The Invisible Tories 346

UPDATED Good Morning Britain trumpeted its latest poll today showing a net increase in the Tory lead since last week of four points, to 45% to 31% over Labour.

As you know, opinion pollsters do not just take the raw figures provided by respondents, they weight those respondents to provide a representative sample by age, gender, location, past voting history etc.

But when you drill down into the headline results from the weighted samples, they make no sense at all. For example Survation in this poll have the Conservatives sweeping up Labour in London by 46.8% to 41.2%. In 2017 the Conservatives got hammered in London by 33.1% to 54.5%. Survation are showing a swing from Labour to Conservative in London of 13.5%. That is absolutely massive, and nobody believes that is happening on the ground. The Tories could well lose several more seats in London.

Similarly in Scotland, Survation show the SNP vote down nearly nine per cent compared to 2017, at 33.2%. Again, nobody believes for a moment the SNP vote is really as low as that.

Of course I understand that the sub sample for each area from which these results are calculated is very small. But expecting that a number of sub-samples, which at the regional level are self-evidently nonsense, chance to balance out into an accurate national picture when you add them all up, is ludicrous. I am only looking at one poll here, and not particularly picking on Survation for any reason. But I hope this demonstrates that opinion polls should be viewed with extreme scepticism.

Original Post:

I live in a marginal constituency, where the excellent Joanna Cherry of the SNP has a lead of just over 1,000 over the Tories. If the most recent opinion polls are correct, the parties’ standings at this moment are similar to the result last time, the momentum is with the Tories and this should be a key Tory target. Yet I have not received one single Tory leaflet (and I live on one of the main residential streets) nor have I seen one single Tory campaigner, including when I have been out delivering leaflets for Joanna Cherry myself. Nor have I seen one single Tory poster in a house.

It is not just on TV that the Tories have been skipping interviews and debates, they seem to have eschewed any semblance of a ground campaign too, in what presumably is a key target seat for them. Boris Johnson is not popular with any of the local residents I have spoken to, and there is no enthusiasm at all for Brexit in this part of Edinburgh. In short, I am absolutely unable to square the opinion polls with the evidence of my own eyes and ears.

What is your experience?


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346 thoughts on “The Invisible Tories

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  • Ingwe

    Newsnight saying that Yougov/Times poll gives a Tory majority of 28.
    Never have I wished more for these bastard pollsters to be wrong!

    • Hatuey

      The Ashworth “leak” stinks to the high heavens and I’m surprised nobody has mentioned that. My guess is that someone has been eavesdropping or they have something on somebody. It reeks of the sort of dirty tricks that MI5 “bum boys” are famous for.

      The timing is the thing that gives it away. It was just too convenient. After Boris screwed up big time on health, we have the shadow health secretary recorded (by god knows who — a “mate”?) saying all this negative stuff about Corbyn… no effing way.

      Dark forces are at work right now. Very dark. And they’re really panicking.

      • SA

        To me it looks like Ashworth did this deliberately and it was no accident. He is a Trojan horse who kept his powder dry to go for the kill at a crucial moment. This is a well rehearsed inside job. My bet is that he will defect to Lib Dems or start a leadership bid after the elections.

        • Pyewacket

          SA…I heard on the BBC Radio news at one, that this conversation between Ashworth and his mate, supposedly occured over a week ago, suggesting once they hd the Ammo it was banked for perhaps a rainy day. Whoever, held it, sat on it until they thought the time was right. They also, at first said his mate was a Tory MP, this was later changed, to say he used to be, but now ran some kind of Political Research outfit. Anyway, the whole thing is another example of the dodgy dealing surrounding this election.

  • Pam Ryan

    The polls are completely at odds with what I’m hearing in NW England and Boris Johnson is the most despised Tory politician in quite some time. The recent polls putting the Tory lead at between 3% to 6% may be accurate, though I’t not entirely convinced that they’re still at 39% support after the week they’ve had. I think the idea that it’s plus 10% is unhinged. I hear Survation is under investigation for dodgy dealing and You Gov is owned by Tories. Meanwhile, the MSM have been trawling Labour Leave areas for weeks on end searching for those willing to say they intend to put Brexit before their usual party loyalties. They seek to build a narrative that has northern votes switching from Labour to the Tories or the flailing Brexit Party. They also seem to have a morbid fascination for fish capitals like Hull and Grimsby too, because Brexit plays unusually well there. But those constituencies are not typical.

