The latest Farage farrago, Douglas Carswell is accused of helping the Tories defeat Farage in Thanet South

August 25th, 2016

Can or will Douglas Carswell remain a UKIP MP if senior Kippers are making these allegations?

Forget traingate this is the political story of the week, although I can sympathise with those who say a UKIP internal squabbling story is up there with a dog bites man story, but this story has achieved that rare feat, leaving me lost for words.

Senior members of Ukip have accused the party’s only MP of helping the Conservatives defeat Nigel Farage in South Thanet in the general election last year, according to Ukip’s main donor, Arron Banks.

Farage, then the leader of Ukip, was beaten by the Tory candidate, Craig Mackinlay, after a controversial campaign in the Kent constituency.

Banks’s company has written to Kent police with the allegation that Douglas Carswell, the Ukip MP for Clacton, helped the Tory campaign retain the seat. It details allegations that Carswell downloaded Ukip data for South Thanet and passed it to the Conservatives, enabling them to do “push polling” of key voters.

Push polling is when an apparently unbiased telephone survey spreads negative rumours about a candidate.

Carswell defected to Ukip from the Tories in 2014 but has had a fraught relationship with both Banks and Farage.

According to the letter, Carswell was granted access to the Ukip database but then only accessed the South Thanet data.

A letter sent to the police by Precision Risk & Intelligence, where Banks is chief executive, claims that “we have evidence of excessive spending by the Conservatives and secretive dealings between them and a senior Ukip representative to collude against Mr Farage”.

It should be noted that Douglas Carswell has quite pithily denied these allegations, he said “There is no basis in these claims whatsoever. We should just be relieved that those responsible for the disastrous campaign in South Thanet were not responsible for the successful referendum campaign.” 

But given that these allegations it might be worth looking at this market being offered by Ladbrokes on Douglas Carswell resigning the UKIP whip in 2016.

Carswel Whip

Given the time constraints it is no bet for me, even given Carswell’s past form for leaving political parties and the allegations made against him this week, the bet will not pay out if he is expelled from UKIP. UKIP does have a history of kneecapping* the internal opponents of Nigel Farage, as Suzanne Evans, the Lady Jane Grey of UKIP, can attest to.


*That’s a metaphorical kneecapping, not a literal one.


I’m not sure a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour Party is equipped to endure the white heat of a six week general election campaign

August 25th, 2016

Under Jeremy Corbyn Labour are ceasing to be a serious political party and in danger of turning into a The Thick Of It tribute

Perhaps I’m being unduly harsh on Jeremy Corbyn, but the clip above of his press conference yesterday was a mixture of the downright embarrassing and painful to watch, all because of Traingate. All politicians make gaffes, or their spin gets unspun, but the whole traingate farrago isn’t an exception and his response to it does not inspire confidence in him or his team.

Take this mistake on Monday by Corbyn that was overshadowed by other things, it fits a pattern of a lack of competence by Corbyn and his staff.

US Senator Bernie Sanders has denied sending Jeremy Corbyn a message of support in his battle with Owen Smith for the Labour leadership.

Corbyn told supporters on Monday evening the former Democratic presidential candidate had been in touch to point out the parallels between the two men.

However a spokesman for Senator Sanders told The Huffington Post UK today: “The senator didn’t send a message and doesn’t intend to get involved in British politics.”

The spokesman added that Senator Sanders, who lost out to Hillary Clinton in the race to be the Democratic presidential nominee, “has a lot of respect for Mr. Corbyn and wishes him well”.

A spokesperson for the Corbyn campaign told HuffPost: “Jeremy was misinformed by an aide, who had wrongly been led to believe this was the case.”

A good leader could have dealt with it, the original sin of sitting down on the floor when there were seats available was a bit like David Cameron early in his leadership of the Tory Party cycling to Parliament with his car and chauffeur behind him but it didn’t do any lasting damage to Cameron because Cameron had strengths and public support elsewhere to deflect the criticism.

A decent Labour leader would have ruthlessly exploited the Tory fault lines on Brexit, especially when two out of the three Brexit ministers are Liam Fox and David Davis.

It isn’t hard to see why Jeremy Corbyn has such poor ratings on this week’s performances, he’s confirmed he doesn’t look like a Prime Minister in waiting. Gravitas is a lot like pornography, it is hard to describe or define, but you know when you see it, Corbyn lacks gravitas. 

What happens in the televised debates for the 2020 general election campaign? Will he turn on the voters who ask him awkward questions or questions on topics he’d rather not discuss? If he thinks he gets to choose the questions journalists or the public get to ask him he’s in the wrong profession.

And this is all before we contemplate how 172 Labour MPs who have no confidence in their leader comport themselves during a general election campaign.



The PB/Polling Matters podcast on the future for LAB & probes whether a Corbyn victory is inevitable

August 24th, 2016

On this week’s PB/Polling Matters podcast we continue the new format of the show where each guest picks a polling or elections topic to talk about and the group discuss it.

On this week’s show Keiran Pedley is joined by former BBC journalist and Labour press officer Don Brind who regularly contributes to the PB site and is currently working with Saving Labour on Owen Smith’s leadership campaign. Also joining Keiran is Harry Carr who is a political analyst at Sky News and Head of Sky Data.

Topics covered on today’s show include whether a victory for Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Leadership contest is inevitable, what past polling tells us about how Labour might do in a future General Election and recent YouGov polling on what the public think that Brexit should mean (even if Theresa May won’t tell us).

