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Neil O’Brien: There are still weeks to go, but for backbenchers like me, campaign 2019 feels much, much better than 2017

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-11-17-at-21.08.02 Neil O’Brien: There are still weeks to go, but for backbenchers like me, campaign 2019 feels much, much better than 2017 YouGov The North south SNP Scunthorpe Rother Valley Polling police Philip Larkin Peterborough Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls NHS New Labour Midlands Liberal Democrats Law and order Labour immigration Highlights Great Grimsby General Election Fiona Onasanya MP Don Valley Daniel Finkelstein Culture crime Conservatives Columnists Caroline Flint MP Campaigning Brexit Alasdair Rae

Neil O’Brien is MP for Harborough.

The Midlands sky was November grey, and there was the smell of a coal fire from somewhere. I was out delivering leaflets in a council estate in my constituency. Moments after popping one through the door of a bungalow, I heard a door being flung wide open behind me.

A large and angry man appeared. “You can have that back” he said, thrusting the leaflet into my hands. And with that, he swung back into the house and the door thumped shut.

I went on my way. But moments later, I heard the door swing open again. It was the big guy again, and I braced myself for a free and frank exchange of views.

But this time he was in a more sunny mood.

“Sorry. I thought you were Labour,” he said. “Are you the Conservatives? Can I have another one of those?” He told me he was going to vote for us.

It gave me a little taste of what it’s like to be a candidate today for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party.I don’t know what it is about life-long terrorist suck-up Jeremy Corbyn, or self-described Marxist John McDonnell, or police-hating Diane Abbott, or their two-faced approach on Brexit… but in many places where Labour might once have done well, they are now regarded with something approaching hatred.

There are still weeks to go till the election, but for backbenchers like me, campaign 2019 feels much, much better than 2017.

The ideas we are putting forward are more popular. The campaign feels better run, including on line. People massively prefer Boris Johnson to Corbyn. The question is whether it is enough.

As Daniel Finkelstein has pointed out, we have to win outright, while others can win even if they lose. Why? Because we will never team up with the SNP – while Labour are already dangling another separation referendum to cosy up with the nationalists. The Liberal Democrats can form a remain alliance with Labour – but not us. If we are going to win, it means pushing deeper into Labour territory in the north, midlands and south west, while holding off Lib Dems in the south east and the SNP up north.

The signs are encouraging. One set of constituency polls this week showed us holding seats in London, while another national poll showed us ahead among working class voters by a margin of nearly two-to-one (YouGov, 11-12 Nov).

For someone who got involved in politics when we were in the relegation zone in the mid 1990s, this is heady stuff.
We’ve already come a long way. Alasdair Rae at Sheffield has a neat chart which ranks constituencies in England from the most deprived on the left, to the most affluent on the right.

In 2001, we had no seats in the poorest 30 per cent, and Labour had most of the middle third. [See chart at top of article.] By 2017, the blue tide had already flowed into some areas Labour used to dominate. I hope this time it will surge further. [See chart at bottom of article.]

As we expand, the centre of gravity of Conservative voters has shifted and the Prime Minister has been the fastest to catch the mood. My leaflets this year feature our pledges of 20,000 more police, £450 million for our local hospital and funding for our local schools going up 4.6 per cent per pupil next year. Other than the fact that we also pledge tougher sentences for criminals, controlled immigration and securing our exit from the EU, much of this is the space New Labour used to occupy.

Rumours in the papers say that our tax policy is also going to be squarely focused on helping those working hard on low incomes. I think that would be the right approach.

It’s funny what pops into your head as we pound the pavements in the autumn rain.

For some reason I’ve been thinking about Philip Larkin’s poem, The Whitsun Weddings, describing his sun-drenched train journey from Hull in the north, down through the industrial Midlands to London:

“We ran /
Behind the backs of houses, crossed a street /
Of blinding windscreens, smelt the fish-dock; thence /
The river’s level drifting breadth began, /
Where sky and Lincolnshire and water meet. /
All afternoon, through the tall heat that slept  /
    For miles inland, /
A slow and stopping curve southwards we kept.   /
Wide farms went by, short-shadowed cattle, and
Canals with floatings of industrial froth…”

I feel like we as a party are taking the same journey, but in reverse, with the Conservative tide flowing up through the midlands and north.

Today the route from Hull, which goes via Doncaster, would take you past plenty of Labour marginals. Great Grimsby and Scunthorpe across the Humber. Don Valley and Rother Valley in South Yorkshire. Down through Bassetlaw, where sitting Labour MP and fierce Corbyn critic, John Mann has just stood down, then past Lincoln to the east, and down to London through Peterborough, where we hope to replace jailed Labour MP Fiona Onasanya.

I feel like we have a strong leader, good campaign, we stand for the right things, and people are sick of the delay and dither.

But will it be enough. Will our campaign work this time?

It might just.

Time to get back out there.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-11-17-at-21.08.55 Neil O’Brien: There are still weeks to go, but for backbenchers like me, campaign 2019 feels much, much better than 2017 YouGov The North south SNP Scunthorpe Rother Valley Polling police Philip Larkin Peterborough Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls NHS New Labour Midlands Liberal Democrats Law and order Labour immigration Highlights Great Grimsby General Election Fiona Onasanya MP Don Valley Daniel Finkelstein Culture crime Conservatives Columnists Caroline Flint MP Campaigning Brexit Alasdair Rae   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Neil O’Brien: There are still weeks to go, but for backbenchers like me, campaign 2019 feels much, much better than 2017

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-11-17-at-21.08.02 Neil O’Brien: There are still weeks to go, but for backbenchers like me, campaign 2019 feels much, much better than 2017 YouGov The North south SNP Scunthorpe Rother Valley Polling police Philip Larkin Peterborough Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls NHS New Labour Midlands Liberal Democrats Law and order Labour immigration Highlights Great Grimsby General Election Fiona Onasanya MP Don Valley Daniel Finkelstein Culture crime Conservatives Columnists Caroline Flint MP Campaigning Brexit Alasdair Rae

Neil O’Brien is MP for Harborough.

The Midlands sky was November grey, and there was the smell of a coal fire from somewhere. I was out delivering leaflets in a council estate in my constituency. Moments after popping one through the door of a bungalow, I heard a door being flung wide open behind me.

A large and angry man appeared. “You can have that back” he said, thrusting the leaflet into my hands. And with that, he swung back into the house and the door thumped shut.

