Wiping out the Lib Dems might have been Cameron’s greatest strategic mistake as Prime Minister

July 24th, 2016

Cable Loss

Picture: The apotheosis of the Tory targeting of the Lib Dems at the last general election.

Why Cameron might still be PM if the coalition had continued after May 2015.

When David Cameron reflects on his earlier than anticipated departure as Prime Minister I wonder if in hindsight he’ll regret his and Sir Lynton’s Crosby targeting of the Lib Dem held seats at the last general election. At the time the 27 Tory gains from the Lib Dems was hailed for its brilliance and stealthiness, whilst the architects of the plan were lauded to the point one of them was awarded a knighthood.

But much like Hannibal defeating the Romans in the early part of The Second Punic War, Cameron may have won some battles but ultimately lost the war (to stop the Tories banging on about Europe.)

So imagine the EU referendum had taken place under another Con/Lib Dem coalition

With Nick Clegg’s greater experience of European Union affairs, Cameron might have obtained a much better renegotiation deal than he achieved. One of Cameron’s great misjudgements in the EU referendum was to spin the he deal obtained as a great deal instead of the reality of it being a middling to tepid deal at best.

If the referendum had happened under another Tory/Lib Dem coalition I get the feeling the Lib Dems would have insisted the franchise for the referendum was much more broader. You could have seen them insisting European Union citizens resident in the United Kingdom and sixteen & seventeen year olds having the vote, I think the former alone would have been more than enough to overturn Leave’s 1.3 million majority.

The Lib Dems might have also stopped some Tory errors  such as tax credit changes, academisation of every state school, and the junior doctors’ contracts that caused David Cameron’s government so much trouble since May 2015. Whilst in coalition, much to the chagrin of the their coalition partners, the Tories appropriated as their own some of the Liberal Democrat policies such as the substantial increase in the  personal allowance as a Tory policy. 

Had Cameron and his government not taken so many unpopular positions since May 2015, far fewer people would have taken the opportunity to use the referendum to give Cameron and his government a kicking.

Instead people wouldn’t be speaking about David Cameron as a latter day Lord North nor would David Cameron’s final ratings with Ipsos Mori sunk to an all time low for him. 

With a majority of only 12, Theresa May is another Tory leader who might find out that the Tory party is composed solely of “shits, bloody shits, and fucking shits” with the knowledge that the last three Tory Prime Ministers have been destroyed/had their Premierships ended by EU matters, coupled with the hunch that those Lib Dem voters who switched to the Tories at the last general election in those 27 seats won’t find Theresa May as electorally appealing as David Cameron, especially in light of her more authoritarian tendencies. All of this might present an opportunity for the Lib Dems to recover at the next general election.

If Labour does come to its senses and replaces Corbyn soon, by 2020 it might well be that David Cameron will be the only Tory to have won a general election, and a majority in the last twenty eight years, something his critics within the Tory party might wish to reflect on.



If Corbyn’s future was decided by those who voted for the party at GE2015 his prospects would look grim

July 23rd, 2016

Members may take different view but to LAB general election voters he’s a dead man walking

Corbyn’s battle to hang onto his job, as we all know, will be decided by party members and others who’ve managed to become part of the “selectorate” for this crucial election.

What member polling there’s been suggests that he’s doing OK and has a clear lead over the contender, Owen Smith. The YouGov survey took place before Angela Eagle withdrew from the race and before 180k people signed up to vote on the £25 scheme.

It is also true to say that Owen Smith, an MP since only 2010, is relatively unknown and has a very low level of recognition amongst the general public and to a less extent those who will vote. That will change over the next seven or eight weeks but looking at the numbers we have Smith appears to have a big challenge on his hand. Corbyn loyalists are great enthusiasts and are desperately keen for their guy to continue.

But Corbyn’s backing is from the selectorate which is not representative of those who cote fore the party.

