Archive for March, 2017


The great REMAIN LEAVE divide reflected in the areas that have Premiership football clubs

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Footballing success comes to the places that voted against BREXIT

Correlation, of course, is not causation but we hear so much these days about whether a particular area voted LEAVE or REMAIN that I thought it might be interesting to examine how this worked out in the English Premiership League.

I’ve taken the BREXIT splits in the local authority areas where each of the 20 current members of the league are. Note that the two Manchester clubs have different numbers because only City is in Manchester itself. United is in Trafford. Crystal Palace is on the border of four London boroughs and the split relates to Borough of Croydon where the ground is.

The clubs themselves are listed in terms of their current Premiership ranking with Chelsea at the top and Sunderland at the bottom.

The green on the chart reflects the REMAIN vote share last June 23rd and the red the LEAVE one.

    The most successful clubs currently all were in areas which voted voted REMAIN while the clubs that are struggling and face relegation all voted LEAVE

This is not really surprising because the big Premiership clubs are in the big regional centres which are generally more prosperous and people there tended to want to remain within the EU.

The clubs that are struggling tend to be in slightly less major urban centres, have fewer graduates, and a very different employment pattern.

Next season the Premiership BREXIT split will be different assuming that Newcastle (REMAIN 50.7%) and Brighton (REMAIN 68%) get promoted and two of the current bottom three relegated.

Mike Smithson


Don’t expect a Street Coronation in the West Midlands Mayoral election

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

A look at the Mayoral elections betting

‘The young princes who now stride the parade ground with the confidence born of aristocratic schooling can never be afraid. They never have been. Like latter day Pushkins drilled in the elite academy of Brownian blitzkrieg, they are bursting with their sense of destiny.’ 

Is part of a text that will be studied throughout history as one of the great polemics of our era. Anyway, not withstanding there are a couple of mayoral by-elections coming up. One in Greater Manchester and the other in the West Midlands.

Andy Burnham is the candidate for the Greater Manchester seat, and is generally a 1-5 shot. The other very interesting mayoralty is “West Midlands”. Now note the two pie charts for the 2015

Combined Westminster vote in each seat:

As much as the Lib Dems have done excellently in by-elections recently, either seat looks a ‘big ask’ in football parlance. And with UKIP’s failure to do anything in “Capital of Brexit” Stoke, I certainly can’t advise them in either seat at any price.

However the 1-5 shot (Andy Burnham/Greater Manchester) is on the left, and Sion Simon (6-4 shot) is on the right.

Now if there is a Copeland size swing, then the Conservatives will almost certainly win the West Midlands – but the West Midlands combined authority area is much more urban, and more favourable ground for Labour, even in their current sickly state.

In addition, and this is by far the biggest factor – Sion Simon can make this campaign about himself, and the wider Labour brand rather than Corbyn; who is electoral toxicity personified. Simon’s opponents will be trying to make this about Corbyn at every turn I am sure though.

Electoral Calculus projects at the next GE that the Tories will take the West Midlands in terms of votes in 2020 (37.5% to 36.4%), whilst Labour holds Greater Manchester by 40.3% to 30.7%. So don’t go wagering your life savings on Sion, but it is worth a tickle.

Andy should win Greater Manchester, though I can’t advise it at 1-5.

As a further, and final aside I’d expect the Conservatives to outperform their aggregate performance here in 2020 where Corbyn (If he remains leader) will definitely be at the forefront of the almost certainly doomed Labour campaign. A win for Sion Simon here doesn’t necessarily mean Labour are out of the woods in the West Midlands, though.

Full disclosure : I am on £28.50 to win £50 @ 7-4 (Sion Simon)


Pulpstar is a long standing gambler and contributor to PB


BREXIT backer George Galloway enters the race for Manchester Gorton – which voted 62-38 for REMAIN

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

LAB campaigners fear he could split their Gorton vote

The controversial ex-LAB and RESPECT MP, George Galloway has announced that he’s standing in the Manchester Gorton by-election. He’s no stranger to shock by-election victories as we saw five years ago in Bradford West.

On the face of it even in these troubled Labour times Gorton looked a pretty safe bet for a LAB hold. At GE2015 the party held the seat with a whopping 57% majority making it one of the safest seats for the party in the country.