I went on my way. But moments later, I heard the door swing open again. It was the big guy again, and I braced myself for a free and frank exchange of views.

But this time he was in a more sunny mood.

“Sorry. I thought you were Labour,” he said. “Are you the Conservatives? Can I have another one of those?” He told me he was going to vote for us.

It gave me a little taste of what it’s like to be a candidate today for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party.I don’t know what it is about life-long terrorist suck-up Jeremy Corbyn, or self-described Marxist John McDonnell, or police-hating Diane Abbott, or their two-faced approach on Brexit… but in many places where Labour might once have done well, they are now regarded with something approaching hatred.

There are still weeks to go till the election, but for backbenchers like me, campaign 2019 feels much, much better than 2017.

The ideas we are putting forward are more popular. The campaign feels better run, including on line. People massively prefer Boris Johnson to Corbyn. The question is whether it is enough.

As Daniel Finkelstein has pointed out, we have to win outright, while others can win even if they lose. Why? Because we will never team up with the SNP – while Labour are already dangling another separation referendum to cosy up with the nationalists. The Liberal Democrats can form a remain alliance with Labour – but not us. If we are going to win, it means pushing deeper into Labour territory in the north, midlands and south west, while holding off Lib Dems in the south east and the SNP up north.

The signs are encouraging. One set of constituency polls this week showed us holding seats in London, while another national poll showed us ahead among working class voters by a margin of nearly two-to-one (YouGov, 11-12 Nov).

For someone who got involved in politics when we were in the relegation zone in the mid 1990s, this is heady stuff.
We’ve already come a long way. Alasdair Rae at Sheffield has a neat chart which ranks constituencies in England from the most deprived on the left, to the most affluent on the right.

In 2001, we had no seats in the poorest 30 per cent, and Labour had most of the middle third. [See chart at top of article.] By 2017, the blue tide had already flowed into some areas Labour used to dominate. I hope this time it will surge further. [See chart at bottom of article.]

As we expand, the centre of gravity of Conservative voters has shifted and the Prime Minister has been the fastest to catch the mood. My leaflets this year feature our pledges of 20,000 more police, £450 million for our local hospital and funding for our local schools going up 4.6 per cent per pupil next year. Other than the fact that we also pledge tougher sentences for criminals, controlled immigration and securing our exit from the EU, much of this is the space New Labour used to occupy.

Rumours in the papers say that our tax policy is also going to be squarely focused on helping those working hard on low incomes. I think that would be the right approach.

It’s funny what pops into your head as we pound the pavements in the autumn rain.

For some reason I’ve been thinking about Philip Larkin’s poem, The Whitsun Weddings, describing his sun-drenched train journey from Hull in the north, down through the industrial Midlands to London:

“We ran /
Behind the backs of houses, crossed a street /
Of blinding windscreens, smelt the fish-dock; thence /
The river’s level drifting breadth began, /
Where sky and Lincolnshire and water meet. /
All afternoon, through the tall heat that slept  /
    For miles inland, /
A slow and stopping curve southwards we kept.   /
Wide farms went by, short-shadowed cattle, and
Canals with floatings of industrial froth…”

I feel like we as a party are taking the same journey, but in reverse, with the Conservative tide flowing up through the midlands and north.

Today the route from Hull, which goes via Doncaster, would take you past plenty of Labour marginals. Great Grimsby and Scunthorpe across the Humber. Don Valley and Rother Valley in South Yorkshire. Down through Bassetlaw, where sitting Labour MP and fierce Corbyn critic, John Mann has just stood down, then past Lincoln to the east, and down to London through Peterborough, where we hope to replace jailed Labour MP Fiona Onasanya.

I feel like we have a strong leader, good campaign, we stand for the right things, and people are sick of the delay and dither.

But will it be enough. Will our campaign work this time?

It might just.

Time to get back out there.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-11-17-at-21.08.55 Neil O’Brien: There are still weeks to go, but for backbenchers like me, campaign 2019 feels much, much better than 2017 YouGov The North south SNP Scunthorpe Rother Valley Polling police Philip Larkin Peterborough Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls NHS New Labour Midlands Liberal Democrats Law and order Labour immigration Highlights Great Grimsby General Election Fiona Onasanya MP Don Valley Daniel Finkelstein Culture crime Conservatives Columnists Caroline Flint MP Campaigning Brexit Alasdair Rae   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Comey: On second thought, maybe Trump should be impeached

Westlake Legal Group j-1 Comey: On second thought, maybe Trump should be impeached YouGov whistleblower Ukraine The Blog Russia pelosi impeachment impeach comey

This guy.

If Democrats are looking for an outside-the-box campaign pitch for next fall that might move casual voters, here’s one: Vote Trump out and you’ll never have to hear from James Comey again. Once the president who fired him is gone, all remaining relevance that this big scold has to the political scene will evaporate.

Last night I and many others posted the clip of him telling a California TV station that he preferred to see Trump dealt with at the ballot box. That was surprising given the enormous momentum towards impeachment among Trump antagonists, of which Comey is an especially prominent example. Now here he comes to clarify that he was against impeachment before the Ukraine story broke big.

The charitable interpretation of his reversal is that he realized belatedly that there has to be *some* threshold of misconduct that would justify impeachment. That doesn’t mean the Ukraine incident crossed that threshold (in fact, Comey declines to say specifically that it does), but it’s goofy to dismiss impeachment out of hand categorically just because you want American voters to have the opportunity to undo their own electoral mistake.

The less charitable interpretation is that Comey realizes his remaining relevance as a well-known Trump critic was about to get splattered if he stepped in front of the Democrats’ accelerating impeachment train. The party has decided that It’s Time and Comey can either come along or enjoy retirement.

Hillary has also weighed in again on impeachment today, by the way. She’s clearer about her feelings on the Ukraine matter than Comey is:

And of course she’s a bigger target for the White House than Comey is:

It’ll be a few days before we see any useful polling on the Ukraine accusations and impeachment, but YouGov is out early with numbers this afternoon:

Westlake Legal Group y-2 Comey: On second thought, maybe Trump should be impeached YouGov whistleblower Ukraine The Blog Russia pelosi impeachment impeach comey

That’s a good result for Democrats but I bet those numbers can and will move *a lot* depending on how the precise question is phrased. In fact, YouGov actually did rephrase it and got a notably different result. When they asked if it’s appropriate for the president to threaten withholding aid to a foreign country if that country refuses to take an action “which personally benefits the president,” the 48/19 result in the graph above among Republicans suddenly shrinks to 31/41 in favor of believing that the president’s actions are inappropriate. By the same token, imagine if the question stressed that the president’s political opponent really is under suspicion of misconduct in trying to protect his son’s foreign business by pressuring a foreign government. The numbers who believe the president behaved appropriately would surely rise across the board in that case, and doubtless rise a lot among Republicans. It’s a spin war. The better Republicans are about educating the public on Hunter Biden’s shady relationship with Burisma, the less objectionable Trump’s interest in seeing the Bidens investigated will be.