The pie chart shows the breakdown of 2015 LAB voters when asked if they were “satisfied or dissatisfied with way Corbyn is doing as LAB leader?”. That fewer than two in five of those who supported EdM’s party were ready to give him a positive rating speaks volumes. These are not the own party ratings of a man who is going to win a general election.

I’ve now come to the view that at 17/18% Smith is the value bet.

Mike Smithson


Labour, heading towards the cliff

July 23rd, 2016


The Leadership Election is their last chance to save themselves

‘Exceptional things don’t happen as often as commentators think’ is nearly always a good betting rule of thumb but there are two riders to that assertion. Firstly, ‘not as often’ doesn’t mean ‘never’, and secondly, when they do happen, they can cluster.

In fact, 2016 hasn’t been quite as extraordinary as some might believe, though only because 2015 was. Brexit might be a defining moment in both the UK’s and the EU’s history but Leave had fluctuated either side of 50% for years; the Democrats in the end chose a solidly safe candidate and if the Republicans didn’t, they did pick the man who’d led in the polls since the middle of last year. The resignation of a PM is always unusual but Cameron’s departure was a natural consequence of a Brexit vote, and his replacement was the safe pair of hands that was always likely if the MPs could keep matters among themselves.

But 2016 isn’t over yet and there’s plenty of scope for something truly exceptional. Indeed, it’s already happening and is the hardening of two factions within Labour into two camps so hostile that it’s difficult to see how they can coexist. In the last week, Jeremy Corbyn has effectively threatened MPs opposed to him with deselection while they have launched a formal challenge to his leadership. Some have gone further. Three made direct attacks on Corbyn’s incompetence or conduct, while another publicly contemplated leaving the Party altogether if he’s re-elected.

This is more than a contest for office; to safeguard their own future, the winning faction will have little choice but to destroy their opponents as an effective force because the party cannot function while the civil war goes on. That no-confidence vote cannot be unheld.

Older Labour members will no doubt feel a sinking sensation of déjà vu about all this. The battles against the Militant Tendency in the 1980s were long, bitter and acrimonious. Rather like the Bourbons, it seems that Labour is at once capable of learning nothing and forgetting nothing. They might do well to recall the Bourbons’ fate.

If Corbyn wins where does that leave Labour moderates? They will then have played every card they have and will be facing opponents who will be both angry and euphoric; a heady and dangerous mix. Only three options would be possible: to recant and submit to the new order, to shut up and hope it all eventually blows itself out, or to leave one way or another.

Few will opt for the first choice which would be humiliating and patently false. More might try to sit on the fence and take the second but how sustainable can that be when Momentum types will be watching and waiting to expose ‘disloyalty’ – of which they’ll already have evidence.

    Which leaves only the third option: to quit. For all the talk of no splits, it’s almost impossible to see how that can be achieved if Corbyn wins.

For that matter, it’ll be quite difficult to avoid if Smith wins although in that unlikely situation, he would at least be watching or chasing the infiltrators back out, together with those who invited them in if he has any sense.

But more likely is a renewed Corbyn mandate and from there, the natural dynamics would play out. The Labour bus is careering towards the cliff, driven by someone who’s unqualified and egged on by a raucous bunch intoxicated by unexpected power. It’s true that jumping or inviting being pushed by standing up to the power in the party is likely to be painful but if the last chance is missed – and this leadership election is the last chance – then the alternative would be so much worse.

Doesn’t that bring us back to the point about forgetting nothing and learning nothing? Hasn’t Labour been here before and didn’t it end badly? Yes, they were and it did. But that time the unions and the leadership were on the side wanting to drag the party back from the abyss. This time, they and the membership are keenly accelerating towards it in the optimistic belief that they’re immune from the laws of gravity. But ‘gravity’ is no doubt just a Blairite theory.

David Herdson


The nastiness in the LAB leadership race is getting worse and now UNITE boss McCluskey is blaming MI5!

