This morning the Communication Workers’ Union released a Survation constituency poll of Hartlepool, the first one we’ve seen (earlier in the campaign figures were released from a Focaldata MRP of the North, but you can’t really use MRP for a by-election – it doesn’t pick up the unique circumstances). Topline figures with changes from the last election were are CON 49%(+20), LAB 42%(+4), NIP 2%(+2), GRN 1%(+1), LD 1%(-3), ReformUK 1%(-25).

I should start by saying that constituency polling is difficult. It is mostly done by telephone and often has small sample sizes (in this case, the sample was 500, but the actual voting figures are based only 302 who gave a response). Its track record has sometimes been patchy. Nevertheless, it’s the best evidence of where the race stands that we are going to get. What can we tell?

The Conservatives are ahead (though the two main parties are within the margin of error for a sample of 302). Compared to the general election the poll suggests an 8 point lead from Lab to Con, significantly better than how the Conservatives are doing in national polls.

It would be extremely unusual for a governing party to gain a seat in a by-election. There have been only two instances in the last fifty years (Copeland in 2017 and Mitcham & Morden in 1982). Few governments poll ahead of their last election performance mid-term anyway, and if anything they do worse than that in by-elections.

The reason the Tories are doing better in Hartlepool than nationwide appears fairly straightforward, and doesn’t offer any obviously transferrable lessons. In Britain as a whole the Brexit party got 2% at the 2019 election. In Hartlepool they got a very healthy 26%. That vote has almost completely vanished, presumably to the benefit of the Conservatives.

As ever, by-elections are extremely unusual beasts that do not necessarily tell much about national politics. Maybe if the actual by-election turns out like this it will be a steer on how other seats with a high level of Brexit party support in 2019 may go… but then, come the actual by-election we’ll have a glut of other data from the local, Scottish, Welsh, Mayoral and London elections due to be held on the same day, so hopefully we won’t be trying to desperately read too much into one single by-election.

Also worth noting that – given this poll was commissioned by the CWU – it also asked about some of the issues that they are concerned about like broadband, Royal Mail privatisation, nurses pay. The answers in Hartlepool were as you’d expect from national polling (people like free stuff & nurses. They don’t like privatisations). It doesn’t tell us anything particularly useful about why Labour aren’t doing better. Don’t assume because the CWU chose to ask about those issues that they are necessarily ones that are driving support in Hartlepool. Maybe people in Hartlepool care more about Corona, or crime, or Brexit, or economic regeneration, or taxes…

Finally, before this poll there was also significant social media buzz about the Northern Independence party having an impact, not least because their candidate is Thelma Walker, a former Labour MP who resigned over the party’s refusal to re-admit Jeremy Corbyn. Realistically a party that hasn’t even been registered yet may be very pleased indeed if they manage to get third place, but nevertheless, the poll suggests they are not significant players here.

UPDATE: The tables for the Survation poll have appeared, and worth adding a further caveat. At the last election the Brexit party got 26% of the vote. Among people who took part in the poll, only 3% recalled voting for the Brexit party. This does not *necessarily* mean its a duff sample – there will undoubtedly be issues of false recall, of people re-aligning their past vote to match with present circumstances (especially since the Brexit party has rebranded itself into ReformUK and no longer exists in its old form), but it should be an extra reason for caution.


There were two Scottish Parliament voting intention over the weekend, one from Panelbase, one from Survation. Topline figures are that both show the SNP continuing to cruise towards victory and on the edge of winning a majority. Both show a tight race for second place between the Conservatives and Labour.

However, these were also the first two to measure support for Alex Salmond’s new list only party, Alba. The Panelbase poll showed them at 6%, the Survation poll showed them at 3%. To understand the significance of these we need to explore the nuances of the Scottish Parliament electoral system.

The Scottish Parliament elects members using an additional member system. 73 MSPs are elected in constituencies using first past the post, a further 56 are elected on a proportional regional list system. The regional list seats effectively operate as a “top-up” to the constituency seats already won, so that overall the seats won should be proportional to the list vote. For example, if party A won 6 constituency seats, but got 10% of the list vote, they’d be awarded another 7 list seats so they had 10% of the total seats. It’s more complicated than that because it’s done by region, meaning there is an effective threshold to get any seats at all, but we’ll come to that.

