Wednesday, 7 June 2017

A Labour landslide in Walsall?

Ah, pollsters and BBC panels again!....

There was a classic Newsnight voter's panel last night. It came from a Labour marginal in Walsall (presumably Walsall North - the most marginal of the three Walsall constituencies - update: Yes, it was Walsall North. Evan said so earlier), and Evan Davis admitted from the start that it had an inbuilt Labour bias:
And to get a taste of how all this has played with voters in this marginal seat, we convened a panel of Walsall voters. A small focus group of people who have been Labour or Tory, or undecided between Labour and Tory. Ipsos Mori selected the panel for us, and, as this is a Labour seat, there is a tilt towards Labour in the numbers, but Tories and undecideds are there, too. 
Tories there? Really? When asked for their voting intention at the end the panel split fairly evenly between Labour and undecideds, with no one declaring they were going to vote Tory, and all the (former) Tories either turning undecided or gravitating towards Labour. 

So, if this panel is representative then Labour veteran David Winnick should have absolutely no fears on election day. His 1,937 majority in 2015 looks set to be massively increased as the Tory vote collapses. 

As Evan said at the end,
The people of Walsall there and their views. And you see Jeremy Corbyn getting a relatively warm reception in that group. Is that the prevalent view in places like this, or was the panel untypical? You never really know until the day, do you?
Indeed you don't. This was a panel which answered 'Jeremy Corbyn' to the question, 'Which one looks more confident, Jeremy Corbyn or Theresa May?' and answered the same way to identical questions about 'Which one looks more prime ministerial?', 'Which one looks more compassionate?' and 'Which one looks more competent'? Only on 'Which one looks more serious?' did Theresa May get a few shouts.

It will be interesting to see how the Walsall constituencies declare on Friday morning. Ipsos Mori is another polling organisation whose reputation will be under heavy scrutiny this week.


  1. The mechanisms of selection used by the BBC for QT, Newsbeat, Newsnight and other such panels must be wonderful to behold.

    However, thanks to the BBC's ongoing commitment to trust and transparency, they stay a closely guarded secret, behind that door at which all staff leave their politics.


  2. It was like Davis and Newsnight couldn't give a sh*t about balance last night. That absurdly non-representative panel (thanks IPSOS Mori - you must be really good at your job!) and then that "Corbyn - The Movie" segment by leftist New Statesman correspondent Stephen Bush that seemed to go on for about half an hour.

    Of course this will be "balanced" no doubt by something similar about May...but who will present that? Hmmm...I bet they've been on the phone to Ken Clarke and George Osborne, or anyone else they know will damn with faint praise and undermine her with "helpful" criticism.

    1. You weren't far wrong with that guess! It's going to be Matthew Parris! - author of a very recent Times article headlined "May has my vote but only with gritted teeth".


    3. I should have included him in the list of possibles! Kicking myself!! lol.

      "Why I'm voting for May..." because if I don't say I am in articles like this, even if I'm not really, I won't get invited onto countless TV shows as the supposedly balancing voice of a "Conservative", and that will damage my brand. Because, let's face it, it's all about me, me, me.

    4. Parris is awful. He'll probably still get invited to appear on air as a 'Conservative' voice because he was a Tory MP once upon a time. He also holds all the approved thoughts, which is a plus. "Even a former Tory MP sees that Brexit voters are racist...."

    5. 'We'll always have Parris' echoes down many a W1A corridor. Apparently.

      His appeal extends into other areas too.

    6. Oddly, Matthew Parris's latest Times piece is headlined "I’m not quite Tory enough, or so thinks the Beeb".

      Apparently, the Marr Show dumped him (before being cancelled) because they were worried that he "wouldn’t be as tribal as Polly [Toynbee, also booked before it got cancelled].

      I have to say that that reflects well on one of my favourites at the Beeb, Rob Burley. It doesn't reflect at all well on Ian Katz though.

