Why the SNP’s MPs would probably not support a vote for an early general election

August 17th, 2017

Sturgeon’s party has too many vulnerable seats

Ever since it became clear that Mrs. May’s June election gamble had failed and she’d lost her majority there’s been lots of speculation that this parliament will not go through to its full term in June 2022. Maybe but there is the obstacle to surmount of the Fixed Term Parliament Act which was part of the coalition deal in 2010. The days when a PM can pop along to the Palace and call an election are long gone.

One of the routes allowable is if the government loses a no confidence motion which is not rescinded within two weeks. The other route, as deployed by TMay last April, was to seek a Commons vote with two thirds of MPs giving the move their backing.

A confidence vote is probably where the Tories are most vulnerable although at the moment there is the deal with he DUP. Things could change over the parliament through defections, rebellions and by-election losses that it.

Such a confidence vote would require LAB to secure the full backing of other parties in the house including the SNP and there must be some doubt that they would go along with the idea.

A key factor that is illustrated in the Commons Library table above is the vulnerability of the SNP in many of the 35 Scottish seats that they currently hold. We saw how in the two years between the last two general elections SNP dropped from 56 MPs to just 35 on a Scottish vote share down from 50% at GE2015 to 36.9%.

Voting for LAB confidence motions that would lead directly to a new general election being held and would not, on current party standings, be in the SNP’s interest. Chances are that they’d lose even more seats.

It has been calculated that if LAB, CON and the SNP each finished up on 30% in Scotland then the SNP could be reduced to just 6 seats. That sliimness of some of their majorities is shown in the chart.

Mike Smithson



Calling Theresa May a “Nazi” totally undermines Chapman’s anti-Brexit crusade

August 17th, 2017

Threat almost over as far as ministers are concerned

We’ve all been entertained this week by the stream of Tweets from the ex-political editor of the Mail and former chief aide to the BrexSec DDavis, James Chapman.

It has livened up what had been a quiet August and provided some interesting revelations and attacks on his the man who was his boss until June.

But moving to a position where he’s now describing the PM as a “Nazi” suggests he has gone too far. Godwin’s “law” has come into play and Chapman, I fear, is going to be taken a lot less seriously.

Theresa May is many things, most seriously for her party an election loser, but she cannot be equated to the Germans in the second world War.

Chapman will start to fade and his Tweets less potency. This is a great pity because some of his points and observations on the implications of Brexit seemed highly relevant.

Mike Smithson


UPDATED: On the face of it Vince Cable would be taking a risk doing anything with the Chapman “Democrats party” move

August 16th, 2017

The big development in the Chapman “Democrats party” move is the above Tweet from the ex-Mail political editor and former chief aids to DDavis.

There’s no doubt, as the YouGov polling above shows, that LD voters are much more likely to be pro-Remain than any other party and there would have been a risk for Cable in turning down the Chapman overtures.

But the LDs are a well established party where there are still bitter memories of the SDP in the 1980s with the eventual merger with the Liberal party to create the “Social and Liberal Democrats” in 1987. Cable comes from the SDP wing.

After that merger several leading SDPers, notably David Owen, didn’t join and remnants of the old party found itself often fighting battles with the new merged party. Back in 1989 when I ran for County Council as a Lib Dem my main opponent was from the continuity SDP and the fight was tough.

The LDs having been battered by the voters following the coalition are ultra sensitive to the dangers of a new party and a repetition of what happened in the 80s. They cannot allow themselves to be subsumed by Chapman.

I think Cable is well aware of the issues. The main thing is to impede the form of Brexit that TMay seeks.

UPDATE: The LDs have issued statement saying there is no question whatsoever of the party supporting the launch of a new party but that they will work with others to try to stop an “extreme Brexit”.

Mike Smithson


The Ladbrokes 20/1 that the Brexit Secretary, DDavis, will be next Cabinet minister out looks like a value bet

August 16th, 2017

Good bets are not predictions but an assessment that the chances of a particular outcome are better than what the bookies are offering.

Given all the noise round the BrexSec in the Tweet Tsunami from former DD aide James Chapman I reckon that the Ladbrokes 20/1 that he’ll be the next cabinet minister out is value.

The Chapman allegation point that is really striking and I’d suggest most damaging is the one the Times is highlighting this morning – the allegation that DDavis only works three days a week.

    Given how crucial these negotiations are to the future of the country the suggestion, true or false, that the man in charge is not giving it his full focus is one that hits home.

