Laura Pidcock – the 33/1 newbie MP who is being tipped as Corbyn’s successor

January 18th, 2018

A small flutter might be worthwhile

Following what was perceived to be a success at the last general election, although Labour finished 58 seats behind, there have been few questions about the future of Jeremy Corbyn. He looks pretty secure and the biggest issue he faces is that he will be in his early 70s if the next election does take place, as planned, in 2022.

Will LAB want to go into the election with their flag carrier being in his late 70s if the next parliament runs a full term?

One indicator of his strength was this week’s elections to Labour’s NEC with the Corbynites having strengthened their position within the party. All three of those elected were part of his support group and we must expect the party to remain like this for least as long as Corbyn is at the top.

The big question is how long he will stay and who will succeed him.

A good sign of who is in favour have been Corbyn’s shadow cabinet changes which went to plan and haven’t been given much attention. Surely JC’s successor could be one of those who have been promoted?

There is a general mood within the party that the next leader will be a woman and one of those who we should expect to see a lot more of is Laura Pidcock.

Stephen Bush in the New Statesman noted

“….One emerging candidate who could unite them all is Laura Pidcock, the 31-year-old newly elected MP for North West Durham. She arrived in Westminster already respected by the big trade unions but with little profile beyond them. She quickly made a splash by telling the left-wing website Skwawkbox that she had no intention of making friends with Tory MPs.

Pidcock has been given the role of shadow minister for labour, a coup twice over. The first boost is that Corbyn is committed to creating a fully fledged ministry of labour, which means the position is effectively that of a secretary of state in waiting. The second is that it gives her licence to deepen her ties with trade union officials, something that has not gone unnoticed…”

I’ve had a small bet at 33/1.

Mike Smithson


PB’s lunchtime cartoon for the day of the Macron visit

January 18th, 2018

What’s TMay’s strategy?


NEW PB / Polling Matters podcast: Vote blue go green? Farage, Boris & 2nd referendums (again) plus Labour NEC election fallout

January 18th, 2018

On this week’s podcast, Keiran and Leo continue with the new format of the show where each guest chooses a news story that has interested them from the past week and provides some polling analysis on a key issue of the day. Topics discussed this week include:

1) What the Tories’ new focus on environmental issues says about their brand and future electoral strategy

2) Why Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson are indicating support for another referendum on Brexit and what recent polling tells us about public opinion on the issue.

3) What’s going on with Labour following the NEC elections, is a Corbynite succession now inevitable and will Corbyn’s age be an issue at the next election?

Follow the podcasters here:


Alastair Meeks recommends his approach to baldness as Britain’s best post-Brexit strategy

January 17th, 2018

The 1970s were my best decade for hair production.  My parents have pictures of me at a young age in lurid paisley colours with an Osmond-like hair helmet.  Those pictures are safely under lock and key.

By the mid-90s, I was in remedial trichology.  My hairline was under assault from above and below: my scalp was covered by only a sketchy film of strands.  It was time to take stock.  I took the advice of Quentin Crisp on the subject: don’t try to go against the flow – go faster than the flow.

So I shaved off what remained of my tresses (not many tennis balls were stuffed).  I have never looked back and I have never needed to worry about the everyday humiliations that a combover offers or carry out the type of advanced engineering that Donald Trump undertakes on his bonce, trying to do more and more with less and less.  By recognising reality, I was able to move on.

Brexit doesn’t offer much to Britain but it offers an opportunity to recognise reality.  Let’s take stock.

“I recommend limiting one’s involvement in other people’s lives to a pleasantly scant minimum”

100 years ago a third of the globe was painted pink and Britain had commitments and interests on every continent.  Britain is now left with a few speckles around the world’s oceans.  Their combined population is only about 250,000, about the population of Wolverhampton.  Most of these are in or around the Caribbean.

