Archive for the 'CON Leadership' Category


Boris’s CON leadership betting spurt appears to have run out of steam and others are moving up

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

It is inevitable with all the political moves relating to the prime minister that there is a lot of betting focus at the moment on who will succeed her both as CON leader and also Prime Minister.

Last week as the chart shows the money moved to the former mayor and former foreign secretary who has hired Lynton Crosby to run his leadership campaign, Mr Johnson. That’s evaporated but he’s still favourite though there are four or five others there waiting in the Wings.

The big factor that impacts on this market is the statement by Theresa May last week that she is[to step down and will not lead the party at the next general election. Quite when this will happen we don’t know but clearly, following the culmination of Brexit however that goes, she’s likely to be seen as a lame duck Prime Minister.

I still wonder whether her eventual successor is not yet regarded as a serious runner and might emerge as Theresa May gives further clarification of when she thinks she might be stepping aside.

Remember the historical factor in CON leadership races is that the long-standing front runner gets beaten.

Mike Smithson


The gilded cage. How the DUP are using the new rules of the game to trap the Conservatives

Sunday, December 16th, 2018

Board games are always a good source of arguments. There seem to be as many views on how to play Monopoly as families. Some place all fines in the centre, to be collected by anyone who lands on Free Parking. Some don’t allow rents to be collected in Jail. Views differ on what is to be done with the properties of bankrupt players. It is important to establish the rules in advance if you want to avoid unseemly rows.

Parliamentary politics is often presented as a parlour game. It isn’t: but it has rules. Those rules recently changed in a small but critically important way. Most people haven’t properly thought through the implications of that rule change. Unseemly rows will ensue.

Let’s start with the basics. Government is formed by a Prime Minister who can command the confidence of the House of Commons. Where one party has an overall majority, the leader of that party will get the job pretty much automatically. Where there is a hung Parliament, there is some horse-trading to be done. Parties can form a formal coalition, as happened in 2010, or a minority government can be formed with a smaller party offering only supply and confidence for an agreed programme rather than ministers, as happened in 2017 when the DUP backed the Conservatives.

Such agreements, however, only operate in the sphere of politics. They are not legally binding. The Conservatives found out in 2012 that coalition partners can rat on the deal when the Lib Dems refused to agree to boundary changes. They found out earlier this year that support in a minority government can be just as flaky when the DUP opposed some measures in the budget.

The reason for the DUP’s unreliable behaviour is well-known. The government’s proposed backstop in the withdrawal agreement would change Northern Ireland’s status in a way that they regard as completely unacceptable.  They are out for blood.

In times past, the defeat of the government on central measures like the budget would have led inevitably to its fall, the defeat itself demonstrating that the government no longer has the confidence of the House. The Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011 changed all that though. There is now a formal mechanism for selecting governments and, still more importantly, a formal mechanism for getting rid of governments.

There are exactly three ways of getting rid of a government. The first is that a motion for a general election is agreed by at least two thirds of the whole House (that is what happened in 2017). The second is that a motion of no confidence is passed. The third is if the Prime Minister voluntarily resigns.

What this means is that the DUP can leave the government becalmed in the doldrums, with confidence but without supply. The government cannot call a general election unilaterally. If a vote of confidence is called, the DUP can cheerfully support them in that. Everything else, however, and the government is on its own. Block the Prime Minister’s deal? That goes without saying. Vote down the budget?  Sure. Support Labour in a vote of censure against the Prime Minister? Naturally.

This leaves the government potentially paralysed. Unless it can find alternative support in other votes, the government will be in office but not in power until such time as it does what the DUP wants. Such alternative support will not be easily found or come cheap.

This gives the DUP outsized importance. In many ways they have more power than the ERG, which breaks the Conservative whip only at the risk of losing it, with all of the profound consequences that holds. Maybe the ERG might break away to set up Son Of UKIP but the Rubicon can only be crossed once. Till then, the ERG will need to display a veneer of loyalty to the Prime Minister.

If the DUP want shot of the Prime Minister – and they may – they have a technique to winkle her out of Number 10 without letting Labour in. It may have done Theresa May no practical good at all to have won her party vote of confidence if the only thing she can achieve in the House is to defeat votes of no confidence. If so, sooner or later she or her colleagues are going to need to change strategy or change the leader, or both. The fact that she is bomb-proof in her own party for a year would be an irrelevance.

So what does the government do next? For now, it is putting off the moment of decision. Unable to win the meaningful vote on its deal, it is temporising. There look to be only two ways out of this impasse. The first is to continue to temporise up to 29 March 2019 and hope that the nerves of some Labour MPs will be sufficiently worn that they will cave in and support the deal, with an acceptance that no deal might be the result. The second is to switch tactics and seek to build a cross-party alliance for a referendum, throwing the matter back to the public.

