As Corbyn is finding the more he looks like winning the more detailed scrutiny he’ll come under

August 19th, 2015

Tonight’s developments are going to be hard to deal with

A key part of the report:-

“…Mr Cobryn was confronted about his links to Dyab Abou Jahjah, an alleged former fighter for Hezbollah with whom he shared a platform, on BBC Radio Four’s World at One.

“Sorry, who? I saw the name this morning and I asked somebody: ‘who is he?’,” Mr Corbyn replied.

Pushed to confirm that he had never heard of Mr Jahjah, the Islington North MP added: “I’m sorry, I don’t know who this person is.”

However within minutes a photgraph of Mr Corbyn appearing alongside Mr Jahjah in 2009 was circulating on social media…”

Mike Smithson


Boost for Yvette Cooper in the battle for second place – the New Statesman gives her its endorsement

August 19th, 2015


This could help her in the spat with Burnham

The influential left-wing magazine, the New Statesman has announced that it is endorsing Yvette Cooper for Labour leader. Given how far Mr. Corbyn is ahead this is probably only significant in her fight with Andy Burnham for the runner-up slot which could be important if Corbyn fails to stay the course.

In an editorial in tomorrow’s edition the magazine states:-

“…Labour remains traumatised by an election defeat that it never saw coming and by Ed Miliband’s hasty resignation, which plunged the party into a leadership contest for which it was not prepared. The temptation for some is to write the next election off in advance and elect the candidate who provides most consolation. This must be resisted. History teaches that even the strongest governments can unravel with remarkable speed, which is why Labour must be in a position to offer a credible alternative. The best hope of it being able to do so, in the present circumstances, is the election of Yvette Cooper.

We say this knowing that Mr Corbyn is the clear front-runner and the likely next leader. Yet there are important elections next year in London, Wales and Scotland. If Mr Corbyn’s Labour Party performs poorly in each of these and its present dire position in the polls remains unchanged – and if civil war has broken out in the parliamentary party – his leadership will be in grave danger. Ms Cooper’s moment may yet come..”

My view is that that is the correct decision. She’s a much more substantial politician than Burnham and Corbyn.

Mike Smithson


In the 40 year since the Tories selected a woman LAB has had 8 male leaders and looks set to choose a 9th

August 19th, 2015

What is it about the red team and women?

It was in February 1975 that Tory MPs (there was no party member involvement in those days) made the momentous decision to choose a woman, Mrs Thatcher, as their leader to succeed Edward Heath.

I was working a fair bit at parliament during that period and right until election day in 1979 there was a consistent view from many within Labour that Callaghan was safe because they believed that when it came to the crunch the British public would not elect a female PM.

Since Maggie’s selection as leader LAB has been led by Wilson, Callaghan, Foot, Kinnock, Smith, Blair, Brown and Miliband and in all that time it has been a totally male preserve with no woman really every getting close. In 2010 there was Diane Abbott who was, in Corbyn style, given an assisted place on the ballot because it was deemed important to have a left winger on the list.

    I think that the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush is onto something in his assertion in the latest PB/Polling Matters podcast that the female contenders for the LAB leadership have struggled because parts of the party are sexist

Remember how back in June there was an effort to find extra MP nominees to get Corbyn in the ballot but no such assistance was forthcoming for Mary Creagh who appeared to many to be a viable candidate.

My guess is that the Tories will have elected at least one more woman leader before the climate is right with Labour. Another 40 years?

Mike Smithson


Is Corbyn inevitable, unelectable and what happens next for Labour? The latest PB/Polling Matters podcast

August 18th, 2015

In this week’s PB/Polling Matters podcasts, Keiran discusses the Labour leadership with Stephen Bush of the New Statesman and Laurence Janta-Lipinski of YouGov. We ask whether Jeremy Corbyn is inevitable, where Labour goes from here and whether Corbyn could surprise people if he wins. Also, can a non-left Labour candidate win the leadership again and what does the next Labour PM look like..


Unusually for a Tusday we have a local by-election

August 18th, 2015

August 18th 2015
West Mainland on Orkney (Non Party Independent defence)
Result of council at last election (2012): Independents 11, Non Party Independents 10 (Independent majority of 22)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Non Party Independents 322, 33, 238, 427, 287 (71%)
Independents 74, 73, 249, 132 (29%)
Candidates duly nominated: Barbara Foulkes (Ind), Fiona Grahame (Green), Rachel King (Orkney Manifesto)

Elections to Orkney Island council can be, well how can I put it politely, a bit dull. Since Orkney gained unitary authority status in 1995 (and before that when it was an island council) the Independents would win all the seats. There was a little excitement in 2012 when the SNP and UKIP fielded a candidate (polling 251 votes and 11 votes respectively) but the Independents still ruled the roost. So the appearance of a Green candidate and a candidate supporting greater rights for Orkney might make these election a little more interesting (and hopefully not quite as one sided as the result in 2012)

Harry Hayfield


The Corbyn price on Betfair edges out a touch following Radio 4 interview with YouGov boss

August 18th, 2015

We don’t know whether what Kellner said is based on data

There’s been an easing of the Corbyn price on the Betfair exchange after the above comment by YouGov president, Peter Kellner, in an interview.

