Friday, 27 February 2015

How Farage's declaration that he would back the Tories changes the dynamics of election 2015

Nigel Farage today announced that he would instruct UKIP MPs to back the deficit reduction plan put forward by the Conservatives. Whilst this may have been seen as a foregone conclusion by many, it is a very significant moment, because it changes the dynamics of the electoral map. Previously, Farage had indicated that he would only do a deal with a party that offered an EU referendum, but his embrace of the Tories' economic plan opens up two new possibilities.

1: A conservative government backed by the DUP and UKIP.
Let's assume the worst case scenario for Ed Miliband. His party finishes on 31% of the vote to 35% for the Tories. Labour are subsequently massacred in Scotland and struggle to make even modest gains from the Tories and Lib much so that David Cameron, through gaining seats from his coalition partners, finishes on 310 seats. The 13 seats won by the DUP and combined would be enough to give him a parliamentary majority, though it would be unstable, if he decided on a pact or coalition with them (The 5 Sinn Fein MPs tend not to turn up, and the Speaker is apolitical). In this scenario, David Cameron could govern and remain prime minister, albeit with major concessions to the other parties.

2: But, let us assume that the liberal democrats suddenly lurch rightward and decide that they want to partner with firmly right of centre parties such as UKIP and the DUP. This scenario may become likely, particularly as most Lib Dem MPs that are left will be representing suburban shire seats, particularly as most of the left-wing Lib Dems are likely to fall in battle against Labour. In this scenario, with the Lib Dems winning 30 and the DUP and UKIP winning a combined total of 13 seats, a total of 43, David Cameron would need just 280 seats to remain in power, and would have to rely on an SNP onslaught in Scotland to prevent Labour from winning most seats. This scenario is not particularly likely, but it is possible to imagine a scenario (And even probable) where all 4 parties sign an anti-Labour confidence and supply agreement. Since all 4 parties agree with the economic plan put forward by the Tories in principle, this scenario is becoming increasingly likely.

Either way, election 2015 just got a whole lot more interesting.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Democratic Unionists threaten legal challenge over debate snub.

The DUP is currently the 4th largest party, with 8 MPs.

The DUP has threatened to launch a legal challenge against the BBC, weeks after they were excluded from the 2015 general election debates.

Peter Robinson, the DUP leader, accused the BBC of "Treating Northern Irish people like 2nd class citizens" by excluding all NI parties from the debates but including Plaid Cymru and the SNP.

Robinson yesterday met James Harding, BBC director of news and current affairs, but the talks ended without agreement. An appeal currently lodged against the decision with the BBC is due to be heard next month. If that fails, Robinson has said he will take the BBC to court.

A DUP challenge is highly likely to be successful, according to legal experts. It would then make it extremely unlikely that the debates could go ahead, as talks would have to start all over again, and the April cut-off point is approaching very fast.

The BBC and ITV are currently planning to hold two debates involving the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, UKIP, Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the Greens.
The DUP is currently the fourth largest party in the Commons, with eight MPs.

A third debate - hosted by Sky and Channel 4 - would feature a head-to-head between Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Local health leaders back NHS Devo Manc proposals

A group of health professionals have signed a statement backing government plans to devolve NHS spending to the newly created Greater Manchester city region.

The group issued a statement just hours after details of the deal made between Manchester councils and the government was released. A city region encompassing the whole of Greater Manchester and with an elected Mayor shall be created, with powers over transportation, health spending, social care, investment in skills, policing, and a range of other areas. In total, the city region will have control of around £12 Billion of government spending, a quarter of all spending in the area.

"We welcome the announcement that control of the NHS budget is to be handed to Greater Manchester authorities and we look forward to working much more closely with these elected local authorities", the statement said.

"Under the right conditions this can be an opportunity to ensure that our Manchester Health Service - MHS - brings much greater benefits to patients and communities."

"Manchester still has huge inequalities in health. The average age at death of people living in the most deprived parts of the conurbation is ten years less than among those living in the most prosperous areas. The NHS has never been able to tackle inequality on its own but the MHS will be the biggest employer in the region and with local councils must use its muscle to reduce inequality. At the same time we want to see an end to wasteful and damaging competition between hospitals. "

The statement was signed by Martin Rathfelder, Director of the Socialist Health Association, Angela Young of the young Manchester mental health alliance, Aneet Kapoor of the  Manchester local pharmaceutical company, and other local health practioners and specialists.

