Archive for July, 2019

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64 LAB peers pay for Guardian ad to tell Corbyn that he fails the test of leadership

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

Time to bet on him not surviving 2019?

The wording of the ad above is powerful and will get a lot of attention but the question is how will it impact on the future of the Labour leader who won the job convincingly in the 2015 leadership election and retained it a year later.

The wording is quite smart because it does not accuse him of being antisemitic but questions whether his approach to the crisis that has engulfed the party for 4 years is down to his failure as leader.

It comes at a time when there is a real possibility of an early general election and, of course, we’re now in the run up to the Party Conference season. My guess is the peers are trying to exert the maximum pressure on him to step aside and make way for someone else.

One of the things about members of The House of Lords is that there is no way that the party machine can touch them. They are there for life or until such time as they decide themselves not to be active members of the upper house.

This must put Corbyn’s future into serious doubt as he did appear to be the most secure of all the party leaders because of the view that he continues to have widespread backing amongst the party membership.

In recent months Corbyn’s leadership ratings have dropped substantially and in the latest Ipsos Mori polling 75% of those sampled said they were dissatisfied with his leadership. This is the highest negative ever recorded of any opposition leader and suggests that he is a an electoral liability. Even most LAB voters in the polling say they they are dissatisfied.

On Betfair it is a 29% chance that Corbyn will leave the leadership this year. That might be worth a punt. Currently Rebecca Long-Bailey is the favourite to succeed him.

Mike Smithson


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The catch. Why Boris Johnson probably won’t be going for an early general election

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

Bet against an early general election. Boris Johnson has ruled it out. As he is Britain’s presumed Prime Minister, we can take him at his word. And here’s why.

Let’s look at the counter-argument first. You will not lack for Leavers arguing that Boris Johnson should force an election as soon as possible. Parliament, they argue, is blocking Brexit. So Boris Johnson should call an election to obtain a mandate for leaving, deal or no deal, by 31 October 2019. The opposition could not sensibly oppose one. By this means, Nigel Farage would be put back in his crypt and with the opposition divided, the Conservatives could sweep to power.

You can see the appeal of the idea. There’s only one problem. It doesn’t work.

There are two ways in which a general election can be called under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011. First, two thirds of the House of Commons can vote for one. Or secondly, if the government loses a vote of no confidence and 14 day elapses without a new government having a vote of confidence passed in it, a general election is automatically held.

Let’s look at the direct vote first. To get to two thirds, Boris Johnson needs to get Jeremy Corbyn on board (there is no route to a two thirds majority that does not have both Labour and the Conservatives voting for the proposition).  On the face of it, that shouldn’t be too difficult: Jeremy Corbyn has been calling for an election and after the 2017 campaign no doubt fancies his chances of recreating Corbynmania.  

But Jeremy Corbyn has no reason to play on Boris Johnson’s terms, not when he can hamstring his opponent. Boris Johnson has tied his credibility to securing Brexit by 31 October 2019. This is not a deadline that Labour recognise and nor do they need to agree to it now. The clock is ticking and Labour can reasonably argue that they do not want a general election to eat into the very limited negotiating time.

In short, they can properly insist, before agreeing to an early election, on the government negotiating an extension of the Article 50 deadline to, say, 31 December 2019 so that when they come to power they have sufficient time to reach their own terms with the EU.

This is not just reasonable as a matter of principle, it’s also superb politics.  For if the Article 50 deadline is extended beyond 31 October 2019, that part of the Conservative party that has Boris Johnson on probation will decamp en masse to the Brexit party. The new Prime Minister’s credibility on his central policy would be destroyed. As Leader of the Opposition, that makes for an appealing backdrop to a general election.

Of course, once you’ve announced that you want a general election, if your opponent agrees to the principle but sets a preliminary condition that is not obviously absurd, you’re a bit stuck. So Boris Johnson would be taking a huge risk that he would be walking into a fiasco.

Whenever a politician puts a sign on his back saying “kick me”, his opponents will queue up to oblige. Seeking to call an election on your flagship policy while giving your opponents the opportunity to destroy it would risk getting the Johnson posterior booted so hard that he would clear the crossbar at Twickenham. There’s the chance that Labour might take a different approach, but would you draw up your strategy on the basis that your opponents will be as accommodating as possible?

