Happy new year

Yesterday we had the final poll of the year – the fortnightly Opinium poll for the Observer, which showed topline figures of CON 29%(nc), LAB 39%(nc), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 15%(+1). I’m normally somewhat wary about polls conducted over holiday periods due to the potential of getting skewy samples. In this case the poll was conducted between the 21st and 27th of December, so right over the Christmas period itself, but the results don’t seem to be out of line, in fact they are almost unchanged from a fortnight ago.

With that out of the way I was intending to write a nice end of year round up, but time has gotten away from me, so instead I’ll put together some looks forward to the year ahead over the next week or two. Until then, have a happy new year.

243 Responses to “Happy new year”

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  1. The other Howard

    No one is even asking the most important question facing the country, let alone having answers. They all got their heads in the sand, deficit reduction is just a sideshow

  2. ROBIN
    Are you absolutely certain that your last sentence is based on the correct analysis?
    I only ask because I’ve just read this :-
    Fairy tale ?-what do you think?

    -Nightmarish rather than Fairy tail but complete fantasy either way.

  3. STEVE

    @”Nightmarish rather than Fairy tail but complete fantasy either way.”

    Sadly I must agree with the last comment, though you would expect me to disagree profoundly with the first.

    ….anyway…I enjoyed reading it. ( smiley)

  4. What gets me about the “cuts” in tax credits is the justification. Everyone else has had below inflation wage increases so the very poorly paid should as well, similar to the argument for stealing public pensions, the private pensions have been stolen so its only fair that we steal the public workers pensions. Oddly the Tories do believe in equality, equality of misery!!!

  5. @Colin, Steve

    Fantasy indeed.

    40-42% seems locked in for Labour. To make any inroads at all, I think the Tories need two things:

    (1) For voters to drift back from Lab to LD. This isn’t going to happen while the LDs remain part of the narrative of government rather than opposition.

    (2) For the Conservatives to show a hitherto hidden degree of competence. Every reminder of the ongoing omnishambles and/or cluster**** simply entrenches the current position.

  6. New year and same old politics. Shock horror that rail fares have increased by more than inflation again, with the usual political arguments. The fact is that for people commuting to work, it is an absolute rip off, where people are paying three times the amount per mile, that they are paying in most of Europe. Why is this the case ? The UK government has never subsidised the public transport network, as much as they do in other EU countries.

  7. Peter Kellner’s 2016 story is basically: What if absolutely everything goes against Labour & comprehensively for Tory; then 2015 might be like Major’s win in 1992?

    Having read Kellner’s article, I think that the Tories who read it & felt happy missed the point which Kellner was making: So many things would have to work for Cameron & against Labour that a Cameron win in 2015 seems almost ridiculous.

  8. I can’t imagine that anyone would believe DC if he promised an in/out ref after the next election

    Pull the other one its got bells on!!

  9. @ RiN

    An in/out EU referendum after the next election is already ‘priced in’, IMO. If Cameron says there’s not going to be one, he’ll drop a few more points; saying there will be one will get him zilch.

    So, Cameron would need to say he’ll hold a referendum before or on the same day as the 2015 election. Other than that, his only option is to say that there’ll be one in 2016 & the Tories will be campaigning for an ‘out’ vote.

    This could trigger a back-lash against Cameron & the Tories from both industry & commerce. In which case, Labour might find themselves with a pot of gold to spend when fighting the 2015 election.

    Another possibility could be: If Europe & the US continue to aver that Britain is better in than out of the EU, Miliband may get some photo-ops which will give him the chance to look statesmanlike & prime ministerial. That would be a blow to the main plank of the Con campaign which will likely be: ‘Ed as PM is unimaginable’.


    The question isn’t “Is it not possible to be critical of Labour without being an adjunct of the Tories?” it is “Is it not possible to be critical of Labour without appearing to be an adjunct of the Tories?”

    Unfortunately for Mr Clegg that is going to be a difficult one to manage. If he also criticizes the Tories he is (by implication) criticizing the coalition that only exists because of his decision to join it. If he doesn’t then he is seen as no more than a fellow traveller for the Tories.

    In a more mature debate perhaps he’d be able to get the balance across, but I suspect that the media aren’t interested in portraying that.