Green Party economic plan a pipe dream-Channel 4's factcheck

Natalie Bennet's "Excruciating" interview on LBC yesterday was not the only thing that has gone horribly wrong for the Green Party. Today, Channel 4's fact checking service checked some of the claims made by the Green Party, which don't appear to hold up to scrutiny. Here are some of the key points:

  • The Green Party claims that the top 1% own 18% of the UK's wealth. However, official statistics, with offshore accounts factored in, suggests that it is just 12.5%.
  • The OFS did a simulation of how the Greens' proposed "Wealth tax" would turn out. It turns out that it would bring in only around £7 Billion, much less than the Greens say it will. In France, a similar wealth tax raised just €4 Billion last year.
  • Dr Malcolm Torry, an academic whom the Greens seem to have based their universal basic income policy from, originally published a fully costed (Or so it was thought) version of how it would work. However, after major flaws in his calculations, he was forced to adjust it, so now it would cost the taxpayer an additional £24 Billion per year, and other benefits would also have to be kept in place.
The final point may be why the Greens appear to have quietly sidelined the UBI policy. A Green Party source told channel 4 today that the policy was merely "A long-term aspiration", and that the party would not be pushing for it if it got into government.

Labour candidate for Bradford West steps down.....4 days after being selected.

The Labour candidate for Bradford West, Amina Ali, has stepped down, just 4 days after being selected. Councillor Amina Ali has stepped down as the PCC for the seat currently held by George Galloway, saying that she had to put her children first, but there has been speculation that she was forced to step down after lying in her selection interview....

 Surely this must increase the chance of Galloway being re-elected.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Cruddas uses church letter to endorse "Blue Labour" ideology

Remember the church of England letter from the church, advising Christians on how to vote? Now John Cruddas has written a review in the Guardian comment is free section endorsing what the church says. Cruddas has long been a cheerleader of the "Blue Labour" ideology, which seeks to adopt traditional Tory ideas such as the "Big society", family, tradition and nation, and blend them with social democratic economics.

In the review, Cruddas wrote:

"It is as a profound, complex letter, as brutal as it is complex, as Catholic as it is reformed, as conservative as it is radical"

Cruddas then goes on to say:

"It cannot be the case that any criticism of capitalism is received as being left-wing Keynesian Welfarism, and any public sector reform as an attack on the poor. This is precisely what the letter warns against, and it is a dismal reality of our public conversation that it has been received in that way."

What is significant about this is that John Cruddas is head of the Labour Party policy review. That means that he has significant influence over party policy. Are we going to see this "Blue Labour" ideology begin to take precedence?

Greens launch election 2015 campaign

The Green Party have officially launched their general election 2015 campaign, with the party set to stand in nearly all constituencies. It is set to stand in "More than 90%" of seats this time around, according to party sources, with the number continuing to rise as local parties finalise selection of prospective parliamentary candidates this week.

The Green Party has recently polled at an average of 8%, and there are no signs that it is set to decrease, with party leader Natalie Bennet making a major speech this morning, focusing on the 6 electoral themes her party will be using.

“Something profound is happening in British Politics. The old way of doing things is falling apart as the politics of hope triumphs over the politics of fear. The Green Party wants to create a political system that puts the public first and we believe we have the means to achieve that ambition. Our membership numbers have soared, our poll ratings are the best for a generation and we’re going to be fighting our biggest, boldest campaign ever. It’s a truly exciting time to be part of The Green Party.”

Recent local election results suggest that the party is in play in 3 major constituencies, Brighton Pavillion, where Caroline Lucas was elected in 2010, Norwich South, and Bristol West. In Bristol West, Darren Hall has become increasingly optimistic about his chances. Recent constituency polls have put Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and Green Party all close together.

Hall said: “In Bristol the sense of change is palpable. Our membership numbers have surged, and people from across the city are getting involved in my campaign. The fact is that people like our policies – our job is to make sure they hear about them. The momentum is with us in Bristol, as it is across the UK, and these next ten weeks will, no doubt, be very exciting.”

