Survation have a new poll out in Sheffield Hallam which gives a ten point lead to Labour. Naturally this has produced a lot of crowing from people who don’t much like Nick Clegg and some possibly unwise comments from Nick Clegg about the poll being “bilge”, commissioned by the Labour affiliated Unite (which is was, but it shouldn’t make any difference to the voting intention figures). Tabs are here.

The poll has been compared to Lord Ashcroft’s one last year which showed Nick Clegg ahead in his seat, albeit, only narrowly. The reason for the difference is nothing at all to do with who commissioned the polls though, and everything to do with differences between the methodology Ashcroft uses and the methodology Survation use for all their clients (Unite, and anyone else).

One difference that people commented on yesteday is that Lord Ashcroft uses political weighting in his constituency polls, but Survation do not. This has the potential to make a sizeable difference in the results, but I don’t think it is the case here – looking at the recalled vote in Survation’s poll it looks fairly close to what actually happened, weighting by past vote would probably have bumped up the Lib Dems a little, but the reason the Lib Dems are so far behind is not because of the weighting, it’s because more than half of the people who voted Lib Dem in 2010 aren’t currently planning on doing so again.

However, there are other methodology differences that probably do explain the gap between the Ashcroft poll and the Survation one. If we start off with the basic figures each company found we get this:

In Survation’s poll the basic figures, weighted by likelihood to vote, were CON 22, LAB 33, LD 23, UKIP 9
In Ashcroft’s poll the basic figures, weighted for likelihood to vote, were CON 23, LAB 33, LD 17, UKIP 14

Both had a chunky Labour lead, in fact, Ashcroft’s was slightly bigger than Survation’s. Ashcroft however did two things that Survation did not do. He asked a two stage question, asking people their general voting intention and then their constituency question, and he reallocated don’t knows.

When Lord Ashcroft does constituency polls he asks a standard voting intention question, then asks people to think about their own constituency. This makes a minimal difference in most seats, where people’s “real” support is normally the same as how they actually vote. In seats with Lib Dem MPs it often makes a massive difference, presumably because tactical voting and incumbency are so much more important for Lib Dem MPs than those from any other party.

This is a large part of the difference between Survation and Ashcroft. In Ashcroft’s second question, asking people to think about their own constituency, he found figures of CON 18%, LAB 32%, LD 26%, UKIP 14% – so the two-stage-constituency-question added 9 percentage points to the Lib Dems. Survation actually asked people to think about their constiuency in their question, probably explaining why they had the Lib Dems 6 points higher than Ashcroft in their first question, but I think the constituency prompt has more effect when it is asked as a second question, and respondents are given a chance to register their “national choice” first.

The other significant methodological difference is how Survation and Ashcroft treat people who say don’t know. In their local constituency polls Survation just ignore don’t knows, while Ashcroft reallocates them based on how they voted at the previous election, reallocating a proportion of them back to the party they previously voted for. Currently this helps the Liberal Democrats (something we also see in ICM’s national polls), as there a lot of former Lib Dems out there telling pollsters they don’t know how they will vote.

In this particular case the reallocation of don’t knows changed Ashcroft’s final figures to CON 19, LAB 28, LD 31, UKIP 11, pushing the Lib Dems up into a narrow first place. Technically I think there was an error in Ashcroft’s table – they seem to have reallocated all don’t knows, rather than the proportion they normally do. Done correctly the Lib Dems and Labour would probably have been closer together, or Labour a smidgin ahead, but the fact remains that Ashcroft’s method produces a tight race, Survation’s a healthy looking Labour lead.

So which one is right?

The short answer is we don’t know for sure.

Personally I have confidence in the two-stage constituency question. It’s something I originally used in marginal polling for PoliticsHome back in 2008 and 2009, to address the problem that any polling of Lib Dem seats always seems to show a big jump for Labour and a collapse for the Lib Dems. This would look completely normal these days of course, but you used to find the same thing in polls when Labour were doing badly nationally and the Lib Dems well. My theory was that when people were asked about their voting intention they did not factor in any tactical decisions they might actually make – that is, if you were a Labour supporter in a LD-v-Con seat you might tell a pollster you’d vote Labour because they were the party you really supported, but actually vote Lib Dem as a tactical anti-Tory vote. The way that it only has a significant effect in Lib Dem seats has always given me some confidence it is working, and people aren’t just feeling obliged to give as different answer – the overwhelming majority of people answer the same to both questions.

