Sunday, 28 December 2014

Labour end year with 3% lead: Labour 35%, Conservatives 32%, UKIP 15%, Lib Dems 7%, Green 6%

Source: My photograph at Labour Party conference

The Labour Party has extended its lead to 3% in my last poll of polls before the new year. Labour finishes the year on 35%, its highest score yet in my polling average. Overall, Labour are up 2 points to 35%, whilst the Conservatives are also up by a single point to 32%. The Lib Dems and Green Party are each down by a single point, and UKIP remain at their lowest ebb of 15% in my polls.

The only question is, is the UKIP decline permanent?  It is extremely difficult to determine whether UKIP's decline is going to be permanent, or just a temporary decline caused by the Neil Hamilton scandal. Both Labour and the Tories will, however, be relatively happy going into the new year. The election is 5 months from now, and the outcome is still uncertain. Labour will be delighted to have a 3% lead, a lead which could give them a working majority, or, in the event of the Scottish disaster for Labour that most are predicting, a favourable hung parliament. The Tories will not be too unhappy, as they will have memories of the 1992 election, when they turned over a significant Labour lead and won the election. UKIP will probably be the most happy, and the party needs to stay out of the (Negative) media spotlight for some time if it is to recover.

The position of both main political parties will become much clearer in the New Year, when Lord Ashcroft releases Scotland constituency polling, detailing the extent to which Labour may have been damaged in its Scottish citadels.

In my view, since both parties look so incredibly unlikely to win a majority, the election will be won and lost in Scotland. Significant losses for Labour North of the border increases the chances of David Cameron remaining prime minister. 

John Curtice has some interesting polling evidence about that here. Whilst the entire article is worth reading, one particular part stands out to me.

".....what they do suggest is that there is no reason to believe that the swing to the SNP does not extend to what are supposedly the safest Labour seats in Scotland. If anything, the swing appears to be even greater in such seats. In seats where Labour is defending a majority of more than 25 points the swing in the poll from Labour to the SNP since 2010 is 24 points, rather higher than the 19.5 point swing for Scotland as a whole.
That means that, if anything, estimates of how many seats the SNP might win that are derived by assuming that the Scotland-wide movement uncovered by a poll would be replicated in each and every constituency in Scotland could actually underestimate the scale of SNP gains. In the case of this poll, projecting the Scotland-wide movement across the country as a whole produces an estimated seats outcome of SNP 45, Labour 10, Liberal Democrats (on 6% of the vote), 3 and the Conservatives (on 13%), 1. But if we take into account the difference in the movement in different types of seats then the estimate becomes SNP 53, Labour 3, and Liberal Democrat 3 (while the Conservatives emerge empty handed). In short, pretty much every Labour seat in Scotland has to be regarded as currently at risk of being lost to the SNP."

Time is running out for the Labour Party in Scotland to persuade people that they are still worth voting for. If they cannot do it, then Labour's future, not just in Scotland but across the UK, is bleak. The party can be cheered by the fact that it is doing significantly better in England than in Scotland, and the majority of marginal seats are in England, but, even so, the loss of nearly all of "Fortress Scotland" would have serious implications for Labour and the other unionist parties in the future.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

UPDATE: Labour lead at 2: Lab 33%, Con 31%, UKIP 15%, Lib Dems 8% Green 7%

Source: Channel 4 news
The Labour Party extends its lead to 2% in this week's opinion poll aggregate. The Tories fall by 2%, UKIP are down by 1%, the Lib Dems hold steady and are up by 1 point to 8%, and Labour remain on 33%.

The polls this week have ranged from a 7% Labour lead to a 4% Tory lead. Whilst the majority of polls have had a small Labour lead, reflected in my weekly polling aggregate, the fact that there is such a wide variation highlights the unprecedented volatility of the situation we currently find ourselves in. In my view, the two parties are running so close together, which is why you get polls on both sides, but I could be wrong. The same is almost certainly true for the Liberal Democrats and Green Party. The major polling story is the continued decline of UKIP, down to its lowest ever share in my weekly polling aggregates, perhaps due to a recent sex scandal and the furore over Neil Hamilton's selection, which looks to have damaged the party. Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader, has also seen his popularity plummet over the same timescale.

Meanwhile, a YouGov opinion poll says that 1/3rd of Green supporters will be voting Labour at the next election. This shows that Labour may be on course to squeeze the Greens in 2015. This is significant, and there are two major reasons for this shift. Number 1 is that the Green Party is smaller than the other 4 major parties, and so cannot stand candidates in all GB constituencies. Number 2 is that Labour's rallying cry against the Tories may also have some sort of effect. As Stephen Shakespeare of YouGov duly notes:

"Using YouGov’s First Verdict instant polling platform, with a large sample (4,335), I asked: 'Which party would you most like to win in your constituency? Please choose the party you like best, regardless of whether they have a chance of winning​.' I followed up with: 'How do you predict you will actually end up voting? This may not be for your favourite party but for your tactical choice'. There was some movement to and from all parties, but just one example of real significance: a third of the Green vote went to Labour. If we think this will hold, then we should factor in a couple more percentage points for Labour. Of course there may be even more from Ukip back to the Conservatives, but we didn’t see it in this experiment."

Due to this, there is a significant chance that Labour may end the election campaign with a higher share of the vote than when it started. Whilst this is encouraging for Labour, we must also keep in mind that around 35-40% of UKIP voters are currently undecided about which way to vote, and they could break decisively for the Tories. Therefore, the result of the general election may depend entirely upon which party can squeeze support better from the smaller parties. Labour must squeeze the Greens and SNP, whilst the Tories will hope to win back a majority of UKIP supporters.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

UPDATE: LABOUR AND CONSERVATIVES TIED: Lab 33%, Con 33%, UKIP 16%, LD 7%, Green 6%

The Conservatives are up by 1% and UKIP are down by 1% in this week's poll of polls. Both main parties are neck and neck, and look set to get only around 65% between themselves, which would be the worst share of the vote ever for the two main political parties at a UK election.

At the beginning of the week, several polls came out showing the two parties as being equal, and one YouGov poll put the Tories ahead by 1%. Perhaps the time is coming soon, when the two party system is finally broken. Only time will tell whether or not this shift away from the two main political parties is permanent, or if it is just a short blip in our electoral history.

Scotland-What next for Labour?

Mr Murphy was elected as Scottish Labour leader this week
Earlier this week, Jim Murphy was elected as leader of the Labour Party,  bringing to an end a long process, caused by Joanne Lamont's resignation as party leader, after accusing her colleagues in Westminster of treating Scotland "Like a branch office". The question on everybody's lips now is, is Murphy the saviour that Labour needs in Scotland?

The truth is, it is difficult to tell. The size of the task Mr Murphy has cannot be understated: earlier just this week a poll gave the SNP a 20 point lead over Labour in Scotland, which would leave Labour with just 6 Scottish MPs, its lowest tally since the 1920s, when the party was only just becoming a national party. A Survation poll for Scotland that has just started its fieldwork will be out next week, and will be the first proper clue. Until then, speculation about what is proving to be a key election battleground is completely pointless. 

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

London: Swing to Labour drops as Greens pick up left-wing Labour votes.

London at election 2010

I have decided that I am going to go under the microscope and take a deeper look at what is happening in the capital. The General Election is only 5 months away, and the capital is going to be a key battleground, where Ed Miliband needs to do well if he is to get a majority and become Prime Minister. For the purposes of this examination, I shall be using YouGov regional extrapolations, from the 1st-10th of December, calculating the swing toward or against Labour since 2010, and showing how this would impact on how many seats Labour is set to gain in London. Firstly, here are the Labour target seats:

And, here are the regional extrapolation figures from 1st-10th December: Sources for extrapolations can be found here.
                                          Lab 36.2%, Con 34.4%, LD 8.4%, UKIP 11

The findings came as quite a surprise to me, as the extrapolation suggested that there has been no swing at all to Labour in London since the last election. On this kind of result, only the 3 Liberal Democrat seats and maybe Hendon would fall to Labour, and all of the rest of the marginal seats would remain held by the Conservative Party. As early as this May, Labour was polling at 40% plus in London, and surveys from a few months ago indicated that there was a huge swing to Labour in London. What is the reason for the sudden collapse?

