A final post on boundary changes (at least until the Scottish proposals next month). This comes from a discussion I had with Mark Pack. Normally the thing we look at with boundary changes is what the party-partisan effect is, how the new boundaries would change the sort of swing that Labour need to win a general election. However, currently Labour are a very, very long way from the sort of polling lead they’d need to win a majority, so a small change in that figure really doesn’t make a lot of difference. More interesting in the current political climate is the effect it would have on Labour internal battle and any potential deselections.

The rules for how Labour will deal with re-selections after boundary changes are yet to be confirmed, so these are based on the rules set out for 2011 in the Labour rule book, on the assumption that Labour’s NEC will use similar rules this time round. A Labour MP has a right to seek selection in any seat that contains 40% or more of the electors in their existing seat. If an MP’s seat is divided up so much that no single seat contains 40% of their old electors then they’ll have the right to seek nomination in a seat with less than 40% of their old voters. If they are the only sitting MP to seek selection in a seat, they are nominated through the normal trigger ballot process. If more than one sitting MP seeks the nomination in a new seat there is a members ballot to pick between them.

Applying those rules to the provisional boundaries we can see where there may be contests under those rules. Note that this list is exhaustive, it contains every case where Labour MPs could compete against each other under the selection rules… but in some cases it will be easily avoided through either agreement (there are enough seats to go round) or retirement (an MP will be well over 70 come the general election and possibly considering retirement anyway). Of the 231 Labour members of Parliament in England & Wales, 142 of them should not face any re-selection difficulties connected to boundary changes – they may well see changes to their seat, but there is a single notionally Labour seat to which they have the sole right to seek selection. What about the other 89?

Avoidable Challenges

There are six places where more than one MP would have a right to seek selection for a seat, but where there are enough Labour seats to go round, so if MPs co-operate and agree between themselves who will stand where, no head-to-head challenge is necessary and no one is left empty handed. These are:
Alfreton and Clay Cross. Nastasha Engel and Dennis Skinner both have the right to seek selection here, but Skinner also has the right to seek selection in Bolsover, so a challenge seems unlikely.
East London. Mike Gapes’ seat is sliced up into tiny pieces, and if the NEC follow past practice he should have the right to seek selection in any of the successor seats. He is the only sitting MP with a right to seek selection in the new, ultra-safe, Forest Gate & Loxford seat so I imagine he will go there. If not, he could challenge Wes Streeting, Margaret Hodge or John Cryer (who could, in turn, seek selection in Stella Creasy’s Walthamstow)
Redcar. Andy McDonald and Anna Turley can both seek selection in Middlesbrough NE & Redcar, but McDonald is also eligible for the safe Middlesbrough W & Stockton E seat, so a challenge is avoidable.
Ashton Under Lyne. Jonathan Reynolds and Angela Rayner are both eligible, but Rayner is also eligible for the safer Failsworth & Droylsden.
Stockport. This is avoidable, but not without some pain for Ann Coffey. Andrew Gwynne & Ann Coffey are both eligible for the safe Stockport North & Denton seat. Ann Coffey is also eligible for the Stockport South & Cheadle seat, but that is far more marginal (that said, Coffey will be 73 at the next election, so may not stand).
Pontefract. Yvette Cooper and Jon Trickett are both eligible to seek selection, but Yvette Cooper also has a free run at Normanton, Castleford and Outwood.

Not Enough Labour seats to go round

The following seven areas have enough seats to go round, but one or more of them is notionally Conservative, so there may be a contest for the winnable seat or someone may be left in a seat that is notionally Conservative:
South London. Siobhain McDonagh’s seat is sliced up. Two of the successor seats, Merton & Wimbledon Common (a potentially winnable marginal) and Sutton & Cheam (no hope) are notionally Conservative, so she will have the choice of fighting one of them, or challenging either Chuka Ummuna or Rosena Allin-Khan.
South-East London. Erith and Thamesmead is split up into Erith & Crayford (a Tory seat) and Woolwich. The only option for a Labour seat for Theresa Pearce is to challenge Matthew Pennycook for the Woolwich nomination. Pennycook has the option of seeking the Woolwich nomination, or going up again Vicky Foxcroft for the Greenwich & Deptford nomination.
Coventry. Geoffrey Robinson’s seat becomes comfortably Conservative on new boundaries, but he has the option of going up against Jim Cunningham for the Coventry South nomination. He’ll be 81 by the next election, so I assume he won’t.
Nottingham. Vernon Coaker’s Gedling seat disappears. Half goes into the Conservative Sherwood seat, so there is the potential of a battle against Chris Leslie for the nomination in the Labour Nottingham East and Carlton seat.
Cumbria. The Workington seat disappears. Part of it goes into the very Conservative Penrith & Solway seat, which is unlikely to be attractive to Sue Hayman, leaving her the option of fighting Jamie Reed for the Whitehaven & Workington seat.
Wrexham. Susan Elan Jones’s Clwyd South seat is dismembered. Part of it goes into the elaborately named De Clwyd a Gogledd Sir Faldwyn seat, but that is notionally Conservative. The other part goes into Wrexham Maelor, where she would have to compete against Ian Lucas for the nomination.
Newport. The Newport seats are combined into one. Jessica Morden would also have the right to seek nomination in Monmouthshire, but that’s solidly Tory leaving one Labour seat between her and Paul Flynn. Flynn will be 85 come the next election, so the issue may well be resolved by retirement.

