Labour’s performance in polls and in mid-term elections has become a political football – not just the usual rather routine spinning of parties saying how well they are doing, but a key faultline in Labour’s internal leadership battle. A key argument of Jeremy Corbyn’s critics is that he is an electoral liability – therefore they highlight anything suggesting that Labour are doing badly. In contrast Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters brandish anything that can be presented as a sign that Labour are actually doing well.

Which side is right? A lot of what both sides say is exaggerated or unfair. Some of it is just downright untrue. For what it’s worth, this is an attempt to unpick the evidence and look at it as fairly as I can. I expect, therefore, that this piece will not make anyone happy. It’s not going to say that Labour polls are the worst for any party ever, nor that Jeremy Corbyn is actually the messiah. It’s also quite long, so if you’re hoping for either of those conclusions, perhaps give it a skip.

Labour in the polls

Polls in August so far have shown Labour between 7 and 14 points behind the Conservatives. However, this is probably not a fair yardstick to judge them upon given Theresa May is enjoying a honeymoon in the polls. A more reasonable point of comparison is to go back earlier in the year, before the EU referendum. Between the March budget and the EU referendum there was an average Conservative lead in the polls of three points.

There have been frequent claims that Labour were equal to (or even ahead of) the Tories before Labour’s leadership troubles erupted. This is a disingenuous claim at best, and seems to rest wholly upon cherry-picking individual polls. There was a single Survation poll straight after the referendum result that had the Conservatives and Labour equal, but an ICM poll conducted at the same time had a Tory lead of four points and the average position at the time was a Tory lead of about three points. At no point this year have the polls ever shown a consistent Labour lead (and the last poll to show Labour ahead was in April).

votingintention

A typical opinion poll has a margin of error of +/-3%. That means if the actual position is a Tory lead of about three points, then random chance will sometimes spit out individual polls showing Labour neck-and-neck or even just ahead, or, at the other extreme, showing Tory leads of six points or more. Anyone seeking to honestly describe the state of the parties cannot reasonably just pick one of those outlying polls and claim it reflects the actual picture, ignoring the wider average. The only reasonable way of judging support is to take an average across many polls.

So, if Labour were on average 3 points behind the Tories, would that be good or bad for an opposition? The typical pattern of opinion polls is that oppositions open up leads in mid-term polls (so-called “mid-term blues”) and then governments recover as the election approaches. Obviously this does not always happen, but opposition parties that go on to win the next general election have usually opened up towering leads in mid-term polls. Oppositions that have not secured large leads in mid-term typically get hammered at the subsequent general election. On those grounds, an opposition that’s still three points behind mid-term is heading for disaster.

However, there’s an important caveat… oppositions that go on to win almost always have big leads mid-term. But that doesn’t mean they have big leads throughout the whole Parliament. In the first half of 2006 David’s Cameron’s Conservatives only had a lead of 2 points or so; in early 1975 the Conservatives were still behind Labour. In contrast, in early 1980 Labour had a healthy lead over the Conservatives. How well or badly a party was doing in the polls this early in the Parliamentary term is really not much of a guide as to how well they will end up doing at the next election – too much depends on the performance of the government in power and what triumphs and disasters fall upon them over the next three years.

Where the polls are more alarming for Labour is some of the underlying questions. Labour were ahead in voting intention throughout most of the last Parliament, but were behind on economic competence and leadership, which are normally seen as important drivers of voting intention (the ultimate explanation of this apparent paradox was, of course, that the voting intention polls were wrong). If we look at economic questions and leadership questions now Labour’s position looks bleak.

On who would make the best Prime Minister Theresa May leads Jeremy Corbyn by 58% to 12% with YouGov, by 58% to 19% with ComRes. YouGov currently give the Conservatives an 18 point lead on running the economy, when ComRes last asked in March the Tories had a 16 point lead. Looking at MORI’s long term approval trackers Jeremy Corbyn’s net approval rating is minus 41 – already pushing at Ed Miliband’s lowest of minus 44 (and those depths took Miliband years). Corbyn’s favourability rating in ComRes last week was minus 28, worse than everyone else they asked about but Trump.