The post Comey: On second thought, maybe Trump should be impeached appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group j-1-300x153 Comey: On second thought, maybe Trump should be impeached YouGov whistleblower Ukraine The Blog Russia pelosi impeachment impeach comey   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Bye-bye Biden? Warren leads in new national poll, tied for lead in another

Westlake Legal Group b-18 Bye-bye Biden? Warren leads in new national poll, tied for lead in another YouGov warren Trump The Blog Quinnipiac primary New Hampshire harris democratic biden 2020

Bear in mind, these results are trickling in *before* Democratic voters have digested the allegations of corruption made against Biden in the Ukraine matter. Even if they opt not to believe them, how many will conclude that swing voters will believe them next fall and start discounting Biden’s alleged “electability” advantage?

Imagine if Trump ends up being impeached for trying to make trouble abroad for a candidate who was never going to be his general election opponent anyway.

A game-changing new poll from Quinnipiac:

Westlake Legal Group q Bye-bye Biden? Warren leads in new national poll, tied for lead in another YouGov warren Trump The Blog Quinnipiac primary New Hampshire harris democratic biden 2020

Not only is 27 percent the best Warren’s ever done in a national poll, it’s also the first time she’s led Biden outright in any national poll. As usual, she leads him in enthusiasm too: Fully 70 percent of Dems say they’d be excited to see her as nominee versus 56 percent who say the same of Biden.

The real alarm bell for Grandpa Joe, though, is the split among black voters, as Philip Klein rightly notes:

Back in a July poll, Warren was essentially in a three-way tie for second place, with 15 percent nationally, according to Quinnipiac. In that poll, she was at 20 percent among white voters, but way back at six percent among black voters. In a Wednesday poll, she has vaulted to the top, with 27 percent overall, just edging out Joe Biden, at 25 percent. But now among black voters, she’s in second place, at 19 percent.

In California, it’s a similar story. A new LA Times poll finds Warren jumping to a 29 percent to 22 percent lead in the delegate-rich state overall, but, she’s only trailing Biden 32 percent to 24 percent among black voters. Sen. Kamala Harris, who is both black and from California, was at 18 percent among the group.

Not only is Warren now second to Biden among black voters, trailing him 40/19, but Bernie Sanders has 12 percent of that group. If Bernie fades and black progressives begin drifting towards Warren, suddenly she’d be competitive with Joe among voters who are supposed to be his “firewall,” the group that will offset his losses among other demographics by preferring him overwhelmingly. Blacks no longer prefer him overwhelmingly, according to today’s Quinnipiac data. And given the general drift towards Warren in all polling lately, it’s likely that his lead among them will shrink rather than grow.

Could the Quinnipiac poll be an outlier? Seems unlikely. This new data that dropped this morning from YouGov confirms that the race is a coin flip right now, with Warren and Biden neck and neck in the mid-20s.

When Democratic voters are asked whom they’re considering voting for, Warren leads Biden 54/47. There are other polls lately that look like this too — Emerson recently had Biden up 25/23 and NBC/WSJ had it 31/25 in mid-September. There’s no reason, in other words, to think Quinnipiac and YouGov are “bad polls” for Biden or “good polls” for Warren. They seem to accurately reflect the state of the race at the moment, before the impact of the Ukraine stuff has been felt. In fact, as of today, Warren is the first candidate besides Biden to crack 20 percent in the RCP poll of polls since May. She seems to be for real.

“But wait,” you say, “national polls are interesting but ultimately don’t matter. Iowa and New Hampshire are what matter.” Right, true — but Warren’s surging there too. I already posted this new Monmouth poll of New Hampshire yesterday but it’s worth eyeballing the numbers again:

Westlake Legal Group m-5 Bye-bye Biden? Warren leads in new national poll, tied for lead in another YouGov warren Trump The Blog Quinnipiac primary New Hampshire harris democratic biden 2020

She’s just three points behind Biden in the RCP polling average of the state right now. And Iowa? Warren has led the field there in the last two polls taken, 24/16 over Biden in an Iowa State survey taken in mid-September and 22/20 in a Des Moines Register poll conducted a few days later. She’s up 2.7 points in the RCP average.

If you had to make a bet on the Democratic primaries at this particular moment in time, Warren running the table would look like a fairly solid bet. The question is whether South Carolina’s mostly black Democratic electorate would stick with Biden if he lost the first two states or if they’d break for Warren if she won them. The signs there aren’t great for Biden either, per Politico:

Biden’s level of support in South Carolina makes it his firewall state, but even in South Carolina there are troubling signs of erosion. While he remains on top, among black voters, who are more than 60 percent of the Democratic electorate, Biden has plummeted 19 points in Tyson’s polls. That’s a potential leading indicator of the problems he could face after South Carolina’s Feb. 29 primary when many of the minority-heavy Southeastern states — as well as Texas and California — beginning voting on Super Tuesday, March 3, and thereafter.

As strange as it is to imagine after the Democratic field initially ballooned to more than 20 candidates, the actual race could be over quickly once Democrats start voting. Which means Trump will never have a chance to use the Ukraine matter against Biden — but Warren will have lots of chances to use it against Trump. Good lord.

Exit question: Kamala Harris is now at three percent nationally, per Quinnipiac? Was even Scott Walker’s 2016 flameout as embarrassing as this?

The post Bye-bye Biden? Warren leads in new national poll, tied for lead in another appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group b-18-300x153 Bye-bye Biden? Warren leads in new national poll, tied for lead in another YouGov warren Trump The Blog Quinnipiac primary New Hampshire harris democratic biden 2020   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Robert Halfon: The Thomas Cook bosses should pay for their greed

Robert Halfon is MP for Harlow, Chair of the Education Select Committee and President of Conservative Workers and Trade Unionists.

The greatest democratic exercise of all…a general election

Whatever one’s view about the Supreme Court’s decision, it is worth noting that twice in the past three weeks, the Prime Minister has called a parliamentary vote for a general election – the greatest democratic exercise of all – and which could resolve these issues once and for all.

