Archive for the 'Betting' Category


Expectations management or the harbinger of a truly terrible night for Labour?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

But an interesting tweet from an anti-Corbyn MP



Chances are that following the betting on by-election days won’t tell you anything and could be costly

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

The final 12 hours of betting on Richmond Park

Above is a chart showing the Betfair exchange prices on the day of December’s Richmond Park by-election. As can be seen those who were following the betting for their inspiration would have got it wrong until about 11:30 p.m.

At that point, it will be recalled, the TV news programmes started reporting that Labour campaigners were suggesting that the Lib Dems had gained the seat by majority of about 2000. As it turned out that was a slight overestimate but the prediction of which way was correct.

Those who had followed betting before that time and had assumed that somehow the market knew what was going on ended up losing money.

I publish this as a warning to punters betting on today’s by elections in Stoke central and Copeland. Nobody really will know anything until at least an hour after polls have closed at 10 o’clock.

The turnout figures could be a good pointer but early guesses and what they mean could be be misleading.

Longstanding PBers might recall the February 2006 Dunfermline by-election. The final price matched on Betfair seconds before the returning officer announced the result had LAB with an 83% chance. The red team lost.

Mike Smithson


Copeland and Stoke Central – the final push

Monday, February 20th, 2017

A round up of some of the literature

Just 3 days left with so much hanging in the balance

Although it’s not unusual for more than one Westminster by-election to be held on the same day I cannot recall an occasion similar to that which we will see on Thursday when the main opposition party is struggling to hang on to two seats.

Whatever the outcomes Copeland and Stoke Central will have a huge impact on domestic politics.

If LAB loses one or even both that will put renewed pressure on Corbyn. The polls have been awful and the by-elections will reinforce that in a huge way.

For UKIP Stoke Central is massive test for both the party and its new leader. The whole point of Paul Nuttall, we were told, was that he would be in a position to take UKIP’s fight into Labour heartlands particularly those where LEAVE did very well on June 23rd last year. Stoke appears to fit the bill entirely. For a large period of the campaign the betting has had Nuttall as odds-on favourite and to come away from the fight with nothing would be a major blow. If he fails could that create leadership issues once again.

For the Tories Copeland offers an extraordinary opportunity to take a seat from Labour while they are in government. The party is obviously feeling confident or else Theresa May would have kept well away. Throughout the betting has had CON as a tight odds-on favourite.

Finally the rejuvenated traditional by-election kings, the LDs, have got to come out of Thursday with something to maintain the fightback narrative. Winning either looks a massive challenge but a big increase in vote should suffice.

Mike Smithson


Betting on whether Diane Abbott will be Shadow Home Secretary at the end of 2017

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

William Hill have a market up whether or not Diane Abbott will be Shadow Home Secretary at the end of 2017. It has been a difficult few weeks for her, particularly over the Article 50 votes, so I can understand why William Hill have put up this market. I’ve spent a few hours trying to work out what the best option is, and I still can’t decide. I think if I had to choose I’d take the 3/1 but it is no bet for me because of that.

The reason I thought of backing the 3/1 was that Brexit will dominate Parliament and politics for next few years at least, which lead to Mrs Abbott being forced to back Brexit, which could lead to further migraines problems for her and her boss, ultimately leading to her being sacked. But then Corbyn isn’t sacking his whips who rebelled against him, perhaps she might be safe after rebelling.

With the feeling of some, myself included, that we’re approaching the end of Corbyn’s tenure as leader, a new leader might not keep her as Shadow Home Secretary, but there’s probably better bets available if you think Corbyn is going this year.

Backing the 2/9 did have some virtues, she and Corbyn do have a long history, and she is one of  his most loyal and passionate supporters, and he’s not in position to lose people like that in his shadow cabinet. But the bet might not pay out if Diane Abbott is moved to another role such as Shadow Chancellor or Shadow Foreign Secretary, although such a move would be unfair on the incumbents who seem to be putting in relatively decent performances in their role, especially Emily Thornberry.

Perhaps PBers can come up with a compelling reason(s) for which side of this bet I should be backing.