    Of course from Labour’s perspective, why would they want to portray him as anything else? It would seem to be a great tactic.

  11. Interesting scenario/prediction? by Labourite pollster Peter Kellner on the yougov website. Not saying it will/is likely to happen, but it cannot be totally ruled out.

    One way or another, I think it is clear that current swingometers will probably be pretty useless at predicting the next GE, especially if the predicted collapse of the Lib Dems transpires.

  12. More to the point Clegg IS an adjunct of the Tories – whether he criticises Labour or not. However in doing so with such passion he simply highlights the reason most Ds have already slunk off back to Labour anyway.

    He’s in a neat lose/lose situation.

  13. @Amber
    Factor in a uniform swing of just 3.5% from LD to Lab, with the 2010 Con vote share unchanged, and the Lab and Con seat count is tied, with Con losing 17 seats net.

    So I consider that Peter Kellner is wrong in his premise that Conservative gains in LD-Con marginals can come about without significant Lab gains in Con-Lab marginals, following a significant fall in the LD vote.The whole article hangs on that premise but nowhere does he really justify it.

  14. @ Phil Haines

    You make an excellent point. And I would simply add:

    Peter Kellner’s scenario says: “Labour gained ground against the Tories everywhere except the marginal seats that mattered most.”

    But that’s not what has been in evidence. In both local elections & by-elections (there’s only been a couple of important by-e’s) Labour appears to be gaining in exactly the seats where it matters most.

  15. @Amber

    Good point, and even without such evidence, it would still take a big leap of faith to imagine a scenario where Labour could pick up votes in Torbay and Gateshead but not Corby for example.

  16. Peter Kelner’s latest analysis through conjectured future review falls at two fences for me.

    One, that the issue of Europe and the prospect of an in/out Referendum is a silver bullet for electoral success. If it was Cameron would never have pulled back from the promise of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in 2009 – and presumably so the Kelner argument goes already be in possession of a parliamentary majority.

    Two that any collapse of the LD vote will be in such a manner as to advantage the Tories to the maximum whilst offering no similar gains to Labour. Since we know that these ex-LDs are almost entirely left of centre anti-Tories it would mean collectively they had entirely chosen to cast their 2015 votes in the most self-defeating manner. In short Kelner is taking these voters as fools.

    My own view is that in seats where a LD is not up against a Tory the swing against them will be prodigious and probably larger than what national polls suggest.

    However where LDs are up against a Tory and have presumably relied on Lab tactical voters the swing against LDs will be minimal, as those particularly angered by the LDs coalition with the Tories, reluctantly vote LD again, perhaps even after telling pollsters for 5 years they would vote Lab. The ballot box repent purely the result of being faced with the realities of FPTP.

    In other words the result of the LD vote collapse could be to deliver the exact opposite of what Kelner conjectures i.e. costing the Conservatives marginal seats to Lab as Lab sweeps up the ex LD vote (eg. the recent Corby by election) with no offset in Con-LD seats for the reasons I outlined above. A double whammy for the Conservatives, which in my view could well happen since it will be the political wishes of the ex-LD voter.

    We’ll see but dont take the electorate for fools.


    “One way or another, I think it is clear that current swingometers will probably be pretty useless at predicting the next GE, especially if the predicted collapse of the Lib Dems transpires.”

    I think you are completely right on this.

    Furthermore we saw in 2010 UNS is a very dubious concept to begin with.

    Which makes some of the intense analysis that we all enjoy on here a bit moot since there is no certain direct correlation between VI and the rather more important number of seat count.

  18. @ TheSheep

    “Of course from Labour’s perspective, why would they want to portray him as anything else? It would seem to be a great tactic.”

    I agree with this too. Thats why I answered my own question about that.

    However if you are not inclined to see it from Labour’s perspective I don’t think my question is not unreasonable to ask.

  19. Interesting to see various attempts to shore up Tory prospects in 2015, after a rash of Tory led ‘we’re doomed’ articles in recent days. I’m not suggesting people like Kellner are writing their articles to try to any particular agenda, but rather I see this as being typical of the commentariat. They need to say something contrary to stay noticed, so why not counter the prevailing mood?

