New party leaders normally enjoy a honeymoon in the polls. It’s noticeable for leaders taking over in opposition, on the relatively rare occassion that the party leadership changes hands in government the honeymoon is often remarkable. In the last fifty years there have been three previous occasions when the premiership changed hands between-elections:

  • Wilson-Callaghan, 1976. When Harold Wilson announced his resignation in the middle of March the polls were showing a Conservative lead of between two and five points. The polls immediately following Wilson’s resignation and during Callaghan’s first month in office showed Labour leads of between one and seven points, before returning to a steady Tory lead in May.
  • Thatcher-Major, 1990. Margaret Thatcher was famously removed by the Tory party in November 1990. In the month before the leadership election Labour had an average poll lead of thirteen points. In the month immediately following her resignation and replacement by John Major the Conservatives had an average lead of five points, peaking at 11 points. Over the next few months the polls settled down to an average Tory lead of four points or so.
  • Blair-Brown, 2007. The Blair-Brown handover was a more drawn out affair: Blair announced his resignation at the start of May 2007, when the Conservatives had a poll lead of around six points, and actually handed over to Gordon Brown at the end of June. Through July and August Brown enjoyed an average Labour lead of around five points, peaking in double-digit leads during the Labour conference at the end of September… and their rapid collapse afterwards. The Conservatives were ahead again by October, and remained so for the rest of the Parliament.

Every mid-term change of Prime Minister has been accompanied by a significant boost in polling figures – in the three historical cases, they’ve gone from trailing the opposition to a clear polling lead. The boosts have tended to be comparatively short though – Callaghan and Major only enjoyed a month or so before settling down into a new equilibrium, Brown enjoyed a honeymoon that lasted several months, but that was probably because he was seem to have responded well to the Glasgow Airport attack and Summer floods. There’s no clear pattern as to where the polls settle after the honeymoon: I suppose it depends very much on the leader. Once the honeymoons had passed the change in leader didn’t make that much difference in 1976 and 2007 (in both cases Labour’s position absolutely tanked a few months down the line… but for different reasons), in 1990 though there was a long lasting improvement in Tory support.

So to the current polling position. Today’s ICM poll has topline figures of CON 43%(+4), LAB 27%(-2), LDEM 8%(-1), UKIP 13(-1) (tabs are here). It follows on from an ICM poll last week showing the Conservatives ten points ahead, a YouGov poll giving the Conservtives an eleven point lead and an Opinium poll giving them a more modest six point lead. All four polls had Labour around or just below 30% and the Conservatives nearer 40%, UKIP down a little from the levels of support they’d been showing before the referendum.

Viewed together it certainly looks like the sort of boost a new Prime Minister normally receives, which is a good reason not to read too much into it. New Prime Ministers receive good poll ratings because they haven’t had to annoy too many people yet – the public can project their hopes onto them and convince themselves they really will be different, really will deliver this, that or the other. Before long, however, the shine will come off and they’ll have to start making compromises and disappointing people. This is one good reason for Theresa May not to plan for an early election (and the mistake Gordon Brown made in not shutting down such considerations) – the current polls look wonderful for her, but on past timescales they won’t necessarily be so rosy in a couple of months time. It’s also a crumb of comfort for Labour… though quite a small crumb.

UPDATE: YouGov have fresh voting intention figures that also show a strong lead for the Conservatives, albeit, not quite as big as ICM’s. Their topline figures are CON 40%, LAB 28%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4%. Tabs are here


846 Responses to “Leadership honeymoons and ICMs latest poll”

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  1. @ MUDDY WATERS

    Thank you for establishing the situation.

  2. @Lazlo

    It is worth though checking if events triggered those large Conservative leads

    Yes but there have been so many events, all at once. I don’t know how you’d begin to separate the effects of Brexit, Conservative post-referendum leadership woes, May’s bounce, Labour’s long term leadership woes and their recent intensification etc, etc

    It’s all very inconsiderate. They ought to have spread all these out in an orderly fashion so we could study the separate impact of each variable.

  3. @CA – you clearly don’t like Smith, and obviously have known him personally for some time. I never heard of him until a week or so back, so can only speak as I find.

    The locals were too bad a night for Labour, given the high base, but I believe they did worse than under Milliband although had some successes. Overall though, their electoral performance has been very mixed, and their poll ratings dire. I don’t really think there is much debate about that.