Crucially people cast two votes – you don’t have to cast your constituency vote in the same way as your list vote, you can vote for different parties.

The SNP did extremely well at winning constituencies at the last election (59 out of 73). This meant that that despite winning 42% of the list vote, they didn’t receive many list seats, because they had already won almost their fair share through constituency seats. Compare this to the Scottish Greens – they don’t win any constituency seats (they barely stand), so there is nothing to set against their list vote and their list vote of 7% translates into 6 seats.

Therefore, the Alba argument goes, SNP votes on the regional list are “wasted” votes, that are unlikely to return MSPs. If a significant chunk of SNP voters voted Alba instead, it would return more pro-independence MSPs.

So far, so good. However, because the Scottish system uses regional lists, there’s an effective threshold to get any seats at all (about 5-6%). There is also already a second pro-independence party, the Scottish Greens. That means in practice Alba could have a positive or negative impact on the number of pro-Independence MSPs elected. If they get over 5% in a substantial number of regions, and do so by taking SNP second preferences, rather than taking votes who would otherwise back the Greens, they will increase the next number of pro-independence MSPs. If they get under 6% in most regions, they are unlikely to win any MSPs at all. If they get under 6%, but in doing so, take votes from the Scottish Greens, they could even reduce the the number of pro-independence MSPs.

Hence, in judging the impact of Alba, the thing to look at is the level of Alba and the Scottish Greens in the list vote, and whether each is above or below that threshold of around 5-6%. The two polls so far paint contrasting pictures – in the Survation poll, Alba were at 3% and the Scottish Greens were unchanged at 11%. In the Panelbase poll Alba were at 6%, the Scottish Greens at 8%, again comparable to their showing in previous Panelbase polls.

So in neither case was there any evidence that Alba were cannibalising the pro-independence list vote by taking support from the Greens, but the evidence on whether they’ll actually win seats of their own is unclear. On the Panelbase figures they may well do (John Curtice tentatively projects 6 Alba seats, with a total of 79 pro-Independence MSPs). On the Survation figures they probably wouldn’t, but the SNP and Greens would get 77 pro-Independence MSPs between them anyway.

And that, in itself, maybe underlines the extent to which this matters. As things stand most polls show the SNP getting a majority or getting close to one. Taking the SNP & Scottish Greens together, there will very likely be a majority of pro-Independence MSPs anyway. Whether Alba manage to scramble over the threshold to win some seats or not doesn’t look likely to change that given their present level of support.

3,381 Responses to “Polling on Hartlepool and the impact of Alba”

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  1. I have checked again on the EMA site, and i see they are still investigating the AZ rare blood clots – there`s been no update on this since 31 March.

    But that should not give the BBC medical lady correspondent scope to repeat her lies on the BBC R4 10 pm news.

    Maybe people should bombard the BBC with requests to tell us how many clots have followed within 15 days of Pfizer jabs, and to compare that statistically with the 60 plus cases of clotting after AZ jabs.

    Two days ago a male BBC medic correspondent wasn`t sure if there had been any Pfizer examples, when asked.

  2. Pete B

    Yes. It’s the difference between “eradication” (ie smallpox) and “elimination” – the effect of the other vaccines that JiB mentioned.

    Covid is unlikely to be eradicated, but if it is eliminated, then life can return to “normal” – if the rather unviable world that we used to consider normal is what we want to return to!

  3. Oldnat,
    “Thankyou for your admission that you were talking absolute nonsense when you said “Except that mutant strains do not arise unless there is competitive pressure causing them to do so.”

    It depends at which level you are considering. At the individual virus level, mutations happen all the time. At the science bench level, what is observed is the statistical average of a mixed sample, after selective environmental pressure has eliminated poorly performing mutations.

