Mrs May’s extraordinary ratings honeymoon ended with the manifesto launch

May 26th, 2017

New YouGov polling just published had her dipping into negative territory

One of the striking features of TMay’s period at Number 10 is how she has maintained positive leadership ratings throughput. Whether pollsters were asking about approval, favourability, satisfaction, or whether she was doing a good or bad job all the numbers were positive from the moment she became PM last July.

That run ended in the aftermath of the launch of the controversial General Election manifesto a week last Thursday. As can be seen from the YouGov chart her net favourability ratings went negative only to recover a touch in a survey that took place following the Manchester atrocity.

The latest had her at a net plus 1 compared with minus 8% before Manchester.

The question now is which direction things will go in the final 12 days that remain before polling day?

There’s no doubt that the manifesto launch was a pivotal event.

In the meantime we are seeing the rise and rise of Mr Corbyn in the “who’d make the Best PM” ratings when compared with Mrs May.

As can be seen the number of voters ready to say he’d make the best PM has doubled since before the election was called.

One thing’s for sure – this election which appeared so certain and boring is now looking exciting. If the latest YouGov voting intentions are correct then the Tories could end up losing seats on June 8th.

Hopefully we’ll see many more polls from different firms over the weekend.

Mike Smithson


YouGov has CON lead BELOW what it was at GE2015

May 25th, 2017

There’s a new Times/YouGov poll that has LAB just 5% behind the Tories which s by far the smallest we have seen this year. To put this into context David Cameron won his majority in 2015 with a GB vote lead over LAB of 6.5%. This poll suggests that that could be narrowed.

This latest poll was carried out yesterday and today and so fully takes into account reaction to Manchester.

This is very much not what I was expecting. I thought that Manchester would lead to the Tories increasing their lead.

Of course all polls have margins of error and the potential to be outliers and we need to see these latest numbers supported by other polling.

Mike Smithson


Tonight’s one local by-election

May 25th, 2017

Shoeburyness on Southend on Sea (Ind defence, death of sitting member)
Result of council at last election (2016): Conservatives 25, Labour 11, Independents 10, United Kingdom Independence Party 6, Liberal Democrats 2 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 3)
Result of ward at last election (2016): Independent (Assenheim) 728 (29%), Conservative 607 (24%), Independent (Chalk) 527 (21%), United Kingdom Independence Party 309 (12%), Labour 236 (9%), Green Party 57 (2%), Liberal Democrats 50 (2%)
EU Referendum Result (2016): REMAIN 39,348 (42%), LEAVE 54,522 (58%) on a turnout of 73%)
Candidates duly nominated: Anne Chalk (Ind), Paul Hill (Green), Val Jarvis (Con), Maggie Kelly (Lab), Edward McNally (UKIP), Gavin Spencer (Lib Dem)
Weather at the close of polls: Clear, 14°C
Estimate: Too close to call (Ind 36%, Con 29%, Lib Dem 12%, UKIP 11%, Lab 11%, Green 1%)

Compiled by Harry Hayfield


Tories heading for 124 seat majority according to spread betting markets

May 25th, 2017

With the campaign starting to get underway again it is perhaps worth reminding ourselves that we have a dearth of up to date polling. There’ve only three national surveys that were carried out after the CON manifesto launch last week. These have been ICM and the Survation online poll for the Mail on Sunday and the phone one for Good Morning Britain.

We’ve also had the YouGov Wales poll which had LAB with a bigger margin over CON than EdM’s party achieved at GE2015. The YouGov S Times poll was only partly carried out after the manifesto launch with the later dementia tax narrative.

Latest CON seats spreads SportingIndex 383-390 Spreadex 383-389

Latest LAB spreads both SportingIndex and Spreadex 172-178

Latest LD spreads both SportingIndex 14-17 and Spreadex 13.5-16.5

The latest spread betting markets suggest that the Tories are heading for a 124 seat majority – a bit down on its peak but still incredibly comfortable.

The spread betting market are where the serious punters with deep pockets generally do their gambling. Party seat numbers are traded like stocks and shares with the top figure being being the buy price and the bottom one the sell price.

Hopefully we’ll see some new polls fairly soon – maybe overnight. My guess is that the Tories will benefit from the inevitable huge media presence that Mrs. May had during the campaign suspension. She wasn’t party politicking but this should help the blue causes.

