Archive for August, 2007

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Whatever Happened To The Far Left?

Friday, August 31st, 2007

H&S

    Sean Fear’s Friday slot

A couple of weeks ago, I examined the impact of parties to the Right of the Conservatives. This week, I do the same with parties to the Left of Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Back in the 1980s, quite large numbers of people supported Labour’s policies of nationalisation, unilateral nuclear disarmament, restoration of the right to secondary picketing and the closed shop, and ending the sale of council houses. In fact, I can remember intelligent people at university arguing at the time that East Germany’s economy was outperforming our own, and that the United States was a greater threat to this country than the Soviet Union. Most of the people who held such views must still be alive today.

Although the current Labour government has been more left wing than its rhetoric suggests, it must still be a disappointment to people who hold such opinions. It is puzzling therefore, that no significant party of the Far Left has emerged over the past 10-15 years. In Labour’s heartlands, the potential for such a party must exist.

Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party occasionally saves a deposit, but never really developed any momentum,. Tommy Sheridan’s Socialist Labour Party enjoyed some success in the Scottish Parliamentary elections of 2003, before collapsing in the embarrassment of a libel trial that saw most of Sheridan’s close colleagues giving evidence against him. Militant Tendency changed its name, and has won the odd council seat here or there, but has nothing like the support it had 20 years ago.

Respect has built up a following in the East End, and a few other parts of the country. They won Bethnal Green and Stepney in 2005, and came a very good second in Birmingham Sparkbrook. Unfortunately, for them, the latter constituency has been abolished in the latest round of boundary changes. In the long run, they may challenge Labour in East and West Ham, but outside of a few constituencies, Labour doesn’t need to worry about them. Their support is almost completely confined to Muslim voters, and even then, most Muslims don’t vote for them.

The Green Party would probably deny that they are a party of the far Left. Their policies however, place them well to the Left of any of the main parties. They have over 100 elected councillors (no mean achievement under first past the post). They also have a chance of winning a seat off Labour in Brighton, at the next election. However, they probably do more damage to the Liberal Democrats than they do to Labour. In 2006, a strong Green performance certainly cost the Liberal Democrats overall control of Islington Council, and may well have cost them control of Haringey as well. In inner urban areas, the Greens and Liberal Democrats are often chasing after the same type of voter, young, secular, environmentally concerned, and professional.

All in all, Labour must count themselves fortunate that no party of the Far Left has emerged that can do significant damage to them.

There were three by-elections last night:-

Loughton BC, Alderton. BNP 393, Resident 367, Lib Dem 172, Conservative 163 Labour 98 ,UKIP 28. BNP hold. This is the first BNP by-election win for 4 years, and their first ever hold in a by-election. It points to firm BNP support in the old London County Council overspill estates. Until quite recently, this was a safe Labour ward.

Isle of Wight UA, Newport North. Conservative 207, Lib Dem 189, Labour 137, UKIP, 25, Independent 23, Independent 2. Conservative hold. The Liberal Democrats leap-frogged Labour to take second place.

Stroud DC, Nailsworth: Conservative 857, Green 810, Labour 261. Conservative hold. This is a most unusual example of a Conservative/Green marginal seat. For several elections in a row, the Conservatives have held on by very narrow margins here.

Sean Fear is a London Conservative activist and a regular contributor to pb.com

  • Guest Editor’s note:
  • Voting for the poster of the year will close today at 6.30 pm – you can cast your vote here.



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    Will Populus disclose the Tory poll?

    Friday, August 31st, 2007

    Anthony Wells of UKPolling Report emails me to tell me that he has asked Populus to disclose the poll referred to by Benedict Brogan in his blog.

    He wrote” “Tories say privately their internal Populus poll paints a completely different picture – the parties are level pegging and Mr Cameron’s approval rating is climbing”.

    Anthony’s view is that there is a requirement to disclose under the British Polling Council’s transparency rules.

    Normally leaks of “private polls” don’t name the pollster. I’m writing this on my phone in a Eurotunnel train and am not in a position to support Anthony.

    It will be interesting to see what transpires.

    Mike Smithson



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    Labour’s YouGov lead down a touch to 8%

    Friday, August 31st, 2007

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      Is the Lib Dem share of 14% down to the firm’s methodology?

    In the first of four major polling surveys that we will see in the next few days the internet pollster, YouGov, for the Daily Telegraph has the following shares with the changes on its last poll almost three weeks ago CON 33% (+1): LAB 41% (-1): LD 14% (nc).

    So the Tories will be a touch relieved that like ICM on Monday YouGov is showing a reduction in the Labour lead. Even so an 8% margin is a massive gap and would suggest a near landslide Labour victory if this was to be repeated in a general election.

      If YouGov continues to be reporting figures which are out of line with the rest of the industry there’ll be much more focus on its methodology – which is totally different from everybody else.

    As we have noted before YouGov does not make any adjustment for the likelihood to vote – a factor that with other pollsters sharply cuts back Labour shares. Its samples are restricted to members of its polling panel on whom it has got a lot of data and who can get surveyed time and time again.

