Newly published Survation poll sees LAB up 2 to a 6 point lead

October 18th, 2017

And Remain 3 points ahead to hypothetical 2nd EuRef question

Survation, the pollsters that was widely, and as it turned out unfairly, criticised in the run-up to GE2017 because it had the smallest CON leads has a new voting poll it. Its relatively old with its fieldwork being carried out in the week of the Tory conference when the blue team were making the headlines for all sorts of reason. The splits are CON 38%, LAB 44%, and LD 7%.

This is a somewhat better position for Corbyn’s party than the tie in the most recent ICM and 3 point lead from YouGov.

There’s a hypothetical 2nd EuRef question voting question which has Remain 3 points ahead – 52 to 49.

Whatever the sizeable Labour lead from the pollster that got it most right on June 8th won’t make comfortable reading for Mrs. May who remains in post for the time being.

I’ve no idea why we are getting this poll late but it is interesting that the pollsters producing regular surveys are in just about the same order as they were at the general election – ICM with the Tories in the best position Survation the worst.

Mike Smithson


Why the next general election will be in 2022

October 18th, 2017

Incumbent PMs of whichever party now much less likely to go early

At the end of my session before the House of Lords Committee yesterday the chairman, Lord Lipsey asked for our thoughts on the likely year of the next general election.

I took the view that this parliament will continue to run a full term under the Fixed-Term Parliament Act and so June 2022 will be when the country votes next.

This is in spite of the fact that Brexit is most likely to happen sometime before and the consequence of the last few months is that Mrs May is to replaced and won’t be given the chance to lead her party into another election.

    Her failed GE2017 gamble is going to remain in the collective political memory for generations and going early however good the polls will be regarded almost permanently as too great a risk

While the DUP arrangement with the Tories continues it is hard to envisage the circumstances in which LAB has the numbers with other parties to force through a confidence motion within the required terms of the FTPA.

Remember that the SNP, which opposed the 2017 election cannot be counted on to support any move which could prematurely cut its already reduced Westminster base. On June 8th it saw its 56 Scottish seats reduced to 35 and in none of them was its vote share above 46%. Its precarious position is one of the key facts of current politics which is rarely discussed.

The Tory MP totals could be reduced by by-election losses but the party will go to extreme lengths to avoid them.

    Remember that blue team has only lost one MP to the grim reaper since GE2001.

Perhaps the only way that an early general election comes about is if the Tories split in some form which with it being so divided on Brexit we must accept as a possibility. I’d suggest, however, that the prospect of risking Mr Corbyn becoming PM will be a great unifier.

If you want a bet on the timing of the next general election it means locking up your stake for nearly five years.

Mike Smithson


DUP lose 3 seats in new boundary proposals to put it behind SF

October 17th, 2017

This isn’t going to be popular with TMay’s supply & confidence partners

Well done to Martin Baxter for getting his boundaries projection out so fast. His figures showing what would happen if they’d been in force on June 8th have the Tories just into majority territory but with the DUP suffering in Northern Ireland.

It is for this reason perhaps more than any why this plan is unlikely to happen.

But the law reducing the size of the Commons from 650 to 600 is still in place and would require primary legislation to change it. Whether the Tories will do that is hard to say.

There are other big legislative fish that need to be fried at Westminster before the boundaries need to be dealt with.

Mike Smithson


Facts and fantasies about public ownership. Don Brind looks at the evidence from abroad

October 17th, 2017

Did you Know?

• “In Singapore 20% of GDP comes from state owned enterprises, 90% of land is state owned and 85% of housing is public.”

• “48 million Americans, in over 2000 cities and districts, get their electricity from the public sector, at a price on average 12% lower than the price charged by private energy companies.”

So, it seems, it’s not just Venezuela that inspires those “Marxists” Corbyn and McDonnell in their ambition to use public ownership as a key driver of economic policy.

Singapore and the United States are significant because they are the places to which right wing Tories direct you when they want to show all will be rosy in the post Brexit world. Thus Tory MEP Daniel Hannan launched his free-trade think tank by lauding Singapore: ”They have gone from being half as rich as us to twice as rich. What was the magic formula? Just do it. They dropped their barriers.”

Unhappily for Hannan, he came in for a bit of fact checking by Laurie Macfarlane who tweeted the facts in the first quote above.

