Archive for November, 2012

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Leveson – are we heading for statutory independent press regulator?

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

The report’s out at 1pm tomorrow

Thursday looks set to be a big political day with three Westminster by-elections and the publication of the Leveson report.

Dave got his copy this morning and no doubt they’ll be working hard on his response planned for tomorrow afternoon. One possible issue is that the PM and DPM could make separate statements. At PMQs today we saw different viewpoints from backbench Tory MPs pointing to splits in the blue team.

This morning the Media Standards trust issued the findings of a YouGov poll that it has commissioned.

It’s all a tricky issue for Dave to deal with. Will state regulation happen? I don’t know.

Mike Smithson

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Obama’s winning popular vote margin is edging upwards by the day and now stands at 3.45 percent

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

And there are several million votes still to be counted

Thanks to PB’s AndyJS for the great work he’s doing tracking the final total in the 2012 White House race. His spreadsheet is being updated several times as day and has become just about the most authoritative source for the outcome. Andy is also doing the Wikipedia page.

Just three weeks ago, the day after the election, it looked as though Obama’s overall lead was about 2% and this was the number used to calculate the inevitable polling accuracy tables.

Well as the counting of absentee ballots and the certification of results state by state continues the gap between the two men is getting larger and larger. The 0230 GMT update by AndyJS above and shows Obama now with a 3.43% lead which could get wider.

    For Mitt Romney his total is edging downwards by the day and is heading towards the 47% level – a number which became quite significant for him during the campaign.

For PBers who entered the site’s prize competition in conjunction with William Hill the wait continues. The winners will be the ones who get closest to the final margin to within two decimal points when the results from all states are in. Hopefully we’ll know by next week.

Mike Smithson

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The polling suggests that Europe is being much-overstated as a factor behind the UKIP surge

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Thanks to Anthony Wells of YouGov for linking to this polling taken after the 2010 general election which sought, amongst other things, to work out why people had voted the way they did.

The responses from UKIP voters when asked to name what were the three key issues for them are showing in the chart above.

As can be seen the issue of Europe was mentioned by just 41% trailing a long way behind immigration (80%) and the economy (51%).

Anthony’s post today on the “Myth” that UKIP cost the Tories 21 seats in 2010 is a must read.

Mike Smithson

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Unlike Bradford West there’s nothing in the betting to suggest anything but LAB holds in Thursday’s 3 by-elections

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

On the Tuesday before the Bradford West by-election we started to get reports of abnormal betting activity with a fair bit of money being placed both online and at local bookies on a George Galloway victory.

His price moved in from about 10/1 to 5/1 but still the bets continued to be made.

Looking back that was a pretty solid indication that those associated with the campaign thought they were on to a winner – which as it turned out they were.

Judging by Betfair, where punters bet with each other, there’s nothing to suggest that we are going to see a repetition. All three seats look like LAB holds on reduced turnouts.

At the general election Labour had solid five figures majorities in all three seats.

Mike Smithson

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The US authorities move in to stop the Irish betting exchange Intrade. US customers are ordered to close their accounts

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Where now for the Dublin-based bookie?

As I’ve often remarked on PB I’ve found it odd that while Betfair has for years taken large measures to stop any US-based customers from accessing its site and trading on its market the Dublin firm, Intrade, has apparently operated with impunity.

During the recent White House race the firm became the main platform for US political gamblers and, indeed, its prices were reported on widely in the main-stream media. Like in 2004 and 2008 it became one of the main indicators.

Now the regulatory authorities have taken action and Intrade has been forced to email all its clients telling the that their accounts must be closed by December 23rd if they are US-based. Those punters, like myself, who are based outside the US can go on using the market as before but, I guess, there will be less liquidity.

    There is no suggestion in the announcement from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission that anybody has been victimised or defrauded.

    Interestingly they seem to have waited until the 2012 Presidential race was over before taking action.

It’s not for me to comment on the legalities involved but the action means that the one market that gave us a good barometer of US betting opinion will no longer have US punters.

During the recent White House race there was a marked different for long periods between the Intrade Romney price and the Betfair one with the GOP contender being favoured in the former. At times the percentage probability gap on the GOP contender between the two markets exceeded 10% opening up opportunities for arbitrage.

The fact that Romney seemed to be more favoured on the market with a largish US customer base always seemed significant if, in the end, it proved to be mis-guided.

What for Intrade now? It might be that it will make an effort to extend into the UK which would add to the competition for Betfair. Intrade has always been ready to handle innovative markets.

Mike Smithson

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LAB leads drops 4 points in latest ComRes phone poll

Monday, November 26th, 2012

The ComRes phone poll, one of just four we get each month using this methodology, is just out and, as can be seen, the LAB lead of 11% or a month ago becomes 7% with the Tories moving up 2 and Labour moving down 2.

