Archive for the 'Betting' Category


The music stops. Who would grab the chair if Jeremy Corbyn steps down?

Friday, February 10th, 2017

Alastair Meeks on the next Labour leader betting market

From the start of his leadership of the Labour party, many Labour MPs struggled to contain their doubts about him.  Even before Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader, Mike Gapes was quoted as saying: “I’ll show him as much loyalty as he showed other leaders.”  Within three months, nearly a third of his party including his own shadow Foreign Secretary were in mutiny against his preferred line on airstrikes on Syria.  By the following March, his team had categorised MPs into gradations of loyalty.  Only 19 were described as “core group”.

In the wake of the Brexit vote, Labour’s Parliamentary party embarked on an extended chaotic attempted coup against its leader.  Despite securing the support of only 40 MPs in a confidence vote, Jeremy Corbyn refused to step down.  Owen Smith eventually secured the right to challenge him and was soundly rejected by the membership, who showed they remained loyal to their leader.  Since then, the Parliamentary Labour Party in opposition to Jeremy Corbyn has been kept muzzled and kennelled.

In recent weeks, however, the political manoeuvring against Jeremy Corbyn has entered a new phase.  Yet more frontbenchers resigned over the decision to vote in favour of a second reading of the Article 50 bill.  Clive Lewis and Diane Abbott, both rated Core Group members in March 2016, have both signalled their distance from their leader’s stance on Brexit, Clive Lewis actually resigning from the shadow Cabinet in order to oppose a third reading.  “Sources close to the leader” keep briefing that Jeremy Corbyn has privately agreed a departure date.  No matter how many public denials are issued, a cadaverine odour is hitting the nostrils.

So it is possible that the end might be coming very suddenly.  If so, we need to be prepared.  Who might then take over?

It’s time to look again at the rules of engagement.  At present, potential candidates must secure nominations from 15% of Labour’s MPs before being put forward to the membership.  So the winner will either be nominated without an opponent by the Parliamentary party or will be the MP who most appeals to the membership from among those who secure meaningful support from their Parliamentary colleagues.

This first stage is a vital component in determining the identity of the next Labour leader.  The difficulty that a Corbyn-approved candidate might have in meeting this test has been cited by some commentators as a reason why Jeremy Corbyn might still try to cling to power.  Conversely, two or three right of centre figures might easily clear this hurdle but could then struggle to win over the much more leftish membership.  If this is going to a contested election, the different wings of the Labour party are going to need to play this very carefully indeed.

The Parliamentary hurdle is particularly challenging for those from the left of the party.  Jeremy Corbyn only scrambled onto the ballot paper with loaned (and now regretted) nominations to broaden the debate.  If the leadership election takes place under the current rules, there is likely to be space for a maximum of one left-winger on the ballot paper.  Even that one is going to need to reach out to those on the centre left.  So if the successful candidate is to come from the left, he or she is either going to have the backing of the current leadership or move much further towards the centre.

This causes Clive Lewis in particular a fairly hefty problem if there’s a vacancy in the short term.  He isn’t likely to get the support of the existing leadership in the event of a succession – that seems to be devolving onto Rebecca Long-Bailey if the press speculation is correct – but he is seen as being very much a left-winger.  Where is he going to get his nominations from?  Until he solves this problem, he is emphatically a false favourite.  I’ve been laying him at odds below 5/1 on Betfair.  I’m very comfortable with this position at present.

Who is likely to make the ballot?  I expect the current leadership would manage to get its preferred successor on the ballot paper.  Since that currently seems to be Ms Long-Bailey, I’d have thought the current odds on Betfair of her at roughly 11/1 and those on Clive Lewis should be almost exactly reversed (disclosure, I backed Rebecca Long-Bailey at odds of up to 350/1 last October).