    Imagine making cans of beans. What arrives in your shopping trolley is perfect cans. Hidden behind that is a process of selecting ingredients and rejecting any faulty cans before they ever leave the factory. Over the years the recipe may change and the product you eat is slightly different. Sometimes there is a major change, and you take home a completely different brand of beans. All along this selection process is a series of choices which could result in a very different product. But usually there is no change on the dinner table. Until something in the environment changes.

  4. Danny

    ‘It’s easy to see that your problems with reality don’t amount to a hill of beans in your crazy world.” (Casablanca – as Rick might have said about your “theories”)

  5. @Danny

    I think carrots would be a better subject matter, rather than haricot beans.

    Imagine the panic at the magical warren of endless intellectual cul de sacs if the carrots mutated!

  6. ON
    “Yes. It’s the difference between “eradication” (ie smallpox) and “elimination” – the effect of the other vaccines that JiB mentioned.”

    Again, I don’t want an argument I’m just trying to understand. Both JiB and I used the term ‘wiped out’. Can you explain how you differentiate between ‘eradication’ and ‘elimination’ ? They mean more or less the same thing in everyday English.

  7. Pete B

    Epidemiology (like every other science) uses language with precise definitions to avoid the confusions caused by “everyday English (or any other language!)”

    Smallpox, for example, has been eradicated, but as there are still samples kept in secure labs, it hasn’t been moved to the final category of “extinction”.

    Control: The reduction of disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity or mortality to a locally acceptable level as a result of deliberate efforts; continued intervention measures are required to maintain the reduction. Example: diarrhoeal diseases.
    Elimination of disease: Reduction to zero of the incidence of a specified disease in a defined geographical area as a result of deliberate efforts; continued intervention measures are required. Example: neonatal tetanus.
    Elimination of infections: Reduction to zero of the incidence of infection caused by a specific agent in a defined geographical area as a result of deliberate efforts; continued measures to prevent re-establishment of transmission are required. Example: measles, poliomyelitis.
    Eradication: Permanent reduction to zero of the worldwide incidence of infection caused by a specific agent as a result of deliberate efforts; intervention measures are no longer needed. Example: smallpox.
    Extinction: The specific infectious agent no longer exists in nature or in the laboratory. Example: none.

  8. It seems AZ has halted trials in children. Which at minimum means they believe the risk might exceed the benefit for children.

    Also for those debating the merits of low numbers of people reporting a side effects, the blood clot issue is not appearing with other vaccines, so it is a real effect specific to AZ.

    Something which occurred to me, is that some side effects at least seem to occur very fast. However the mechanism of action is supposed to be a vector virus carrying covid fragments, which has to infect human cells and then start reproducing them. Which to me implies a delay before there can be a reaction to covid protein itself, rather than a reaction to the chimpanzee virus

  9. ON
    Thanks. Always good to have the guidance of an epidemiologist. From your list of definitions it would seem that ‘Control’ is the best we can hope for in the next year or two at least.

  10. Pete B

    Last Summer, ScotGov were desperately trying to get all 4 polities in the UK to adopt the elimination strategy for UK (or at least GB).

    The government of the largest UK polity was unwilling to move beyond Control as its aspiration, so realistically that is the best we can hope for.

  11. @JIM JAM

    Firstly thanks for your thoughts at the top of this thread, I find the nuance you and @SHEVII provide on Labour Party matters really valuable.

    I think I understand your reasoning for saying that, in terms of Labour’s overall progress from 2019 etc then a LAB vote share of x% will be ok and y% will be good. But two related strands from that;

    – firstly, if Labour lose the seat, surely that’s going to look and sound terrible in and of itself, and to most people who “know” that oppositions win by-elections not governments, Starmer would really struggle to spin any defeat as a decent performance and indeed might look bad even trying.

    – secondly, Labour are at a decades-long nadir in terms of Westminster seats, so whilst it might be perfectly valid to argue that losing Hartlepool with an improved Labour showing is relatively encouraging in terms of the national position, to be accepting of continuing to lose ground in some areas really does beg the question of where all these other seats are they can win to offset this.

    Having said those things… EoR Hypothetical Holiday Fund is continuing to invest in Labour holding on to Hartlepool because that’s what I still think will happen.

