Archive for the 'Betting' Category


Steve Fisher’s model finds betting markets more pro-CON and anti-LAB than other projections

Saturday, May 20th, 2017

Elections Etc

At a polling conference ahead of GE2015 Prof Phil Cowley of Queen Mary University told me that it was wise not to doubt Oxford’s Prof Steve Fisher when it came to election numbers. Alas I didn’t take any notice then!

Fisher’s calculations were then pointing to a CON majority well ahead of just about everybody else and, of course, he was vindicated.

Earlier this month Steve had another good set of elections with the locals and this time I followed Phil Cowley’s wise words.

Fisher is a key member of the team general election exit poll team which enjoys a good track record. His site, linked to above, is well worth following.

The latest set of projections are in the table above and as can be seen the betting markets are giving the best CON sets numbers and the worst LAB ones. Much of the data for the betting column is coming from the spreads where the big money is wagered.

In the past the spreads ahead of election day have tended to overstate what the Tories eventually achieve. Election day betting is a different matter and I’ll no doubt turn to that on the day.

The spread firms tell me that the most activity at the moment is on LD seats. Sporting Index have them at 15-18 with Spreadex on 14-17. At the moment I can’t see any value either way.

Some of the polls tonight should reflect the impact of the CON manifesto but watch carefully for fieldwork dates. We are looking for those where it was carried out after Thursday.

Mike Smithson


Remember that standard GE2017 polls are for GB only and exclude Northern Ireland

Friday, May 19th, 2017

Your cut out and keep guide

With 20 days to go it is time for my regular general election reminder to punters betting on vote shares. The standard voting intention surveys that we see are, unless stated otherwise, for Great Britain only and exclude Northern Ireland. This is because politics in the province operates with a very different party structure and generally GB based parties do not compete.

So the key numbers with which to compare new polls and to use for reference are the GB ones although there’s a strong tendency, as we saw in the Times yesterday, to make the UK figures the comparison point.

On election night we generally see the overall UK vote shares and it is only some time later that the GB figures are finally computed. It is the latter, of course, against which the pollsters’ final surveys will be judged.

It should be noted that in a few Northern Ireland constituencies the Tories have put up candidates which should boost their UK voting share but not their GB one.

A striking feature of the table above is the 14.9% share that the Scottish Conservatives achieved just two years ago. The latest Scottish polling from YouGov has that at 29% so almost double.

Mike Smithson


Philip Hammond looks as though he’s for the chop following the June 8th landslide

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

What was scheduled to be a Conservative event to attack the LAB manifesto has set off all sorts of speculation about the Chancellor, Philip Hammond.

Theresa May was asked twice to back her Hammond and both times she managed to avoid the question in a manner that suggested that she was not happy with him. As the clip above indicates they looked very uncomfortable together on the platform.

It is very dangerous, as Margaret Thatcher would have attested, for Chancellors and the Prime Minister to be publicly split.

No doubt we’ll see betting markets up so. I’d bet that he’ll be out in the post election re-shuffle but it is hard to see who would replace him.

Mike Smithson


Punters move against Trump on the “will he survive ” markets

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

If the UK was not in the middle of a general election campaign then the political news that would be dominating things at the moment would be from Washington.

The sacking earlier in the month of of the FBI director Comey followed by this week’s revelations that Trump might have disclosed intelligence secrets to the the Russian foreign minister have all added to the drama. It is now suggested that an agent’s life might be in jeopardy. Ex-GOP Presidential candidate John McCain is saying that things have reached Watergate proportions.

It is the ongoing narrative of Trump’s links with the Russians that is driving things. A new development in the Comey case is a report that Trump asked the then FBI director in February to close down investigations – a move that is portrayed as interfering with the judicial process.

From this side of the pond it is hard to make a reasoned assessment and so far I’ve kept out of the betting.

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


Emily Thornberry lures Sir Michael Fallon into possibly the greatest ambush since the battle of Lake Trasimene

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

Note: This video contains language NSFW from Emily Thornberry that maybe offend more delicate PBers.

