Archive for the 'Betting Call' Category


By-election round up

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017


Latest YouGov poll suggests Remain might experience a caTAFFstrophe in Wales

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016


Taking the 2/1 on Wales voting to Leave seems like the value option

This morning there was an EU Referendum poll of Wales by YouGov, they found

The two sides of the debate over the UK’s future in the EU are “dead level” in Wales,  political expert Roger Scully has said.

Remain and Leave are both on 41%, with 18% don’t know or won’t vote, according to the latest YouGov survey for ITV Wales and Cardiff University.

YouGov polls on the issue since 2013 have shown very close results.

Professor Roger Scully said the race was tight as many Labour and Plaid Cymru voters did not agree with the pro-EU views of their party leaders.

Ladbrokes have Wales voting for Leave at 2/1, I’m going to have a small nibble on the 2/1, because if it is neck and neck, that’s where the value is in my opinion. My only caveats are that YouGov overstated UKIP by 3% and 3.5% in their final Welsh Assembly poll, whilst generally getting most other things right, I’m also expecting some swingback to Remain the closer we get to June 23rd, but given the issues with the Port Talbot steelworks, you can see why Wales might vote to Leave the EU.



How old men being available on Friday nights to do online polls might be skewing results

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016


Very early responders to poll invites might not be representative

After YouGov’s methodology changes last week ICM have announced their own measures as we approach the big day.

This is the firm’s Martin Boon he explains it on the pollster’s website:

“..Interviews tend to build up quickly on each Friday night, probably because certain types of people are more readily available and willing to participate. Indeed, there is a remarkable consistency across our online polls, with big Leave leads being built up in each hour from 4pm to 9pm on a Friday, partially mitigated by big Remain In leads every hour thereafter until the survey closes, ostensibly by Monday morning for data delivery to clients.

We believe it likely that the weight of interviews generated before 9pm on a Friday has the effect of consolidating a Leave lead as a result of the survey process itself – demographic quota cells fill up and ‘close’ once the target number has been hit. If a specific cell, such as 65+ men, is filled early with people disproportionately likely to support Leave, no additional 65+ men will subsequently be allowed on the survey. As a result, interviews with 65+ men are unlikely to be politically or attitudinally representative of all such 65+ men even though in demographic terms they are identical. But they are not, and their presence possibly introduces a small skew into in favour of Leave (or UKIP, depending on the question looked at).”

As a result the pollster is to stagger the release of invites to take part in its political polls and also to introduce a new weighting.

“..However, it is unlikely that process change outlined above will solve the problem other than partially. Respondents more inclined to Brexit may be equally fast to respond to their invite at other times during the weekend, thus still affecting the data but less overtly. As a consequence we are overlaying a new weighting scheme to reflect the profile of response by quickness to participate.

We will not publish full technical details of this weighting scheme, for fear of conditioning its power. However, we will be applying a “time of response weight” to reflect disparity in response between early responders and late responders. The net effect of this weight, so far, has been to reduce the Leave share by up to 2-points, with a corresponding increase in the Remain share by up to 2-points. It is entirely possible that the strength and direction of this weighting effect will change, if the pattern of response changes on any individual survey.”

The latest poll sees IN and OUT level pegging following a 4% OUT lead in last week’s poll.

Mike Smithson


Alastair Meeks looking ahead to the GE2020

Sunday, April 10th, 2016


The Tories are evens to get an overall majority in 2020. Why? asks Alastair Meeks

We’ve been here before.  We languish under a Conservative government with a tiny majority, distracted by a frenzied and incomprehensible internal argument being conducted in raised voices over the EU (a subject about which the public largely do not care), staggering from wholly avoidable crisis to wholly avoidable crisis.  The public rightly see the Conservative party as horribly divided.  Disquiet is growing about their basic competence.

The last time we were here, in the mid-1990s, the Conservatives found themselves pulverised at the next general election.  It took them a decade even to become competitive again.

Yet the markets are clearly expecting something radically different this time.  The Conservatives are evens to get an overall majority next time, with no overall majority available at 7/4 on Betfair and 6/4 elsewhere.  Why?

Lots of different reasons why the Conservatives are bombproof next time round have been floated but they fall into three broad categories.  Let’s look at each in turn.

The state of Labour

Whenever any discussion takes place about why the Conservatives, despite all their troubles, look set to cruise through the next election, sooner or later the subject of Labour’s own chaos comes up.  Jeremy Corbyn has not exactly yet achieved universal acclaim as a natural leader and a large part of his Parliamentary party is in more or less open mutiny against him (or, as the leader’s own camp would put it, “core group negative” or “hostile”).  Many Conservatives believe that they could put any of their MPs blindfolded against him and still romp to victory.