    I worry about postal vote systems being overseen by Peter Lilley (a Tory Lord and devoted Thatcherite), but honestly, I’ll be shocked if the polls are accurate.

    • Hatuey

      “the MSM have been trawling Labour Leave areas for weeks on end searching for those willing to say they intend to put Brexit before their usual party loyalties”

      That’s the idea. It’s like when the tobacco industry wanted to sell cigarettes to women, they put pictures of women everywhere smoking “freedom cigarettes”. Smoking was re-defined as being synonymous with equality, freedom, and sophistication.

      “I voted Labour all my life, but now I’m a free thinking genius, and I don’t need to be trapped by the past and party loyalty, I’m doing it for me and for Britain, we need to get brexit done… be a free thinking genius like me and vote Boris.”

      The smartest bit of maneuvering so far was the suggestion that the BBC license might be scrapped. It has Cumming’s fingerprints all over it. In the context of this campaign, with pro-Tory BBC bias more flagrant than ever…. well, Surkov would be proud.

      “Who knows what tomorrow brings, In a world few hearts survive…”

      • Laguerre

        “The smartest bit of maneuvering so far was the suggestion that the BBC license might be scrapped. It has Cumming’s fingerprints all over it.”

        I suspect nobody believes any of the promises too much, as there have been so many. The BBC license one may have been Cumming’s idea, but it’s not had that big an effect.

  • Tanya Stone

    Dear Craig,

    When I read the comment on this post that said that votes in Britain are now counted by computer, by a private firm hired by the government, I realized that you are doomed, just like the U.S.

    In 2001, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (so aptly named!). This brought computer voting machines to every district in the U.S. In Georgia the following year, Max Cleland, triple amputee war hero of Vietnam and extremely popular senator, was polling 9 points ahead of his opponent who campaigned on one issue: Cleland isn’t patriotic enough!. His opponent beat Cleland by nine points, coming from behind on election day in an 18 points surge that defied all the voting demographics.

    All three voting machine companies are private, run by right-wing extremists, and their voting software cannot be examined because it is proprietary.

    But ever since the passage of that Act we have had the most extraordinary voting results. These are not actually surprising because these voting machines are capable of being hacked in three different ways, allowing programmers to flip the vote in elections. A demonstration:

    Obviously the polling results are setting up the British public to accept the Tory victory that has already been programmed into the machines.

    Best of luck.

    • Bayard

      Tanya, AFAIK, votes are still counted by hand in the UK. There have been various attempts to bring in Establishment control of voting, sorry, computer voting machines, but none have so far succeeded. The Establishment has to make do with ballot box stuffing via the postal vote.

      I’m surprised that the US public stand for having such an obviously insecure system for their ballots. It surely should be obvious to a ten year old with a limited grasp of computing that there is no way that the output of such machines can be proven to depend on the input.

      • Tanya Stone

        Bayard, thank you for that clarification. I am very glad to hear it! I wish we counted votes by hand here, publicly. In California’s Silicon Valley, the Santa Clara County, the Board of Supervisors proposed computer voting machines, and computer experts lined up at the meeting to speak until one in the morning, explaining why this was a really bad idea. The Board voted unanimously for the new machines. How do we stand for it? Well, what is the alternative? As Craig pointed out in his last — brilliant — post — the state controls us through violence, implicit or explicit. We go on with our lives and hope for the best.

  • Jives

    From Lanark and Hamilton East where a very close 2017 election saw the SNP triumph over Labour(2nd) and Torres (3rd).
    There were only 300 odd votes separating the three parties so it’s tight.
    I have received one leaflet from the SNP and Labour but nothing from the Tories.

    • Los

      Please share on Twitter – I’ve been suspended on there for comparing Johnson with Charlie Chaplin.

      • Pyewacket

        Los, I shared your very excellent joke on fb, but it appears to have sunk without trace. Not one like or smiley face, nothing. I shall tell it in the pub today.

    • Dom

      What such sites are up against unfortunately are things like the front of yesterday’s Evening Standard:, which stated
      ‘ Remainers,
      Back the Strongest Party of Remain,
      Vote Liberal Democrat. Stop Brexit ‘
      That front page would have been seen by millions yesterday and could quite likely swing numerous tight seats to the Tories.