At one stage this morning he was at 1.35 on Betfair. That is now 1.43.

Kellner clearly sees a lot more polling and other data than is made public and my guess is that his comment on the World at One was not taken out of the air but is based on something.

Mike Smithson


Corbyn’s impending victory affects the Mayoral betting

August 18th, 2015

Take on the mystery Betfair punter

Mike ran a thread the other day looking for markets that might be affected by Jeremy Corbyn’s likely victory in the Labour leadership stakes. He highlighted NO in the EU betting where I’d agree odds of nearly 4/1 are tempting.

However to my mind there are even better bets available in the London Mayoral voting – which will still be value even if Corbyn falls just short. Labour’s candidate is being decided on the same ballot paper as the leadership and it doesn’t take a great leap of logic to think that all the new sign-ups are not going to break for Jowell.

Tessa is seen as a Blairite which won’t go down well with the rejoining old left, and Sadiq has the backing of the major unions – notably Unite. Even more pertinently, reports are coming back from the campaign that this basic “Corbyn = Khan” logic is being seen in practice:

Regular PB’ers may well already be on Sadiq Khan at 33/1, thanks to Henry G Manson, and Zac Goldsmith at 22/1, thanks to yours truly.

However the logic of the Corbyn surge is surely to extend both of these positions: Khan now looks the clear favourite for the Labour nomination. Goldsmith also seems like a bet as he is more heavily favoured against Khan than Jowell, at least according to YouGov:


There’s also the argument that Zac Goldsmith will be even more likely to be elected if Corbyn wins.  I’m not certain about this as it will probably depend on the nature of the PLP’s response: if there’s infighting, defections or resignations then that won’t play well. However if the PLP bite their collective tongue Corbyn may get a post-election honeymoon. He is also a London MP, which may help.

Regardless, backing Sadiq and – perhaps to a lesser extent – Zac looks like the play here. And someone is making that very easy for us…


That’s over two grand looking to back Tessa at 3.15 (just shorter than 11/5), despite several bookies being 9/4 and one 5/2, and likewise nearly £2k looking to lay Zac at 3.25 (9/4) whereas the top bookie is just 2/1. This money has been there for a long time without moving in the slightest. (It was originally more like £2.5k on each – I have been nibbling away at it, as no doubt have others).

There is also no money “behind” either of these bets – in fact they are both a long way away from the next offer. Bluntly, this is odd behaviour for a serious punter (I’m assuming the same individual is responsible for both bets).

Either they are extraordinarily well informed about potential developments in the race (e.g. scandals), or they are simply looking to influence the prices and thus the framing of the race i.e. making Jowell favourite. I’m willing to go with the latter explanation.

I am not suggesting this is necessarily linked to the Jowell campaign; however I am suggesting that you take advantage of this mystery punter’s generosity.

Tissue Price


The ethnic minority vote could be decisive in London’s Mayoral election where nearly 40% were born overseas

August 17th, 2015


Survation finds generic LAB has 9% lead

Some interesting polling from Survation this afternoon looks at the likely ethic voter impact in next May’s Mayoral election.

Initially the sample was asked a generic question – see chart above.

Respondents were then asked, following the clips of Goldsmith and Khan:

If the election for the next Mayor of London were between the following candidates, whom would you vote for as the next Mayor of London with your first vote?

Results were:

Sadiq Khan LAB 50%

Zac Goldsmith CON 37%

Another party’s candidate – 13%

A small relative increase for Sadiq Khan as the identified Labour candidate over Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative party candidate compared to their original generic number.

Londoners reacting to this final question which showed increased support for Khan would have awareness after these short clips that Sadiq Khan is likely a British Muslim or did not even consider faith as a meaningful judgement factor in this ethnically diverse city – so there’s little evidence that faith would hold back Sadiq Khan’s electoral fortunes; an exercise that could be repeated and tested for Conservative Sayeed Kamall MEP and a non-Muslim Labour candidate.

More interesting within this data however is how ethnic minority responders shifted views post being introduced to these potential candidates.

White Respondents

Looking at voting intention in the polling by ethnic group, before the video clips White British respondents split 42% to an unnamed Conservative candidate and 34% to an unnamed Labour candidate.

After the video clips, now naming Sadiq Khan and Zac Goldsmith as Mayoral candidates for their parties head to head, both get a boost – 45% to Goldsmith, 40% to Khan. Khan gained 6% to Goldsmith’s 2%.

Black Respondents

Black respondents break 77% to an unnamed Labour candidate and 14% to an unnamed Conservative candidate. After the candidate names are introduced and post the video clips, this grouping breaks 73% Khan and 22% Goldsmith – Khan -4 and Goldsmith +8

Asian Respondents

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, Asian respondents initially break 56% to an unnamed Labour candidate and 29% to an unnamed Conservative candidate before the clips and candidate names are introduced.

Post the naming and video introductions though, this grouping breaks 71% Khan (+15) and 23% (-9) Goldsmith, showing a very sizable swing toward Khan amongst this group – the largest broad ethnic grouping in London, representing 18.5% of the mayoral electorate.

As LAB and CON consider candidate options for Mayor, “ethnic minority voters” the40% could be key.

Mike Smithson