Neither looks appetising for Theresa May. Never one to make choices actively, she might well take the first route by default. Will her colleagues allow her to do so or will she find herself bypassed? We might well find out. Either way, the Conservative party looks set to break.


Alastair Meeks


The confidence vote betting: How the betting markets got it right from the vey start

Thursday, December 13th, 2018


But if punters could see this why not Moggsy’s ERG?

Yesterday was a huge political betting day with two million pounds on the Betfair market alone being wagered on the confidence vote on Theresa May.

It’s quite useful to look back and see how the markets performed against the actual result and as can be seen the lowest it ever dropped to on the Betfair Exchange for Mrs May was within the first hour at 9.40am when it was 65.6%.

As the day moved in it edged up steadily in the prime minister’s favour and five minutes before Graham Brady’s announcement you could have got a bet on at a 93% chance.

As well as the Betfair Exchange all the major bookies put up betting markets quickly following the announcement yesterday morning that a vote would take place and my guess is that the Betfair Exchange represents about 1/3 of the overall total number of wagers.

Given that quite a lot of betting on politics like this is generated within the Palace of Westminster itself then that might explain the fairly confident picture for Mrs May throughout. One would assume that this was almost the sole topic of conversation and many in in the Palace would have had a very clear sense of the way it was going.

The only other recent confidence move was the one against IDS in October 2003 when it became pretty clear early on what his fate was.

    My nagging doubt throughout was my erroneous assumption that Moggsy’s ERG gang would not have made a move like this unless they were fairly confident of success. That is a lesson to learn for the future. The most important thing when you mount a coup is to ensure you get a body.

So both Moggsy & co plus the PM have been weakened.

Mike Smithson


Bad news for TMay from ConHome – nearly two thirds of members surveyed want her out

Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

With voting due to start at Westminster at 6pm there’s bad news for the PM from the ultra Brexiteer site, ConHome. A snap survey finds 63% of those who participated wanting the PM out.

The question of whether this is representative of CON members I don’t know but this is very much the impression that CONHome tries to project.

Whether this will influence MPs as they prepare to cast their ballot in the confidence vote is hard to say. ComHome has become an ultra hardline Brexit site and one assumes that this approach chimes with its audience and survey participants.

The betting continues to look good for her. It’s now an 89% chance on Betfair that she will survive.

Mike Smithson


If punters risking their cash have got this right TMay’s safe

Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

But could the betting markets have it wrong?

Betfair and the other bookies were quick off the mark this morning getting markets up following news that tonight we will see a confidence vote amongst Conservative MPs on Theresa May.

So far, it seems that political betting public at least thinks that she is going to survive and currently, as I write, (1200) Betfair has the prime minister with an 80% chance of ending the day still in her job.

The last time this procedure was used to try to oust a CON leader, the confidence vote against IDS in October 2003, the Betfair market proved to be a good pointer to what was going to happen. It should be said that voting in that election took place all day and not like this one where it starts at 6 p.m. at night.

I’m going to be out for most of the afternoon and will probably not be posting again till 5 or 6 p.m.

Will what’s been described as the “most sophisticated electorate in the world” surprise us? It might.

Mike Smithson


Confirmed – 48 letters have been received by Graham Brady and TMay could be voted out tonight

Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

So the rumours that we were hearing last night were correct. The names have gone in to the chairman of the 1922 committee, Graham Brady, and now we have a confidence vote taking place.

Under the rule changes introduced when William Hague was Conservative leader this is the mechanism for ousting someone who has ceased to retain the confidence of the parliamentary Party.

If she is defeated then there will have to be a new leadership election at a very critical time and, of course, over the holiday period. Mrs May would be barred from being a candidate in that new election.

    The dilemma for Tory MPs is that they could be triggering off a process that could produce a leader that they are totally hostile to and they would regard as worse than TMay.

The great thing for her is that if she does survive, even by a majority of just one then she is immune from another leadership challenge for a year.

What we don’t know is what would happen if she loses. Will she remain in position until such time as a new leader is elected or would the cabinet recommend that an emergency temporary leader, and PM, is put in place until such time as a new leader has formally been elected.

No doubt the betting markets will be very active. I am delighted that I closed down my Theresa May will survive wager until the end of 2018 bet at the weekend at a profit.

Mike Smithson


After another crazy day – the betting movements

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

Raab back again as CON leader favourite

2018 as TMay exit year jumps from 16% to 36% chance

Second referendum steady as a 44% chance

All betting data from and based on the Betfair exchange.

Mike Smithson


Make of these Tweets what you will – but certainly lots of rumours flying about

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

Mike Smithson