      (Coincidentally the Standard is edited by a former Tory chancellor.)

    • Hatuey

      I don’t understand how tactical voting is supposed to work — on previous general election results, EU elections, or council?

  • SA

    Katya Adler is one of the few respectable reporters for the BBC. Her twitter feed has been quiet since she wrote about the fantasy that is Boris’s half baked oven ready deal. I wonder whether she has been told to keep quiet.

    • Cubby

      If she has gone off script she will go the same way as anyone else who does not follow the BBC propaganda. Marginalised and then resign or get sacked or retired.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    I think this election has been very low key in ‘traditional’ election tactics. I have seen no billboards anywhere and only one leaflet or two from each candidate through the letter box. This is a safe Conservative seat with the incumbent stepping down, so if there were a chance of some inroads, now would be the time.

    Unlikely however. Unemployment is very low here, the council is well run, frugal and delivers good core services. New housing is much in evidence and new modern office space right by the underground station is coming on tap. I am sure you would rip all that up as it was delivered by Conservative councillors. It merely demonstrates your tribal nature. Many, many folk are not so immature. Boris Johnsons constituency is also in the borough and he may well struggle to retain his seat. So voters here show they will vote for individuals and what they do above cheap party rosettes.

    I must say I find your deliberate painting of Brexit supporters as thick uneducated racists most distasteful.

    It is on a par with calling Scots lazy-, alcoholic-, fish supper-stuffing xenophobes who still think Fenians vs Orangemen is political discourse.

    I have to say that your education did not serve you well if you sincerely believe that the EU represents democracy, the aspirations of the majority and puts the rights of Europeans ahead of those of American neocons.

    The EU rules by diktat, refuses to tolerate democratic votes rejecting that diktat and has a spineless rubberstamping Parliament only considering legislation lobbied for by TNCs.

    If it had any gumption it would call for a twenty five year ban on all US sporting teams due to repeated genocide by US governments since 2001. Forget the depleted uranium all over Serbia. But no: a million plus dead and intergenerational teratogenesis is fine and dandy, but manipulating lab data means outrage, outrage.

    I am going to call for the violent murder of any US athlete with the crass ignorance to protest on podiums in Tokyo when their repulsive Stars and Stripes flag is allowed to taint world sport in the name of trillion dollar ransacking of foreign lands, not to mention global narcotics trafficking….

    The world must stop listening to the repulsive USA and act en bloc to rid itself of the most violent nation on earth….

    But that might require some politicians with gumption building pan-European solidarity.

    Any chance of your tartan-wearing heroes delivering that?

    • Laguerre

      What more democracy do you want in the EU? It’s already got a democratic structure as much as anyone can expect, and far, far, more democratic than UK. You’re just doing the classic operation of depicting your hated enemy (hated for visceral, not rational, reasons) as a monstrous dictator. People have used the same depiction for more than two and a half millennia (at least that’s all we know, as long as writings have been written).

      • MJ

        It would be reasonable to expect the president to be elected and the only democratically-elected element of the structure – the parliament – to have some real power.

        • Laguerre

          There is no president of the EU, and the president of the council is elected indirectly. Did you vote for Boris? No I don’t think you did, but you don’t object to that. You’re just objecting to pedantic details. More democracy than they have, is difficult to imagine, bearing in mind the requirement to maintain national power.

          • MJ

            They are fundamental issues, not pedantic details. If you have difficulty imagining a democratic EU then your imagination is seriously under-developed.

          • SA

            Is there a democratically elected head of state in U.K.? No.
            Is there a democratically elected second chamber?
            Once elected how does a government with a majority rule?
            Through the royal prerogative. Dictat.

          • Laguerre

            “They are fundamental issues, not pedantic details.”

            You are insisting on ideologically pure democracy for the EU, whereas I’ve never seen you loudly campaigning about the very much poorer state of democracy in Britain, which is a real scandal, as indeed Craig says in his newer piece. The EU gets on well enough with its present state, as it has to compromise central federation and the national rights of individual states.

        • Cubby

          You have to laugh at people banging on about no democracy in the EU. The UK went about the world invading, murdering and looting and keeping colonies with their divide and conquer approach. Some democracy. In Scotland we have a faux democracy installed by Westminster and maintained like they have done for centuries with all their colonies. Oh and what about the House of Lords. Very democratic a nice wee earner for all these people banging on about no democracy in other countries/institutions.