However the fact is the two-stage-constituency question is only theoretical – it hasn’t been well tested. Going back to it’s original use for the PoliticsHome marginal poll back in 2009, polling in Lib Dem seats using the normal question found vote shares of CON 41, LAB 17, LDEM 28. Using the locally prompted second question the figures became CON 37, LAB 12, LDEM 38. In really those seats ended up voting CON 39, LAB 9, LDEM 45. Clearly in that sense the prompted question gave a better steer to how well the Lib Dems were doing in their marginals… but the caveats are very heavy (it was 9 months before the election, so people could just have change their minds, and it’s only one data point anyway.) I trust the constituency prompted figures more, but that’s a personal opinion, the evidence isn’t there for us to be sure.

As to the reallocation of don’t knows, I’ve always said it is more a philosophical decision that a right or wrong one. Should pollsters only report how respondents say they would vote in an election tomorrow, or should they try and measure how they think people actually would vote in an election tomorrow? Is it better to only include those people who give an opinion, even if you know that those undecideds you’re ignoring appear more likely to favour one party than other, or is it better to make some educated guesses about how those don’t knows might split based on past behaviour?

Bottom line, if you ask people in Sheffield Hallam how they would vote in a general election tomorrow, Labour have a lead, varying in size depending on how you ask. However, there are lots of people who voted for Nick Clegg in 2010 who currently tell pollsters they don’t know how they would vote, and if a decent proportion of those people in fact end up backing Nick Clegg (as Ashcroft’s polling assumes they will) the race would be much closer.


287 Responses to “Polling in Sheffield Hallam”

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  1. So, not bilge then.

  2. Whatever the exact position, it is clear that Nick Clegg is going to have to spend a lot more of April in Sheffield than he would ideally have liked.

    It may also open up a debate as to the LD leadership if he were to lose his seat and may encourage other leading figures to set out their “visions” for a post 7th May world.

    In light of recent Scottish polling some English and Welsh voters may be seeing this election as a choice between a Labour led government pulled to the left by the SNP and a Conservative led government pulled to the centre by Clegg.

    But if you remove Nicholas William Peter Clegg from that scenario…..

  3. I lived in Dore, Sheffield17, right on the western edge of the city up against the Peak District. This was 30 odd years ago and my (then young) family loved it there. It had a substantial Tory majority, (cannot remember the blokes name.) The Miners strike was ongoing, David Blunkett was Commissar and for 9p, you got fish and chips on a bus journey. However in Dore, the rates cost me more than the mortgage.

    I suppose it was the Miners strike which killed the Tories one and only seat in Sheffield, to whit Hallam. Clearly, for Labour to win it, they must have done something for Sheffield that even “rich folk” like, but I have no idea what it might be.

  4. Anthony

    Given the apparent demise of the big political parties at present, and the rise of smaller parties, do you envisage a greater likelihood of tactical voting, or a lesser likelihood?

    One point of view is that a large party with a lesser chance of an overall majority creates a situation where the electorate don’t know who will win, so the fair-weather voters vote according to their inclinations, rather than for the perceived winner.

    With all that in mind, UNS is becoming less and less believable (if not useful), so might constituency-level polling with two-stage questions become the ‘best method’, albeit the more expensive one?

    I just added up all the unweighted samples for the five-per-week YG polls and in 2015 there were 483,790 people sampled in all (I suppose the same people might have been sampled more than once).

    You could sample each GB constituency twice a year at around 670 per poll for the same sampling (MoE of about 3.75%). I hope you’re reading Lord Ashcroft. :))

  5. Whilst looking at the effect of methodology, has anyone tried to strip out the results of the collapse of Labour in Scotland from the general UK result? On the face of it one might assume that Labour is doing much better in England and Wales than the headline figures suggest and this may be critical for the outcome.

  6. @Little Red Rock

    “Whatever the exact position, it is clear that Nick Clegg is going to have to spend a lot more of April in Sheffield than he would ideally have liked.”

    The same was being said of Douglas Alexander (Paisley and Renfrewshire South – Ashcroft’s poll suggested SNP gain), who is supposedly in charge of Labour’s 2015 campaign.