    Also I think if Labour were to lose it, the other results on the night would be very important in how that loss is perceived. Second (or close to it) in vote share in Scotland, a comfortable lead in vote share in Wales despite the initial polls, and Sadiq Khan re-elected in the first round…losing Hartlepool might be portrayed as a curiosity rather than a portent.

    Whereas if Labour were to be a clear third in Scotland, and especially if they don’t have a comfortable win in Wales, I suspect the narrative would be Heartland Crisis on steroids.

  12. Still waiting for an answer to a complaint (my first ever) to the BBCfor their assertion on the Today programme on Monday that we ‘know’ that ‘Europe’ has ‘stoked’ fears about the AZ vaccine for political reasons. An astonishing claim for what is supposed to be an objective service.

    I think it was Justin Webb who said the following when interviewing Neil Kennedy

    “What can we say really, to people who are worried about the astra zenica vaccine, and we know that these fears have been stoked, to an extent for political reasons, across Europe”

    Presented as a fact by the BBC Radio 4 presenter at 7.48 on Monday’s programme. Really bugs me that the BBC slants its interviews these days by presenting opinions or inductive reasoning as ‘facts’ ( I am not particularly making a political point as I am sure people of all persuasions could point up examples)

  13. Bardin1

    But the BBC isn’t “supposed to be an objective service” in its news/current affairs output.

    Whenever the UK government of the time had considered there to be an “existential threat to the state”, it has required the BBC to perform as an organ of state, and to follow the propaganda requirements of the state.

    Few would argue against it performing that function during WWII, for example, in a time of war against a foreign enemy with the stated intention of conquering the UK.

    Exercising that function against internal “enemies” (whether violent or peaceful) becomes less justifiable, as it taxes the dissidents along with everyone else to pay for the propaganda.

    A government which extends party political control over the corporation to ensure that its executives are constantly minded to avoid annoying the government is more dangerous.

    It is a relatively short step for the party in power to adopt a “l’etat c’est moi” stance, and to influence the state broadcaster to protect the state through protecting its government and the attitudes that it wishes to promote within the population.

  14. Pete

    Everything to do with the EU and the UK was mad enough to sign the WA

  15. STEVE

    If you bothered to read my post you will see that i blame the UK Government as much as I blame the EU for the WA and the predictable result.

    We left the EU because the people of the UK voted to, get over it.

  16. TO see my reply to Steve.

  17. Alec

    See my rply to Steve

  18. The Other Howard,
    “Everything to do with the EU and the UK was mad enough to sign the WA”

    The government of the UK signed it, not some mythical entity. Thats specifically a group of politicians who believed in the UK leaving the EU. Who took the necessary steps to do this as well as it was possible to do.

    So you are saying you dont like the consequences?

    “We left the EU because the people of the UK voted to, get over it.”

    Again thats a half truth at best. We left because 1/3 of the people of the Uk voted to to so. Certainly those in N. ireland who voted for it, dont seem to like the outcome.

    The rest of us have been locked up without trial for a year by that same government and havnt had a chance to discover the consequences yet.

    Brexit means…imprisonment without trial.

  19. Hartlepool polling.

    To start, AW points out the difference between lab and con is within margin of error. Its only 300 respondents so a root n random error is about 17. On 50% con support of about 150 respondents, thats more than 10% error. Terrible stats. Thats before we consider whether the method of polling might generate a non representative sample, or what would actually be a representative sample given such huge swings because reformUK has released 25% of the total vote.

    And then the raw data only gives 32% con, 29% lab out of the total, weighted by past performance but before applying likelihood to vote.

    It suggests a con lead, but I wouldn’t like to rely on a vaccine tested this way.

    As to Alba, the data is even worse. At least in hartlepool we are considering the two main parties. In scotland its a brand new challenger so no previous data for normalisation, and the public has had no time to consider its position.

  20. AZ vaccine…

    I seem to remember the original trials produced a finding that a lower dose might be more effective than a higher one? Does anyone remember what happened about that, which dose we ended up with?

