply, once governments start losing seats from one election to the next, they continue losing seats until they’re in opposition. And not only did the Conservatives lost seats at the last election but the result was so tight that any further loss would make their position impossible.

Defeating that trend will be no small task. It exists for strong reasons. The longer a government is in place, the more responsibility it has to take for the state of the country; the longer a government has lasted, the more people it is likely to have upset; governments tend to promote able administrators while oppositions elevate campaigners, which matters come election time; governments get tired and struggle to renew without undermining what they’ve previously done. So when the public has turned against it (or turned towards someone else), it’s extremely hard to reverse that swing.

Could we see an exception this next election? As always, it’s possible. Politics is a human activity and there are no cast iron rules. Jeremy Corbyn is a highly unusual Leader of the Opposition and the scope for the next Tory campaign to improve on the last one is immense. On the other hand, Brexit – a policy the Tories own for good or ill – will be exceptionally hard to manage on so many levels and if it goes wrong, the knock-on effects on the economy and on any number of other aspects of daily life will be huge. In such a situation, the people are unlikely to blame themselves.

    One factor that doesn’t seem likely to play much of a role, despite the best efforts of the Tories and the right-of-centre press, is Corbyn’s record on support for radical left governments and groups. There are always reasons to think that this time it’ll be different but invariably, it’s not. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the IRA, Hamas, Iran’s Press TV, Venezuela’s government or what, there are an awful lot of people who either don’t believe the stories at all (linked to the source of them), or they don’t believe they’re relevant.

That’s linked to a different comment that I’ve heard more than once since the election (as well as before it): that politicians are all the same. In reality, this is less the case now than for many years but reality is not intruding. The assertion is made not because people have genuinely compared the actions, policies and records but because they want to believe it because that then absolves them of blame: if politicians are all the same, how can a voter be to blame if something subsequently goes wrong? It also means that stories of extremism can’t be true because most politicians aren’t extreme, therefore if they’re all the same, then none can be extreme and attacks on individuals for it must be false.

This much is supposition. In terms of hard facts, what we have are opinion polls that continue to show Labour in front (and while May still outscores Corbyn, the margin is tight rather than the 3- or 4-to-1 majorities she was chalking up in March and April.

Renewed prominence for Corbyn’s warm words towards Chavez and Maduro has not had the slightest impact on voting intention: yesterday’s YouGov actually showed a slight swing to Labour and the local by-elections, while a mixed bag, saw Labour make two impressive gains (alongside a loss to the Tories).

That his comments and his record should affect the public’s opinion of him is beside the point. At the very least they say something about his judgement; they quite possibly also reveal something about what he considers legitimate behaviour from a state in pursuit of a legitimate goal or to counteract opposition. But the natural conclusions to be drawn from such an assessment are so beyond the range which we are accustomed to UK politicians operating in (hence the ‘they’re all the same’ comment, despite the evidence), that they recoil from the conclusions and reject them.

We are in a different world from March and April now. Theresa May cannot undo her election campaign and the public cannot unsee it. The time for fuzzy words and bold claims on Brexit has passed and the time for detail is here. Even if the government were united and fully prepared to crack on with the negotiations, there’d be much for the public to disagree with (see border controls and fishing rights today, for example). And the government is not united nor fully ready.

As things stand, the 4/1 for Corbyn to be the next PM doesn’t look attractive it’s more likely that the Tories would dump May first were a defeat on the cards, she may go of her own accord before 2022 anyway and even if you win, your money could be locked up for near five years. All the same, we should reconcile ourselves to the likelihood of him entering Number Ten.

David Herdson


UKIP’s woes continue losing both by-elections they were defending on big swings to LAB

August 4th, 2017

Meanwhile LAB gains seat from CON, and CON gains one from LAB

Loughborough, Shelthorpe on Charnwood (Lab defence)
Result: Labour 595 (45% +5% on last time), Conservative 591 (45%, unchanged on last time), Liberal Democrat 93 (7%, no candidate last time), United Kingdom Independence Party 29 (2%, no candidate last time) No Green Party candidate this time (-15%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 4 (0%) on a swing from Con to Lab of 2.5%

St. Margaret’s with St. Nicholas on King’s Lynn and West Norfolk (Lab defence)
Result: Conservative 253 (36% -7% on last time), Labour 210 (30% -3% on last time), Liberal Democrat 173 (25%, no candidate last time), Green Party 63 (9% -15% on last time)
Conservative GAIN from Labour with a majority of 43 (6%) on a swing of 2% from Lab to Con