    If we look around we see seats potentially changing hands everywhere Con to Lab, Lib to Lab, Lib to Con, Con to UKIP, Lib to SNP and Lab to SNP.

    Perhaps all the MPs would do well to…

    “Go back to your constituencies, and prepare for [a shock]”

  7. One thing you don’t mention, which although partisan I mention because it will have an effect, is that the Greens in the Survation poll were polling on 12% in Shefffield Hallam.

    The relevance is, an “anti-Clegg” vote in Hallam does not need to be a vote for Labour. Former Lib Dems who have buyer’s remorse can safely vote for other parties on the left whilst still reducing the chances of Clegg being re-elected. Of course if enough pull towards the Greens instead of Labour, he may just survive. But if the above is true, it may not matter.

  8. Read Michael Palin’s autobiography if you want an insight into the vanished world of Tory Sheffield, not least the ability for an ordinary manager to send his son to a well-known boarding school on earned income.

  9. A ten point lead is a lot to explain away due to things like methological factors. The short of it is that Labour appears to be ahead here.

    High voter turnover due to the large number of students in Sheffiel Hallam, who appear to have voted Clegg in large numbers in 2010, may have a sizeable amount to do with this.

    We should remember that many voters may not have made up their minds here, again bearing in mind that LibDem voters tend to have comparatively weak allegiances.

    Don’t take this seat as a straight LibDem -Labour fight. If there is a swing to the Tories as the election approaches, e.g. because they willl be heavily outspending the other parties, the Conservatives are far from out of it here.

    Shadsy, have you got the current betting odds for Sheffield Hallam?

  10. Frederic Stansfield

    Are you posting on the wrong site, perchance?

  11. Thanks you for that post Anthony- very clearly explained and more so than anything I have heard to date (I get confused when only one of the variables is talked about and then maybe the other variable gets talked about in another post).

    The second question “thinking about your constituency” seems a very sensible approach. I’m less sure about the Don’t knows. I suspect this has worked well in the past but it feels like with the rise of UKIP and Greens and low ratings for the main 3 parties this must be in a lot more doubt than previously. This is especially true of the Lib Dems who are in a unique position that for the first time since 1974, when they were a very different party, people have had a chance to see how they perform at a national level. Before this they were always the option for an alternative or tactical vote.

    Having said that you can never write off the Lib Dems campaigning in a target seat. Feels like Labour are a little ahead in Hallam but when the two horse race onslaught begins it is difficult to know how that will turn out. Which is probably the same story in most of the marginals.

  12. DOUGLAS FRASER

    Okay, I’ll give my best back of an unmarked cigarette packet response.

    The population of Scotland is about 9% that of England & Wales if I am not much mistaken (5.25 million versus 57 million), and Labour have fallen around 18 percentage points in Scotland on current polling (42% down to 24%). Scotland also have about 9% of seats (59 out of 650).

    So I reckon it is about 1.6 points off Labour and 1.6 on to Other (SNP). 18 x 0.09.

    This is obviously a very rough and ready guesstimate.

    The Wales polling seems to show that Labour are not far ahead of where they were in 2010 as well, which may also mean that the swing in England is a little greater.

    It is quite possible that the Tory to Labour swing in England is greater than the ~4% GB figure currently shown by Yougov. If the swing in England was ~5%-6% it would gain Labour a few more seats on UNS, but nowhere near enough to offset losses in Scotland.

  13. Just to repeat my point from the last thread about Survation’s lack of political weighting. They still do ask about 2010 vote and do crossbreaks for it, and the weighted percentages don’t match 2010:

    Con 21.1% (23.5)

    Lab 17.9% (16.1)

    Lib Dem 47.3% (53.4)

    Other 13.5% (7.0)

    (Actual in brackets)

    The differences shown in the heading between weighted and unweighted figures are presumably indirect and caused by other weighting factors.

    The differences above between recalled and actual are quite plausible. People, especially those are less politically aware than those who frequent UKPR (ie practically everyone else) forget or get confused with how (and if) they voted at other elections – at least six since 2010. And if you picked a now unpopular Party, you might want to forget. 2010 Lib Dems are nearly always under-represented in polls using recall, so the gap above looks likely and shouldn’t necessarily be corrected for – the sample isn’t wrong, it’s people’s memories.