I did some digging, and pretty quickly discovered the reason. The Green Party has eaten substantially into the Labour Party support in London, and is polling at 8-9%, slightly higher than it is nationally. The Greens have picked up some of the left-wing liberal democrats who defected to Labour earlier in the parliament but are now slowly drifting away. My suspicion is that the party knows that this has been happening, slowly but surely, as they have appointed a London MP, Sadiq Khan, as head of the Labour taskforce on how to deal with the Green Party. Labour must persuade these voters to lend their votes to the party for the general election. If they do not, the prospect of a Labour majority government becomes very unlikely.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Labour lead at 1: Labour 33, Conservatives 32, UKIP 17, Lib Dem 7, Green 6

The Labour Party has its lead cut to 1% yet again in this week's poll of polls. It is not surprising to see a Labour lead of 1% yet again, as Labour's lead has been largely stuck around the 1% mark ever since the poll of polls started. Both parties are effectively neck and neck, and the polls are static.

In 2005, Labour won many more seats despite being 0.5% behind
The fact that the polls are neck and neck will make Labour much happier than the Tories, simply because it maintains a lead despite collapsing in Scotland. This means that Labour must be doing significantly better in England, which means that it may gain many more seats than it would otherwise. In 2005, Labour managed to win many more seats in England despite being 0.5% behind. In 2010, the Tories were 12% ahead in England, but still failed to win a majority. To be doing so badly in England is appalling for them.

And, finally, if you thought the general election was already looking difficult to predict, just take a look at this! Martin Baxter, the mathematician who created and maintains electoral calculus, said:

” Map only shows movement for the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties. It assumes the votes for other parties, including UKIP and the SNP, are fixed at current support levels. UKIP are not currently to predicted to win many seats, so they are not yet a factor in coalition permutations. Since other parties have 28% support nationally, the map is missing the top-right corner where the Conservative plus Labour total would be more than 72%.”

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Marginal seats report December 2014: Labour short 6 of a majority

I have decided to do my first marginal seats report this week. There are 5 months to go until the general election, and everybody is anxious to find out what the result will be. I have assumed in my marginal seats report that there will be a swing to Labour, based on national polling and constituency polling. I have decided to analyse the first 100 seats in the Lab-Con and Lib-Con battleground. They are pictured below, listed from smallest to largest constituencies.

What I did next with this list was to analyse each individual constituency poll, the result last time, and other factors, and I have managed to determine which seats would actually change hands. If there is no constituency poll, I have applied the uniform national swing and then tweaked the prediction according to local factors, such as the size of the Liberal Democrat vote and how well/badly UKIP fared in these seats. Ed Miliband must turn 68 seats on this list from Blue to Red at the general election if he wants to win the election and becomes Prime Minister. This is assuming no Labour collapse in Scotland, and I will analyse Labour and its prospects in Scotland closer to the election, when we can  be sure of how well or badly Labour will do. The most recent figures suggest that there has been a swing of 5% from the Conservatives to Labour, which becomes 6% if the Labour collapse in Scotland is factored in. We also know that the swing from the Liberal Democrats to Labour nationally has been massive-Something like 9.5%, which will also be factored in. I have also factored in when the constituency poll was taken, and how the national picture has changed since then. But, without further ado, here are the results. Every seat that is now coloured Red will be a Labour GAIN, Blue or Yellow a Tory/Lib Dem hold or gain, and purple/green/yellow is a UKIP, Green, or SNP gain.

So, if you take care to count the number of constituencies Labour currently have a lead in, the total would be 61 seats out of their top 100 seats. 3 of Labour's top 100 target seats would go from the Tories to UKIP, 2 seats would be SNP holds, the Liberal Democrats would hold 2 seats, 2 seats would be SNP gains, and the Green Party would (Narrowly) hold Brighton Pavillion. The Tories would hold 28 seats that Labour "Ought to take" on the national swing but will not.Taking all of that into account, and assuming that UKIP would gain 10 seats in total from the Tories, plus 5 Tory gains from the Liberal Democrats, and 7 Lib Dem losses to the nationalists in Scotland, and two extra Labour gains further down the list (Cambridge, Berdmonsey and old Southwark, both seats where Labour have been shown to be ahead) here is what the result would be:

Labour: 320 seats (+62)
Conservative: 250 seats (-56)
Liberal Democrats: 37 seats (-20)
UKIP: 10 seats (+8)
Scottish National Party:13 seats (+7)
Others: 20 seats
Result: The Labour Party will be the largest party, but short of a majority by 6 seats

However, if the Labour Party collapse in Scotland is factored into the equation (I will assume that Labour loses 25 seats to the Nationalists, slightly lower than current polling suggests due to incumbency) here is what the final result would be.
Labour: 295 seats (+37)
Conservative: 250 seats (-56)
Liberal Democrats: 37 seats (-20)
UKIP: 10 seats (+8)
Scottish National Party: 38 seats (+32)
Others: 20 seats
Result: The Labour Party will be the largest party, but short of a majority by 31 seats.

It is clear now that the next election will be fought, won, and lost in Scotland. Labour must hope to recover and be able to make up for ground lost to the SNP if it wants to have any chance of getting a majority next may. I will be making another battleground analysis, this time of the Conservative-UKIP battleground, next week, and my marginal constituency battleground report will be produced again next month, in March, and then at the start of May. At the moment, Labour has the upper hand. It remains to be seen whether or not it will stay that way.                                  

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Labour lead at 2: Labour 34%, Conservatives 32%, UKIP 17%, LD 7%, Green 6%

The Labour Party has a lead of 2% in this week's poll of polls, a 1% increase from last week. The Tories are down 1%, UKIP hold steady, the Lib Dems shed one point and the Greens climb one point to 6%.

The slightly larger lead may be as a result of the Rochester and Strood by-election, in which David Cameron's party suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Mark Reckless and UKIP. Regional extrapolations from YouGov will be out in the next few days in my post on Agora.

On a uniform national swing, this would lead to a Labour Majority of 24. Considering Labour's collapse in Scotland, however, the actual result would have Labour on around 290 seats, around 30 seats ahead of the Tories, but possibly unable to form a stable government.

However, a battlebus/comres marginal poll this week showed that Labour is continuing to do much better in the marginals than it is nationally,giving Labour an 8% lead in marginal seats. Lord Ashcroft's poll of the Tory-Lib Dem battleground also shows that the Tories will struggle to pick up more than a small number of Lib Dem held seats. The same poll also shows that Nigel Farage trails his Tory opponent by 5% in Thanet South, and will have to work hard to win that seat.

All in all, nothing remains certain at this stage, and everything could change. The autumn statement is this Wednesday, and we will see whether or not it causes any large scale changes in public opinion.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Nick Clegg: What about Stretford public hall?

What about Stretford Public Hall, Mr Clegg?
Nick Clegg said today on LBC Radio that the government would be fine with public sector charities, groups, and conglomerates taking control of abandoned buildings, and bringing them back to life, when local authorities have decided to close them or sell them.

If this is the case, then, surely, the same should apply for Stretford public hall, which is my local town hall? The hall was built in 1878, and since then it has always remained in the hands of the community, who have always been able to use it. The public hall is not being used, and a local campaign group, the Friends of Stretford Public Hall, are campaigning to keep the hall in the hands of the community. The group has an admirable and formidable vision for the future of the hall, which includes proposing to convert the hall into a unique events venue for weddings, conferences, parties, a small theatre, community events, a music venue, markets and more. They have also proposed to include a good family-friendly restaurant, cafe and evening bar. In the basement they envisage a small underground club housing youth activity, rehearsal space and jazz/comedy cafe. Given the fact that Trafford Council are now looking to close youth centres across the borough due to planned budget cuts from the central government, the use of this facility by vulnerable groups could be vital in helping young people and giving them something to do. The group have launched a bid which is being considered by Trafford Council, as have many private companies who do not want the hall to remain in the hands of the community.

