Archive for December, 2004


A Christmas present on David Blunkett

Saturday, December 25th, 2004

    Victor Chandler offer 5/1 on Blunkett returning in 2005

A great price of 5/1 is available on David Blunkett returning to the Cabinet during 2005. The 5/1 from VC compares with just 7/4 on the same punt from Bet365 and we do not think it will stay at that level.

It ‘s not often that two bookmakers offer such differing prices on the same market and, in our view, it is Chandlers which have got it marked wrongly. Get on now while it lasts.

If, as is likely, Tony Blair is returned at the General Election then big ministerial changes are expected and Blunkett could be re-introduced then. Certainly the chances must be better than 5/1.

In the past Blair has shown himself to be loyal to his political friends – just look at the “three times” returned Peter Mandelson.

    A great value bet and great Christmas present.

The Guardian is running its Political Blog of the Year. Any support from site users would be very welcome.

Mike Smithson


Happy Christmas from Politicalbetting

Friday, December 24th, 2004

Mike Smithson & Robert Smithson

Thanks to all our users and forum contributors for all you have done in the past nine months. The discussions are great and we’ve managed to create a community of activists and others interested in politics from almost the full gambit of UK parties where these matters can be discussed and debated in a calm non-confrontational manner. It all bodes well for the General Election campaign.

Good betting.


Who benefits from the Hunting Ban delay?

Friday, December 24th, 2004

    Can Blair play it both ways?

What’s going to be the electoral impact of the Government plan not to oppose the Countryside Alliance if it seeks an injunction delaying the ban on hunting?

Certainly the move is in line with the thinking of ministers when they tried to push the implementation to the other side of the General Election by seeking to insert a delaying clause. But seeking to do something in Parliament is completely different from what could be presented as “caving in” to the CA.

    Is Tony Blair in danger of upsetting both sides? He won’t gain anything from the pro-hunt lobby for going along with this move and he might now be sacrificing the goodwill of the animal welfare groups.

The injunction should also take away the threat of serious protests during the General Election run-in which probably would have re-bounded on the pro-hunt lobby and reinforced support for the Government. It would have enabled ministers to have presented the CA as extremists thus underlining the need to have a ban and would have been a good issue to attack the Tories over their commitment to law and order.

    There’s also the huge risk that an injunction by the courts against the implementation of any legislation does not look good for a government.

For the vast majority of voters hunting is not an issue that will determine whether and how they vote. But there are smallish, but nethertheless significant, groups who feel so passionately either side of the argument that it will be a vote-decider. This latest move reinforces the perception that Tony Blair is not happy with the new law thus, possibly, depriving him possibly of some of the benefit.

There’s also the down-side that for many of those who are strongly in favour of hunting the ban could be a vote-critical issue. The latest move is unlikely to make them less determined to turn-out and they are likely to go with the Tories rather than, say, UKIP.

Happy Christmas and thanks for all your support during the year. In the interests of my health (my family will kill me if I spend the entire holiday in front of the computer) there’ll only be a limited number of updates until the New Year.

The Guardian is running its Political Blog of the Year. Any support from site users would be very welcome.

Mike Smithson


How Labour switching to the LDs helps the Tories

Thursday, December 23rd, 2004

    Will Charles Kennedy put a smile on Michael Howard’s face

It’s said that Labour are going to campaign hard on the fact that if many of their supporters switch to the Lib Dems then the main beneficiary will be Michael Howard.

This is a tough one for Labour to get over particuarly as Charles Kennedy’s party will be seen to be pressing the Tories hard in such seats as Michael Howard’s Folkestone and all their rhetoric will be about them becoming the main party of opposition.

    But the mathematics are correct – the more Labour supporters who switch to the Lib Dems the more Tory MPs there will be.

In a post yesterday Sean Fear observed: “If you try out predictions on Martin Baxter’s site, and do a straight switch from Labour to Lib Dem, with Conservatives unchanged, you’ll find the Conservatives gain 3-4 seats from Labour for each one they lose to the Lib Dems. “ The Baxter calculation is a simple mathematical formula that shows how many seats the parties get if you apply different percentages to what happened in 2001. This is based on a uniform national swing.