    Dan Hodges has done something similar in the Telegraph – http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danhodges/100196361/a-conservative-win-in-2015-isnt-only-possible-right-now-its-the-most-likely-outcome/

    His analysis has some merit, but is highly partial and cherry picks data. He refers to the Tories ‘having a 5 point lead’ a year ago, for example. Yes they did, technically, with two ICM polls at +6 and +5 in December and January, and a YG outlier of +5 around the same time. He ignores the rest of the polls, which showed small leads for both Labour and Tory or level pegging.

    He also chooses to analyse the current Opinium poll. On the basis of this, he says “Labour still can only just scrape a double-digit lead and still cannot consistently break 40 per cent.”. I really don’t believe that statement is a true reflection of the majority of polls.

    The central question on which Hodges stays completely silent, however, is the one where he explains how Tory votes will increase over their 2010 level, while Labour votes do not. This is in essence what needs to happen to convert a minority position for Cameron into a majority. Of course, this remains perfectly possible, and there are various scenarios pertaining to the potential fall in the Lib Dem vote as discussed above, but when you start to work it out, a Cameron majority gets quite hard to justify as the most likely outcome. Hodges even suggests that a doubling of the UKIP vote in 2015 would apparently still not damage Tory prospects.

    I have to say I find Hodges a consistently dull and unimaginative writer. He doesn’t want to engage with facts in anything other than a very superficial manner, and I find his lack of willingness to challenge his own views on occasions makes him really rather a poor writer. He may be correct in this case – I don’t think so, but that isn’t really the point. His articles would be so much better if he could just engage in a more thoughtful analysis, although at the end of the day, he is a member of the great British press, so we really can’t expect that much meaningful thought from him I guess.

  20. Some strongly positive December PMI data for the UK manufacturing sector at last – a much better than expected set of figures, taking everyone by surprise.

    This is interesting, as the November results suggested a heavy level of destocking and a decline in forward looking new orders, so clearly either the November predictive elements of the index were wrong, or the December output figures are an overestimation.

    On the bright side, this heightens the chance that Q4 will remain slightly positive. That’s a very significant political relief for the Chancellor if that is indeed the case.

  21. Re recent posts……..LOL!

  22. @The Other Howard – not quite sure what your last post was about? The essence of where we are with talk of future Tory electoral success is that blues have to explain how they can improve their vote share and seat tally in 2015, and why they think they can achieve a working majority then, when they have failed to secured a stable majority in the previous 28 years. That really is a huge factor to contend with.

    I would be the first to agree that politics doesn’t travel in straight lines, and anything is theoretically possible. But the political backdrop for 2015 isn’t now likely to be the ‘we fixed the deficit’ line Cameron had predicted.

    There will be successes to campaign on, and there will be some qualified success on the deficit, but it’s not likely to be the clear success story many had once assumed, so I think that people critiquing those who believe a Tory majority is likely but who currently lack incontrovertible evidence to support their assertions, is perfectly valid as discussion points.

  23. Alex agrre re Hodges, he has a view and tries to find facts to support his view. Peter K is much more valauable and imo can be taken either one of 2 ways. First, as per Amber demonstrating just how many things would have to go in the cons favour to get an OM and/or as a warning to Labour about being compacent, which in fact I think few of us are and certainly none in the leadsership.

    Grhinports re UNS.

    I agree that with the potentially large swing from LD-Lab a proportionate method may be more accurate in specific seats.
    Also as I (and others) have said before imo when push comes to shove many 2010 LDs in Con/LD marginalscurrentlly Lab or DK will hold their nose in 2015 to keep the Tory out; just like most of the new UKIP supporters who will vote Tory.

    FWIW I guess 39/35 is possible but the marginals swinging better for the cons highly unlikley, I seem to recall Ashcroft saying it will be harder than last time as some of the messages to voters in marginals may only work once (or something to that effect)

  24. @ Jim Jam

    I seem to recall Ashcroft saying it will be harder than last time as some of the messages to voters in marginals may only work once (or something to that effect)
    All the reassurances on the NHS look a bit more suspect now. The Tories will need to hope that the changes are delivering benefits for patients by 2015.

    Forcing GPs to staff their surgeries 6 or 7 days per week would be popular with the public. The GPs might go postal though.