But judging by the response to Galloway’s announcement from Lisa Nandy, who is running the party’s by elections campaign, there’s real concern that he could split the LAB vote which could help the LDs which upto GE2010 had been the main challengers there. Her comments on Labourlist suggest that there’ll be no-holds barred:

“Manchester Gorton deserves an MP who, like the late Gerald Kaufman, will work tirelessly for their constituents and is Manchester through and through.”

“They deserve better than a man who has described the sexual assault of women as ‘bad sexual etiquette’ and accused victims of domestic violence of lying for personal gain.”

“He has already been rejected by the people of Bradford and London, and I’m confident that residents in Manchester will send a clear message that Galloway’s divisive, destructive politics isn’t welcome here.”

A challenge for Galloway is that he was a very vocal advocate of LEAVE in the referendum and Gorton went REMAIN by 62-38% (See Prof Chris Hanratty’s estimates here) The LDs, who got their campaign going nearly a month ago are making BREXIT their key issue. A decade ago the yellows held all but 2 of Gorton’s council seats.

The betting has moved away from LAB. The party is now a 74% chance.

Mike Smithson


First polls give the French Presidential debate to Macron and he remains the strong odds-on favourite

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

It’s been a big night in the French Presidential election with the first major TV debate between the top five candidates. Ahead of the event the assumption had been that the contender most at risk was the young centrist independent and odds-on betting favourite, Emmanuel Macron.

The event went on for a staggering three and a half hours.

An Elabe poll afterwards asked viewers who they though was the most convincing. According to Reuters the split was Macron 29%, the firebrand leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon 20%, the Republican and Francois Fillon and far-right leader Marine Le Pen were tied in third place with 19%, while the Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon got 11%.

The event has had almost no impact on the betting with Macron now rated as a 61% chance on Betfair and Le Pen on 21%.

Debate viewers are not representative of the electorate and we’ll have to wait for the first voting intention polls.

The Reuters report noted:-

“Macron, a former investment banker, came under criticism for private donations made to his campaign when Hamon suggested he could fall under the influence of lobbies in the pharmaceutical, banking or oil industry.

Macron retorted that he was the only candidate who was not funded by public money, since his party is new and had not yet benefited from public subsidies. “I pledge to be controlled by no one,” he said.

“The traditional parties, those that have for decades failed to solve yesterday’s problems, won’t be able to do it tomorrow either,” said Macron, who made a name for himself by criticising sacred cows of the French “social model” such as the 35-hour workweek.

Le Pen repeatedly stressed her opposition to the European Union, saying she did not want to see France become a “vague region” of the bloc. “I don’t want to be the vice chancellor of Angela Merkel,” she said, referring to the German leader.”

The first round of the election takes place on Sunday April 23rd with the runoff between the top two a fortnight later.

Mike Smithson


Osborne’s new job: Rewarding failure

Monday, March 20th, 2017

Don Brind on the ex-chancellor’s extra job

“He wrecked the economy and he’ll wreck anything he gets his hands on.” — the verdict on the new editor of the London Evening Standard from a Tory activist vox popped at the Conservative Spring Forum in Cardiff by Channel Four’s Michael Crick.

Brutal as it was, that judgement on the erstwhile Chancellor George Osborne didn’t, in my opinion, go far enough. Not only was Osborne a failure as a Chancellor but he is near the top of my personal Brexit Rogues’ Gallery of those I blame for putting our European future in jeopardy.

On the economy Osborne failed, of course, by his own yardstick — the promise to cut the annual budget deficit to zero by 2015. But his failure goes much wider. Although he was sacked by Theresa May last year his enduring legacy is the decade and a half of stagnant livings standards revealed last week by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. It forecast that average real earnings in 2022 will be no higher they were in 2007. IFS director Paul Johnson commented: “Fifteen years without a pay rise. I’m rather lost for superlatives.”

Johnson explained, “all of the productivity – and with it earnings growth – we would normally expect has been lost forever. This remains the big story of the last decade – a decade without growth, a decade without precedent in the UK in modern times.”

Osborne’s misguided austerity has proved that you can’t cut your way to prosperity. It has to be built through investment in infrastructure, research and development and skills. For all his talk of a “long-term economic plan” Osborne did little to tackle such issues. Britain’s productivity lags 30 per cent behind key competitors such as Germany and the United States and the gap is getting wider.