I have voted for a general election twice in the past month, as I wish to hold myself to account to the people of Harlow.  Both of these votes have been opposed in Parliament by Labour and the other opposition parties. Do they believe in democracy or not?

Thomas Crook

It seems extraordinary that, yet again, a long-standing, British company, founded 178 years ago, has crashed and burned because of the ineptitude and greed of the management. Figures published show that the senior directors carved up £47 million for their bonuses and wages over the past twelve years, all the while, the company’s assets were going from bad to worse.

Not only have hundreds of thousands of British holiday-makers had their holidays and lives ruined and disrupted, but spare a thought for the 21,000 Thomas Cook employees who, through no fault of their own, are suddenly out of their jobs.

Whilst the senior management will no doubt go back to their millionaire lifestyles, the ordinary employee will be at home without a salary and a risk to their pension.

This is all grist to the Corbyn, anti-capitalist mill. Conservatives must have an answer to the failure of incompetent management and corporate greed – especially when taxpayers’ money is involved. How about, rather than just the hard-pressed taxpayer having to pay for all the compensation, flights and insurance for Thomas Cook customers, why shouldn’t the company directors open their fat wallets and give some of their money back to the taxpayer?

It’s time that we looked at corporate laws and make sure that those responsible for the mess, are also responsible for clearing it up

We have an opportunity; let’s seize it

As Tom Watson has put it, this year’s Labour Party Conference has been like “a drive-by shooting”. Their civil war is out in the open for all to see. As happens with every hardline revolution, the revolutionaries eventually turn on each other, and “the revolution devours its own children”.

If this civil strife was not bad enough, the Opposition leadership has proposed a range of policies calculated to appeal to the few, rather than the many. Abolishing Ofsted, the four-day week – alongside billions of pounds of unfunded promises to be spent on anything and everything.

So, as Conservatives – even with the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the prorogation of Parliament – we have a real chance here to unify as a Party.

The truth is that around 80 to 90 percent of the Party are united behind the Brexit position and almost 100 percent of the Party is united behind policies to spend more on education, health and policing. We have a choice; either we can argue about leaving the EU, or we can set out policies on public services and social justice that really capture the public’s imagination.

Don’t be fooled by the polling data – complacency is the enemy

Despite our rise in the polls, many of the Corbyn messages on austerity still resonate. People are struggling with the cost of living. Nearly a million people are living in overcrowded accommodation. One in four have less than £95 in savings.

Complacency is the enemy.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been wonderful to see the rise of the Conservatives in the polls and Labour’s decline. At the time of writing, the latest YouGov polling data states that we are 11 points ahead of Labour.

But we’ve been here before. If we think back to the 2017 election, we had a confident lead in the run-up – at times, 20-points ahead of Labour – and we all know what happened then.

It’s also worth remembering that only until recently Labour were ahead of us in some polls. The Brexit Party remains strong, and could potentially take millions of Conservative votes. Meanwhile, Labour Party is significantly close in many target/marginal seats.

The worst thing that could happen is if we, Conservatives, think this election will be a walk in the park. It’s true that, if we get Brexit sorted on October 31st, things could be a lot better, but it will still be probably one of the toughest elections to fight.

Conservatism must also find an attack-line against Corbyn which isn’t about him being a “Marxist” – as I have written about before on ConservativeHome. Tories have to look for a narrative that provides a meaningful way to explain to ordinary folk the damage that a Corbyn-Government would do to both our economy and our public services.

Williamson: A real vocational education reformer

Could Gavin Williamson be one of the real reforming Education Secretaries and transform vocation and skills? Alongside Sajid Javid, he is one of the very few cabinet ministers to have gone to an FE college and has a real passion and understanding for skills and apprenticeships.

Whilst some have criticised the fact that there is no longer a dedicated Skills Minister, I see it quite differently; skills and apprenticeships will now receive significant attention, playing a major role in the Education Secretary’s brief and having a significant voice in the Cabinet, for the first time.

It was good to see that in his address to the Universities UK Conference two weeks ago, Williamson spoke so passionately and set out a vision for skills in our country. He encouraged “collaboration” between higher education institutions, schools and colleges to “drive this country forward” in terms of skills, and recognised that we must “boost further education and its links with industry and business”.

Furthermore, Boris Johnson has announced an extra £400 million for 16-19 education which should make a significant difference. It certainly helps that both the Chancellor and Education Secretary are passionate about FE and will ensure that the sector is well looked after.

Williamson seems to understand vocational education and the need to build up its prestige, in a way that many in top Government positions often don’t. I’m hopeful that we could see, under his stewardship, a very exciting future for apprenticeships and skills in our country.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Garvan Walshe: No Deal has failed. The choice is May’s deal, no Brexit or no United Kingdom.

Garvan Walshe is a former National and International Security Policy Adviser to the Conservative Party. He runs TRD Policy

Until this week I had thought that Brexit, though something I had opposed, had become inevitable. The referendum victory, though narrow, was clear, and those who continued to oppose Brexit lacked the ruthlessness and tactical sophistication to press their case successfully.

That’s started to change. The campaign, begun in earnest during the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, to take Britain out of the EU is now at risk of failing altogether. The manner of its failure, the scorched earth tactics of its more extreme partisans, and the increasing radicalisation of the Remain electorate (reflected in the Lib Dems’ tactically astute shift in position to direct revocation of Article 50, without a referendum) could cause a significant portion of the public to feel completely alienated from the political system, at a time when Britain’s constitutional traditions are being subverted for factional gain.

(As in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, blame for constitutional vandalism is not evenly shared; people just disagree about who should shoulder most of it.)

So though I opposed Brexit, I still don’t think it should currently be reversed. Around half of Remainers still see EU membership in transactional terms: but it is that transactional idea of membership that David Cameron tested to destruction. Many of the rest have turned into pro-European partisans, but out of opposition to Brexit rather than love of European integration.

Should a stable majority of the British public come to understand that the European Union is a project of political integration that involves the nation states of Europe sharing the sovereignty they once jealously guarded, then the UK should rejoin. But cancelling Brexit now would be bad for both the UK, which would find itself kicking against the loveless marriage to which it had returned, and the EU, which would have an unhappy and divided Britain to contend with.

The Brexiteers failed internationally because they overestimated Britain’s power. They began promising the easiest trade deal in history and some even suggested that Ireland should leave a failing EU and rejoin the UK; now they’re stuck negotiating a trade deal with Phil Hogan, the Irish Commissioner.

