Archive for the 'Betting' Category


YouGov have run their very accurate constituency predictor on the House elections in November

Monday, June 4th, 2018

Will the YouGov model be as accurate in America as it was in the UK?

One of the undoubted winners of the last UK general election were YouGov and their MRP model which showed a hung parliament when most other pollsters were showing the Tories were on course for a hefty majority. I recall the near universal derision when YouGov forecast constituencies like Canterbury as a Labour gain, well it was YouGov who had the last laugh.

Well they’ve turned their attentions on the race for the control of the US House of Representatives. For those like me who have been betting on the Democratic Party to take the House comfortably this is alarming, when you factor in the plus and minus margin then a GOP hold of the House is a very realistic outcome.

CBS and YouGov have put up a methodology note that is well worth reading, it can be viewed by clicking here.

Before any of us burn out betting slips on the Dems taking the House we should remember there’s five months until voting day and a lot can happen especially with a such volatile character like Donald Trump in the White House.

Trump’s lawyers are arguing that Trump ‘could not possibly have committed obstruction because he has unfettered authority over all federal investigations’ which could have very interesting implications for the Mueller investigation. Richard Nixon and his legal team would have been interested in the arguments espoused by the Trump legal team.




Nightmare on Brexit Street

Sunday, June 3rd, 2018

If this is likely then expect an extension of Article 50 or Corbyn to become PM

Some inside DExEU seems to following the maxim of ‘Hope for the best, expect the worst’, a maxim I follow, which means I’m seldom disappointed but in this instance I’ll be disappointed if this doomsday scenario happens.

But if the civil service are talking about such a scenario then so should the political gambling community. So what does this mean for punters?

I don’t think any Prime Minister will ever countenance the UK running out of food, petrol, and medicines on their watch, so I’d expect Mrs May to ask for an extension of Article 50 whilst we sort of the Brexit mess.

However there are some in the Tory party that are happy to embrace a no deal Brexit so they may try and persuade Mrs May that this is hyperbole from the civil service. They will also have the threat of Nigel Farage following through on his promise to “don khaki, pick up a rifle and head for the front lines” if the Brexit he wants isn’t delivered.

As Mrs May has shown repeatedly she usually ends up acquiescing to her Brexiteer wing. If they succeed in persuading Mrs May to their point of view and we get the doomsday scenario then I expect the government to fall very shortly after March 29th 2019 and a general election where the Tories are walloped and Corbyn becomes PM. This would be sub-optimal especially for those of us who have been laying Corbyn as next PM.

If in the next 10 months Project Fear is shown to be Project Reality then a lot of the betting markets will change fundamentally. Who could have foretold that undoing 45 years membership of a continent wide trade organisation within two or three years would be difficult?



On the wrong track: the government needs to be seen to be getting a grip of the rail fiasco

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018

For once, the minister at the centre is worth backing as Next Out

In the most recent Mori Issues Index (published on 4 May but with fieldwork going back well into April), not a single person out of the 1001 questioned said that transport was the most important issue facing the country. This compares against two people who responded with ‘pandemics’, another two who said AIDS, four who put forward ‘animal welfare’, six whose chief concern was nuclear weapons, and 251 who said Brexit or the EU. These responses (as well as others) were all given unprompted. Even when asked to list other important issues, only 4% identified transport, placing it outside the top 20 issues.

It’s a reasonable bet that transport won’t score a duck this month, even allowing for the new rail timetables having been introduced well into the likely fieldwork period for the poll – the ‘May’ poll was surveyed from 6-24 April; the new rail timetable was introduced on May 20.

At a time when the rail industry needed some good publicity after the most recent failure of the East Coast Main Line franchise, the reality has been little short of a PR disaster; one which ironically has been made all the worse by the success of privatisation. Back in 1993/4, there were only 735m passenger rail journeys; by 2016/17, this had increased to 1.73bn – but of course, the more regular customers there are, the more people will be inconvenienced and angry when things go badly wrong – many of whom will live in the hinterlands of the big cities, where a lot of the marginal constituencies tend to be found.

This is therefore a serious political problem for the government, on two fronts. Firstly, there is the simple matter of competence. For all that the rail operators are private companies, the industry remains under heavy state regulation and the public expect such an essential service to run reliably, give-or-take the odd delay. If it doesn’t, they blame not only the companies and, as appropriate, the unions, but also the government who they not unreasonably expect to oversee delivery.