Penshurst, Fordscombe and Chiddingstone on Sevenoaks (Con defence)
Result: Conservative 438 (59% +6% on last time), Liberal Democrat 253 (34% unchanged on last time), Labour 54 (7%, no candidate last time) No Green Party candidate this time (-13%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 185 (25%) on a swing of 3% from Lib Dem to Con

Milton, Regis on Swale (UKIP defence)
Result: Labour 573 (54% +25% on last time), Conservative 255 (24% -10% on last time), United Kingdom Independence Party 151 (14% -15% on last time), Liberal Democrat 86 (8% -1% on last time)
Labour GAIN from United Kingdom Independence Party with a majority of 318 (30%) on a swing of 17.5% from Con to Lab (20% from UKIP to Lab)

Margate Central on Thanet (UKIP defence)
Result: Labour 454 (58% +29% on last time), Conservative 190 (24% +2% on last time), United Kingdom Independence Party 52 (7% -25% on last time), Liberal Democrat 33 (4%, no candidate last time) Independent 24 (3% unchanged on last time), Green Party 23 (3% -9% on last time), Independent 13 (2%, unchanged on last time)
Labour GAIN from United Kingdom Independence Party with a majority of 264 (34%) on a swing of 13.5% from Con to Lab (27% from UKIP to Lab)

Marine on Worthing (Con defence)
Result: Labour 1,032 (47% +27% on last time), Conservative 846 (39% -6% on last time), Liberal Democrat 246 (11% +1% on last time), Green Party 55 (3% -6% on last time) No UKIP candidate this time (-16%)
Labour GAIN from Conservative with a majority of 186 (8%) on a swing of 16.5% from Con to Lab

Compiled by Harry Hayfield


As Trump’s rating slump even more it’s now odds-on that he won’t serve a full term

August 4th, 2017


His approval ratings slump following the Obamacare change failure


The innards of the polls are terrible for the President

The big political story in the US over the past few weeks has been the failure of the White House to get the promised changes to ObamaCare through Congress. The proposals would have impacted on millions of Americans who rely on the system that the Democratic party introduced during the Obama Presidency for their health cover.

The efforts to get this through have dominated the news and the big message is that Trump’s controversial initiative has failed. This isn’t good for someone who has been in the White House for little more than six months.

We don’t need reminding that this failure comes at a time when the Republican party controls the House, the Senate and, of course, has Trump at the White House

PoliticalWire had a good analysis of the respected Quinnipiac poll that offers four choices when it asks its approval question. Do respondents approve strongly or somewhat or do they disapprove somewhat or strongly. The normal practice is to add the strongly and somewhats’ together to get the regular ratings.

    The breakdown had 55% of those sampled saying they disapprove strongly with 6% saying disapprove somewhat. This compared with 23% saying they approved of Trump strongly with 10% saying somewhat.

As seen in the RCP polling average chart above Quinnipiac numbers are very much in line with the rest.

Another appalling finding for Trump is that 54% to 26% voters say that they are embarrassed rather than proud to have Trump as president and by 57% to 40%, they say he is abusing the powers of his office.

Looming next year for Trump are the mid-term elections and those will focus the minds of the leadership of his party.

Mike Smithson


Leading constitutional expert and Cameron’s former tutor thinks a second referendum now likely

August 3rd, 2017


Whatever happened to the summer LAB leadership contest which looked all set to be an annual fixture?

August 3rd, 2017

For the first time for years an August without active political betting markets

One of the things about running a website about political betting is that we need events on which we can risk our money. Summer is generally a quiet time particularly in August but over the past couple of years we have had the spectacle of a Labour leadership contest both of which were won by Mr Corbyn. In August 2016, as well, we were less than three months away from the US presidential election.

The summer of 2014 was in the run-up to the Scottish IndyRef which was a big turnover market.

Even though most PBers don’t actually bet the analysis of those that are risking their money add a lot to the discussions.

I must admit that I had thought before we knew the GE2017 outcome that Labour would now be involved in a contest. Alas no. and TMay, the person who lost most in the election, is still in there confounding those who said that the blue team were the most ruthless with leaders who fail.

    William Hague’s much quoted description of the Conservative party as being an absolute monarchy moderated by regicide does not seem to be applying this time.

There is betting on TMay’s replacement but at the moment there is no vacancy and it could be years before there is a contest.

It did look as though the Lib Dems we’re going to have a members’ election but that got spoilt by no other Lib Dem MP being ready to put themselves up against Vince Cable.