Straight two way fights

There are seven Labour seats where there are two Labour MPs who are eligible for that seat, and that seat only – meaning a straight fight is unavoidable unless someone stands down:
Sunderland West – Bridget Phillipson vs Sharon Hodgson
Newcastle North West – Catherine McKinnell vs Chi Onwurah
Wednesfield & Willenhall – David Winnick vs Emma Reynolds (though Winnick will be 86)
Stoke South – Rob Flello vs Tristram Hunt
Dudley East & Tipton – Ian Austin vs Adrian Bailey (though Bailey will be 74)
Neath & Aberavon – Stephen Kinnock vs Christina Rees
Cardiff South & East – Jo Stevens vs Stephen Doughty

More complicated fights

There are eight areas where there are rather more complicated fights… but where ultimately there are more Labour MPs than there are seats, so something will have to give:

Birmingham. Roger Godsiff’s seat disppears. He will have the right to seek election in four other Birmingham seats, putting him up against Gisela Stuart, Jess Phillips, Richard Burden or Steve McCabe. He will be 73 come the election though, so may choose to stand down.
Islington & Hackney. The change that got the most attention when the proposals were announced. Essentially Meg Hillier, Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott and Rushanara Ali have to somehow share out the Finsbury Park & Stoke Newington, Hackney West and Bethnal Green and Hackney Central seats. Someone is going to get stuffed.
Rochdale & Bury. Debbie Abrahams, Ivan Lewis, Liz McInnes and Simon Danzcuk are in play, with Rochdale, Prestwich and Middleton and Littleborough & Saddleworth. If Danzcuk remains suspended from the Labour party then the problem presumably resolves itself.
Liverpool. Steve Rotheram’s seat disappears and he would be eligible to challenge Louise Ellman, Peter Dowd or Stephen Twigg for selection in their seats. Rotheram himself is standing for Liverpool mayor, so it won’t be an issue for him. If he steps down though whoever is elected in the subsequent by-election would face the same issue.
Bradford & Leeds. Judith Cummins seat disppears. She is eligible to seek selection for Bradford West (against Naz Shah), in Spen (against Jo Cox’s successor) or in Pudsey, where Rachel Reeves will likely also be seeking the nomination (Leeds West vanishes, but Pudsey takes much of its territory and becomes a notionally Labour seat)
Sheffield. Newly elected Gill Furniss sees her seat dismembered – she is eligible to seek nomination in Sheffield North and Ecclesfield (against Angela Smith) or Sheffield East (against Clive Betts).
Pontypridd. Owen Smith’s seat is dismembered and he will have the right to seek nomination in either Chris Bryant’s Rhondda & Llantrisant or Ann Clwyd’s Cynon Valley and Pontypridd. Ann Clwyd will be 83 by the next election, so it may be resolved by retirement.
Islwyn. Chris Evans’ seat also vanished, and he will have the choice of competing against Nick Smith in Blaenau Gwent or Wayne Davies in Caerphilly.

The deep blue sea

Fourteen Labour MPs do not have a notionally Labour seat they would be eligible to seek selection in. In some cases this is just because of a slight change to an already ultra-marginal seat (e.g. Chris Matheson in Chester notionally loses his seat, but there’s really little change from 2015), in other cases it leaves them with a very difficult fight:

Andy Slaughter would face a Tory majority of 14% in the new Hammersmith & Fulham seat
Gareth Thomas would face a Tory majority of 11% in the new Harrow and Stanmore
Joan Ryan would face a small Tory majority of just 3% in the new Enfield seat
Ruth Cadbury faces a 10% Tory majority in Brentford & Chiswick
Tulip Siddiq faces a 9% Tory majority in Hampstead and Golders Green
Alex Cunningham is only eligible for the nomination in Stockton West, with a 7% Tory majority
Chris Matheson doesn’t actually face much change, but Chester would have a 1% Tory majority on paper
Jenny Chapman faces a notional Tory majority of 1% in Darlington
Madeleine Moon’s Bridgend is merged with the Vale of Glamorgan to create a notionally Tory seat, but with a majority of only 3%
Alan Whitehead’s Southampton Test would have a 4% Tory majority on paper (Southampton Itchen would flip to Labour… but Whitehead doesn’t have the right to go there under Labour rules)
Melanie Orr would be eligible to seek selection in either Grimsby North & Barton or Grimsby South and Cleethorpes. Both, however, would be Conservative.
Holly Walker-Lynch faces a similar situation, under Labour rules she can apply for Calder Valley or Halifax, but they are both notionally Tory.
Finally, in the sorriest situation of all are Margaret Greenwood and Alison McGovern. They are both only eligible to seek selection in the new Bebington & Heswall seat… and even if they do get it, it’s now notionally Tory.

So, by my reckoning there will probably be around 15 re-selection battles where a sitting Labour MP faces up against another sitting Labour MP on the provisional boundaries, though remember that these are subject to change (and it only takes a small adjustment by the boundary commission to shift the number of voters from an old seat above or below 40%). It’s also worth noting that you don’t need boundary changes for a deselection – there is a normal trigger ballot process than can be used to deselect an MP and some of the speculation about deselections – Peter Kyle for example – is not due to Labour seats being merged together.

553 Responses to “Boundary changes – the impact on Labour reselections…”

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  1. Closer to polling, but not irrelevant to earlier discussions.

    The BoJ thinks that their GDP estimate for 2014 was wrong (instead of a drop of 0.9% a growth of more than 2%). They attribute it largely to the low response rate.

    The GDP calculation is conceptually wrong, but now is it wrong methodologically too?

    They apparently got to it by recognising the discrepancies with other measures.

    Seems to be very similar to the polling failure of 2015. But if they are right – how many more countries have actually measured the GDP wrongly, and how does this drive the narrative (not to mention policies)?

  2. COLIN
    “Lets hope those sophisticates are duly impressed then.
    I think Wales is one of the areas that The 500,000 need to start convincing.”