They failed domestically because they mistook a moral argument for a political one.

Their moral claim is that winning the referendum creates an unanswerable case for having some kind, indeed any kind, of Brexit. Both sides of the referendum campaign said that they would abide by the result, and that moral duty, they believe, is sufficiently strong that it should override other considerations, including Britain’s traditions as a representative, not a direct, democracy; whether the actual exit deal negotiated in fact turned out to be good enough; and whether during the time between referendum vote and implementation, the people might have changed their mind, or the electorate changed its composition (changes, in particular youth registration and naturalisation of EU citizens, themselves prompted by the Brexit vote).

But moral claims on their own do not a political strategy make. Brexiteers needed to have converted their victory on the day of 23rd June into a broad and lasting consensus in favour of Brexit. It had appeared that May had planned to do just that when she became Tory leader in 2016, but she changed tack during her conference speech that year in pursuit of a very specific hard-right fever dream that came unstuck the following July.

I’ll come back to this electoral mirage in a moment. Its effects however, were to deprive May of a majority, force her to rely on the DUP whose demands proved incompatible with those of the EU, as well as the need to avoid giving the SNP an argument to demand the same status as Northern Ireland, and resulted in the Withdrawal Agreement, which couldn’t pass the House of Commons, disastrous EU election results, the rise of the Brexit Party and her resignation and replacement by Boris Johnson.

Johnson inherited a war on two fronts — against the Brexit Party and the Lib Dems — and devised a sort of Schlieffen Plan to get the Conservative Party through. Complete Brexit by 31st October, then pivot to the kind of one-nation Toryism he professed as mayor, to give a country tired of Brexit and austerity something to unite around.

Over the summer, it looked like he had maintained just enough ambiguity about his intentions to keep his opponents divided. Instead he united them by proroguing Parliament and horrified the party by taking the whip from 21 rebels including Nicholas Soames and Philip Hammond, sparking the resignation of Amber Rudd, his own brother Jo, and even the Duke of Wellington. Whatever the Conservative Party is these days, it doesn’t have space for the descendants of Britain’s national heroes. Much of this is attributed to his senior adviser Dominic Cummings, who combines the flexibility of the younger Moltke with the defence-minded attitude of Marshal Foch.

Unable to force his policy through a parliament in which he doesn’t have a majority, having reduced that majority further by his purge, he has been outmaneouvred by Jeremy Corbyn; his bid to call an election twice blocked by the Commons.

Situation excellente says Cummings, j’attaque.

The quite obvious plan, as is clear from adverts promising a “People versus the Politicians” election, is to reactivate enough anger from Leave voters to win a parliamentary majority against a divided opposition. It’s a plan with superficial possibility. Some pollsters, particularly YouGov, are showing a sizeable Conservative lead. Others give a much closer result. Panelbase has a Tory lead of three points, Opinium of ten. Leaving aside differences in weighting, having five parties means that even variations of one or two percent because of sampling error can mean the difference between the Tories on 35, Labour on 25 and Lib Dems on 17, Brexit Party on 13 (Tory Majority of 88, says Electoral Calculus) and Tories on 32, Labour on 28, Lib Dems on 15, Brexit Party 15 (Hung Parliament. Tories ten short).

Consider this poll, conducted in the middle of the crisis by FocalData, for the Conservative Group for Europe, with a sample of 10,000 – enough to use the statistical technique for MRP:

  • CON 33 per cent
  • LAB 30 per cent
  • LD 15 per cent
  • BXP 11 per cent
  • GRE 4 per cent
  • NAT 4 per cent
  • OTH 2 per cent

MRP calculates a statistical correlation between demographic characteristics (e.g. age, income) and voting behaviour, and then applies the results of those correlations to individual seats. The theory underlying it is that a 55-year-old man with a degree in Wakefield is likely to vote the same way as a 55-year-old man with a degree in Winchester. Wakefield votes differently to Winchester because different sorts of people live there, not because people from Wakefield are different to those in Winchester. This is broadly true (with some exceptions, which are relevant) and well-designed MRP has been able to predict individual constituency results far more accurately than uniform national swing. Crucially, it still works when swings are not uniform, and votes change between several parties, not just the big two.

That poll shows Labour a bit on the high side, and the Lib Dems a bit on the low side, but it is roughly in the region of recent polling. FocalData’s MRP calculations, which do not model Northern Ireland, yield 312 Tories, 242 Labour 21 Lib Dems, 52 SNP plus 5 others. I applied some swing modelling to these numbers, and if the Labour vote falls a few pecrentage points lower, and the Lib Dem vote rises, this could lead to the Conservatives winning a small majority; but equally small changes in the other direction could make Labour the largest party and able to form a majority for a second referendum with the support of the SNP and Lib Dems.

More ominous still, the poll asked Tory voters whether they would vote tactically to prevent a No Deal Brexit and a quarter said they were “likely” or “highly likely” to do so. I think this would be balanced by Labour voters who would vote tactically to ensure Brexit was done. Though I don’t think this question was asked, as there are fewer Labour Leavers than Tory Remainers a reasonable equivalent estimate would I think be 15 per cent.

I applied this adjustment to the individual constituency results, in two different ways. The first scenario adds takes a fraction of the Tory vote away and assigns it to the highest of Labour, Lib Dems, the Greens or one of the nationalist parties; it also takes a fraction of the Labour vote and assigns it to the highest of the Tory or Brexit Party column. The second scenario makes the assumption that Tories opposed to no deal are also opposed to Jeremy Corbyn, so it assigns the tactical vote to the pro-Remain party, other than Labour, who with the best chance of winning. Labour votes are assigned as in scenario 1.

Some caveats are in order: not everyone who says they’ll vote tactically actually will. Some will pick the wrong party and waste their vote; these estimates don’t take Labour-Lib Dem switching into account, and on the other side of the equation, they make the assumption that Brexit party voters who were thinking of switching to the Conservatives have already done so.

Nonetheless, the results are sobering. If anti-No Deal tactical voting included the possibility of voting Labour, the results would be a solid Labour majority of 50.