Once the choice reaches the membership, I’m far from convinced that they will choose the most left-wing candidate just because they chose Jeremy Corbyn. Learning from experience, they are likely to choose the candidate who can articulate a vision that inspires them, who has been loyal (or obviously principled) and who can command respect among the broadest possible range of their fellow Parliamentarians.  Sir Keir Starmer cannot be discounted but is a little bloodless.  Tom Watson is another possibility, though he may struggle to overcome the distrust of many Corbynites, even if they themselves were only a few cars behind on the road to Damascus.  Lisa Nandy and Dan Jarvis, for example, might also fit the bill.  And, of course, Rebecca Long-Bailey might find her voice.

Because of the make-up of the Parliamentary Labour Party, those on the right have more space to identify their chosen candidates.  Those on the left will need to decide whether they hang together or hang separately.  As the day on which a new leader seems to come ever closer, the list of conceivable replacements is shortening.  If you can’t work out how they get through the hoops, lay the possible candidates, don’t back them.

Alastair Meeks


Well this won’t make John Bercow happy but grumpy if only he had been bashful when it came to Trump

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

He’s now 4/1 from 5/1 not to remain Speaker until 2018 with William Hill



Reports that Corbyn “has fixed his exit date” sets off betting rush on when he’ll go and who’ll replace him

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Overnight there has been a bit of a betting flurry following reports that Corbyn has shared with close colleagues his planned date to leave the LAB leadership. William Hill say they’ve been forced to take evasive action by slashing their odds for Jeremy Corbyn to cease to be Labour leader during 2017, after a rush of bets for him saw the odds slashed from 2/1 (33% chance) to even money (50%).

This suggests that he is going before the next general election which should causes us to rethink the prospects for that contest.

    A general election in which Theresa May is fighting Keir Starmer, Hilary Benn, Clive Lewis, would be of a totally different magnitude than her facing Jeremy Corbyn.

The reason that Theresa May had such a good best prime minister rating is simply because the alternative has polled so badly and has done ever since he was first elected in September 2015.

May’s pained struggle today to deal with Corbyn’s NHS questions at PMQs suggests that she needs to do a lot of work on her communication approach before she is campaign fit to face a general election. She was poor.

The idea that something was going on with in Labour with first sparked off last week when it was reported that Rebecca Long-Bailey had become the preferred choice of Corbynistas to be his successor. I saw a snippet on this and got £20 on with Ladbrokes at 66/1.

Long-Bailey, who was on Question Time last Thursday, has since moved in sharply  and now the longest you can get is 16/1.

The overnight report that JC has confided to close colleagues his planned exit data fits into to last week’s Long-Bailey hyping.

My guess is that Corbyn would find it easier to step aside if Labour wins both February 23rd by-elections in Copeland and Stoke Central. He would, deserved or not, get some kudos from the seats being saved.

Mike Smithson


Betting on whether or not John Bercow will remain Speaker until next year

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

This morning I asked a few bookies to price up whether John Bercow will still be Speaker on the 1st of January 2018, Graham Sharpe of William Hill obliged with the above odds. After much consideration, I’ve decided to take the 5/1 on him not lasting until 2018, the tweets below are indication why.

So Speaker Bercow has managed to upset the Prime Minister, the Government, and his fellow Parliamentary officials, which makes his life very difficult. He might win a confidence vote but if a significant number of MPs vote that they have no confidence in him, I believe his position becomes untenable.  I know he’s not universally loved on the Tory benches and when he was first elected as Speaker, one MP said Bercow was the second consecutive Labour Speaker.

Because the subject isn’t a minor matter, it concerns the President of the United States, I’m someone who detests and loathes Donald Trump but I still respect the office, given the potential embarrassment this could cause Her Majesty and the impact on British foreign relations and our post Brexit future, this is an issue that won’t go away. Bercow’s announced his intention to stand down in 2018, so he might bring that forward to save himself and the country problems and embarrassment. It might also pay out if we have an early general election.



This may herald the departure of one of Corbyn’s staunchest allies, and maybe even Corbyn himself

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

If Corbyn’s losing the support of Diane Abbott then can the last Corbynite left please switch off the lights.