It is time that the coalition government kept its promise, and allowed places like Stretford Public Hall to go to local community groups, and not to private corporations or big business backers. Trafford Council should follow what is supposedly now government policy, and should make sure that places like the Town Hall are given to community groups. Stretford Town Hall has always been an integral part of the local community, and it should always stay that way. If Mr Clegg decides to break his promise, it definitely would not be the first time.

A petition to keep the public hall in public hands, as well as the vision that FOSH have for the future of the town hall, can be found on this link.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Labour lead at 1: Labour 34%, Conservatives 33%, UKIP 17%, Lib Dems 8%, Greens 5%

The Labour Party retains a small 1% lead in this week's poll of polls. Labour, the Tories, and UKIP are all up very slightly from last week's poll, the Lib Dems and Greens are holding steady on 8% and 5% respectively, whilst the share for parties other than these 5 has dropped by 3%.

The situation remains largely the same as it has done for the last few weeks, with Labour retaining a narrow lead, UKIP someway behind in 3rd, and the Lib Dems and Greens grapple for 4th place.

A note of caution about the Green Party surge. The Greens polled 0.8% in 2010 and managed to win 1 seat. To poll at 5% is very good news for them and confirms that they have, to some extent, "Surged." However this does not make it likely that they will win another seat at the general election next year, as their vote is too thinly spread, which is not a good way to win FPTP seats. The same goes for UKIP, which has an upper ceiling of around 20 seats on its current level of support. Up until UKIP get 25% of the vote, or until they surpass one of the two main parties in support, winning more than 20 seats is not possible for them. There comes a tipping point, up until which UKIP does not win many seats, and after which it starts to win many seats at once. That tipping point is when they manage to get 25% or more of  the vote.

A word about "Thornyberry gate"

Labour did very poorly in the Rochester and Strood by-election, but its misery was compounded by the fact that its shadow atourney general, Emily Thornberry, was forced to resign after posting a tweet which many people regarded as being offensive. The tweet was of a house owned by a working class man, with an England flag and a white van, labelled "Tweet from Rochester". The tweet itself was not offensive, but the implication behind it offended people: after all, what is unusual about working class patriotism? Thornberry apologised and resigned, but the damage had been done, and "Thornberry gate" was all over the Sun newspaper the next day, giving Sky News and the Tory media the excuse to talk about something other than Cameron's embarrassment in Rochester.

My recommendation to the party would be to be very careful about what its elected representatives post on twitter during the election campaign. Miliband must run a sleek and professional campaign with no gaffs to ensure that the hostile press cannot make scandals out of little things. Can he do it? Only 6 months are left.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Labour lead at 1: Labour 33%, Conservatives 32%, UKIP 16%, Lib Dems 8%, Green 5%.

There is precious little change in this week's opinion poll aggregate, with Labour remaining on 33%, the Conservatives on 32%, up 1 from last Sunday, UKIP are down 1 on 16%, and the Lib Dems and Greens remain where they are on 8% and 5% respectively.

All changes are very small and within the margin of error. Looking at all of my weekly polls, a remarkably consistent picture emerges. The Conservatives and Labour remain within 1% of 31.5 and 33.1% respectively, with UKIP hovering around 16-17% and the Lib Dems and Greens hovering around 5-8% respectively. As I have said before, it isn't about any single poll, but the underlying aggregate trend, as can be seen here.

There was speculation that infighting within Labour over Miliband's leadership over the last week would harm Labour. On the face of it, it doesn't seem to have made much effort. Voters already had their doubts about Miliband-Simply enhancing these doubts does not seem to have made much of a difference to Miliband's prospects.

The weekly regional extrapolations will be published on (The think tank I now work with) where I will publish an extended analysis alongside other polling data tomorrow. It will use regional extrapolation data from every poll in the last two weeks, giving a total sample size of over 2000, and therefore being more accurate than any single poll can be.

 Now, time to move on to some more topical polling news. A poll of Rochester and Strood earlier this week showed that Mark Reckless looks to be heading for a comfortable win. The Ashcroft poll showed UKIP on 44%, with the Tories on 32%, Labour on 17%, the Lib Dems on 7%, and the Green Party on 3%. Looking at a graph of all opinion polls taken in the constituency, the underlying trend looks quite clear:

I have already talked about what the likely implications of such a result could be in this blog post. Yesterday, the Daily Mirror quoted senior Tory backbenchers, who said that Mr Cameron could face a no-confidence vote and leadership challenge if UKIP managed to win by a big margin. It looks as if Thursday will be an extremely interesting night. Could this be the knockout blow for Mr Cameron? We will have to wait a few days to find out.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Rochester and Strood: What are the implications of the likely result?

According to the polls, Mark Reckless is heading for a comfortable win.

It looks likely now that Mark Reckless of UKIP is heading for a comfortable win in Rochester and Strood with his new party. The UKIP MP defected from the Tories to UKIP, in a similar fashion to Douglas Carswell, who had defected several weeks earlier. The Lord Ashcroft poll taken just a few days ago gives Reckless a comfortable 12% lead, as has previous polling. What would the implications of such a result be for the party leaders?

Firstly, we should come to the big winner of the Rochester and Strood victory for UKIP, if it is a UKIP win: Nigel Farage. Farage will be delighted by a UKIP win, for obvious reasons, and even more so than the Carswell win in Clacton. He will be hoping to destabilise David Cameron and his government, and, with Labour doing so badly in the polls, he will be hoping to steal their thunder and claim that his party are "The real opposition", thus increasing their support. A similar thing happened after Clacton, when the Douglas Carswell landslide resulted in an increase in support for UKIP that has lasted ever since. It is looking good for the UKIP leader, as this graph of opinion polls from Rochester and Strood, alongside the result from the 2010 general election, shows:

Next, to the biggest loser in the event of a UKIP win, David Cameron. It will look utterly embarrassing and humiliating for David Cameron, and a bitter personal rebuff, if the constituency which the Tories have thrown everything at and that he has personally visited 4 times ends up electing a UKIP MP. It will be a bitter blow that will hurt the prime minister, and his authority. The chances are that further Tory MPs will soon decide to defect, after calculating that they would have more chance of keeping their seats as UKIP MPs and eventually jumping ship to join with them. The stakes are high, and David Cameron cannot afford another defeat 6 months before a general election....and yet, considering the weakness of the opposition, a defeat may not quite be the knockout blow that Cameron is fearing.

Then we come to Ed Miliband. Labour has been hit nearly as hard as the Tories in Rochester, and the party will be bracing itself for a fairly poor result. You would think that because the Tories, and not Labour, are the incumbent party and the ones most likely to be heading toward a bruising defeat, that Labour would be ok. However, a result on the level being shown in opinion polls would be terrible for Labour. It would be extraordinary in the modern history of the party, to collapse to 17% in a seat that they once held (Albeit under different boundaries.) There were reports earlier in the week that more Labour MPs would call for a leadership election if Labour had a poor result,but these rumours largely seem to be dying down. If Labour can get above 20% of the vote in Rochester, then they will be pleased. Either way, I cannot see a viable leadership election this close to the general election, whatever happens. The party seems to be heading toward the general election with a sense of weariness and resignation, and Rochester is unlikely to change this, unless Labour spectacularly defy the polls and do much better than expected.

