Saturday, April 26, 2008

ICM: Labour to lose 92 seats

ICM's figures for a general election are

Con 39
Lab 29
LD 20

I think the Lib Dems are overstated here but still, my 41/29/19.5 prediction was pretty accurate. But the extra half-point for the Lib Dems and 2% less for the Tories makes a big difference to the number of seats Labour loses. It just goes to show that we have to place nearly as much emphasis on defeating the Lib Dems as Labour.

ICM: Labour to lose 131 seats

More bad news for Gordon, as ICM will reveal in the News of the World tomorrow that the Tories are 8 points ahead in the 145 most marginal seats, 40-32%. That's a swing of 9% in marginals since the 2005 election - that's tangible progress.

From ConHome:

'Very interesting figures.

After some fun on UK Elect, I managed to calculate an outcome for a general election which would mirror these figures from ICM:

Con 41.0 (+144)
Lab 29.0 (-129)
LD 19.5 (-22)

Con Maj 66

I still think that unless things become apocalyptic, Labour are unlikely to do this badly - but in the current climate, who knows?

I wonder what ICM will come up with later on this evening....'

There is a national ICM poll due later on. I wonder if my figures will come close...

Zimbabwe Recount

Some promising news emerging from Zimbabwe this morning. It appears that Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party have lost in their bid to win recounted constituency votes in the parliamentary elections.

If so, this shows that even if there has been fiddling, it has not succeeded, and the ZEC has remained supreme. This is despite widespread violence against white farmers and opposition activists. Their tenacity must be applauded. Mugabe must be fought every inch of the way by the MDC using the democratic tools at their disposal. The fact that President Mugabe was apparently willing to strike a deal earlier on means that there is, surely, a chance that he may choose to do so again, if he feels that the game is up.

We still, however, await the results of the presidential election.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Jazz musician and I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue chairman Humphrey Lyttelton has died at the age of 86. He had a remarkable life as one of the most prominent British trad jazz musicians and a broadcaster.

He had presented ISIHAC since 1972, and had recently completed its fiftieth series. A truly irreplaceable man, he will be sorely missed by millions of British people whom he made laugh uncontrollably for so many years, myself included. His deadpan delivery and superb skill with words made him a perfect man for the role and a broadcasting icon.

26% and the economy


'The electorate is finally waking up to the extent of Brown's public sector binge. He assumed that the good times were going to go on forever. Even now, they still boast about low inflation, interest rates and unemployment. The fact remains that RPI inflation is running at around 4%, interest rate cuts are not being passed on (a friend of mine recently secured a variable rate of 6.7%); unemployment figures exclude thousands claiming bloated and undeserved benefits and they include many unnecessary appointments to an enormous public sector bureaucracy.

It is still unclear how severe any recession might be, but I would personally expect growth under 1% for 2008Q4 and of between 0% and -0.5% in 2009 Q1&2. House prices may fall 10-15% this year. RPI inflation may increase to 5% and beyond, leading to pressure for interest rate rises. If banks' liquidity problems are not solved soon, inflation-curbing interest rate rises could lead to severe difficulties for homeowners.

26% is such an awful poll rating for Labour, I cannot really see it going much lower. The Conservative vote, however, should gradually increase. We should set ourselves a target of not polling lower than 45% by conference season. Osborne v Darling polls must also improve. I still have my doubts about Osborne's ability to attack the government's record, whilst providing a coherent policy alternative. If things deteriorate rapidly, we must be prepared for government by the beginning of next year.'

Thursday, April 24, 2008

18% - from ConHome

'Utterly and almost unspeakably stunning news.

With such enormous defecits, Labour must realize that the only way to recover is to get rid of Brown. From a Conservative perspective, it's essential that he stays put for as long as possible. The best outcome, of course, would be a vote of no confidence - but Labour know that they couldn't possibly win a general election at the moment.

Note that this result for Labour is even worse than their paltry 27.6% they won in 1983. UK Elect handsomely predicts:

Con 397
Lab 191
LD 31

MAJ 146

It is ESSENTIAL that we gain Crewe and Nantwich. This poll represents a swing of about 11.5% since the 2005 GE and we only need 7.5% in C&N.'


Oh my. Eighteen whole percentage points ahead.

Con 44
LD 17


Con 397
Lab 191
LD 31

MAJ 146

Incredible stuff. The details will hopefully emerge later this evening. It's worth bearing in mind that even in 1983, Labour didn't poll as low as this. This is desperate news for Brown, and the u-turn is still not quite complete. Newsnight this evening is compulsory viewing. Watch the mayoral debate later.

Row defused?

Oh no. Has Brown mucked up the u-turn?

Frank Field is saying this morning that Yvette Cooper was 'badly briefed' for last night's Newsnight - she appeared very unsure as to whether or not the whole compensation package for the abolition of the 10p rate will be backdated to the beginning of the tax year. George Osborne was quick to pick up on this, accusing Gordon Brown's u-turn of 'not being what it seems'. Paxman's mock face of incredulity was beginning to look genuine.

Darling has to answer Treasury Questions in the Commons today, so he clearly needs to make a few things clear. If he can't, there is still plenty of time to put down a further amendment if anyone wants to....