    The firm seeks politically balanced samples by using a weighting system based on “party identification”. This was gathered from 44,000 respondents at the time of the general election. Excluding those who said don’t know this splits CON 34.2%: LAB 45.2%: LD 15%. In the general election, of course, Labour came out with 36.2%, the Tories had 33.2% while the LDs got 22.7% of the GB vote. This might explain the poor shares for the Lib Dems that YouGov usually comes up with.

    The last time that YouGov was out of line was after Michael Howard became Tory leader unopposed in late 2003. For six consecutive months from December 2003 to May 2004 the firm had the Tories on 39% or 40% – numbers which caused a lot of discussion at the time about its methodology. This helped create its reputation as a pollster that favoured the Tories. Well things have changed dramatically since.

    We’ll be able to compare YouGov with Ipsos-Mori, Populus and Communicate Research which are all due to be publishing polls within 4-5 days. If these are pointing to 8% Labour leads then it would surely increase the pressure on Brown to call an early election.

      But one thing’s for sure – Gordon needs more than YouGov to make such a momentous decision.

    According to Ben Brogan’s Daily Mail blog “Tories say privately their internal Populus poll paints a completely different picture – the parties are level pegging and Mr Cameron’s approval rating is climbing.” That would seem to be a very risky thing for the Tories to be saying to journalists like Brogan if it is not the case.

    My betting. Having taken my profits on Labour in the commons spread markets earlier in the month I will continue to stand aside. My main position is on how long it will be to the general election where I’ve bet against Gordon going early. That remains.

    My holiday. This is my last article before my holiday in the old fishing port of St. Jean de Luz in the Basque country about 12km from the Spanish border. Doing a full-time job as well as running this blog is very exhausting and I very much need the break. I’ll be back on September 17th.

    Paul Maggs takes over as guest editor and is looking for guest articles. He can be contacted here.

    Mike Smithson



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    Congratulations Sean, Nick, Mark and Andrea

    Thursday, August 30th, 2007

    Big Ben moving.gif

      And now the final round of voting – for the Overall PBC Poster of the Year

    As it turned out the voting in three of the four categories was pretty clear-cut. Sean Fear, who starting posting on PBC in the summer of 2004, has built up a loyal following from people of all allegiances and his overwhelming victory in the Tory section was probably quite predictable. Well done also to David Herdson who came second and joins Sean in the final.

    Another very long-standing poster who first came here in 2004, Nick Palmer MP, had an overwhelming victory in the Labour section – a tribute to the contributions he has made over the years and the manner in which he enters into debate. There’s been a closer contest for second place with HenryG, who has provided good betting information on Labour, just pipping another long-standing poster, Roger, into the second place slot.

    The Lib Dem race has been the most exciting with Mark Senior securing the victory but not by that big a margin over Stodge. Both go into the final round.

    And in the specialist section it had to be Andrea from Milan who has an extraordinary knowledge of British politics and can answer almost anything that’s flung at him in seconds. In second place was a relative newcomer, Peter the Punter, whose good solid advice on betting matters and the generally civility he displays have made him a key member of the PBC community. I very much value the way Peter calms things down when discussions get out of hand.

    So now the final. I go on my holidays tomorrow morning and voting will continue for at least twenty four hours (1830 BST Friday) until I can get to a computer with internet access. That could be Saturday. Joining the race this evening are JackW and SeanT. Best of luck to everybody.

    Mike Smithson

    Who is your choice for the overall winner of the PBC poster of the year?
    Andrea
    David Herdson
    HenryG
    JackW
    Mark Senior
    Nick Palmer MP
    Peter the Punter
    Sean Fear
    SeanT
    Stodge
      



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    Is this why Dave is going to find it hard to win?

    Thursday, August 30th, 2007

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      Does the Lib Dem switch to Labour look permanent?

    One of the features that I focus on when the detailed data from ICM and CR polls comes out is how votes are churning between the parties. Both firms ask how respondents voted last time and both present their data in a way that gives some clues.

    The latest data from this week’s survey for the Guardian has some encouraging short-term news for the Tories but does raise the question about whether there is any chance at all of them being able to win.

    As can been seen above there’s been a clear shift back to their normal allegiance from Tory 2005 supporters. In the last couple of polls Cameron’s party was only retaining support of 85-87% of those who said they had voted Tory in May 2005. Now its at 92% not too far off the 95-96% that was being seen before the changeover at Number 10.

    Much of the Brown bounce has come from more party supporters being ready to identify themselves to pollsters and saying they are more likely to vote than previously. That could easily move back a notch.

      But the movement that looks irreversible is the big shift from 2005 Lib Dem supporters to Brown’s Labour. There’s been a net 13-15% of Lib Dem 2005 voters switching to Labour and this trend looks robust.

    So although the Tories are retaining more of their vote and picking up switchers from both Labour and the LDs it looks as though Labour’s got a permanent boost from the Lib Dems. These voters, one assumes, are the ones who could not stomach Blair following Iraq and chose Charles Kennedy’s party in 2005.

    Unless there’s a step change prompted it’s hard to see the Tories getting back to more than 36-37% and it’s hard to see Labour dropping below 36%. For Labour those are general election winning vote shares.