Doing the Sean Fear number crunching we get the following:-

Conservatives remaining constant at their 2001 vote share level of 32.7%
LAB 38.3% share of votes – LDs 19% = CON 176: LAB 389: LD 52 seats
LAB 37.3% share of votes – LDs 20% = CON 183: LAB 381: LD 52 seats
LAB 36.3% share of votes – LDs 21% = CON 186: LAB 373: LD 57 seats
LAB 35.3% share of votes – LDs 22% = CON 191: LAB 367: LD 58 seats
LAB 34.3% share of votes – LDs 23% = CON 201: LAB 356: LD 58 seats

The last calculation throws up of 27 extra Tory gains from Labour in comparison with the first line off-set by two Lib Dem gains from the Tories. All the changes are from Labour including 2 to the SNP and one to PC.

There is a lot wrong with the idea of a uniform national swing and we do not think it will produce the whopping majority envisaged for barely a third of the vote. It does not take into account the outcome of special targeting, regional variations, seat-specific issues and Martin Baxter has not yet produced a formula that would account for tactical vote unwind – a feature that many commentators believe might happen.

But the broad trend is there. A standstill Tory party will benefit much more from LAB-LD switching than the Lib Dems themselves.

The spreadbetting markets, meanwhile are unchanged. IG have LAB 348-356: CON 190-198: LD 69-73

Mike Smithson


Can money buy you votes?

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2004

    How UKIP outspent Labour in the Euro Elections

UKIP’s stunning performance in the Euro Elections on June 10 was on the back of having the budget to outspend both Labour and the Liberal Democrats according to new figures out today from the Electoral Commission. These show the following amounts were spent by each party on the campaign.

Conservatives £3.13m
UKIP £2.36m
Labour £1.7m
Lib Dems £1.19m
Greens £404k

The campaign took UKIP into third place, ahead of the Lib Dems with an extra 10 MEPs.

Much of the UKIP funding came from Yorkshire millionaire Sir Paul Sykes, who helped bankroll the party’s campaign. Whether Sykes will do this for UKIP at the General Election is unclear. In a welcome boost for Michael Howard at the start of the the Tory conference in October Sykes said he would not support UKIP party if it put candidates against Tory Euro sceptics.

Because UKIP does not have the same on the ground organisation of the other parties it needs to be able to spend big money in the media to get its message across. Whether Sykes or other donors will be available could have an impact on the General Election outcome.

The UKIP Commons seat spread with Sporting Index is 1-1.5 seats while IG have the party at 0.6-1.4 seats. A sell with SportingIndex might be a good bet and provide coverage if Robert Kilroy-Silk is still with the party and does run for a Westminster seat. We cannot see any other UKIP MPs being elected.


..and to Charles and Sarah a child will be born..

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2004

    How will the party machines deal with the mid-campaign baby?

We wonder whether Tony Blair is working into his election date decision the fact that a 05/05/05 poll would mean that Charles and Sarah Kennedy’s first child would be born right in the middle of the campaign.

And with the Tories relatively static at their 2001 vote levels anything that is good for the Lib Dems is likely to be bad for Labour. The big dynamic at the coming election will be how many Labour votes switch to the Lib Dems and the effect this will have on seats won.

Charles Kennedy’s party is currently 5-6% ahead of where it was at this stage before the last election while Labour is 4-9 points behind depending on which poll you look at.

    Given the ability of the UK media to go completely gooey and suspend all critical faculties when it comes to the famous having babies could the timing of the arrival of the Kennedy first-born be an amazing campaign masterstroke?

There’s no doubt that this will affect coverage of the election for several days and will help the LDs portray their leader in a favourable light. With the party more likely than ever before to be facing the full wrath of both the Labour and Tory machines then the birth could help them side-line the attacks on the LD policy porfolio and help the party promote “Kennedy – the man”.