  • CON 135
  • LAB 374
  • LD 63
  • SNP 55
  • GREEN 1
  • PLAID 4

The possibility of this occurring could indeed deter anti-No Deal Tories from lending their votes to Labour. If Labour don’t benefit from anti-No Deal tactical voting the outcome is predicted as:

  • CON 224
  • LAB 277
  • LD 71
  • SNP 55
  • PLAID 4
  • GREEN 1

These are properly considered “edge” scenarios. Actual voter behaviour is likely to be somewhere in the middle (there will be some seats where Tories might feel comfortable voting for an increasingly rare Blairite, for example). Nonetheless, it makes an election a rather dicier prospect that some of its cheerleaders hope.

The fever dream I mentioned was the idea that the Conservative Party can somehow extend its reach into the northern working class (or, given the demographic profile of such voters, chiefly northern pensioners retired from industry) while still holding on to its urban professional vote in the cities and suburbs. A slightly more realistic version proposes cancelling the losses from cities and suburbs with greater inroads in to towns by adding a working class vote to the existing middle class Tory vote there. This has been partially successful in the south, the midlands (the only area where the Conservatives picked up seats in 2017) and probably in Wales, but has repeatedly failed in northern England, where people are willing to vote Leave, and even for the Brexit Party, but for whom a Conservative vote is a step too far.

I met quite a few of these voters on the outskirts of York in the 2017 campaign. They quite liked Theresa May herself, they said. She seemed solid and serious, but they didn’t trust the Tory party which, they felt, would always find a way, however devious, to screw people like them. The current front bench is not short of people who could convey that impression. Stirring up anger at the establishment and fear of Corbyn worked in the referendum, where Labour essentially gave up campaigning, but failed in the general election when Labour were able to keep onto their core vote. It would be quite a gamble, albeit in keeping with World War I inspired strategy, to repeat the 2017 plan two years later.

As I write, the Scottish courts have ruled Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament unlawful, prompting No 10 to issue an attack on “Scottish” judges, questioning their independence. This latest Fochian outburst is highly unwise and should not have come from a government of a party that still calls itself the Conservative and Unionist Party. The Acts of Union of 1706 and 1707 preserve the independence of Scottish and English legal systems and as a result jurisprudence has developed separately in the two nations of this kingdom. The Supreme Court, which hears the appeal next week has three options. It can declare prorogation lawful in both, allowing the SNP to say “English” judges overruled their traditions. It could declare it unlawful in both, which would, insofar as it upheld the Scottish verdict, require the Supreme Court to rule in effect that the Prime Minister had misled the Queen; or, it could produce the even more uncomfortable verdict that prorogation might have been lawful in England and Wales but unlawful in Scotland (in this situation the judgement that the Prime Minister misled the queen would still apply; but the English courts would have ruled that misleading her as to the reasons for prorogation was not, somehow, material to the case).

Also yesterday, a poll of Northern Ireland was released by Lord Ashcroft showing majority support there for the backstop, and an essentially evenly split vote on reunification with the Republic (51–49 in favour). The even split is maintained thanks to a majority of older voters continuing to support the Union. The youngest age group of voters breaks 60–40 in favour of a United Ireland.

The Johnson government’s strategy of heightening the contradictions has so far been an unqualified failure. Prorogation united the opposition to require him to seek an extension if he stays in office. The attempts to call an election failed. The removal of the whip from 21 Tory MPs reinforced their determination to defy number 10. Polling for the election itself increasingly suggests it would produce another hung parliament and quite possibly one led by a pro-second referendum administration. Continuing with this aggression is not only putting the Conservative Party’s continued existence at risk, and increasing the chances of Jeremy Corbyn establishing himself in No 10, it is threatening the integrity of the UK as a whole.

The Prime Minister needs to accept this failure and change tack. Leaving without a deal is no longer possible. Parliament will both prevent that, by requiring an extension, and, prevent an election that could (but probably wouldn’t) deliver a parliament that would accept it. Substantive modifications to the deal are also out of the question (the only one bruited is replacing the UK-wide backstop with an NI-only one, which is actually a retraction of a concession the UK made to the EU). The deal itself allows for a wide variety of Brexits, from Canadian-style free trade to a Norway style membership of the single market. If it is agreed, the UK will stay in the single market and customs union for at least a further year and a half, possibly up to three and a half years, limiting the economic shock of disruption. It would allow the Prime Minister to pivot to the One Nation Conservatism needed to win centrist voters back from the Lib Dems, and of course, it would allow him to tell Brexit Party supporters that we had left the EU.

The Spartans who consider this capitulation should think very carefully. Theresa May said there were three options: this deal, no deal, or no Brexit. The effect of prorogation has been to take away the option of no deal by constitutional means. The choice left is now this deal, no Brexit, or no United Kingdom.

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Yikes: New poll puts Harris at 5%, at risk of being passed by Tulsi Gabbard

Westlake Legal Group kh Yikes: New poll puts Harris at 5%, at risk of being passed by Tulsi Gabbard YouGov yang tulsi gabbard The Blog survey poll kamala harris economist democratic 2020

Via the Free Beacon, a post with a headline like this one requires us to relive this golden moment of hubris following the second debate, after Gabbard had just roasted Harris onstage for her record as California AG.

Why would a top-tier candidate like Kamala Harris care what a pipsqueak like Tulsi Gabbard thinks?

A month later, here we are:

Granted, granted, that’s a bad poll for Harris and a good one for Gabbard. The latter is averaging 1.6 percent at RCP and seldom edges north of two percent. Harris, meanwhile, touched 10 percent as recently as last week in a poll from Emerson. But don’t let that result blind you to just how far she’s fallen. She’s now averaging a mere 6.6 percent in all polling and has sunk to five percent (or worse!) multiple times in the past month before today. She’s easily the biggest disappointment in the Democratic race to date.

And while it’s unlikely Gabbard will pass her soon given that Harris made the cut for the next debate and Gabbard didn’t, it seems possible that Andrew Yang will. He’ll be onstage with Harris at the debate; he’s polled at three percent repeatedly over the past month, on par with Cory Booker; and his Big Idea, universal basic income, has attracted grassroots interest. He’ll stand out more at the debate this time too because the number of people onstage will be smaller and will consist mostly of serious candidates. If he has a good night, what reason is there to think he won’t bounce out to six percent or so, past Harris?

And so the mystery of her dismal performance deepens. She’s young, smart, a woman, a minority, enjoys the prestige of a Senate seat and can claim to represent America’s most populous state. She should be appealing to Democratic voters. Why isn’t she? A consensus is forming among the commentariat that she’s a bit too slippery on policy to capture anyone’s imagination, which I think is basically right.