Most of the fieldwork took place while the Rotherham fostering case was making the news though it’s hard to pin events on polling movements particularly those with voting share changes within the margin of error.

    The Tories will be pleased to be only 2% down on their 2010 general election share – only problem is that Labour are 12% ahead of theirs and it’s that gap that matters.

Some 54% agree that “Britain should leave the EU but maintain close trading links”, while 36% disagree. CON supporters (61%) are more likely than LAB ones (45%) to agree. The findings suggest that Eurosceptics who want to the UK to leave the EU might be able to win an “in/out” referendum if they could persuade the public that trade ties with the other 26 EU members would not be put at risk.

People are evenly divided on whether Britain should remain a full member of the EU. Some 46% agree, while 45% disagree. There is a big age gap. The 18-34 are the most likely age group to agree (71%), compared to 34% of 65+ group.

Mike Smithson

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What about the David Cameron description UKIP as being a party mostly of “fruit-cakes, nutters and closet racists” ?

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Henry G Manson makes the case

David Cameron’s quote about UKIP has been bandied around the press this weekend amid speculation he may distance himself from it. He was right not to do so. Whatever the politics or prejudices of UKIP supporters there are things we do know about them in the public domain. They’re not something that any mainstream political party should have anything to do with.

There also those in UKIP rejected by the Conservatives because they no longer share the party’s values, such as these golliwog supporters: Relatively minor stuff in the scheme of things, you might say. If it was left at that, you might think the party is culturally dated and insensitive. But it’s not.

There is an Islamophobic element to UKIP that mirrors many parties in Europe. There have been UKIP candidates arguing that Islam is a “morally flawed and degenerate” religion. Another UKIP candidate claimed “the Koran is worse than Mein Kampf”.

Earlier this year a UKIP candidate was suspended after sympathising with Norwegian fascist mass murderer in an article on a website. UKIP Deputy Leader Lord Monckton urged members of the far right British Freedom Party to join UKIP.

There’s talk of a new book from a former Conservative who defected to UKIP and has since left will also tell about alleged racism and corruption from UKIP officials. But it’s not just about issues of race.

In Croydon North we have the UKIP candidate tweets he is the candidate to “give it to you straight” in a campaign against an openly gay Labour candidate. This is reminiscent of Simon Hughes’ unsavoury by-election campaign in Bermondsey over Peter Tatchell thirty years ago and dogged the deputy leader for years. In 2004 boxing promoter Frank Maloney was a UKIP candidate in the 2004 mayoral election where he refused to campaign in Camden because there are “too many gays” and “I don’t want to campaign around gays. I don’t think they do a lot for society.”

It seems extraordinary that Conservative Vice Chairman Michael Fabricant would now urge David Cameron’s Conservative Party to have an electoral alliance with UKIP. It’s one thing to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats out of parliamentary necessity. It’s another to consider such an alliance prior to an election with talk of deals to guarantee Nigel Farage a government job.

    David Cameron is right to stand his ground and not apologise for his earlier remarks about UKIP. What should worry him more is the growing number of people in his own party who seem quite relaxed with working with them.

    They are either blissfully unaware of what lies underneath the party’s anti-European statements or worse are prepared to tolerate them for electoral gain.

There will have been great pressure on the Prime Minister to respond to political events and resile from earlier statements about UKIP. I am quite proud that he didn’t.

Henry G Manson

Note from Mike Smithson

If anybody from UKIP would like to respond to Henry’s post then I’d be delighted to publish it



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Dave would be making a big mistake if he tries try to duck out of TV leaders’ debates in 2015

Monday, November 26th, 2012


Marf PB cartoon May 3rd 2010

Grant Shapps has not thought this one through

While all eyes have been on UKIP and Rotherham what for me was the biggest general election news over the weekend has been largely ignored.

This was the comment by Tory chair, Grant Shapps, that Dave might not take part in TV debates in the run-up to the next general election.

Given the impact that the debates had in 2010 this could have a major impact on the very nature of the election campaign. As will be recalled from 2010 the whole narrative was shaped by the debates and the party machines found it harder to get their pro-active points across.

Cameron was widely criticised by his side in the election aftermath for agreeing to the debates in the first place and for allowing Nick Clegg to be there as well.

    But, surely, the genie is now out of the bottle and it’s going to be more difficult for any of the leders to refuse. They risk being accused of running scared and, you can see the word “CHICKEN” playing a big part.

    A real problem could come if one of the broadcasters, possibly Sky, says that it will be going ahead anyway and if Dave doesn’t want to attend there will be an empty chair.

There are legal issues on this but I cannot see Adam Boulton, who played a big part in getting the principle of TV debates established, dropping this lightly.

And what a new line of attack the Shapps comment provides for Ed Miliband. You can see him bringing it up at PMQs whenever Dave seeks to evade a question.

My view is that the downside of not going forward is greater than the risk of having them. Shapps is making a big mistake.

Mike Smithson

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