Secondly, however, the argument in favour of a privately-run rail network is very far from won and Labour has made a pledge to return it to state ownership. No matter that a large part of the current problems can be laid at state-owned Network Rail’s door; no matter that the absurd seat design on the new generation of high-speed trains was down to a DfT regulation; no matter that even on the failed East Coast franchise (the failure of which itself was in part related to Network Rail’s non-delivery of promised upgrades), Virgin still generated as much for the Treasury in its three years of operations as the state-run East Coast operation did in the previous five years – opinion polls have consistently found that well over half, and perhaps as much as three-quarters of, the population wants the government to run Britain’s railways. If the status quo is not delivering, people will demand change.

Hence, Chris Grayling needs to sort it out and – crucially – needs to be seen to be sorting it out. Whether summoning various chief executives and operations directors to a crisis conference would actually help is moot but that sort of thing, followed up by daily conference calls, would at least bring people together and limit the public buck-passing.

However, at the moment, he’s neither being seen to act nor is he generating any results. Nearly two weeks after the new timetable went live and hundreds of trains a day are still being cancelled, more run very late and there’s no end in sight as yet. He is fortunate that many of the problems have been in the north, and hence not covered prominently by the ‘national’ (i.e. London-based) media. Introducing a further emergency-but-indefinite timetable that simply locks in the cancellations might give a little more certainty but it’s no sustainable solution.

    As yet, it doesn’t look as if Grayling has come remotely close to recognising either how critical the current problems are, or the danger they represent to his party’s rail strategy (though given his solution to the East Coast franchise, it’s questionable as to whether he himself is sold on it). Or if he has recognised it, he’s proven himself incapable of rising to the challenge.

Which brings us to the low politics: will he survive? At the moment, Ladbrokes have him at 10/1 as Next Cabinet Minister to Leave, which I think is quite generous in the circumstances. Usually, the minister of the moment shoots straight in to absurdly short odds; perhaps the national media are doing punters a favour here.

Four questions to ask on whether a minister will survive when they’re under pressure: (1) will the immediate crisis go away, (2) will it be overtaken by other events, (3) does he have strong support from the PM, (4) does he have strong support on the back-benches? The more yesses you have, the better.

As far as Chris Grayling goes, the immediate crisis will not go away any time soon; it might not be a top-line news story but it will rumble on for weeks. For that reason, it will very probably be overtaken by events from time to time but will continue to resurface as the bigger stories pass. Who knows whether he has support from the PM. At her January reshuffle, he was briefly and wrongly named as the new Chairman of the Conservative Party, which would have been something of a sideways move in seniority but a crucial link point for the PM. You wouldn’t expect that job to go to anyone but a political ally. As such, he probably does better than most on the third question. As for the fourth, I’ve not seen much evidence of his having much of a fan-club. He is a Brexiteer and the ERG might put up some backing on that basis, though May could replace him easily enough with another Leave-backer should it come to it.

As such, I don’t think his underlying position is particularly strong, and his inactions are weakening it further. To gain a ministerial scalp though, Labour need to maximise pressure on him and their Shadow Transport Secretary, Andy MacDonald, has been as absent as Grayling. For that reason as much as anything, I don’t think he will be brought down by this – but it’s still more likely than the 10/1 odds suggest.

David Herdson


From bollocks to Brexit to bollocks to Bercow?

Thursday, May 31st, 2018

The Speaker seems determined to annoy the Leavers and with crucial votes on Brexit coming up that seems unwise.

Former Monday Club member John Bercow has a history of needlessly antagonising people with his words & actions and I fear that his bumper sticker will rightly annoy Leavers especially with crucial Brexit votes scheduled for June in the House of Commons.

A Speaker needs to be seen to be fair and impartial and the fear among Leavers will be with close votes due on Brexit the Speaker’s personal views on Brexit might impede his judgment. As an innovative Speaker he might choose to ignore or adapt Speaker Denison’s rule, which could have the potential to trigger an early general election especially if the Government lost a key Brexit vote.

So Leavers might see this as an opportunity and the perfect motive to remove John Bercow, the fact we are coming up to the time John Bercow originally planned to stand down from the Speakership should help the plotters.

Quite frankly you can’t see Lindsay Hoyle, Bercow’s likely replacement, pulling shenanigans like this. Speaker Bercow only needs to lose the support of a significant minority of MPs to see his position become untenable, his actions are increasing the chances of his ousting this summer.




This interview is not of someone who will ever be Tory leader or Prime Minister, let alone the next one.