July 22nd, 2016

The response from ex-LAB Home Secretary Jacqui Smith


It’s being reported that Virginia Senator, Tim Kaine. will be named latest today as Clinton’s running mate

July 22nd, 2016

A message is due to go out from the Clinton campaign later today with her choice of VP nominee. All the reports suggest that she’s chosen Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia.

There had been much speculation that she might have gone for Massachusetts Senator, Elizabeth Warren, who has become one of Donald Trump’s most vocal and vehement critics. The problem there was that the Democratic party is desperate to win back control of the senate and her being elected as VP would have created a vacancy. Under normal procedures this would have been filled by the choice of the state Governor who is currently a Republican.

Senator Kaine does not have that problem because the Governorship of Virginia is currently in Democratic party hands.

Kaine is 58 and if he is chosen and Clinton wins then he must be a good bet to be her successor in the White House. Yesterday Bill Clinton indicated that Kaine had his backing.

Mike Smithson


Maybe LAB leadership contests should become an annual event

July 22nd, 2016


After a week of big national developments we’ve ten local by-elections

July 21st, 2016

Exmouth, Littleham (Con defence) and Honiton, St. Michael’s (Con defence) on East Devon
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 37, Independents 16, Liberal Democrats 6 (Conservative majority of 17)
Referendum Result: REMAIN 40,743 (46%) LEAVE 48,040 (54%) on a turnout of 79%

Result of wards at last election (2015)
Exmouth, Littleham: Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,667 E, 1,636 E, 1,489 E (26%)
Independent 1,224 (19%)
Liberal Democrat 1,170 (19%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 1,164 (18%)
Green Party 1,102 (17%)
Candidates duly nominated: Bruce De Saram (Con), Keith Edwards (Lab), Alex Sadiq (Lib Dem)

Honiton, St. Michael’s: Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,400 E, 1,390 E, 1,304 E (49%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 734, 636, 599 (26%)
Independents 723, 690 (25%)
Candidates duly nominated: Ashley Alder (UKIP), Henry Brown (Lab), Jenny Brown (Con), John Taylor (East Devon Independents)

Waunfawr (Plaid defence) on Gwynedd
Result of council at last election (2012): Plaid Cymru 37, Independents 19, Llais Gwynedd 13, Labour 4, Liberal Democrats 2 (No Overall Control, Plaid short by 1)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Plaid Cymru 388 (57%), Independent 290 (43%)
Referendum Result: REMAIN 35,517 (58%) LEAVE 25,665 (42%) on a turnout of 72%
Candidates duly nominated: Edgar Owen (Plaid), Paul Scott (Lab)

Hackney Central (Lab defence) on Hackney
Result of council at last election (2014): Labour 50, Conservatives 4, Liberal Democrats 3 (Labour majority of 43)
Result of ward at last election (2014): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 2,094, 2,082, 1,916 (64%)
Green Party 751, 738, 717 (23%)
Liberal Democrats 240, 202 (7%)
Conservatives 190, 184, 167 (6%)
Referendum Result: REMAIN 83,398 (78%) LEAVE 22,868 (22%) on a turnout of 65%
Candidates duly nominated: Sophie Conway (Lab), Russell French (Lib Dem), Mustafa Korel (Ind), Siobhan MacMahon (Green), Christopher Sills (Con)

Chorley Rural North (Con defence) on Lancashire
Result of council at last election (2013): Labour 39, Conservatives 35, Liberal Democrats 6, Independents 3, Green Party 1 (No Overall Control, Labour short by 4)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Conservative 1,525 (41%), Labour 1,402 (38%), United Kingdom Independence Party 642 (17%), Liberal Democrat 140 (4%)
Referendum Result (Lancashire County): REMAIN 316,975 (41%) LEAVE 456,763 (59%) on a turnout of 71%
Candidates duly nominated: Alan Cullens (Con), Stephen Fenn (Lib Dem), Yvonne Hargreaves (Lab), Christopher Stuart (UKIP)