This morning Sir Michael Fallon managed to achieve something that I thought was very unlikely, he managed to come off worse in a discussion about defence/security with a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, The Telegraph report

Emily Thornberry has accused Sir Michael Fallon of talking “bollocks” after he claimed she wanted to renegotiate the future of the Falkland Islands.

The pair clashed on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show as the Defence Secretary said the shadow foreign secretary had left the door open to a Labour government negotiating with Argentina over the sovereignty of the islands.

Sir Michael also said that Jeremy Corbyn had shown “quite open support for the IRA” as he hit back after being accused by Ms Thorberry of having visited Syria to “celebrate” the re-election of Bashar al-Assad in the 2000s.

To make the Tories look bad and hypocritical on security and defence the day The Sunday Times ran an article which said ‘Jeremy Corbyn was arrested in 1986 taking part in a protest by IRA sympathisers to “show solidarity” with accused terrorists including the Brighton bomber’ is one hell of an achievement by Emily Thornberry, I’m not sure many others in the shadow cabinet could have managed it, it is remarkable what Labour can achieve with a bit of research and a credible messenger, something the Corbynistas should remember.

It should be remembered Sir Michael Fallon isn’t some naïve popinjay, he’s the man who at the last general election managed to deliver an effective message that Ed Miliband was a risk to national security because ‘Ed Miliband will stab UK in the back just as he did to his brother David.’ Whilst this an undoubtedly a great victory for Emily Thornberry, like the battle of Lake Trasimene the winning side won the battle but not the war.

Bet365 have Emily Thornberry at 28/1 to be next Labour leader, if you’re not already on her on at higher odds, this might make a decent trading bet, because I suspect if Labour are well and truly shellacked next month, the nominations threshold will reduce in absolute numbers, and Corbyn might well stand down and back someone who is loyal to him, Emily Thornberry might just be that candidate. Labour members might also be keen on electing their first female leader whilst the Tories are on their second female Prime Minister.



Backing Labour to win the popular vote on June 8th

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

A 5% return in less than four weeks?

William Hill have a market up on who will win the popular vote without the Tories. With the SNP standing in only Scotland, then finishing second  in the popular vote is impossible unless turnout somehow craters in the rest of the United Kindgom, so that’s not an option. UKIP winning this bet is very unlikely given they are standing 254 fewer candidates than Labour and in some polls are down to 3%. Others such as the Greens, Plaid, or the other parties are also very unlikely given the lack of candidates they have standing.

If you think the Lib Dems think are going to win this bet you might find better value in the constituency markets, but given the  state of the national polling, where in some Labour are polling four times the Lib Dems share, and Tim Farron’s lacklustre performances, epitomised by the farrago over gay sex being a sin, I’m not keen on backing the Lib Dems winning here.

You might be able to find better odds by backing Labour in safe seats, for example Leeds East where Labour has a majority of 12,533,  is a 1/9 return were Labour to win it on June 8th. But then in the past week it has been said the Tories have been targeting Leeds East, which is Labour’s 77th safest seat.

My two predictions for this election will render UNS redundant, and the definition of a safe Labour seat will be radically redefined after June the 8th, so that’s why I’m backing this William Hill bet rather than going down the individual constituency markets, but I will understand if others go for the opposite approach to me, or why they will swerve this bet entirely, as this effectively a bet on Jeremy Corbyn not being as dire as some fear he might be.



12 seats to watch

Friday, May 12th, 2017

The general election result will be made up of the results of 650 individual battles.  Some will be very predictable.  Here are twelve seats that will help to determine how the next Parliament will be comprised.

Norwich South

As a proud Norfolk boy, I can say that there’s something funny in the water in this constituency.  It had been held by the Lib Dems until 2015, and Clive Lewis made an instant impact on his election.  He is already regularly talked of as possibly Labour’s next leader.

His next problem, however, is to hold onto his seat, where he faces a three-pronged challenge from the Conservatives, the Greens (who got their fifth best vote share in this constituency in 2015) and the Lib Dems.  A university seat, it voted Remain by a margin of roughly 60:40 and he rebelled on the Article 50 vote, no doubt to help protect his flank from the newly-resurgent Lib Dems and the Greens.  He is obviously jittery, having talked up the idea of a progressive alliance and having caused psephological outrage by appearing to attribute to ICM a constituency poll that was nothing of the sort.

