Archive for the 'Betting' Category


It looks as though those who bet that the PVV wouldn’t do it in Holland will end up winners

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Mike Smithson


If the PVV do it tonight in the Dutch election it will be another polling miss where the right was understated

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017


British punters stayed with the PVV until yesterday

The big political betting event today is the Dutch General Election where the betting prices have been out of line with the polling.

British punters appear to have been taking a view that the PVV will do better than the surveys suggest. At one stage Betfair had the PVV at a 71% chance – at 1pm that was down to 34%

I took Alistair Meeks’ post yesterday seriously and have a small wager that the PVV won’t do it.

Mike Smithson


Your guide to betting on tomorrow’s Dutch election

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

The first of the big 3 elections in EU countries this year

After the last Ice Age, Britain and the Netherlands were joined by land. The Thames and the Rhine were part of a single river system.  Following an inundation caused by a megatsunami, the two were separated, ironically, under a torrent of water.

In 2016, European politics was hit by the megatsunami of Brexit, separating Britain from the rest of Europe.  Are there previously joined political currents that have now been separated by this?

Pundits have not been shy to suggest exactly this.  Marine Le Pen’s strong showing in the French presidential election, the new highs of the AfD in Germany and the long periods during which Geert Wilders’ PVV have led the Dutch polls have all been cited as examples of part of a wider nativist anti-immigration movement sweeping world politics.

The referendum vote to leave the EU and Donald Trump’s election victory were both unexpected by the betting markets.  Determined not to be caught out again, punters are putting their money behind the outsiders this time.  In France, despite every poll for many months showing that Marine Le Pen would be very soundly beaten in the second round by whoever she is remotely likely to be up against, she is shorter than 3/1 on Betfair at present to become next president.  In Germany, Angela Merkel is only just shorter than evens on Betfair to remain as Chancellor after the election in October.  And in the Netherlands, PVV are odds-on favourites to get most seats.

I don’t propose in this piece to look at the betting markets in France or Germany (though for what it’s worth I’m very happily betting against Marine Le Pen and for Angela Merkel).  Instead, I’m going to turn to the Netherlands.  Is the dyke holding out the PVV going to burst?

Very probably not.  The Netherlands operates a highly proportional system.  The PVV are getting nothing like 50% of the vote.  Their list of allies grows thin.  Even if they take the most seats in Parliament, they are going to struggle to put together a government.

The Dutch electorate, always quite fragmented, has atomised.  On current polling, the largest party, whichever that may be, will get less than 20%.  Meanwhile, six parties are regularly polling above 10%.  Up to 14 parties may get Parliamentary representation.

The polls have recently turned against the PVV.  For the last week, the VVD (the current Prime Minister’s party) has been consistently in the lead.  The PVV appear to be fading.

The election campaign has been galvanised in the last few days by a spat with the Turkish government.  It appears that bettors think that this will help Geert Wilders – the PVV have shortened markedly on Betfair in that time.

But this seems illogical.  The Turkish government’s ire was provoked by the Dutch government’s actions.  Floating voters unconvinced to date by the government’s readiness to deal with immigration will presumably have been heartened by this, which I would have thought would help government parties and hinder the PVV.

This is not to say that the VVD is home and hosed, far from it.  It’s anything up to a six horse race who is going to cross the finishing line first.  It’s certainly possible that the PVV will do it in the end.

But should the PVV be odds-on favourites? In my view clearly they shouldn’t.  The polls might be wrong or there might be a last minute swing but there is no reason why either of those considerations should necessarily benefit the PVV rather than another party.

From all this it follows that the Betfair markets look wrong.  The VVD, who are after all in the lead in all the recent polls should be favourites and probably shorter than the 2.66 which at the time of writing they were last matched at.  The PVV should definitely be longer than the 1.81 which at the time of writing they were last matched at.  In fact, those odds look roughly the wrong way round.  Bet accordingly.

Alastair Meeks


The opening IndyRef2 odds make it odds-on that it’ll take place and odds-on that Scotland will vote YES

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Lots of activity from the bookies following Nicola Stugeon’s announcement that the SNP is going for a second IndyRef because of the vastly changed circumstances as a result of BREXIT.

The Ladbrokes betting:

Ladbrokes latest betting
Next Independence Referendum
4/6 Before end 2020
11/10 Not before end of 2020
Year of next Independence Referendum
25 2017
7/4 2018
5/2 2019
10 2020
11/10 2021 or later
Result of next Referendum
8/11 YES
11/10 NO
(If held before end 2020)


SECOND SCOTTISH INDIE REF BY END 2020..….4/6 Yes; 11/10 No


OUTCOME OF NEXT SCOT INDIE REF BY END 2024.……………..4/6 Yes to Independence; 11/10 No


To my mind none of the above odds either way are attractive.