  25. TMy new year thoughts are other than those of Peter Kellner (and those were TIC I am certain). he main thing that could turn around the polls for Con is not differentiated voting instead of UNS, but a steady build up of Con dog whistles and slogans prior to the 2015 GE. It would be no good starting these now (any more than it would for the other parties) as the effect would subside too early. The difference is that Con will have more money with which to do so, as it always has had. Amber thinks an anti EU stance would switch those funds to Lab but I don’t see that happening. I’ve read business /financial manager’s views on the EU and they are just as irrational (or rational) as the man in the street’s.

    All LD / Con marginals will fall to Con in 2015 and I can see no scenario where any could be held.

    The LD / Lab ones, even if not marginal could fall too.

    A massive majority awaits EM as long as he just keeps low profile. In the debates, he should not try to sound macho but should have his prepared scripts firmly focused on women, the young and minorities.

    He is certainly clever enough to do this and his aides will have it all worked out already.

    ‘Oh to be an opposition leader, now that 2015 is nigh’ will be his thoughts, but 2015 is not nigh, we have half a Parliament to run yet!!

  26. Howard reckon 20-30 LD seats in England in 2015 due to tactical and personal votes and a little recovery in national vote share in to the teens.

    Scotland could collapse to 1-3 seats as anti-tory voters have more options, although the personal vote may cause a suprise hold or 2.

  27. Tory fortunes are bound up in the economy if unemployment continues to fall and the economy doesn’t collapse and can marginally improve which is looking more likely as time goes on, then there prospects will have a chance of looking a lot better at the end of 2013 going into 2014.
    Labour can hope the economy doesn’t recover and unemployment starts to rise, or be able to drive a large enough wedge in the coalition so it fractures.
    I don’t think welfare cut’s will have the necessary clout to make much difference as a majority of people in work support most aspects, although not all of the proposals being put forward.
    Labour can and will of course continue it’s attacks on cuts especially in the health service with the caveat that there has been a lot of negative press regarding care in the NHS recently so people can see that some change is required.
    At the moment Labours main attack has been to claim the Tories are out of touch which has been a good tactic for them and gave them after the last budget a 10% lead which they have maintained but not improved on for the last few months.
    I realise that there is a Labour bias in most of the posts on this site with a desire for them to do well which is fair enough, but nothing in politic’s is set in stone and what was once a 10% lead can soon disappear, on the other hand it can become a unstoppable momentum, all I say is that it’s really to soon to start talking about victory for any party.

  28. Turk: “I don’t think welfare cut’s will have the necessary clout to make much difference as a majority of people in work support most aspects, although not all of the proposals being put forward.”

    That all rather depends on how much they lose individually, as a family unit or loss by someone they are close to.

    60% of tax credit recipients are in work – rather a different picture to the one painted by IDS & Osborne.

    If Labours example (c/o Resolution Foundation) of the family that is to lose £6200 comes to pass, I doubt they and their extended families will support the benefit cuts.


  29. @Alec

    Sorry should have said I exclude your posts from the LOL as they are always thoughtful

    The LOL was because none of the Left leaning posters were prepared to answer the question Colin and I posted earlier. Not something I find surprising as i think Labour have no idea how to deal effectively with our economic woes wheras the Coalition is at least trying, although inadequately in my view.

    As fo the next Election I have always felt that the Conservatives will get an overall majority but its only a gut feeling. I just cannot see the electorate voting in a Labour government with Ed Balls as Chancellor, he carries so much responsibility for our current economic problems.

  30. @ ChorData

    Quite. I am sure that Labour know they will lose the battle (i.e. the vote) but may win the war when the effect of the changes becomes apparent on people’s wage slips.

  31. @TOH

    Labour knows exactly how to deal with our economic woes. As does Mark Carney, which is why Osborne was so desperate to get him.

    Will Osborne have the bottle to follow through once the necessary economic measures are shown to be diametrically opposite to that which the Tories would like them to be? If he does, recovery will begin the deficit will start to fall & the economy will be on the mend.

    Then Osborne will have to convincingly refute Labour (Ed Balls & Alistair Darling) saying: “We told you so,” whilst in reality knowing that their assertion is correct.

  32. @Amber Star

    LOL with smiley!