Monday, April 21, 2008

10p and all that

It appears that today's announcement by Yvette Cooper that the government will expand the remit of an existing enquiry to include helping families without children will not be enough to satisfy rebel Labour MPs.

Unfortunately, the Chancellor does not have any money to give back to the British people. Reinstating the 10 pence tax band as it existed before would cost £7bn. Frank Field's proposals to increase the personal tax allowance (the amount of untaxed income allowed, currently £5,435 for those under 65) would cost £700m and compensate many of those who lost out in Brown's last budget.

It is a real possibility that the government may lose the vote. If they fail to make any more concessions, I have no doubt they will lose. It is difficult to see what further options there are for the Chancellor - Labour MPs want changes now but Darling simply cannot provide any without borrowing recklessly or cutting funds elsewhere. In the same way that Brown had 'no good option' last year when he failed to call a general election, his current dilemma poses a similar, but potentially much more damaging option. If he loses the vote, there will be havoc in the Labour Party - especially if it is seen as a vote of no confidence in the government. That may trigger an actual vote of no confidence, or a leadership challenge. If he wins, he may face several junior resignations.

Either way, this mess was entirely avoidable and is the definitive example of Labour's obsession with grabbing headlines whenever they can. This time, they may pay a very grave price indeed.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Gwyneth Dunwoody MP dies

Iain Dale disclosed an unconfirmed report earlier on - now the Labour Party and BBC News 24 have confirmed that Gwyneth Dunwoody MP (Crewe and Nantwich) has died.

She was a marvellous character, and a passionate and articulate parliamentarian. She was not a careerist, but a principled representative of the people of Crewe and Nantwich, and never afraid to criticize the government when she thought differently.

She will be missed.


Caroline Spelman is being awful on Question Time. If she can't give convincing answers on the abolition of the 10p rate or Jacqui Smith's moronic terror policy then she shouldn't be Party Chairman. The quality of her voice doesn't appear to endear her to the audience in Bristol.

This is why we're not 106% ahead.

Trouble on the Way

After today's contradicting headlines that Angela Smith MP (Sheffield Hillsborough) 'intended' to resign and then decided not to after a call to Gordon, we should be able to look forward to some fractious weeks ahead for the Brown administration.

42 days' detention still looks unwinnable - we can look forward to marvellous speeches from all sides of the House; hopefully David Winnick (Walsall North) can match his articulate and passionate speech during the 90 days' detention debate a couple of years ago.

The scenarios are these: if the government loses the vote, Brown's authority and judgement will be damaged further. Jacqui Smith should have to resign - although she probably won't, otherwise a PM would be into our fifth home secretary in only 4 years. If, unlikely though it is, they win the vote, our attention may be drawn to Jack Straw's position in the cabinet. He is widely rumoured to have doubts about the proposals. His resignation would be an almighty hammerblow to the government, and the Prime Minister, whose leadership campaign he ran. It would probably be comparable to the resignation of Geoffrey Howe or Nigel Lawson. A Jacqui Smith resignation would be embarrassing, but by no means fatal.

Abolition of 10p starting rate anyone?

The hideous smugness on Gord's face when he announced he was cutting the 22p tax band to 20p belies the attitude of this government - pull a rabbit out of the hat, make a few headlines, and to hell with the affect of it. It is people like me who are single, young, and earning a lowish wage who will be affected by this proposal. It is extraordinary that Labour MPs have taken so long to work out that this was never a good idea. There is real anger on the doorstep about this. It appears that Gordon is taking from the poor to give to the middle - and tax credit bonunses are not good enough. Labour cannot bring itself to give the people the tax break they deserve. They prefer to condemn them to complicated and unneccesary bureaucracy, which, hopefully, will deter them sufficiently from getting the discounts they rightly deserve.

The local government elections on May 1st will probably not be pleasant for Labour either. The Tories need to start winning properly in the north of England - Bury is a MUST this time. It's going to be difficult to break through in Yorkshire because of the number of indepedents, but we must at least make large inroads. Hopefully there will be more Conservatives in Salford joining Iain Lindley and the team. Surely the abolition of the 10p rate will play well for us here.

The mayoral election, however, is far more important. I have always been of the opinion that, if Boris loses, it is a major blow for David Cameron - he put his faith in Boris, not only to perform competently and prove his political worth, but also to win. He has to win. It appears that Ken is staging a fightback, so Conservatives must under no circumstances become complacent. Campaigning must be vigorous and relentless. London deserves so much better than an arrogant socialist cast-off like Ken Livingstone.

As for the polls, things are looking very promising. YouGov's 16 point lead would give us a majority of about 120 (44/28/17) but this needs to be backed up by other companies. I am reluctant to treat Mori's results seriously anymore, as they've looked increasing volatile as the Conservatives have recovered, with that imfamous 10% swing in 1 month 2 years ago. Populus always give better results for Labour, but it is crucial that we sustain a rating of over 40% with them if we are to be sure of success. ICM are yielding good results at the moment, and are pretty much in line with YouGov. It is looking increasingly as if the Conservatives are more likely to not only be the largest party in a post-2010 parliament, but to have a convincing and workable overall majority.

David Cameron is not the Conservatives' Neil Kinnock. It won't be a repeat of the 1992 election.