TMay is due to arrive back at Downing Street after her four week holiday tomorrow and no doubt she’s been giving a lot of thought to the challenges ahead. Maybe we could see some cabinet moves as TMay seeks to assert her authority.

An early exit for Davis is surely greater than a 20/1 chance.

Mike Smithson


ICM finds that just 38% want Charles to be King

August 15th, 2017

46% want the monarchy to skip a generation

We don’t often have Royal Family polling but there is a new ICM survey out in Prospect magazine on what should happen following the Queen’s death.

The figures aren’t good for Prince Charles. Just 38% want him to be the successor with 46% going for Prince William. The balance, 16%, declined to back either.

To another question on whether the thought of Prince Charles as King made people more or less likely to suppoort the monarchy just 7% said more with 21% saying less.

There’s a big age gap in views of the monarchy. Tom Clark in Prospect notes:

“.. While Charles enjoys narrow majority support among the oldest voters—with 51 per cent of those aged 65 and over backing him against the jump to William—this falls to just 18 per cent among the youngest voters, aged 18 to 24. Even among 25-34 year olds, he commands the support of barely one in four respondents on this question—just 27 per cent.

…his (Charles) support is now notably less marked among Labour backers, 33 per cent rather than 48 per cent among Conservatives.”

What is becoming increasingly possible is that the succession could become a big political issue in the not too distant future.

Mike Smithson


Johnson the big loser – Rees-Mogg the big winner in the CON leadership betting since the election

August 15th, 2017

Given that the loss of the CON overall majority at general election happened less than ten weeks it is quite extraordinary to look back at the change in TMay replacement betting since then.

In the aftermath of TMay’s failure to retain a majority the general assumption was that she’d quit within days and we’d be into to another leadership contest. The other assumption was that if Johnson could get through to the final round of voting, which is amongst the membership, then he would sweep in.

The Tory system, of course, involves the parliamentary party holding a series of ballots until a short-list of two is agreed to go to the membership which makes the final choice. Johnson had long been seen as the members’ favourite and this was reflected in his then 30%+ betting price.

The following weeks have seen the ex-Mayor and foreign secretary slip further and further in the betting and as I write he’s now fourth favourite rated by punters as just a 9% chance.

At the moment there is no clear from runner and we have the rise of Rees-Mogg who is not even a minister.

What we don’t know is whether there is going to be a contest at all. Could it be that TMay’s extended summer holiday, means that she’s been giving a lot of consideration to what happens next?

My guess is that I’ll be still writing “Next CON leader betting posts” for the next three or four years.

Mike Smithson


When TMay apologists try to excuse her GE17 humiliation by bragging about increased CON vote share show them this chart

August 15th, 2017

It’s the relationship with the LAB vote that matters

In the run up to the CON conference at the start of October you are going to hear a lot about about how the Tory national vote share on June 8th went up to levels higher than Mrs Thatcher achieved with the implication that it wasn’t quite as bad as might appear.

This is a desperate effort to try to whitewash TMay’s disastrous decision to go to the country three years early and the fact that that under the scrutiny of a general election campaign she became huge electoral negative.

    The increased vote share bragging would have been a big deal except for one simple fact that the apologists try to gloss over – the LAB vote went up by much more.

This was the main reason why the party had 25 net seat losses in England and Wales a figure that was partly ameliorated by Ruth Davidson’s 12 Scottish CON gains.

South of the border the main detriment of seat gains and losses was the CON vote relationship with the LAB share. Only ten of the 572 seats in England and Wales were not won by Labour or the Conservatives.

All this is why it is the CON vote relationship with LAB that matters so much.

The chart, which I’ve presented here in a different form before seeks to look at the relationship between between the two main parties by looking at historical splits in the LAB+CON vote aggregate.

As can be seen on this measure TMay certainly did better than the Tories in the Blair years but worse than David Cameron in both 2010 and 2015.

The big vote move on June 8th was the collapse of UKIP something that was widely thought would help TMay most. It didn’t hence the losses.

Mike Smithson


The August 2017 silly season continues – Ladbrokes now taking bets on “the Democrats” for the next General Election

August 14th, 2017

The party doesn’t even exist yet

I’m always impressed by the way bookies can sometimes create markets that appear to be designed to appeal to the wishful thinking of some punters. Today sees Ladbrokes offering 250/1 on the “Democrats” , currently a theoretical party suggested in a Tweet by James Chapman, winning most seats at the next general election.

Much as personally I want to remain in the EU I’m not tempted by the bet.

Mike Smithson