Labour at the ballot box

The other way of measuring support are mid-term elections. Just like opinion polls there is a typical pattern of oppositions doing well in mid-term contests and then falling back come a general election. Oppositions that scrape wins in mid-term normally go on to lose the following general election; oppositions that go on to win have usually crushed the government mid-term.

Local elections

The results of the 2016 local elections were spun for all they were worth by both sides within Labour. Opponents of Jeremy Corbyn made much of Labour failing to gain councillors in 2016, but in fairness this was because Ed Miliband had already won the low hanging fruit when those wards were last contested in 2012. There were some social media memes claiming Corbyn did well in the local elections in 2016 because he got a higher share of the seats contested than Blair won in 1995 or Cameron won in 2006 – this is misleading because a different group of seats are up at each set of local elections (Blair’s first local elections in 1995 were the all-out district councils, including lots of Tory territory; Cameron’s first in 2006 were largely London and the Metropolitan boroughs, so were on very Labour territory).

The fairest way of judging local election performance are the national equivalent shares of the vote calculated by Rallings and Thrasher – indeed, that’s the whole point of them. The Rallings and Thrasher figures are a projection of what the result would be if there were local elections across all of Britain, an attempt to even out the cyclical differences and make one year’s results comparable to other year’s results.

At the 2016 locals the R&T projection was CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 14%, UKIP 12%; a one point lead for Labour. Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters have presented this as a sign of Labour doing well, on the grounds they beat the Conservatives. The TSSA have presented it as positive because it is a four point swing from the R&T projection of support at the local elections in 2015.

These claims are flawed. Looking at historical comparisons, Labour’s performance in the 2016 local elections was pretty mediocre compared to previous oppositions. The graph below shows the main opposition party’s lead over the government at mid-term local elections since 1981.

localelect

It is normal for the opposition party to win local elections mid-term and a lead of just one point is a pretty poor result comparatively. It is not, as some of Corbyn’s detractors have claimed, the worst local election performance for decades (Ed Miliband’s Labour did a little worse in 2011 and William Hague did significantly worse for the Tories in 1998) but it is the sort of local election performance heralding failure at the next general election. It’s the same lead that IDS got for the Tories in 2002, hardly a happy precedent.

As with voting intention polls, if you look at oppositions that went on to win the next election, they won mid-term local elections hands down. Cameron and Blair both consistently secured double-digit leads at local elections. Oppositions that were roughly neck-and-neck with the government in local elections (like Labour in 1984, 1988 and 2011, or the Tories in 2002) went on to be defeated at the following election.

In summary, the local election performance from Labour this year is not the unprecedented disaster Corbyn’s opponents have claimed – others have done worse – but neither is it in any way positive news. It is a mediocre result, with far more in common with those oppositions that have gone onto defeat than those oppositions who have ended up winning the next election.

Scotland, Wales and London

On the same day as the local elections were the elections to Scotland, Wales and London. These were a mixed bag for Labour – in Scotland they were again crushed by the SNP and trailed behind the Tories in terms of seats; in Wales they largely maintained their position, losing a single seat; in London Sadiq Khan won the mayoralty from the Conservatives. On the face of it this is one bad result, one mediocre result and one good.

Labour’s position in Scotland is dire, but I think it unfair to blame it upon Corbyn: the way politics has changed in Scotland since the referendum is probably beyond the control of any Labour leader, and it began long before Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Wales is a devolved assembly where presumably many voters would have been passing judgement upon Labour’s performance in governing Wales – though the results were pretty middle-of-the-road for Labour anyway.

In London it is difficult to know how much voting patterns are down to the party and how much they are down to the politicians running for the mayoralty – was it a victory for Labour, or for Sadiq? Either way, the result is somewhat less impressive that it looks. In the first round, Sadiq Khan was nine points ahead of Zac Goldsmith,typical of other recent London elections: in the 2015 general election Labour came top in London by 9 points; in the 2012 London assembly election Labour won by 9 points. The anomaly was the 2012 mayoral election, when Boris Johnson won through some combination of his electoral appeal and/or Ken Livingstone’s lack of it. London is now a Labour-leaning city, and winning by nine points is just repeating what Ed Miliband managed in 2015. That’s not to be snooty about Sadiq Khan’s achievement in winning the mayoralty back for Labour, but it doesn’t indicate any gain in support since 2015.