    I think they would be more interested in action and effect, if, as I suppose, this discussion relates to the destruction of the coal and steel industries and the effect on communities which were built around them. Most ex-miners and their families would have a personal interest in and understanding of Mrs Thatcher’s rejection of the offer from the European Commission in the late 80’s of support for subsidisation for the continuation of the coal mines and for development of technology on carbon extraction – accepted by the German government and still a factor in their lead over the UK in creating an industry around the retention of mining and its environmental control.
    The organisation of labour and its effectiveness in sustaining communities in retaining and replacing industrial employment, as in the Wales steel works, and more widely in the coal industry a quarter of a century ago, and the role of government in supporting their retention and looking for new economic systems, are pretty well known to the Welsh electorate.
    I think they are right to be critical of the performance of both Tory and Labour governments over the period, and it will, as you say, be interesting to see the response to Corbyn’s Labour, particularly in South Wales.

  3. @Peter
    Perspective and Context.

    That’s absolutely correct.

    What remains to be seen is whether the likes of the Germans, French and Dutch are going to allow the likes of Slovakia to cause huge damage to their industries over this issue.

    My money is on the fact they won’t.

    However if they do, the already sclerotic economies of the Euro are going to be in an even bigger mess.

    I seriously doubt any “europefication” (new word) cheer leaders want to see that happen given the nationalist political rumblings in France and Germany.

  4. Sea Change

    Western Slovakia, Western Hungary, Western Czechia are practically part of the supply network of the German automotive and machinery industry (they even move workers across borders if needed), and Romania is getting part of it. Political processes are subordinate to this.

    In any case, the U.K. automotive industry (except for the exception) including parts is finished, so prepare for the shock. There is no preparation for the switch for electric cars, while the university of Bratislava opened a department exclusively for this purpose with curriculum that enables employment not only in automotive, but also in locomotives.

  5. Actually the same is happening in the reorganisation of electronics and precision engineering industry supply chain, so a few more thousand people could lose their jobs, it is nothing to do with Brexit.

    Things can be done, but not on a defensive, but on a prospector basis.

    The U.K. is the only major economy in which manufacturing has not recovered from the 1992 recession and hence continues to drain. It could be positive, but then one has to do something with all those people in the industry.

  6. Redrich
    “Personally I don’t think the tag of socialist has a negative impact on voters in this country in the way say ‘liberal’ does in the US. ”

    I don’t suppose that I’m the only person who thinks that socialism is a ‘soft’ version of communism – i.e. Gulags are not necessarily compulsory, but otherwise…? G’night all.

  7. JLP is an employee benefit trust. The employees do not own it. It is held in trust on behalf of the employees.

    The model only works with a strong board of trustees who are prepared to hold the executive and employees to account. Decisions are made for the majority of employees not all. So you still get redundancy programmes, wage freezes etc when they are in the best interests of the employees as a whole.

    It is not by any means unique just the most well known.

    The key is the trustees holding the executive to account.

  8. @”the U.K. automotive industry (except for the exception) including parts is finished, so prepare for the shock. There is no preparation for the switch for electric cars, ”


  9. @Colin – I was thinking exatly the same thing.

    There is ‘no preparation for the switch to electric cars’, except for Europe’s largest electric car and producer production plant, significant purchase subsisidies to create domestic demand, zero road tax, and substantial investment in a national network of charging points, some of which are free to use.

  10. The US elections are taking on an interesting tinge, as the impact of the first debate feeds through into polls and the days tick by to polling day.

    Nate Silver has further extended Clinton’s chances to over 63%, which is a 6 point improvement on the pre debate polling. He thinks the national polls are coming out with a 3 – 5% Clinton lead, up from the tight 1-2% for a week ago. This is reflected in battleground state polls, where Clinton has extended her lead in Democrat leaning states and moved ahead in places like Florida, which was leaning to Trump. [‘Leaning to Trump’ makes me think of the strange postures people sometimes get into when trying to quietly get rid of a fart in a public space].

    The Clinton campaign may be worried about these emails though, as I gather that there is going to be a staged release of thousands of them in the three weeks leading up to polling day. Whether or not there are any seriously damaging contents is going to be one to watch, as there won’t be much time to mount a recovery.

    Clinton would be very happy if she could get a clear lead before then, to give herself some breathing space. I also understand that some states have extensive postal voting that starts quite early. That could also turn out in her favour if she holds the current lead for a while.

  11. Some more interesting local by-election results last night:

    – Three Con holds (Northants, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire); a trend of Con taking votes from UKIP where there is no Lib Dem, but losing votes where a Lib Dem opposes them.
    – One strong Lab hold in Blackpool
    – One strong Lib Dem hold in Norfolk (again, UKIP vote well down)
    – Two Lib Dem gains from Con (Gloucestershire and Hertfordshire); both show strong increases in Lib Dem vote and Con and/or UKIP well down.

    Continuing trend of a slight Lib Dem uptick where the effort is made, and a bit of a fade for UKIP. Cons are variable, and Labour seem to be strengthening in core areas.

    One Welsh declaration to come…

  12. The disaster of China’s “Infrastructure” spending binge!


    Mr McDonell take note……………some chance !

  13. Bigfatron

    “Continuing trend of a slight Lib Dem uptick where the effort is made”

    I commented on this a couple of days ago. The Tories need to be taking action to bolster support in areas where they could be vulnerable to a LibDem upswing. However, no LibDem rise (or at least very little ) in national polls.


    Interesting paper, thanks for the reference.

  14. @Colin – that looks an interesting read, and appears on the face of it to be making sensible points. Simply spending vast sums on infrastructure is only a good thing if it represents value for money and creates a useful return, with issues like financing and effect on inflation significant issues.

