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Theresa May’s big speech – a round up of reaction

January 17th, 2017




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Polling background to the PM’s big BREXIT speech

January 17th, 2017



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The verdict on the Corbyn relaunch: Jeremy must try harder

January 17th, 2017

“Message discipline and clarity is like good underwear. You don’t want to wave it around but you notice if it’s not there.”

The tweet by former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith didn’t mention Jeremy Corbyn by name but her tweet was undoubtedly prompted last week’s “relaunch.”

Smith who was appointed the country’s first woman Home Secretary by Gordon Brown in 2007 was of course aware that supporters of the Labour leader scorn the New Labour virtue of message discipline.

I’m a true believer. Message discipline is a vital part of winning elections, something I’m rather keen on. So, I had Smith’s comment in mind when I replied to a charming member of Team Corbyn who asked during the Fabian conference on Saturday what I thought of the relaunch.

There were two things wrong with it, I suggested. Firstly, the key message that Labour was “not wedded” freedom of movement of EU citizens frayed round the edges under the pressure of media interviews.

The second sin was that he scooped himself – offering an alternative story about capping of high pay that detracted from the message on migration  One of my media training colleagues likes to quote an American trainer’s dictum: “if you want them to eat chicken, don’t lay out a buffet.”

Team Corbyn will have been pleased with the Guardian assessment of the Fabian speech,  judging it  to be “one of the most polished and well-crafted he has delivered as Labour leader, something being attributed to the influence of his new speechwriter, David Prescott, son of the former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott.” I welcomed the young Prezza’s here last month.

On the debit side, however, were comments from commentators sympathetic to Labour. John Harris on Today  said that delivering on a radical agenda needs deep thoughts and strategic thinking. He accused Corbyn of making it up as he goes along and shooting from the hip.

“A reasonable idea, an argument worth starting is destroyed, becomes literally incredible by the end of the day.” And  Will Hutton in the Observer  accused the Labour leader of “blundering, ill-prepared” into the high pay argument.

For me the lesson of the relaunch is that Corbyn needs to try harder. Labour does need to be talking about immigration but much more important is developing a coherent economic policy that convinces voters that Labour will make them better off. Resentment against excessive high pay and campaigning against austerity won’t cut through unless the top lines of Labour’s appeal are about promoting and sharing prosperity.

That is, of course, what Theresa May is promising and her massive approval rating leads over Corbyn have got many Labour members worried about what could happen if she call an early election. Alastair Meeks recent PB post suggesting
suggesting the Prime Ministers poll ratings “flatter to deceive” were therefore comforting and, to me, persuasive. “She’s safe enough while she’s faced with a useless opponent. If she finds herself up against someone more competent, she might find herself struggling far more quickly than most pundits currently could imagine, ” argued Meeks.

In the end, that is the case for a change of Labour leader. But In the meantime, all we can ask is that Jeremy Corbyn is the best leader he can be. The relaunch wasn’t perfect but as a signal that he now sees reaching out beyond his devoted following as the test of his leadership is undoubtedly a big plus.

Don Brind



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Punters rate UKIP as a 29% chance in Stoke Central. A chance for Paul Nuttall?

January 16th, 2017

Betting interest in the Copeland and Stoke by elections is starting to grow even though the sitting MPs have yet to resign.

The Copeland man, is off to join the Sellafield nuclear Centre and that’s expected to take place at the end of this month.

My guess is that Labour strategists will try to hold both by elections on May the 4th when there are the local elections as well as the string of contests for the elected mayors in the new English combined authorities. This will mean that many activists of other parties will be tied up on their home patches thus, LAB will hope, decreasing their campaigning capabilities in the Westminster by-elections.

On the face of it the Tories stand a good chance in Copeland and, indeed, are odds on betting favourite. In Stoke Central UKIP came second last time and there is a lot of hope within the purples that they can do it.

The Lib Dems, flush with their successes in recent Westminster and local by elections, are fired up and my sense that they’ll making Stoke the priority rather than Copeland if they are held on the same day. They have the benefit of having been in second place in 2005 and 2010 and also have held Council seats in the CITY.

Interestingly one of the Lib Dems’ leading campaigners, the man who masterminded the Sleaford and Hykeham north effort in which the yellows pushed  Labour into 4th place, is from Stoke, was a councillor there and was the candidate at GE2005 when he came second.

This would seem to be ideal seat for the new UKIP leader, Paul  Nuttall who clearly is hoping that under his leadership UKIP can pull up pull off a first past the post by-election victory for the first time without a defector/incumbent.

I’m waiting to see who the candidates are before placing any more bets.

Mike Smithson




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After an extraordinary and dramatic political year so little has changed in the battle between CON & LAB

January 16th, 2017

The main moves – UKIP down LD up

After this morning’s YouGov poll came out I was asked on Twitter for the comparative numbers for a year ago and other points during 2016. The data is in the chart above and shows quite extraordinary that Labour and the Conservatives have almost the same numbers this month that they had a year ago.

This is a period which has seen the election of a Muslim mayor in London, Brexit, and, of course, a new UK PM, the victory by Donald Trump in the White House Race.

ILooking at the polling numbers between now and the year ago the only real change has been that the LDs have progressed quite nicely and UKIP has Fallen. At one stage Farage’s party, as it then was, touched 20% but things started to decline after the referendum. It remain to be seen whether under its new leader UKIP will reach the heights again.

The big factor in domestic politics has been the time has marches on. We are now one year closer to the May 2020 General Election date that is laid down in the fixed term Parliament Act. The time margins for a LAB recovery are now much narrower.

In the coming months so much depends on how to Theresa May’s government is seem to have handled the extraction process from the European Union. On that we will get the prime minister’s speech tomorrow. Then hopefully within next week we should see the Supreme Court ruling on Article 50.

Mike Smithson




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A cartoon to start this historic week

January 16th, 2017


Copyright Helen Cochrane & Nicholas Leonard 2017



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Donald Trump, Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt feature in the big stories overnight

January 15th, 2017



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Want to bet on footage of that golden shower appearing on a porn site? Yes WEE Can

January 15th, 2017

Paddy Power have some Donald Trump specials up, to be honest most of these appear to be taking the piss, as it were, and serve to act as an excellent way to contribute to Paddy Power’s bonus fund.

For example take the bet on the golden shower footage to appear on porn website ‘RedTube’, not being an expert (sexpert?) on niche websites like this, I believe there are many many many more websites of this nature on the internet, that the footage could end up on, that alone makes it an unattractive bet even before you consider the subject material.

The only bet if I was forced to choose would be the 7/4 on Trump NOT to complete his first term in office, because Ladbrokes are offering 11/10 on Trump to leave office via impeachment or resignation before end of 1st term (which doesn’t cover all the possibilities as the Paddy Power bet, such as Section IV of the XXV Amendment being enacted.)

Speaking of Ladbrokes, they also have a few Trump specials

The one I’m backing is the 1/25 on Trump to be inaugurated on the 20th of January. Yes I’m aware a 1/25 tip is likely to be the shortest priced tip in the thirteen years of PB but with interest rates of 0.25 per cent, a 4 per cent return in five days seems very good.

Despite the best efforts of an alumnus of the finest university in the world, Trump will be inaugurated, the only circumstances that prevent him being inaugurated will make it unlikely you’ll be paid out on the other side of the bet, circumstances like nuclear war, a pandemic, the rapture, or the zombie apocalypse, those type of things.

TSE