  14. I’m a bit surprised nobody found evidence of this before (probably not enough polls) so possibly just a one-off, possibly just people making up their minds with an election in the offing.

    But – does it imply that for the LD’s at least there will be no swingback? Not seen any evidence for that in national polls. It might be argued if one coalition party isn’t getting it, why expect the other to?

  15. If they lose Sheffield Halam one wonders if they will retain any significant number of seats. Lib Dems are still falling in the national polls after a brief foray into double digits.

    On tactical voting it will no doubt benefit the big two parties as they are nearly always the second party. In 2020(2015-2020} the smaller parties could have a string of second places and benefit massively from tactical voting, much how the Lid Dems have. The Greens for example could be second to Labour in May, and an unpopular incumbent Labour could gift the Greens several seats, whenever the next election is.

  16. AW

    Many thanks. Quite up to the normal high standard. I really think you ought to have your own TV programme “Elections for Dummies” , a weekly slot in the run-up to the campaign and an edition before (and after!) every PPB during it!

  17. The reason why Labour are clearly in front is Hallam is obvious.

    Take a bow, Mr N.

  18. I have just had an EVEL thought.

    If Labour and the Conservatives both got around 280 seats, with the Lib Dems getting 30, then a Con+Lib or Lab+Lib coalition would have 310 seats. Removing the Scottish MP’s voting rights would mean an effective majority level of 296 for England legislation.

    Any such arrangement would require the SNP to pass a UK budget and maintain confidence for UK matters. They could not do that for the Conservatives without “doing a Clegg” on their voter base. This presumably would force the Lib Dems to support Labour rather than the Conservatives if a viable government were to be formed under EVEL.

    I wonder how many Tory MPs realise this?

  19. Could Lib Dems finish 3rd? Then the Conservatives win the seat in 2020.
    Its possible with the demise of Lib Dems further and their vote switching to the Conservatives , and tactical UKIP voters wanting Labour out.

  20. @the formerly lurking bush

    Yes, there is a tendency to forget that a 20% swing in Scotland translates as something much smaller in England’s rather larger (though perhaps not as green or pleasant) land mass and (more importantly) population. Labour cannot hope to make up its (still only predicted) losses in Scotland without a massive swing in England. And that doesn’t seem to me to be very likely – though I’d be happy to be proved wrong!

  21. 2010 remembered – 2010 actual vote

    Con 21.1% (23.5)

    Lab 17.9% (16.1)

    Lib Dem 47.3% (53.4)

    Other 13.5% (7.0)

    The difference could actually be explained by other factors than “misremembering”:

    – people move to other places or, well, die (= demographics of a constituency change)
    – people don’t respond when asked what they voted for 5 years ago, for various psychological reasons (and I personally would rather be surprised if the distribution of former voting results within the the no-response was identical with the former voting results in the population as a whole)

  22. JOHN

    I have gone through most of the individual Lib Dem seats.

    The swing away from the Lib Dems appears to be higher in those seats where Labour is the challenger. However, the seats with the lowest majorities tend to be Tory-facing.

    This explains why Labour and the Lib Dems seem close in (on paper) ultra-safe seats like Hallam or Bermondsey but why the Tories don’t look to be able to take supposedly more winnable seats like Eastleigh or Eastbourne. The main exception seems to be Birmingham Yardley.

  23. Certainly I imagine the student vote for Clegg in 2010 was enormous . All those students are gone now.

  24. Roland

    Irvine Patnick was the MP’s name. He played a minor role in the decline in support for the Tories in Sheffield, having disgraced himself by acting as the go-between for the Police-and tabloids following the Hillsborough disaster. He was the one who passed on lies to the papers about behaviour of Liverpool fans during the disaster.

    I’ve commented on the previous thread about how the Hallam demographic has changed since your day. There’s a very different set of relatively wealthy people there now. And, as I’ve said before, even those who would have been natural right-wingers lived through the heart and soul of their city being ripped out by the forces that were unleashed in the 1980s. Even in a leafy, wealthy suburb, you not hermetically sealed off from the effects that the 80s had on your near-neighbours. I suspect that this has played a role in the precipitous fall in Tory support in hallam over the past generation.