There is the UKIP leadership, I suppose, but the party is a fraction of its former self and if you are really interested there are betting markets.

The will Trump survive betting is available but what that makes that unattractive to punters is that you can get barely evens on either side and your stake could be locked up for three and a half years.

Mike Smithson


The BES data that appears to show the impact of the CON manifesto/dementia tax and TMay skipping the debate

August 2nd, 2017

Day by day percentage age saying something happened that changed their view (BES)

From the Manchester University write-up of their latest findings

“Towards the end of the questionnaire, we asked our respondents a new question that we asked for the first time in wave 12: ‘has anything happened in the last few days that has changed your view of any of the main political parties?’ Most respondents had clearly made up their minds about the parties well in advance of the election, with only 13% answering ‘yes’ over the whole of the campaign, though as the graph below shows, this proportion increased markedly over the course of the campaign, starting out at about 7% in the first week before increasing to an average of about 15% for the final weeks of the campaign.

For respondents that answered yes to this question, we asked them an opened ended question about what it was that changed their mind about one of the parties. This animation shows the evolution of these responses over the course of the campaign. Note that because they are frequently mentioned alongside the specific issues that people mention, I have removed the names of the parties and party leaders from the clouds. Without doing that the wordclouds would be dominated by these names throughout the campaign and we would not be able to see the specific issues that people mentioned in their responses.

At the start of the campaign wave, when not many respondents said something had happened that changed their mind about the parties, the largest word is ‘Abbott’ – a consequence of Diane Abbott’s interview about police funding a few days earlier. Other issues that appear in the first few days are the local elections (in particular people commenting on Labour’s poor performance and the evaporation of the UKIP vote), the triple lock on pensions, and Brexit.

On May 10, following Theresa May’s announcement the previous day, fox hunting briefly dominates responses. However, the leak of the Labour manifesto the next day quickly takes centre stage, with the word ‘manifesto’ being the most common until May 23. From May 18 onwards, ‘social care’ and ‘dementia tax’ steadily rise in prominence, until ‘care’ is the largest word on May 23 and remains prominent thereafter.

The aftermath of the Manchester bombing brought with it many respondents critical of the government’s handling of terrorism and security (and quite a few respondents saying they were unhappy with both parties for trying to score political points in the wake of the attack).

Following Corbyn’s late appearance and May’s nonappearance in the BBC leader’s debate on May 31 many respondents make debate related comments and the word ‘debate’ becomes the most common word for the next four days. Amongst these respondents, the most frequent comment was not anything that happened in the debate itself, but rather the fact that Theresa May hadn’t bothered to show up at all.

In the final few days of the campaign, the London Bridge attacks bring with them renewed concerns about terrorism, and in particular, anger about police cuts.

Together, these responses paint of a picture of the campaign influenced by a combination of the policies, campaign interviews and (non)appearances made by party leaders, and unforeseen and tragic events. Undoubtedly, these things influenced the outcome of the election and resulted in one of the most dramatic polling shifts ever seen over the course of the campaign.”

Thanks to Dr. Chris Prosser for this.


London falling – a look at next May’s elections in the capital

August 2nd, 2017

 Stodge give us his predictions

If a week is a long time in politics and there’s plenty of evidence for that at the moment, perhaps eight months will seem a veritable eternity.

Assuming the Earth hasn’t crashed into the Sun or the zombies have taken over or we haven’t had another General Election, May 3rd 2018 will see the next big test of public opinion with the year’s round of local elections and of particular interest will be the London Borough elections.

As Kylie Minogue once suggested “all you can do is step back in time” and if we go back to 2014 the world was a very different place. Labour had an excellent night winning control of 20 Boroughs and taking over 1,000 seats. The Conservatives ended with 612 Councillors in nine Boroughs while the Liberal Democrats lost nearly half their seats ending with 130 councillors and control of just one Borough. UKIP won 12 seats and the Greens four.

In terms of vote share, Labour won 37% of the vote, the Conservatives 26% and the Liberal Democrats and UKIP on 10% each.

The following year’s General Election saw Labour win London by 44% to 35% over the Conservatives with UKIP and the Liberal Democrats on 8% each.

This year saw Labour consolidate their lead in the capital with the Conservatives losing six seats to end on 21 and the Liberal Democrats moving up a net two to three leaving Labour with 50 seats.

With post-election polls showing Labour moving into a small lead it seems 2018 could be another big year in the capital for the Reds.

Looking at the 32 Boroughs, it’s hard to envisage change in many of them – Newham and Bromley being good examples – but where could we see changes in control next year?