And now, finally, we come to Nick Clegg. You would expect another awful result for the Lib Dems, which is now looking likely, to be a disaster for Nick Clegg. But, just like Labour, the Lib Dems are heading toward the general election with a sense of resignation, and a feeling that Nick Clegg will remain leader, no matter how many deposits are lost in seats where the Liberals were once competitive. Nevertheless, Lib Dem claims that they are "On the way back" and that the pain for them is getting less worse simply are not standing up to scrutiny in election results. The party is likely to be beaten once again by the Green Party in Rochester and Strood. That is an awful result, and confirms that the party is just as unpopular now as it was a year or two ago, and Nick Clegg remains politically toxic.

Nevertheless, no matter what the result, the repercussions of the by-election next thursday will be massive, and I am finding it difficult to call what may happen, if, as expected, UKIP win the seat. There has been talk of a leadership challenge to David Cameron from the Eurosceptic Right if the Tories lose, so, in the plausible but most unlikely scenario of both Cameron and Ed Miliband being removed as the leader of their respective political parties, we could be set for a massive shakeup in British politics.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Labour lead at 2: Labour 33%, Conservatives 31%, UKIP 17%, Lib Dems 8%, Green 5%

This week's poll of polls has Labour unchanged on 33%, the Tories down 2 on 31%, UKIP unchanged on 17%, the Lib Dems are up 1 to 8% and the Greens shed 1 point to finish the week on 5% overall.

I have decided to make my extrapolations fortnightly rather than weekly as of now on. This is due to the much larger sample size available as a result, which will reduce the margin of error and give a more practical picture as to where each party is doing best.

In recent days, Ed Miliband's leadership has come under severe scrutiny. This is because his approval ratings have sank to an all-time low as of late, with some polls putting him behind Nick Clegg, the politically toxic Lib Dem leader. Only 49% of Labour voters, and 17% of the electorate, approve of the job Mr Miliband is doing, compared to 51% of Labour and 77% of the public who disapprove.

In my view, Miliband has always been unpopular with the public, and yet Labour have maintained a small but consistent lead in the majority of polls. Even now when the party is in turmoil it still is ahead of the Conservatives. Leadership speculation is bound to achieve nothing but to damage the party and help neutralise the affect of the Tories' being a badly disunited party, which will make next year's election result even more unpredictable.

To put into context how fickle public opinion is, here is some polling that I obtained from YouGov as to how Labour would do under a different leader. The data is newly released and can be found here. I am only going to examine
 how Johnson and Cooper would do, as they are the most likely challengers.

If Alan Johnson was the leader of the Labour Party, how would you vote?
Labour 33
Con 31
LD 7

So, as you can see, with Johnson as leader, Labour gets a very slight boost from the last YouGov poll, but the changes are well within the margin of error. There is no evidence at all to support the assertion that having Alan Johnson as leader would dramatically improve the chances of the Labour Party, according to this poll.

If Yvette Cooper was leader of the Labour Party, how would you vote?
Labour 31
Con 33
LD 6

So, it turns out that Yvette Cooper would in fact be doing worse than Ed Miliband currently is as leader. The Tories would race into a two point lead as opposed to being a point behind as they are now.

Either way, looking at the evidence, it seems to be that Miliband is going to be safe, and that any further speculation over the leadership is a fruitless exercise. Labour must take care not to descend into the bickering of the late Brown era, and if they do, the electorate will punish them savagely.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Students Poll: Labour most popular party amongst students.

Over the past week, I have interviewed 130 Students at Manchester Metropolitan University to get their political views. I asked the interviewees several different questions. For starters, my first question was: "Are you going to vote at the UK General Election next year?" If they said No, I then straight on moved to a second question: "Why have you decided that you are not going to vote?" If they answered yes to my first question, I then moved on to ask two further questions: "Which political party will you be voting for next year?" and "What is the single biggest issue affecting you as a young person?" The results are quite startling. I am going to be using a series of pie charts to illustrate the results of my polling.

First of all, the intentions to vote:

65% of people said they would probably vote at the 2015 General Election,whilst 35% said they would not vote at all. This is a much higher proportion of Students saying they would vote than has previously been found by pollsters, but the reason for this can be found in the next graph of voting intentions, which includes undecided voters.

As you can see, a significant proportion of people said that they were undecided. My guess would be that many of these are probably the kind of voter that would only turn up if he/she was pushed very hard to turn up, or had been enthused and invigorated by a particular party. As you can see, the Labour Party is clearly doing very well, as are the Green Party, whilst the Conservatives, UKIP, and Lib Dems fare pretty badly. Here is a graph of voting intentions with undecideds excluded, which gives a far more accuratte picture:

So as you can see, the Labour Party has a massive lead here, whilst the Green Party also does very well, much better than how it fares amongst the general population. If Labour want to win the 2015 General Election, they must make sure that the Student Vote turns up and votes for them in large numbers, as they are a very strong demographic for the Labour Party.

On to issues. When asked to name a specific issue, here were the results:

So, as you can see, although a significant % (14%) said "Dont know" when they were asked to name an issue, this is proof that students are far from apolitical when it comes to thinking about things in terms of specific issues, and not party politics. Here is one final pie chart, and it is of responses to the final question that was put to those who were not going to vote, about why they were not going to vote:

As can be seen here, a significant % (22%) said they would not vote because they did not know enough about the issues or political parties involved. Politicians and parties must look to re-engage these people with politics, as they are not apolitical because of apathy, but rather because of a simple lack of knowledge.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

What did Tuesday's US elections tell us about the US Presidential Election in 2016?

So. The GOP have taken control of the US Senate in a landslide win, and have increased their majority in the House of Representatives, as well as winning a large number of Gubernatorial and Local elections. What does this actually mean looking forward to the United States Presidential Election in 2016?

Well, for starters, it is clear that Barrack Obama is going to be a lame duck for the last two years of his office. Previously, he had control of the Senate, and so he could, to some extent, claim legitimacy and could get laws passed with some difficulty. Now, getting any sort of law pushed through the legislatures will require the consent of both House Republicans and Republicans in the Senate.  And, judging by what Mitch McConnell said in 2012, that he wanted Barrack Obama to be a one term president and was determined to block the president's policies, the GOP seem to be in no mood to co-operate.

It should be seen as quite significant that Rand Paul was celebrating with Mcconnell. Paul, according to polls, is by far the most popular Republican with the American electorate, and so he has a real chance of winning any presidential election. Indeed, Paul played a significant role in the Republican campaign, as did Hilary Clinton for the Democratic Party. What chance would he, as the most able Republican candidate, have at a US Presidential election?

Well, according to yesterday's election, he would have quite a good chance of winning. The Republicans polled at 51% nationally whilst the Democrats managed to get 48% of the vote, which is a swing from the Democrats to the Republicans of 7%. The party managed to win notable bellweather states, such as Florida, and came close in Virginia, which was a major shock to the Democrats, in a seat that has always traditionally been a Blue Heartland. If the swing shown on Tuesday was repeated at a US Presidential Election nationwide, Rand Paul would be the President of the United States with a powerful total of 358 Electoral College Votes, compared to 180 for whoever his Democratic Party challenger would be.

However, we should be rather cautious about reading too much into these results and extrapolating them to a US Presidential Election. In 2016, President Obama will not be on the ballot paper. The President has become deeply unpopular due to the dysfunctional nature of the US Government at the moment, and so has been punished for it. Indeed, many Republicans tried to make the elections a referendum on his presidency, and many Democrats distanced themselves from him during the campaign.

Now that the GOP have control of the Senate and House, however, the Democratic Party will be able to blame them rather than the president if governance continues to be done as poorly as it has been done for the last few years. This will automatically hand a massive advantage to the Democrats at the Presidential Election. The second major thing to take into account is the nature of people who vote at US General Elections, as they tend to be white, much older than the median, highly educated and well-paid. The traditional Democratic caucus-Young people, ethnic minorities, liberal lower middle class earners, latinos, black Americans, etc, do not really turn up, and they did not turn up yesterday for the election. These people can be guaranteed to turn up in much larger numbers at a US Presidential Election.