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

For quite some time I’ve been advising laying Gavin Williamson for next PM and Tory leader, somebody once compared him to an incontinent puppy and his media performances seem to confirm that, wherever he goes there’s a great steaming pile of excrement not far behind.

The next Tory leader needs to have good media skills so you know you’ve got major problems when you’re getting savaged by a dead sheep Richard Madeley. All of this stems from Williamson’s non (Prime) Ministerial advice to Russia that they should ‘go away and shut up.’ Willamson’s not the heir to Theresa May, he’s the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots.

Gavin Williamson’s performance today has to be worst performance on TV since William Shatner covered ‘Total Eclipse Of The Heart,’ that’s how bad it was.




Esther McVey’s betting problem is why I’m taking the 20/1 on her as next out of the cabinet

Sunday, May 27th, 2018

There’s a very interesting story in today’s Sunday Times about Esther McVey, the Sunday Times say

Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary, has been accused of breaching the ministerial code after she led a cabinet revolt against gambling reforms weeks after accepting hospitality from a betting firm.

Jon Trickett, Labour’s Cabinet Office spokesman, has written to the prime minister to demand an investigation of the alleged conflict of interest.

In the letter he accuses McVey of breaching the ministerial code, which requires ministers to “ensure that no conflict arises, or could reasonably be perceived to arise, between their public duties and their private interests”.

It also states that “no minister should accept gifts which would, or might appear to, place him or her under an obligation”.

McVey came under pressure after it was revealed that she and her partner, Philip Davies, the Tory MP for Shipley, attended the Cheltenham festival on March 16 as guests of William Hill. Davies recorded in the MPs’ register that he had received two tickets, worth £270 each. There was no mention of the ticket on McVey’s entry in the register.

She declined to say whether she had told ministers about the hospitality when arguing against cutting the maximum stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals. But in his letter Trickett says he understands she did not — an admission, he claims, that amounts to a conflict of interest.

The Sunday Times also note that Mr Davies received two tickets for eight racing events in the last year, but if like a good partner he took his other half to some of those events Ms McVey will be in trouble.

Whilst the amounts involved are relatively trivial I’m working on the premise there could be several other breaches of the ministerial code which could lead to the death by a thousand cuts and the minister in trouble gets described as beleaguered.

Since she joined the cabinet Ms McVey has performed poorly culminating with an answer over the rape clause when applying and receiving benefits  that sounded appalling and could have been delivered by Theresa May at her robotic worst.

This has been a surprise to those, myself included, who thought she might have been Theresa May’s successor. Had she not lost her seat in 2015 Esther McVey would have almost certainly joined the cabinet in 2015 and could have been a potential successor to David Cameron.

Currently Esther McVey is 20/1 with Ladbrokes as next out of the cabinet, that price won’t last long I suspect.



Why betting on the Republicans in the House mid-terms may be the right strategy

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

Ian Whittaker on his betting plan

The consensual view on the November mid-terms has been that the Democrats are favourites to win back the House in November.It is almost a given that a party that holds the White House loses seats – Clinton and Bush picked up a few seats in 1998 and 2002 but under unusual circumstances (pushback against Impeachment for Clinton, the aftermath of 9/11 for Bush). Trump disgust is seen as a powerful force for Democrats to turn out and independents to switch sides. The Mueller probe casts a shadow over the Presidency. Moreover, the Maths seem to favour the Democrats. Democrats have to win 23 seats, fewer than the Democrats won in 2006 and 2008 and the Republicans in 2010. There are 23 seats where Clinton won in 2016 but where there are Republican House members. Pennsylvania’s court ruling helps the Democrats in several seats. Special elections in Arizona and Pennsylvania (Conor Lamb) show a swing to the Dems.

However, I think the value is more in the Republicans winning the House, which you can get for 5/4 at Ladbrokes.

First, the Democrats lead in the Generic polls is shrinking. As Mike said, it is down to 3.4% and on a downward trend. The quite frequent double-digit Democrat poll leads have disappeared (the last one was in late April) and there is a question whether the Democrats are suffering from Labour’s problem over here in that it is building up huge but useless majorities in safe seats, which could exaggerate their position.

Second, the economy is improving and Trump is getting the credit. According to CBS, 64% rate the economy as doing well or very well and, importantly, 68% credit Trump’s policies, either strongly or somewhat, with that strength. GDP growth, jobs growth, wage growth all point to a buoyant US economy and Trump’s ratings are improving, 44% on average think he is doing a good job, not great but not disastrous.