Perhaps I’m being overly dramatic, but if Corbyn’s losing the support of Diane Abbott, and she does leave the Shadow Cabinet over this, then a Rubicon will have been crossed for the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. She’s always been one of his most passionate supporters, so much so that back in September 2015 Jess Phillips, the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, ended up telling Diane Abbott to ‘Fuck off’ after Diane Abbott had defended Jeremy Corbyn from criticisms by Jess Phillips.

But today’s Observer reports ‘Diane Abbott’s future in the shadow cabinet was in doubt on Saturday night after she failed to guarantee that she would vote to trigger Brexit negotiations in the Commons this week.’

One of the major assumptions of my betting strategy has been that Corbyn will be Labour leader until the next general election, now that assumption might be flawed. There are a few betting markets up on Corbyn’s departure date, I don’t think there’s any value in backing the 2/1 on Corbyn going in 2017 that William Hill have, but others might disagree.

If it does look like Corbyn might go, Mrs May might decide to hold an early election before Corbyn goes, the intricacies of the Fixed Term Parliament Act notwithstanding, again there’s probably no value in backing the 2/1 currently available on a 2017 general election.

There’s a great irony here, if Corbyn is toppled over his support for enabling Brexit, then he would be toppled over one of the few issues a majority of voters support him and his policies.

Diane Abbott’s migraine might well out turn out to be as important as John Major’s dental problems during the Tory leadership contest of 1990 that saw Mrs Thatcher toppled as Tory leader and Prime Minister.



Latest French presidential polling has one-time odds-favourite Francois Fillon failing to make the final two

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

As a Macron Backer I’d like to see other surveys showing same picture

There’s no doubt what’s what’s become known as Penelopegate is having a big impact on assessments about who is going to win. The right-wing French Republican candidate has been dominating there polls and betting ever since he won the nomination in November but over the past few days there’s been a huge turnaround.

It’s now being suggested that Fillon is damaged goods and might have to be replaced.

What I find amazing is that French political scandals are generally about money – not sex.

This is how the BBC’s Hugh Schofield is reporting it:

“”There is a growing feeling that the party needs to cut off the gangrene before it spreads,” the political columnist at Les Echos newspaper, Cecile Cornudet, told me.

Because the damage is already visible. Today Les Echos has an opinion poll which for the first time shows Francois Fillon failing to make it to round two of the presidential election in April-May.

The political advantage falls to two people: Marine Le Pen for the Front National, of course, for whom the scandal is more grist to the populist mill.
But more importantly perhaps, the main beneficiary is the modernising former minister Emmanuel Macron.

In two different scenarios posited by Les Echos (the presence or absence of another centrist candidate Francois Bayrou) Emmanuel Macron knocks Mr Fillon into third place..”.

This is only one poll. The big question is whether others will follow.


Mike Smithson


This year’s German election: Angela Merkel’s re-election might not be as certain as the betting markets think

Monday, January 30th, 2017

Latest German polls

Nick Palmer on the other big European contest in 2017

The general assumption that Merkel is certain to be re-elected as Chancellor after the elections later this year is reflected in the betting odds. At the time of writing, her Betfair odds are 1.73. However, it’s always a good idea for punters to check that assumptions remain valid.

The surprise selection of Martin Schulz as her Social Democrat (SPD) challenger has produced an immediate bump in SPD ratings – every poll taken since the decision has seen them up by 1-3 points, and they are now close to the last election level. Schulz differs from the expected alternative (Gabriel) in several ways: he is not a member of the Government so can criticise Merkel more easily; he is a sharp-edged speaker with a knack of getting in the headlines; he is more obviously pro-European at a time when many Germans think it important to rally round the EU. Most importantly, he is a bit harder to see as part of the traditional establishment which is struggling in every country.