In a landslide year, he just might lose to the Conservatives.  This looks set to be a landslide but he nevertheless should still hang on.


Ben Bradshaw must feel very lonely.  Exeter is Labour’s most isolated English constituency, a red redoubt in a sea of blue.  He has held the seat since 1997 – a remarkable achievement given that it had only previously elected a Labour MP in the Labour landslide of 1966.  Moreover, his vote share in 2015 was only marginally below his vote share in 1997.  The Conservatives need a 6.7% swing to take the seat and many of the recent national polls suggest that the Conservatives are achieving a national swing well ahead of that.

However, Exeter voted Remain by roughly 55:45.  I expect Ben Bradshaw to hold on.  Whether he remains Labour’s most isolated English MP will depend on results in Bristol, Cambridge and Norwich.

Don Valley

Don Valley has only ever elected socialist or Labour MPs since its creation in 1918.  It is not in the Conservatives’ 100 most marginal targets.  Not, you would have thought, an interesting seat in any general election.  Yet it’s featuring here.  Why?

Don Valley racked up a massive Leave vote, with nearly 70% of its voters hopping aboard the Brexit bus.  Opinion polls have repeatedly shown Leavers overwhelmingly breaking for the Conservatives.  Anecdote from both Labour and Conservative politicians suggests that many voters in such constituencies are abandoning Labour.

How far can the Conservatives make inroads into such seats?  My instincts are that they can go a long way and Aaron Bell, aka politicalbetting’s regular poster Tissue_Price, will be elected Don Valley’s first Conservative MP on 8 June.


Now we get into some of the stranger constituencies.  Rochdale alternated between the Lib Dems and Labour until 2010, when Simon Danczuk won the seat for Labour.  In 2015 the Lib Dem vote cratered and they finished fourth, Labour holding the seat with a 12,000 majority.

On paper it should be an easy hold for Labour then, even while they are struggling in the polls.  The fly in the ointment is that Simon Danczuk has been deselected (following an entanglement with a 17 year old) and has resigned from the party to stand as an independent.  The launch of his campaign, however, was overshadowed by news that he was being investigated following an allegation of rape.  Meanwhile, Rochdale voted decisively for Leave, so the Conservatives will be hoping to make inroads.

I’m still expecting a Labour hold, especially since they have selected a heavyweight former MP and Mayor of Manchester in Tony Lloyd, but keep an eye on this seat.  It might spring a surprise.

Bristol West

Bristol West, held by the wonderfully-named Thangam Debbonaire for Labour, has been steadily trending leftwards.  Held by the Conservatives until 1997, the blue team took just 15% of the vote in 2015 in this seat.  The Greens are in second place and need just a 4.4% swing to take it.  They have appointed a high-profile MEP to fight the seat and are clearly rolling their sleeves up: this is their top target.  The Lib Dems held the seat until 2015 and their former MP, Stephen Williams, recently stood and failed to become the Bristol metro mayor.  He is standing again.

Bristol West is one of the most Remainian seats in the country, with an 80% Remain vote.  Who will win this seat is anyone’s guess.  My guess is the Greens, who offer a cost-free method for progressive voters to express their credentials.


Hartlepool has been continuously held by Labour since 1964.  In 2015, they were run very close by UKIP, who need only a 3.9% swing to take the seat.  Labour polled just 35.6% of the vote in 2015 and Hartlepool voted just under 70% for Leave.  With Labour’s incumbent standing down, the seat looks like it will change hands this time.

The UKIP candidate, Phillip Broughton, is a former semi-professional wrestler and briefly stood – as did so many in his party – for the party leadership last summer.  He is swimming against a fast-receding tide and I expect the Conservatives to take the seat from third.


Thurrock is a hair-raisingly tight three-way marginal, with just 2% separating first (Conservatives) from third (UKIP) in 2015.  With second-placed Labour under the cosh, it seems likely that the seat will be most seriously contested by these two parties.