    This is why I really don’t like the plucked out of the air figures O’Donnel is giving us. May be he could invest £50b in some extremely useful projects, and not need twn times this amount. It’s typically old Labour the announce a figure and spend up to that, rather than identify need, and then work out the cost.

    I always go back to what I thought was one of Blair’s greatest insights, when he berated a Labour conference on the particular issue of welfare. His critique was that previous Labour administrations had seen high welfare spending as a badge of pride, whereas the fact we needed such high spending was a source of shame. His take was that there was nothing good about high welfare spending.

    Although a different area, with different dynamics, in some ways the approach is the same. A big state, spending big money, is a good thing. I’d far rather see a clear idea of what Labour thinks needs to be built, how this will improve efficiency and growth, and then see what this is like to cost. Politically I think this would be easier for them too.

  15. TOH

    Its a good job that most of the debt mountain it has created is owed to the same people as lent it-The Communist Government.

    Takes a bit of thinking through actually…….!


  16. ALEC

    There are plenty of “Infrastructure” White Elephants littering Europe too-notably in Spain & RoI.

    The problem arises in my view when two things come together-Ultra Cheap Money & Politicans who spend it.

    Yes-the Private Sector gets investment decisions wrong too-but the shareholders pay for that-not taxpayers.

    I wouldn’t trust JM with £5 of our money -let alone £500bn. Even more so if its going to be Helicopter Money & not actual Debt. Brillo kept asking Paul Mason which it would be-he had no idea-as if it doesn’t matter !

  17. Colin

    RBS cost taxpayers a fortune they may never get back. There is a good chance that RBS will remain in part public ownership for at least another 5 years, because there are some huge bills on the horizon e.g US fine running into billions due to their part in the 07/08 crash.

    Private is obviously better in most circumstances, as investors take the risk and government treasury benefits in many ways e.g various taxes, private pension rather than state.

    BUT there will always be cases for public ownership. I would never have privatised the water industry for household consumers. If you can’t generate competition between different providers, you are contracting out to one company in most areas of the country. And many water companies are foreign, they are not investing enough in securing supply system and are making excess profits which go back to their foreign investors.

    Railways is another example, where private operators make a profit due to subsidies and high ticket prices.

    New technology invented by University research labs is a potential goldmine for the UK and UK government could invest at an early stage, before moving it on into private sector.

    Government has a role in facilitating UK Plc industrial growth by making investments where it is sensible to do so. But spending hundreds of billions on a programme of nationalisation would be reckless.

  18. Colin,

    It may be that big infrastructure projects are oversold to get the go ahead. it’s hard to see the public backing HS2 or Heathrow expansion if the government line is;

    “Well it might maybe do a bit of good, we don’t really know, but lets throw billions at it anyway!”

    The best example I have is the Borders Railway.

    A popular local project that local politicians, particularly Libdems, over sold as bringing huge benefits for little cost that could be done quickly.

    The SNP inherited and delivered the project and though it has been a real success, it took longer and cost more than claimed.

    Now the SNP and LibDems are arguing over who should get most credit and why it took so long and cost so much.

    I think the reality of what we got is about right, it’s a very good Public Project well delivered, it just doesn’t fit with the political rhetoric that proceeded it.

    The problem with a lot of these projects isn’t how they are delivered it’s the gap between the political sell and the final reality.

    The other thing that is usually missed in the prism of Public v Private is that almost all of these projects are actually joint; commissioned for and by the Public Sector but delivered by the Private Sector.

    We have had a series of public IT disasters over the last decade from ATC to the NHS, from huge cost over runs to the things having to be scrapped or not working properly.

    Overwhelmingly they have been delivered, or rather not, by Private Sector companies who said they could deliver then on time,on budget and that they would work.

    I rarely see people who criticise Public Projects saying that the executives of the Private Sector companies that failed to deliver should be put in the dock.

    Nor for that matter do I see many of those who think there should be less role for Government questioning the way the Private Sector spends a fortune trying to get the public to foot the bill for HS2 or Heathrow expansion.

    Is that because they want whats best for Britain or so that they can make profits either lending the cash or building the things even if they know they will end up White Elephants.

    The new Forth bridge is a good Public lead project, more or less on time and just under budget, a budget around 25% less than the initial industry estimate and one that stands up well for the tax payer compared to the deal investors got from the private lead Channel Tunnel.


    Oh and as to the Nissan Leaf, 50K peak output is only 10% of their UK production and a drop in the ocean compared to the 18m cars built every year in the EU.

    That a Japanese French company is making about 0.3% of the EU’s cars in Sunderland and it happens to be electric tells us little.

    As It represents about 2.5% of UK annual car production it isn’t the future, it’s a side issue.

    For all it might be No1 for EU electric car production it’s a tiny fraction of the European Industry

    Like I keep saying, Context and Perspective.


  19. Interesting that the boss of Nissan is suggesting that if there’s a hard Brexit, the company will only continue to build cars here if the government pays the tariffs on exports to the EU.

    A quick back-of-envelope calculation suggests that would cost around £250m pa (250,000 cars x £10k each invoice value x 10%). Of course, the other car exporters would have to be paid too, so maybe £600-700m in total.

    But would subsidies like that be legal under the WTO? I suspect not.

  20. @Laszlo

    Much of your post seems to be concerned with the extent to which Marx and others of that era actually specified how control and ownership.etc. etc. should be enacted in practice.

    And sure, one can accept that a good deal of that may have come later. This isn’t too surprising, as such ideas will naturally evolve. One example of that evolution in more recent times might be summat like the GPL and its variations used to licence plenty of Open Source software that peeps like Catman are fond of. Which might also be considered another example of control etc.

