The Lib Dem choice: The highly regarded ex-minister or the formidable campaigner?

July 3rd, 2015

norman lamb tim farron   Google Search

Why my LD vote could be against my betting self interest

Just got back from a wonderfully restful holiday on the coast near the ancient sherry town of Jerez in South West Spain to find my LD leadership voting papers there waiting for my attention. The choice is very difficult.

Back in April 2011 I suggested on PB that Norman Lamb, then 25/1, might be a good next party leader bet and I do well if he wins.

Certainly if, as was possible at least twice during the coalition years, that Clegg had stepped down then Lamb, almost a John Major figure, would have been the ideal safe pair of hands to take over. He had the backing of party grandees and during his time in government built up a strong reputation particularly on NHS policy on the mentally ill. Health sec Jeremy Hunt paid him a glowing tribute after the election.

But May 7th was totally devastating for the party and the yellows need to show pretty quickly that they are not a spent force.

    A key part of that could be parliamentary by-elections where in the old days they used to be so strong. Winning a seat might be a tall order but a strong performance would provide a significant boost and demonstrate that they are in the game again.

It is here where I believe that Tim Farron offers a lot. As his Westmoreland constituency results show he is an enormously effective campaigner who can bring in the votes and energise activists.

His position is helped by the fact that the one by-election in prospect at the moment is Richmond Park – the seat of Zac Goldsmith – current hot favourite to be next year’s CON London Mayoral candidate which he held with a 23% majority in May. Goldsmith has also repeatedly threatened to resign his seat if Heathrow is chosen in the London airports debate – something that looks more probable after this week’s events.

Richmond under its old boundaries used to be in yellow hands and a by-election would provide an opportunity for campaigner Farron to show his electoral skills. Overnight the party had a gain from CON in the borough though not in the parliamentary constituency.

I can’t make up my mind which way and plan to defer voting to the very last moment.

Mike Smithson


Local By-Election Preview: July 2nd 2015

July 2nd, 2015

Grantham, Barrowby on Lincolnshire (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 36, United Kingdom Independence Party 16, Labour 12, Lincolnshire Independents 8, Liberal Democrats 3, Independents 2 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 3)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Conservatives 558 (38%), Independent 476 (32%), Labour 442 (30%)
Candidates duly nominated: Rob Shorrock (Lab), Maureen Simon (UKIP), Mark Whittington (Con)

Lincolnshire, on the face of it, looks rather boring. Since 1989 it’s only gone NOC twice (1993 as part of the Conservative post Black Wednesday disaster, 2013 as part of the UKIP surge) but underneath that boringness there have been some interesting changes particularly in Grantham (ancestral home of Lady Thatcher).

There are five county wards that make up the town (Barrowby, East, North, North West, South) and in 2005 those wards reflected the closeness of the general election with the Conservatives on 41%, Labour on 40%, the Independents on 10% and the Lib Dems on 9% with the Conservatives winning two of the seats and Labour winning three.

Then came the disaster of 2009 for Labour, as their vote collapsed to just 16% allowing the Conservatives to win all five seats on a swing of nearly 15% from Labour to Conservative and although Labour did manage to make a gain in Grantham in 2013, they only managed to poll 30% with the Conservative vote virtually unchanged as UKIP polled 11%, the Independents 10% and the Liberal Democrats on 2% which therefore poses the question “How will the electors of Barrowby see this by-election?”.

If they see it as “Well, excuse me, I’m not the person who was elected as a new county councillor in 2013 and then goes swanning off to Westminster as the new MP for Bury St. Edmunds, in Suffolk I may point out!” then UKIP (with their past track record of taking votes from Independents and Conservatives) could make yet another gain in the county. However, if they take the attitude “Jo has made a principled stand. She cannot be an MP and a county councillor at the same time” then the Conservatives should be able to hold this marginal and Labour could be the ones to suffer from UKIP.

