Archive for the 'About the site' Category


Christmas Day on PB wouldn’t be Christmas without the StJohn Christmas Crossword (est 2007)

Tuesday, December 25th, 2018

Renewing a great tradition

One of the great traditions on PB has been the StJohn Christmas Crossword. The has been published on most Christmas days on the site since 2007. Its creator, StJohn, is one of quite a group of PBers who have been coming here almost since the site’s foundation in 2004. This is his 2018 offering. Enjoy.

Across clues

1 Restructuring of Israeli trio in government (11)

7 Half the Chancellor’s responsibility is growth (3)

9 Become less temporal, say, as a leaver (5,4)

10 Politician with a female’s point of view (5)

11 Kind of TV broadcaster to send back (7)

12 English newspaper breaking stories of sinister people (7)

13 Labour’s leader is a right one! (5)

15 Liberal in speech and far-reaching (9)

17 Wife left Prime Minister for a Duke (9)

19 Majestic drink from the East (5)

20 Lewis Hamilton ultimately hooked up with a film star (7)

22 Revolutionary broadcaster pursues wrong turn (7)

24 Former Foreign Secretary’s an excellent runner (5)

25 Screen close up of an unclear Brexit? (9)

27 It’s sticky when report into President has no case (3)

28 Political strategist upset Bevan in Number Ten’s reshuffle (5,6)

Down Clues

1 Party animal (3)

2 How Aitken’s accommodation once was costly? (5)

3 Perhaps Transport Minister might lead this? (7)

4 The French voters rioting over old President (9)

5 One possible Brexit outcome is the best (5)

6 A means to stir up opposition supporter (4,3)

7 Leaving about ten, it’s chilly outside (9)

8 Politician generating headlines effortlessly on vacation (5,6)

11 Member of “The Shadows” trained to be a bandit? (5,6)

14 Spinning image right about former Prime Minister (5,4)

16 Narrow line assumed by Rees-Mogg (9)

18 Out of habit people are mad about God (7)

19 Right honourable David Davies heads a constituency (7)

21 Lord Leon Brittan’s first exchange (5)

23 Society, by abandoning Labour leader, shows contempt (5)

26 Cook and Brown (3)


Off to Westminster to give evidence before the House of Lords Committee that’s looking at political polling

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

This morning alongside Matthew Shaddick (Shadsy) of Ladbrokes I’ll be giving evidence before the Lords Committee that’s investigating political polling particularly in view of what happened at GE17.

Our part of the session is due to start at 1145.

We’ve been told that the hearing will be shown live on

I’m a blogger and a Tweeter and have never done anything quite like this before. To say I’m a bag of nerves is an understatement. I found myself waking in the middle of the night downloading onto my phone all the data I could possibly have to refer to.

It will be good sitting alongside Matthew whom I’ve known for a long time. We last did a PR event together a year ago in Brussels for MEPs but that was all informal and certainly wasn’t being recorded.

If I get asked whether I think betting odds are a better guide to political outcomes then polls I’ll give my standard response. People bet on politics to try to make a bit of money not to provide an alternative prediction model. In any case the betting on GE2017 prior to 10pm on June 8th was as accurate as the final polls.

Mike Smithson


The Sky Bet decision that points to problems for sites like PB

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

If others shut down affiliate programme then main revenue streams could be hit

Affiliates are third-party companies who work on commission for gambling retailers by directing traffic (customers) to their sites. In the last few years the use of affiliate companies has vastly increased due to the tighter regulation and rising cost of traditional advertising. A 2015 study by the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) estimates that over £16.5bn worth of sales were the result of this performance based marketing.

In the online world the use of affiliate marketing is also fairly commonplace. The online casino/gambling market is highly competitive with many retailers to choose from. Affiliates are employed to increase exposure and to gain new customers. For example: if customer X wants to play online blackjack how will they choose where to play? Perhaps they might ask their Facebook friends, or click on the first link they find. Maybe just like with their holidays on Tripadvisor they will read a review. Casino reviews offer customer all the information they need about popular casino games, bonuses offered and features of any given online casino on their site. Once they are happy with their chosen online casino they will go and play online blackjack. As the review site generated that sale, they will receive payment from the online casino. This is affiliate marketing in action.

Of course customer care could be cited as a cause of concern. Speaking on the service they provide top online casino review site say “We continually carry out extensive research with each of the online casinos we promote and are 100% and regularly update our casino reviews to ensure they are up to date in terms of bonuses, wagering amounts and terms & conditions.

So what caused Sky Bet to abandon their affiliates?

Late last year the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) launched an investigation into affiliate practices. The investigation was prompted after the (ICO) received complaints about gambling related spam text messages. Following the investigation chief executive of the United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission stated that gambling retailers would be held wholly accountable for their affiliates actions. On abandoning their affiliate programme, a Sky Bet spokesperson has said “Sky Betting & Gaming has decided to close its UK affiliate programme. This difficult decision has been taken to give us more control of our marketing outputs and standards to ensure we can continue to meet the changing regulatory requirements in our sector.”

