Sunday, April 7, 2019

"Boost for May" as Tory vote drops like a stone

Mike Smithson, known and loved by thousands of East Dunbartonshire residents as a keen letter-writing impartial Liberal Democrat election expert, surpassed himself the other day.  After a parliamentary by-election in Newport West which saw the Tory vote plummet by 8%, Smithson's verdict in a Stormfront Lite headline was "Boost for May".  What he meant was that there had been a technical swing from Labour to Tory because the Labour vote had fallen slightly further, but it seems rather heroic to claim a "boost" just because someone else is doing even worse than you are.  Andrew Neil tried exactly the same game during the BBC's coverage of the vote, but for my money Labour's showing wasn't actually as bad as all that, or at least not in any way that could be considered unexpected.  It's pretty common for the Labour vote to slump in low turnout by-elections when everyone knows (or think they know) the result in advance.  OK, if this had been Tony Blair sweeping all before him in 1995 or 1996, there would have been a big swing to Labour, but we didn't need a by-election to tell us that Corbyn isn't in that sort of position.  If there's a general election this year Labour will start with a credible chance, but they're certainly not the pre-anointed winners.

In any case, if it's supposed to be good for the Tories that their vote collapsed in Newport West but not by quite as much as Labour's, it's only reasonable to point out that the Britain-wide opinion polls tell the opposite story - both of the two main London parties are sharply down on where they were at the start of the year, but the Tories have been slipping much faster of late which by default has brought Labour back to more or less level-pegging.  The latest YouGov poll is a prime example...

Conservatives 32% (-4)
Labour 31% (-2)
Liberal Democrats 12% (+1)
UKIP 7% (+3)
SNP / Plaid Cymru 6% (+1)
Brexit Party 5% (n/c)
Greens 4% (n/c)

Scottish subsample: SNP 48%, Conservatives 20%, Labour 18%, Liberal Democrats 5%, UKIP 3%, Brexit Party 3%, Greens 1%

The basement battle between the rump UKIP and Farage's new Brexit Party is genuinely fascinating.  My guess is that if it was widely known that Farage and his closest colleagues have decamped to a new party, the vast bulk of the UKIP vote would follow them across, but instead we have a situation where a small group of obscure far-right politicians have quietly inherited a well-known political brand and are reaping the benefits of it.  If the European elections go ahead (and it's overwhelmingly likely they will), the Brexit vote could well be split right down the middle.  I know some people will say that doesn't really matter in a proportional representation election, but it absolutely does.  In some electoral regions (including Scotland), it's likely that a split vote will leave both parties below the de facto threshold for representation.  Hopefully by now David Coburn will have some alternative employment sorted out.

The usual health warning: no individual Scottish subsample should be taken too seriously.  All the same, Scottish Labour must be a touch alarmed by just how frequently they've gone sub-20 recently.


  1. How did you get the full data tables? I'm up early yet apparently not really 'up'.

    John Robertson

  2. What, ah, that's the YouGov one. Thought you had the BMG data. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  3. Why don't English Labour go into a formal Faragist brexit coalition with the Tories and sideline Scottish Labour + the devolved parliaments in the other home nations?

    That will give them a boost in sweaty sockland surely?

    1. In a democratic society the opinion of the loser should be respected however the Nat si Scots do not give this respect to the one million Scots that voted to leave the fascist EU and the two million who voted to remain in the UK Union. Unionists would be treated as second class citizens in an independent Scotland

    2. Don't understand your post at all. Corbyn can go into formal coalition with the right-wing pro-brexit Tories if he likes. It's 'respecting the will of the English people' is it not?

      It'll utterly destroy Labour in Scotland though. I mean dear god, they only partly recovered from the 2015 #BetterTorygether mauling due to Corybn seeming to be something of a leftie. Now he's f'king entering coalition talks with the most rabidly right-wing English Tory government in the history of the union so he can take Scotland out of the EU/EEA.

      If you want a large section of Scottish Labour to break from the English party and support an indy Scotland in the EU, taking a swath of previously unionist voters with it, this is exactly how you do it. You couldn't possibly come up with a better strategy for end the UK than this. Short of say, killing first born scots or something anyway.

      So I think it's an absolutely brilliant idea. Total respect to the brexiters on this one. Pure dead brillant.

    3. Note Scottish unionists would have a higher level of citizenship with Scottish indy. They would get an EU/Scottish and a GB passport (if they wished to retain the latter).

      This would make them 'first class' in the British isles alongside the Irish, as their passports would have much more free movement rights. By contrast, English and Welsh folk would be second class by comparison.

      (Unless you think the rUK would go back on its 2014 promises and strip 'brits' in Scotland of their dual nationality).

    4. You can only have one nationality. The rest is convenience and unnecessary. For instance wee paddy who was born In Scotland 80 years ago wants an Irish passport because his English granny was shagged by an Englishman who's cousin was Irish.

    5. Exactly. Those Scots who think they're British are a bit odd. Glad you agree.

    6. Cordelia there, showing its usual confusion and failure to understand the concept of dual nationality.
      It prefers one nation, one people and one leader.

  4. Channel 4 News followed suit by the way.

    1. Rodney Di MascioApril 9, 2019 at 9:49 PM

      I followed a suit home from the office and stood outside his house watching.

    2. Cordelia there, once again sharing entirely too much about its inner fantasy life.