    Some while back I read the government expert advice on flu vaccines for the NHS. This observed that vaccine formulations use a double dose for older pensioners to get better efficacy. Its this same problem, that vaccines rely upon the immune system, which just doesnt work so well for the old, who are the high risk.

    But there is an inference here it might be we are using the vaccine at too high a dose for younger people, who react too strongly to it, and hence the side effects. That simply reducing the dose would be better.

  21. EOR,

    I agree losing Hartlepool would not e good for Morale and Starmer critics, internal and external, would use as evidence of ineffectiveness.

    Hartlepool is unusual in that it stayed Labour in 2019 despite a bigger swing away than most other seats in the area due to the BXP vote.

    Your main point about the Hartlepool result in reality only adding to or dampening the main narrative for the evening from results elsewhere is bob on imo.

  22. @TOH – no surprise in your response. Conservatism, and Brexit, in a nutshell.

    Everything is someone else’s fault, others have to take responsibility but never you, and the answer is some mythical, magical, 1950s pipe dream that can never happen in the real world, so the hunt for those to blame goes on.

  23. TOH

    That’s not an answer .

    Incidentally some of the people of the UK voted for it and you along with the rest should get over the shambles you caused and embrace the stupidity.

    It’s what you voted for

  24. Danny

    “Brexit means…imprisonment without trial.

    Brexit actually means freedom of course so you are 100% incorrect.

    As you well know I would not have signed the WA and we would have left on WTO terms. It would have then been up to the EU if it wanted to erect a hard border on the mainland of Ireland.

  25. Alec, Steve

    See my replyto Danny

  26. Steve

    “It’s what you voted for”

    I am proud to have voted Brexit, most positive vote of my whole long life.

  27. TOH

    Why it’s the same [email protected] you posted in your other responses.

    You won suck it up and thank you soooooo much for dropping us all in the same sh!t

  28. TOH

    What’s positive about stealing people’s rights to live where they want and vote in elections and making their lives manifestly worse?

    Bizarre post even by your standards.

  29. @Davwell – I think you have been ahead of the game on the CVST clots, and I posted something on this last night.

    The abuse of statistics here is appalling, with the BBC and others comparing the odds of an individual suffering a CVST over the course of a normal year with the odds of getting one post vaccination, without accounting for the fact that the relevant window for the potentially vaccine induced clot is around 20 days.

    You’ve got on average a 0.0005% chance of suffering a CVST over the course of a year, which means a 1 in 18.25 chance of suffering a CVST in any given 20 day period, which means odds of around 0.000027%. This compares to the apparent odds after vaccine of around 0.0002%, so around a tenfold increase. However, the BBC reported the vaccine risk as a third of the normal risk.

    Either way, this is a genuine difficulty, with a desperate need to get people vaccinated and the risks of covid substantially greater than the risk from the vaccine, but the issue of communication and trust really does come into play.

  30. Steve

    So you don’t believe in democracy and the vote of the people to leave the EU.

    Fair enough, that’s up to you. I am just a goof democrat who waited 40 plus years to help achieve a move in the right direction for the UK.

  31. Well done Bardin 1 (see message @ 12.52 pm) for making the effort to complain about Justin Webb`s shameful bias in his comments about EU countries on Monday morning. Webb then stated on Today that these countries were criticising the AZ vaccine for political reasons rather than health worries.

    Just possibly your official complaint led to Today taking a more balanced line this morning, with Jeremy Hunt being interviewed.

    What Hunt said could have been said 7 days ago, since he didn`t give out any fresh information. I did, however, notice JH saying that it was urgent for our UK regulator to make a decision, and maybe JH has indeed heard of more evidence on the clotting risk..

    Hopefully Webb`s accumulated utterances on Today are being investigated, and he will be suspended from the programme.

  32. Some scientific background to the blood clot issue here:

    It does seem that women of menstrual age are the cohort at risk from an adverse immune related reaction. One hopes that similar problems aren’t apparent with the Modern and Pfizer variety of vaccine.

  33. The Other Howard,
    “Brexit actually means freedom of course so you are 100% incorrect. ”

    Brexit does not mean freedom. brexit means throwing away the control, we had built up over our 30 nearest neighbours, whereby we have controlled their external relations to our benefit for 40 years.