This problem also potentially applies to arranging an election by a vote of no confidence, but there is a further problem with a vote of no confidence that should also concern Boris Johnson. In the 14 day countdown, someone else may be able to put together a majority. Given that the whole basis of seeking an election is that the government does not reliably control the House of Commons, that is quite conceivable.  

So a general election brought about by intentional acts before 31 October 2019 looks unlikely. While an election could be called immediately after that date, no one is going to thank the Government for a Christmas general election.  All this means that betting against a general election in 2019 at the current odds on Betfair of 2.36 (11/8) looks like a smart move. I’m on.

Alastair Meeks




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Just 8 days after he enters Number 10 PM Johnson will face his first CON by-election defence

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

A loss in his first week would be a big blow

In the week after Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister he will face his first by-election defence in the Welsh constituency of Brecon and Radnorshire. Looking through the records this appears to be unprecedented. There hasn’t in modern times been a by-election scheduled to take place so soon after a new PM takes office and, inevitably it is going to be seen as something of a verdict on him.

This will also be the first Westminster by-election for the new LD leader and both contenders, Jo Swinson and Ed Davey, have campaigned there.

A CON loss would add enormously to the party’s difficulties at Westminster because the opposition parties would see their total increase by one with the government ones reduce by one thus.

Postal votes are due to be going out towards by end of the week and electors will be able to start voting. As can be seen in the panel above this was held comfortably by the Tories two years ago in the general election. The party has the same candidate, even though he was been convicted of expenses fraud. He certainly is well-known in the constituency.

The recall petition that triggered the vacancy was signed by more than 19% of the electorate and the assumption must be that they will participate in the election vote but not vote for Davies. On a 50% turnout that would equate to 38% of the vote.

The main opposition comes from the LDs which desperately wants to win back a seat first gained by the old Liberal Party in 1985 and held until GE2015. They are throwing everything at the fight with the by-election campaign itself being simply an extension of the party’s active recall petition effort.

The Tories are also trying to fend off Farage’s Brexit party which came very close to winning Peterborough from LAB last month. Team Farage needs a good performance here to maintain momentum ideally coming ahead of the Tories.

The seat itself is the largest in terms of land area in England and Wales which adds to the logistical challenge of the fight.

In the betting the LDs are 1/6 favourites.

Mike Smithson


 



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Punters continue to rate Trump as having a near 50% chance of winning a second term

Monday, July 15th, 2019


Betdata.io chart of Betfair exchange

The polls, though, have the top 4 Democrats beating him

We’ve not looked at the main WH2020 market for some time – who’ll win the next hear’s White House race and as the chart shows what movement there’s been on the Betfair exchange has been towards the controversial incumbent.

At the moment, of course, the Democrats are maybe a year away from deciding who their nominee shall be and it is only when that becomes clear that we will get a greater take.

New NBC/WSJ polling has the following match ups:

Biden 51, Trump 42
Warren 48, Trump 43
Sanders 50, Trump 43
Harris 45, Trump 44

The interesting thing in the polling is the continued rise of Senator Elizabeth Warren who raised nearly $20m in the past quarter. It feels that there’s real momentum with her campaign.

In two weeks we’ll see the next TV debate where Biden has got to do substantially better than last time when he really did look his age.

I remain convinced that the 76 and 77 old Biden and Sanders won’t get the nomination and that their current polling positions are based on higher name recognition. Sanders has been hurt most by the rise of Warren.

In all of this the Democrats desperately want to stop a second Trump term and who is seen best able to achieve that will likely get the nomination.

Mike Smithson




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What does the UK’s next PM have to say about Trump’s latest racist Tweets?

Monday, July 15th, 2019

No doubt he’ll be pressed at his first PMQs

One of the current big political issues in Washington at the moment is a series of Trump Tweets yesterday attacking elected female Democratic members of Congress for their criticism of him particularly over the regime he’s imposed on immigrants in border camps.

The Tweets above are part of his response and are probably the most overtly racist public comments that he’s made. The fact that his focus is on elected prominent female members of the House of Representatives has made the matter more explosive. They have the same democratic legitimacy as he does.

If Boris, as the Times is reporting, is planning an early visit to the US  capital then he’s likely to be pressed both before he goes and while he’s there on these comments as well as similar attacks of Sadiq Khan, his successor as Mayor of London. Where does Boris stand and will he raise it if he gets a meeting.