The suspension has, though, rather thwarted the Tory plans try to “remind” us of some of Mr. Corbyn’s historical links.

Mike Smithson


Theresa May was right, this election should be about Brexit

May 25th, 2017

The appalling events of Monday evening are dominating the election campaign. Young children and teenagers should be able to attend a pop concert without fear of being killed.  I struggle to understand the mind of a man that can choose to inflict so much pain and suffering on so many young people and their families.  Feelings are understandably running high: grief, anger, outrage and despair are mingled.

Security is a primal concern.  The knowledge that there are people who walk among us with malevolent intentions is chilling.  We know something of their aims, though not as much as we like to think.  Given the troubled history of many of those who have launched or planned such attacks, it sometimes seems that the malevolence is as important as the intentions, the cause legitimising the extreme violence.

How do we defeat an ideology?  Just why is it so attractive to some young people who have grown up in our country?  How do we dissuade those for whom that ideology is potentially attractive from taking it up?  What do we do with those who have already immersed themselves in its foul waters?  These are important questions and not ones that should be left to the security forces.

And so the rest of the campaign is likely to be dominated by security concerns.  This is an unmitigated disaster for Jeremy Corbyn, who the public strongly distrust on the subject.  It is far too late for him to regain their confidence on this subject now.

Politicians will – rightly – prioritise those risks that the public are most concerned about.  Yet we overestimate the chance of risks which are very obvious and underestimate more insidious risks. 

Thanks to the vigilance of our security services, terrorist attacks are mercifully rare.  You are much more likely to die from falling down the stairs than in a terrorist attack (and the measures to reduce that risk that you or I can take are far easier to put into operation). 

I note this not to minimise the unspeakable suffering that the families of those poor children are feeling but to note that there at any given moment there are many other families undergoing unspeakable suffering, unnoticed by the media or by public opinion.

In the absence of a truly catastrophic terrorist attack – which, worryingly cannot be completely ruled out – the everyday life of most British citizens is likely to be affected more by government decisions taken in other areas.  The government’s handling of the economy is much more likely to make a real difference to most of them.  The competing proposals for long term care of the two main parties would affect a much greater number of citizens than anti-terrorist policies.  The funding arrangements of the NHS have far more potential to save more lives.

And hanging over the next few years is Brexit.  The negotiations with the EU are shaping up to be difficult and demanding.  The outcome of those negotiations have the potential to set the country’s future for decades to come.

Theresa May called the election on the pretext of getting a mandate to conduct those negotiations in the manner that she thinks fit.  She looks set to get a mandate for something quite different.  It is doubtful, for example, whether she can continue to argue that sharing security information is a bargaining chip that Britain can play, now that the public have had a reminder of the potential consequences of doing so. 

The course of the rest of the election looks set now.  Theresa May will no doubt use whatever mandate she gets for whatever purpose she thinks fit.  Yet if Brexit does turn out as badly as many of the signs are suggesting, she may in time wish that there had been a more searching discussion during the election campaign of the options available to Britain.  The implementation of the biggest decision for decades is going by default.

Alastair Meeks


Every day that the GE2017 campaign is suspended is a win for the terrorists

May 24th, 2017

Corbyn, May and the others are avoiding proper scrutiny

One of the main functions of an election campaign is to ensure that those who seek to govern us are subject to proper scrutiny something that is much easier to avoid in non-election periods.

TMay didn’t enjoy her inquisition by Andrew Neil on Monday night and I’ve little doubt that the other four who are due to be questioned are looking forward to their appearances with some trepidation. This is quite right and a healthy part of the democratic process.

From what I can gather we aren’t going to see a full return to the campaign until after the weekend which is a disgrace.

As someone born in Manchester very close to where several of the suspects live I am deeply touched by this tragedy and proud of the way that my city is coming together. But that doesn’t mean the general election campaign should be curtailed.

Every day the campaign is suspended in a win for the terrorists. The campaign needs to resume tomorrow.

Mike Smithson


NEW PB/Polling Matters podcast: Explaining the Labour ‘surge’ and predictions for June

May 24th, 2017

On this week’s PB/Polling Matters podcast, Keiran is joined by Matt Singh and Leo Barasi to discuss the tightening polls and what might happen in June. The team discuss whether Labour’s recent poll surge is ‘real’ and what might be behind it. Matt unveils his analysis of what will happen in June based on his model. A model which succesfully predicted the 2015 General Election when all of the polls said the race was close.