  4. I quickly put those poll results in a spreadsheet. Actually the fluctuation is quite astonishing (apart from the spring).

    Separating different methodologies would create extremely small sample sizes, merging them create a statisitics lly unexceptable variation.

    Choosing those that were influenced by events (e.g. Syria, budget, etc) would be arbitrary, even if it would smooth the trends.

    So, I suppose what we can safely say is that the effective and efficient way in which the Conservatives managed the transition helped them in the polls. We can also say that the manifestation of disunity in the LP damages them, and may even have a cumulative effect (as in today’s poll).

    As the LP’s problem won’t go away, so ….

    There are also two unknowns. One is the turnout in a GE. The other is those churns away from Labour in a GE situation, rather than just in a general perception.

    The LP doesn’t speak about the economy, or rather it is drown in the noise – that’s their biggest problem in terms of elections. Party democracy, and alike move very few votes in a GE – although I suppose these do for internal party elections.

  5. I wonder if these polls are missing a shy trot effect?! Lol

  6. @ Muddy Water

    The same question occurred to me, so I wrote another comment – you are perfectly right.

  7. We’ve all got it wrong. The real story is a *massive* swing to the Lib Dems:

    The Hangers & Forest (East Hampshire) result:
    CON: 45.3% (-23.7)
    LDEM: 43.6% (+43.6)
    JUST: 7.9% (+7.9)
    LAB: 3.3% (-9.7)
    (from Britain Elects, via Twitter)

    Return to your wards and prepare for government!

  8. I’ve got over my denial about the Brexit. There seems to be a lot of denial about polls on this polling site tonight.

  9. Muddy waters, actually i do believe there has been a swing to the libdems, and i expect them to increase their support over this parliament

  10. @Barbazenzero

    That Scottish poll has 31.7% of respondents in age group 65+, while Scotland’s demography suggests the 65+ category is closer to 22% of 18+ respondents.

    Yes, there’s a better chance of older people responding / voting, but if the older folks have a very different mindset to the younger folks, a poll skewed towards either will skew the poll results. It’s a fairly sizeable difference.

  11. @ Muddy Waters

    And the former Labour vote often splits between Cons and LD, like in Newark

    Conservative 483 [82.4%; +25.5%]
    LD Marylyn Rayner 103 [17.6%; +17.6%]
    [Labour [0.0%; -43.0%]]
    Majority: 380
    Turnout: 15.3%
    Conservative Hold
    Percentage change since 2015

  12. @Lazlo

    There must be red Tories and red Lib Dems? This is too confusing. Why can’t people just be consistent, like the old days, and vote like their parents did. All this retail voting just messes everything up.

  13. Barbazenzero

    Thanks for the link to the TG Scottish poll on attitudes to political leaders, and article.

    Since no one else seems to have mentioned it, some of the highlights (% favourability of 2015 party voters in brackets.

    Sturgeon +34 (SNP +71 : Con -32 : Lab +10)
    Davidson +31 (SNP +8 : Con +83 : Lab +58)
    Dugdale -15 (SNP +-26 : Con -29 : Lab +12)

    As for the GB party leaders –

    Corbyn -36 (SNP -23 : Con -75 : Lab -23)

    May “Theresa May becoming Prime Minister has largely been greeted with indifference in Scotland, with 38% of voters saying they don’t mind either way about the change. A further 22% of Scottish voters were dismayed by the change, whilst 17% said that they were pleased.”

  14. Yet another important milestone in Ruthmania – she’s approximately level with Nicola now on favourability: + 31% to +34% favourable. JC has similar numbers, but with the signs reversed, although I note that he’s more popular with SNP supporters than SLAB supporters.

    I had forgotten that Kezia was still SLAB leaders.

    Interesting ratings for Theresa May: she does well on everything but likeability and honesty, and in the latter case it’s because a large chunk of Scots are apparently “Not sure”.

    Scottish politics seems to be moving slowly towards a left/right divide with the SNP and the Tories as the main parties, but with the left split between the SNP and Labour on the constitutional issue. For now, the SNP have a very impressive hold over the centre ground, and I don’t see this shifting much in the near future.

  15. (Yes, “left” and “right” are pretty useless terms, but I think people know what I mean in this context.)

    The Tories are also very lucky that Brexit doesn’t seem to have harmed them in Scotland.