By-elections

The final bit of electoral evidence offered is Parliamentary by-elections. There have been four by-elections so far this Parliament and Labour won them all. However, all four by-elections were in seats that were already held by Labour at the 2015 election – three of them by extremely large majorities – so this is again not a particularly positive sign. Governments sometime lose mid-term by-elections, but it is the norm for oppositions to retain their seats in by-elections and nothing to get excited about.

Finally there are local government by-elections – including the bizarre case of Jeremy Corbyn citing a local parish by-election gain in Thanet. Citing local council by-elections is normally a festival of cherry picking – there are a handful or so each week and results vary wildly, so it is simple to pick out only those that paint a positive picture for a party. For example, in the three by-elections last week Labour’s vote dropped by between 7 and 11 percent, the week before the change in the Labour vote varied from a 7 point drop to an 11 point gain. If you take an overall view of Labour’s performance they seem to be holding their own, but not making any significant advance – of the 164 local by-elections so far this year (up to August 11th) Labour have made a net gain of 2 seats.

How deep is the hole?

Looking at Labour position in voting intention polls and their performance in actual elections since 2015 their position is poor rather than terrible. Putting aside Theresa May’s honeymoon bounce, running a few points behind the Conservatives is far from good, but better than the sort of horrific polling that the Tories endured in the nineties and early noughties. These are not the polling figures of a party on course to win the next general election, but neither do they point to imminent extinction.

Equally, while attempts to spin Labour’s mid-term election results as positive are unconvincing, so are claims they are uniquely terrible. They are on a par with the performance of the opposition under Iain Duncan Smith or Ed Miliband.

In terms of public support Labour’s current position is poor, but not exceptionally so. Should the Parliament run until 2020 there would normally be time for them to turn things around. The problem is how they do it. Labour’s polling on underlying questions like leadership and the economy should be far more worrying for them – their ratings there are terrible. Furthermore, for as long as they are hamstrung by internal fighting, there is no obvious way for them to improve them.

The purpose of this article isn’t to apportion blame – when a leader is at war with the MPs is it the leader’s fault for failing to lead, manage and win their support, or is it the MPs fault for failing to back the leader? It takes two to have an argument. I’m also deliberately not suggesting Labour would or would not do any better under Owen Smith (given how little known Smith is to the general public I am deeply sceptical about any polling evidence along those lines… besides, we don’t know what would happen with the left of Labour and all those new members if Jeremy Corbyn was removed)

My own view is that Labour’s current position in the polls is poor, but that it doesn’t show the full extent of their problems. Polls are, as ever, only a snapshot. They could get better… or they could get worse. What happens if Labour’s internal warfare drags on for another four years? What happens if there are defections, deselections, a split? How does Labour put across its message with most of its known faces refusing to serve? How on earth would Labour fight an election in this state? The root of Labour’s problem isn’t with the wider public, it’s within itself.


319 Responses to “How badly is Jeremy Corbyn doing?”

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  1. LASZLO
    I really think any polling right now is meaningless

    That’s going a little far, but I suspect that once the HoC gets going after the summer there will be at least nervousness amongst UKIP supporters until A50 is triggered, probably causing a fairly steady drop in Con support until it is. If A50 doesn’t get triggered in 2017 that will likely continue.

    Despite Smith’s faux-pas today, Lab support could go either way, probably depending more on media coverage than anything else. The print media do seem to want “business as usual” with Lab.

  2. This could be quite significant – https://www.markiteconomics.com/Survey/PressRelease.mvc/a40f6c2ed17e4b4fa54d99f53aa4ed8c

    It shows perceptions of household finances over the next twelve months have rebounded somewhat after a very poor July. Partly I guess this is the dissipating of the shock at the Brexit vote and the prophecies of doom.

    The critical question is really whether incomes and employment will suffer, as changes in the HFI do tend to presage movement in VI, although the link isn’t by any means rock solid.

  3. BZ

    Yes, Labour can go either way once this thing is over (?).