  33. @ TOH

    Well, at least you got an answer. :-)

  34. @Amber Star

    No I didn’t, thats the whole point. Labour are not prepared what they are going to cut and how deep and how they are going to fund what they do not cut.

  35. Happy New Year to one and all belatedly admittedly but nevertheless meant from the heart….

    And thanks especially to Anthony this is still the best site of its kind. John

  36. @Amber Star

    It should have read ” not prepared to say……………

  37. @jimjam

    “Scotland could collapse to 1-3 seats as anti-tory voters have more options, although the personal vote may cause a suprise hold or 2”

    Scottish seats are notoriously hard to call at the best of times but I reckon they could win as many as 6 as per AW’s advanced swingometer using scores of Con-17, Lab-42, LD-8, SNP-31.

    The six seats being:

    Orkney & Shetland – always goes LD
    Ross, Skye & Lochaber – Kennedy’s seat personal vote
    North East Fife – Mings seat personal vote

    These first 3 being the 1-3 I assume you mean.

    To which I think they can add:

    Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk – a long standing LD (David Steele’s) seat that basically has as near the same dynamic as any Con-LD marginal in the SW as dammit

    Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross – where they have a very solid lead and divided opposition


    perhaps most contentiously of all Danny Alexanders seat of Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Stathspey where again they have divided opposition sharply between SNP and Lab…and if ever there was a LD Tories would be prepared to tactically support it would be the current Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

    They will almost certainly lose the remainder of their Scottish seats and others may find my analysis rather over generous but thats where there ball game is at as I see it north of the border.

    One factor that is not often mentioned when discussing the LD demise in terms of all the seats they hold (and I think this is particularly true in Scotland) is that having such little to fight for will at least help them hone their maximum resources.

  38. grhinports,

    I think that analysis is a good one. The Lib Dems are already setting out a defensive strategy, based on focusing on local factors/candidates, and hoping to trade-off losing a lot of deposits in order to keep seats.

    It’s worth remembering that such a strategy basically kept the party alive from 1945 to 1964. Parties sometimes go through periods of hibernation; the SNP were yesterday’s news in 1983, but it was only four years later that they began a steady, uneven and relentless ascent.

    The Lib Dems have a future because of how hard it is to be popular in both Bradford and St. Andrews.

  39. Howard:

    [Re EM and his aides] “…. wil have it all worked already”

    Precisely: I find it odd that so many people offer advice on Labour strategy up to 2015 as though the party leadership isn’t even aware when the next election is timetabled for.

  40. Still waiting to hear what Labour will cut and by how much and how they will fund their policies. Strange how there is no response.

    This is the question that will be asked again and again. Without clear and believable answers i do not believe Labour can win the next election.

  41. John Pilgrim, thank you for the tips and advice, They are being taken into consideration.


    First, how did you come up with such a name? I’m struggling to pronounce or remember how to type it.

    Second, I enjoyed our conversation, up until the point about us being on the same moral authority as dictatorships that are known to commit flagrant human rights abuses. I seriously struggle to see how anyone could hold that belief. I’m no fan of the current gov, I don’t think many are on here, but I’m confident the vast majority if not all would rather have the misfortune to be ruled by the current coalition government, than the even greater misfortune of having Hedar Aliyev at the reigns.

    When David Cameron starts arresting and killing his political opponents and attempts genocide on Ireland, then maybe I will agree with you that the UK gov is on a level moral playing field with the countries like Azerbaijan.

  42. @ Tinged Fringe

    “So the US results are currently:
    Obama -3.5m
    Republicans +0.9m
    Libertarian -107 (votes)
    Green -17 (votes)
    And turn-out -2.4m
    So almost all of the fall in Obama’s votes is down to reduced turnout – which isn’t much of a surprise since turnout shot up in 2010.”

    Are you comparing to 2008?

    I think you basically had two very strong trends/traditional patterns going against each other in this election and that’s what produced the results we got. This level of high unemployment usually favors the challenger to the incumbent President. Yet other factors in the race favored the incumbent. Hence we see Obama winning reelection decisively (and doing something no Presidential candidate has done since Dwight Eisenhower) but not by as large a margin in 2008 or winning by a larger margin (as is customary for a President winning reelection).

