Archive for March, 2007


Will this allow Tony to go out on a high?

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007
    And will Devolution-Day be the moment they line up behind Brown?

indy adams paisley.jpgFollowing yesterday dramatic meeting between Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams it is becoming clear that Devolution Day – May 8th 2007 – will play a critical part in Tony Blair’s exit time-table.

For the achievement of peace between the communities will become a major element of the Prime Minister’s legacy and provide the backdrop of his historic departure announcement.

And according to the Times this morning May 8th will also be a key moment in Gordon Brown’s plan to become Prime Minister without facing a serious challenge.

The paper reports that on the day of the announcement it has been told “Gordon Brown’s leadership team will try to deter any heavy-weight challengers by demonstrating a massive show of support for him on the day that Tony Blair announces he is going”.

May 8th is also the Tuesday after the elections for the Scottish and Welsh parliaments as well as the local council elections in England when Labour is expected to take a drubbing.

The news from Belfast and the linkage to Blair’s exit has caused a big change in the departure date betting. Because the Betfair market is on the date when Blair ceases officially to be leader Q2 2007 has now become the 0.74/1 favourite.

Meanwhile after all the goings on over the weekend the Guardian is quoting the comment on the site yesterday by Nick Palmer MP about the settled mood of Labour MPs about the Brown succession.

So given that everything is now apparently sorted in UK politics for the next few years what are we going to talk about on Politicalbetting?

But what’s that old saying – “There’s many a slip twixt cup and lip”?

Mike Smithson


Peter the Punter’s BrandIndex Pointers

Monday, March 26th, 2007

ptp 2603.jpg

    This Week – Make Hay from Straw

No surprise that we’re leading off this week with man of the moment, Jack Straw. It seems to us he suddenly has everything going for him – campaign leader, the promise of High Office and the opportunity, as a former Foreign Secretary, to pronounce weightily on the Iran crisis. He looks a snip at 76.2. Buy two points.

Tony Blair’s rise in the popularity chart shows no sign of stopping. He led us to our second most successful performance ever last week – a plus of 9.9 points – and subject to anything Commander Yates might have to say, he looks good for further improvement. Go cautiously though, just in case an Inspector calls. We suggest a one point buy at 64.0.

William Hague is another who could benefit from Iran-related publicity. This consistently good performer looks a safe bet at 97.3. Buy one point.

Looks like another week in which Ming is likely to be crowded out of the spotlight. He’s due to drop back in the charts. Sell one point at 77.5.

Since we have plenty of cash in the bank (30.4 points in total), we thought we might also try a couple more speculative shots. After much deliberation, we decided that the Brown-bashing had perhaps been overdone and that his price had dropped to the point where it represents a bit of value. Buy him for half a point at 63.5. And just for fun, sell bonking Boris – half a point at 94.2. We hear he’s been on the brew and might just be suffering a hangover.

Take it steady and remember that spread betting is very volatile. We base the recommendations on a stake of £10 per point but don’t under any circumstances risk more than you can afford to lose. We’ve had a good run but there’s no magic formula and as we all should know by now ‘the value of your investments can go down as well as up’.

Have fun, but have care too.

Peter Smith (Peter the Punter)


Did you join the great Jack Straw gamble?

Monday, March 26th, 2007
    Sadly William Hill’s 6/1 price is no more

jack straw l.jpgOver the past thirty-six hours dozens of PB users have been putting as much cash as they can on Jack Straw as next Chancellor at what appeared to be the the very generous price of 6/1.

For clearly the leader of the house and the man who has been both home and foreign secretaries under Blair is going to be rewarded with a plum position if and when Brown takes over. For the announcement yesterday that he is to be Brown’s campaign manager is playing a big part in the chancellor’s “foregone conclusion” strategy.

We might all be wrong but surely the one major position that Straw has not held is the one he’ll be offered when all the changes take place.

Whatever this was much better than a 6/1 shot and dozen of PBC punters have been piling on. Alas the price has been changed and now Hills make Straw the 5/2 favourite.

Hills, who have slashed Brown’s leadership odds from 1/12 to 1/20, make Ed Balls and Alistair Darling 4/1 joint second favourite to become the next Chancellor and also offer; 8/1 Des Browne; 10/1 David Miliband; 14/1 Hilary Benn.

