Archive for the 'Coalition' Category


There’s greater than a 1.25% chance that Emily Thornberry will be next PM

Monday, February 19th, 2018

My little punt this afternoon

One of the things about running a site about political betting and being a punter myself is that I like to spend a few minutes each day casting my eye over the markets to see if anything interesting is happening.

I’m usually on the lookout for long odds bets where my assessment of the chances of it coming off is better than how the market is pricing it.

One such one I took this afternoon. It was at the place of 80 on Betfair that Emily Thornberry will be the next prime minister.

We’ve discussed at length how before how difficult it is going to be for a LAB PM to come directly after Mrs. May. That would require the incumbent to continue until after she has lost another general election and the widespread perception is CON MPs are not going to let her do that.

The general view is probably right but, as we saw with Gordon Brown in the years before GE2010 there was a great reluctance to oust an incumbent PM with a general election not that too far away. The same could happen with Mrs. May.

Although Corbyn is the strong second favourite to be next PM you’ve got to go down a long way, in my case to odds of 80, to find another LAB MP as a contender and that person is Thornberry – the clear favourite to succeed JC.

Given the massive ambivalence that Corbyn and his inner circle has on Brexit we cannot assume that he’ll stay in post all the way to the general election. He’s also getting old.

Mike Smithson


Amber Rudd now clear third favourite in the CON leader betting

Saturday, February 17th, 2018

JRM 18%..Bojo 10%..Rudd 8%..Gove 6%..Hunt & Raab 5%..Davidson & Williamson 3%

However you look at the next Conservative leadership betting there’s one thing that is probably not going to happen – that the two men heading the betting at the moment, old Etonians Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, are going to be fighting each other in the membership ballot which, of course, is of the two who top the secret ballot of party MPs.

BoJo and Moggsy, I’d suggest will appeal to the same broad audience within the parliamentary party that the chances are that one of them will not make it. My view at the moment is that the former mayor is probably more popular amongst Conservative MPs than Rees-Mogg but that could change.

The interesting Befair movement in recent days has been more support from punters for the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, the woman, who of course, stood in for Theresa May in the TV debate against Corbyn at the general election.

She comes over as very much a safe pair of hands. The only question mark about her is that she has a minuscule majority in her home seat of Hastings and Rye.

Generally, party leaders do better in their own constituencies than the party as a whole particularly at their first general election after their elevation. A big exception to this was last June when Theresa May saw decline in her seat which was very much against the run of what was happening to the party in the country as a whole.

Rudd, of course, was a remainer and a lot would depend on the timing of the election. She’d probably do better after Brexit has happened than before.

Mike Smithson


The LDs appear to be returning to their former role as NOTA – none of the above

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

I’ve just come across the above chart which shows an interesting picture of vote movements in council by-elections since GE17.

Clearly the collapse of UKIP is having a big impact and in almost every segment of seats, based on the defending party, LAB, CON and the LDs have moved forward.

What is striking is that in the former UKIP seats the biggest gainer has been the LDs vote increase which, on the face of it seems counter-intuitive.

My reading is that what is happening I is that as memory of the coalition fades the LDs are returning to their traditional role as “none of the Above”.

Mike Smithson


UKIP: circling the plughole

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

The problem is the leader – but could anyone else do better?

Revolutions devouring their own creators is hardly a novelty but UKIP are giving a fascinating new take on an old theme. They were never the most disciplined of parties and perhaps that was, for some, part of their attraction. Even so, since their crowning glory with their success in the referendum, they’ve not been so much undisciplined but ungovernable.

After Nigel Farage stepped down in September 2016, they’ve worked through no fewer than five leaders or acting leaders in the space of 16 months. By next week, they could be onto their sixth if Henry Bolton is forced out over his girlfriend’s racist tweets and over whether he was truthful in his statements as to whether they’d subsequently split up. This is taking the Throwaway Society to a whole new level – and as with other one-time use items, there’s a cost that comes with such excessive consumption. (To be fair to UKIP, they did make Nigel Farage reusable but even that’s no longer a solution).

With infighting, incompetence and instability on this scale, UKIP’s voice has become completely absent from the political debate at a time when their core issue is still very much live and when the fight to prevent Brexit – forlorn though that may be – still has vocal and powerful advocates. Certainly their support is a fraction of what it was but they still polled nearly 600,000 votes at the 2017 general election: around 70,000 more than the Greens despite standing 89 fewer candidates. Media access would be there for the asking.

The simple analysis would be to say that UKIP’s central problem is that Brexit has robbed it of its purpose and identity – and to a large extent, that’s true. But it’s far from the whole story and shouldn’t be used as an excuse for their subsequent collapse, for two main reasons.

Firstly, Brexit is a process and one which is likely to take much longer than many expected and leave Britain much closer to the EU than many natural UKIP voters would have expected. There is a story there to be sold and resentment there to be mined.

That opportunity would only take UKIP so far. The political class may be obsessed with Europe at the moment but few of the public are. Sure, it scores highly on polls measuring issues of concern because there is a lot of risk involved and because it’s in the news a lot. For all that, few members of the public are bothered about the detail and few votes will be won campaigning on it. There might be enough for a party polling in low single figures to progress but probably not much further than mid-single figures if its campaigning was limited to that alone. Even then, once Brexit is done and dusted, the issue will again drop off the public’s radar.

However, there’s no reason for a radical anti-establishment right-of-centre party to limit itself in such a way and a populist party campaigning on domestic issues as well as international ones would have plenty of scope to eat into the vote shares of a Tory party which has been on the defensive ever since the shock of last year’s election result, a Labour Party whose leadership stance is widely at odds with the values of many of its traditional supporters, and Lib Dem and Green parties which have wholly failed to capture the NOTA vote. There are more than enough examples across Europe and beyond to demonstrate what’s possible when the old order struggles. Indeed, we don’t even need to look abroad: capturing that vote in 2012-13 was precisely what prompted Cameron into promising the referendum in the first place.