    I’m not sure about the print media if I go by the Independent. They put in that had Corbyn said that, it would be unbelievable so, we know of the problem, we are independent then just going on. They may want peace in Labour. They can fill just some pages with anti-Corbyn pieces, and it may not catch readers (the click competition may help though to keep the headlines up), and, at least the broadsheets, have some reputation to look after.

    Both LibDem and UKIP VI surprised me, although for different reasons and BFR could be right that it is an anyone-but-Labour poll (which makes sense).

  4. Well that’s whatever chance Owen Smith had of winning the leadership contest gone then. As much as the terrorist sympathizer comments can be used against Corbyn (wrongly, in my opinion) suggesting to negotiate with Daesh is a gaffe Smith well never recover from with the public. Imagine the hysteria if Corbyn had made that comment.

  5. @CR
    “Again its the likelyhood to vote that’s killing labour, 5 points down before weighing for likehood to vote, 11 points afterwards. Interesting also that most of May’s honeymoon bounce is coming from other parties”
    In line with my belief that essentially people vote against what they don’t like, choosing either what they see as the least worst option, or some novel option not tainted by actual experience of what that would be like. (On that basis ‘Labour heartlands’ = Not Tory at any price’ but UKIP could/did pick up votes, but not enough)
    Mrs May has a reputation for not actually getting much done at the Home Office, though eventually succeeding with a few things after a long struggle = persists but not much done to generate dislike.
    Taking a holiday right out of the news while all the others, Labour especially, garner a load of bad publicity looks like a winning strategy to me.

  6. Laszlo

    I like the independent’s writing but their website is horrible. Definitely the least anti corbyn mainstream media source, a cynic would say that they are trying to poach readers from the guardian

  7. CambridgeRachel

    It’s quite complicated. The business model of Guardian (apart from still having a printed version) relies very heavily on Australian and US readers of their website (plus donations). The Independent very much a pure click collecting one (it is nothing to do with the quality of their writing) – maybe some subscription. Hence the huge content and the catchy headlines. Their extremely prevelant paraphrasing from other newspapers, I think, is not a promising signal.

  8. ALEC

    Nice balanced view on the economic news.

  9. Latest Ipsos Mori poll

    CON 45 +9
    LAB 34 -1
    LD 7 -4
    UKIP 6% -2

    Both Con and Lab look too high there with UKIP too low. The figures imply a Tory majority of 48.
    Second consecutive month that Ipsos Mori has come out with strange set of figures. Last month it showed a Con lead of 1% which also seemed unlikely.

  10. Over the period since the May Ipsos Mori show:
    Tories +9
    Labour 0
    Lib Dems -1
    UKIP -4
    Other -4

    Which I think translates into a net flow of Greens/other left to Labour, and flows from UKIP (purpose achieved/imploding) and Labour (civil war) to Tories (enjoying a May honeymoon), with some of the Labour -> Tory switching maybe going via the Lib Dems (i.e. Labour to Lib Dem offset by Lib Dem to Tory)

    All of which kind of makes some sense given what is going on in each of the parties…

  11. Bigfatron

    I was looking at a graph of recent polls. Cons up big, ukip down big. Labour down some, libdems up some. I wonder if those are the movements we are seeing

  12. CAMBRIDGERACHEL @ Laszlo
    I like the independent’s writing but their website is horrible. Definitely the least anti corbyn mainstream media source, a cynic would say that they are trying to poach readers from the guardian

    Fair and accurate comment. I don’t think you need to be a cynic, but in addition their “remain” stance does seem to be working as clickbait for Brexiteers.

  13. Good afternoon all from the warm and sunny, positively golden in may respects, People’s (Socialist) Republic of London.

    AW, thanks for the very thought provoking analysis. Apologies if I am posting anything raised previously, but I would add two broad observations.

    First, if the boundary changes do go through then Labour will face an even bigger uphill climb at the next election.

    Second, given FPTP the complexion and geography of the Labour vote will be just as critical as the overall VI, and this is where the ‘Corbyn’ effect will most likely play out. It is perfectly conceivable that Labour led by Corbyn or Smith could obtain similar % levels of support in a GE. However, Corbyn’s will be concentrated in seats that Labour already have, such as the inner-cities and areas of the North, where he may increase Labour’s vote. Where he will lose vote’s is among moderate voters in the marginals, where perceptions on competency (leadership and managing the economy) will be the biggest influence on voting.