So, to conclude, this election was bad for Obama and the Democrats, but it is not the disaster that many think that it is. With less than 2 years now to go until Obama steps down and hands power to his successor, there is still everything to play for in America and American politics.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

LABOUR AND CONSERVATIVES TIED: Labour 33%, Con 33%, UKIP 17%, LD 7%, Greens 6%

My poll of polls for this week shows Labour on 33%, unchanged from last week, the Conservatives up 1 to 33%, UKIP up 1 to 17%, the Lib Dems stay where they are, and the Greens increase their support by 1% to move to 6%.

Effectively, both main parties are tied. The regional variations found previously have continued: UKIP continues to do poorly in Scotland but performs strongly in the North and South, whilst both Labour and the Tories perform strongly in their own heartland areas....apart from Scotland, where the Labour Party is doing very badly indeed. There is virtually no change, apart from Labour doing slightly worse and the Tories slightly better in the South than they were last week.

Here are the regional extrapolations:

London: Labour 39%, Conservatives 33%, UKIP 10%, Liberal Democrats 8%

The North: Labour 42%, Conservatives 27%, UKIP 20%, Lib Dems 5%

The South: Conservatives 40%, Labour 25%, UKIP 18%, Liberal Democrats 9%

Scotland: SNP 41%, Labour 27%, Conservatives 19%, Lib Dems 6%, UKIP 4%

It's perfectly conceivable that we could end up with 5 parties that have at least 10 seats each (Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats,UKIP, SNP) after the next election.

A good argument for keeping the First Past the Post electoral system, has been that it helps form strong and decisive election results, and therefore strong governments. Yet, that does not look likely to happen at this moment in time, and we are likely to see a deeply divided and fractured parliament after 2015, which reflects the deeply divided views of the people of Britain at the moment. Perhaps such a result would speed up moves toward electoral reform. Either way, the election is next May, and neither party has grasped it by the neck as of yet.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

UKIP's Paddy Ashdown General Election Strategy

UKIP's strategy at the election will be the same as that adopted by the Lib Dems in 1997
Nearly everybody has heard the phrase "4 Party politics" being uttered in the mainstream Media. And, it is quite clear that we are in a new, and unprecedented, era of 4 party politics. My Poll of Polls has consistently found Labour and the Tories polling less than 65% combined- a record low, whilst UKIP are polling at record highs, have gained an MP in Clacton, and are looking set to gain yet another in the Rochester and Strood By-Election. The same has been found by nearly all pollsters. This, of course, helps smaller parties such as the Lib Dems and UKIP (Lib Dem MPs will be under less pressure due to the lower share of the vote of the other parties). But this is not the main point being made. Do we truly have a 4 party parliamentary system yet? Not until there are 4 parties with significant seat totals (That is, over 10 seats) will we truly be able to describe the UK as having a 4 party system.

This is where UKIP come in. Nigel Farage has revealed he is targeting 12 constituencies at the General Election, but the true number is suspected to be 25. The seats are: Portsmouth South, where the sitting Lib Dem MP, Mike Hancock, has been disgraced, Eastleigh, where UKIP polled 27% in the 2013 by-election, South Thanet and Thurrock (South Thanet is where Nigel Farage is standing, in both South Thanet and Thurrock UKIP have been shown to be in the lead.) Boston, Great Grimsby, North Thanet, Forest of Dean, Aylesbury, East Worthing and Shoreham, Sittingbourne and Sheppey, and Great Yarmouth.
UKIP target seats

Looking at the seats that UKIP are targeting, two things become clear.

    • UKIP is targeting mostly Conservative seats (Only one is held by Labour)
    • ALL of these seats are in the top 100 seats most likely to go UKIP (Based on Demographic Data, and research from Matthew Goodwin)
UKIP claims that it takes as many Labour votes as it does from the Tories, yet, looking at this list, it is clear that this is not the case. Most of the seats UKIP are targeting are Conservative held seats. However, one or two of the seats are Con-Lab marginals, and if UKIP and its claim that it takes significant Labour votes is correct, we should be able to see that in these seats.

In effect, UKIP are adopting the Paddy Ashdown strategy. Before the 1997 election, Paddy Ashdown, the Liberal Democrat leader, had realised that there was no use targeting Labour Party areas, as the Labour Party was going to win a massive landslide. The Government and its popularity had collapsed after the events of Black Wednesday, and, after the election of Tony Blair, Labour had a popular and potent leader capable of leading the party to a substantial victory (Tony Blair had a popularity rating of +65, the highest rating in history for a party leader until it was briefly broken by Nick Clegg in 2010). Therefore, Ashdown realised that he had to selectively target constituencies where there was a high likelihood of the Conservative Party losing. 

He ensured that the Lib Dems targeted many seats due to local factors, which the Lib Dems have traditionally been very strong on due to their style of pavement politics, and targeted those constituencies which were most demographically suitable to the Lib Dems, e.g seats with a high number of Middle Class and Liberal professionals that had become disenchanted with John Major and his Tory Government. The seats targeted tended to be areas with high concentrations of Liberal Democrat Councillors, built up through hard work over the years. Through this effective targeting, Paddy Ashdown and the Liberal Democrats were able to win 46 seats, an increase of 28 seats from the previous election, despite a slight decline in their share of the vote. In effect, the Ashdown style is that you don't have a national campaign. You work out where you are strong, and throw everything at these seats. It is a style that has worked for the Liberal Democrats, and now the Kippers are adopting it, and it seems to be working for them, as they are pulling off spectacular by-election victories as the Liberal Democrats used to do. Indeed, in the majority of these constituencies, the Kippers have significant numbers of Cllrs on the Local Councils within them. Only time will tell if they are as successful as the Liberal Democrats were in 1997.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Lab 33%, Con 32%, UKIP 16%, LD 7%

Does David Cameron still have a chance next year?

This week's poll of polls shows that Labour is unchanged on 33%. The Tories are up 2 points to within a point of Labour, at 32%, UKIP and the Lib Dems both shed a point, on 17% and 7% respectively, and the Greens are up one point to 5%.

It is striking to consider how Labour's poll ratings have declined. Back in 2012, just after George Osborne's now famous "Omnishambles" budget,, the party was polling on 40%, and the Tories were polling just about where they are now. Since then, Labour has seen a slow but steady decline whilst the Tories have remained where they are. My guess would be that the Tories have gained supporters as a result of the economic recovery, but any advantage they will have gained will have been neutralised by the increase in support for UKIP. Labour is, in effect, relying very heavily on Nigel Farage's party maintaining its current levels of support at the General Election.

Overall, most people feel that they are worse off than they were 4 years ago, but only very few believe that they would have been any better off if Labour had remained in power. Labour has still not addressed the core reason for its rejection 4 years ago, which is causing the party some quite significant problems.

In theory, a 1% lead like this would be enough to deliver a wafer slim majority for Ed Miliband. But, in my analysis of the YouGov regional extrapolations, I found some quite interesting regional variations that would deprive Labour of an overall majority.

Scottish Labour leader Joanne Lamont resigned recently, citing meddling by Westminster colleagues in Scottish Labour affairs.
One wonders whether polling figures like these (The regional extrapolation for Scotland) would also have persuaded her to jump ship.