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Tories and Lib Dems: Debates unlikely to happen

Reports today emerging from Lib Dem HQ suggest that the television debates are unlikely to go ahead this year. A senior Lib Dem said that David Cameron was attempting to "Scupper" the debates. The source added that the broadcasters had made a "Massive strategic error" by inviting Plaid Cymru and the SNP, and that their inclusion was almost certain to rule out the debates from ever happening. "I do not see how this is going to happen" he added.

Alastair Campbell, Labour's ex spin doctor, said that David Cameron was trying to avoid giving Mr Miliband the chance to improve public perceptions.

"I think the debates are one of those things that can be a game-changing moment," Mr Campbell said earlier on the Andrew Marr Show.

"People talk about it being Farage. I think he’s worried about Ed Miliband actually doing better than people expect him to and he turns it through the debate. So they’re trying desperately to avoid them. I sort of understand what they’re trying to do. But I think there is a price to pay given that he, Cameron, said that last time these are fundamental to democracy."

A senior Tory admitted that the Prime Minister was trying to avoid the debates.
 “The prime minister’s view is, ‘We said to you [the broadcasters], you are obsessed about debates and they took up too much energy last time. We didn’t have an election campaign. We had a debates campaign.’

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Update: Labour lead at 2: Labour 34%, Conservatives 32%, UKIP 14%, Green Party 6%, Liberal Democrats 7%

The Labour Party retains its 2% lead in this week's polling average. Both major parties remain where they were last week, UKIP take a big hit and are down by 2%, as are the Green Party, who are down by 1%. It remains to be seen whether or not the slight downward trend in UKIP and Green support is a permanent trend that will continue until the election, or whether the two smaller parties manage to maintain their current support levels.

An interesting thing to note from yesterday's Ashcroft national poll, which can be found on this link, is the fact that most voters do not think the Liberal Democrats have had enough influence in this coalition government, and 28% of Conservative supporters also think that. According to YouGov polls, between 15 and 20% of Tory voters want the liberal democrats to be in coalition with the conservatives after the next election. This is good news for the Lib Dems, as it backs up their argument which says that neither the Tories nor Labour can be trusted to run the economy on their own. In fact, polls by ICM and Comres have found that an unprecedented number of people are set to vote tactically at the general election, which traditionally strongly benefits the liberal democrats and moderately benefits the Labour Party.

Either way, Ed Miliband will be happy with this kind of polling. As the clock continues to count down to May, there is still no sign of the predicted conservative recovery, which has baffled most pundits, including myself admittedly. Ed Miliband's chances of becoming PM will ultimately have to rest on Scotland.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Mo's election predictions: The Eastern Region.

Previous predictions for the South West and South East can be found here and here.

Seats predicted so far (South West):
Conservative: 36 (NC)
Liberal Democrat: 10 (-5)
Labour: 9 (+5)
UKIP: 0 (NC)

South East:
Conservative: 69 seats (-5)
Labour: 8 seats (+4)
Lib Dem: 3 seats (-1)
UKIP: 2 seats (+2)
Others: 2 seats (NC)

The East of England is pretty much a one party state. The Conservatives hold 52/58 constituencies in this region, with Labour holding two, and the Liberal Democrats holding 4. But it wasn't always like that. Tony Blair's New Labour landslides were built on winning large numbers of seats in this region and the South East. But in 2010, it all went very, very wrong for Labour, with the party collapsing from 10 constituencies in 2005 to very nearly being wiped out altogether, narrowly holding Luton South and North Luton. Out of the liberal democrat seats, 2 (North Norfolk and Colchester) look to be safe. 2 others may actually fall to Labour: Julian Huppert, the Cambridge MP, may face a backlash from the large student population due to tuition fees, and it is widely predicted that Simon Wright will be just a one-term MP in Norwich South, and indeed, many constituency polls have shown the liberal democrats in 3rd place, behind Labour and the Green Party. Labour must hope to regain some of the constituencies it lost in 2010, but this ties into another problem for Labour in this region: UKIP.

UKIP surged in this region during the European Elections, finishing 6% ahead of the Tories, and many of the party's best hopes are in this region. UKIP is polling very strongly in this region, as are the Green Party. The danger for Labour is that a failure to gain enough seats here may well be due to a large UKIP or Green surge in some constituencies. If Labour are unable to make significant gains here, then they cannot hope to force a change of government, or of the party/parties of government.