    I think that some of the reduced turnout was due to the reduced excitement levels from 2008 and the lack of GOTV effort in the non-swing states. The results in the non-swing states matched (overall) the results in the swing states or came very close to it. A lot of people feel like they’ve got important things to do with their life and if they don’t feel pushed, they’re not going to go and vote, especially when they don’t feel that push and need to go and do it. Haven’t looked at the numbers from states affected by Hurricane Sandy yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if turnout wasn’t down in those states from last time. Appears that with final votes coming in from NY, Obama outperformed his 2008 percentages in both NY and NJ.

  43. How can they still be counting in Hawaii, when the electoral college has already voted?

    I understand being able to predict a winner and announce them as the winner, but surely the people elected (the electoral college) can’t take their seats and vote without all the votes in their constituency (Hawaii) counted.

    What would happen if in the very unlikely event that one day in the far far future, Hawaii hasn’t improved its counting speed, and is the deciding state in an election?

  44. @MiTM

    My name is simply my initials combined with my location and is a tag I use widely on the net for forumming.

    I scarcely like to revisit our earlier conversation such was the affront I seemed to cause you but I will try to explain what I think is the one key variation between the way you are seeing this and the way I am.

    Nearly all of your language is of the “us”, we”, “them” type. Your argument seems to be a 100% tribally based one. In this case that our tribe is comfortably “better” than the Azerbaijan, Turkish et al tribes, and therefore “we” should take no moral obligations imposed upon by “them”.

    I fear I may be parodying your position so forgive me but it is simply to contrast with my own which I shall now equally parody in an attempt to differentiate it clearly.

    Basically that individuals are free entities of their tribes and that in relation to this case its wrong to tarnish all Azerbaijani judges on the basis of what there govt stands for.

    I should also just make it clear I am in not saying that our govt or society or country is beholden to take on the moral authority of totalitarian regimes. Rather I think its the words “moral authority” that is the problem here and that no one “tribe” can ever or should ever sustainably hold that over any other “tribe” it wishes to transact with.

    Or to put it another way if we really feel we are so superior to these other regimes we should have absolutely nothing to do with them because from such a position we could never achieve anything of consequence…but since I don’t really start from that position of superiority I don’t have to justify that position.

    Probably rambling now, and perhaps very boring for others so if you want the final word on this I’m happy to let you have it.

  45. MiM

    The more one reads about the USA government , the more one realises they don’t really have one.

    There is a piece in today’s Times which makes the whole thing sound quite dysfunctional.

  46. I enjoyed Kellner’s article, but I couldn’t help feel it wasn’t just Cameron’s happy new year reading it!

  47. @Paul Croft

    “Precisely: I find it odd that so many people offer advice on Labour strategy up to 2015 as though the party leadership isn’t even aware when the next election is timetabled for.”

    I dont doubt EM & EB probably do have it “all worked out already” but since I’m not a Lab strategist I have no idea exactly what that is.

    What I do know is that on here and I’m sure in other avenues there has been a lot of debate (some of it rather hot) and what should be the strategic vision of Lab going forward.

    This debate is often cast in the form of “advice” to the Lab leadership, but really its just a tool to persuade others of the correctness of the argument being put forward.

  48. “Basically that individuals are free entities of their tribes and that in relation to this case its wrong to tarnish all Azerbaijani judges on the basis of what there govt stands for.”

    Which would be true if I said that UK citizens are somehow better than Azerbaijanis but I don’t say that.

    I constantly refer to the “GOVERNMENTS” of both countries not the individual people. And yes, because that judge is a members of that regime and they are appointed by the regime, I tar them with that brush.

    I’m going to invoke Godwins law here and say that it’d be like having Goebbles in the court passing judgement on human rights and saying “well he’s an individual nothing to do with the Nazi regime.”

  49. The other Howard

    The deficit doesn’t matter because osborne has already decided to monetize it, that’s what Mr carney has been brought in to do. Nominal GDP targeting on the way, just how weird does neoliberalism have to get before we admit that its a total failure

  50. I think Obama’s stated aim on policy, is the best measured approach to deal with the deficit and debt of Western countries. A 50/50 split of tax rises and spending cuts. Too many countries, both with lefty parliaments or with right wing parliaments, lean too far in either direction

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