    Its the biggest loss of British power since we lost the empire.

  34. The Other howard,
    “So you don’t believe in democracy and the vote of the people to leave the EU.”

    I dont believe in largest minority taking absolute power and have opposed it for any sort of election all my voting life. The Uk right now is a textbook example of a country being destroyed by this form of ‘democracy’.

    It is likely the final result of brexit will be the UK ceases to exist. Little Englanders might rejoice, but the division is wider than that and leaves england itself divided by this unrepresentative form of dictatorship.

  35. @ EOR

    In terms of the other races in May, It will be interesting to read someone analysing out the local elections as it is quite a complex set of elections covering two years and also covering one year where UKIP were high.

    2016- Opinion polling was roughly Con 35, Lab 32 UKIP 16. So very small Tory lead which ought to benefit them this year.
    2017- Roughly Con 47 Lab 30 UKIP 7. So Tory not so good as they are now and Lab a good bit lower.

    LD in 2016 very much where they are now but 2017 a bit higher at around 10%.

    The 2017 elections seem more skewed towards Tory areas with bigger majorities whereas 2016 (due 2020) was more of a mixed bag. Who this benefits in terms of headline seat changes I wouldn’t like to guess.

    I imagine this is a very complex prediction depending on the type of seats fought in 2016 and 2017 and also we’re not just looking at the gap between Con and Lab but their own opinion poll figures in isolation and what the other parties were and are up to.

  36. There is a real problem with the vaccine approach being adopted.

    We are unlikely to achieve herd immunity. It does not happen for other respiratory diseases.

    If the vaccines succeed in doing this, it will be using their approach of creating a massive response to a small target area on the virus. This response is deliberately made bigger than would happen naturally, but at the expense of being very limited in target scope. left to itself our immune systems do not create a big antibody response, and thats probably because their reaction produces a better overall result.

    The consequence of a narror strong response is that any variant virus coming along will be removed using this single area response, without boosting our immunity to any other sites. No reason to as its already covered.

    But the risk is that if the single area changes, and its the spike vaccines have universally concentraterd on, then immunity fails totally, and we have no backup response to other areas. Then you can get a serious infection because you do not have this breadth of immunity which we would have created naturally.

    Science has made a mistake. This is a problem we should be solving naturally, or at least by mimicking the natural approach. This does not include attempting to eradicate the disease, but transforming it into just another cold.

    Going for classicsal herd immunity is a mistake.

  37. @ JJ / EOR – Beyond Hartlepool, which is the perfect by-election seat with perfect timing for CON, then LAB are likely to go backwards in Scotland and Wales.

    The only polling company that has SLAB above SCON is Survation so whilst both will go backwards then SCON are likely to stay as main opposition (the yang to SNP’s yin as both are Indy obsessed)

    In Wales LAB are currently propped up by the compliant LDEM orphan but in next Senedd they’ll almost certainly have to rely on PC, who are unlikely to be as compliant as LDEM.

    Those are former LAB Heartlands all moving away from LAB to NATS but it is a bigger problem for LAB, given CON have a larger presence in England (and might well snaffle up a bit more of Wales as they lose a bit of Scotland)

    Within England then I’ll be keeping an eye on West Yorks, West Midlands and West of England Mayor results.

    All three should ‘lean LAB’ but my guess is Street keeps West Midlands, West Yorks is a coin flip and West of England turns Red (Bristol ‘innit)

    Khan and Burnham have ‘individual’ status and whilst LAB will be pleased to have them in their deck (similar to Houchen in Tees Valley) then ‘winning bigly’ (vote stacking) in very safe seats is gifting CON the next GE.

    Starmer needs to retake lost ground and/or breach the CON Heartlands in SW/SE/E.England and for that he’s going to need to offer something that people want to vote for.

    Not Corbyn and Not Boris = Not many extra seats

  38. STEVE

    @”What’s positive about stealing people’s rights to live where they want ”

    From his point of view- €6 billion of EU citizens’ taxes.