Basildon and Bilercay
2010 result:
Conservative: 52.8%
Labour: 23.0%
Lib Dem: 15.7%
Other: 8.5%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

South Basildon and East Thurrock
2010 result:
Conservative: 43.9%
Labour: 31.0%
Lib Dem: 13.4%
Others: 11.8%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD
The Labour Party once would have had hopes in this seat, but now it looks unlikely to win the successor to most of the iconic seat of Basildon. UKIP have surged here, and look to be the main challenger to the Tories, but Stephen Metcalffe as the incumbent should hold on fairly comfortably.

2010 result:
Conservative: 38.9%
Labour: 35.9%
Lib Dem: 19.9%
Others: 5.3%
Prediction: Labour GAIN
Bedford has one of the most ethnically diverse populations outside a major city, and so the city tends heavily toward the Labour Party, with more than 100 languages spoken locally. The Labour candidate is former MP Patrick Hall, and this should help the party to neutralise the first term incumbency bonus of Richard Fuller, and Fuller has a small majority of less than 1500. If there is any sort of swing at all toward Labour nationally, they should take this.

Mid Bedfordshire
2010 result: Conservative: 52.5%
Lib Dem: 24.9%
Labour: 14.8%
Others: 7.9%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

North East Bedfordshire
2010 result: Conservative: 55.8%
Lib Dem: 21.7%
Labour: 16.1%
Other: 6.4%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

South West Bedforshire
2010 result: Conservative: 52.8%
Lib Dem: 20.0%
Labour: 19.6%
Other: 7.6%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

2010 result: Conservative: 52.6%
Labour: 19.9%
Lib Dem: 18.8%
Other: 8.7%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

Brentwood and Ongar
2010 result: Conservative 56.9%
Lib Dem: 23.5%
Labour: 9.9%
Other: 9.8%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

2010 result: Conservative: 46.2%
Lib Dem: 32.4%
Labour: 13.8%
Other: 7.6%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

2010 result: Conservative 58.8%
Labour: 17.6%
Lib Dem: 13.4%
Other: 7.6%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

Bury St Edmunds
2010 result: Conservative 47.5%
Lib Dem: 26.4%
Labour: 16.6%
Other: 9.4%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

2010 result: Lib Dem: 39.1%
Conservative: 25.6%
Labour: 24.3%
Other: 11,0%
Prediction: Labour GAIN
One of the many seats with a large student population, with an Ashcroft poll showing Labour narrowly ahead, the writing appears to be on the wall for Julian Huppert. There is still a chance that huppert may cling on, but 4 months from the election, I now think Labour should take this. They certainly seem very confident, and the Lib Dems have beebn slaughtered on a local level since 2010.

North East Cambridgeshire
2010 result: Conservative: 51.6%
Lib Dem: 20.0%
Labour: 17.8%
Other: 10.5%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

N.W Cambridgeshire
2010 result: Conservative: 50.5%
Lib Dem: 21.9%
Labour: 16.9%
Other: 10.7%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

2010 result: Conservative: 47.4%
Lib Dem: 34%
Labour: 10.2%
Other: 8.3%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

Castle Point
2010 result: Conservative: 44.0%
Independent save our green belt: 27.0%
Labour: 14.7%
Other: 14.3%
Prediction: UKIP GAIN
Based on local election results, Sky News declared that this was likely to be a UKIP gain at the general election this May. UKIP actually "Won" the seat in the 2013 local council elections, when its support was much lower. With Bob Spink unlikely to stand again as an independent, and with the Tory MP being deeply unpopular, I would put money on UKIP taking this seat. Certainly, all of the evidence suggests that they may do so.

2010 result: Conservative: 46.2%
Lib Dem: 36.8%
Labour: 11.0%
Other: 6.1%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

2010 result: Conservative: 53.0%
Labour: 25.0%
Lib Dem: 12.9%
Other: 9.0%
Prediction: UKIP GAIN
Douglas Carswell defected in 2014, won the by-election, and as the popular local incumbent, he therefore turned the seat into a safe UKIP seat, the only such seat in the country. No further comment is really needed.

2010 result: Lib Dem: 48.0%
Conservative: 32.9%
Labour: 12.3%
Other: 6.8%
Prediction: Liberal Democrat HOLD
Cannot see the Tories winning this.