The economist is a research fellow in University College London’s new Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose which was launched last week by its charismatic founder and director Mariana Mazzucato. Mazzucato’s book The Entrepreneurial State has been hugely influential within the Labour party and Liam Byrne, the shadow minister for Digital weighed in with a tweet supporting Macfarlane: “Singapore, lionised by free marketeers, long ago learned the value of an entrepreneurial state.”

(Lest this is taken as a recommendation for all things Singaporean, blogger provides a cautionary corrective.  “In this rich kids’ playground, there isn’t even a minimum wage. Although Singapore sells itself as a model for racial harmony, there are certainly hierarchies, and they tend to be along racial lines.”)

The key question is what is the right role for the government and the public realm in general in creating economic prosperity. And when it comes to the US, Professor’s Mazzucato’s thesis might be summed up as Do As They Do, Not As They Say. She shows how important federal research agencies have been in driving innovation in defence, electronic, health and energy.

The fact that 2,000 US cities and districts have publicly owned utilities fits in with her thesis.

The quote above comes from the campaigning and research website We Own it which, I understand, is followed by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s team. It declares “We’ve been told myths about privatisation for 30 years. It’s time for public ownership.”

The website highlights a report by Professor David Hall, of Greenwich University which suggests moving to a publicly owned energy system in the UK would pay for itself in 10 years. It estimates the savings of £3.2 billion per year would be possible because of the lower cost of borrowing in the public sector, and “an end to extraction of dividends by shareholders.”

The report proposes a new model of public ownership based on “ national, regional and local public ownership” which would “encourage renewable energy generation by local authorities, co-operatives and community groups. They would supply consumers and compete with the Big Six suppliers.  “In Germany, such companies have captured up to 50 per cent of the market.” And, by the way, “the proposals are designed to be practical under existing EU law.”

The Singapore and US examples challenge to the right-wing assumption that public ownership is a bad thing, a view articulated last week by Andrew Neil on the BBC’s Daily Politics on when he asked Labour front bencher Jenny Chapman.  “Can you give us an example of where nationalising something has raised productivity?”

I’m a fan of Neil and I’m not suggesting he was offering a personal opinion. His interviews are a tough gig and one of his little tricks, as his guest stumbles, is to answer his own question. Not this time. But if he’d done his research he would have found answer to his question in the OECD report Improving Infrastructure in the UK

It says “the British rail system has an efficiency gap of about 20-40% with respect to comparable European countries.” The costs of the rolling stock in the UK, which accounts for about 70% of total private investment are “40-60% higher than in other European countries.”

So, Andrew, just in case you were betraying a personal view you are wrong. The state owned rail systems in France and Germany are more efficient that than the UK’s privatised system. I knew you’d want to know.

Don Brind


Off to Westminster to give evidence before the House of Lords Committee that’s looking at political polling

October 17th, 2017

This morning alongside Matthew Shaddick (Shadsy) of Ladbrokes I’ll be giving evidence before the Lords Committee that’s investigating political polling particularly in view of what happened at GE17.

Our part of the session is due to start at 1145.

We’ve been told that the hearing will be shown live on Parliament.tv.

I’m a blogger and a Tweeter and have never done anything quite like this before. To say I’m a bag of nerves is an understatement. I found myself waking in the middle of the night downloading onto my phone all the data I could possibly have to refer to.

It will be good sitting alongside Matthew whom I’ve known for a long time. We last did a PR event together a year ago in Brussels for MEPs but that was all informal and certainly wasn’t being recorded.

If I get asked whether I think betting odds are a better guide to political outcomes then polls I’ll give my standard response. People bet on politics to try to make a bit of money not to provide an alternative prediction model. In any case the betting on GE2017 prior to 10pm on June 8th was as accurate as the final polls.

Mike Smithson


Ex-YouGov president Peter Kellner says “Brexit Buyers’ remorse” might be starting particularly amongst C2DEs

October 16th, 2017

In an excellent article the former YouGov President, Peter Kellner, says there could be signs of buyer’s remorse amongst LEAVE voters particularly amongst the C2DEs. He based this in Prospect on an analysis of the trend to YouGov’s “in hindsight was referendum outcome right or wrong” tracker. Last Friday this showed “wrong” at its highest level with a 5% lead.

Kellner, who strips out the don’t knows from the findings, goes on:

“..On its own, this latest finding could be the result of a sampling wobble. The next survey might bounce back to 50-50 or thereabouts. But there are two features of YouGov’s research which suggest that something beyond a sampling wobble may be at work.