    Have you voted yet? The first round of voting in the PBC Poster of the Year elections will close at 6.30pm. There will then be the second and final round. Get you votes in as soon as possible. Click here.

    Mike Smithson



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    When are Gord and Dave going to face Paxo?

    Thursday, August 30th, 2007

      And what do we think of Cameron’s “make-over”?

    cameron newsnight.JPGJudging by the comments thread here last night most people thought that the Tory leader performed reasonably well in the first big set piece of the new political year – a long interview on Newsnight. He seems to have adjusted his style to reflect the new more sombre mood created by Gordon Brown and is looking a lot more formal.

    He also seems to have changed his vocal approach. The voice sounded deeper and he was clearly very well prepped for the occasion.

    For another aspect of last night was that this was Cameron’s first big time out since the ex-News of the World editor, Andy Coulson, took over communications for the Tory party. So in a sense it was as much a test of Coulson as it was of Cameron.

    But did the Tory leader really get challenged? Wasn’t the format involving four separate journalists asking questions in turn never really going to put Cameron under pressure? Why was Jeremy Paxman not allowed to have a go?

    No one can doubt that the programme’s new political editor, Michael Crick, is a formidable investigative journalist but he hasn’t got a fraction of the edge of Paxman when doing the big interviews. The others performed OK but we never got that continuous pressure that Paxman is capable of.

    Gordon Brown, of course, has not faced Jeremy in years and one by product of being elected Labour leader unopposed is that he managed to avoid big set Paxman pieces that have become an integral part of other leadership contests. My understanding is that there’s an open invitation to both Cameron and Brown but so far neither has been brave enough to accept. Maybe we’ll have to wait until a general election campaign.

    How leaders perform in such circumstances matters enormously. For most voters their only involvement in the political process is when they get a fleeting glance of extracts from programmes like Newsnight during the campaign. Television plays a huge part in shaping views.

    To see the whole interview click here

    On the betting markets the latest ICM poll has led to more money going on a 2007 general election.

    PBC Poster of the Year.
    If you have not voted yet then you have until 6.30pm to get your votes in. The online voting is here.

    Mike Smithson



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    Poster of the Year – the voting part 1.

    Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

      Your chance to vote for those who have enriched the site the most

    This is the first round of voting for the PBC Posters of the Year. Please place your votes before 1830 BST tomorrow to make it count.

    Everybody, where they post on the site or not, is entitled to vote in each of the categories.

    Tomorrow there will be the final part – the Overall PBC Poster of the Year. The top two in each of the four categories here will line up against two of our most prolific contributors, JackW and SeanT.

    Just to say that I am in complete charge and if there are disputes then my ruling over-rides everything. I am right even when I am wrong.

    Best of luck – and thanks to all who have contributed to the total of 210,000 separate post that have been published here since September 1st 2006.

    Politicalbetting has become Britain’s daily political conversation and a must read for all who try to forecast or bet on political outcomes.

    Mike Smithson

    Who do you think is the Tory PBC Poster of the Year?
    Benedict White
    ChrisD
    David Herdson
    Marcus Wood
    Sean Fear
    Steven Whaley
    TJM
      
    Who do you think is the Labour PBC Poster of the Year?
    Coldstone (aka grumpy old man)
    HenryG
    Nick Palmer MP
    Red Flag
    Roger
    Snowflake5
    StJohn
    Tyson
      
    Who do you think is the Lib Dem PBC Poster of the Year?
    Augustus Carp
    ColinW
    Icarus
    Mark Senior
    SBC
    Stodge
    UKPaul
      
    Who do you think is the Specialist PBC Poster of the Year?
    Alexander Drake
    Andrea
    Chris from Paris
    Jan from Norway
    Peter the Punter
    Sea Shanty Irish
    Yokel
      



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    The PBC Posters of the Year – the nominations

    Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

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    These are the nominations for the 2006/2007 PBC Posters of the Year election. First round voting will begin this evening and will last for twenty four hours. The two that top the ballot in each section will go forward to the overall PBC Post of the Year Election which will be published on Thursday evening.

    Two people, SeanT and JackW don’t naturally feature in any of the first round sections and because of their prominence I have decided that they are automatically in Thursday evening’s ballot.

      If you do not want your name to go forward for these elections then please contact me before 1830 tonight. My email is here.

    If candidates or supporters want to make statements to support their case then please us the comments thread below.

    In this election I make the rules and all involved should remember – Mike is right even when he is wrong

    Conservative poster of the year nominations
    Benedict White
    ChrisD
    David Herdson
    Marcus Wood
    Sean Fear
    Steven Whaley
    TJM

    Labour poster of the year nominations
    Coldstone (AKA Grumpy Old Man)
    HenryG
    Nick Palmer MP
    Red Flag
    Roger
    Snowflake5
    StJohn
    Tyson

    Lib Dem poster of the year nominations
    Augustus Carp
    ColinW
    Icarus
    Mark Senior
    SBS
    Stodge
    UKPaul

    Specialist poster of the year nominations
    Alexander Drake
    Andrea
    Chris from Paris
    Jan from Norway
    Peter the Punter
    Sea Shanty Irish
    Yokel

    Mike Smithson