Archive for August, 2017


The Ladbrokes 20/1 that the Brexit Secretary, DDavis, will be next Cabinet minister out looks like a value bet

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Good bets are not predictions but an assessment that the chances of a particular outcome are better than what the bookies are offering.

Given all the noise round the BrexSec in the Tweet Tsunami from former DD aide James Chapman I reckon that the Ladbrokes 20/1 that he’ll be the next cabinet minister out is value.

The Chapman allegation point that is really striking and I’d suggest most damaging is the one the Times is highlighting this morning – the allegation that DDavis only works three days a week.

    Given how crucial these negotiations are to the future of the country the suggestion, true or false, that the man in charge is not giving it his full focus is one that hits home.

TMay is due to arrive back at Downing Street after her four week holiday tomorrow and no doubt she’s been giving a lot of thought to the challenges ahead. Maybe we could see some cabinet moves as TMay seeks to assert her authority.

An early exit for Davis is surely greater than a 20/1 chance.

Mike Smithson


ICM finds that just 38% want Charles to be King

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

46% want the monarchy to skip a generation

We don’t often have Royal Family polling but there is a new ICM survey out in Prospect magazine on what should happen following the Queen’s death.

The figures aren’t good for Prince Charles. Just 38% want him to be the successor with 46% going for Prince William. The balance, 16%, declined to back either.

To another question on whether the thought of Prince Charles as King made people more or less likely to suppoort the monarchy just 7% said more with 21% saying less.

There’s a big age gap in views of the monarchy. Tom Clark in Prospect notes:

“.. While Charles enjoys narrow majority support among the oldest voters—with 51 per cent of those aged 65 and over backing him against the jump to William—this falls to just 18 per cent among the youngest voters, aged 18 to 24. Even among 25-34 year olds, he commands the support of barely one in four respondents on this question—just 27 per cent.

…his (Charles) support is now notably less marked among Labour backers, 33 per cent rather than 48 per cent among Conservatives.”

What is becoming increasingly possible is that the succession could become a big political issue in the not too distant future.

Mike Smithson


Johnson the big loser – Rees-Mogg the big winner in the CON leadership betting since the election

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Given that the loss of the CON overall majority at general election happened less than ten weeks it is quite extraordinary to look back at the change in TMay replacement betting since then.

In the aftermath of TMay’s failure to retain a majority the general assumption was that she’d quit within days and we’d be into to another leadership contest. The other assumption was that if Johnson could get through to the final round of voting, which is amongst the membership, then he would sweep in.

The Tory system, of course, involves the parliamentary party holding a series of ballots until a short-list of two is agreed to go to the membership which makes the final choice. Johnson had long been seen as the members’ favourite and this was reflected in his then 30%+ betting price.

The following weeks have seen the ex-Mayor and foreign secretary slip further and further in the betting and as I write he’s now fourth favourite rated by punters as just a 9% chance.

At the moment there is no clear from runner and we have the rise of Rees-Mogg who is not even a minister.

What we don’t know is whether there is going to be a contest at all. Could it be that TMay’s extended summer holiday, means that she’s been giving a lot of consideration to what happens next?

My guess is that I’ll be still writing “Next CON leader betting posts” for the next three or four years.

Mike Smithson


When TMay apologists try to excuse her GE17 humiliation by bragging about increased CON vote share show them this chart

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

It’s the relationship with the LAB vote that matters

In the run up to the CON conference at the start of October you are going to hear a lot about about how the Tory national vote share on June 8th went up to levels higher than Mrs Thatcher achieved with the implication that it wasn’t quite as bad as might appear.

This is a desperate effort to try to whitewash TMay’s disastrous decision to go to the country three years early and the fact that that under the scrutiny of a general election campaign she became huge electoral negative.

    The increased vote share bragging would have been a big deal except for one simple fact that the apologists try to gloss over – the LAB vote went up by much more.

This was the main reason why the party had 25 net seat losses in England and Wales a figure that was partly ameliorated by Ruth Davidson’s 12 Scottish CON gains.