First, YouGov’s polls have detected a gradual shift in recent months. We can divide their 41 post-referendum surveys into three groups. YouGov conducted 24 surveys between last year’s referendum and the start of this year’s general election campaign. In 20 of these surveys, more people said the Brexit vote was right than wrong. In three surveys “right” and “wrong” were level-pegging. In only one was “wrong” narrowly ahead. Given sampling fluctuations, there was nothing to suggest any move from the 52-48 per cent referendum result.

From the start of the election campaign in April, up to mid-August, YouGov conducted 12 polls. Five showed “right” narrowly ahead, four showed “wrong” just ahead and three had the two views attracting equal support. Taken together, the public view in the spring and summer months was 50-50.

Since mid-August, YouGov has conducted five polls. None of them has shown a majority saying the UK was right to vote to leave the EU. Four of them have shown “wrong” ahead, while one has the two sides level-pegging.

..The second reason for concluding that the recent shift in the numbers is real can be found in the demographic pattern. We can see this if we compare the latest YouGov survey with the one it conducted at the very start of August—one of the typical 50-50 polls from that period. Back then, middle-class (ABC1) voters divided 60-40 per cent in saying Britain was wrong to vote for Brexit, while working class (C2DE) voters divided 63-37 per cent saying we took the right decision..

Last week’s poll has virtually identical figures for ABC1 voters (41 per cent right, 59 per cent wrong), but a seven-point shift among C2DE voters, to 56 per cent right, 44 per cent wrong. We cannot be absolutely certain that a seven-point shift is real: the margin of error in sub-samples is greater than for the sample as a whole. But when we look at the series of polls since the start of August, we see a steady decline in the proportion of C2DE voters saying Brexit was the right decision. (The detailed poll-by-poll figures can be viewed on YouGov’s website here) This feels more like a change in working-class attitudes than a sampling fluke; though whether it is lasting or temporary remains to be seen...”

I think there might be something in this. There’s no doubt that the figures have been better for “leaving EU wrong” in recent polling and his socio-economic group point is one that could be right.

In all though we need more polling.

Mike Smithson


Hammond looks set to reward the young for turning out in such numbers at GE2017

October 16th, 2017

Mail Online

But taking from older workers could be a big electoral gamble

As was said repeatedly in the lead-up to June 8th the reason that the younger generations appear to get so poorly treated by governments is that by, in the past, not turning out at elections at similar rates to older ones they are seen to be electorally less important.

Well the big move on general election day was a big increase in turnout levels in the 18-24 and 25-34 age segments. At the time the oldies, the 65+ segment saw a drop off on their participation rate and both the these dynamics were the reason why most of the pollsters got it wrong and Mrs. May failed to win her hoped for landslide. The young are much more likely to be pro-LAB while the oldies mostly go for the blue team.

So is it any wonder that Chancellor Hammond should now be hinting ways of shifting things in the direction of younger age-groups who are much less likely than their parents, for instance, of being able to afford their own homes?

    The problem for Hammond is that if tax changes create losers then they are much more likely to remember when elections come round than those who gain who’ll just see it as justice being done.

A lot depends on how this is presented and not overstating the benefit. TMay’s big conference move on council houses looked markedly less important when it became clear that maybe only 5,000 extra new homes would be built a year.

The art, of course, is to slip in the balancing move in a form that is not immediately understood by those who’ll be out of pocket.

We saw with the manifesto dementia tax how things can quickly be interpreted to create a problem.

Mike Smithson


After the weekend break welcome back to the coalition of chaos

October 16th, 2017

It shouldn’t be able to go on like this but it probably will

The cartoon just about sums it up. Time is running out under the Brexit extraction process and it is hard to say with any certainty who will be the senior members of government at Christmas.

TMay is now a diminished figure and in spite of the apparent turmoil within her party she simply does not have the authority to try to reshuffle her cabinet.

One side of the Tory party calls for the Chancellor to be sacked while others want Foreign Secretary out. The fault lines that were exposed during John Major’s 1992-1997 government are still there and seem wider than ever.

    Meanwhile Labour, which looked finished after losing the Copeland by-election earlier in the year, has now got its act together and can smell blood.

On top of this the Tories have put back the committee stage of what was called the Great Repeal Bill because of fears of rebellions, splits and defeats.

Even when it gets through the Commons the battles will be resumed in the Lords where the numbers situation is even worse for the Tories.

On the face of it it shouldn’t be able to go on like this but most likely it will.

Mike Smithson