Osborne’s economic failure was the backdrop to the EU Referendum. Millions of voters thought the economy wasn’t working for them — because it wasn’t. Many used the referendum to make the protest. That’s why Osborne and his mate David Cameron are at the top of my personal Brexit Rogues’ gallery.

The Leave campaign was, of course, built on lies and false promises by the sad fact is that my side, Remain, was led people who were damaged goods so far as most voters were concerned. After Osborne’s April 2016 Budget Ipsos Mori found that there was a two-to-one majority for those who thought he was doing bad job – 60% were dissatisfied compared to 27% who were satisfied.

My Brexit Rogue’s gallery also has a place for two-faced Theresa. The then Home Secretary Mrs May was also, of course, a Remainer. She could hardly have done less to promote the cause making just one major public speech.  It is worth revisiting now because the speech was impressive in its range and powerful endorsement of the economic benefits of staying in the Single Market and contrast strongly with her current hard Brexit rhetoric it makes interesting reading.

She offered these killer facts:
• In a stand-off between Britain and the EU, 44% of our exports is more important to us than 8% of the EU’s exports is to them

• The EU is a single market of more than 500 million people, representing an economy of almost £11 trillion and a quarter of the world’s GDP. 44% of our goods and services exports go to the EU, compared to 5% to India and China. We have a trade surplus in services with the rest of the EU of £17 billion.

• We export more to Ireland than we do to China, almost twice as much to Belgium as we do to India, and nearly 3 times as much to Sweden as we do to Brazil. It is not realistic to think we could just replace European trade with these new markets.

The born-again Brexiteer can expect George Osborne to use his editor’s chair to challenge her — But forgive me for not putting much store by that. I am, however, encouraged by the defiance of Tony Blair, on the Marr Show,  Lord Michael Heseltine on Any Questions  and John Major in the Mail on Sunday.

The fight isn’t over.

Don Brind


As ICM reports another gigantic CON lead Number 10 moves to squash the “snap election” speculation

Monday, March 20th, 2017

ICM/Guardian poll
CON 45% (+1)
LAB 26% (-2)
UKIP 10% (-1)
LD 9% (+1)
GRN: 4% (-1)

This morning there have been two significant announcements from number 10. Firstly article 50 will be invoked next week on March 29th. Secondly it is being made very clear that there will be no general election. This is how the Guardian is reporting the latter:

“…In the past Theresa May has said repeatedly that she has not plans to call an early general election, but this morning her spokesman was firmer, saying: “There is not going to be one [an early general election]. He also appeared to rule out any election before 2020, the date when the next one is due under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, saying that any election outside the FTPA timetable would be early…

Before the announcement Ladbrokes were offering just 5/1 on a general election taking place on May 4th – day of the local and mayoral elections.

No doubt the prime minister’s team have looked fully into the legal aspect of the fixed term Parliament Act that was part of the Coalition agreement in 2010 to see if there is a way round. But quite simply the prime minister’s power to select election dates has now been taken away although there is a process within the act for creating an early election. The ability of earlier PMs to go to the country when it most suited them is no longer there.

The way that some people have been talking and reporting this suggests that they haven’t quite caught up with the change in the law that took place as part of the Coalition agreement with the Lib Dems seven years ago

The article 50 timing announcement is not really a surprise. This was always going to be the case once the legislation went through Parliament unamended as happened last week.

The ICM poll is simply totally awful for Mr Corbyn’s Labour but no doubt the old stubborn bed blocker, without the self-awareness to realise HE is a large part of the problem, will just stick it out.

We await the May elections to see if the polling is reflected in a substantial number of Labour losses. That might just trigger pressure on the leadership but the way the party is structured these days Mr Corbyn seems secure.

Mike Smithson


Don’t get complacent – Scotland’s future in the Union is hanging by a thread.

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

The case for Scottish Independence is full of holes writes Keiran Pedley but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

Since Nicola Sturgeon’s bombshell speech last week, where she indicated her intention to ask for a second referendum on Scottish Independence, the conventional wisdom appears to have been on something of a journey. The original reaction was one of panic. This was it. Just as we all feared, Scotland was heading for Independence as a consequence of the Brexit vote. Then Theresa May just said ‘no’. Now was not the time. There was a collective sigh of relief. ‘It’s not as bad as we feared’, the argument went, the SNP have overplayed their hand and this will all backfire on them.