Barnet is an obvious place to start with the Conservatives enjoying an overall majority of just one. Both Hendon and Chipping Barnet were held by the Conservatives in the General Elections but both are knife edge marginals and will be high on the Labour target list. At present, a Labour win across the Borough seems inevitable.

Bexley has a Conservative majority of 27 and in truth while Labour ran the Borough at the height of the Blair years (2002-06), the recent election only brought the Party’s vote back to 2005 levels. Yes, the Conservative majority may well be reduced but it won’t be toppled at this time.

Bromley has always had a Conservative majority except for a brief period of NOC after the 1998 elections. 2014 returned a huge majority of 42 for the Blues and while that may be trimmed slightly it won’t be overturned.

Havering is a rarity in London having a large bloc of Residents. One group from East Havering sits alongside 22 Conservatives and forms a working majority of six over a motley group of other Residents, UKIP, whose six councillors formed half their London strength and a couple of Labour Councillors.

It’s a very hard one to read and Labour picked up votes in Romford trimming Andrew Rosindell’s majority. If nationally the Conservatives are doing poorly, the Borough is likely to shift into further

NOC though it seems unlikely the UKIP councillors will survive.

Hillingdon has a Conservative majority of 19 but the 2017 General Election results suggest Labour is on the march. Boris Johnson saw his majority slashed to just over 5,000 (I can see the book “Were you still up for Boris?” selling well in 2023) and Nick Hurd lost ground to Labour in Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner. As a long shot for a Labour gain at Borough level, this might be a good bet.

Kensington & Chelsea: Recent tragic events notwithstanding, the local Conservatives have a majority of 24 but as everyone knows Labour won Kensington in one of the huge upsets of the General Election. Whether this presages a change in local control remains to be seen but the days of Kensington & Chelsea as a solidly Tory stronghold seem to be coming to an end.

Kingston: The Borough has oscillated between periods of Liberal Democrat control and NOC since the 1980s but in 2014 the Conservatives returned in strength and cleared the Liberal Democrats out at Parliamentary level the following year but the Conservative majority is only 6. Perversely, a Labour recovery could damage Liberal Democrat prospects in Wards like Tolworth, Canbury and Norbiton. I’d expect the Liberal Democrats to be the largest party but gaining overall control means winning six or seven seats.

Richmond: Another borough which has shifted between Conservative and Liberal Democrat control over the years but in 2014 the Conservatives enjoyed a majority of 24 and ousted Vince Cable from Twickenham the following year while Zac Goldsmith was returned with a massive majority.

Two years on and everything has changed – Vince is back with a big majority and Zac got back by a wafer-thin majority. All this points to a Lib Dem resurgence locally and it’s quite possible the Party could regain control.

Sutton: How can this be a marginal I hear you ask? The LDs enjoy a massive majority of 34 over the Conservatives but the Borough is now two very different political areas. In the east, Tom Brake held off a Conservative challenge to retain Carshalton & Wallington but in the west Paul Scully quadrupled his majority and the seat is safer for the Conservatives than at any time since 1992.

In addition, the LDs have run the Council for over 30 years and there may simply be a mood for change. I expect strong Conservative gains in the Sutton constituency and if Labour recovers in Carshalton it could be enough to deprive the LDs of their majority.

Wandsworth: The Conservative “flagship” Borough but the 2017 General Election results told a different story with Battersea turning Labour and Putney now a marginal. Of course, the Conservatives kept control throughout the Blair years. However, Labour has been making slow headway and the Conservative majority is now just 18. I think this could be overturned.

Westminster: Whisper it quietly but if you’re looking for an upset this is the place. The Conservatives have always run Westminster and currently have a majority of 28. However, Mark Field saw his majority in Cities of London cut by two thirds and he is facing a strong Labour challenge next time.

It’s not inconceivable that against a deeply unpopular Conservative Government, Labour couldoverturn this majority.

To conclude, my early predictions for 2018 in London:

Barnet: Lab Gain

Bexley: Con Hold

Havering: NOC Hold

Hillingdon: Lab Gain

Kensington: NOC Gain

Kingston: NOC Gain

Richmond: LD gain

Sutton: NOC Gain

Wandsworth: Lab Gain

Westminster: Lab Gain

To my knowledge, there are no betting markets up for these elections yet but I’ll come back to these periodically as the election approaches.

Stodge is a long-time poster on PB


The betting edges a notch from Trump and now its a 51% chance that he won’t serve the full 4 year term

August 1st, 2017