Third, the Republicans are far ahead of the Democrats on fundraising,. Up to and including April, they had raised c. $185m and plan to spend $250m on the election. Republican turnout in primaries is up substantially (61% up in West Virginia, 43% in Indiana and 48% in Ohio) and the ground machine looks well prepared and slick. Democrats do have their strengths and, while the national party is in debt, local candidates have been well funded. However, that is a problem because it makes it far easier for the Republicans to shift resources to well needed.

Fourth is impeachment. While Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi states impeachment of Trump is not on the table, that message is constantly undermined by activities and other influential Democrats such as Maxime Waters who says a Democrat-controlled House will push for it. That is a problem, it fires up Republicans to turn out and it alienates swing voters. The more talk of impeachment, the more likely swing voters will stick with the lesser of two evils, essentially in a strong economy.

Finally, I think there will be a “wild card”
and that is the Mueller investigation but not in the way you may think. The increasing narrative on the Republican side is that, yes, there is a scandal bigger than Watergate but that scandal is the Obama Administration deliberately placed spies in the Trump campaign in 2016 to spy on his campaign (FWIW, the fact both the NY Times and Washington Post are quoting sources saying, yes, there was a source inputted but it was for the good of Trump etc suggests there is something that is about to come out). The narrative is already firing up Republicans, and if anything fishy comes out, is likely to impact swing voters.

If you do not want to take the risk on the House, then the 4/7 on the Republicans with more than 50 Senate seats on Ladbrokes looks a very safe bet. Ticket splitting is getting rarer and Trump has delivered to the conservatives on judicial appointments. With a fair chance, there could be at least one Supreme Court justice retiring, that gives an incentives to turn out. The Republicans have learnt from the Moore fiasco in Alabama and gone for sensible choices in WV, OH and ID. The Dems only hopes are Nevada and Arizona, and the latter seems too much of a push. The Republicans, on the other hand, would seem to have a very good chance in Indiana, West Virginia (depending on the losing Republican primary candidate getting on the ballot), Montana and North Dakota, with Missouri another good option. I have not seen individual state Senate bets but I would go for Rick Scott in Florida, which I think will be another Republican pick-up and Ohio might also be worth a look.

PS for matters of disclosure on whether to listen to me, I won on Brexit and the US Presidentials but did horribly on the 2017 GE ex-TSE’s great tip on Scottish Tories 🙂

Ian Whittaker


Sajid Javid moves to second favourite to succeed Theresa May

Friday, May 25th, 2018

From a 3.7% chance to 9%+ in just 25 days

Following a glowing write-up by Fraser Nelson in The Telegraph this morning there’s been a lot of been a fair bit of betting interest in the Home Secretary for next Conservative leader.

This is from the Nelson piece in which he looks at how Javid is handling his new job:

“His first change – rhetorical style – is relatively easy. The bigger test will be if he can win the battle that his predecessor kept losing: creating a more sensible immigration regime with more Tier 2 visas for highly-skilled workers. Ms Rudd wanted to let in a lot more doctors, engineers and computer programmers. Mrs May wanted no deviation from the overall target – and she won. This, of course, is the inflexibility that led to the Windrush debacle. If Mr Javid can replace this with a more liberal system – which can easily be introduced after Brexit – he’ll have won the gratitude of his party.

He isn’t disliked, which counts for a lot at a time when Tory leadership elections are won by whoever has the fewest enemies. When he ran for the leadership two years ago, the junior partner on a joint ticket with the now-forgotten Stephen Crabb, they presented themselves as the “nice guy” duo. That was the biggest boast either could make, having not achieved much or made clear what they stood for. As Home Secretary, Mr Javid is making it clearer now: he’s a reformer, someone who wants to change the tone of the party and is impatient for radical change. Someone who’s sure of himself and his form of conservatism… “

The favourite continues to be Jacob Rees-Mogg although he has seen a decline in recent weeks. My long-standing view has been that Rees-Mogg would find it hard to secure the support of 150 or more Conservative MPs required to get him onto the party members’ ballot. This is, of course, restricted to the top two elected by MPs.

Can Javid do it? Don’t know and in recent times baldies have not prospered in the role. Just think Hague and IDS.

Everything, of course, depends on timing of the next leadership contest. Is Theresa May really going to step down after brexit next March or is she going to be pushed beforehand? She could have caused make it right through to the end of the Parliament. Amazingly she’s been an incredible survivor so far

Mike Smithson