“Too flippy-floppy. I just don’t like her,” said Debby Fisher of Richmond, California — near Harris’s hometown of Oakland — who plans to support Sanders.

Suzanne Cowan of San Francisco said she soured on Harris after her change on health care.

“That’s not my kind of candidate. Either you know what issues you support and you have the courage to stand up for them or you don’t,” she said. “For me she’s ‘I’ll be in favor of whatever is trending’ — and that doesn’t cut it.”
‘Her Brilliance, Her Passion’

Patrick Kollar of Roy, Washington, who recently attended a Warren rally in Seattle, said he’s unsure how to define Harris ideologically.

“That’s a problem,” he said. “I follow politics pretty closely and I don’t know what she’s about.”

There are two models (and potentially a third) for a Democratic nominee in 2020. One is the Vision candidate, the person who recognizes that America needs major changes in all sorts of ways and is intent on delivering it. That’s Bernie and Warren. The other is the Electable candidate, the person who can achieve job one as far as most Democratic voters are concerned, which is ousting Trump. That’s Biden, of course. The third potential model is the Charisma candidate, the person who gets everyone irrationally excited because they’re just *that* good on the stump. Obama 2008 is the classic example; a surprise entry by Oprah into the race would also fill the niche. No one’s really filling it now — the closest thing is Warren, who’s drawing enthusiastic crowds, but even she’s not at the level of hype that Betomania! achieved in Texas last year before O’Rourke took his show on the road.

Harris’s problem is that she doesn’t fit any of the three models. Lord knows she’s not a Vision candidate. To the contrary, her approach to health care seems driven by how best to triangulate between the left and the center to maximize vote totals. She’s not a Charisma candidate either. She’s polished and effective in making her points, as Biden found out at the first debate, but there’ll be no messianic Harris buzz like there was for Obama and Trump. That leaves the Electability model, and she does have some potential there — as a black woman she’s a logical possibility to reassemble the Obama coalition from 2008 and sweep to victory. But Democrats have been haunted for months by the suspicion that only an older white guy can blunt Trump’s edge with the white working class and pull enough Rust Belt votes away from him to win. There’s a case to be made that, however unfair the reasons, Harris might be less electable than Bernie or Warren, say. As Dem voters mull all of that, go figure that they might gravitate to alternatives.

The post Yikes: New poll puts Harris at 5%, at risk of being passed by Tulsi Gabbard appeared first on Hot Air.

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Patrick Spencer: What the new Government should do to ensure migrants are better skilled – and supported

Patrick Spencer is Head of Work and Welfare at the Centre for Social Justice.

The debate around immigration has become fraught to the point of complete intransigence in recent years. Events as close to home as the Grenfell Tower tragedy and as far afield as the Syrian civil war have brought the subject to the fore again. Inflammatory rhetoric here as well as in other countries hasn’t helped. As we leave the European Union, cooler heads must prevail.

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) is today releasing a report that brings a level-headedness to the debate that is sorely needed. Importantly, it places the interests of immigrants squarely at the centre of its proposals. Immigration policy should not just be about who is allowed to come and work in Britain, but also how we support those people who do, so that they can avoid the trappings of low pay, unsafe working conditions, crime, social marginalisation and poverty.

The reality is that uncontrolled immigration growth over the last 15 to 20 years has worked – to a point. Our services, manufacturing and agricultural industries have benefited from skilled and inexpensive labour from EU new member States.

However, the economic costs of low-skilled immigration have been both wage stagnation at the bottom end of the income spectrum – analysis at the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration found that “an inflow of immigrants of the size of 1 per cent of the native population would lead to a 0∙6 per cent decrease at the 5th wage percentile and a 0∙5 per cent decrease at the 10th wage percentile” – and low levels of productivity boosting capital investment. High-skilled immigration has had the opposite effect though, increasing wages, productivity, innovation and capital investment.

In the long term, it is also likely that the British economy will demand less low-skilled labour. Automation, technology and changing firm dynamics are likely to mean a greater focus on hiring higher-skilled workers, and more fluid jobs in which individuals are expected to take on multiple roles and work across multiple teams. The CSJ argues therefore that is irresponsible to continue to operate an immigration system that is deaf to the demands of our changing economy, and risks leaving migrant labourers unemployed and at risk of falling in to poverty.

It is for this reason that the CSJ’s first policy recommendation for this Conservative Government post-Brexit is folding all EU immigration in to the existing Tier 2 skilled immigration system, and tightening up the eligibility for Tier 2 applicants so that they are genuinely skilled and can command a wage well above the UK median. Key to this recommendation is carving out occupations that are deemed of strategic interest to the UK economy, for instance nurses and doctors who come to work in our NHS, but do not earn above average salaries.

The Government’s responsibility to immigrants should not stop there. For those that do come to Britain legally, whether under refugee status or another route, we must make sure support is there to reduce the risk that they and their children become socially marginalised, end up in low-paid work or unemployed, and get stuck in the criminal justice system. It is naïve to think the immigration policy debate ends on day two.

In that vein, the CSJ also recommend more integrated support for refugees when they come to Britain, including better financial support, longer term housing options and help with English speaking skills. The report also calls for a beefing up of the Director of Labour Market Enforcement financial powers and reach. There are potentially thousands of foreign individuals kept in forced servitude in Britain today, and many more working in unsafe conditions for illegally low pay.

Finally, it is high time the Government addresses the huge disparities in economic outcomes among minority and indigenous ethnic groups. Generations of immigrants from some groups still perform poorly in the education system, labour market and criminal justice system.  The Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that poverty rates among Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Groups are twice as high as for White British groups. Dame Louise Casey discovered that individuals of South East Asian and Caribbean descent were three times and twice as likely to live in deprived parts of the UK, when compared to White British groups. Just one third of Bangladeshi women living in Britain are in employment compared to three quarters of White British women. One in five Black African and Black Caribbean men and almost one in four Mixed Race men are economically inactive. Unless the Government addresses the problem with real gusto, it will persist.

This report calls for calmer and more long-term thinking on immigration policy that prioritises high-skilled immigration and increases support for parts of the country that have struggled due to uncontrolled low-skilled immigration. Public opinion reflects this – polling by Hanbury Strategy earlier this year found that 51 per cent of the UK public recognise that not all parts of the UK have benefited from immigration, while YouGov polling in 2018 found that ‘treating EU citizens who want to come and live in the UK the same as people from elsewhere in the world’ was supported by 65 per cent of respondents and scrapping the limit of high skilled immigrants was supported by 46 per cent of respondents.