Epping Forrest
2010 result: Conservative: 54.0%
Lib Dem: 21.5%
Labour: 14.3%
Others: 10.3%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

Great Yarmouth
2010 result: Conservative: 43.1%
Labour: 33.2%
Lib Dem: 14.4%
Other: 9.3%
Prediction: UKIP GAIN
On paper, this looks like a straight Lab-Con marginal. However, take into account constituency polling and the fact that it is the Eastern region, and it is anything but. UKIP were the clear winners here at the European elections, scoring 49% of the vote, with Labour on 25% and the Tories on 20%. UKIP had a 1% lead in the latest Ashcroft poll, which suggested a tight 3 way finish to the end. This seat could go UKIP, Labour, or Tory, but I think the insurgent party has the advantage and should narrowly take this.

2010 result: Conservative 44.9%
Labour: 33.7%
Lib Dem/: 13.7%
Others: 7.8%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD
I am putting this down as a Tory hold, but please do not quote me on this. Harlow Town contains many deprived areas with lots of local authority housing which are Labour heartlands, but Tory support in the outlying rural areas that encompass the seat is equally, if not more, strong. The local Tory MP is also an efficient campaigner, which I think will enable him to hang on, but expect an above average swing in this seat regardless. It is a seat that swings heavily whichever way the tide is going, and has gone with the national winner of every single election since 1955, with the sole exception of the 1979 election when Labour managed to hold on by a whisker. Labour won the popular vote here in the 2012 and 2013 local elections, and had a 5% lead in the European Parliament elections, so do not rule out a Labour gain here.

Harwich and North Essex
2010 result:Conservative: 46.9%
Lib Dem: 23.6%
Labour: 19.9%
Other: 9.5%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD
Yet another nominally "Safe" Tory seat where UKIP have surged, I expect Bernard Jenkin to hold on due to the fact that he is popular and a eurosceptic.

Hemel Hempstead
2010 result: Conservative: 50.0%
Lib Dem: 22.9%
Labour: 20.8%
Other: 6.3%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

Hertford and Stortford
2010 result: Conservative: 53.8%
Lib Dem: 26.0%
Labour: 13.8%
Other: 6.5%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

North East Hertfordshire
2010 result: Conservative: 53.5%
Lib Dem: 23.4%
Labour: 16.4%
Others: 6.6%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

S.W Hertfordshire
2010 result: Conservative: 54.2%
Lib Dem: 27.9%
Labour: 11.5%
Other: 6.3%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

2010 result: Conservative: 56.0%
Labour: 18.8%
Lib Dem: 17.4%
Other: 7.9%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

Hitchin and Harpenden
2010 result: Conservative: 54.6%
Lib Dem: 26.7%
Labour: 13.6%
Other: 5.2%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

2010 result: Conservative: 48.9%
Lib Dem: 28.9%
Labour: 11.0%
Others: 11.2%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

2010 result:
Conservative: 39.1%
Labour: 34.7%
Lib Dem: 18.2%
Others: 7.95
Prediction: Labour GAIN
Ipswich is a traditional labour seat that has only been Tory in 2010, 1987, and 1970. The Tories seized the seat  on an 8.7% swing in 2010 but the swing back to Labour appears to be equally large. Labour massively outpaced the Tories by a 37-28% margin in the 2014 local council elections, and a constituency poll puts them comfortably ahead, so they should take this.

Luton North
2010 result: Labour 49.3%
Conservative: 31.8%
Lib Dem: 11.1%
Other: 7.8%
Prediction: Labour HOLD

Luton South
2010 result: Labour: 34.9%
Conservative: 29.4%
Lib Dem: 22.7%
Others: 13.1%
Prediction: Labour HOLD

2010 result: Conservative: 59.85%
Lib Dem: 19.3%
Labour: 12.7%
Others: 8.2%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

Mid Norfolk
2010 result: Conservative: 49.5%
Lib Dem: 22.2%
Labour: 17.4%
Others: 10.9%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

North Norfolk
2010 result: Lib Dem: 55.5%
Conservative: 32.1%
Labour: 5.8%
Others: 6.6%
Prediction: Liberal Democrat HOLD

N.W Norfolk
2010 result: Conservative: 54.2%
Lib Dem: 23.2%
Labour: 13.3%
Others: 9.3%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

South Norfolk
2010 result: Conservative: 49.3%
Lib Dem: 29.4%
Labour: 13.2%
Other: 8.0%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