The case against

I acknowledge that those arguing that Scottish Independence won’t happen have a reasonably strong case. First and foremost, Theresa May controls the timing of any vote. She will argue that a second vote will have to wait until after Brexit negotiations are finalised and there isn’t a great deal Nicola Sturgeon can do about it. In theory at least, that means that May can ensure that a future referendum takes place at the most helpful time for a ‘No’ campaign possible. Meanwhile, there is no obvious sign of a surge in support for Scottish Independence right now, nor an immediate desire for another vote on the subject.

Furthermore, it does seem that the ‘No’ side, led by Ruth Davidson, is getting its arguments in early against a ‘Yes’ vote next time.

“We have asked basic questions on things like currency, on things like a central bank, on things like whether we would even rejoin Europe as a full member, and Nicola Sturgeon seems unable to commit to that.” Ruth Davidson

The SNP case for Independence seems to rely on a newly Independent Scotland joining the EU, yet there is some doubt as to whether it would be able to. Meanwhile, Gordon Brown has warned that Scotland’s economy would be destroyed if it was a member of the EU and therefore outside the ‘UK Single Market’ when the rest of the UK is no longer a member.  These issues will be the subject of furious claim and counter-claim but it is reasonable to suggest that the case for Independence is built on shaky ground.

But don’t get complacent – so is the case for ‘No’

Yet all of that is of little comfort to me. Those getting complacent about Scotland’s future in the Union would be wise to think again. Whilst it is true that Theresa May can control the timing of any vote she cannot refuse one forever. A second referendum is coming and the context of that vote is that the UK voted to leave the EU but Scotland voted Remain. That has changed the game. So if the Brexit negotiations go anything other than swimmingly, the SNP will have a stick with which to beat the Independence drum alongside the grievance of a referendum withheld by Westminster. This is before we even touch the problematic dynamics of a future campaign itself. What will the ‘No’ campaign’s message be? Who will be in charge? What will Scottish Labour’s role be? And so on.

In truth, there are arguments for and against why Scottish Independence will ultimately happen or not. It was ever thus. That is not the same as complacently shrugging one’s shoulders and assuming it will all be fine. Just because Scottish opinion leans ‘No’ now does not mean that is fixed. We are about to enter an extremely turbulent time politically. If Theresa May does not emerge with a good Brexit deal – or indeed if she does not emerge with a deal at all – then the case for Scottish Independence will look very different in two years time than it does right now. If you are optimistic about the Union’s future, it is wise to be only cautiously so. The conventional wisdom on this issue seems to have lurched into alarmingly complacent territory and that worries me greatly.

Keiran Pedley

Keiran is the presenter of the PB/Polling Matters podcast and tweets about politics and polling at @keiranpedley

Listen to the latest podcast – on Scottish Independence and Northern Ireland’s future – below


The French election looks set to be biggest non-UK/US political betting event ever

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

With five weeks to go Macron remains strong odds-on favourite

Exactly 5 weeks on from today, on April 23rd, voters in France will participate in the round one of the presidential election and betting interest has been enormous. Currently on the Betfair exchange alone £7.5m of wagers have been matched and looks set to be bettered in size terms only by BREXIT and Trump.

Given that the French don’t allow punters to access British online bookmakers while in France then it’s safe to assume that little of the betting interest has come from people who will actually vote. I’m now being contacted by French media to explain why there is such interest in the UK.

All the signs from the polling are that the hard right candidate, Marine le Pen, will win that first round. But that will not be enough and it looks as though she will struggle in the second round on May 7th when the two at the top of round one slug it out.

Polling, because of the system is a bit complex. People are asked for their first round voting preferences and then presented with a range of alternatives for the second round. So it is important not to be misled by reports of the first round preferences.

Things look good at the moment for the 39 year old independent now running for En Marche, Emmanuel Macron. He has a 20%+ second round poll margin over Le Pen but a narrower one over the Republican, Fillon, still in the race in spite of Penelopegate.

Le Pen’s main chance comes if Macron fails to make the final two.

Mike Smithson