You can follow each guest on today’s show at

Don’t forget to subscribe to the PB/Polling Matters podcast on iTunes or Android and to leave a rating or review. And for those keen on following polling data on twitter @SkyData is well worth looking at.


Betting on a united Ireland referendum happening by the end of 2020

August 24th, 2016

Irish Referendum

Prior to June 23rd, there was a strong push from Remain that a Leave victory could lead to a united Ireland, Paddy Power have a market up on whether there will be a referendum on such a matter by the end of 2020.

A 2011 poll found ‘more than half of Catholics in Northern Ireland want the long-term future of the North to be as part of the United Kingdom, while only 16 per cent of the overall population favour a united Ireland.’

When coupled with Theresa May saying straight after she became Prime Minister, ‘The full title of my party is the Conservative and Unionist party and that word unionist is very important to me. It means we believe in the union, the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland,’ I don’t think there’s any appetite for a referendum or reunification, especially with Mrs May in charge, I cannot see her authorising a referendum, in fact prioritising keeping the United Kingdom together might be her route to avoid the ‘hard Brexit’ some leavers are advocating.

I’m normally not one to back 1/8 bets, especially ones that will take over four years to pay out, but with interest rates approaching negative rates, a 12.5% return in a little over four years might seem attractive to some.



Big message from #Traingate: Virgin/Branson don’t think Corbyn’s got a remote chance of ever making it to Number 10

August 24th, 2016

Virgin wouldn’t have been so emboldened if they’d thought JC was ever going to be PM

Huge coverage overnight of the Mr. Corbyn’s little affair on the train to Newcastle and I thought the comment on Newnight by the ex-adviser to EdM sums it up neatly. The CCTV footage from the train would not have been released by the politically astute Virgin company if they had thought that there was any chance at all that this was about someone who could at some stage become PM.

Virgin, which is all about branding and image which it takes very seriously, clearly doesn’t think that bashing Corbyn is going to hurt it in any way.

This was about the political weakness of the the LAB leader and the danger for him is that it will linger. The former LAB pollster, Deborah Mattinson summed up the political damage in this quote on Newsnight.

Whether it’ll have any impact on the current leadership election I doubt. It will simply reinforce the pro-Corbyn and and anti-Corbyn factions within the party.

Mike Smithson


Whatever the rights and wrongs of “#Traingate” Corbyn needs a better PR organisation

August 23rd, 2016

The afternoon has been dominated by what’s now become #Traingate – how the film of Corbyn having to sit on the floor of a Newcastle-bound Virgin train two weeks ago might not have been all it seemed.

I don’t want to go into the rights and wrongs here because I just don’t know. As a very regular traveller on that line I have a lot of sympathy for the Labour leader. Services can get packed and finding seats can be difficult which is why it is always wise, and much better value, to book ahead of time. That way you get a reserved seat.

The problem was he’d used his experience on the trip to make a political point on the ownership of the railways. When you do that your PR team has to take into account the possibility that the claims you make might be unpicked.

Team JC make a big point of saying that there is a media bias against them. Maybe. But Corbyn has to ensure that he gets the best possible PR advice and support in what is a critical part of his job – how things he does and say are portrayed. I don’t believe that under Seamus Milne he is being well enough served. Milne had never had a PR role before taking on the Corbyn job and it shows.

Mike Smithson


Smith should acknowledge that JC’s the likely winner and press for the highest possible vote to “send a message to the party”

August 23rd, 2016


The challenger needs to change strategy

This morning there’s been another effort by the Smith campaign to claim that “private polling” suggests that the battle is close and that he could win.

This might or might not be right but until we see a proper selectorate poll showing something different the overwhelming narrative will be that that JC is heading to hang on to his job.

There’s no point in the Smith campaign making assertions which are simply not believed whatever their substance. Rather he should switch his objective to securing the maximum possible votes which would be putting JC under notice that he has to improve or else there’ll be another summer LAB leadership election in 2017.

That might help with waverers who are worried by Smith’s lack of experience.

An outcome where Corbyn finishes in the lower 50s would have a dramatically different impact than if he reaches or even exceeds the near 60% of last year yet again. If JC’s down into the 50-55% region then it’s going to be harder to play the mandate card. He could be portrayed as being on the decline and that his demise was only a matter of time.

If Labour’s still in the polling doldrums next June and Corbyn’s ratings remain poor then that would set things up for another challenge.

Mike Smithson


Use your political forecasting skills to enter the 2016 PB Labour leadership PRIZE Competition

August 23rd, 2016


Simply record here Smith or Corbyn;your predicted winning margin & turnout

Thanks to Mark Hopkins and his NoJam widget we’ve prepared another PB Prize competition. Simply predict who’ll win the LAB contest and the winning margin. There’s a tie-breaker question as well – the turnout.

Your predictions should be to two decimal points and the competition will close at 1900 BST tomorrow night.

The two entrants who are closest will win in addition to the bragging rights copies of what’s set to be the political best seller of 2016 which is being published next month. This is the follow up to the 2015 hit “Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box” called imaginatively “More Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box”. It is by two very notable academics Phil Cowley and Robert Ford.


As ever I am the final arbiter on all aspects of the competition.

Have fun entering and by tomorrow evening we’ll see what the PB consensus is. I think that this is going to be close and my entry will be Corbyn by a small margin.

Have fun.

Mike Smithson