    • Kempe

      So your response to the most violent nation on earth is to call for the violent murder of it’s athletes?

    • Hatuey

      Rhys, if you were to average out the IQ in individual English constituencies, do you think it would be possible to establish a correlation between brexit support and IQ levels?

      I do.

  • Mary

    La Kuenssberg will not like it one bit that RT refer to her as a ‘reporter’. Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn stick to core messages in bid to sway wavering voters-punch/
    ‘A BBC reporter is feeling the heat on Twitter for deflecting from protests at a Leeds hospital by claiming, without evidence, that a Labour activist punched Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s adviser – which was fake news.’

    She is styled as ‘Political Editor of BBC News’, when she succeeded Robinson.

  • Marmite

    Who is paying all these feeble-minded journalists? This guy seems to have only the morality of a skunk. It just sounds like defamation of the worst kind to be endlessly beating the drum about something that is so outrageously untrue.

    But I am beginning to worry that the endless lies are acquiring a kind of truth-value in the minds of less guarded readers.

    What kind of society do we live in when working for peace is presented as sympathy with terrorism? This has been hammered into our ears wherever there has been oppportunity since 2015.

    It seems rather that you are befriending terrorists when you defend (in journalism or otherwise) the right of the Israeli state to murder, bomb and occupy. How did the world become so twisted?

    What I’ve seen of life tells me that those who would be quick to point the finger at others are usually the guilty party.

    An author like this, who seems himself to be a friend to terrorists, and is no doubt is willfully committing himself to dishonesty (or is it stupidity, I don’t know which), ought to have lost his job a long time ago. The fact that he still writes is an indication of how far to the right The Guardian has moved, and how little our press is doing to stem the tide of fascism.

    • fonso


      Certainly not stupidity on Behr’s part. It is artful deception and dishonesty.

      Guardian pundits like him were demonising the left for years before Corbyn became Labour leader. When Corbyn did become leader their initial demonisation of him never referenced any hatred of Jews. That came later, as a desperate last resort to try and thwart his challenge to neoliberal/neocon hegemony in British public life.

      Behr’s laundry list of things that “prove” Corbyn hates Jews is highly tenuous fare when set alongside Corbyn”s lifelong battle to uphold the rights and dignity of Jewish people.

      That unheralded battle, away from the spotlight, has been completely suppressed by the neoliberal wolves. It is detailed here in a short 1 minute video:

      • Ken Kenn

        No journalist defended Ed Milliband being challenged to eat a bacon ( pork) sandwich.

        Not even a top Rabbi.

        Of course his dad was a Commie.

        Moses never liked Commies.

        See The Ten Commandments for details.

        It all started because Corbyn supports the rights of the Palestinians.

        He still is a Two Statist but Netenyahu and Trump aren’t.

        Funny old world.

    • Hamish McGlumpha

      The clue is in the name – Rafael Bher. Do not expect a fair treatment of Corbyn. His ‘crime’, of course, is to point up the real crimes of those in the final phases of dispossession and ethnic cleansing of the native inhabitants of Palestine.

      Moreover, he opposes all war and all colonial adventures – thereby threatening the profits of the Neocon/Neolib alliance that needs conflict, and the threat of conflict, to maintain wealth extraction.

      This also threatens the financiers (irrespective of ethnic origin or religious confession – they’re not all Jews) who with the above are the principal beneficiaries of war and weapons. Moreover, the main ally of Israel in the region – the head-choppers of Saudi Arabia, currently a nice little earner for UK/US weapons peddlars, having a lucrative period in Yemen – are threatened by a Corbyn government – a massive threat to UK/US profits.

      “Anti-Semitism” has systematically and very deliberately been expanded to encompass event the slightest criticism of Israel, or defence of Palestinian rights and any criticism of amoral bankers and financiers (not all of whom are Jews).

      This is in reality an affront to the victims of genuine anti-semitism – and particularly the Shoa – whose memories and experiences are sullied by the faux-antisemitism now an instrument used to castigate those – like Corbyn – who have spent their whole political lives opposing the very real Nazi-ism and neo-fascism that is embodied in the very political forces now calling him out.

      Orwellian doesn’t come near as a description. If Corbyn is defeated tomorrow – and if Scotland fails to gain independence, then the march of the Far-Right in the guise of the English Tory Party, will become unstoppable – dark days ahead.