That is far too complacent.  Conservatives seem to have forgotten that last year they won only 37% of the vote against an opposition leader who did not impress the public.  They achieved that unexceptional tally with a popular and charismatic leader and a broadly united party campaigning on a disciplined (if uninspiring) prospectus.  At the next election, they will have a new leader of what may well be a divided and indisciplined party.  In 2020, the Labour party may look in worse shape than in 2015, but so will the Conservatives.  It is far from clear that the deterioration on the red side will look worse than that on the blue side.

Moreover, it overlooks the following points.

  1. Jeremy Corbyn may be replaced. Right now that doesn’t look too likely but you never know.  Almost any other Labour MP will impress as leader by comparison.  If the Conservatives look tired, feckless, divided and crazy, that new leader would probably get a remarkably good honeymoon.
  2. Labour aren’t the only moving part. It is quite possible that the referendum will give a shot in the arm to UKIP, who will be looking to hoover up Leave supporters who feel uncatered to by the major parties.  Even if UKIP don’t break the mould, there is no particular reason to assume that the Conservatives would be less affected by this than Labour.
  3. It’s entirely possible that the fallout from the Labour civil war or the Conservative referendum feuds may result in one or both parties fracturing in some way. The consequences of such a fracturing are hard to predict.

In short, if the Conservatives can’t get their act together, their divisions, their lack of direction and their lack of competence are likely to hurt them in the ballot box.

The referendum will be over on 23 June

Yes, the referendum will be over on 23 June.  It seems unlikely, however, that the arguments within the Conservative party will end on that date.  If Remain wins – by whatever margin – a substantial part of the Conservative Leavers are going to remain incandescent with their leaders over their conduct in the campaign.  Rightly or wrongly, they are going to be convinced that they were cheated and will be planning how best to sabotage government policy on the EU.  The government has a majority of just 12.  The number of irreconcilable MPs far exceeds 6 (the number is probably closer to 60).  If Remain wins, we can expect a guerrilla campaign by the Conservative right throughout this Parliament.  The divisions will not heal.

If Leave wins, the government then needs to decide what comes next.  The first “next” will almost certainly be the resignation and replacement of David Cameron and George Osborne, whose authority would have evaporated.  That would be the easy bit.  The next “next” would be to establish what to do about the exit negotiations.  Since the Leave side has not put together a prospectus, mutually contradictory reasons have been given for voting for Leave.  A choice would need to be made between prioritising freedom of trade and prioritising restricting freedom of movement.  That choice will split the Conservatives afresh between economic Thatcherites and social Conservatives.  That split could be more agonising than the existing one.  The Conservatives have split twice before over free trade.  Could they make it a hat trick?

Either way, the Conservatives are going to carry on quarrelling for the foreseeable future.  Worse than that, the public are going to carry on noticing.

Boundary changes

Many Conservatives gleefully note that the Boundary Commission is due to draw up new boundaries for a smaller 600 seat Parliament, believing that this is likely to favour them substantially, particularly given that it will be based on the new electoral register (which is thought to have fewer registered voters in previously Labour areas).  So it might, if it happens.  But the government needs to get the relevant legislation through Parliament.  It has a wafer thin majority in the House of Commons and is a minority in the House of Lords.  If Conservative backbenchers of a right wing Leave persuasion feel that the boundary changes might be used for internal party control purposes, they might sabotage the legislation.  The House of Lords is likely to reject the legislation so the House of Commons will need two bites at the cherry.  There has to be a substantial chance this legislation fails.


Conservative divisions aren’t going away.  As a result, they are likely to remain directionless and ministers will be distracted from their day jobs, increasing the chances of further mistakes and adding to the appearance of incompetence.  With a wafer thin majority that may well not be bolstered by boundary changes, the Conservatives look nothing like an even money bet for an overall majority.  Lay them, or better still take the 6/4 on no overall majority (Labour might get an overall majority but if that comes into play there will be time to rebalance your book later).  Those odds should be at least the other way around.

Alastair Meeks


Tissue Price on Osborne’s leadership ambitions and his EURef problem

Monday, January 11th, 2016


The Chancellor is 13/8 favourite to be Next Conservative Leader.

He is 15/8 favourite to be Next Prime Minister. And on Betfair, you can get nearly 2/1 and 5/2 about the two propositions.

But the folk wisdom on backing the next Tory leader is that the favourite never wins. That the winner is more about who he isn’t, than who he is. You have to go all the way back to Eden to find a clear case of the long-term favourite succeeding, and that’s despite several changes to the method of election since then.