Later in the show, Keiran unveils new Polling Matters / Opinium polling that looks at how opinions of the main party leaders have changed since the election began. Also included in the survey is a question about who voters would trust to negotiate Brexit – May or Corbyn – with numbers trended from when the question was last asked in June.

One not to miss. Listen to the show here

Follow this week’s guests:





A Labour view of the party’s looming electoral disaster

May 23rd, 2017

Don Brind looks at landslides past

I have a soft spot for Lib Dem peer Dick Taverne even though I cut my teeth as a Labour Party press officer trying to end his political career.

His letter to the Guardian this week struck a chord. “Mrs May is riding high, apparently heading for a general election triumph, idolised by the tabloids for defying those beastly Europeans who seek to do Britain down. Today’s winners often end up as tomorrow’s losers,”

Taverne has always been a strong Europhile and fell out with his local party in 1973 when he supported the Tories in voting for entry to the Common Market. His resignation to fight a by election saw me drafted in by Transport House.

I failed to stop him romping to victory in the by election but my contribution to his demise was the suggestion to local party chairman Leo Beckett that they would do better with a woman candidate. I recommended a Transport House colleague Margaret Jackson who went on to defeat Taverne in the second of the 1974 General Elections. Margaret married Leo and as Mrs Beckett ascended briefly to the leadership of the party and Briatin’s first woman Foreign Secretary.

Taverne descended into relative obscurity and waited until 1996 to get his peerage. We are all now on the same side of the Europe argument. I was very taken by his four examples of Prime Ministers whose triumphs turned sour.

• “In 1902 Salisbury delivered a Tory landslide with the Liberal opposition deeply divided in the aftermath of the Boer war. Four years later saw an all-time record anti-Conservative landslide.

• “Chamberlain was a hero when he came back from appeasing Hitler in 1938 and proclaimed “Peace for our time”. The few dissidents led by Churchill were denounced as warmongers. Then Hitler annexed Czechoslovakia.

• “In 1956 Eden launched the Suez war with strong nationalist support. It proved a disaster and soon his reputation lay in tatters.

• “In 2003 the invasion of Iraq led to a widespread outbreak of patriotic fervour – but destroyed public trust in one of Britain’s most successful and popular recent prime ministers.”

Another cautionary example is offered by my old journalist mate Denis McShane, former Labour MP and minister for Europe writing in Prospect  He dubs Theresa May’s philosophy “Rectory Toryism” which he argues looks like a return to the 1960s, “when state control of society and economy was at its apogee.” It was also the era of Harold Wilson who led Labour to a landslide in 1966.

McShane suggest this election “ may turn out to be curiously similar to that of 1966, in which Harold Wilson obtained a large majority. Worryingly for Theresa May, his government only lasted four years and Wilson lost the next election, after becoming not the master of events, but their prisoner.”

Neither Taverne nor McShane mention 1992 but to me there are echoes of John Major’s short-lived triumph. As Tim Montgomerie observed on Conservative Home some years ago,  “John Major presented the party unashamedly as the low tax party. The Tory campaign relentlessly attacked Labour … Major picked a combative party chairman. Chris Patten (who) fought against Labour with rottweiler determination.” Remind you of anyone? Lynton Crosby?

Less than six months after amassing a record 14 million votes Major saw his government implode on Black Wednesday, never to recover.

The obvious point about Taverne McShane and myself is that we all fear the worst – we believe the polls and expect Team Theresa to get their landslide.

That said, I am hoping London may buck the trend. Having done some door knocking at the weekend I am cautiously sanguine about the prospects for the re-election of the charismatic Rosena Allin Khan in Tooting. And according to a friend of the redoubtable Joan Ryan Labour in Enfield North have been buoyed by a recent council by election. Labour matched the Tories in increasing their votes by around 13 per cent as the Green and UKIP voters collapsed.

Green switchers may be less easy to detect than UKIP switchers but they could be important. In 2015 there were a group of seats where the shift of a small number of Green voters would have deprived the Tories of a gain: (Tory majority in bold) Gower 27 1161; Derby N 41 1618; Croydon C 165 1454; Bury N 378 1141; Morley&Outwood 422 1264; Plymouth S&D 523 3401; Brighton Kempton 690 3187; Weaver Vale 806 1183; Telford 730 930

If Labour are to spring any surprises on June 8th they will probably come from this list.

Don Brind