  39. TW

    @”Starmer needs to retake lost ground and/or breach the CON Heartlands in SW/SE/E.England and for that he’s going to need to offer something that people want to vote for.”

    If you follow Danny Finkelstein’s logic in his Times piece today, Starmer can only succeed by “being Starmer”.

    Which is not-” A socialist representing working-class people”

    Whis is -” A radical liberal , metropolitan, educated welfare capitalist who wants to rejoin EU ”

    DF’s main theme is the importance of “authenticity” in political leaders. He concludes that KS is trying to be something he is not.

    And voters spot that.

  40. EOR

    @” secondly, Labour are at a decades-long nadir in terms of Westminster seats, so whilst it might be perfectly valid to argue that losing Hartlepool with an improved Labour showing is relatively encouraging in terms of the national position, to be accepting of continuing to lose ground in some areas really does beg the question of where all these other seats are they can win to offset this.”

    I agree-notwithstanding the respect which I share with you for Jim Jam’s opinions and attitude.

    “Labour has governed for only 24 out of the last 70 years and seven of those were without a proper majority.
    Areas of the country where it used to be joked that Labour votes weree weighed , not counted , are Labour no more”

    Times today

  41. TREVOR W.
    Good Morning from a cold but dry Bournemouth, where we have a Half Marathon coming up through a private estate in neighbouring Christchurch (Chris Chope MP) on Saturday, indicating that life is returning to normal with the PM getting more popular as a result it seems.

    The ‘vote stacking’ problem for ‘my’ formerly formidable party in terms of being a machine that won General Elections back in the day both in its old Clause 4 days and in the Christian Socialist form (to quote Roy Hattersley), is a huge issue.

    I think the Party is not capable of solving this problem but I hope I am wrong. and the various local elections and the by election result will give some indication if the trend of safe seat vote stacking is being solved.

    The reasons for this trend are easy (imo) to identify but they are not easy to communicate on here without giving offence.

  42. The Trevs,
    “Not Corbyn and Not Boris = Not many extra seats”

    Then the problem was never corbyn, but the party failed to be credibly remain. And it continues to limp along with dissatisfied remain supporters.

  43. @ COLIN – From most recent R&W

    “Boris Johnson continues to lead Keir Starmer as being the one who best embodies the following descriptions: ”

    1/ ‘stands up for the interests of the United Kingdom’ (50% to 28%)
    2/ ‘can build a strong economy’ (50% to 26%)
    3/ ‘is a strong leader (47% to 27%)
    4/ ‘can tackle the coronavirus pandemic’ (46% to 26%).
    5/ ‘has the better foreign policy’ (43% to 23%)

    None of those are a surprise but Boris also leads on:

    6/ best embodying someone who ‘cares about people like me’ (36% to 33%).
    7/ ‘represents change’, (40% to 34%).
    8/ ‘can work with foreign leaders (45% to 32%)
    9/ ‘knows how to get things done’ (46% to 28%)
    10/ ‘understands the problems’ (45% to 30%)

    perhaps most damning of all for Starmer then Boris also leads on

    11/ ‘tells the truth’ (33% to 28%) – OUCH!!

    I’ve mentioned it before. C19 has created, eventually, a ‘Better Boris’ – a bit less bluster but still positive.

    Starmer was a dull London Remainer who has tried to out Tory the Tories but with no ‘authenticity’ to do so (rapidly having to apologies for either lazy research (recent church incident) or under pressure from the ‘woke’/’union’ faction). He did well to remove RLB but failed to purge Corbyn.

    However, being the ‘Old Starmer’ means LAB simply vote stack in safe seats (with the grumbling Far-Left making them unelectable to the masses, see polling on ‘divided party’)

    So whilst DF is correct then Starmer probably feels he has to try to be someone he is not (and will have to be seen to be more visibility successful in purging the Far-Left).

    He can get away with ‘Fake Stamer’ to some extent given LDEM are AWOL and LAB are hence the main ABCON party (E+W) but if he goes back to being a London Remainer then he’ll never retake the seats he needs to ever get to #10.

    Also the longer he waits to show his true self (London Remainer) the more ‘opportunistic’ he will look.