  16. @CATMANJEFF

    Ok – what about:

    National People’s Party
    Popular Democratic Party
    British Social Movement

  17. Statgeek

    Good spot, re the YG age bands!

    The last YG Scottish poll was in May, where the proportions in each age band were wildly different to this poll (that the May poll used 16-24s instead of 18-24s shouldn’t make such a huge difference).

    May Jul Band
    14% 12% 16/18-24
    40% 24% 25-49
    25% 32% 50-64

  18. 20% 32% 65+

    Clicked Submit too early!

  19. CAMBRIDGERACHEL

    From the local election coverage, notice the projected national share is lower for the cons than for Labour
    BBC projected national vote share (if the results were repeated at a general election): Lab 31%, Con 30%, Lib Dem 15%, UKIP 12%

    Those figures may underestimate Labour as I actually suspect there may be some trouble with the model. When these seats were mostly last fought in 2012, it came up with a PNS of Lab 38%, Con 31%, Lib Dem 16% (Others inc UKIP 15%) – see full list here:

    https://electionsetc.com/2016/05/04/calculating-the-local-elections-projected-national-share-pns-in-2015-and-2016/

    As you say 2016 was calculated as Lab 31%, Con 30%, Lib Dem 15%, UKIP 12%, Others 12%:

    https://electionsetc.com/2016/05/06/bbc-projected-national-share-pns-of-the-vote-2016

    Why there was such a drop in PNS, but little change in the seats won is a mystery. Some of it will be probably due to the way they use 2015 as a base and factor in lower Labour votes in Scotland and (a little) Wales – but I can’t see how that would lead to a drop of 7 points GB-wide, maybe 2-3 at most. I can see how it might operate in individual LAs – eg Plymouth where they lost quite a lot of vote share, but only one seat[1], but it seems unlikely that would be replicated in numerous areas across the country and still lose only Labour 18 seats.

    The rise of UKIP since 2012 might also have some effect, but it does need explaining and it means that either this year’s figures could be wrong or previous ones were over-stated.

    [1] In part because Lib Dems and Greens put up many more candidates than in 2012, which might affect how the model works even though they didn’t win that many votes.

  20. Alec
    ‘The locals were too bad a night for Labour, given the high base, but I believe they did worse than under Milliband although had some successes’

    If I was still a member of the Labour Party I would be voting for Owen Smith, but your above statement is inaccurate. In the 2016 Local Elections Labour did lead the Tories by 1%. The corresponding Local Elections re- Ed Milliband’s leadership took place in May 2011, and in that year Labour was still 1% behind the Tories. In terms of % lead, therefore, Corbyn performed 2% better than his predecessor.
    Now Labour did perform a good deal better in 2012 – but that was further into the Parliament and Milliband’s Leadership.

  21. Unless YG have some kind of devious motive in skewing their sample away from the 25-49 age band to the 65+ group – and that seems rather unbelievable, a bit of incompetence, in this particular poll, might be more likely.

  22. YouGov poll in The Times

    Con 40
    Lab 28
    UKIP 13
    Libdem 9

  23. As previously stated, YouGov actually have a proper Scottish poll out – though without current voting intention[1]:

    https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/1qt6eyzvin/ScottishTrackers_25-Jul-2016_W.pdf

    All analysis is by 2015 vote, which can be awkward because so many people in Scotland have always voted tactically for Westminster and so the analysis may not be representative of the Parties’ ‘true’ supporters, except perhaps for the SNP who were competitive in every constituency (though even that may be confused by peope voting tactically for them).

    The lack of VI is particularly irritating because the questions are mainly about Party leaders and unless you know what the opinions of current voters are you can’t really work out how much of the opposition or support is purely partisan. That said May seems to have received only a modest boost with only +6 saying she will be a better PM than Cameron – though in context his previous rating (2-4 May) was -42, so there’s not much of a recommendation. Even Corbyn does better than that on -36.

    As usual Scottish politicians do better than UK ones[2], with Ruth Davidson clearly benefiting from the relative success of the Conservatives at the Holyrood elections and the rather fawning reactions of the local media since[3] increasing her rating from +8 to +31. She gets a positive rating from all political groups. Sturgeon has a better, and improving, rating (+26 to +34), but Tories dislike her.