UKIP Stoke Central odds odds fall sharply following the unravelling of Nuttall’s Hillsborough claims

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017


Why on earth did LAB select a candidate for the Stoke by-election without fully scrutinising his Twitter history?

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

Snell’s controversial Tweets won’t cause switching to UKIP but could depress turnout

In this day and age I had take it almost as read that before a candidate is selected for a high profile by-election defence then there is some serious examination of what he/she has published on social media to check wther there is anything that could prove problematical.

As the Guardian reports:-

“..Labour’s candidate in the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election has apologised for a series of offensive tweets aimed at women on TV programmes including BBC Question Time, Loose Women and The Apprentice.

In unguarded posts from several years ago, Gareth Snell called panellists on ITV’s Loose Women “squabbling sour-faced ladies”, described Janet Street-Porter as a “polished turd” and said a “speccy blonde girl” on BBC’s The Apprentice should “piss off”.

After Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, appeared on BBC’s Question Time, Snell tweeted: “Diane, you are great, then you say something incredibly arsingly stupid.”..

UKIP, which has had its own problems in the past of candidates saying sexist things, has been quick to go on the offensive. After the statements by its candidate, leader Paul Nuttall about things he’s done/not done UKIP was quick to seize on the Garth Snell Tweets.

This sort of thing can depress turnout. If any campaign will be helped by this it will be the LD one which has been running an extensive ground operation and its candidate, a cardiologist at the local hospital, has been a councillor in the area.

Mike Smithson


Betfair has Tories as 69% chance of taking Copeland – but remember Richmond Park

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

But remember December’s Richmond Park betting

Like BREXIT, Trump and Richmond Park the betting could be pointing us in the wrong direction

It has become widely accepted since the EU referendum and the White House Race that the polls and the betting might not be as good a guide to political outcomes as some might hope.

In fact looking at Richmond Park on Betfair 2 days beforehand the price of the eventual winner was even longer than Trump or Leave.

At least with the White House Race and the referendum we had some polls to guide us. In the coming by elections at Copeland and Stoke central that has been nothing apart from a weird LEAVE EU “survey” with an alleged sample of 4k.

We all got used to that period up to the 2015 General Election when at every by election there was some polling. For a week on Thursday not so.

Given the Conservatives hold double digit polling leads almost across the board and Theresa May totally dominates Jeremy Corbyn in the personal ratings it is the market view that this will apply in Copeland. Maybe that will be right or not. We simply don’t know.

Mike Smithson


No hard data, of course, on Stoke Central but two excellent pieces of journalism

Monday, February 13th, 2017

There’ve been two excellent pieces of journalism today on the Stoke Central by-election which both provide some insights and in broad terms are in the same area. The FT’s Sebastian Payne has the video report above and the excellent Stephen Bush in the New Statesman has stuck his neck out and is suggesting that LAB’s organisational strength will see it home.

This is from the Bush piece:

“..Ukip have a problem: finding their voters and getting them to the polling station. Ukip activists have always tended to prefer the high-profile aspects of campaigning – open top busses, handing out leaflets and balloons in town squares – over the hard and unglamorous work of finding their vote and getting it to the polling station.

In a symbol of that party’s organisational blues , they have been beaten in the postal vote in almost every seat they have contested. Indeed, in both Eastleigh and Heywood & Middleton, Ukip only lost because of postal votes. Although the party’s activists will occasionally blame postal votes on nefarious practices, the plain truth is that a strong postal vote is primarily the sign of a well-organised campaign. Look at Vote Leave: despite their strongest demographic being elderly voters without degrees, they managed to achieve big victories in the postal votes as well as on the day. There is not a political bias to postal votes – there is however an organisational bias. I’m reliably informed that there have been over 6,000 votes cast by post in Stoke – not very many elsewhere, but in the context of a seat that is bottom of the league as far as turnout, and given what we know about Ukip’s inability to turn promises into postal votes, that attests to the likelihood they will fall flat. ..”

The full article is well worth reading.

Mike Smithson