But that was then: when it had money, an effective leader and an esprit de corps. With a highly talented leader now, it would still stand a decent chance of capitalising on the numerous opportunities before it and transitioning for a post-Brexit role. Instead, if it can’t sort out its internal problems – and given the depth of current divisions and the paucity of talent available, that looks the most likely outcome – it is heading for utter irrelevance.

David Herdson

p.s. I did think about writing about the impending US government shutdown or Nick Boles’ comments on Theresa May. But on the former, this is just more of the same: it will change very little unless a shutdown goes on for weeks. On the latter, the only point of interest is that he’s said it publicly. Again, it’s not going to change anything.


Seat projection from today’s ICM poll has CON ahead on MPs even though behind on votes

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

When’s the Corbyn Clique going to work out that the system now works against LAB?

The latest ICM Guardian poll out and the figures – C40/LB41/LD7 – are included above in the seat projection from Martin Baxter’s Electoral Calculus.

As can be seen that although the Conservatives are one point behind on votes this, according to the projection, will put them one ahead in terms of seats.

This reflects a big trend that first was noticed at GE2015 when the Lib Dems were hammered after the years in Coalition. The Tories who had suffered most in relation to LAB on the votes/seats in the previous four elections found themselves benefiting disproportionately from the sharp decline of what was then Clegg’s party.

    The effect is that now on the same vote share the Tories will probably get 20-30 more seats than Labour. If the system is biased then it is to the blue team though they’ll continue, no doubt, to whinge quoting 2005.

LAB, for want of a better term, “wastes” more of it votes chalking up big shares in its heartlands than the Tories who are more vulnerable to the LDs.

Interesting in the latest projection above that the LDs move up two seats even though their share is down on GE2017. The reason, of course, the that in this poll the Tories are down even more.

Projections on the proposed new boundaries have the system biased even more to the blue team.

All this means is that Mr. Corbyn’s LAB needs vote share leads far in excess of anything it has managed to achieve since June to be sure of him becoming PM.

Mike Smithson


The restoration of hanging, corporal punishment & blue passports – the key post-Brexit priorities for Leave voters

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

What YouGov found earlier in the year

The point that Professor John Curtice made yesterday about the big dividing politics British politics has become between social liberals and social conservatives is very much backed up by the above polling published by YouGov earlier in the year.

All the options that the sample was offered are in the chart above and as can be seen hanging and corporal punishment are at the top of the list for the voters followed by blue passports.

Really there is nothing surprising here. This is something that we knew but it is good to see hard numbers which is why I have revived this polling which I don’t think has been repeated.

Mike Smithson


Let us salute the great survivor TMay – the “dead woman walking” who could still be there at the next general election

Monday, December 18th, 2017

Now the talk is of a 2021 exit

We all remember the events June 9th the day after the general election as it became apparent that Theresa May’s huge gamble in going to the country earlier to get a big bigger majority was going to end in failure.

Instead of increasing the overall number of Conservative MPs which would have helped her during this difficult period getting the Brexit bill through Mrs May found herself in a minority government. David Cameron’s hard won and unexpected majority 2 years earlier had been fitted away.

The former Chancellor and leading Conservative, George Osborne, noted in those immortal words on television that “Mrs May was a dead woman walking”. And who could actually dispute the Osborne analysis? The Tories have a historical record of being absolutely ruthless with failed leaders and the expectation was that she would be out.

Leadership speculation built up during the weekend and Boris Johnson became the 30% favourite to take over. Everything looked as though the former mayor was going to move pretty quickly in to Number 10 Downing Street.

On the Monday after the election Mrs May appeared before the 1922 committee and persuaded them that she was the one to carry on certainly until Brexit had happened. Maybe te alternative of PM Boris focused opinions.

In the run up to the Party Conference season or Focus came all the talk was about the reaction that Conservative delegates would have towards their leader who had lost them their majority.

Tension was running high on that first Wednesday in October as Mrs May rose to make her conference speech was clearly feeling the strain. Her conference speech could not have been more disastrous. She started to lose her voice and at one point received from a fellow cabinet member the famous lozenge. As if nothing else could happen with the sign behind her on the platform started to lose letters s they slid down the board- a metaphor for her leadership?

Surely now what’s the moment for her to be going and stories came out that weekend about the former party chairman, Grant Shapps, having 30 MPs who were ready to sign letters to the 1922 committee chair demanding an immediate confidence ballot.He needed 48 but clearly did not have enough names to make the threshold.

People started to draw parallels between her position and that of Iain Duncan Smith in 2003 who had been ousti in such a confidence ballot within 4 weeks of receiving the longest ever conference standing ovation. Again October and November came and went and then we had the crucial talks in Brussels which were portayed as her victory..

Today’s Times is reporting that her exit could now be put back to 2021:

“..The emerging view comes as the Brexit cabinet sub-committee holds its first talks today on the sort of relationship Britain wants after leaving the EU. The Times understands that a number of cabinet ministers are lining up to agree to a gradual process of diverging from the EU after 2021, rejecting new EU legislation as it is proposed.

One cabinet minister told The Times: “She is not one to up sticks and leave. I’m confident that she will go on long beyond when many people expect. There is no clean and simple moment when she will or can leave. I think the leadership contest will be pushed back and back.”..

My guess is that if she gets to 2020 this will be like Gordon Brown in 2008/9. It was accepted by the party that he would be an electoral liability but it it was always felt that it was too close to the election to change leaders.

Mike Smithson


The Alabama result are starting to trickle in…

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017