The First Minister hads timed her statement for this critical day as the Article 50 bill gets close to becoming an act thus allowing Theresa May to formally tell Brussels that the UK is leaving .

Mike Smithson


George Galloway could put himself forward for the Manchester Gorton by-election

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

If he runs that could damage Labour

Back in 2012 my best political bet was on George Galloway in the Bradford West by-election. I got on him at 33/1 and, of course, he went on to take the seat in a surprise Victory. My view then was that he could cause surprises and was worth it at the price.

Now, as in the Guardian report linked to above, he is considering putting his name forward in a seat where at the 2911 census 29% of resident described their religion as “Muslim”; 11th highest for constituencies in England and Wales.

I’m not totally convinced that GG is planning a run. I think this is more a way of trying to influence the LAB selection so the party chooses a Muslim candidate whom Galloway approves of.

If Galloway stands against an official LAB candidate than that could make the defence of Gorton more difficult for the red team. The most likely beneficiaries would be the Lib Dems who have a good historical record there even though they did badly at the last general election.

I’ve laid labour on Betfair at a 1.13. So effectively I’ve got 8/1 on LAB not retaining the seat.

Mike Smithson


Next Prime Minister: Gus O’Donnell at 250/1?

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Time to think about some contingency planning

The last few years have seen a profusion of long-odds political bets come in. When they have, it’s been because the bookies, the punters or both have misread the electorate, the candidate(s) or the process. I think there’s another outside opportunity now.

This week’s Budget cannot in any sense be regarded as priming the Conservatives for a snap election. Presumably, Philip Hammond didn’t anticipate quite the reaction to his NIC proposals that did come but he must have known that there wouldn’t be street parties. Anyone who didn’t believe Theresa May’s denial before the Budget that she’d be seeking an election in May has more reason to do so now.

That announcement, however, was couched in careful terms: the Number 10 source said than an early election was “not something she plans to do or wishes to do”. Maybe not, but it might be something she feels forced to do if the Brexit Bill cannot be passed as she’d like it.

It has to be said that that scenario also looks less likely, with the Lords expected to back down if the Bill is returned to them shorn of their lordships’ amendments. For the time being though, let’s run with the event that there’s deadlock.

Current thinking about an early election is still rooted in the pre-FTPA days, when a prime minister could call on the Queen and expect a dissolution at will. William Hague’s call this week for an early election was out of that book. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as that, and it’s in that process that the betting opportunities lie.

If the PM is forced into a position where she felt obliged to go to the country, her first course would be a Dissolution Motion in the Commons. It’s far from inconceivable that such a motion would pass. Corbyn has been vocally bullish about Labour’s chances in an election and enough Labour MPs might go with a whip to support the motion on the basis that it would be the best bet of both removing Corbyn, limiting the damage he could do and stalling the boundary review. On the other hand, politicians are frequently adept at finding principles that provide cover for tactically beneficial actions, and voting it down at least gives the chance for something to turn up.

In which case, we’d be looking at the messy option of a Vote of No Confidence. Some have argued that this isn’t really an option because it’d make the government look ridiculous if its backbenchers No Confidenced it. I don’t agree. With proper preparation, laying out what would happen if the Commons didn’t back the Dissolution vote, the public would be less likely to regard it as absurd.

The problem is less the PR than keeping control of the process. Put simply, no-one knows what would happen next if the Tories No Confidenced their own PM. That alone would be constitutionally new territory, even before the dynamics of the FTPA come into play.

Previously, if a government was No Confidenced, then the PM would have the choice of staying in office and calling an election (as in 1979) or resigning the government. If he or she resigned the government then the opinion of constitutional experts such as Vernon Bogdanor is that the Queen should call first on the Leader of the Opposition. (In fact, it’s not so clear cut: had Blair been defeated on the Iraq vote – not technically a Confidence vote but as near as makes no difference – and resigned, she would surely have called on Brown, after taking consultation from leading ministers; IDS would have been an onlooker along with everyone else).