Mike Smithson


Did this man mount a botched coup to stop Brown?

Monday, March 26th, 2007

    What’s behind Mandelson’s series of weekend announcements?

mandelson RH thin.JPGAnybody who has followed the news over the past couple of days could not have missed the presence of the former close aide to Blair, Britain’s current commissioner at the EU, and the person that Brown is said to blame for him not getting the labour leadership in 1994.

We’ve had a spate of interviews with the ex-Labour communications chief, the news of his desire to step down from his EU role in 2009 and even a suggestion that he “might want to return to Hartlepool.”

And also it’s being suggested this morning that he was behind yesterday’s stories that Blair is saying that Miliband could beat Brown

This has led to a counter accusation reported in today’s Independent that Mandelson’s move was a “botched coup” against Gordon.

If this story is right it shows the extraordinary state of mind of the Brown gang. There isn’t a vacancy yet; there is a process that will be gone through when a vacancy does occur; and any Labour MP who can get the backing of 44 colleagues can put him or herself forward.

Why is Brown so desperate that he gets the job without a serious fight? Surely a hard fought contest would invigorate the party and provide a great springboard for turning Labour round?

As it is the Mandelson moves have probably helped the chancellor because there is one thing you can say about the ex-Hartlepool MP – he’s probably less popular within the party than just about anybody.

His actions can be portrayed as someone who has looked into the future and can see a Labour government where he does not have any access to the heart of power any more.

Labour has been making light of the appalling opinion polls since the budget and the latest figures showing that Brown is now the most unpopular politician within the country. That strategy is going to be hard to sustain unless the polling numbers change.

To my mind the post-budget polls have changed everything. There are two mutually exclusive options – either Labour is toast or Brown is toast. At the moment the party appears to prefer the former and be in a collective state of denial about the numbers.

If that mindset continues then Brown’s succession is a certainty. If not then anything can happen.

  • The latest leadership betting has Brown in the 0.25/1 to 0.26/1 region. I’ve been laying him when the price has got tighter and backing him when it has eased with the aim of picking up small trading profits with each move. There does not seem much value either way at the latest levels.

  • Mike Smithson


    Observer story prompts leadership betting moves

    Sunday, March 25th, 2007
      Miliband tightens and Brown eases after reports of Blair’s backing

    observer miliband.jpgThis is the front page of the Observer this morning which has led to big changes in the Labour leadership betting.

    Tony Blair, according to the paper, is telling allies that if the environment secretary stands against Brown then “he would win”. According to an unnamed minister Blair said of Miliband “he really has got to want it… He really has to go for it.”

    The news comes on the same day that the BrandIndex data for the past week shows that Gordon Brown has now replaced Tony Blair as the “most unpopular politician” in the country.

    This reinforces yesterdays Populus poll in the Times and Friday’s YouGov survey for the Telegraph about how poorly the chancellor is currently being regarded by voters.

    In another move Jack Straw has announced that he will be the campaign manager for Brown’s leadership bid. A week or so ago Straw himself was being tipped as a possible challenger.

    So where’s this going to all end? That’s hard to say but if Blair is really giving Miliband the backing that he is reported to be doing then that has to be taken seriously.

    For the PM has one massive ace up his sleeve – it will be his statement that triggers the contest and he controls the time-table.

    What Gordon needs now is some good poll news and we still await the March IPSOS-MORI and Communicate Research surveys. These should be out during the week.

    Mike Smithson


    Brown replaces Blair as Britain’s most unpopular politican

    Saturday, March 24th, 2007

      Peter Smith reports that Blair Backers are Beaming …again

    Whether or not it was his performance on Comic Relief, there is no doubt that those who followed our advice to back Blair last week were smiling all the way to the bank.

    The great showman continued his climb in YouGov’s Popularity poll, reaching his highest score of the year and moving ahead of his Downing Street neighbour…which gives rise to some interesting if somewhat mischievous speculation.

      What if Our Tone continues to wow the crowds, whilst The Dour One descends further into the darkness of public disapproval? Could it just possibly happen that St Anthony will feel suddenly obliged to save his beloved Party and The Nation by abandoning his plans for a long and lucrative lecture tour and remaining in Office instead?