    One might also note Marx prolly didn’t come up with all the redistributive ideas either. Like, he prolly didn’t mention storage taxes. But of course I didn’t claim Marx entirely specified the practice of socialism, I just suggested that it sprang from his ideas.

    Btw, whether or not Marx thought it so, I don’t think it is all about the surplus value and the impact on productivity, though obviously it’s of significance, but also about things like the ability of workers to protect themselves from worse terms and conditions, about the impact on the economy of lower wages as they get can get driven down by employers if left unchecked etc. etc.

    I do accept the earlier correction regarding it being about control rather than ownership, though this doesn’t render all I said wrong, but rather indicates that it was limited and needed extending. Thus, if employees own a company, it’s not automatically wrong to say that this is socialist. But it needs pointing out that if they control it rather than own it, then this might be socialist too.

    Regarding your point that parties should support rather than attempt to “invent” social changes, well I didn’t make any claims about what parties should do, but sure, it’ll be easier to go with the grain rather than against. What parties should do of course, is a matter of some debate. One thing I’ve been keen on exploring in the past, for example, is the idea of doing more with the trusts thing…

  21. @Somerjohn

    “Interesting that the boss of Nissan is suggesting that if there’s a hard Brexit, the company will only continue to build cars here if the government pays the tariffs on exports to the EU.”


    Yes, they were on about that in the Times yesterday, and crucially pointing out about how this demand for compensation for tariffs might well spread way beyond Nissan.

    But I’m sure the Brexiters are on it and already had it figured out before the referendum and will be filling us in shortly!! Amazing they haven’t done it already really…

  22. @peter cairns – I agree regarding the public/private debate. There isn’t any clear answer as to whether either option is more efficient, as there are good and bad cases from each, although in general, the very big, complex infrastructure projects, with consequently higher risk, tend to have heavy state involvement, and due to their nature, tend to suffer more delivery issues than smaller projects that the private sector is more comfortable delivering solo. As with many things, the state picks up the jobs the private sector can’t or won’t do, so will be inherently ‘less efficient’ almost by definition.

    On electric cars – I think you are being somewhat unfair to @Colin as you may have misunderstood the point he was making?

    @Lazslo commented that there was no preparation in the UK for the growth of electric vehicles, so Colin simply pointed out the fact that the EU’s largest EV and battery producer is in Sunderland. He wasn’t making a point about the relative importance or otherwise of the Nissan Leaf in terms of the total EU auto market.

  23. I think it was @Colin who was worrying out loud yesterday about May tripping up?

    How about this – “…a YouGov poll for The Times found only 16 per cent of voters – one in six – think Mrs May is doing well in negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union, a poll has shown, and half think she is doing badly.

    People who voted Remain in June were especially suspicious: only 10 per cent endorsed Mrs May’s approach. That proportion rose to 24 per cent among those who voted to leave.”

    I think everyone can agree that we are at a very difficult stage of ‘pre-pre-negotiations’, so polling on something that hasn’t really actually started yet may be somewhat premature, but it’s the kind of thing where an impression can take hold and stick. Credibility matters, and on the face of it, this poll suggests May doesn’t have very much left on the most important issue facing the country.

    This may well change, but it could actually get worse for the government as we enter proper talks and we get confirmation that the UK faces an uphill battle to get a decent deal.

    Linked to this, I was somewhat depressed to see Dr Fox in La La land again yesterday, and I suspect the strikingly one eyed analysis from the various Brexit supporting ministers is going to come back and bite May on the backside when reality starts to bite.

    Dr. Fox basically said that we will leave the EU but not see any deterioration in trade terms, basing his analysis on a false assumption that the EU would lose more than the UK if tariffs were imposed. In gross terms, theoretically they would, but proportionately – which is what matters – they would lose far less. Fox also doesn’t account for the mobility of business, and we know already that car manufacturers are seeking to move development and now production into the E27 region.

    Fox also fails miserably to understand the political dynamic. Why on earth would the E27 be prepared to provide the UK with better terms that either it’s own members or other EU members. If we could leave all the restrictions and budget payments of the EU behind, yet still get tariff free trade, then essentially every other EU member would do the same thing.

    In any negotiation you never get everything you want, so we need to commence from the start point that leaving the EU will give us worse conditions in terms of our relationships with the EU than we have now. That is a logical certainty. For Dr Fox to claim everything will remain as now is as close to a l!e as a politician can get.

    Given this poll, and the otherwordliness of ministers like Fox, I think there are dangers that May will become increasingly viewed poorly by voters as she struggles to deliver against false expectations.

  24. I didn’t hear the speech, but might Fox just have been setting out his opening bid prior to the negotiations proper? After all, that’s what a lot of the EU people are doing. You don’t start off negotiations by saying what you’ll settle for, you start by asking for a very high price and your opponent asks for a very low one, and then eventually you converge. Why doesn’t anyone seem to get that?

  25. Worth noting that the paper on infrastructure that Colin cites, doesn’t argue against infrastructure spending, but that it should be of higher quality.

    They talk of infrastructure being a major drag on the evonomy, but of course the economy has been growing switly for years and years. They talk of some problems beginning to surface in China regarding infrastructure spend, but we shall have to see how much things really slow down…

    They also don’t seem to mention that this sort of aggressive expansion might involve a learning curve. Errors will be made, but then you refine the process and eliminate the errors down the line.

    And of course if the Chinese deliver on Thorium the impact will be so great they’ll be having to write a much revised paper…

    Also, a balanced assessment of infrastructure investment wouldn’t just focus on trying to find negative stories…

  26. @Pete B

    “You don’t start off negotiations by saying what you’ll settle for, you start by asking for a very high price and your opponent asks for a very low one, and then eventually you converge. Why doesn’t anyone seem to get that?”