This is a great opportunity for the new Government to fix this long-standing issue of contention in British politics for the long term.

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The Boris bounce: where are the votes coming from, and where might more be available?

As you’d expect on the Sunday after a new Prime Minister takes office, there are a raft of new polls out in today’s newspapers, each trying to judge what impact Boris Johnson’s arrival in Downing Street is having on the electorate.

The four polls vary in various details beyond being from different pollsters – some include different lists of parties (Greens or no Greens), some are based on more recent fieldwork than others and might therefore pick up the effects of more news about the new Government, and they each test rising or falling vote shares by comparing back to differently dated previous polls, ranging from earlier this week to all the way back to the start of June. Here are all the details:

ComRes

Conservative: 28 per cent (+3)

Labour: 27 per cent (-1)

Liberal Democrat: 19 per cent (+2)

Brexit Party: 16 per cent (-3)

Green: 4 per cent (-1)

Poll undertaken Wednesday 24th – Thursday 25th July. Changes compared to 16th July.

YouGov

Conservative: 31 per cent (+6)

Labour: 21 per cent (+2)

Liberal Democrat: 20 per cent (-3)

Brexit Party: 13 per cent (-4)

Poll undertaken Thursday 25th July – Friday 26th July. Changes compared to 24th July.

DeltaPoll

Conservative: 30 per cent (+10)

Labour: 25 per cent (-1)

Liberal Democrat: 18 per cent (+2)

Brexit Party: 14 per cent (-10)

Poll undertaken Thursday 25th July – Saturday 27th July. Changes compared to 1st June.

Opinium

Conservative: 30 per cent (+7)

Labour: 28 per cent (+3)

Liberal Democrat: 16 per cent (+1)

Brexit Party: 15 per cent (-7)

Green: 5 per cent (-3)

Poll undertaken Wednesday 24th – Friday 26th July. Changes compared to 5th July.

There are few things to note.

First, the Conservative vote is up in each poll. Which you believe, +3, +6, +7 or +10, is up to you, but the presence of a shift in the same direction in the findings of each company is hard to ignore.

Second, the Brexit Party appears to be being squeezed, with changes in their vote share of -3, -4, -10 and -7. Watch how closely those match the Tory rise in each respective pollster’s results.

Third, the Liberal Democrat vote is essentially unchanged across the board: +2, -3, +2, +1. They gained a new leader this week, just as the Conservatives did, but Jo Swinson appears not to have changed their standing much at all as yet.

Fourth, Labour is essentially unchanged, too: -1, +2, -1, +3.

So what we’re currently seeing is not a single, two-sided race, as is traditional; nor a simple free-for-all melee in a country which has become a four-way marginal.

Rather, there are two electoral contests underway. The Conservatives under Boris Johnson are squeezing the Brexit Party, to try to reunite the old Vote Leave majority for getting out of the EU. At the same time, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are battling over territory which is varyingly lefty and Remainy.

In the former contest, Johnson’s early days show some promise, but in the latter it appears Labour are unable to win back the votes they lost to the Lib Dems, while Swinson is in search of a moment to cut through to further eat into, and maybe even overtake, the Labour vote.

Each race has one new participant within it, which makes both unpredictable and subject to potentially swift change as voters get to know the new leaders. While the Conservatives have made early progress, any actual seizure of voters from the Brexit Party at the ballot box is for obvious reasons dependent on actual results in delivering Brexit. By contrast, Swinson inevitably had difficulty cutting through in the media in a week dominated by Boris Johnson, but as the only female leader among the four top parties, and the youngest leader too, she has a clear chance to differentiate herself if she gets and seizes the opportunity. She must be hoping hard for a TV debate along the lines of the one that created Cleggmania in 2010.

The final thing to consider is that while these early stages of Johnson’s leadership involve a battle for votes with the Brexit Party, there’s nothing confining the Prime Minister to that conflict forever. If – and it’s not a small if – he can really squish down Nigel Farage’s vote, or somehow form a pact with him, then he can turn, secure in his Brexit flank, to focus more fully on Labour. The nightmare scenario for the Opposition is one in which they lose Remainer and moderate left ground to the resurgent Liberal Democrats and Leaver plus working class ground to the Conservatives.

In a four-way contest, currently divided into two skirmishes, the race is on to find who will be trapped fighting two opponents at the same time.

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ConHome and the contest. Our eve-of-ballot survey had Johnson’s total to within a point.

“If the bulk of Party members voted early, it follows that our first survey, the responses to which came in just before most ballot papers arrived, is likely to prove most accurate” – ToryDiary, July 21.

So Boris Johnson has won 66 per cent of the vote to Jeremy Hunt’s 34 per cent.  That’s a thumping two-to-one margin – but just a fraction less than the former Foreign Secretary’s team will surely have hoped for.  David Cameron defeated David Davis in 2006 by 68 per cent to 32 per cent, and Camp Johnson will have wanted to be there or thereabouts, not least to give them maximum reshuffle majority.

At any rate, how did the ConHome survey’s Next Tory Leader question and answer work out?  The best way of finding an answer is to look at its three most recent outings,

Our first, compiled early this month as ballot papers were going out (a few had already been received) found Johnson 67 per cent, Hunt 29 per cent, “Other” four per cent.

Our second, a week later, had Johnson on 72 per cent and Hunt on 28 per cent.

Our third and final survey, conducted last weekend, found Johnson on 73 per cent and Hunt on 27 per cent.

We know of only one other poll or survey of Party members. A YouGov poll for the Times carried out at about the same time as our second survey above had Johnson on 74 per cent and Hunt on 26 per cent.

Our three surveys are thus all in the odd position of being closer to the final result than YouGov’s poll, although the difference between its finding and our last two surveys is very marginal indeed.

We don’t know what proportion of the electorate voted early, but readers will see that our first survey had Johnson’s share of the vote almost spot on.  In retrospect, we wish that we had stripped the “other” category out at that stage to force the choice for respondents.

Last weekend, we also noted that “people don’t always recall accurately how they’ve voted – that’s a general feature of political polls and surveys”, thereby suggesting that in our two later surveys there may have been a bit of a Johnson bandwagon event.

Or perhaps there was a late movement to Hunt; or maybe there was a smattering of “shy Hunt” voters.  Or, most likely, both our surveys and YouGov’s polling are slightly “to the right” of where Party members are by a few points.  But overall the result suggest that the survey is in a good place.

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