SNP 43%, Labour 26%, Con 16%, Lib Dems 5%

A result anything like this would lead to a disaster for Labour in Scotland. The party could lose over half of its Westminster seats. Other polling figures listed below are not going to fill Labour figures with confidence either:

The North: Labour 43%, Conservative 28%, UKIP 15%, Lib Dems 8%
The South: Conservatives 38%, Labour 25%, UKIP 20%, Lib Dems 8%
London: Labour 40%, Conservatives 33%, UKIP 12%, Lib Dems 8%

The major issue for Labour is that its support is very heavily concentrated in some of its heartlands; the North and London in particular. In reality, on this kind of share nationally, you would have to rule Labour out from about 10 Tory seats that they would take on a uniform swing, and subtract around 20 seats from the Labour total because of Scotland, plus add 5 UKIP seats that they are likely to take, all from the Tories. That would lead to a total result of something like Labour 298 seats, Conservatives 283, Liberal Democrats 16, UKIP 5, SNP 32, Others 22. That would lead to a hung parliament in which forming a stable government would be very difficult indeed. So, in the last October poll of polls, there's everything still to play for.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Why the Rochester and Strood By-Election is a must-win for both the Tories and UKIP

Reckless (Above) has been mercilessly targeted by the Tories

The Rochester and Strood by-election will be held on the 16th of November. Already, it is shaping up to be one of the most bitterly fought by-elections since Crewe and Nantwich. That time, the Labour Party defeat in Crewe confirmed what many people already knew, that the Labour Party was in terminal decline and was on the way to losing the 2010 General Election. This by-election could be as much a watershed for the Tories as Crewe and Nantwich was for the Labour Party. A Tory defeat here would mean that the party would, almost certainly, lose the next General Election. A Tory win, however, would be the so-called "Falklands moment" that the Tory Party has been waiting for, and would lead to a strong Tory surge as UKIP inevitably collapsed. This by-election is also important for Labour, but in a different way, and not as much as it is for UKIP and the Tories.

Why is this by-election so important? Firstly, we should look at the facts.In the Con-Lab marginals, Labour has a significant lead, primarily because of UKIP. A large % of UKIP voters currently say that they are open to switching back to the Tories. However, the main reason that they are not switching back to the Tories is because they feel that a vote for UKIP is not a wasted vote. This perception is the major problem that the Tories have in trying to convince UKIP voters to switch back to them for the General Election. The perception that a vote for UKIP actually counts will have grown, almost certainly as a result of the Douglas Carswell landslide in Clacton. This is the perception that the Tories have a chance to destroy, and with it destroy UKIP, once and for all, by beating them in Rochester. As can be seen by the deeply bitter campaign that is being fought, both sides are determined not to lose. My contacts in the area have told me that Labour households in particular have been bombarded with leaflets attacking Reckless and his character, as an attempt to get tactical votes from Labour and former Lib Dem voters against Reckless.

Now, you can see what is at stake for both the Tories and UKIP. Basically, if the Tory Party wins, the UKIP voters are going to feel that voting for UKIP is no longer worthwhile, and many are going to switch back to the Conservatives. This would lead to a Tory surge, which I have nicknamed the "Falklands surge", and, surely, if they managed to depress the UKIP vote in this way, they must be favourites to win the 2015 General Election. If UKIP win, however, and constituency polling conducted before the Tories selected a candidate showed them with a 9% lead, so they obviously have a good chance, then the Con-UKIP switchers are probably going to remain with UKIP, and the General Election will have been lost for the Conservatives. It is no wonder that David Cameron has visited the constituency 4 times already, and the Tories have been using an all-postal primary to select their candidate. There is talk of a leadership challenge to David Cameron from the Eurosceptic Right of his party if the Tories lose the by-election. For Labour, the emphasis surely has to be on putting in a good performance. If Labour manage to acheive something like 20-25% of the vote in Rochester, it will be a good result, as it will show that the party still has a loyal following amongst White Working Class voters, and may stem the flow of traditional Labour voters defecting to UKIP.

It is clear that neither party can afford defeat in this by-election. But, there is only going to be one winner, at the end of the day. We will find out in the early hours of the 17th whether UKIP have pulled off another spectacular win, or if the Tories can stop UKIP in its tracks.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Lab 33% Con 30% UKIP 17% LD 8% Green 4%

Mr Miliband may become PM on the lowest ever share of the vote

The second poll in my series of poll of polls shows a continuing trend that many pollsters are finding. Labour are on 33%, unchanged from last Sunday. The Tories drop two points and fall to 30%, UKIP are up one point to 17%, the Lib Dems are unchanged, and the Greens shed two points to fall back to 4%.

Nationally, if there was a uniform swing, this might theoretically be enough to give Labour a very small majority. In practise, given some of the regional trends I have found during the analysis of polling over the last week, a hung parliament with Labour as the largest party seems to be the most likely outcome. If this election is won by Labour, it will be the lowest winning share of the vote ever, and one of the Labour Party's worst ever results from opposition, perhaps reflecting the apathy that so many people feel when it comes to Westinster politics at the moment. There seems to be a huge swing against Labour in Scotland which should cause people at party headquarters to start seriously reconsidering their Scotland strategy. Here are the regional figures:

The North: Lab 44%, Con 26%, UKIP 17%, LD 7%
The South: Con 38%, Lab 24%, UKIP 21%, LD 8%
Scotland: SNP 41%, Lab 25%, Con 18%, LD 7%, UKIP 6%

Here is what would happen in Scotland on these figures, if there was a regional swing of this size happening:

Whilst I do not think that some of the Aberdeen and Edinburgh seats projected to fall to the SNP on such a large swing would in fact fall to them, and I would reduce the number of SNP gains by 10 because of how thinly spread their vote tends to be, a result anywhere near this kind would be a complete and utter disaster for Labour. It woud compare with the Tory wipeout in Scotland in 1997. Any chance that Labour has of winning the next election must surely be diminished unless the party improves its polling in Scotland. The Lib Dems and Tories should try to improve their own fortunes as well. It seems as if the Scottish Electorate are, in effect, rejecting all 3 of our Westminster parties' and turning toward the Scottish Nationalists as an alternative, in a way that the English and Welsh have not (Yet.)

Something else to consider is how strikingly well they are doing in the South of England, and how Labour are also doing so poorly there. On a % of this kind at the General Election in the South of England, it is highly likely that UKIP would gain its first seats at Westminster, in addition to Clacton, of course. If they managed to push their percentage a few points higher and the Tories as a result a few points lower, there will come a tipping point when they will start to win hatfulls of Westminster seats from the Tories. So, with 8 months to go until the election, there's still everything to play for at this stage

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Poll of polls: Labour 33%, Con 32%, UKIP 16%, LD 8%, Green 6%

My first ever poll of polls (An average from all of the opinion polls taken this week) shows a 1% lead for the Labour Party. Figures varied from a 7% Labour lead in Populus, and in the 11th October YouGov poll a 5% Labour lead, to the Tories leading in several polls at the beginning of the week. This 1 point lead would theoretically, be enough on a uniform swing to see Ed Miliband into number 10 in May, but it would be the worst ever share of the vote for an incoming Government.

Something else that I also tried to do was to extrapolate YouGov's regional figures over the week, by combining the sample sizes from all of the polls released this week by YouGov-giving a total sample size of about 1000 for each region. For the Midlands and Wales, this is impossible as the two are combined by YouGov, but it is possible, and very interesting, to look at the regional extrapolations for the South, North, Scotland and London. Here are the regional extrapolation figures:

London: Labour 44%, Conservatives 33%, UKIP 11%, Lib Dems 8%

Scotland: SNP 39%, Labour 29%, Conservatives 19%, Lib Dems 5%, UKIP 4%

The North: Labour 44%, Conservatives 28%, UKIP 15%, Lib Dems 7%

The South: Conservatives 40%, Labour 26%, UKIP 18%, Lib Dems 7%

A word of caution about some of these figures. Much of the data taken to extrapolate these figures was from the early week YouGov polls when the Tories had a lead. That may well have changed since then. Certainly, if yesterday's Survation poll showing UKIP on 25% nationally and on 37.4% in the South is correct, we should be able to detect this sooner or later in the YouGov regional figures.

Another word of warning: whilst ths SNP may at this time have a 10% lead over Labour in Scotland, it is highly unlikely that, when asked to choose a Westminster Tory or Labour Government, that Scots will abandon Labour on the scale suggested by these polls. My own suspicion is that Labour will recover to around 35% in Scotland by the time of the election. Nevertheless, Scottish Labour should be deeply concerned by these figures, which are a snapshot of public opinion currently, rather than a prediction of what may happen next May.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Predictions for tomorrow's parliamentary by-elections

Tomorrow is likely to be a hugely significant, even historic day in British Politics, and especially for this parliament in particular. Here is my prediction as to what the results of tomorrow's by-elections will be.