    I think the argument is that even taking that into account, in practice the point of convergence is likely to be unfavourable, for eggers because EU won’t want others seeing us have our cake and eat it too, and because size of the EU means they can take a hit on tariffs etc.

    But it’s not my argument, I’m just clarifying…

  27. Alec,

    “He wasn’t making a point about the relative importance or otherwise of the Nissan Leaf in terms of the total EU auto market.”

    But that is my point….

    Simply cut and paste as an alternative to an argument is often misleading.

    The fact that a company that is largely French owned has an electric car plant in the North of England tells us little about where we are in terms of the pan european market for electric vehicles and far from making a point it actually v
    creates a distorted picture.

    On Brexit I have seen a series of similar posts on the collapse of the euro each quoting an article and often a comment with it.

    When you search “When will the euro Collapse” the majority of the first ten articles that come up, often as many as seven out of ten are references from the Telegraph and the Express.

    Look at the articles on their own and it looks like their is a consensus that this will happen but look deeper and a very different pattern emerges, one where a few but powerful publications are deliberately giving undue prominence to a much more narrowly held view.

    These articles aren’t proof that the Euro is doomed, they are proof that some people are keen to suggest that the euro is doomed and will give prominence to any Economist or Commentator who says so.

    Mike Smithson on Political betting has just decided to warn people that they could get banned if they continue to post links to unscientific on line polls that show trump is ahead, not because he is against trump but because they are unreliable.

    I am happy to debate issues with people like yourself who put forward arguments but Ihave limited time for;

    “it will happen because my gut says so”, “I know why it will happen but I am not telling you” or “It’s going to happen because this guy says so in this paper”

    If people want to post links to articles or commentaries that’s fine, but they are as open to challenge as any other post.

    A good way to see if that challenge has merit, is when the person who made the first comment responds with indignation that they or the linked article should be challenged.

    I don’t like shooting the messenger, but if the messenger insists in saying “It must be true because it’s in the message!”, I’ll keep pointing out that not all messages are true.


  28. @Pete B

    Conversely, you don’t start negotiations by asking for the moon and the stars. Demanding something you absolutely know can not be provided, starts the negotiations off on the wrong foot from the start. It’s much better to start negotiations by isolating some small easy to grant concessions on both sides, to show good faith. The “Strong Iron Will” brand of negotiation really doesn’t work as well as it’s made out to, it just has a strong psychological appeal to those who practise “Strong Leadership” methods.

    Of course, Liam Fox isn’t actually negotiating with anyone outside the country right now anyway. He’s negotiating with his own party. His comments are entirely intended for domestic consumption. The sad issue that his comments will be reported to EU leaders that we will need to negotiate with is ignored.

  29. Just as a point of interest as I couldn’t find many articles on the subject of “Will the Euro collapse in 2016” that didn’t involve a story from the express or telegraph (check it yourselves.) I decided t look at what the markets are predicting.

    their a whole range of sites and indeed views so I’ll post one I found that seems to give links to a number of different groups all making projections out to around 2018.


    I can’t see any sign that the markets are predicting any kind of crisis even with German, french and Italian elections and referendums.

    Having said that we can’t rule out that the think the ECB might take steps to bolster it if there is instability and so it might stay artificially strong during a crisis.

    It just gives another perspective to what the Uk papers seem to want to push.


  30. Alec

    “How about this – “…a YouGov poll for The Times found only 16 per cent of voters – one in six – think Mrs May is doing well in negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union, a poll has shown, and half think she is doing badly.”

    Not at all surprising, article 50 has not yet been invoked and May is sensibly keeping her negotiating strategy close to her chest at this stage.

    “I think everyone can agree that we are at a very difficult stage of ‘pre-pre-negotiations’, so polling on something that hasn’t really actually started yet may be somewhat premature, but it’s the kind of thing where an impression can take hold and stick. Credibility matters, and on the face of it, this poll suggests May doesn’t have very much left on the most important issue facing the country.

    I agree that it is somewhat premature to poll at this stage,and yes negative feelings do matter but you last sentence is going way to far. For example look at the polling on some of the other questions.

    Doing well or badly as PM, well 46% + 24%

    Is she up to the job of PM, up to the job 52% +33%

    Has she got what it takes to get things done, yes 53% +19%

    So once article 50 is invoked and we get underway with negotiations perception on dealing with the EU negotiations could change very rapidly.

  31. Liam Fox could hardly start off ‘asking for’ anything less to be credible and to hope to achieve the best deal ultimately. I can’t think what else he could start negotiations with, that would be remotely coherent.

    Whether it’s ultimately successful is one for a future day. But asking for the Moon and the stars it definitely is not. People on here may just be thinking he’s in la-la land due to their prior (justified or otherwise, that’s not my point here) contempt for the man.

  32. JayBlanc,

    “Conversely, you don’t start negotiations by asking for the moon and the stars.”

    It’s bit like deterrence. It is based on the 3 C’s, Capability, credibility and communications.

    You need to be able to do it, threatening to Nuke Moscow when you don’t have Nukes isn’t going to cut it.

    It has to make sense, Nuking Moscow if they Nuke London is credible, Nuking Moscow if Putin wears that awful red tie again isn’t.

    You need to make the threat and what will trigger it clear and show you mean it by word and action. Long before you all about Nuking Moscow, you have to warn them, shoot down one of their planes that comes to close and put a British Armoured Brigade on the Polish Belorussian Border.

    I am not sure where we are with regards to the EU in terms of the 3 C’s but I’d be interested to see how people see it.

    In terms of Capability, Credibility and Communication, what to people think we are capable of, is it credible for us to do it and how should or are we communicating it.


