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Category: Politics

Labour: the 35% solution?

By Steven Fielding

 Ed Miliband’s recent speech, in which he confirmed the lines along which his party will campaign during the six months up to the 2015 election, was seen by the media as part of a ‘fight-back’ to defend his leadership. This meant many ignored the real significance of the speech. To be fair to the nation’s journalists, this hasn’t been a good time for Miliband. Of late, critics in the Parliamentary Labour Party have certainly been free with their opinion that what they see as the party’s weak position in the polls would be transformed if Labour ditched its current leader.

Right tactic, wrong target: Tories can’t beat Reckless with carpet bagging claims

By Philip Cowley

You don’t want to vote for him. He grew up in London and went to Oxford, to study politics (of all things). He’s worked as a banker and as a political researcher. And he only moved here to become an MP, the swine.

This is the message being delivered to voters in Rochester and Strood on a leaflet being pushed through their doors ahead of the by-election taking place in the constituency on November 21. The leaflet is from the Conservative Party and it takes aim at Mark Reckless, the MP who defected to UKIP earlier this year.Reckless tactics?

It’s easy to mock the leaflet and plenty have. Reckless has held the seat for the Conservatives since 2010 and the party seemed to have been content to put him forward as their candidate again in 2015 had he not switched sides.

The significance of Rochester and Strood

By Matthew Goodwin 

Less than two days from now we will witness the latest and most likely the last parliamentary by-election before the 2015 general election.

The by-election in the Kent seat of Rochester and Strood follows the defection of Conservative MP Mark Reckless to Ukip –who is the second MP to defect to the Eurosceptic party. Reckless has followed his former colleague and friend Douglas Carswell, who at a by-election last month in Clacton won almost 60 per cent of the vote on a 44.1 per cent swing as a Ukip candidate. Together, they have brought experience and publicity to the insurgent Ukip and handed its leader Nigel Farage a useful response to the ‘wasted vote syndrome’ that tends to affect minor parties in the British system –once voters you conclude that you cannot win under first-past-the-post it is incredibly difficult to convince them otherwise.

An election that UKIP should have won?

By Matthew Goodwin 

The Labour Party has won the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) election. Ukip finished in second place. The victory was sealed when Labour won Rotherham by 800 votes, avoiding a second round of voting by 0.02%.

It will be a relief for Labour, especially given other news about the party’s support in Scotland and against the backdrop of the Heywood and Middleton parliamentary by-election, where Ukip pushed the party to within a few hundred votes of defeat. And it is a bad result for Ukip. The insurgent party has once again emerged as the second force in Labour territory and seen a sharp rise in its support. But there are four reasons why Ukip should have won this election.

Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box: A wonderful book of political well-I-nevers is launched today

By Philip Cowley and Rob Ford

Today sees the launch of a Specialist Group project that’s been over a year in the making. The plan, hatched by the Elections, Public Opinion and Parties specialist group, was to get elections and electoral behaviour researchers to each write a short, punchy essay on their area of expertise. The result is Sex, Lies, and the Ballot Box, which we have edited, which is launched tonight and published tomorrow.

It is not – absolutely, categorically not – an introductory textbook. There are plenty of such books on the market; indeed, several of our contributors have written such books. It isn’t a compendium or an atlas, but a series of thumbnail sketches, each introducing an aspect of elections and electoral behaviour.

What Ed Miliband could learn from Harold Wilson

By Steven Fielding

On the morning of 16 October 1964, Harold Wilson entered Downing Street as prime minister. He had just ended 13 years of Conservative rule – one that had been predicted to last a generation just four years previously. Wilson, many believed, achieved this victory by promising to unlock the talents of all Britons, whatever their class, by unleashing the “white heat of technological change”. The Labour leader claimed his government would achieve this economic and social revolution by using the state to foster market dynamism.