By election predictions:

Labour 45% (+5 from 2010) UKIP 27% (+23) Conservatives 15% (-14) Lib Dems 4% (-13) Greens 4% (+4)

UKIP have become the opposition to Labour in the North. That much is clear. UKIP came 2nd in 7 out of 8 wards in the constituency at the last set of local elections, and, although winning the seat may prove to be a little too much for them, they will come a credible 2nd and equal the share they had in Eastleigh. Labour will be delighted-an increase in their share of the vote and the likely Tory collapse will be good for party morale.


UKIP 45% (+45) Conservatives 24% (-26) Labour 17% (-8) Lib Dems 4% (-9)

The result is likely to be as dramatic as it sounds. Douglas Carswell is hugely popular in Clacton-and it would be quite a shock if UKIP DIDNT win in a huge landslids tomorrow. Expect the Tories' to try to downplay this likely disaster as a classic mid-term result, but make no mistake, it will be quite a remarkabls result for UKIP and deeply damaging for David Cameron and the Tories.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

How Ed Miliband can wrestle the initiative back from the Tories-And why he must do so.

Ed Miliband must control the agenda if he wants to win the next election

The Labour Party is currently in very serious trouble. Having led for most of this parliament in the opinion polls, it now finds itself trailing by 2 points in 3 consecutive YouGov polls. Only 17% of people see Ed Miliband as being Prime Ministerial material, whereas 44% say the same for David Cameron. John Prescott has criticised the direction of the party, whilst there are rumours that Alan Johnson and Andy Burnham are gearing up for a leadership contest. As soon as this June, it looked like Labour would easily romp to victory. When did Labour veer off course so suddenly?

The answer is on Wednesday. David Cameron made one of the most powerful and passionate speeches ever seen from a Tory Party leader. He decided to take the fight to Labour on areas where the party is traditionally strong-talking about Social Justice, Equality, and banning Zero-Hours contracts. The electorate were, on Wednesday night, whether Labour figures like to admit it or not, reminded of the credentials that David Cameron has for being Prime Minister, something that Ed Miliband once again has shown that he lacks when he forgot to talk about the economic deficit.

However- it is not all bad news for Ed Miliband. People may see him as being weird and not up to the job of being Prime Minister, but they also see him as compassionate, and less likely to be described as being "Out of touch" than Cameron and Clegg. Ed Miliband is the most popular party leader amongst young people. And these are the areas where the Labour Party, and Ed Miliband, have to focus their message on. Ed Miliband needs to stop listening to advisors and focus groups, and start listening to those in his cabinet, and his closest friends. A consequence of hiring politicical advisors from America, like Arnie Graf and David Axelrod, is that you often end up with American style political bashing that simply does not work in this country. Ed Miliband can never beat David Cameron in a US-Style Presidential Election, which is why trying to turn the General Election into a Presidential Election seems to be working for the Tories. Graf and Axelrod should focus on improving Miliband's image, rather than advising him on other issues.

When Ed Miliband showed that he had the courage and the conviction that people are desperately crying out for, with his energy price freeze, having the bravery to tackle the vested interests that people are so angry about, the Tories slumped to a new low and Labour took a commanding lead in the polls. Ed Miliband showed, right there and then, that a Labour agenda is popular. He must, in the course of the next few months, recapture the spirit of the energy price freeze in a speech that addresses people's concerns about Labour, whilst offering them a positive and optimistic view of the future. The vision offered must be coherent and clear, and not confused and scrambled as it has been as of late. This is the only way in which he will ever to regain the momentum that he needs if Labour are going to win an overall majority at the next election.

Another thing that Ed Miliband must do, is that he must reassure the Middle Class voters, who were wooed by Tony Blair and New Labour, but are afraid that a Left-Wing Labour Party will increase taxation on them. Taxation has always been a major issue that the Tories have managed to exploit, dating back to the days of Margaret Thatcher. The Labour Party must reassure these voters. We must seek to represent the squeezed middle, as well as the poor and working class.

If Ed Miliband does these things, and lays out a clear, coherent, and optimistic vision for Britain's future, then there is a chance that he could turn his party's fortunes around. Only time will tell if he has the courage to do it.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The speech that David Cameron made today was the speech of a man who is confident of victory......but is it even possible?

David Cameron made a very powerful speech today..but will it be enough?

The speech made today by the Prime Minister at the Conservative Party Conference was the speech of a man who thinks he is destined for electoral success. It was bold, passionate, and powerful. But how will this speech change the electoral landscape, and is it really possible for the Tory Party to win a majority in 2015?

First of all, let us examine the speech and the policy pledges made. David Cameron has pledged to protect the National Health Service- This is a repeat of his policy from the 2010 General Election, and is designed to calm fears from many swing voters about how the Tories would manage the NHS. It is also intended to neutralise Ed Miliband and the Labour Party lead over the NHS, as Ed Miliband has decided that Labour would make the NHS the main issue of the election campaign. Secondly, the tax-cutting policy. This has very broad appeal across the electorate, and in particular for the Middle English voters that have gone to Labour since 2010 or have become undecided. David Cameron is hoping to win back these voters so that the Tories can get back up to 34/35% of the vote.

First of all, I have some good news for the Prime Minister. Twice as many people trust the Tories with the deficit than they do Labour. David Cameron has an overwhelming lead over Ed Miliband as to who would be the best Prime Minister (Although the voters prefer a Labour Government to a Tory Government.) The Government is also seen as being more competent than Labour in general, although many still see the Tories as being the "Nasty Party."

However, this is where the bad news comes in. If the Tories want to win a majority, they have to go beyond what they did at the last election. They have to open up an 8 or 9 point lead over the Labour Party. This is a very difficult task, for many reasons. Firstly, because so many Tory voters have defected to UKIP, the task for David Cameron has become extremely difficult. He needs to win all of these voters back to have any chance of taking the lead- and at the moment, it looks very unlikely. Perhaps some may defect back to the Tories, but some will stay with UKIP at the General Election, as indicated by pollling. Another problem that David Cameron has is the current electoral strength of the Labour Party. To stop losing seats to Labour and start gaining them, the Tories need to have a lead of 8%. Currently, they trail by 5%, having lost significant numbers of votes to UKIP.. A turnaround of 12 points would be required just for the Tories to acheive a favourable hung parliament, and a swing of at least 12.5 or 13 points would be needed for David Cameron to get his majority. At this stage, this looks quite unlikely. Such a swing has happened in occasions throughout history-possibly most notably in 1992, but such a turnaround looks incredibly unlikely at this stage, and especially in a 4 party system, and at least half of the swing in 1992 could be attributed to pollster error.

What the Tories hope is that Ed Miliband's poor personal ratings will catch up with him at some point. There is a possibility that this could happen, but could it happens on a scale large enough for David Cameron to win a majority? I doubt it. Firstly, because Gordon Brown was incredibly unpopular too amongst core Labour voters-and they turned up to vote for him in 2010. These voters are not going anywhere. Secondly, the Lib Dem defectors to Labour have a much higher opinion of Ed Miliband than other Labour voters or the electorate in general. This is the major reason as to why Labour remain in the lead-a significant % of Lib Dem 2010 voters say they will vote Labour in 2015.

As long as this group stays as loyal to Labour as it is now, Labour will remain above 35%, and it will be impossible for the Tories to either acheive a hung parliament or to win the election. Another major issue concerns UKIP voters. The assumption from the Tories is that they are simply "Tories on holiday" and that they will return at the General Election. This assumption simply does not hold up to scrutiny. Lord Ashcroft polling found that UKIP voters preferred Cameron by only 27-23, and that 29% of UKIP voters would actually like a Labour Government, more than the number of those who said they would prefer a Tory Government! David Cameron needs to make sure that he reaches out to these voters and tries to win them over, rather than simply assuming that they will "Come home" to their former party.