    Admittedly he would be reneging on a promise, but what would that matter if, by so doing, he saved us all from The Bogeyman? So far, all attempts to find an Anybody But Gordon candidate have failed for the want of a plausible Anybody. Maybe we were overlooking the obvious. Maybe, just maybe…..

    This morning you could back Tony Blair to still be Prime Minister beyond October 2007 at 40/1 with William Hill. You might like to check that out when the market reopens.

    Here are our results in full for the the week ended 23rd March 2007

    Tony Blair Buy 2 points at 62.0 Score: 65.9 Profit:7.8
    Gordon Brown Buy 1 point at 67.3: Score 65.5: Loss (1.8)
    William Hague Buy 1 point at 96.2: Score 99.0: Profit 2.8
    David Cameron Sell 1 point at 90.8: Score 89.7: Profit 1.1
    Profit for week 9.9
    Profits from earlier weeks 20.5
    Total profit to date 30.4

    Those sticking scrupulously to our suggestions at a £10 per point stake would therefore be £304 up over the two months since we started. We appreciate that you may not always be able to get on at the prices stated, which are right at the time of going to press but which can move quickly. On the other hand, you may have done even better.

    If, for example, you followed the strong advice given during the week by Aaron and Mike to close out the Brown position when he was showing a 1.9 plus, just after the Budget, your net profit for the week would have been 13.6 – that’s £136 to recommended stakes. Not bad for one week.

    If you have not already joined the IG gravy train and intend to open an account with them, please mention the site. They pay a small commission which helps with site expenses. Although they do on the whole prefer unsuccessful punters, there is no indication that they intend to ban PBers – yet.

    Our tips for next week’s contest will be published on Monday. Have a great week.

    Peter Smith (Peter the Punter)


    Is this why there’s no chance of a CON-LD pact?

    Saturday, March 24th, 2007

    yougov lib dems.JPG

      Will Cameron’s hopes of a deal be dashed by the LD membership?

    In recent days the Tories have stepped up the rhetoric in their bid to win over Lib Dem supporters and also pave the way for a possible post-election working arrangement with the party.

    But is this doomed to fail because of the political make-up of the ultimate sovereign body within the party – the membership.

    The above poll finding is from a YouGov survey of 406 Lib Dem members that was carried out at the start of 2006 for the Daily Telegraph. Although it is now more than a year old the finding is probably not too far out of line with what you would find today.

      For the members of the Liberal Democrats are generally quite left-wing and it is hard to see a party with the above make-up feeling comfortable with any deal with the Tories.

    Cameron’s overtures, reported in the Independent today, might be more successful with party voters rather than members.

    All this could be critical in the weekend after the next general election. Campbell, or whoever is the Lib Dem leader, would simply not be able to carry his party with him.

    Mike Smithson


    More bad polling news on the budget

    Saturday, March 24th, 2007

    sun budget small.JPG

      Will there be another bonanza for Brown BrandIndex punters?

    Those punters who sold Brown on the IG politicians popularity market in the immediate aftermath of Wednesday’s budget speech look set to pocket another big parcel of cash as more polling has shown that the contents and the Chancellor himself have gone down badly.

    Rather than wait for the actual index numbers I closed my Brown positions down yesterday making this, together with the successful budget length bets, my most profitable political betting week for a year.

    For today’s Populus Poll in the Times, reinforces the YouGov survey yesterday, on the contents of the speech and the view of Brown himself. This budget, as the paper’s headline puts it has “backfired” on the chancellor.

      Make no mistake the polls are seriously bad news for the party and its would-be leader. Wednesday’s budget was supposed to provide the platform for Brown succession to Number 10 and a Labour recovery.

    Just recall the reaction of Labour MPs at 1.19pm on Wednesday when Gordon sat down and then look at the the main Populus numbers.

  • More than twice as many people think that they will pay higher rather than lower taxes.
  • The sample split by 30%-57% on whether they thought Brown would be a good prime minister. Only three months ago the Pollster reported a 40%-49% view.
  • By 26% to 8% voters say that the Budget will make them less rather than more likely to vote Labour at the next election with Mr Brown as leader. 60% said it would make no difference.
  • But by 54% to 34% the sample rated him as a good chancellor. That was down from 61% – 32% last December.
  • I am investing half my profits from this week to bet against Gordon getting the job. My instincts have seen me right so far and I will continue to back my judgement. Labour wants a winner – not a loser.

    Mike Smithson