Elsewhere, UKIP is disintegrating.  In Thurrock, the purple team have two unusual advantages that they don’t have in many places elsewhere.  First, in Tim Aker they have a candidate who is highly competent.  Secondly, they have a local issue to make hay with – the proposed siting of the Lower Thames Crossing.

Tim Aker should do well here.  His problem is that the Conservatives are also likely to improve their vote share and I expect them to keep this seat.

Sheffield Hallam

Nick Clegg is fated never to lead a dull life.  In 2015 Labour launched a concerted attempt at a decapitation strategy on him.  He successfully held on by enlisting tactical votes from Conservatives: uniquely among Lib Dems he benefited from the fear of voters of Ed Miliband being propped up by Alex Salmond.

Two years on and he faces a different threat.  Conservative voters are unlikely to be fearful of Jeremy Corbyn being elected and are therefore unlikely to support Nick Clegg once more.

Sheffield Hallam voted nearly two to one to Remain in the referendum.  I expect Nick Clegg to get through but this could be a tight three way vote.

East Renfrewshire

Leaving England behind, we move to another three-cornered fight.  East Renfrewshire is one of the most affluent constituencies in Scotland and until 1997 it had been Conservative since the 1920s.  Jim Murphy took the seat for Labour in the landslide of 1997 and built up a personal vote.  In the Scottish landslide of 2015, however, this was to no avail and even him benefiting from a large tactical vote from erstwhile Conservatives, the SNP took the seat despite it having voted nearly 2:1 for the union.

The Conservatives start the 2017 campaign from third, but with polls showing them making great strides in Scotland, they will fancy their chances.  Annoyingly for them, one of Labour’s most prominent politicians and strident unionists, Blair McDougall, is standing.

It seems unlikely to me that Blair McDougall will retain Jim Murphy’s personal vote.  I therefore expect Paul Masterton (who I should mention is a work colleague of mine) will overtake him.  With the SNP off its 2015 highs, he should take the seat as well.


Into the valleys.  Like Don Valley, Torfaen and its predecessor seat Pontypool has been Labour-held since 1918.  In 2015, hardly a gala year for Labour, Nick Thomas-Symonds held a 21.5% majority over his Conservative challenger.

But like Don Valley, Torfaen voted decisively for Leave.  Recent Welsh opinion polls have shown the Conservatives increasing their vote share by something close to 50% since the last election off the back of the EU referendum.

The Conservatives will make progress in this seat but unlike Don Valley I expect them ultimately to fall short.  Torfaen was 60:40 for Leave, unlike Don Valley which was close to 70:30.  The local elections suggest that the Conservative Welsh surge is strongest outside Labour’s south Wales heartlands.  This may well be where the Conservative tide falls short.

Carmarthen East & Dinefwr

Recent polls suggest that the Conservatives are surging in Wales.  Labour seem to have rallied a bit in recent polls.  Meanwhile the other parties, including Plaid Cymru have fallen back a bit in the polls.  They were originally hoping for gains, but they must now make sure that their existing seats are secure as well.

If the Conservatives aren’t doing as well in the valleys as elsewhere, logically they must be doing better elsewhere.  If so, they might well cause a shock in this seat, where they were third in 2015 but require an 8.6% swing to take the seat.  The seat voted for Leave.  Their chances are probably impeded by Neil Hamilton deciding to contest the seat for UKIP.  But they might just do it.  One to watch.

Belfast South

Finally, a real wild card.  Alasdair McDonnell won this for the SDLP in 2015 on just 24.5% of the vote.  The DUP, the Alliance and Sinn Féin will all be getting stuck in.  The recent Assembly votes show that all four parties have squeaky close vote shares: their candidates combined first preferences were: DUP 20.8%, SDLP 19.4%, Alliance 17.8% and Sinn Féin 17.7%.  Only the DUP have changed their candidate from 2015.  Alasdair McDonnell might just keep it on his personal vote.  I wonder, however, whether the Alliance, who have had a good couple of years in Northern Irish politics, might just snatch it this time.

Alastair Meeks