    The mere fact that his side are talking of driving out the moderates / Blarites does little to improve his appeal to this section of the electorate, many of whom voted for Blair. Smith, whilst not likely to improve on Labour’s current position stands a better chance of minimising the damage and keeping some of these voters, whilst not increasing support in Labour’s safe seats.

    Also if there is a split away party, as happened with the Gang of Four / SDP, if that is from the right of the party the damage will be felt most in the marginals. If it is from the left it is unlikely to have the same effect in those seats.

    Anyway, as my political economy lecture use to say, you pay your money and take your choice (but not if you joined the Labour Party in 2016 ;-) ).

  14. Weeeeeelll we’re amazingly still above China.

    Though table tennis and Badminton are underway, and Chinese supposedly Hoover up lots of medals in those.

    Meanwhile, the Beeb cite Aussie disappointment in their results, suggesting as others have on this board, that it isn’t all about funding…

    “BBC Monitoring

    The Sydney Morning Herald highlights Australia’s lack of medals in Rio as somewhat of an expensive failure.

    “Australia’s underwhelming performance in Brazil is set to come at a cost of as much as $11 million per medal to the taxpayer,” it says.

    The report adds that Australia has tried but failed to take a leaf out of Team GB’s funding strategy in its search for Olympic success.

    “In all, $340m has been injected into summer Olympic sports using the national lottery funding model adopted by Great Britain in the lead-up to its home Olympics as an inspiration.

    “But while Team GB, with £274m ($466m) pledged to their Olympic sports between 2013 and 2017, are still enjoying the afterglow of London by punching well above their weight here, the jury is still out for Australia’s programme.””

  15. @Rach

    “All polling is meaningless!
    Unless it agrees with the narrative we believe in. :p”

    ——–

    I dunno, I quite like it if polling throws up summat that challenges our reality. It’s interesting and can lead to greater insight.

    (Bit like how the scientists at CERN are a bit disappointed they haven’t discovered a new, unexpected particle yet, because it means they don’t have to throw out the existing model. They’d rather summat trashed the model and they discover some new physics…)

  16. Obviously the polling’s not necessarily the same level of difficulty as particle physics. At least in particle physics, they don’t have Quite the problem of getting representative samples, nor do they have shy particles, or panel stuffing etc…

  17. And they don’t have to avoid giving leading questions to the particles either…

  18. Hopefully this won’t go straight into moderation.

    This might have some bearing on what’s going on at local level with polls and in particular labour.

    This week our parish (7000 electors) had an election for 2 vacancies. 2 independents resigned. Normally a co-option would be held, but the local Labour Party got the necessary signatures to hold an election (it was momentum organised). This cost the tax payer £6k. Now momentum could not find candidates to stand so put no one forward. An independent and green won.

    1 day later the organiser of the petition resigned from the parish council in the local council after being approached by another parish.

    There had already been some disquiet with labour voters locally around labour and for each new momentum person 1 other leaves. There were resignations from labour on the parish council as some individuals felt that the instruction to vote on mass based on outside instruction was not appropriate for this level of government.

    So locally here labour are finished, this used to be a heavy labour parish and it’s a varied mix now but mostly Tory, lib dem and ukip. UKIP and Tory have gained locally from labours demise.

    It’s just a snapshot but shows the danger of talking to yourselves and treating the electorate like fools

  19. I’m going to take Ipsos Mori with a massive dose of salt. No net change of 9 points ever turns out to be the real thing.

    As for the general summary of AW’s piece and the good debate about it, I think it comes down to this.

    Labour under Jeremy Corbyn are doing about average for an Opposition that is heading for defeat at the next election.

    Have I got that about right? Not remarkably bad, no particular special negative effect of having a poorly received leader and a divided party. Just generally, averagely in a little bit of bother.

  20. Carfrew

    Dont Know what the aussies are complaining about they are still ahead of us in medals per capita though admittedly behind on medals per gdp. New Zealand are storming, well in from of both us and the Aussies in both rankings

  21. Current leader in both the per capita and per GDP are Grenada

  22. Have there been any polls of Labour party members re what their second preference would be – ie if they didn’t vote Labour who would they vote? I am thinking of what happens if Corbyn supporters or PLP supporters feel disenfranchised.