  3. Evan Davis demonstrated to us exactly how biased the BBC has become. I forced myself to watch this - a series of leading questions with the answers already framed, a patronising tone of voice, a comforting certainty that Ipsos Mori had done their selection thoroughly (so that there would be no dissenting voices) etc.

    Evan was smug, possibly because this focus group of eight (insufficient in number for even the BBC to extrapolate into a voting trend) were all clearly positioned to give a boost to the Labour vote in this area and beyond (it was abundantly clear where his own loyalty lies - leave your politics at the door - he hadn't!), and to make us all believe that Jeremy Corbyn is this trustworthy grandfather-type into whose hands we should all put our hopes for the future.

    1. Yes - patronising, because after all these were 'thick' people he was talking to (you could tell by their clothes and the way they spoke that they weren't clever Londoners), so they might not be able to grasp the concept of an election. But, wait a moment, wouldn't these people have voted to Leave en masse because they are so 'thick' - so why no question about Brexit and who might be best-placed to deliver it?

  4. The 2015 result for Walsall North was:

    Douglas Hansen Luke (Conservative) - 12,455
    Mike Harrison (Green) - 529
    Liz Hazell (UKIP) - 8,122
    Nigel Jones (Liberal Democrat) - 840
    Pete Smith (Walsall Socialist and Trade Union) - 545
    David Winnick (Labour) - 14,392

    The UKIP voters, if their party support has evaporated, will, with 8,122 votes, hold the balance of power between Labour and Conservative. It might be a straight Labour Conservative choice, but which is the party that will benefit more from the floating UKIP vote? Where were these considerations in Evan Davis's carefully staged debate? Was his view 'blinkered' as well as biased?

    1. The existential reason for UKIP's existence is apparently no more, and the never managed to really grow into being anything other than a single-issue - and single personality - party. There is surely room for a properly conservative party these days, as Theresa May continues the lurch to the Left, but UKIP isn't it. And we always thought UKIP took more votes from Labour anyway, so many may return to the fold.

  5. The last couple have years have proven over and over again that all these 'experts' really have no idea what's going on or what's going to happen. So they create these little narratives for themselves, because it's all they've got. Nobody can stop them, either, so they keep doing it, no matter how many times they get it wrong.

    The BBC has form on these little panels of a handful of people. It's a charade. The large Leaders' QT audiences, on the other hand are rigged in a different way.

  6. I will have strong ale ready to go tomorrow night. It won't be as fun as watching the emotional breakdowns during the Brexit vote, but it should still be amusing enough watching Beeboids resign themselves to another five years of nasty Tory rule, and all those dreams of Corbyn crushed.

    Any predictions for the excuses they'll give?

    Angry racist Left Behind voting Tory to stop all immigration
    Rich white South East
    The good, decent folk staying home because they're told Corbyn can't win.
    Youth vote not engaged enough
    Right-wing press to blame for stoking fears of Corbyn's economic policies/immigration

    1. I will be going for red wine David (no surprise to me that!), and will open up a special Jane-Garvey-sponsored election night thread here tomorrow night, as I'll be staying up all night.

      Whether I have anything to say on that thread only time will tell, but if you fancy raising a glass or two together I will be around too. Everyone else is welcome too.

    2. The first thing I'll be interested in is whether or not the first words out of Dimbleby's mouth are calling a Tory majority, like they did in 2015. Then I'll watch to see if Nick Robinson kicked up enough of a fuss at being left out that they manage to squeeze him in somewhere, and what kind of dopey new graphics they came up with for Jeremy Vine's bit.

      I guess there won't be the display of tears and gloomy faces like on Brexit night, as they will be expecting a Tory majority of some sort anyway. But I wonder how many of them will mention Brexit as the key factor, racist Northerners abandoning generations of Labour tradition over it, etc.

    3. Can the BBC make it four out of four in showing bias towards the losing party? If so, it looks like the kiss of death for any future campaign to have the Beeb on your side.