S.W Norfolk
2010 result: Conservative: 48.3%
Lib Dem: 21.6%
Labour: 18.6%
Others: 11.5%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

Norwich North
2010 result: Conservative: 40.6%
Labour: 31.4%
Lib Dem: 18.3%
Other: 9.7%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD
The by-election in this seat took place at a particularly terrible time for Gordon Brown, just after the MP expenses scandal. Labour collapsed from 44% to just 18%, a massive collapse of 26 points. The party barely recover in time for 2010, where it lost the seat (A nominal Tory GAIN), and Chloe Smith has been a good MP who has had 6 years to build up an incumbency vote. She will probably hold on, as the swing to Labour here appears to be lower than average.

Norwich South
2010 result: Lib Dem: 29.4%
Labour: 28,7%
Conservative: 22,9%
Others: 19.0%
Prediction: Labour GAIN
The Green Party's number one target seat, this seat is only going one way. Of all the Labour gains that are projected on election night, this is the deadest cert of all dead certs.

2010 result: Conservative: 40.4%
Labour: 29.5%
Lib Dem: 19.6%
Others: 10.5%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD
The Tories won this seat in 2005, and for Labour to win this back would require a swing of about 6% this time, which seems to be beyond them.

Rayleigh and Wickford
2010 result: Conservative 57.8%
Lib Dem: 15.1%
Labour: 14.5%
Others: 12.6%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

Rochford and Southend East
2010 result: Conservative: 46.9%
Labour: 20.3%
Lib Dem: 19.4%
Others: 13.4%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

Saffron Waldon
2010 result: Conservative: 55.5%
Lib Dem: 27.4%
Labour: 9.7%
Others: 7.4%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

Southend West
2010 result: Conservative: 46.1%
Lib Dem: 29.4%
Labour: 13.4%
Other: 11.1%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

St Albans
2010 result: Conservative: 40.8%
Lib Dem: 36.4%
Labour: 17.6%
Others: 5.3%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD
It looks as if the Liberal Democrats may lose considerable ground here due to their national collapse.

2010 result: Conservative: 41.4%
Labour: 33.4%
Lib Dem: 16.6%
Others: 8.5%
Prediction: Labour GAIN
The New Towns such as Stevenage, Milton keynes, and Ipswich, have always been fertile ground for the Tories, and Stephen MacPartland seized this seat from Labour in 2010. However, he looks as if he will be a one term Tory MP, and the Tories have been annihilated here on a local government level, now holding just 3 seats to 33 for Labour. An Ashcroft poll here in December 2014 gave Labour a 5% lead on a 6.5% swing.

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich
2010 result: Conservative: 50.8%
Lib Dem: 25.0%
Labour: 16.2%
Others: 8.1%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

Suffolk Coastal
2010 result: Conservative: 46.4%
Lib Dem: 29.8%
Labour: 16.1%
Others: 7.8%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

South Suffolk
2010 result: Conservative: 47.7%
Lib Dem: 30.8%
Labour: 14.3%
Others: 7.1%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

West Suffolk
2010 result: Conservative: 50.6%
Lib Dem: 23.4%
Labour: 14.7%
Others: 11.3%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

2010 result: Conservative: 36.8%
Labour: 36.6%
Lib Dem 10.7%
Other: 15.9%
Prediction: UKIP GAIN
Thurrock is often described as a bastion of the white working class, so it is no surprise that the seat historically has tended heavily toward Labour. Nowadays, however, the voters that Labour forgot are turning very heavily to UKIP, with UKIP winning the constituency by 25 points during the European Parliamentary elections, and seizing equal numbers of council seats from Labour and the Tories, forcing the council into no overall control. A poll by Lord Ashcroft showed UKIP on 36%, with Labour on 30% and the Tories on 28%. It remains close, but it looks as if UKIP may end up winning here. The UKIP candidate is Tim Aker MEP, Member of the European Parliament for the East of England , whilst Labour is fielding Polly Billingdon, a former Ed Miliband aide and advisor.

