Sunday, 29 March 2015

Tory Party panics as "Milibandmania" takes shape post debate.

The Conservative Party is reportedly panicking after a YouGov poll showed that Ed Miliband's personal ratings had improved dramatically.

The YouGov poll showed that Labour had surged into a 4% lead. Ed Miliband's personal ratings had also increased substantially, from -48% to -28%.

The poll seems to have led to panic in the Tory party, which had for weeks been predicting a crossover. The Times newspaper led with a story saying that 2 Tory MPs criticised David Cameron, for a series of "Unforced errors" and for a "Lack of passion".

The poll has thrown the election strategy adopted by Lynton Crosby into serious doubt. Crosby's strategy relied on personal attacks on Miliband and his personality. That may not work if Miliband's personal ratings continue to improve.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

UKIP "Dismissive" of chances in Heywood and Middleton but confident of Dudley North

UKIP think they can take Dudley North, say sources
A UKIP source has said that the party is "Dismissive" of its chances in key Labour-UKIP marginal seat Heywood and Middleton.

The seat was nearly won by UKIP in the 2014 by-election, with the UKIP candidate John Bickley losing by just a few hundred votes. Heywood and Middleton has traditionally been a traditional Labour stronghold, but last year the seat nearly abandoned its Labour roots to plump for Nigel Farage and his insurgent party.

However, UKIP sources who spoke to journalist Mike Smithson now claim that they have "No chance" of winning in the seat. They believe that the seat has swung heavily back toward its Labour voting roots, and is therefore unlikely to go to UKIP at the general election. They are, however, much more confident of taking another Labour held seat, Dudley North. The seat was won in 2010 by Ian Austin by just a 2% margin, and opinion polls say that UKIP is surging in the seat and that Austin is in trouble.

The campaign in Dudley North is also said to be going well for UKIP. The party is almost certain to benefit from the collapse of the Tory vote in the seat, after Tory candidate Afzal Amin was forced to quit as the Tory candidate, after admitting to plotting to stage a fake EDL demonstration outside a mosque. This could leave Labour MP Ian Austin in trouble, facing a majority right-wing vote in a seat that he only narrowly won last time.

Monday, 23 March 2015

This Lib Dem barchart will have you in stitches

This is a picture of a bar chart that the Liberal Democrats have been using in marginal seats. It was sent to me by a friend who lives in Chesterfield. What is so dodgy about it is the claim that this happened in "Many seats across the country" and that it is being used in most marginal seats. Erm, no. It didn't happen in 90% of seats.

It brings back memories of yet another dodgy Lib Dem barchart from the Heywood and Middleton by-election...

Monday, 16 March 2015

Tony Blair raises £1 million for Labour to stave off union influence

Blair is reportedly worried about the effect of heavy union influence on Labour

A new row erupted within the Labour Party last night, after it emerged that former Labour PM Tony Blair had managed to raise £1 million for Labour from private business.

It was revealed by the Sunday Times that Blair had negotiated with Assem Allam, owner of Hull City FC. Allam agreed to donate £500,000 to the Labour Party immediately, with another £500,000 to be donated if the Unite Union withdrew funding from Labour.

Blair and the unions have long been engaged in a war of words since the former Labour PM left office. Len Mckluskey recently attacked Blair as a "War criminal", and has publicly advocated for Blair's Progress faction to be expelled from Labour, whilst Blair has publicly condemned what he calls the "Excessive influence" of unions following the Falkirk scandal.

It is thought that Labour figures have privately welcome the donation, seeing it as backing from business in an environment that is otherwise hostile to Ed Miliband's Labour Party. Blair himself is reportedly set to step down as middle east envoy, to devote his full time to his faith foundation and political endeavours.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

These graphs show why David Cameron is determined to dodge election debates

Election debates would allow Ed Miliband to get his social justice message across to a mass audience

Is it just me who is wondering why David Cameron is so determined not to take part in the election debates? His first attempt and second attempt to scupper the debates, by inviting minor parties, failed when the broadcasters agreed to his demands. So now he is refusing to take part in any election debate besides a 7 party debate before the short campaign. So why is this?

The answer may lie in an opinion poll producrd this morning. I have posted a graph of some of the raw data from this poll. The figures reveal something quite startling.

First of all, this graph shows that more people are still undecided about how they will vote than in any other election before. Activists on the ground from both major parties say that an unprecedented number of people are still open to persuasion about how they will vote. What better event is there that can persuade voters which way they will cast their ballots than election debates held during the election campaign?

The sceptics amongst the commentariat will point to the spectacular failure of "Cleggmania" in 2010 as evidence that election debates really don't have an impact on how people will vote. A second piece of polling produce by the same company throws the commentariat's assertions into question:

What this graph shows is that an astonishing number of people-40%-say they are prepared to base how they will vote based on the election debates. This proves beyond doubt that the 2010 debates were an astounding success in engaging people with the election, as they were watched by 25 million people.

Another question then has to come to mind. Why is Cameron, so often regarded as having charisma and oratory ability, so determined to avoid a debate with Ed Miliband, the most unpopular leader of the oppostion since IDS? My suspicion is that Cameron is afraid that such a platform would allow Ed Miliband to get his unique message of social justice across to a mass audience. We saw in 2010 how election debates can completely change the perception of a leader. When 55% of people, according to YouGov, say that it's time for a change, and only 32% believe Cameron deserves to remain in Downing Street, there is a real danger that the PM will be seen as a washed-up has been, devoid of fresh ideas, coming up against a leader of the opposition who has the ideas and conviction, but lacks the charisma necessary to get his beliefs across to the electorate. In the 7 party debate, Miliband's message will likely be drowned out by insurgents such as Farage and Bennett.  But in a head to head debate, with the chance to look prime ministerial, Miliband has the chance to get his message across. The clear fear in the Tory camp is that a sort of "Milibandmania" may result, sweeping away any expectations of a Tory victory. In such a situation, it is no surprise Cameron is avoiding it. Only time will tell what the effect of this will be.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Tories take lead in polls for the first time since before "Omnishambles" in 2012

Opinion polls show the Tories are in the lead
Have the Tories taken the lead in the opinion polls? It looks likely, as most recent opinion polls have put them ahead. 3 polls have, however, also put Labour ahead, whilst 2 have had Labour and the Tories neck and neck. It may be too early to tell whether this crossover is a temporary blip for Labour or the start of a trend of consistent Conservative leads, and only time will tell if it is the latter. What is certain is that the opinion polls over the next week will be keenly watched and monitored by politicos.