  33. Peter Cairns SNP

    It took me all of 30 seconds to find the following headline and article in the FT of 21.9.16

    “Former BoE chief King predicts collapse of the eurozone”

  34. @Peter Cairns – sorry, I must be being dim or something, but I really don’t understand your last post to me.

    In an EU context, the UK is doing rather well in terms of preparation for electric vehicles. I don’t know what this has got to do with the collapse of the Euro or biased reporting. I’m not following your logic here.

    @Pete B – “..you start by asking for a very high price and your opponent asks for a very low one, and then eventually you converge. Why doesn’t anyone seem to get that?”

    I do understand that, which is why I say this is difficult for May to reconcile public statement with voter expectation. I think she is therefore sensible to say there won’t be a running commentary, but then again, Fox has just given us a running commentary, and something that looks, to the average voter, like a definitive statement of what will happen.

    This, I think, is the problem. Brexit supporters have been promising voters many things, but much of this is not deliverable. If and when voters wake up to this, the gap between expectation and reality is going to be problematic.

    On Nissan – a decision on production of one of their new models is due in the new year. This is going to be a interesting first test. I suspect it would create major shock waves in heavily Brexit Sunderland if Nissan opted not to bring this to the town, and I suspect such a decision will be an eye opener nationally as well.

    Nissan are being clever, and doing what they have done many times before – look for subsidies to bring production to the north east. The government will have to pay again for this, or face the PR problems of a producer shifting production overseas directly due to Brexit.

  35. Alec

    “This, I think, is the problem. Brexit supporters have been promising voters many things”

    I agree they should keep quiet like May who has shown a really sensible approach so far IMO.

  36. TOH,

    And was it in the top ten and if so how many were from the Express and Telegraph?

    You can find it quickly if you add “FT” to “Will the Euro collapse in 2016” but without that it doesn’t come up on the first two pages on google.

    Oh and it’s a headline from an interview on his new book where he says; “may become too great to remain consistent with political stability”.

    In other words he thinks it might happen, he didn’t say it would.

    Nice try though.

    Context again!


  37. @Alec

    “On electric cars – I think you are being somewhat unfair to @Colin as you may have misunderstood the point he was making?”


    Peter’s pushing his boundaries though and going for “perspective and context”, fairness as well might be too much to ask…

    And it might just be a bridge, rather than summat more challenging, but should we really deny Peter C the opportunity to big up SNP for delivering a bridge? It’s kinda sweet that he thinks it compares to summat like the Channel Tunnel…

    Obviously building a bridge across the Firth is such a remarkable engineering challenge that this will be the third time they did it and even the Victorians already did it, but one has to marvel at the execution Peter praises so robustly.

    For example, in the Edinburgh evdning News it says that not enough metal to complete the bridge was ordered and they signed a contract that says they can’t order more without triggering penalty clauses, so “Scottish Transport chiefs have reluctantly decided to leave a 14 inch gap at the centre of the bridge…”

    Another article in the Beeb makes for fun reading…


    “The new £1.35bn road bridge across the Forth will now open in May 2017, six months later than originally planned.

    The Queensferry Crossing was scheduled to be completed by December this year but that deadline will not be met.”

    Murdo Fraser said: “This is very disappointing news for people on both sides of the bridge.

    “They were continually told by the Scottish government that this project was ahead of schedule and would soon be up and running.

    “Now we find this is not the case, so the SNP must now give an exact date when this will be completed by.”

    “Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamiltion, whose Edinburgh Western ward includes the southern end of the bridge, said the project was in “abject distress”.

    He queried “how on earth” 25 days of delays had caused the opening date to be pushed back 180 days.”

    “In February, Transport Scotland said the project was scheduled to finish “on time and under budget”.

    But earlier this week,in the wake of newspaper reports that the opening of the bridge could be delayed, the transport agency would not give a completion date.”

    Clearly worth keeping an eye on, thinking of commissioning the SNP to do a loft conversion…

  38. For those interested in the car industry a major supplier to JLR has gone into administration today. Covpress which supplies body assemblies employs 800 people.

  39. Alec

    Your point ties in nicely with Peter Cairns’ point about “overselling”. If the benefits of Brexit are oversold, then that’s more likely to be harmful than starting from a position of “It’ll cost us but Brexit means Brexit and at least we’ll get control over immigration” and being able to sell a deal which mitigates the pain, rather than one which was worse than originally sold.

  40. R HUCKLE

    @”Government has a role in facilitating UK Plc industrial growth”

    I agree-the question is always-By what means & to what extent”


    @” rarely see people who criticise Public Projects saying that the executives of the Private Sector companies that failed to deliver should be put in the dock.”

    Thats possibly because the censure should be built in. Of course Institutional Shareholders have been criticised in the past for not using their voting rights with more vigour after corporate failure. However, I think that trend is reversing recently.

    The shareholder’s equivalent in the Public Sector-tax payers-has no vote & relies on Turkeys voting for Christmas


    Thank you-for actually reading my post & what it responded to. !

    Your post about the Poll on Brexit preparations is interesting-as are the responses in it.

    I absolutely agree with May that she should keep her deliberations on this unique & complex matter secret until she has workedf out a preferred way forward. And even then one should never reveal negotiating ploys in advance.

    She simply will not please everyone on this-and since most people want simple answers to everything, the frustrations will grow. Next Spring seems about as far as she can stretch this period of purdah on Brexit. We might hear something at the Tory Conference.


    “Nice try though.”

    More than a nice try, a success. I was replying to your first paragraph. The Headline was the FT’s not mine.

    Never mind Peter, try again.