2010 result: Conservative: 34.9%
Lib Dem: 32.4%
Labour: 26.7%
Others: 6.0%
Prediction: Lib Dem GAIN
Watford represents the best chance of a Lib Dem gain. Why? For several reasons. Firstly, the Lib Dems have held up better here than anywhere else in the country, secondly they only narrowly lost last time, and thirdly the Lib Dem candidate is Dorothy Thornhill, Watford Mayor for over 10 years with a significant personal vote. This looks like a close 3 way battle, and, given the schizophrenic nature of politics in this constituency, only one thing is for sure: This will be an incredibly close contest.

2010 result: Conservative: 40.2%
Labour: 38.7%
Lib Dem: 13.3%
Others: 7.7%
Prediction: Labour GAIN
Bob Blizzard is the former Labour MP here, and is standing again as a candidate. With such a small margin and no hope of incumbency for the new Tory MP, if there is any sort of swing in Labour's direction, they will definitely win this seat.

Welwyn Hatfield
2010 result: Conservative: 57.0%
Labour: 21.4%
Lib Dem: 16.4%
Others: 5.3%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

2010 result: Conservative: 52.2%
Lib Dem: 19.8%
Labour: 18.5%
Others: 9.6%
Prediction: Conservative HOLD

Total East of England seats:
Conservative: 43 seats (-9)
Labour: 8 seats  (+6)
Lib Dem: 3 seats (-1)
UKIP: 4 seats  (+4)
Others: 0 seats (NC)

Predicted share of the vote:

Conservative: 35.5% (-11.6%)
Labour: 20.5% (+0.9%)
Lib Dem: 14% (-10.1%)
UKIP: 21% (+17%)
Others: 9%  (-0.8%)

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Update: Labour lead at 2: Labour 34%, Conservatives 32%, UKIP 16%, Green 7%, Lib Dem 7%

The Labour Party is back in the lead this week, up by 1%, whilst the Conservatives are down 1% and end the week on 32%. UKIP are down by 1%, and the other parties stay where they are. This is likely to be the result of random sample variation in individual polling rather than any fundamental shift toward the Labour Party, as the previous week of polling had the Tories and Labour tied for the first time in several months. Based on this prediction, Labour would end up 38 seats ahead of the Conservatives on 290 seats, with 252 seats for the Tories, 56 for the SNP, 24 Liberal Democrats, 5 UKIP MPs, and 1 Green MP. Mr Miliband would have to put together a deal with the SNP to put together a government, but it would be inconceivable that Mr Cameron could remain in power as prime minister, unless in the unlikely event he managed to negotiate a deal with the SNP as well as the liberal democrats.

The SNP are highly likely to be kingmakers for the next government, after Scottish constituency polls published by Lord Ashcroft this year confirmed that there is a substantial swing in favour of the Nationalists. You would think that this would benefit Labour, as the Nationalists have already rejected any chance of a deal with the Conservatives, but the Liberal Democrats also said the same in 2010......

Overall change has been very minimal since late last year when I started my polling. This poll just confirms that Labour and the Tories appear to be perpetually deadlocked, with both sides routinely changing sides. The election is going to be incredibly close, but Labour appears to have the edge.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Update: LABOUR AND TORIES TIED: Labour 33%, Conservatives 33%, UKIP 17%, Lib Dem 7%, Greens 7%

Update: Labour and Conservatives tied: Labour 33%, Conservatives 33%, UKIP 17%, Green Party 7%, Liberal Democrats 7%

Labour and the Tories are both tied in this week's polling average-the first time the Tories have been tied with Labour since late November in my polling average. This reflects the polling during the week that saw polls register 3 consecutive Tory leads, although Labour does now appear to have recovered. On this kind of result, on a uniform swing, Labour would be just short of a majority. In practise, due to Scottish seats, the Tories would narrowly be the largest party. If you add 1% to the Labour score, however, Labour would be the largest party. It just shows how we are working with such narrow and tiny margins that anything can happen.

UKIP also seem to be doing well recently, and are now polling at the very respectable level of 17% nationally. A UKIP collapse now looks highly unlikely, unless Cameron can pull off a miracle in the TV debates and win back all of those voters. The trouble, however, is that Mr Cameron expects he will be mauled by Farage in the debates, which will increase UKIP support yet further.

As for Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats, this poll shows them doing as badly as they have ever done, with no sign of recovery in sight. They will, however, be encouraged by an Ashcroft poll showing them on 35% in Lib-Con marginal seats. The Green Party, due to being level pegging once again with the Lib Dems and now being included in the debates, also has reason to be moderately pleased.