Clearly if Brexit goes ahead as planned, and that’s still very dependent on the parliamentary numbers, then the UK will need a trading relationship with the US and will be very much the supplicant.

Mike Smithson




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This unique feel good moment has the potential to change our politics. The questions are will it and how

Monday, July 15th, 2019

Probably the most significant decision by a media organisation in decades was that by Sky to allow yesterday’s Lords final of the cricket World Cup to be broadcast on free to air television. This meant that many more people were sitting gripped to their TVs as Stokes faced that “Super over” that clinched it. This made it a truly national England and Wales event.

In Scotland things will be looked at very differently but that’s another story and and likely next LD leader, the Scottish Jo Swinson, will have to be careful with her words on this.

I’m old enough to remember the Football World Cup victory at Wembley in July 1966. Even many of those who weren’t even alive at the time can recite Kenneth Wolstenhome’s final commentary line as extra time came to an end “They think its all over – it is now”. In many ways yesterday was even more dramatic.

Already some politicians have tried to seize the extraordinary victory to make political capital. Moggsy put out a Tweet saying “We don’t need Europe to win” something which he is already under fire for. Coming as it does at a time of incredible political change we can expect a lot more of this.  There is a danger in the Rees-Mogg approach because it looks too exploitative – just the sort of thing you would expect a Brexit obsessed politician to do. The Guardian reported:

Rees-Mogg’s fellow Conservative MP Ed Vaizey said that his colleague was guilty of “slightly misjudging the mood”, before adding that “while you’re on, the English captain is Irish”. Alastair Campbell suggested that “perhaps instead of making a silly Brextremist point, offer congratulations to the Irish captain, the NZ-born man of the match, and the Barbadian bowler who got it over the line”.

It was good that Theresa May was there at Lords to enjoy something in the final ten days of her troubled Premiership. At least her presence was genuine. She is a long-standing cricket fan. This wasn’t like Cameron’s shallow claims to be a West Ham or was it an Aston Villa supporter.

Whatever as we move to a new, uncertain and potentially dangerous political era there is something to feel good about.

Mike Smithson




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What is there to say after a sporting day like this one?

Sunday, July 14th, 2019

I’d focused on the tennis and have just watched the final hour of the cricket on C4+1.

Totally amazing.

Mike Smithson


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The next Home Secretary betting

Sunday, July 14th, 2019

Within a fortnight we should have a new Home Secretary.

When Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister it is widely expected that his Chancellor will be Sajid Javid which creates a vacancy at the Home Office. So who will succeed Javid?

I’m also working on assumption that Jeremy Hunt will remain Foreign Secretary under Boris Johnson, he views any other cabinet job, other than Chancellor of the Exchequer as a demotion so he’d retire to the backbenches.

Boris Johnson will not want more members of the Gaukeward squad on the backbenches to join the likes of Philip Hammond, David Gauke, Rory Stewart, David Lidington, Greg Clark, and of course, primus inter pares, Theresa May who I suspect are implacably intent on delivering on Vote Leave’s campaign pledge of not leaving without a deal. When you have a notional majority of three thanks to the DUP Prime Minister Johnson cannot annoy anyone further.

I’m tempted by the 20/1 on Tracy Crouch. I think Boris Johnson would like to fight back against the nasty party meme and who better than the woman who resigned over the government’s initial vacillation on reducing the stake for fixed odds betting terminals.  It would send a great message for those who would like the Tory party to focus on non Brexit related topics.

As sports minister, and in other roles, she’s always been a good media performer which would help the government sell its policies to the country. As someone who read law she’d be eminently qualified to take on the challenging role of Home Secretary. It would also reassure the Boris sceptic wing of the party that he had appointed a self confessed ‘compassionate, One-Nation Conservative’ to such a senior role. Having eventually backed Boris Johnson in the leadership contest should her get a decent role in government.

I’m fond of this market after tipping Sajid Javid at 33/1 to succeed Amber Rudd just hours before he became Home Secretary but this I’m not quite as confident so will be betting at lower stakes than I did in April 2018. It is entirely possible Javid remains Home Secretary but I do expect Boris Johnson to make comprehensive changes to the cabinet upon his election, this will not be like the relatively minor changes when John Major succeeded Margaret Thatcher.

TSE