  42. YouGov Times poll…. linked in my previous post
    Con 39, Lab 30, LD 8, UKIP 13, SNP/PC 6, Grn 3

  43. @ ALEC

    “@Peter Cairns – sorry, I must be being dim or something, but I really don’t understand your last post to me.

    In an EU context, the UK is doing rather well in terms of preparation for electric vehicles. I don’t know what this has got to do with the collapse of the Euro or biased reporting. I’m not following your logic here.”


    Peter’s argument is that it’s a drop in the ocean, hence not that significant really. Not compared to building yet another bridge across the same river and leaving a gap in the middle, anyway. Perspective and context etc.

    Of course, it’s early days for the electric car, still in the early adopter phase. A range of factors will determine whether leccy cars take off, but I dunno if we’re gonna get an analysis of that from Peter. You can’t just look at early uptake as he did and just go by that however. Many trends start off small…

  44. “Conversely, you don’t start negotiations by asking for the moon and the stars.”
    An effective negotiating strategy is
    1. Persuade, encourage,otherwise get the other side to set out their stall.
    2. Decide how much and what of that you can accept and agree to it.
    3. State clearly what is completely unacceptable in what is left
    4. While the other side is still trying to come to terms with that, offer them a way out of their difficulty acceptable to yourself.
    There is a good chance they will buy it.
    If they don’t, they have shown themselves to be unreasonable, while you have by step 2 moved substantially towards agreement, and by step 4 offered a further move towards agreement which they have rejected.
    5. Say 2. and nothing else is now acceptable and ask them for further compromise if they want something else.
    A 2 year cut off helps this process.

  45. @”When you search “When will the euro Collapse”

    ……………..you will probably get the answer you are looking for.

    On the other hand if you regularly read reputable financial analysis on ECB & EZ activities-or use searches like ” EZ Banking” or “ECB Monetary policy” you will get more balanced and informative views.

  46. John pilgim

    “The Immigration Impact Fund is not, in Corbyn’s statement or previous Gordon Brown’s introduction of it intended as “compensation” but as investment which would go beyond existing local government plans and funding to provide schooling, health. housing and support for employment and related training to meet the needs of population increase arising from immigration, specifically in areas of the country where this has impacted on existing populations and services.

    It would be good to have @CambridgeRachel’s reaction to his proposals since she lives in such an area.”

    Sorry it took so long to reply to this, tbh I was totally thrown by your question, I just don’t think of Cambridge having an immigration problem and judging by the extremely high remain vote here I guess not many other cambridge residents do either. I always tend to think of other areas having an immigrant problem, but now I’m wondering if everyone thinks like that. There are all those headlines about hordes of Eastern European migrants which we all know are grossly exsagerated but a sub conscious level I suppose I believe them but think its happening elsewhere. I wonder how many other people experience that?

    Of course cambridge is different from other parts of the country, we have always had a large migrant population, the composition might have changed but I don’t feel the actual numbers have changed much. Then again its difficult to tell, theres so many foreign students and huge numbers of tourists, in fact if I hear people speaking a strange lingo I assume they are tourists rather than migrants

    But when I think about it, yes we do have a large migrant population but we need them for the hospitality industry. Students are not supposed to work and occasionally they get thrown off their courses for breaking that rule, I’m not sure if that’s all the colleges or just the more select ones.

    Of course if I was the sort to get upset by immigration I would have a good reason to do so (now I’m wondering if that’s why I was a reluctant remainer) it is difficult to compete for jobs with younger more attractive people, but that’s life, who would you rather be served coffee by, a bright young thing with a sexy accent or an old ugly hag like me! I know which one I’d chose. The fact is without the migrants there just wouldn’t be enough people for the hospitality industry in cambridge.

    I imagined that fund being used in deprived areas up north and in London but I’m not really sure what impact immigration has had on services as its difficult for me to compare with other areas of the country. The big problem we have in cambridge is housing, its dire and incredibly expensive. I know cambridge is one of the worse places in the UK as regards housing shortage so I’m quite interested in the commitment to build more houses.

    Im in two minds about the commitment to build more houses. On the one hand the numbers being talked about are pathetic, we need about 2 million houses 60.000 a year or even 100.000 a year isn’t going to make much of dent in that soon or bring down prices quickly enough for me. On the other hand I think its the most that can be promised and still be anywhere close to being electable. 2/3 of the country owns a house and most of them are going to realise that house building is going to affect the value of their homes negatively. My personal interests do not match the interests of the majority, rent is killing me, its a millstone around my neck but I know that getting people to vote for lower houee prices is next to impossible.

  47. More from the YouGov Times poll….

    Do you think [May] does or does not care about people like you?
    Cares 26%, Does’nt care 42%, DK 33%

    Do you think Boris Johnson is doing well or badly as Foreign Secretary?
    WELL 29%, BADLY 28%, DK 42%

    Do you think Philip Hammond is doing well or badly as Chancellor of the Exchequer?
    WELL 24%, BADLY 16%, DK 60%

    Do you think David Davis is doing well or badly as the minister in charge of leaving the European Union?
    WELL 15%, BADLY 29%, DK 57%

    Do you think Liam Fox is doing well or badly as the minister in charge of international trade?
    WELL 17%, BADLY 21%, DK 62%

    How well or badly do you the government are doing at negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union?
    WELL 16%, BADLY 50%, DK 34%

    Whatever your own preference, do you think Britain will or will not end up leaving the European Union?
    will leave 67%, will stay 16%, DK 16%

  48. Alec

    Sorry i made a mistake in my earlier post it should have read:-

    Has she got what it takes to get things done, yes 53% +34%

  49. Con 39, Lab 30, LD 8, UKIP 13, SNP/PC 6, Grn 3

    No change………….yet?

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