Hampton Wick on Richmond upon Thames (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2014): Conservatives 39, Liberal Democrats 15 (Conservative majority of 24)
Result of ward at last election (2014) : Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,870, 1,708, 1,586 (50%)
Green Party 696 (19%)
Liberal Democrats 676, 647, 593 (18%)
Labour 522, 520, 474 (14%)
Candidates: Anthony Breslin (Green), Jon Hollis (Con), Michael Lloyd (Ind), Geraldine Locke (Lib Dem), Sam Naz (UKIP), Paul Tanto (Lab)

“I must admit, it was with more than a little trepidation that I approached my destination” were the opening words to the BBC drama serial that bears this ward’s name. The serial (broadcast in 1971) was written by G. Wiley and a gentlemen. Therefore, people of a certain age will instantly recognise that this was one of the serials produced as part of the “Two Ronnies”. And why was the serial named after a ward in London? Because the lead character was having a post operation fuelled dream at Hampton Wick Cottage Hospital.

And looking at the result in 2014, I rather fear that’s the only way the Liberal Democrats will be able win this ward which poses the question if the Conservatives were to lose, who might gain? Well, we know from past experience that UKIP do have a London problem and Labour aren’t strong in the south west of the capital so how about the Greens? Well, 19% at the last elections from just a single candidate does suggest that Richmond may be turning over a Green leaf and then there’s the Independent who didn’t contest in 2014, but all in all I think that the former Conservative councillor (now a Conservative MP) will be very confident in congratulating his new Conservative successor in a few hours time.

Harry Hayfield


The Greek finance minister says he’d rather ‘cut his arm off’ than sign a deal that doesn’t include debt relief

July 2nd, 2015

The betting markets seem to believe that Yes will win, but I suspect whatever the outcome either the Greek government or the Euro in Greece will be gone shortly after the referendum result is announced. This might lead to the government, money, people and businesses wanting to get out of Greece like a bat out of Hellas, it won’t be just a flesh wound for Greece.

All of this is just a few days before George Osborne presents his summer budget



Heathrow is a major headache for Cameron (and an opportunity for Labour)

July 2nd, 2015


Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Whilst the Conservatives fight over this week’s Airport Commission report, expanding Heathrow is exactly the type of common sense, business friendly policy that Labour should be supporting as it seeks to win again. The party must embrace it argues Keiran Pedley

The Prime Minister has a leadership crisis on his hands.

Perhaps this crisis is not as serious as recent world events in Tunisia or Greece. Perhaps it does not animate Conservative back benchers as much as his plans to renegotiate Britain’s membership of the EU or present the most important immediate challenge of next week’s budget.

But make no mistake, it is a crisis.

The Airport Commission report, led by Howard Davies has been very clear in its recommendation that Heathrow must expand and as soon as possible. Sure, some caveats have been put in place, regarding banning night flights and meeting both air and noise pollution targets, but there has been no fudge or ambiguity in the report’s key recommendation – Heathrow must expand.

The report claims that expanding Heathrow will add billions to the economy, air fares will fall and thousands of jobs will be created. Crucially, alternative plans are considered either unworkable (Boris Island) or do not match the economic benefits of a third runway at Heathrow (Gatwick). Furthermore, the business community appears squarely behind the report’s conclusions, with the IoD and CBI urging the Prime Minister to avoid any ‘further delay’.

So why is this a crisis? Well, Cameron’s problem is many in his own party not only mildly disagree, but are utterly opposed to this policy. Cabinet is split, with high profile names such as Theresa May, Philip Hammond and Justine Greening opposed. The party’s likely next candidate for London Mayor, Zac Goldsmith, has threatened to resign and force a by-election in protest whilst Boris Johnson has not given up on his ‘Boris Island’ dream and will likely use this issue to champion his cause as the next Conservative leader in-waiting.

So this one may be a slow burner, but a crisis it is. The government’s immediate response is to kick the can down the road (again). It has said that a decision will be made later this year.

Labour’s opportunity

This all presents a tremendous opportunity for Labour.  Much has been written before about Labour’s credibility problem and how it needs to win back trust on the economy. Fully backing the expansion of Heathrow will not solve this problem overnight, but it would be a welcome start. It is the type of opportunity that Labour ought to dream of. It is business friendly, creates jobs and piles substantial pressure on the Prime Minister from his own side too.

