Posts Tagged ‘election results’

The results are in on Corbyn’s first few months. No matter how you spin it, they’re terrible

13/05/2016, 01:51:37 PM

by Rob Marchant

The leader’s office spin operation began long before the elections, because everyone knew they would be bad. The objective was simple: essentially, anything, anything at all to try and make them look other than the disaster most expected.

For example as Dan Hodges, sometime of this parish, pointed out, the Corbyn team decided on a tactic (of comparing the outcome with 2015 results, instead of 2011 or 2012 when the seats were last contested) was leaked to the BBC. It was patently foolish. No sane psephologist would try and compare an election with the previous year.

And when even the Leader himself ended up describing the results as “not good enough”, we still had incoherence in the party’s appearances on the media. In only the latest in a series of car-crash interviews, Diane Abbott memorably described the results as “steady progress”. Oh, my aching sides.

But they were all attempting to spin the unspinnable.

Yes, Sadiq Khan did a highly professional job in winning the London mayoralty, the one bright point of the elections. But even he did not manage this without exposing his past as a cuddler-up to unpleasant elements of the Islamist far right. Not, as the Tories tried to imply, because he is a card-carrying Islamist himself; he is not. But he has been ruthless enough in his pursuit of political support to schmooze with extremists until quite recently, in a way that should make party members nervous.

And let us not forget that London is, historically, a Labour stronghold par excellence. In fact, the two Boris wins in 2008 and 2012 may arguably be seen as the result, not just of the pendulum swing against Labour nationally, but also of a serious falling-out-of-love with one Ken Livingstone on the part of the London electorate.


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The polling facts about Labour’s mid-term lead

09/01/2013, 12:02:49 PM

by Rob Marchant

Much has been made during 2012 of Labour’s solid poll lead, which has been of the order of 10% ever since the government’s disastrous Budget. For some it seems difficult to refrain from mentally converting this into a line on Peter Snow’s election night model of the House of Commons, showing a majority for Labour.

What this fails to account for, quite apart from the changed circumstances which may prevail in two years’ time (and which may be much more attractive for the Tories, as Peter Kellner cheekily points out here), is that incumbents tend to have a dip at mid-term anyway. Quantifying this effect would obviously help us to make more accurate forecasts, to the extent that this is possible.

Last week at Uncut, Atul Hatwal showed the numerical arguments against a win for any party which failed to establish a poll lead on the economy. In a complementary way, we can try and allow for this mid-term effect, to try and get a better idea of where things might end up, all other things being equal.

There are various ways of trying to gauge it*. A year ago, an excellent piece of analysis was carried out by Leo Barasi (and for which I am indebted to John Rentoul for pointing out) on post-war polls both eighteen months into a parliament and two years out from the next, which concluded, rightly, that Labour’s prospects were numerically better than many seemed to think.

Interestingly, this conclusion now looks a little less secure, not because Barasi’s model has changed or become less applicable, but because the polls have actually improved for Labour in the last year and therefore many commentators, who were very negative at the end of last year, have gravitated towards a much warmer view of Labour’s prospects.

To revisit the second part of that analysis – that of two years out from the next election – is now both timely and illustrative, which we do now in this graph:

It is interesting to look at the regression line but the data points, too, tell a story. It is also useful to apply a little political history to the figures.

First, the most striking thing to note is that over four-fifths of postwar oppositions have had a lead in the polls at this point, two years out from an election. Irrespective of whether they go on to win or lose. So having a lead in itself is hardly remarkable: in fact, allowing for outliers**, they almost all do. It is the size of the lead that counts. Conclusion: don’t get excited about being ahead in the polls at this point. It seems to be a necessary, not a sufficient condition. Not being ahead, now that would be something.


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