Yet Britain continues to behave as if it still bestrode the world.  There isn’t a military engagement internationally that it doesn’t consider getting involved in.  Never mind Syria, Britain has a current military interest in Mali against its Islamists and in Nigeria against Boko Haram.  These are no doubt worthy causes but it’s not immediately obvious why Britain, as opposed to any of three dozen other countries, should be expected to take a role in either of these actions.

By constantly seeking opportunities to project its puissance, Britain is peacocking, seeking to dazzle others with its display.  But peacocks can only put on a dazzling display if they are fit enough to be able to bear the costs of the display.  Britain is long past that point.

A potentially defining crunch point came after the 2008 crash.  But Britain let that crisis go to waste, bodging its defence review in 2010 even though Britain was running a frighteningly large deficit.  Britain continues to rack up its debt, its deficit still not tamed.  Britain has more admirals than ships in the fleet.  It has commissioned aircraft carriers without aircraft.  These are not the signs of a thought-through defence strategy, to put it mildly.

A new crunch point has been reached.  Britain narrowly but decisively voted for Brexit.  Its voters considered the economic risks and decided that they would nevertheless turn their backs on deeper levels of international co-operation.

This message has been immediately received.  Britain’s influence with other European countries has been largely incinerated for the foreseeable future, with Britain becoming merely a problem requiring solving.  This has played out on the wider stage.  Britain last year lost its seat on the International Court of Justice for the first time since that court’s foundation in 1946.  The world has seen that Britain has chosen isolationism over international networking.

The logic of this position needs to be pursued further.  It is about time that Britain looked ahead to formulate the strategy behind its foreign policy and attempt to go faster than the flow.  Since the British public have accepted that Britain should not pursue influence, Britain’s approach to foreign affairs should reflect this.

Instead of spending vast sums in order to project military power around the globe in a vain attempt to secure influence, the military budget should be rethought from first principles, based around the defence of Britain rather than what is required to play Robin to the USA’s Batman.

Correspondingly, the Foreign Office needs to be trimmed down, no longer seeking to play a first tier part in solving the world’s problems (why spend vast amounts of money in chancelleries when the world isn’t listening anyway?) and instead focussing on a narrowly mercantile view of Britain’s interests.  It is time to step down from the top table.

This is of course a loss for Britain.  It will be particularly regretted by those, primarily politicians, who like to see Britain showing heft and those who like playing with toy soldiers.  When a cause is lost, however, it is time to retreat and regroup.  It has been mandated by the referendum result.  Now is the time.

“The poverty from which I have suffered could be diagnosed as ‘Soho’ poverty. It comes from having the airs and graces of a genius and no talent.”

The consequences of having the airs and graces of a superpower have been draining for Britain.  Britain has been debilitated by its inability to put its past behind it.  It has wriggled during each verse of the recessional, seeking to postpone the inevitable, to draw a line in the sand that it cannot hold to. 

Since the Second World War it has throughout spent money that it can ill afford in order to punch above its weight on defence, money that could have been spent instead on more fruitful projects.  The opportunity cost is enormous.  That misallocation of resources has let other nations catch up and surpass it by income per head.  If Britain were to join the CANZUK union that some of the weirder Leavers have advocated, the British would be the poor relations.

The savings from dispensing with those airs and graces could be used profitably.  The Leave campaign suggested that hypothetical post-Brexit savings could be put into the NHS (a course of action which many Leavers now suddenly seem to regard as impractically expensive).  Alternatively, the savings could be used to invest in infrastructure – for example, London could benefit from a firm commitment to Crossrail 2.

However the money is used, the time has come to use it in a much more productive manner.  Brexit has made clear the public’s preferred way forward.  It is time for Britain to take it.

Alastair Meeks



Double blow for SNP in new YouGov Scotland poll: support for independence down & more MP losses projected

January 17th, 2018

But they should still be top party at Holyrood

We get so few Scotland only polls these days that when a new one comes out, as this morning, it is quite an event.