    Kezia Dugdale’s ratings illuminate the problems Scottish Labour has. It’s lower than Davidson’s, not just generally (-15 v +31), but even among Labour’s 2015 voters (+12 v +58). But she does better than Corbyn, not just generally (as is usually true with Scottish leaders) but very much so among Labour voters (+12 v -47). But then Corbyn actually gets a better rating from SNP voters than Labour ones and better than Dugdale does (-23 v -26).

    So in Scotland Labour appears to be doing what the PLP think it should be and both leadership and voters dislike Corbyn. But, as you may have noticed, it doesn’t seem to have done them much good recently and it means they can’t attract Left-voters from the SNP (who may like Corbyn), while being at risk of losing even more Right-voters (who like Davidson) to the Tories. I don’t know what their way out is – but you wouldn’t start from here.

    [1] There’s no weighting tables attached so it’s difficult to know whether YouGov are still weighting by place of birth for example (without it the sample tends to be a bit Tory). They also seem to be weighting by EU Referendum result which may cause problems.

    [2] This isn’t particularly because they dislike the UK ones more than voters in the rest of the UK do – they just like the native ones more.

    [3] Ever the spoilsport I have to point out that by the usual metric in polling (constituency vote) the Tories came third, however they got more MSPs because of better regional votes, luck and gaining from the foolish ‘Both votes SNP’ movement which wasted regional votes to their indirect benefit.

  24. Graham

    We might need to check the distribution of the sample between age bands! :-)

  25. @BILL PATRICK

    “The Tories are also very lucky that Brexit doesn’t seem to have harmed them in Scotland.”

    Yes – and this convinces me that there is zero chance of Scotland voting for independence in the foreseeable future.

  26. Roger Mexico

    Tories “got more MSPs because of better regional votes, luck and gaining from the foolish ‘Both votes SNP’ movement which wasted regional votes to their indirect benefit.”

    I argued against that as an all-Scotland policy. Whether it was a useful strategy depended on the region.

    However, it seems likely that the Tories benefitted more from their concentration on gathering the UK Unionist vote at regional level – having been given a free run at that, by SLab – who continued to organise (to the extent that they did) on the basis of winning constituencies (which they weren’t going to) instead of the List vote.

  27. I’ve just done a calculation based on the number of Scottish adults in the 2015 mid-year estimates:

    http://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/files//statistics/population-estimates/mid-15-cor-12-13-14/mype-2015-corrections-for-12-13-14-correctedb.pdf#page=30

    I make the figures to be:

    18-24 = 496,229 (11.43%)

    25-49 = 1,777,566 (40.94%)

    50-64 = 1,085,111 (24.99%)

    65+ = 982,998 (22.64%)

    I can see why the older age ranges might be upgraded a bit, but then you would expect 18-24 to be reduced as well. The reduction in 25-49 just looks very odd though.

  28. The YouGov poll rather suggests that ICM was a bit of an outlier!

  29. Tancred

    @BILL PATRICK

    “The Tories are also very lucky that Brexit doesn’t seem to have harmed them in Scotland.”

    I’m not sure that is “luck”. SCon (apart from a few newbie MSPs) were very pro-Remain. They are also seen as the most pro-UK Union party. Since both stances find favour (or least disfavour) with most Scots, according to the two referendum results, why should SCon lose support among pro-UK, pro-EU Scots?

    Davidson (as shown by the YG poll – even if it is distorted by faulty age banding) is seen as a more competent politician than the alternatives on her side of the arguments.

    Yes – and this convinces me that there is zero chance of Scotland voting for independence in the foreseeable future

    In a referendum (where people vote across normal party inclinations) whether the Tories attract more votes than Labour – or vice versa – is a total irrelevance.

    Membership of both Unions, or one Union or another – if forced to make a choice – are all perfectly valid political positions. The circumstances of the day, and voters’ estimation of whether they will be affected positively or negatively the critical question.

  30. Sorry

    Yes – and this convinces me that there is zero chance of Scotland voting for independence in the foreseeable future should have been italicised to indicate it was Tancred’s wording, not mine.

  31. OldNat

    Oh quite. I was pointing out that a Region-specific policy was optimal as well, on sites such as ScotGoesPop and Wings. Only South and Highland being the only possible regions where the SNP would get regional MSPs that I could see on the polling. But of course they wouldn’t have it and that was exactly what happened. Even 5% of the wasted SNP vote in the other six Regions would have taken three seats from Con to Green.