But things have changed: the rules, and crucially, the time-periods, are more prescriptive. It’s quite possible that if a majority government – any majority government in theory but let’s stick with the current one for simplicity – No Confidenced itself, the Queen would still go through the motions of inviting senior politicians to form their own government. Obviously, neither May nor any other Conservative would accept, as that would prevent their objective of forcing an election. Corbyn might accept but if he did, his government would fail to receive the Commons’ confidence. On the other hand, he might refuse a commission or it might never be offered, given Labour’s support in the Commons.

Then what? It’s possible that we might simply have a game of pass-the-parcel, where whoever had been most recently asked to the Palace when the two weeks runs out gets to keep the position for the duration of the election campaign but there’s little doubt that commentators and many members of the public would see that as the Palace exhibiting bias. That’s also the reason why once she’d lost office, May could not realistically be recalled until after the election. But if May wouldn’t form a government and Corbyn couldn’t, who could?

This is where we need to think outside the box, because ‘the box’ is our preconceptions governed by precedent, and the FTPA renders a lot of the precedent null by creating the new situation. As Sherlock Holmes didn’t quite say: once you eliminate the impossible, then whatever remains needs to be taken seriously. And if it is impossible to appoint a politician until after the imminent election, and it is necessary that someone do the job, then it follows that a non-party individual must take it on, on a caretaker role.

There would, in fact, be some precedent for that kind of outcome: the Duke of Wellington ran the government for a month in 1834 while Peel returned from Italy, after the previous Whig ministry was turned out – though Wellington was very much of Peel’s party. Better examples might be found abroad. In Greece, when no government could be formed after the May 2012 election, a government of Independents was appointed, many of whom were not even parliamentarians. In Italy, Mario Monti headed a technocratic government appointed with the consent of the politicians to deal with the crisis of the day there.

Who might be asked to take on such a demanding role? Ideally, it would have to be someone with government experience, experience of the legislature, someone who is respected on all sides as both capable and impartial, is without excessive links to any one business or other lobby group, who could be trusted to represent the country in the interim and who could – if necessary – take the big decisions that cross a PM’s desk but who would also have the discretion not to take decisions best left to the incoming administration.

Others can make their own nominations but to me, the figure that best fills those requirements is the former Cabinet Secretary Lord (Gus) O’Donnell. To that end, I’ve had a modest bet on him at 250/1 with Ladbrokes.

One advantage of the bet is that if – as is likely – the Brexit Bill doesn’t result in a snap election, the scenario still holds good for any other crisis of the first order that might necessitate an early dissolution. With the rest of the Brexit process and the potential for a second Scottish independence vote, to name but two of the more obvious candidates, the next few years won’t be short of other opportunities.

None of which is to say it’s likely; it’s not. But it is a good deal more likely than the once-in-1000-year event that the odds imply.

David Herdson


Why I am not playing budget bingo this year

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

The novelty of this year’s budget, which takes place after PMQs at about 1245, is that George Osborne is neither Chancellor nor shadow chancellor – the first time this has happened since 2005.

So few people have held the shadow or actual position that you have to go back nearly a quarter of a century to find a time when Osborne or Brown was neither chancellor or shadow chancellor.

Philip Hammond is very much an unknown and we have little to refer to when the bookies put up their bingo markets. Here you look at the list and make a guess whether a specified word or phrase will be spoken.

I do have a small spread bet on the length of the speech. I’m on under 56.5 minutes.

Mike Smithson


Three reasons why I am not betting on an early general election

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

The Prime Minister says there won’t be one and I believe her

One thing that we have learnt about Theresa May since she took over Downing Street last July is that she does endeavour to follow the statement she makes. She has said repeatedly that there will be no election and it would appear highly opportunistic for her to go against that. It would also be out of character.

Labour will not vote for one given their double digit polling deficits

The Fixed Term Parliament Act states that the only way an election can be called short of a confidence motion being lost is for the House of Commons to pass a motion by a two-thirds majority. That means that LAB would have to vote for one and in the current context it is hard to see that happening.

Although Corbyn has said in the past that he would support such a move the polling has moved so much against his party that it really is very hard to see him giving his support to something that would produce a Tory Landslide. The many backbench MPs who could find themselves out of a job would also be very reluctant.

The Tories moving a vote of no confidence in themselves would look absurd

The act does allow a general election to be called if the government loses a vote of no confidence and that has not been overturned within two weeks. The optics the Tories doing this on themselves would be simply appalling and would be very hard to explain. It would all sound so devious as a means of getting round the law and you could see the Andrew Neil’s of this world giving a good grilling to those CON MPs who backed it asking whether they had confidence in the Mrs May’s government or not.

The betting favourite is for an election in 2020 or beyond. I’m sticking with that.

Mike Smithson