The average of all polls across March so far is Conservatives 34%, Labour 33%, UKIP 15%, Greens 6%, Lib Dems 7%, others 6%.

Why recent polling is very bad news for Ed Miliband

Why recent polling is very bad news for Ed Miliband

The last two YouGov and Ashcroft polls have given the Tories a 4% lead over Labour. Undoubtedly, both of these polls and their results can easily be dismissed as being "Random sample variation", as some other polls continue to have a small Labour lead. As I have mentioned various times throughout the campaign, single polls are simply white noise, and it's the overall trend that actually counts.

In fact, there's another, far more important reason for why these polls are bad news for Labour. In both Ashcroft and YouGov had Labour tied with the Tories...until a turnout filter was applied. The turnout filter reveals Labour's problem. Labour's voters are significantly less likely to be 10/10 certain to vote than Tory voters. Why this is the case is completely uncertain. Perhaps out of a lack of enthusiasm for the party or its leader? Perhaps the answer lies in polling by YouGov, suggesting that the party's supporters are expecting defeat and seem demoralised.

Whatever the answer, it's clear that Ed Miliband and Labour will have to run a very good campaign if they expect to have any chance at all of winning.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Debates will go ahead, whether Cameron likes it or not, say broadcasters

The 2010 debates were watched by 25 million people

David Cameron faces being "Empty chaired" after the broadcasters yesterday reiterated their commitment to the election debates, it emerged yesterday.

Sky, ITV, Channel 4, and the BBC signed a statement urging the prime miister to taking part in the debates, saying that they would go ahead regardless of the PM's wishes, and that an empty chair would represent Cameron if he refused to take part.

It means that the Tory leader may be forced to attend the debates after all. The 2010 debates were watched by 25 million, and senior Tory sources has said the PM risks "Looking like a sellout" or a "Coward" if the debates go ahead without him.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg urged David Cameron to drop his objections, tweeting: "you haven't got your own way so accept it and take part". Ed Miliband challenged the PM to a debate "Any time, any place", whereas Nigel Farage attacked Cameron, labelling him a "Chicken".

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The Tory election poster you will see EVERYWHERE

The Tories have been briefing activists and supporters about the election campaign. As part of this briefing, they have released the election poster they will be using between now and May in advance to activists. Anyone who was around in 1992 will feel a strange sense of deja vu...

The briefing from CCHQ also advises activists to donate to get these billboards all around the country. Get ready to be swamped by CCHQ propaganda....

Political studies association verdict: Election 2015 way too close to call

The political studies association has concluded that general election 2015 is far too close to call.

The organisation, which brings together the predictions of 527 pollsters, academics, and journalists, says that the battle between the Tories and Labour had become far too close to call, primarily due to how tight things are looking in the marginal seats.

"Our inaugural expert survey points towards a tight election, in which Labour is marginal favourite to come out ahead in terms of seats – but where the gap between the parties in terms of both predicted votes and seats is so small as to make it pretty much neck-and-neck"

It suggests that both the Labour Party and Conservatives will end up on close to 280 seats. Current polls put Labour and the Tories level on the share of the vote. It looks like a tough race for both sides.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Operation save dave: David Cameron prepares to cling onto power, even if he wins less seats than Labour

David Cameron reportedly is preparing to stay on as prime minister-even if he wins less seats than Labour, according to a report in the Sunday Times.

Cameron and George Osborne have reportedly been discussing tactics for May 8th with senior conservative whips and MPs in the shadow cabinet. It is thought that one of the options on the table, looked upon most favourably by both the PM and Chancellor, is Cameron trying to cling onto power in a minority government, even if Labour win more seats.

The Sunday Times report says: " George Osborne held a dinner with Conservative whips on Monday night to discuss tactics for the days after the vote on May 7.

Two senior MPs revealed that Tory high command is preparing to argue that Cameron has won a “moral victory” if he secures more votes than Ed Miliband — even if he has fewer seats.

In the event of a fragile Labour-led coalition taking power, they would argue that there could be a second general election within months and it would be better to stick with Cameron than hold a bloody leadership contest.

Ministers close to Downing Street say even if Cameron wins the most seats, he is drawing up plans to run a minority government rather than seek another coalition.

Senior figures believe he could keep his MPs onside because going it alone would free up 23 ministerial posts held by Liberal Democrats.

One minister close to Cameron said: “If there is an opportunity to govern without going into coalition, we would seize it.”

In other words, David Cameron will try to remain prime minister if he wins less seats than Labour. He is also repprtedly determined not to form a coalition with anybody after the next election.

My view is that this is a move that is unlikely to succeed. Gordon Brown attempted to do the same and only lasted for a week after the last election. The prime minister has a constitutional right to try to hang on if no-one is able to form a majority government, but it is highly likely that the opposition would come to some sort of agreement, whether confidence or supply or a full coalition, that would ensure that Cameron could not remain PM. Cameron would almost certainly also have to resign as Tory leader, and the Tories have a ruthless history of dealing with washout leaders, as Thatcher and IDS knew.