A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Don't believe everything you read on politicalbetting.com

Usually I am a great fan of the polling analysis on www.politicalbetting.com.

But the site is written by a Lib Dem and most of the commenters are Tory (with the notable exception of Nick Palmer MP) so sometimes they get their internal Labour tips really badly wrong.

There was an example yesterday, where based on complete hearsay the site said Home Secretary Jacqui Smith might be moved from marginal Redditch to a safe constituency in Wolverhampton.

This is of course nonsense, as anyone inside the Labour Party knows.

"Chicken runs" as practiced by large numbers of Tory MPs in the run-up to 1997 (examples being Peter Bottomley going from Eltham to Worthing, and David Amess from Basildon to Southend) are banned by Labour's rulebook and there's no way round that. They are banned for the very good reason that they send signals of defeatism and remove the party's incumbency advantage in marginal seats. You'd need to change the Party rulebook at Annual Conference (I think it has to be passed by two successive conferences) or run the risk of judicial review by other disappointed candidates to get past that rule.

The Wolverhampton seats PB.com talks about have as their candidates Rob Marris MP, whose seat is just as marginal as Redditch, Minister Pat McFadden MP, and former Geoff Hoon Special Adviser Emma Reynolds, who has only just been selected after a tough battle, and gave up her job to be candidate. I can't see any of them stepping aside for anyone, however senior, even if they were asked to.

Finally, does no one at PB.com apply logic?

If Labour loses Jacqui's Redditch seat, we have lost the General Election. We won't hold the post of Home Secretary or any other Secretary, so it would be pointless to have saved the Home Secretary by moving her to another seat.

Labour MPs like Jacqui Smith in the seats that make up our majority have known they are were in for a tough defensive battle ever since 2005 and are fighting a tenacious battle to hold their seats and keep Labour in government. The Tories shouldn't underestimate the ability of local campaigning and incumbency to give them a tough fight even in seats that should go blue on a uniform national swing; and unlike them in 1997 we are sticking by our guns and defending every inch of Labour territory, not cutting and running to the Labour equivalents of Worthing or Southend.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Political betting is rubbish. It also advertises betting. I like a bet but I would not encourage people to bet. Plus political betting encourages corruption in politics. It just adds more reasons for people to cheat the electors.
Also it is inhabited by the same trolls who use Fawkes website.
They ensure he has a right wing bias as he is too affraid to tell them to shut it, so he has to pander to them. Maybe right wingers spend more money on betting so he plays up to them for commercial reasons.

10:34 am, February 03, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spot on Luke; regardless on what the polls say, it's a matter of principle that we don't give up on a single inch of the country.

10:38 am, February 03, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto. Canute

10:53 am, February 03, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting post. Not that it matters as it won't happen but I'm not sure about your interpretation of the chicken run rule. How does it apply when a seat has had boundary changes (I seem to recall it's to do with the percentage that remains in the new constituency).

1:29 pm, February 03, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes Luke's interpretation is off. I think that the NEC could give dispensation like they did with Ken rejoining.

I agree that it isn't going to happen though.

3:56 pm, February 03, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you think that politicalbetting.com post was bad, you should see the one today, suggesting that by-election results are fixed!

4:00 pm, February 03, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The by-election thing is a particular Lib Dem obsession because they cannot understand how Labour (at least when it gets it act together) can kick seven bells out of them in Hodge Hill, Hartlepool and Glenrothes. That's why months or even years later they whine about them.

(Note to party bigwigs - parliamentary byelections are fights in the gutter, when you play like gentlemen (Dunfermline) or start attacking your own side (Crewe) the result is predictable. When you learn to smile as you kill (list above) then every other party should be scared of Labour, not the other way around)

7:30 pm, February 03, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very glad to hear it. Redditch ( an oddly appropriate name) will certainly be the highlight of the next election night for me.

10:10 pm, February 03, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watch out Luke!

The Greens are doing something affective. This extract was taken from their site.

Well done to everyone who put in hard work on this election. It's a little known fact but Greens almost always do worse in by-elections than the "real" thing which makes an increase in our vote a double achievement.

Labour 48.4% +3.3%
Greens 32.6% +3.2%
Lib Dems 11.2% -5.6%
Conservative 7.0% -1.7%
Comm 0.8% +0.8%

The Lib Dems must feel pretty stupid having told everyone it was a two horse race between Labour and them... we should include that in our next leaflet to the area I reckon to help inoculate the residents to their fantasies when it comes to the big election day next year.

1 in 3 votes to the Greens... sweet.

11:57 pm, February 03, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anybody here remember Jerry White? Coming up soon he'll be having a little chat with Patrick Wright and Iain Sinclair about your rose red empire. I'm betting that'll be a laugh.

5:31 am, February 04, 2009

Blogger J said...

"most of the commenters are Tory"

Most of the commenters are anti-Labour at the moment, but that includes a vast swathe of non-Tories.

During Brown Bounce II, many more Labour-leaning posters emerged. They seem to have retreated whence they came...

9:41 am, February 04, 2009

Blogger Mark Still News said...

Stoke Newington

The Greens done well!

They also have a Trade Union group now and Policies for public ownership and control of the Industries, services and finance.

Labour 48.4% +3.3%
Greens 32.6% +3.2%
Lib Dems 11.2% -5.6%
Conservative 7.0% -1.7%
Comm 0.8% +0.8%

If that result happened in all Boroughs the Greens would be the main opposition party, so any progressive Labour MP's might be able to get their co-operation when putting motions for working people.

10:28 am, February 04, 2009

Blogger Doubting Richard said...

"You'd need to change the Party rulebook at Annual Conference (I think it has to be passed by two successive conferences) or run the risk of judicial review by other disappointed candidates to get past that rule."

Except that you leave out a third possibility, the one Political Betting was suggesting. This means that while implicitly criticising Political Betting for alleged partisan writing (with no evidence presented of course) you make a completely dishonest, partisan post about their article. very true to the left, I see!

A candidate might not be disappointed, and is not obliged to take the matter to any sort of arbitration. Therefore if, as Political Betting suggests, a candidate were to step aside then Jacqui Smith could indeed change her seat.

6:05 pm, February 04, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Labour Party rulebook is very clear. A sitting MP can only seek reselection in their own constituency and cannot go forward as a candidate for another constituency. There are tightly defined rules in relation to boundary changes to establish which sitting MPs have a territorial interest.

Jacqui Smith could only get around these rules if the NEC decided to grant an exception. And that wouldn't happen, not least because the NEC is not controlled by the party leadership.

1:13 pm, February 09, 2009


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