But is there a path to victory for him? Yes, but not an easy one. Above are the current polls:

Leaving aside INSA, which always shows Merkel’s CDU lower (and the AfD higher), the CDU is on a stable 36% or so, which would be a drop of over 5% from last time. It looks as though the free-market centre-right FDP will get back in, on 6-7%. Against that, Schulz would have the SPD on say 24%, and the Greens and Left on 9-10% each. The old assumption that the SPD would not govern with the help of the ex-communist Left has been eroding. There have been fairly harmonious partnerships at state level, the communist GDR-era leaders have mostly retired, replaced by more generic leftists, and the Cold War is starting to seem yesterday’s issue. Schulz, unlike his predecessors, has not quite ruled it out. So on current polling he could potentially have a slim lead.

This leaves out the AfD, who are down from their peak as the refugee crisis is perceived to have eased slightly, but still on 11-14%. However, they are deeply divided internally and seen as dangerous rivals by the CDU, who would not govern in 2017 on the basis of their support (perhaps, like the Left, they will one day be seen as “salonfaehig” – suitable to be welcomed into the living room – but they’re some way off). If the only basis for a Merkel majority was AfD support, she would step down, like her Swedish Conservative counterpart, who preferred to yield power to the Social Democreats rather than carry on with far-right Sweden Democrat support.

Nonetheless, an SPD/Left/Green government would be well short of a majority on these figures, so unless they pick up a further 6% or so from the centre or right, it isn’t going to happen. What, though, if the FDP drop by just a single point and fall under the 5% threshold again? At that point, a CDU-led government with 35% against 43% for the centre-left will start to look less of a slam-dunk. A CDU-SPD coalition still looks likely – but might it be under a new leader? Or could one imagine an SPD-FDP-Green minority government?

Possibly – but in my view probably not. The answer to the question is, perhaps surprisingly, that this is one occasion when the markets are probably underestimating the favourite: she is, under most likely circumstances, likely to survive with a reduced majority, and anything above 1.4 is probably a bet worth considering. But laying Schulz may be the better strategy, as it covers the possibility of a really bad CDU result leading to a new CDU leader.

Nick Palmer was MP for Broxtowe 1997-2010, and works as a translator from German, giving him longstanding daily contact with the German media.


Why I’ve taken the 5/1 on Trump not to visit the UK in 2017 and the latest PB cartoon

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

Ladbrokes have put up a market on Donald Trump no to visit the UK before the end of 2017. I took the 5/1 which I thought was a good price, especially in the light of William Hill offering 4/6 on Trump not to make a state visit in 2017, William Hill are offering 11/10 that a state visit will take place. Whilst the terms aren’t quite the same, I’m prepared to stake money on the 5/1 for the following reasons.

The Sunday Times are reporting the state visit will take place in either June or October*

Donald Trump is engaged in an extraordinary diplomatic row with the Prince of Wales over climate change that threatens to disrupt his state visit to the UK.

The new president is reluctant to meet the prince when he comes to Britain in June because of their violently divergent views on global warming.

Members of Trump’s inner circle have warned officials and ministers that it would be counterproductive for Charles to “lecture” Trump on green issues and that he will “erupt” if pushed. They want the younger princes, William and Harry, to greet the president instead. Royal aides insist that he should meet Trump.

Senior government officials now believe Charles is one of the most serious “risk factors” for the visit.

Then there’s this where shortly after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, Trump talked about having coitus with her in crude terms and when topless pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge were published Trump tweeted this

Whilst Her Majesty has hosted many unsavoury people for the good of the country, what makes me think the visit won’t take place is the expected protests against Trump. If there’s one thing the inauguration proved is that Trump is very sensitive to public protests which leads to him and his team to deny the scale of the protests with bullshit alternative facts. He might decided to delay or cancel his visit to avoid a major public relations disaster, with The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh in their 90s and scaling back their commitments there’s an obvious way to postpone the visit when Trump is less polarising.


*A Downing Street source suggested that if that was the case, Trump could also be invited to address the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, after May spoke to the Republican congressional leadership last week. If that’s the case, I’ll definitely be missing this year’s Tory conference this year, assuming Trump wont issue an Executive Order banning people who are Muslims from attending the Tory conference, my experiences of dealing with the protesters at the Tory conference in 2015 doesn’t fill me to the brim with girlish glee, but does Mrs May really want to be so deeply associated with Mr Trump?