The Tories also often claim that the electoral system is "Biased" against them. At first glance, it may seem that it is so. Labour can win a majority (Theoretically) with a 1% deficit, whilst the Tories can win a majority only if they are at least 8.5% ahead. However, taking a closer look at the electoral dynamic, it is clear that this is not the case. There are three major reasons as to why Labour's vote is so more efficient than that of the Tories. Firstly, because Labour Party voters tend not to turn out where it doesn't matter (In safe seats) but turn up in much larger numbers in close contests in marginal seats. This is why, despite trailing by 0.5% in England, Tony Blair managed to win 82 more seats than the Tories in the 2005 General Election. The second reason is because the Tory vote is very heavily concentrated in areas where they are already strong-in this case in safe seats in the South-West and South-East of England. There is a saying: When Labour win a seat, they win it by 1000 votes, when the Tories win a seat, they win it by 10,000. The Conservative Party has failed to broaden its appeal in Scotland, the North of England, and Wales, and must seek to do this if it wishes to win a majority next time. The 3rd major reason is tactical voting. Most current Liberal Democrat seats tend to be seats that they had won from the Tories in the 1997 Tony Blair landslide, through massive anti-Tory tactical voting. In areas where the contest is between Liberal Democrats and the Tories, Labour voters in the past have tended to switch to the Lib Dems to "Keep the Tories out." There is some evidence that as a result of the Lib Dem-Tory coalition, that this tactical alliance may be weakening, which would help the Tory Party-but what this means for next year is yet to be seen.
Due to the factors outlined above, it is my conclusion that David Cameron faces a very long and hard road ahead. All of the pollsters and bookies have Ed Miliband as the favourite to become PM, and many Tories themselves have admitted that it is unlikely that they will win next year. The next 8 months shall be the most crucial in this parliament-let's see what the people decide in May next year.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The 5 Tory MPs most likely to defect to UKIP

Carswell's (Above Left) defection may inspire others to do the same.

I am sure that many people reading this post will be very interested in the recent defection of Douglas Carswell MP to UKIP. Carswell's defection shook the political establishment, and, in the event of a successful By-Election victory, he is unlikely to be the last.

This post lists the top 5 Tory MPs who are likely to defect to UKIP, in my view, I must stress. I have used a wide range of data to come to these conclusions, including the bookies, behaviour of potential defectors in parliament, constituency demographics, local election results, and the so-called "UKIP potential" of their constituency, calculated by the use of the book "Revolt on the Right", which used a range of data and evidence to compile a list of the most UKIP friendly seats.

1: Chris Kelly (Member for Dudley South)

If Douglas Carswell's defection is anything to go by, then it is likely that we will soon see another defection in the shape of Chris Kelly. Chris Kelly has long been rumoured to be a likely switcher, and today, stories in the Daily Mail and Conservative Home appeared to link him strongly to defection. Dudley South is one of UKIP's best hopes in 2015, being the 13th most UKIP friendly Tory held seat, and is likely to become a 3 way marginal next time. 40% of people in the seat have no formal qualifications, well above the 23% national average. The seat has a large "Left behind" demographic which UKIP have skillfully exploited. Indeed, Labour strategists in the area have indicated that they are bracing themselves for a very tough battle in a constituency that is a must-win for Labour if they want to form a Government next year.

The MP, Chris Kelly, is retiring, but it is possible that he will defect to sit as a UKIP MP for the last 8 months of his political career, and to campaign with his successor as UKIP's candidate. Expect a very tight race in Dudley South if this happens. Kelly's record suggests that there is a chance of this happening-he is one of the most rebellious Tory MPs in the Commons.

2:) Peter Bone (Member for Wellingborough)
Peter Bone is regarded as one of the most rebellious and determined Tory backbenchers-and has been rebuked many times by Conservative Home, the official propaganda machine of CCHQ. He is one of the MPs most fiercely opposed to David Cameron's attempts to give the party a better image, being a firm opponent of abortion and a denier of climate change.

Mr Bone was voted off the 1922 Commitee (Conservative Backbencher NEC) by the modernising "301 Group", who planning a coup to replace Bone and other Tory MPs who they considered to be backwards and regressive. The reformers argued that the 1922 Committee was "run by a group of mostly cantankerous old farts who do little to further right-wing ideas" and needed to campaign on issues other than EU membership and their objections to House of Lords reform, since it was not good for the "Modern" image the Tories tried to present to the electorate.

Bone is also a member of the Cornerstone Group, known for its pro-UKIP stance, and a group infamous for its Right-Wing, Socially Conservative, anti-EU rules. Wellingborough is the 70th most UKIP friendly Tory seat-it is in an area of the East Midlands where UKIP have been doing quite well in recent European Elections, and will be looking to build on that record.

3:) Bernard Jenkin (Member for Harwich and North Essex)
You would probably be quite surprised to know that I have included Jenkin on this list, if you had any idea of his background. He served in the Shadow Cabinet of the Tory Party under Michael Howard, and was Vice-Chair of the Tory Party before he was sacked in 2006.

Looking at the fact that he has had such an illustrious career on the Tory front benches, it may seem surprising that such a figure would choose to defect. However, take a look closer and a picture of discontent is revealed. Jenkin is a very rebellious Tory MP: he is referred to as rebelling "Quite often" against his party on They Work for You. Jenkin is a determined Eurosceptic, and has been quietly sitting on the backbenches whilst Cameron has attempted to modernise his party and drag it toward the Centre Ground. Jenkin has long been rumoured to have been courted by UKIP, and the fact that he is an MP in Essex, an area where UKIP polled 40-50% of the vote in many areas at the Local Elections this year, may persuade him to jump ship, if, as expected, Douglas Carswell wins by a big margin in the Clacton By-Election on October 9th. It would be a major blow to the Tories and a slight surprise-but don't rule it out at all.

4:) Jacob Mogg ( Member for North East Somerset)
Mogg is not your traditional UKIP Politician, being very independently wealthy and coming from an area that is very wealthy itself. North East Somerset itself is very strongly Conservative, and Mogg is a commited Eurosceptic. This is an area where UKIP can be expected to poll well in 2015, despite it not being the most demographically favourable area for them.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph in May 2013, Mogg asked whether it was time to make a “big open and comprehensive offer” to UKIP. He said collaboration would be straightforward as policies were similar on the vast majoriy of issues, and he said that most Tories would like Nigel Farage to become the Deputy PM. His remarks infuriated the leadership, whilst UKIP said it was against any sort of arrangement. Paul Goodman, the editor of Conservative Home, said he believed a short-term pact was both impractical and undesirable, and did not believe that it would work.

Mogg has long sought an alliance with UKIP. He has long been open about the prospect of this, and called for it during the BBC broadcast of the 2014 Local Elections. Mogg can be regarded as a sort of Tony Benn of the Right-he is well respected by many Labour as well as Tory politicians, is very high-profile and popular in his constituency, and is a very principled Eurosceptic. Notably, he was silent on Douglas Carswell's defection when many of his fellow Tory Eurosceptics came out and openly condemned the defection. The question is, will he gamble and join UKIP, or will he play it safe and try to negotiate an individual pact with them? The choice is difficult.

5:) George Eustice (Member for Camborne and Redruth)
Cornwall has become one of UKIP's strongest areas in recent years, and Camborne and Redruth one of UKIP's strongest areas in Cornwall. The seat is the 26th most UKIP friendly Tory seat, and has a large "Left behind" demographic, of voters who have become disillusioned with both the Tories and Lib Dems. We can expect UKIP to put up a strong challenge here in 2015.

Eustice himself is a known Eurosceptic, and according to the bookies, is one of the favourites to jump ship. The UKIP vote has been increasing in the area, and he, like many others, may prefer to wait for the Clacton result before making his move.