Early signs are positive. Harriet Harman was vocal in attacking David Cameron at PMQs whilst Liz Kendall has been quick to back the report’s findings too.  I would be surprised if other candidates do not follow suit. This issue is live and not going away. As Labour seeks to reconnect with the electorate and show that it is a serious party of government once more it could do worse than champion Britain’s economic interests and job creation whilst not avoiding a tough decision in the process. It is, after all, what governments do.

Perhaps most of all this issues teaches us something important about the next parliament. With GfK data showing consumer confidence up and Labour leaderless, things look bleak for the party. However, events will happen, the government will mess up from time to time and at some point there will be an EU referendum and Conservative leadership contest to contend with. Labour’s path back to power may be a tough one, however, if it gets its act together it is not impossible.

Keiran Pedley

Keiran Pedley is an Associate Director at Presenter of the podcast ‘Polling Matters’ He tweets about polling and politics at @keiranpedley


How the Alternative Vote system could stop Burnham becoming Labour leader

July 1st, 2015

Many thanks to Richard Nabavi for posting this article by Peter Kellner on the previous thread.

Peter Kellner looks at how the Alternative Vote system Labour use to elect their leader might stop Andy Burnham winning, it should be remembered, that this voting system helped Ed Miliband defeat his brother five years ago.

If you’re not sure how the Alternative Vote system works, this link should help as should this link.

However the betting sentiment is moving strongly towards Andy Burnham.

Ten days ago, I wrote that we were close to a potential crossover on the Betfair exchange between Burnham and Cooper, how the latest trade shows Burnham’s implied percentage chance of winning the leadership has gone from 39% on the 21st of June to 50% this evening, whilst Yvette Cooper’s has fallen from 36% to 30% in the same period.





How a third runway at Heathrow could make for a real Old Etonian mess for Cameron

July 1st, 2015

David Cameron in 2013 reaffirming his 2009 pledge that “The third runway at Heathrow is not going ahead, no ifs, no buts.”

It might be a novel experience for the Tory Party to be split on issue other than than EU, but the third runway at Heathrow has the potential to be just as problematic. Today the Davies report has backed building a third runway at Heathrow. The above video shows Cameron in 2013 reaffirming a 2009 pledge not to build a third runway at Heathrow. Boris Johnson is also very unhappy over the proposals, whilst Zac Goldsmith, the favourite to be the next Mayor of London has said he will trigger a by-election if the third runway were to be built.

However, the Davies report makes a very strong economic case for a third runway, such as 70,000 new jobs and £147 billion in economic growth by 2050. Given the way the Tories won the election in May, down to voters seeing them as best to run the economy, turning down a third runway might damage that credibility on the economy. I’m sure Nick Clegg will tell Cameron that there is no electoral downside if you do a u-turn on a pre-election promise.

Were Zac to trigger a by election, he might run for London Mayor as an independent, with a focus on opposition to the third runway, the Mayor of London is elected under the supplementary vote, so Zac could be theoretically very transfer friendly particularly if he stands as the anti third runway candidate.

Right now, 16/1 on any other candidate other than Lab, Con or LD, to win the London Mayoral election next year could be the way to go. The government’s final decision on the Davies report will be this year, my own hunch is that Cameron will do what is best for economy/country rather than stick to his original pledge, so that means a third runway.



Local By-Election Result : June 30th 2015

July 1st, 2015

Result: Conservative 561 (40% -14%), Plaid 543 (39% +27%), Labour 234 (17% -12%), Independent 24 (2%, no candidate in 2012), Green Party 22 (2% -1%), Liberal Democrats 10 (1% -1%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 18 (1%) on a swing of 21% from Conservative to Plaid


The Ipsos Mori issues index for June

July 1st, 2015



The big risers are Immigration/Immigrants and EU/Europe, which seems understandable given the focus on the EU referendum since the election. The big faller is the economy, which maybe confirmation of the fifteen year high in consumer confidence that the pollster GfK found yesterday.

For me the most interesting aspect of this polling is the below chart.

Issues EU

There’s a real difference between the ages, so the older groups are more concerned by the EU than younger ones, this as has been noted before, could help OUT win the referendum with older voters the most likely to vote.

The fieldwork for this polling ended on the 15th of June, so before the recent events in Greece and Tunisia.

The data tables are available here.