    Those percentages above are all adults and will include some nationalities not entitled to vote at all or only vote in locals/Holyrood. You would expect those to be most heavily represented in the 25-49 group, but I can’t see it making a massive difference.

  32. DAVID CARROD (from prev)

    There is also a separate legal challenge being mounted by a law firm on behalf of the £3 members, in which they are saying that the NEC decision to only allow votes for members of six months standing, was a breach of contract. Not sure when that one will reach court.

    It actually seems to be on behalf of full members who joined since 12 January, rather than £3 supporters, judging by their fundraising page:

    https://www.crowdjustice.co.uk/case/labour-party-membership/

    The £3 supporters would have have to sign-up again in any case (at the inflated £25 – which is a different argument).

    I’d be fairly irate if I’d joined in January, slogged my guts out during the locals and the referendum and then been told I couldn’t vote, despite all that was said in the promotional material (but someone who paid £25 could).

    Meanwhile those masters of organisational efficiency in the Labour Party central organisation appear to be already messing up elections, with ballot papers going out late for the Manchester and Liverpool regional Mayors:

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/24/labour-urged-to-extend-deadline-in-vote-for-mayoral-candidates

    so the potential for court cases only seems to be increasing.

  33. @OldNat

    I don’t understand regarding the YouGov age groups – surely it’s a properly weighted poll? Otherwise it’s meaningless.

  34. Roger Mexico

    “I was pointing out that a Region-specific policy was optimal as well, on sites such as ScotGoesPop and Wings…..But of course they wouldn’t have it”

    Not really surprising. Most political sites tend to be dominated by passionate supporters of one party or another – even this one can become so dominated at times!

    I suspect that there was a very simple (and flawed) calculation at the heart of the SNP “both votes” in all regions strategy.

    I think it was – “England won’t vote for Brexit, so we don’t need to think about a new indyref strategy until the 2020 UK GE. While it would be useful to have a pro-indy majority in Holyrood, the priorities are
    1. to continue in government and
    2. reduce SLab to irrelevance. Having the Tories as the main opposition party is better than that being SLab, since the Tories are toxic in Scotland.”

    Just because I am an SNP member doesn’t mean I have to think they get things right! As I have oft said on here – I don’t much like any political party, even the one I’m currently in!. :-)

  35. Couper

    It’s probably a mistake rather than anything else. It looks like the first YouGov Scottish poll since May and the age-group weights would have to be adjusted to Westminster rather than Holyrood percentages (taking out 16 & 17 year olds and maybe EU citizens). Someone may have just typed in the wrong figures.

    Because these aren’t VI polls and because attitudes aren’t quite as dramatically age-related in Scotland as in England, then it might not make as much difference in this case as it might in others. Still a bit sloppy though.

  36. Couper

    “I don’t understand regarding the YouGov age groups – surely it’s a properly weighted poll? Otherwise it’s meaningless.”

    It would seem that either the previous YG Scottish polls are meaningless (in terms of accurately measuring opinion) or this one is..

    I note Roger Mexico’s comment about the electoral roll being different for Westminster and Holyrood elections, but I have never seen any indication from YG that they weight their responses differently on that account. In any case this poll seems to have been stimulated by the leader changes in the GB parties.

    Had YG attached their usual weighting measures to the poll, then we might have had a clearer idea – but they didn’t.

    So, it remains a puzzle. Why would YG use such different age band distributions?

    No doubt, Anthony could tell us. But unless he actually reads the relevant bits of the comment thread, then he won’t even know about our puzzlement.

  37. @Old Nat @Roger Mexico

    Ruth’s score is counter-intuitive but if the older age group is over represented then that would explain it. I am not saying Ruth wouldn’t come out well just not that well. I hope YouGov haven’t got more info from this poll to release because if the weightings are wrong it could be very misleading.

  38. The tables aren’t yet up for the YouGov poll quoted earlier, but the figures are very similar to that published a week or so ago (f/w 17-18 Jul):

    https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/7r7q7dltth/InternalResults_160720_VI.pdf

    with Lab -1, UKIP +1, which could just be random.

