Archive for August, 2005


Follow “Wat Tyler” for the best Tory form guide

Tuesday, August 16th, 2005

    Who is David Davis’s web cheer-leader attacking today?

Punters wanting to find out which contender members of the Davis Davis team consider to be the greatest current threat should go to the blog of the Shadow Home Secretary’s internet cheer-leader and the comments on this site by the man behind it and who uses the alias Wat Tyler – of Peasant’s Revolt fame.

For almost every day visitors to his site are treated to fierce, biting and usually amusing attacks on the contender, one assumes, who is seen as the biggest current threat – after all you don’t kick a dead dog. In addition “Wat Tyler” adds considerably to the colour of PB.C’s discussion forms with regular “revelations”.

  • Over the weekend Wat was – helpfully of course – giving us the web-link to a page setting out all Ken Clarke’s financial interests.
  • Then we had a little discussion about the cost of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group’s annual bash at which Wat reminded us involved Ken Clarke. Again Wat provided web-link showing how much was contributed by various beer interests.
  • Another comment about Davis’s “hair” led to Wat noting..“Much more interesting, I think, is the widespread and sometimes fairly ludicrous use of home hair dye. Always boot polish black, and always vehemently denied. Now…which of the leadership contenders does that I wonder?
  • David Cameron gets the treatment too with Wat reminding visitors to his blog of the Shadow Home Secretary’s comments on binge drinking and noting the drinks interests of a company that DC has been linked with
  • Judging by the recent focus on Ken Clarke then the current 11/1 might be worth a punt.

    Wat is watching the betting very closely and asked recently where I was getting information on the “last price traded” on the Betfair betting exchange. So for Wat and others all you need to do is to go into the Betfair trading screen and click the name of the contender you want information on. Up comes a pop-up with lots of data on the betting including the “last price matched” which we think is a good guide to market movements.

    And the real Wat Tyler? Well in 1381 he had, to say the least, a sticky end as this contemporary account records. Even David Davis’s worst enemies would not wish that on him – surely not?

    Mike Smithson


    Is this the White House line-up for 2008?

    Monday, August 15th, 2005

      Can Hilary become a less divisive figure?

    It’s nearly three weeks since we last looked at the 2008 White House race and since then there have been some polls which reinforce the view that the former Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani will be lined up against the New York Senator and former First Lady, Hilary Clinton.

    Usually at this stage in the cycle the suggested possibilities for their parties’ Presidential nominations are people with little name recognition whose first major challenge is to establish themselves as national figures. Not so next time round where the only person who currently looks able to upset the Giuliani – Clinton show is the Arizona Senator and former contender, John McCain.

      When we last discussed the race there was strong view on the site that Hilary Clinton was too divisive a figure to justify her favourite status in the betting. She’s currently just 4/1

    Since then there been a number of polls – all of them reinforcing Hilary’s position for the Democratic nomination and Giuliani or McCain for the Republicans.

  • Rudy Giuliani is rating 27% to McCain’s 24% in this month’s Gallup poll on the Republican nomination.
  • For the Democrats Hilary Clinton is outpointing John Kerry by 40% to 16% with John Edwards in third place at 15%.
  • Another Gallup poll had both Giuliani and McCain beating Hilary Clinton by 50% to 45% when those surveyed were presented with the options.
  • Although Hilary’s deficit is substantial it shows a big improvement over some June poll ratings putting her nearly 20% behind McCain. But polls can be deceiving as those punters who piled onto Howard Dean last time round for the Democratic nomination can testify. The former Governor of Vermont was a heavy odds-on favourite until the Iowa caucuses which brought Kerry into the frame.

    Mike Smithson


    Why is ICM witholding its polling data?

    Sunday, August 14th, 2005


      Politicalbetting to complain to British Polling Council

    Politicalbetting is making a formal complaint to the British Polling Council over the failure of ICM to make data available in line with its obligations under the Council’s “Statement of Disclosure”.

    The complaints relates to the Guardian’s July poll which was published nearly four weeks ago and for which the full data has yet to be published even though we requested it in writing and indeed initially raised the non-disclosure here on the site on August 2nd.

    Under the BPC’s rules a pollster is required to …. place the following information on its own web site within 2 working days of the data being published or provide the information to any interested party on request…
    * A full description of the sampling procedures adopted by the organisation;
    * Computer tables showing the exact questions asked in the order they were asked, all response codes and the weighted and unweighted bases for all demographics and other data that has been published;
    * A description of the weighting procedures employed including weighted and unweighted figures for all variables (demographic or otherwise) used to weight the data, whether or not such breakdowns appear in any analysis of sub samples

    For the July poll just five pages of a PDF file are available online and it is clear from the pagination that a lot has been left out. The five published pages start at at page 7 and end at page 15. What’s available does not include the required “weighted and unweighted figures for all variables”.

    We would have sent our complaint to the Secretary of the BPC – but he is Nick Sparrow, Managing Director of ICM and the person who has yet to reply to our written request dated July 25th 2005.

    According to a Guardian report when the BPC was established in November 2004 the President, the former boss of NOP John Barter, will refer complaints to a three person panel. It will be interesting to see how this process operates.

    Mike Smithson


    Book Value to be guest PB.C editor

    Saturday, August 13th, 2005


      Will Philip add to his 3,244?

    Book Value (Philip Grant) will be the site’s guest editor when I go on my holiday from next Friday for two and a bit weeks.

    Philip was one of the first ever people to write a comment on the site and I am sure that he will be shocked to hear that has made or been mentioned in the grand total of 3,244 separate contributions since then. He also took on the task of organising the Politicalbetting party in London in June.