  25. @the bush, formerly known as something else

    Ah, but the LDs’ relationship with Scotland might have an influence. If the remaining LDs no longer feel any need to keep the Scots happy (and Carmichael in Little Norseland is as far from E’burgh and the central belt as are the English Midlands), then they may decide to go with the Tories along the road of abolishing the Barnet Formula as a stage towards a more Federalist UK, with EVEL as another major plank in the process.

    Without Barnet, Labour is in even deeper trouble, I think. SNP could then abstain on budget proposals, thus removing themselves from the equation, as what happens south of the Border would no longer effect the Scottish settlement.

    Just a thought….

  26. Hawthorn 4.19

    Thanks.
    Interesting – it’s the sort of analysis which makes this site such a gem.

  27. JOHN B

    If the worst-case scenario plays out in Scotland, but the polling stays as it is (4% swing Tory to Labour), then it is likely that Labour would be about equal (probably slightly ahead) with the Conservatives on seats.

    If the swing in England was actually 5%, and Labour could hang on in places like Coatbridge, Edinburgh and the areas close to the English border then they should be a bit ahead of the Tories.

    A 6% swing in England would make Labour the winner on votes in England (as I recall, the Conservatives were 11% ahead in England in 2010).

    If the fabled swingback to the Conservatives were to happen, then they would get the most seats. I personally think that theory is outdated in the current political situation.

  28. Wishful thinking?

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/feb/01/2016-general-election-prediction

    “Labour and Lib Dems to hit joint total of 339 seats, study predicts”

  29. “Certainly I imagine the student vote for Clegg in 2010 was enormous . All those students are gone now.”

    Blimey, they die young these days.

  30. A sensible post about betting and who will win in May:

    If the polls are still fairly even when we get to the campaign proper I think that many people, who are currently just passive observers of politics and get most of their information from a fairly biased press, will be surprised.

    I think most of the judgements at present with regard to who is most likely to win are based on very limited understanding.

    So, if it is still the case that Labour are roughly level, or even slightly ahead, I think that will then begin to feed into the narrative of how people really perceive the election and therefore how they will vote.

    Everything interacts in politics.

  31. John B

    My new name is a highly cryptic clue as to another nom-de-plume I used to use some years ago on other forums.

    My point on which way the Lib Dems would go is based on the fact that any administration having 300-310 seats would have to pass a budget, which would be very difficult/impossible without SNP support if the SNP gained >40 seats.

    So a Con+Lib Dem coalition/C&S would need another 20 MPs, even allowing for Sinn Fein absenteeism. I can count (probably) 9 DUP plus however many UKIP get (which would be mainly from the Tories in any case).

  32. @Hawthorn

    1. A 4% swing to Labour in England would still be a poor result, though. But, as you say, would most likely give Labour a fighting chance of forming a government in league with others

    2. I think you need to study a map of Scotland. The only Labour seat ‘close to the English border’ is Dumfries and Galloway – which is looking at the moment like an SNP gain but might be a Labour hold or a Tory gain, depending on what the public has for breakfast. If Labour hold in Coatbridge that doesn’t necessarily mean it will in other places, such as next door Airdrie.

    3. Has Labour understood England well enough to gain those extra votes to bring the swing to 6%? And how will the Tory-Labour battle in the south be viewed by those living north of the Border?

    4. I agree that the ‘swing back’ doctrine looks as though it has lost relevancy. But what that means is that we are even less certain of where voters will put their mark – and the Greens and UKIP and the LDs are all players.

  33. Passing a budget without SNP support is only difficult if the SNP votes against. If they just remain on the benches – or if the overnight sleeper is late, or something – then it doesn’t matter so much. That said, I’m not suggesting for one moment that they will abstain……. at least, not without some very good and bankable assurances regarding constitutional matters.

  34. JOHN B

    To go point-by-point

    1: Whether it is “poor” or not isn’t the issue here.

    2: I know we are talking about only a few seats here, but they could make a big difference in a close race.

    3: I refer to my earlier posts. It is likely that Labour have a 5% swing in England, given the impact of the Scottish collapse on the GB numbers. It is possible that it is 6% given that there is little swing to Labour in Wales since 2010. Of course that could easily change before polling day.

    4: That is an unknown. I am trying to model a plausible scenario here, not make a prediction.