South of the border the main detriment of seat gains and losses was the CON vote relationship with the LAB share. Only ten of the 572 seats in England and Wales were not won by Labour or the Conservatives.

All this is why it is the CON vote relationship with LAB that matters so much.

The chart, which I’ve presented here in a different form before seeks to look at the relationship between between the two main parties by looking at historical splits in the LAB+CON vote aggregate.

As can be seen on this measure TMay certainly did better than the Tories in the Blair years but worse than David Cameron in both 2010 and 2015.

The big vote move on June 8th was the collapse of UKIP something that was widely thought would help TMay most. It didn’t hence the losses.

Mike Smithson


The August 2017 silly season continues – Ladbrokes now taking bets on “the Democrats” for the next General Election

Monday, August 14th, 2017

The party doesn’t even exist yet

I’m always impressed by the way bookies can sometimes create markets that appear to be designed to appeal to the wishful thinking of some punters. Today sees Ladbrokes offering 250/1 on the “Democrats” , currently a theoretical party suggested in a Tweet by James Chapman, winning most seats at the next general election.

Much as personally I want to remain in the EU I’m not tempted by the bet.

Mike Smithson


Jacob Rees-Mogg heads for the favourite slot in the TMay successor betting as the DDavis decline continues

Monday, August 14th, 2017

A silly season story we can ignore or a real possibility?

The betting chart above shows the dramatic changes there’ve been in the CON leadership Betfair betting over the weekend with interest in the once clear favourite, Davd Davis, moving down sharply and the extraordinary rise of back-bencher Jacob Rees-Mogg.

William Hill reported last night that ““There is definitely some momentum behind Jacob Rees-Mogg and in the last month he has been the most popular candidate by far”.

The latest moves appear to have been sparked off by two factors – an article by Matthew Parris in the Times on Saturday and and a fiery Radio 4 discussion between Rees-Mogg and James Chapman, the ex-aide to the BrexSec, James Chapman, of which much has been written following his avalanche of Tweets.

This will be further fueled by an article in the Telegraph under the heading “Exclusive: Cut stamp duty now, says Jacob Rees-Mogg, as he reveals his vision for the Conservative Party”.. In his article Rees-Mogg writes:

“..One of life’s small pleasures is that those who do not dispose themselves in a spirit of friendship often do more good than harm. The golden-penned Matthew Parris, by attacking the idea of my becoming leader of the Conservative Party, has given it a spurious veneer of respectability that it does not deserve. First of all, I unequivocally support Theresa May, and do not covet her job. Second, if I did I would be a fool for only in Opposition do political parties choose leaders who have never held high ministerial office.

Third, I neither am a candidate, nor wish to be one. I want to be the servant of the Conservative Party, not its master. Nor is this some clever plan to seek other office; if it were, it would have been scotched some weeks ago when it was suggested to the PM,...”

But if he is dissing the idea of being leader and PM then why is he setting out his vision for the party? That is exactly what serious leadership contenders would be doing. His point, though, about never having held high ministerial office is surely a good one but these are strange times.

Maybe the prospect of having PM Rees-Mogg will help reinforce the case for keeping the humiliated GE2017 failure, TMay in post?

I wish I was Betfair punter who got £5 on Rees-Mogg at 170/1 who must be feeling pretty pleased at the moment.

Mike Smithson


There’s a case for saying that Johnson’s the best equipped to lead the Tories to Brexit and beyond

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Who else is capable of selling what’ll be portrayed as a sell-out?

Whoever is the PM as we exit the EU will have a massive task on her/his hand selling the Brexit deal or other arrangement to the party and to the country as a whole.

The parliamentary Tory party is hugely divided as it has been on Europe for several decades and some are not going to compromise on issues like continuing payments or future links with European institutions.

One of the areas where TMay could have done better is in trying to unite the country following the referendum outcome.

    The PM’s uncompromising stance reinforced many remainers to use their vote on June 8th in a way that was going to be most productive in stopping the PM irrespective of their concerns about Corbyn’s Labour.