    He voted for Boris’s deal, he’s held a ‘vow of silence’ ever since.

    If he suddenly becomes a Rejoiner (or closer aligner) then it will be ‘authentic’ but it will just show he can’t be trusted and is wobblier than a wonky shopping trolley (or whatever Boris calls him every week in the thing we can’t mention)

    ‘New Starmer’ is a fake but ‘Old Starmer’ was a loser.

    Flipping between the two is unlikely to earn him much credibility outside of the core ABCON vote and if LDEM were making an effort they could probably snaffle up a chunk of the Remainer vote – maybe time Blair stops ‘lurking’ and makes a come back?

  44. @ TW

    West of England mayor is an interesting one. Obviously not just Bristol (50%) with some strong Tory and LD areas too where Labour only came 3rd or 4th and an unpredictable AV voting system.

    First round last time:
    Con 27%
    Lab 22%
    LD 20%
    IND 15%
    Green 11%
    UKIP 4%

    Final round:
    Con 52%
    Lab 48%

    2017 was a bad year for Lab so you would expect improvement but in Bristol at least Labour have a lot of factional problems, deselections of left wingers etc, so how this translates into enthusiasm to campaign remains to be seen.

    Also been an area where the Greens do a lot of sniffing around but were probably hindered by facing Corbyn. If Greens don’t make the first two (unlikely) then presumably most of their votes go to Labour on 2nd preferences, Complications with that high LD vote as well who might have sneaked 2nd on first preferences were they not so off radar.

  45. If Greens don’t make the first two (unlikely) should really be likely to not make the first two.

  46. Danny

    “Its the biggest loss of British power since we lost the empire.”

    Nonsense. its the biggest gain.

  47. @ SHEVII – A lot of those LD put CON as 2nd pref but ssshhh ;)

    For GOTV then could be an issue with not many Bristol+Bath students in term time accommodation as well perhaps?

    TBC but I ‘lean LAB’ on West of England.

    Within the ‘bigger picture’ then if LAB under new management loses more seats in former heartlands (Wales, Scotland, Hartlepool) and can’t even make progress in ‘Wokanada’ then that a pretty damning set of results for the ‘new management’

    I expect the ‘old management’ will point that out!

  48. @Colin

    Not saying you’re wrong but the money seems to have been wasted in other ways. I was a big ran of closing coal mines but I wonder if much money got saved in the end there.Our local Tory council seems to waste money just as well as the EU. 100 Million pounds was spent redecorating the HO just before Zoom!!.

  49. By way of a public service broadcast, worth everyone having a look at this –

    For a long time now we’ve known that covid is not spread by surfaces, yet we are still being told to wash hands and disinfect surfaces as a key control method. The spread is predominately via aerosol, so ventilation is the critical element, especially as we unlock and start to gather indoors again.

    Indoor ventilation is a complex topic, and it isn’t easy to offer simplified guidance. The rate of air change is massively influenced by wind speed and direction, so it isn’t viable to tell people to open Xm2 of windows per 10m2 of floorspace, for example.

    The best advice I have seen is repeated in this article, which is to use CO2 concentration as a proxy measure. This has the advantage of responding both to concentrations of people and to ventilation rates, with 1,000ppm of CO2 being looked at as a reasonable safety threshold. Below this, you should be able to have reasonable confidence that the levels of fresh air are such that covid concentrations will be low.

    If anyone is serious about this, you can buy a portable hand held CO2 monitor from £165. If you manage a building space, you ought to start a system to monitor and control CO2 levels by ventilation and crowd management.

    If you’re just interested in your own safety but fancy a pint next week, you can buy one and test the air wherever you go indoors, and ask the staff for more ventilation if the CO2 rate climbs. It won’t be infallible, but if every building did this, I think we would see some dramatic benefits.

    As the article says, this really should be our main control mechanism, but governments haven’t really grasped this as yet.

  50. Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 42% (-)
    LAB: 34% (+2)
    LDEM: 7% (-1)
    GRN: 6% (-1)
    REFUK: 3% (-)

    , 29 Mar – 01 Apr
    Chgs. w/ 26 Mar

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