Bellingham (Lab defence) on Lewisham
Result of council at last election (2014): Labour 53, Green Party 1 (Labour majority of 52)
Result of ward at last election (2014): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 1,819, 1,690, 1,505 (54%)
People Before Profit 451 (13%)
Conservatives 432, 403, 366 (13%)
Green Party 329, 273, 241 (10%)
Liberal Democrats 194, 151, 142 (6%)
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition 144 (4%)
Referendum Result: REMAIN 86,955 (70%) LEAVE 37,518 (30%) on a turnout of 63%
Candidates duly nominated: Ross Archer (Con), David Hamilton (People Before Profit), Sue Hordijenko (Lab), Edwin Smith (UKIP), Ed Veasey (Lib Dem)

Balderton South (Con defence) on Newark and Sherwood
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 24, Labour 12, Independents 3 (Conservative majority of 9)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,265, 1,207 (57%)
Labour 956 (43%)
Referendum Result: REMAIN 26,571 (40%) LEAVE 40,516 (60%) on a turnout of 77%
Candidates duly nominated: Lydia Hurst (Con), Marylyn Rayner (Lib Dem)

Westone (Con defence) R on Northampton
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 26, Labour 17, Liberal Democrats 2 (Conservative majority of 7)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Conservative 1,318 (56%), Labour 722 (31%), Liberal Democrat 315 (13%)
Referendum Result: REMAIN 43,805 (42%) LEAVE 61,454 (58%) on a turnout of 73%
Candidates duly nominated: Toby Birch (Lab), Greg Lunn (Con), Brian Markham (Lib Dem)

Southcote (Lab defence) on Reading
Result of council at last election (2016): Labour 31, Conservatives 10, Green Party 3, Liberal Democrats 2 (Labour majority of 16)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Labour 1,802 (43%), Conservative 1,476 (35%), United Kingdom Independence Party 576 (14%), Green Party 187 (4%). Liberal Democrat 179 (4%)
Referendum Result: REMAIN 43,385 (58%) LEAVE 31,382 (42%) on a turnout of 73%
Candidates duly nominated: Jason Brock (Lab), Mark Cole (Lib Dem), Alan Lockey (Green), Russell Martin (Con)

Warlingham West (Con defence) on Tandridge
Result of council at last election (2016): Conservatives 33, Liberal Democrats 7, Independents 2 (Conservative majority of 24)
Result of ward at last election (2014): Conservative 593 (52%), United Kingdom Independence Party 319 (28%), Liberal Democrat 238 (21%)
Referendum Result: REMAIN 24,251 (47%) LEAVE 27,169 (53%) on a turnout of 80%
Candidates duly nominated: Celia Caulcott (Lib Dem), Martin Haley (UKIP), Keith Prew (Con)

Compiled by Harry Hayfield


If the courts remove Corbyn from the ballot then LAB would have lost an electoral liability but gained £4.5m

July 21st, 2016


Next Wednesday a court will hear a case brought by a major LAB donor that the NEC was wrong to have allowed Corbyn to be on the ballot without securing the support of 51 MPs and MEPs.

I’ve no idea about the chances of the case succeeding but Michael Crick has reported that there is some concern within the party about the case.

If this does go forward it would be absolutely mega and it is hard to see what would happen next. No doubt there would be appeals to higher courts and this could prolong the already elongated electoral run-up.

Would Owen Smith as the last man standing be given the job or would it be opened up again. Nobody knows with the modern LAB party.

And what about those who’ve forked out. £25 in order to get the chance of voting? No doubt the hard-pressed party will keep it.

Meanwhile there was a flurry of betting activity after a Tweet from a respected source suggested that the £25 supporters were splitting against Corbyn. He later reversed this saying the incumbent was getting 60/40.

The mere fact of the court case and the uncertainty it creates suggests that Corbyn at a betting chance of 76%+ is value

Whatever a lot is going to happen in the next 8 weeks.

Mike Smithson