    My gut feeling is that Greens would benefit from a Corbyn loss, Lib Dems from Smith loss.

  23. Bardin

    I would think that was a fair bet, LizH has already said she’s voting Green if corbyn loses. But I think more of the left leaning voters will go to not voting rather than Green

  24. @ Rach

    It’s possible one might have to be a bit careful with some of those metrics, on account of summat familiar to this board: the vagueries of random variation.

    There are quite a lot of smaller countries. And they only need to secure a couple of golds to shoot ahead on some of those metrics. But given the number of smaller countries, random variation would ensure that at each Olympics, there’d be at least a few securing a couple of golds, regardless of how good their sporting infrastructure. Of course, next time around, random variation will.prolly see some different countries benefitting.

    If smaller countries persistently punch above their weight on successive occasions, then maybe it’s a genuine thing. Beyond that, the metics might work better for bigger countries…

  25. @ Rach

    It’s possible one might have to be a bit careful with some of those metrics, on account of summat famil1ar to this board: the vagueries of random variation.

    There are quite a lot of smaller countries. And they only need to secure a couple of golds to shoot ahead on some of those metrics. But given the number of smaller countries, random variation would ensure that at each Olympics, there’d be at least a few securing a couple of golds, regardless of how good their sporting infrastructure. Of course, next time around, random variation will.prolly see some different countries benefitting.

    If smaller countries persistently punch above their weight on successive occasions, then maybe it’s more likely a genuine thing. Beyond that, the metrics might work better for bigger countries…

  26. I think ragardless of a Smith or Corbyn win VI will remain relit icky constant.

    There will just be churn some will come and some will go, but after a while it will just balance out.

    I think the damage is done.

  27. Porrohman
    “I think the damage is done.”

    Unless there’s a split, which still seems possible.

  28. Carfrew – “The report adds that Australia has tried but failed to take a leaf out of Team GB’s funding strategy in its search for Olympic success”

    Well a big part of GB’s success has been down to every member of the cycling team getting a medal. And that’s down to the Manchester velodrome – it’s like the Silicon Valley of cycling. It seems to have built a critical mass of infrastructure and expertise that has taken it into a different league.

    Also, don’t laugh, but I can’t help wondering whether all those sports related degrees are paying off – you know, sports nutrition, sports therapy etc. They all get jobs supporting the GB team in various disciplines, and I suppose bringing a level of medical knowledge to sport and high performance must pay dividends. The Americans are really into that sort of thing too, and they’re still holding onto #1. So not just funding, applied knowledge.

    I wonder how Britain can make money out of this.

  29. Carfrew

    New Zealand seems to consistently punch above it weight on both measures

  30. Carfrew: nor do they have shy particles

    I think ‘shy particles’ would be a great addition to physics terminology. We’ve got fuzzy electrons, flavoured quarks, chameleon and all manner of comedy names for hypothetical particles predicted by theories of supersymmetry…

  31. @sorbus

    We need to find a way to let the shy particles know they have charm, not strangeness

  32. It’s also worth remembering that in some sports (swimming, and track cycling come to mind) it’s relatively easy for an athlete of medal-winning calibre to win several medals in one Games.

  33. @Candy

    Beeb live feed also posted a bit of handwringing by French newspapers, wondering how we’re doing so much better. They noted the simple fact we enter a lot of events…

    Regarding velodrome etc… Well, this harks back to what the Catman was on about. The way we approach it. Optimising every effing thing under the sun. They take their pillows with them when abroad, to help with sleep. Proper medical hand washing to reduce the incidence of colds which hamper training.

    (Catman’s gonna note this approach, because his career is quality control, and it goes beyond that. He’s got an engineer’s mindset, he’ll note how things are optimised, and wanna optimise everything himself. That’s a big reason why he home schools. Lefty’s similar, and he’s an engineer…)

  34. @SORBUS

    “It’s also worth remembering that in some sports (swimming, and track cycling come to mind) it’s relatively easy for an athlete of medal-winning calibre to win several medals in one Games.”