      • Marmite

        Indeed, and tomorrow will decide whether Britain can still lay claim to the appearance of democracy, or whether it needs to be broken up, starting first with Scottish Independence, which I would fully endorse. Not on petty nationalist grounds, obviously, but on the grounds that it cannot abide any longer being a part of Britain’s highly toxic political and media culture.

  • Los

    Re: Johnson hding in Fridge.

    In the film Monty Pythons Meaning of Life, in the “Universe Song”, Eric Idle emerges from a Fridge.

    Perhaps someone can adapt that, play it hackwards, adding Johnson’s face and then upload it to YouTube and Twitter ?

  • Dungroanin

    ‘It all comes down to not being able to have your cake and eat it. ‘

    Katya Adler tweeted precisely why Johnsons bullshit is bullshit.

    She has gone very quiet on her Twitter since doing so. FREE KATYA!

    Post her last messages on the Sun and Mail.

    Put her on the TV repeating it endlessly.

    Skullduggery at the BBC again.
    Maybe LauraKoftheCIA went too far bashing her sensless for tweeting truth and went too far – WHAT HAVE THEY DONE WITH KATYA?

    There is no GETTING BREXIT DONE.


    Trapped at the top of the skyscraper clutching his Fay Wray Hard Brexit doll all his hubris shot full of holes just screaming and gesticulating with his power thumbed fist at the voters.

    A long long FALL awaits.

    • SA

      Thank you very keeping your fingers on the pulse and for your posts which give some hope amongst the media fog. The BBC propaganda outfit has gone full force against Corbyn. When Johnson got caught about the boy in A&E Laura immediately went into diversionary tactics with the violence against the Hancock aide myth. The message was then obscured and further to that Ainsworth Trojan horse pronouncements was obviously orchestrated well beforehand. I hope all this comes to haunt them.

      • Dungroanin

        It is a Pleasure and reciprocate to you and many others on various boards- they banned me last year from the Groan for doing the Campbellian rapid rebuttal trick on their shite lies and 77th commentators.

        Which has actually meant that i now post on many other sites!

        We fight on the battlefield which we find ourselves nearest to and hope that others do the same to win against an organised army!

  • Mary

    Ref John Redwood

    Revealed: the pamphlet underpinning Tory plans to privatise the NHS
    June 3rd 2011
    In 1988 two radical Conservatives wrote a pamphlet for the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank called ‘Britain’s Biggest Enterprise: ideas for radical reform of the NHS’.

    It was written by John Redwood, who had just become an MP, and Oliver Letwin, then merely an activist but now the Minister of State at the Cabinet Office.


    He received a knighthood. It is suggested here that it was in return for his promotion of these neoliberal policies.

    • ZiggyM

      Rabb is channeling Ruthie D. Being badgered by a journalist about the shrinking margins, Rabb turned and said ” You should see the postal vote”

      The worst scenario is Johnson getting just enough, going to negotiate with little or no intention. Then before the June extension deadline manufacturing a strop, which will of course be the EU’s fault…then walking.

    • Dungroanin

      It is illegal she should be immediately suspended until a full police investigation is completed.

      More on next article comments.

    • Ken Kenn

      I’m just amazed that the postal votes are ‘counted’ before 10pm on the night.

      Fair enough that the serial numbers are checked against the polling record but can’t that be done envelope to envelope?

      From memory my postal vote is an envelope inside another envelope with a number on the second envelope.

      Why do you need to open them?

      All the ‘invigilators ‘ need to do id make sure the numbers tally with the polling numbers.

      If there are numbers missing that means there’s been no vote from that person as the number on the envelope doesn’t tally with the number on the polling list?

      Utterly puzzled by this but some say it’s been happening for years.

      Watch these ballots carefully.

      Particularly Johnson’s.

      • syntax_error

        The votes are currently sorted into batches of, as you say, envelopes within envelopes. The number of votes is known but not how the votes were cast. Neither LK nor anyone else knows how the votes went. She was just doing Tory PR and got excited. She’s going all in.

  • Tiggy Sagar

    I’m in a marginal and we got Tory leaflets. I think the plan is to give up Scotland as a lost cause, thus doing away with the SNP opposition in the future once Scotland goes independent.

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