    As I’ve pointed out on several occasions, until then there had been no VI polls from YouGov since the one in April, which showed a 3 point Labour lead. After that (the second in a row) presumably the Times/ST/Sun became wary of commissioning polls that didn’t tell the story they were expecting[1] (there’d been one or two a month up till then) and YouGov themselves may have felt anxious about being out of line with other pollsters, when there’s a lot of uncertainty over polling techniques.

    So maybe not a pre-planned MSM plot, though it might look like to some that the media and the pollsters were waiting to publish till the ‘right’ result came along. And the fact that another poll has then come out so quickly after such a long gap might also suggest to some that they were trying to tell a particular story.

    But in reality most ‘conspiracies’ are due to like-minded people thinking in the same ways – as like minded people tend to and these polls will be a relief because they are what is expected as well as so close to each other. Though it still doesn’t explain why pollsters are varying from each other and some for example showing a May bounce and others not. Or which of them, if any, are correct.

    However the long gap meant that when last week’s poll was finally published[2],the changes were particularly dramatic. Not just because the Labour lead was less usual, but because the April UKIP figure was higher (20%) than in any other YouGov Westminster poll, ever (I think the previous max was 18%?). So people should get too excited by that change.

    What is also particularly frustrating is that the lack of polls in between means it is very difficult to apportion where and when that change comes. How much is a May honeymoon (this is the first poll after the May government was set up); how much the effects of the Referendum/ how much the Labour civil war; how much other things (we don’t even know about the May elections). Without regular polling we can’t distinguish what did what.

    There’s a big technical problem as well. YouGov have decided to weight by the result of the referendum. But, as in other polls we have seen Leave voters are under-represented in the original sample (this was 54% Remain). So those Leave voters who were in the sample are upgraded and given that Labour only make up 16% of those, this will reduce the Labour vote. This might be valid, but it implies certain assumptions that might not be.

    [1] Note that they continued to commission other polling from YouGov, especially on the Referendum, so it’s not like there was no opportunity to ask VI (indeed it may well have been, just not published).

    [2] Still not for the Times or whoever and apparently without any client. So it is worth wondering why now, rather than at any other point(s) in the last three months.

  39. Couper

    “I hope YouGov haven’t got more info from this poll to release”

    The lack of any weighting data suggests that this is a partial release from a wider poll. Of course, whether there is any further release from it is a matter of conjecture.

    Someone might have simply decided that this release was useful.

    Alternatively, as Roger suggested, someone at YG inexplicably typed in the wrong numbers. Done that myself!

    Hopefully, Anthony will explain but he might need to be emailed so that he is aware of the problem.

    We might see tomorrow. In the meantime, I’m off to bed!

    [The age crossbreak is wrong – the actual age weights are the usual, correct ones, but those columns claiming to show over 65, etc, etc, do not actually show that! There will be a corrected version up shortly (it won’t change any of the overall figures as the weighting was correct, only the crossbreaks were wrong) – Aw]

  40. Weighing by the referendum sounds weird, a lot of leave voters were the type that don’t often vote. My entire family voted leave but at least two of them think all politicians are the same and therefore voting is a waste of time

  41. @Roger Mexico

    Some eye-candy on that data you gave – https://twitter.com/StatgeekUK/status/758149935632097281

  42. When will the supply of UKPR Straws run out?

  43. @Colin

    When will the supply of UKPR Straws run out?

    8th May, 2020

  44. The High Court heard all the arguments yesterday, and Mr Justice Foskett will hand down his judgment on Thursday, and hear any applications for leave to appeal.

    Gavin Millar QC, for Mr Foster, has argued that since the word ‘incumbent’ does not appear anywhere in the party rules, which talk about ‘candidates’ requiring a minimum level of support from MPs and MEPs, it would be unfair if those rules didn’t also apply to a sitting leader. He also argued that the 18-14 vote by the NEC that Corbyn should automatically be on the ballot was unfair, because some members were mandated to vote a certain way.

    Mark Henderson, Counsel for the NEC, argued that the Courts should be reluctant to interfere with the internal processes of voluntary associations, except where the rules were ambiguous, which he contended they weren’t in this case.

    Martin Westgate QC, representing Mr Corbyn, said that the rules were designed to prevent MPs choosing a leader without a ballot of members, and that there was no reason for the Judge to interpret the rules differently unless they were deemed unreasonable.