Yet isn’t Anthony Eden the most appropriate comparison? He had been Churchill’s most trusted lieutenant ever since 1940, when Winston appointed him Secretary of State for War, and he then served as Deputy Prime Minister in Churchill’s first Conservative government.

Moreover, this next Tory leader will, in all probability, be the first since MacMillan to inherit the job as favourite to win the next General Election. Unsurprisingly most leaders don’t step down when it looks like they’re going to win! Accordingly there is, unusually, a strong case for continuity – which Osborne undoubtedly represents.

In fact, the most apt (and indeed obvious) comparison is probably from the other side: Gordon Brown. Eden & Brown are not a very propitious pair of parallels, but we’re only worried about picking the winner here!

Turning to the mechanics of the election, it seems pretty clear that Osborne already has the MP nominations in the bag. He might even have enough nominations to (in theory) “choose his own opponent” – someone who controls over two-thirds of the votes can do so. Even a financial apocalypse on the scale envisaged by Damian McBride might not be enough to stop him, as it’s arguably even easier to make the case for continuity in an uncertain world.

So that 15/8 looks pretty massive to me, as a certain runner in a two-horse race. Except, of course for…

The Referendum

George favours Remain. A clear majority of the Cabinet will favour Remain. Probably the majority of the MPs will favour Remain. Tory voters currently lean Leave by about 55-45: manageable. But Tory members will break more decisively for Leave. ConservativeHome’s 71-24 survey finding (NB not a poll) is probably at the extreme end, but I would not be surprised to see at least a two-thirds majority in favour of Brexit.

So how can George win amongst this electorate? Firstly, by remembering that not all members care about Brexit above and beyond everything else. Secondly, by campaigning very respectfully for Remain, and letting others campaign against Leave. And thirdly, and most intriguingly, by maintaining unity through having a foot in both camps.

A Cabinet Minister – via James Kirkup of the Telegraph – explains:

“Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, has no fear of Brexit. It would be no surprise if he emerged as a Leave campaigner.But he’s also a strong supporter of Mr Osborne, even a protégé, some say. So what if the master very privately gave his apprentice permission and even encouragement to cross the line and put himself at the head of the Leave campaign. Mr Osborne, sometimes described as an octopus with tentacles in every nook and cranny of politics, would pull off the remarkable feat of having a presence in both campaigns in the referendum.

The Osborne-Javid ticket would thus become a symbol of Tory reunification and harmony after the referendum, able to speak for both Remain and Leave supporters…” 

This certainly has the ring of plausibility. The Business Secretary has already slapped down “Stronger In” for attempting to suggest that he was in favour of Remain:

Of course, the referendum might actually be won by Leave – but even then I would not see this as fatal for Osborne’s chances: this would probably have been seen coming via polling and he would accordingly have campaigned cautiously. The case for unity would still be strong; what would be critical would be his proposed approach to exit negotiations.

All-in-all, I would suggest Osborne remains value, and I would recommend backing him for Next PM (better value than next Tory leader) at anything over 6/4 – Betfair is your first point of call. For full disclosure, I am also long on Javid, May, Hunt, Paterson, Halfon and Brady.

Tissue Price



Next Labour Leader: Let’s do the Time Warp Again

Friday, October 2nd, 2015


Tissue Price on Mr. Corbyn’s successor

Amongst the favourites in the betting for next Labour leader are non-runner Dan Jarvis (8/1), non-finisher Chuka Umunna (9/1), and non-MP David Miliband (a stand out 20/1 with Stan James, otherwise 10/1). All are broadly on the right of the party, though admittedly Jarvis is something of a blank canvas.

And yet the next leader will either be arranged by the PLP, in the Michael Howard manner, or they’ll be elected by broadly the same membership that just gave Corbyn a landslide. So something doesn’t add up here.

I won’t re-hash the arguments for a coup again here. Keiran tipped Alan Johnson as a potential unifier and, in the comments on that piece, others suggested Harriet Harman or Hilary Benn. There’s also Tom Watson (8/1 2nd favourite) to consider in this role: the lobby took his conference speech as evidence that he might be interested in any vacancy…

Absent a coup, when and why will Corbyn step down? He might make it through to 2020 and lose, though it is odds-on (4/7) that he gets replaced before then. I think the most likely scenario for his departure would probably be based on mediocre election results, coupled with poor personal polling.

Obviously plenty of Labour MPs will be calling for his head in such circumstances but I think the role of the trade unions will be what is really critical here. If Unite withdrew their support then it would be hard to see how Corbyn could rely solely on the membership for his authority – especially when much of that membership was recruited by the trade unions as part of his campaign.