    This will enable me to have my first total break from the site since Politicalbetting was created. Whether this is possible we will have to wait and see because as many have found this can be highly addictive. Although I will not be taking my lap-top to our holiday cottage near Biarritz I can still get access on my mobile phone.

    Many thanks to Philip for taking this on and I am sure that we all wish him well.

    Mike Smithson


    Assuming that it will be Davis taking on Brown…

    Friday, August 12th, 2005

    dd versus b?

      Is Labour set to lose its overall majority in 2009?

    Even though we are probably four years away from the next UK General Election betting has already started although few punters seem to have been tempted to lock up their money so far ahead.

  • On the Spreadfair betting exchange the latest spreads are LAB 311-316 seats: CON 239-244: LD 59.5-62 .
  • On the conventional markets the best Labour price on which party will win most seats is 2/5 while you can get 7/4 on the Tories.
    • So the current market view, and this is based on a very small amount of betting, is that Labour is set to lose its overall majority but still have a comfortable margin on seats.

    With both Labour and the Tories almost certain to be fighting the election under new leaders it’s a bold punter who is shelling out now. None of the prices available seems attractive. Unless the new Tory leader can produce a massive change in the political climate, and this is diffifcult to envisage, we find it hard to argue with the markets.

    Clearly a major element will be the economy and with the latest UK growth not being as large as expected this might have a big impact. But four years is a long time in politics.

    Mike Smithson


    Is it all going wrong for Angela Merkel?

    Thursday, August 11th, 2005

    After months in which her success in the German General Election was seen as almost a foregone conclusion things have started to go badly wrong for Angela Merkel. Heinrich Martz, who has become a PB.C regular, sent this tonight.

    All those who think the election is over had better take a second look. At the moment, the election is wide open. The CDU (42%) and FDP (6%) have a combined 48% of the vote. But the left-wing parties, the SPD (29%), the Greens (8%) and the New Left (11%) have the same percentage.

    If the CDU and FDP cannot gain a majority of the seats in parliament, a “grand coalition” will almost certainly be formed between the CDU and SPD. This is due in large part to the fact that major leaders in the SPD and Greens would not accept a coalition with the New Left, a party formed from the marriage of the Communist PDS of eastern Germany and the far left WASG of western Germany.

    At the moment, with the media fixated on Merkel’s armpit and largely oblivious to Schroeder’s long list of failings and shortcomings, the likelihood of a “grand coalition” seems quite high. And we don’t expect much to change on that front as the media will certainly continue to pound away at Merkel’s image…

    In spite of the set-backs the best betting price you can get on Merkel becoming the next Chancellor is just 1/16.

    Thanks to Henrich for keeping us up to date.

    Mike Smithson


    “Ken Clarke ready to ditch support for the Euro” – Guardian

    Thursday, August 11th, 2005

      Would such a U-turn be enough to beat David Davis?

    After our thread yesterday on Ken Clarke’s bid for the Tory leadership comes a report this morning that the former Tory Chancellor is prepared to ditch his long-standing support for the Euro in order to position himself better in the campaign for his party’s leadership.

    Many observers believe that Clarke’s support for the Euro and being ready in 1999 (above) to sit alongside Tony Blair on a platform on the issue cost him dear in the 2001 leadership campaign. Whether he would have beaten IDS in the ballot of the membership is not clear but he would, surely, have come a lot closer if he had been prepared to dilute his position.

    According to Michael White in the Guardian a Clarke campaign for the leadership “..reinforced by a series of autumn policy speeches which could include a retreat from his commitment to the euro, will probably be to displace the second placed candidacy of David Cameron.”.

    The White report goes on “…the one development that would cause him to withdraw would be if the Tory constitutional convention on September 27 – the day of Tony Blair’s Labour conference speech – decided against revising the leadership rules to give MPs, not party activists the final say.”

      There’s little doubt that this news, if confirmed, will have an impact on the betting markets and we expect to see the Clarke price harden. You can still get 14/1 with a conventional bookie but we do not expect that level to stay very long.

    The problem for Clarke is that this sort of policy u-turn could be portrayed in a bad light by the David Davis camp and we saw yesterday on the site how one of the people linked to Bloggers for David Davis was ready to rush in and put the boot into the former Chancellor. In fact some of the language used was possibly defamatory and for the first time in several months I had to moderate a comment.

    Mike Smithson


    Suddenly Ken Clarke is back in fashion again

    Wednesday, August 10th, 2005

      What’s behind the betting move towards the veteran campaigner?


    It’s some time since we featured our chart showing prices changes in the Tory leadership race because there’s been so little movement. For weeks the implied probability based on best betting prices has David Davis at more than 55%; David Cameron on 22% and the rest of the field almost nowhere – except Ken Clarke.

    For the former Tory Chancellor has seen a recovery and is not far off the peak that he reached immediately after the French Euro Referendum “NON” which many commentators saw as giving Ken a chance because it would take the EU out of the political argument.

    The current market view seems to be that if the two Davids slip up then Ken Clarke could be the man. We are not convinced.

      Whether the final decision is left in the hands of the Tory membership or Tory MPs we cannot see the former Chancellor overcoming the hostility there is towards him. Even though the EU might not be the issue it was it is still there and Clarke’s strong pro-position sets him apart from so many in his party.

    The current betting price surge is probably the product of his high name recognition and the view of many outside the party, including me, who think that it is glaringly obvious that he is the right man to take on Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Much of Brown’s reputation for financial management derives from what he inherited from Ken Clarke in 1997 and what better person could the Tories have facing him across the dispatch boxes?

    The Brown technique is to overwhelm opponents with streams of statistics which Clarke could handle very well.

    As we have seen in the discussions on the site it is not the outside view that matters. Clarke will run and Clarke will lose again.

    Mike Smithson