    This might, on the face of it seem like an open and shut case, but anyone who follows Rugby will remember that in 2012, London Welsh, having won the Championship, were denied promotion to the Premiership because their ground did not meet the minimum standards set out by the RFU. The club took the RFU to court, and successfully argued that the RFU rules were discriminatory, and anti-competitive. The RFU were therefore forced to accept London Welsh as a Premiership club.

    So it’s by no means certain that the Courts won’t ‘interfere’ with LP rules if they consider them to be ambiguous or unfair, and this saga could yet run and run.

  45. I guess the joy of the Yougov poll being the first from them in three months is that we can pull out some long-term movements, even if there may be some distortion through individual poll effects.

    I make the movements:
    Cons +10
    Lab – 6
    UKIP – 8
    LD + 3

    Which I guess is what you would intuitively expect given:
    – A referendum that has achieved UKIP’s goal and made them less relevant
    – A well-managed Tory leadership change and a honeymoon period
    – Massive Labour infighting
    – After the referendum some coalescing of pro-internationalists around the LDs.

  46. MUDDY

    :-)

    I fully expect Corbyn to announce a massive investment in UK Straws manufacture.

    Marketing spend on the declining “In The Wind” brand will be increased to give this niche Labour product Popular appeal across the Social Media sector.

    And the ever popular “Clutcher” will be redesigned with enhanced grip features & both Left handed & Right handed versions. Heavy discounts will continue to be available for Party Members, and a £3 price tag will be there for Registered supporters , provided they can meet the required clutch strength criteria.

  47. Another dire poll for Labour. May be wrong, but I think this is their lowest rating under YG since Corbyn arrived, and oddly, after my saying they hadn’t had a 28% score at all since September just yesterday, up pops one.

    Going back to Smith’s campaign announcements last night, he does look like the kind of candidate who knows how to do politics. The three key ones – investment, War Powers act and reworked clause 4, are all about symbolic positioning, with some detail, but not so much specific policies for government. It’s what oppositions need to do at this stage in a parliament.

    Everyone is talking about investment boosts, so that’s a fairly safe bet, and the war powers act, while great sounding, is merely formalising what we already have de facto. After Iraq, and Milliband’s opposition to Syrian bombing, we effectively need parliamentary consent for war anyway, but it sounds good.

    The Clause 4 one is more interesting. this is a direct appeal to labour members – his current electorate – but again, has limited implications for wider policy in the sense that he doesn’t have to explain how it works, the negatives etc.

    Compare and contrast this to Corbyn’s rather messy intervention into the pharmaceutical industry. A vague notion dressed as a policy, with potential benefits but huge possible negative impacts, with no clear explanation other than the shadow chancellor explaining that the leader of the opposition doesn’t understand how medical research works. The contrast is rather stark, and is at the very heart of Labour’s poll problems.

    I have no real doubt that under Smith, in a year or so’s time Labour’s poll ratings would be significantly higher.

  48. @ Roger Mexico (might be @ Statgeek)

    I think it was Colin who quoted someone saying that Labour had lost 40% of it’s 2015 vote in one poll. That seemed puzzling seeing as the Labour topline figure was unchanged.

    Didn’t have time to check it out at the time but the poll you linked to above did show an awful lot of churn (although “only” 21% of the 2015 vote lost). With Labour making net gains from UKIP and LD but net loss to Tory (probably worst scenario for Labour). Within those net gains there was still a lot of churn either way.

    Has anyone got a churn pattern and an explanation? The obvious explanation being that a lot of 2015 Labour voters are put off by Corbyn or splits or whatever while another section of 2015 voters actually like Corbyn (they probably don’t like splits but maybe they do!).

  49. The Labour party has two systems for electing a leader, depending on whether or not the post is vacant.
    For a vacancy, all candidates start level, and must have the support of 15% of MPs.
    If the post is not vacant, a challenger must show greater support than that – 20%.
    (Challenges somewhat undesirable).
    I expect the court to rule that the leader has already demonstrated sufficient support by initial election. Opponents would then need to argue that a motion of no confidence has shown that he has lost that support, and must then get 20% to support his presence on the ballot paper.
    But the rules don’t cover this, do they? Pity they didn’t say explicitly that a sitting leader takes part – ie is entitled to resist a challenge – without the need to show the same level of initial support as a challenger.
    If Labour ever form another government, lets hope they have learned how to draft laws without loopholes.

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