    ——–

    Yes, though in the case of swimming where they get extra medals by doing different strokes, that does seem a bit more challenging…

    Apparently you can get quite a few medals from table tennis and Badminton…

  35. Of course, once polling is an Olympic sport, we’ll be able to do our bit. (Indy peeps permitting…)

  36. S’pose we could put Howard forward for GE predictions. Maybe not referenda though…

  37. Bardin

    Love the Hawkwind reference

  38. @Rach

    It’s the Spirit of the Age.

    Quark Quark…

  39. @SORBUS

    “I think ‘shy particles’ would be a great addition to physics terminology. We’ve got fuzzy electrons, flavoured quarks, chameleon and all manner of comedy names for hypothetical particles predicted by theories of supersymmetry…”

    ———

    Well I’ve prolly left it a bit late to make a major contribution, but yeah, if we can have virtual particles and entangled particles then why not shy particles?

    It’s been staring us in the face all along…

  40. @Cambridgerachel

    Can’t beat a bit of head thrashing Hawkwind after a few pints

  41. @CAMBRIDGERACHEL

    “New Zealand seems to consistently punch above it weight on both measures”

    ———

    Fair dos. They can be quite handy at cricket too…

  42. And, erm, Rugby…

  43. Hawkwind was always after a few joints for me (but don’t tell anybody).
    FWIW as a Smith supporter, if I didn’t vote Labour I would most certainly go Green rather than LD.

  44. PORROHMAN

    That is an incredible story.

    And you are talking about a PARISH Council!

    What has happened to the Labour Party is incredible.

  45. From the Times…

    “UK Sport,,which funds Olympic athletes and sports through its World Class Programme, is honing its aim to focus on sports with good medal prospects and withdraw funding from those that do not.

    Liz Nichol, cheif executive of UK Sport, put Team GB’s success at Rio down to better use of funds, rather than just throwing money at Olympic sports. “What’s feeding this success is the significant strategic investment in the right athletes and the right sports, to enable them to train full time from the best world class coaches and the best world class coaches and medics possible,” she said.”

  46. “This is unprecdented. LAB voters in latest @IpsosMORI poll give Theresa May much better ratings than Corbyn”

    Mike Smithson.

    Overall satisfaction ratings:-

    May +35
    Corbyn -33

    I suppose its all because of the hostile Press.

  47. From the Times…

    “More than half of the first young graduates to pay tuition fees of £9,000 a year have moved back in with their parents to save money… for the first time more of the boomerang generation is living with their parents than in any other form of residential arrangement”.

    …it’s worse than I thought. Apparently it’s part of a growing trend…

  48. Shevii

    An “Album on 4AD” That’s even before my time! (I think we’re supposed to use “CE” nowadays). :-)

    Prof Howard

    Nicola is OK, I suppose, but we do tend to produce good party leaders here. :-)

    Guymonde

    It wasn’t a complaint – simply an enquiry. It’s always useful to know what data sources these bodies use when making comparisons.

    Alec

    “eventually you need to talk to everyone, as happened in NI once the fighting stopped”

    Except the Thatcher’s government (very sensibly) talking to the PIRA long before the fighting stopped.

    On the EUref, I don’t think I “accused”, but “rather suspected” that you might be playing a role. I was wrong, as it turns out, so apologies duly delivered.

    On attempted packing of online polling panels, you will remember that there was no evidence at all that any such attempts had been successful.

    As to TV audiences of “undecideds” some councillors, as well as known activists, have been spotted by viewers on these for a number of years.

  49. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a small Choudary bounce for TM/Cons.

    Coming after Abu Qatada , there is a narrative with appeal – perceptions are everything.

  50. @colin

    You can’t make it up.

    The voters don’t like being talked down to. And the whole language used is the electorate need to be educated and the media controlled. This at local level is very polarising and is creating some anti-labour coalitions hence I also thin a grand left alliance is famcifull.

    There are lots of rumours of deliberate plans to make parish councils fail, but then claim credit for coming in and saving them thus creating a grass roots movement.

    Unfortunately for those involved the average voter just doesn’t care or sees straight through it.

    Hence the flatlining, it’s not the coup or anything it’s the polarisation of support

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