  35. But we’re not here to discuss Scotland!

    Let us assume that Nick Clegg fails to retain Hallam. But let us also assume that the LDs do well enough elsewhere to be a major factor in what happens after May 7. How quickly can the LDs sort out who will speak and act on their behalf? How soon could they hold a leadership contest? What are the mechanisms for that, whilst at the same time possibly entering into government with Labour (for example)?

  36. John B

    The SNP would surely not abstain on a UK budget bill, unless they were trying to be wreckers. That would be helping the Tories, which would lose them a lot of their support.

  37. The Survation question is a bit of a mess as it’s sort of halfway between Ashcroft’s standard and constituency questions. They asked Let’s say the General Election was tomorrow. Which party would you vote for in your Sheffield Hallam constituency?, not mentioning about candidates or voting in May. But they had previously asked The next Westminster general election is now about 4 months away. On a scale of 0-10, where 10 is very certain, how certain are you to vote in the general election?, so people may have been thinking a bit about it.

    Ashcroft separates the two stages more clearly. If you look at his Hallam tables:

    http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Sheffield-Hallam-poll-Nov-14-Full-tables.pdf

    he first asks If there was a general election tomorrow, which party would you vote for?

    Con 23%

    Lab 33%

    Lib Dem 17%

    UKIP 14%

    Green 12%

    Other 1%

    and then And thinking specifically about your own constituency and the candidates who are likely to stand there, which party’s candidate do you think you will vote for in your own constituency at the next general election?

    Con 18% (-5)

    Lab 32% (-1)

    Lib Dem 26% (+9)

    UKIP 14% (-)

    Green 11% (-1)

    Other *% (-1)

    (both figures before any reallocation).

    So Survation’s rather ambiguous question may contain some of the effect that we see between Ashcroft’s pair, but not all. Though in a high profile (and highly educated) constituency such as Hallam, most of the effect should be replicated.

    The other interesting thing between the two polls is the fall in UKIP vote. This may be because of national changes or because UKIP seem to have put in an unsuitable candidate (a 21 year old student with no local links). This seems to have mainly benefited the Conservatives though and ex-UKIPers seem unlikely to go on to Clegg – one of their bogey men. So there may not be much more for Clegg to pick-up from the Conservatives in the Survation poll.

  38. @H(FL) – 4.51

    1. Aye, but from the point of view of morale it will have an effect on confidence within the party;

    2. Indeed!

    3. If ‘swing back’ is no longer alive then there is real hope (for those who want it) that Labour will pull through despite EM. How much better might they have been placed with someone else? We shall never know…..

    4. Yes, I know. I just allow my thoughts to wander a bit every now and again…..

  39. JOHN B

    I would expect C&S to be more likely, but who knows? In any case, I am assuming that EVEL comes into force, which would take a little time as well.

    The early objectives for a Labour-led government would be to pass a UK budget and repeal the Lansley bill. If Labour were on 280, the SNP on 40, and they got the Greens, Plaid and the SDLP on board, they would be able to do both without the Lib Dems.

  40. @Hawthorn – 4.54

    I was envisaging Lab+LDs (+Greens) > Tories+UKIP, so even if both groupings were a minority, without SNP participation Lab+LDs group still wins.

  41. JOHN B @ 4.58

    If Labour booted Cameron out of Downing Street, and disposed of Nick Clegg and Simon Hughes to boot, they would be dancing in the streets! Well, at least in England.

  42. The Ashcroft marginal polls of English seats have had a much lower swing of Con to Lab than 6% in the last two rounds. More like 3%-4% in the Nov/Dec batches. Will be interesting to see if this remains the case in future marginal polls of English seats.

  43. *average swing*

  44. @Roger M

    Is it not possible that with both ‘major’ party leaders regarded by many as sub-standard, and EM unlikely to survive, much will come down to the local vote? Many MPs on all sides may find themselves unexpectedly returned to parliament simply because people were unimpressed by the ‘leaders’ and were thinking more of the local constituency, rather than the UK-wide situation.

  45. Sorry, I meant NC, not EM! Apologies to all.

  46. I use the 1993 Canadian federal election as my base of experience where the once mighty Progressive Conservative Party was reduced from government with 169 seats in 1988 to 2 seats in 1993 under FPTP.

    I predict that the Liberal Democrats will have a hard time trying to save their Orkney seat in Scotland, let alone 18 to 20 seats in England.