You can see the stories now – feature articles on whether he should he stick at Sarah’s side and take a lower profile in the campaign or should foresake his family and focus on the election. A large part of the media will be cheering him on with the former course which will attract even more coverage. It will be much harder for Labour and the Tories to land blows on Kennedy.

There’s also the difficulty with timing because this is something that is largely out of everyone’s control. Whatever the party campaigners had been planning on for a particular day in the campaign the arrival of the Kennedy child will knock it off the front pages.

Lib Dem General Election seats
61 + 1/3
53 – 60 5/2
45 – 52 15/2
37 – 44 14/1
0 – 36 25/1

Mike Smithson


Labour at best ICM position since the “Gilligan WMD Affair”

Tuesday, December 21st, 2004

    If you want to bet on Labour – hurry before prices move

Labour are back to 40% with ICM for the first time since the notorious Andrew Gilligan interview on the Today programme in May 2003 according to the December ICM survey in the Guardian today. The shares are:- CON 31%(+1), LAB 40%(+2), LD 21%(-1).

This will be disappointing news for both the Tories and the Liberal Democrats who had both, perhaps, been hoping for a boost from the David Blunkett affair which seems to have worked the other way.

Four years ago, in the December before the 2001 General Election, ICM recorded LAB 44%: CON 34%: LD 16%, so both the Tories and Labour are behind what they were then but the Lib Dems are ahead.

Today’s ICM poll is in contrast to the two YouGov polls at the weekend which both had the Tories on 32% and Labour on 35% – a difference, we think, that is explained by the differing methodologies. ICM uses the telephone while YouGov surveys are online amongst groups of people who have previously registered. Both pollsters claim to be the “most accurate”.

    ICM polls are usually the most price sensitive and we expect changes

Labour have moved forward on the spread-betting markets and the latest spreads from SportingIndex are LAB 347-355 seats: CON 198-206 seats: LD 71-75 seats. IG have LAB 348-356: CON 190-198: LD 69-73.

Last week we suggested that those who wanted to bet on Labour should do it immediatly. The prices have moved since then and look set to move even further so the case for action is even greater.

    The sentiment is running very much to Labour at the moment and prices will move accordingly.

My personal betting. We think that there is no value on the Tory or LD buy prices at the moment. Having taken my profit on the Lib Dems in October my strategy will be to sell Labour when I think the price is right. The polls so over-state the party that there will come a moment when there’s really good value in such a bet. I had been looking towards the 350 seat mark but now I’m holding off until it gets to 375-383 seats which I think is what it will reach.

Mike Smithson


Beware the polling commentators

Monday, December 20th, 2004
    How the Indy described a 6% drop as “standing still”

The December poll by Communicate Research for the Independent on Sunday
showed a huge change since November when the pollster was reporting that Labour was back to its 2001 General Election level of 42%. The figures
LAB 39 (-3): CON 34 (+3) LD 19 (-1)

But the most remarkable feature of the poll was how it has been covered by
John Rentoul
in the paper. His story appears under headline “Poll
shows Labour’s popularity is unaffected by resignation drama”.
In the
story Rentoul notes that “David Blunkett’s resignation had no effect on
Labour’s popularity, according to this month’s IoS poll. Labour still leads
the Conservatives by five percentage points.”

    It beggars belief that a political correspondent of a quality national paper can describe a drop 6% as “still”. In future don’t believe
    what Rentoul writes on polls until you’ve checked the figures yourself.

The survey is a major turnaround and shows that we were right to be sceptical about the November survey. Also today’s 34% Tory share is remarkable because CA are the only telephone pollster that does not weight its results by past vote recall – a process that with the other pollsters usually produces a huge correction in the favour of the Tories.

    Our guess is that with a past vote recall adjustment CA would have the two main parties neck and neck

We stick firmly with our belief that Labour and the Tories are much closer than the pollsters are reporting Indeed of those certain or almost certain to vote in the CA survey the Tories are ahead.