I’ve never been a fan of Johnson but I recognise that unlike most of the other potential contenders he can, if he applies himself, be mentally agile enough to present things well and change as the situation demands. This is almost the total opposite of the incumbent whose rigid red lines are making the task of David Davis even more difficult.

Theresa May is almost totally incapable of thinking on her feet and doesn’t have the self-awareness to understand how she is coming over. Johnson is a totally different proposition.

The great thing about having him as CON leader and PM is that he would be totally focused on remaining in the job after the next general election and that would drive his approach to the negotiations.

After being the strong favourite to succeed May after the general election he has slumped in the betting from a 30% chance to an 8% one.

Mike Smithson


In the end the GOP, not the Democrats, will determine Trump’s future

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

The American left seems unable to come to terms with Trump and doesn’t know how to deal with him. It’s his own side he should be worried about says Keiran Pedley

Donald Trump’s presidency may barely be 6 months old but it certainly feels like the die is being cast. The Russian investigation, healthcare fights and threat of war with North Korea are setting the tone for his first term as midterm elections loom next year.

America’s dark side rears its head

This weekend the world has looked on aghast at events in Virginia. At the time of writing a state of emergency has been declared as ‘alt-right protestors’ (e.g. neo Nazi thugs) march on Charlottesville to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate war hero Robert E Lee. Watching the violence on television is a sobering reminder of America’s past and how race continues to define politics there in a way – for all our faults – it simply doesn’t here.

Don’t press the button!

Meanwhile, in Korea tensions have risen in a way that feels different to before. North Korea now appears to have the ability to fire viable nuclear weapons. Experts continue to question their ability to fire them accurately but that will be little consolation to the people of Guam, the small US territory in the pacific that appears to be the sights of North Korean leader Kim Jung un.

Liberals react badly

As the pace of events picks up, America’s left has reacted with horror. It’s understandable. The far right appears to be quite literally on the march and Trump’s threats to meet North Korean aggression with ‘fire and fury’ make the prospect of a cataclysmic war in Asia seem frighteningly real.

With Republicans in control of Congress all Democrats can do is look on helplessly. That lack of Congressional control, plus a challenging electoral map next year, means Democrats need to get their message to the American people right as they look to turn the tide.

I’m concerned that they won’t. Many liberal commentators in the U.S. will have you believe that Trump is genuinely about the start a nuclear war (he isn’t) and that the morons in Charlottesville somehow represent the average Trump voter (they don’t).If they aren’t careful, their tendency to react hysterically to everything Trump says and does will end up being the political equivalent of the boy who cried wolf. Voters will stop listening and may start to believe Trump when he tells them that ‘they are all out to get me’. Bluntly, American liberals risk handing Trump an ability to fight back against them that he doesn’t deserve.

Look behind you Donald

With American liberals floundering for a message that resonates, plus a weak Democratic bench in 2020, my hunch is that Trump’s biggest problem may end up being his own side. His relationship with Senate leader Mitch McConnell has soured and a very interesting poll last week put Ohio Governor John Kasich 12 points ahead of Trump among Republicans in a hypothetical primary matchup in New Hampshire.

I’ve long been of the view that Trump will not get impeached but that he might face a challenge from his own side in 2020 that causes him not to run again. If Trump can’t get healthcare through and he allows North Korea to become an untouchable nuclear power then his opponents in the GOP (who will be horrified) will smell blood. This is before we consider the ramifications of the ongoing Russia investigation for the medium and long term political environment in Washington.
Watch South Carolina Senator and Trump critic Lindsey Graham, close friend of John McCain, who I see as a potential ‘stalking horse’ candidate in Iowa for 2020. He won’t be president but he could be the guy the performs well and persuades others to enter the race. It may well be that the 2020 Presidential Election doesn’t involve Donald Trump at all. A Democrat may end up in the White House in 2020 but I suspect the Kasich’s and Pence’s of this world are eyeing up the Oval Office too.

Keiran Pedley tweets about politics and public opinion at @keiranpedley