    The pollsters would do well to stop looking at UK wide polling and start focusing on what is going on regionally, because that is how I determined the Canadian election result in 1993 where I predicted that the Progressive Conservatives were going to lose every seat.

    Labour will do well in the north and potentially the Midlands, as the UKIP vote will undermine Tory ability to take seats there. The one caveat will depend on how far the UKIP vote drops as compared to the European election, as they appear to have lost 44% so far.

    Remarkably the Green Party vote has transferred from the European elections results and should be cross compared with local government elections results. A better question for pollsters to ask is how have you previusly voted in local government elections.

    It could be that people who have previously voted Green in local government elections and European elections are now getting ready to vote Green in a general election.

    I have done some cross comparison of 2014 European and 2014 local government elections and think you can see a reflection of current polling in those results.

    Forget 2010, the political landscape has changed, especially in Scotland after the referendum, where a lot of people who never voted have become engaged.

    The battleground is going to be in the south, east and west, where if the Conseravtives and UKIP get into a dingdong battle, Labour could actually be the winner in some seats.

    Also watch for the Green party to pick up a seat like Bristol West, where a cross comparison with 2013 and 2014 local government election results has them ahead of Labour.

    Insight in this election should not be based on polling alone, but a combination of polling and actual European and local government elections results.

    For UKIP to make a major breakthrough they will have to poll at or above the Tories is some region, particularly in the south and I do not see that happening like it did for Reform in Canada in 1993.

    The Lib Dems on the other hand are dead in the water, except for places where their local government and European election vote held up. Their support started leaving the building in Scotland shortly after the 2010 election.

    To see which, if any, seats the Liberal Democrats might hold in London look at the 2014 Londoin borough elections.

    And someone needs to put a zip on Nick Clegg’s mouth as the interim Conservative Prime Minister and her electoral strategists in Canada were responsible for making a bad situation worse.

    Andy Shadrack

  47. This discussion of Sheffield Hallam about the possibility of a one seat for one seat cooperative agreement between two parties of the right or two parties of the left. In a recent Canadian election, the Liberals and the Green Party reached such as agreement where the Liberals did not challenge the seat being contested by the Green Party leader in exchange for a seat where the Greens standing down greatly increased Liberal chances. It was only one seat in each case and even that incurred some political costs on the leaders among their own members.

    Given the tremendous political significance to Labour of beating Clegg, I wonder if they would see it as worthwhile to withdraw from another LD held seat (Bristol West?) in return for the Greens withdrawing from Sheffield Hallam. This could also law the groundwork for confidence and supply.

    Of course the benefit to Labour would be primarily due to the humiliation of Clegg which could help with the emergence of a LD leadership more likely to lend C&S support to a Labour govt.

    For the Greens, the difference between taking two seats instead of one would be huge. It would also be an interesting test of the classic Fundi vs. Realo question for the UK Greens, an important measure of their political maturity.

  48. AMBIVALENTSUPPORTER

    I have gone through the Labour targets as well.

    An 4% swing on UNS would lead to about 50 gains from the Conservatives. I doubt that would happen in reality, but even gaining 40 would leave Labour on about 265.

    Labour are very likely to gain; Bradford East, Brent Central, Manchester Withington, Burnley, Redcar, Harringey & Wood Green and Cardiff Central from the Lib Dems. Norwich South is a probable gain.

    That leaves Labour on around 275. There may be some other gains from the Tories where they out-perform UNS (like Dudley South). They could well regain Bradford West from Galloway.

    The Tory had 306 seats in 2010. 40 losses to Labour leaves them with 266. The likely gains from the Lib Dems is around 10. However they could well lose a few seats to UKIP (2 already plus maybe Thurrock and Boston & Skegness).

    That leaves them on around 275, even if the England swing to Labour is 4% and Labour moderately underperform UNS.

    It is not a prediction, but on current polling it is plausible. A knife-edge situation.

  49. I should add that in the Canadian Liberal-Green seat agreement, the Liberals won their seat and the Greens did not. The Green Party leader did gain a lot of recognition, however and won a seat on the other side of the country the next time around.

  50. @Lefty
    Thanks for the update on Hallam politics. The Name Irvine Patrick comes back to me now you have mentioned it.

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