He might even decide to go himself: though he is very serious about changing the Labour Party he does not appear to be in this for personal self-aggrandisement. If he were persuaded that a younger, more presentable candidate of the left would have a better chance of winning in 2020 he might resign and endorse them in the subsequent contest.

And, given that it’s unlikely a Corbyn-controlled NEC will change the election process, the candidate of the left ought to be favourite in that contest. But such a candidate would still need to get 15% of the MPs to nominate them, which might rule out the likes of John McDonnell and Diane Abbott, at least if the contest is before the General Election.

So, who might the “candidate of the left” be? If you think they’ll be a genuine Corbynite then Clive Lewis (33/1) has attracted the most early buzz; if you think that the unions might execute the Time Warp manoeuvre* and go for someone slightly more centrist then Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Lisa Nandy (14/1) looks the best choice – though it remains to be seen whether the time will be ever be right for a woman to lead Labour.

Both look far better value than Umunna and Miliband, and both will still be live betting tickets if Corbyn makes it to 2020 or beyond.

* A jump to the left, then a step to the right

Tissue Price


Corbyn’s impending victory affects the Mayoral betting

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Take on the mystery Betfair punter

Mike ran a thread the other day looking for markets that might be affected by Jeremy Corbyn’s likely victory in the Labour leadership stakes. He highlighted NO in the EU betting where I’d agree odds of nearly 4/1 are tempting.

However to my mind there are even better bets available in the London Mayoral voting – which will still be value even if Corbyn falls just short. Labour’s candidate is being decided on the same ballot paper as the leadership and it doesn’t take a great leap of logic to think that all the new sign-ups are not going to break for Jowell.

Tessa is seen as a Blairite which won’t go down well with the rejoining old left, and Sadiq has the backing of the major unions – notably Unite. Even more pertinently, reports are coming back from the campaign that this basic “Corbyn = Khan” logic is being seen in practice:

Regular PB’ers may well already be on Sadiq Khan at 33/1, thanks to Henry G Manson, and Zac Goldsmith at 22/1, thanks to yours truly.

However the logic of the Corbyn surge is surely to extend both of these positions: Khan now looks the clear favourite for the Labour nomination. Goldsmith also seems like a bet as he is more heavily favoured against Khan than Jowell, at least according to YouGov:


There’s also the argument that Zac Goldsmith will be even more likely to be elected if Corbyn wins.  I’m not certain about this as it will probably depend on the nature of the PLP’s response: if there’s infighting, defections or resignations then that won’t play well. However if the PLP bite their collective tongue Corbyn may get a post-election honeymoon. He is also a London MP, which may help.

Regardless, backing Sadiq and – perhaps to a lesser extent – Zac looks like the play here. And someone is making that very easy for us…


That’s over two grand looking to back Tessa at 3.15 (just shorter than 11/5), despite several bookies being 9/4 and one 5/2, and likewise nearly £2k looking to lay Zac at 3.25 (9/4) whereas the top bookie is just 2/1. This money has been there for a long time without moving in the slightest. (It was originally more like £2.5k on each – I have been nibbling away at it, as no doubt have others).

There is also no money “behind” either of these bets – in fact they are both a long way away from the next offer. Bluntly, this is odd behaviour for a serious punter (I’m assuming the same individual is responsible for both bets).

Either they are extraordinarily well informed about potential developments in the race (e.g. scandals), or they are simply looking to influence the prices and thus the framing of the race i.e. making Jowell favourite. I’m willing to go with the latter explanation.

I am not suggesting this is necessarily linked to the Jowell campaign; however I am suggesting that you take advantage of this mystery punter’s generosity.

Tissue Price


The Tories become the favourites in the Rochester by-election

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

In spite of any publicly available polling, punters’ money is backing the Tories.

With Paddy Power, William Hill the Tories are the favourites now, whilst at Betfair and Ladbrokes it is neck and neck between UKIP and the Tories, The Tories were 3/1 on Sunday when these markets opened.

My thoughts on why this is are as follows

  1. Mark Reckless is no Douglas Carswell, particularly in terms on popularity in his own constituency, he twice lost elections in the predecessor seat to Rochester & Strood
  2. The determination of the Tory party to win the by-election, predominantly because of the timing of Mark Reckless’ defection has annoyed the Tories no end.
  3. The Tory conference and David Cameron’s speech is expected to see the Tory vote rise in the polls.
  4. I expect we will see the “Go to bed with Nigel and wake up with Ed” meme tested to destruction here (to see if it works)

But as Mike Smithson noted the other day “My understanding is that UKIP polling in Rochester & Strood before defection had double figure lead with Reckless as candidate.”

So backing UKIP might well be the value here now in the absence of any publicly available polling.

The best price you can get on UKIP right now is 11/10.