It is extraordinary to recall that just two years ago the SNP could do no wrong. In the aftermath of Scotland’s September 2014 IndyRef for the party surged and at the 2015 General Election the SNP picked up 56 of the countries 59 Westminster seats.

In doing so Labour was absolutely smashed. From holding 41 Scottish seats in 2010 they were reduced to a single MP.

All this meant that after the 2015 General Election the SNP became the third party at Westminster pushing the Lib Dems out of the position they had held for decades.

Then came the June 2017 surprise General Election which the SNP was the only major party at Westminster to oppose. The 56 MPs of 2015 were cut to just 35 and its Scottish vote share declined by 14 points.

Today’s new YouGov Scotland poll suggests that worse things are in store for Sturgeon’s party north of the border. It could be down to 27 MPs and support for a second IndyRef and independence are declining.

The poll suggests that in MP total terms the main beneficiary of the change would be LAB which could see its total of Scottish MPs increased by 10. So good news for Mr Corbyn provided the poll is right and of course this holds until the next general election whenever that will be.

Mike Smithson


Only problem Paul (Mason) is that Corbyn’s LAB needs 7-10% vote lead to win majority

January 16th, 2018

We are miles away from seeing the required LAB vote breakthrough

Mike Smithson


Seat projection from today’s ICM poll has CON ahead on MPs even though behind on votes

January 16th, 2018

When’s the Corbyn Clique going to work out that the system now works against LAB?

The latest ICM Guardian poll out and the figures – C40/LB41/LD7 – are included above in the seat projection from Martin Baxter’s Electoral Calculus.

As can be seen that although the Conservatives are one point behind on votes this, according to the projection, will put them one ahead in terms of seats.

This reflects a big trend that first was noticed at GE2015 when the Lib Dems were hammered after the years in Coalition. The Tories who had suffered most in relation to LAB on the votes/seats in the previous four elections found themselves benefiting disproportionately from the sharp decline of what was then Clegg’s party.

    The effect is that now on the same vote share the Tories will probably get 20-30 more seats than Labour. If the system is biased then it is to the blue team though they’ll continue, no doubt, to whinge quoting 2005.

LAB, for want of a better term, “wastes” more of it votes chalking up big shares in its heartlands than the Tories who are more vulnerable to the LDs.

Interesting in the latest projection above that the LDs move up two seats even though their share is down on GE2017. The reason, of course, the that in this poll the Tories are down even more.

Projections on the proposed new boundaries have the system biased even more to the blue team.

All this means is that Mr. Corbyn’s LAB needs vote share leads far in excess of anything it has managed to achieve since June to be sure of him becoming PM.

Mike Smithson


Jared O’Mara is what happens if your candidate is chosen by the party without a proper selection process

January 16th, 2018

The pressure mounts on the MP who’s never spoken in the Commons & hasn’t been there for three months

The politically influential Yorkshire Post has now got its teeth into Jared O’Mara – the Labour MP who was suspended in October after revelations of homophobic and misogynistic comments online. He’s being described with the prefix “Shamed“.

He was elected for Sheffield Hallam last June winning the seat from Nick Clegg but has yet to make a maiden speech or even speak at all in the House. When his comments were revealed LAB opened an enquiry and he was suspended from the party. That was back in October and still we don’t know what the outcome is going to be.

What is clear is that O’Mara did not become the Labour candidate in what was a key target for the party by going through a normal selection process. Because of the surprise nature of the last election LAB short-circuited the process in some seats in order to get candidates in place. Why this should have happened is far from clear given that other parties were able to have normal selections in the normal way within the extended time period of the campaign.

His absence from the House means that LAB has been one person short in the key votes which could have been critical giving how close some of the decisions have been. there are, of course, more of these to come given the precarious position of the Tory parliamentary situation.

Quite what LAB can do about him is hard to say you given that they can’t force O’Mara to resign his seat. If he stays in such a situation he will become a continuing embarrassment for Team Corbyn. The Yorkshire Post, for one, is not going to let this go.

Mike Smithson