Sky Bet are hoping to cease all UK affiliate activities this month.  

Post affiliate Sky Bet will be left in a market full of advertising restrictions. Many of these restrictions can be found in the (LLCP) license conditions and a code of practice laid out by the UKGC . While their affiliate activities have been halted some of the advertising avenues left are sponsorships, video advertisements and social media activities. All of which are heavily regulated and are mostly likely under the microscope. However not all of Sky Bet’s gaming brands will be affected by the decision most notably Oddschecker (Odds comparison site).

For the affiliate companies involved with Sky Bet it will also be an unsettling time. Not only will they be saying goodbye to a lucrative revenue stream but they will also be closely monitored. Following Sky Bet’s announcement many other UK bookmakers have outlined their intentions in regards to affiliates. While no other bookmaker has stopped affiliate marketing it is certainly a watch this space situation.

Affiliate Manager


Remembering Mark Senior – poster on PB 2004-2017

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Last week, a couple of days before the end of my holiday, we had the sad news that one of PB’s leading posters almost since the site started, Mark Senior, has died.

Over nearly a decade and a half he became a key part of the site’s unique commenting community and although I never met him I am sure that others feel like I do that we know him from our interactions over such a long period.

I’ve not been able to find a picture of Mark but we do know that he was an assiduous follower of local elections, polling and a was regular contributor to this and other sites. His knowledge and memory in these area was quite extraordinary and he would never shy away from fights. He was also a very strong supporter of the Lib Dems as those who have followed discussions of PB will have been very much aware and why I have illustrated this with an appropriate picture.

If anyone knows more about Mark or has a picture it would be great to hear from them.

In 2005 Mark won one of the first PB competitions predicting a by-election outcome and two years later was elected LD poster of the year.

This was his last post here on August 17th 2017:

I am able to ascertain that his last visit to PB was on September 1st.

Our thoughts are with his family at this time.

Mike Smithson


From Core TV – focus on PB, Brexit, the “Democrats”, the Tory leadership and more

Saturday, August 19th, 2017

No David Herdson with his usual Saturday morning post this morning but instead this TV feature on PB and many of the issues we’ve been discussing on the site over the past few weeks.

This interview, by Rob Double, was recorded yesterday afternoon for Core TV the new online news and politics channel.

My views and assessments won’t be unfamiliar to regular PBers.

Mike Smithson


This might be a bit late but PBers are invited to a post GE17 event tomorrow at the London Olympic Park

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

This event provides an exploration of the momentous 2017 General Election from the perspectives of those most intimately involved as strategists, journalists and analysts.

It will feature contributions from the campaigning, news and social media as well as polling organisations involved in the election. Participants include Ric Bailey (BBC), Jay Blumler (Univ of Leeds), Greg Cook (Labour), Ivor Gaber (Univ of Sussex), Gaby Hinsliff (The Observer), Michael Jermey (ITV), Dennis Kavanagh (Univ of Liverpool and co-author, The British General Election of 2017), Damian Lyons Lowe (Survation), Keiran Pedley (GfK), Gideon Skinner (Ipsos MORI), as well as myself.

The event takes place in Loughborough Univeristy’s London campus on the Olympic park. Full details here.

There is no fee.

Mike Smithson


Just to confirm: Friday’s Pre-GE2017 gathering WILL be taking place

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Several people have been asking if Friday’s PB gathering is still going to take place. The answer is yes. It will start at the Lord Raglan pub, 61 St Martins le Grand, St Pauls EC1A 4ER from 6.30pm. An area downstairs called the Fireplace has been booked.

As well as being close to St Paul’s the Lord Raglan is only minutes walk away from Farringdon and City Thameslink stations with their direct links to Gatwick and Luton airports, Brighton and Bedford.

Everybody welcome whether PB posters or not.

Looking forward to seeing faces old and new on Friday.

Mike Smithson


CONFIRMED: The pre-GE2017 PB gathering: Friday May 26th: from 6.30pm: Close to St Paul’s in London

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

The pre-GE2017 PB gathering will take place at the Lord Raglan pub, 61 St Martins le Grand, St Pauls EC1A 4ER. An area downstairs called the Fireplace has been booked.

Thanks once again to Fat Steve for finding a new more suitable venue and for making the arrangements.

As well as being close to St Paul’s the Lord Raglan is only minutes walk away from Farringdon and City Thameslink stations with their direct links to Gatwick and Luton airports, Brighton and Bedford.

All welcome whether PB posters or not.

LAB’s manifesto barely moved the betting markets…

..Except for one brave punter in Norfolk

Mike Smithson