Henry G Manson’s 33-1 Sadiq for Mayor tip is looking better and better

January 30th, 2015

You can still get 4/1 on him for the nomination

Back in March 2013 Henry G Manson tipped Sadiq Khan to be next London Mayor when the price was 33/1. Henry’s record on Labour matters is usually pretty good and I was amongst many who got on at that price.

Henry’s reasoning was that Khan had, at the time, just been made Labour’s shadow minister or London – a role that would allow him real links with all parts of the party in the capital and a platform to build up his profile.

In last May’s elections Labour’s biggest success was in London and Khan got much of the credit.

Until now Sadiq hasn’t really registered in the regular Evening Standard YouGov London polls but that has now changed with the latest survey. He’s made a big jump as the favoured candidate of London party supporters and now stands just 7% behind Tessa Jowell who probably enjoys greater name recognition. Coverage like that in the latest Standard is going to further Khan’s position.

You can get 4/1 from William Hill on him winning the party nomination and 6/1 as next Mayor. The latter looks particularly tasty.

Once again well done Henry for his advice.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Local By-Election Preview : January 29th 2015

January 29th, 2015

Marshalwick South on St. Albans (Two Conservative defences)
Result of council at last election (2014): Conservatives 29, Liberal Democrats 17, Labour 10, Greens 1, Independent 1 (No Overall Control, Conservatives and Opposition tied)

Result of ward at last election (2012): Conservative 929 (40%), Liberal Democrats 651 (28%), Labour 441 (19%), Green 188 (8%), UKIP 123 (5%)

Result of ward at last election (2014): Conservative 972 (39%), Labour 573 (23%), Liberal Democrats 486 (19%), Green 258 (10%), UKIP 232 (9%)

Candidates duly nominated by party:
Richard CURTHOYS, Steve McKEOWN (Con)
Richard HARRIS, Vivienne WINDLE (Lab)
Jill MILLS, Tim ROBINSON (Green)
Elizabeth NEEDHAM, Mark PEDROZ (Lib Dem)

There have been two by-elections this week (of which one of them was held on a Wednesday) and yes, this is a double vacancy following the decision of two councillors to stand down in the same ward. St. Albans has been a rather indecisive council of late between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. In 2003, the council was hung with the Liberal Democrats having a two seat lead over the Conservatives which turned into a 13 seat lead in 2006 and enabled the Lib Dems to gain overall control of the council.

But just like other Lib Dem controlled or influenced councils the coaltion marked a turning point and in 2011, the Conservatives became the largest party (gaining five seats) but have found it very hard going ever since. The reason? Labour have started to make inroads. Between 2011 and 2014, Labour have made seven gains all from the Liberal Democrats and with St. Albans constituency being one of Ed Milliband’s must win seats two Labour gains here would certainly put him in a good mood, the problem is though UKIP.

Harry Hayfield


Is Lord Ashcroft the reason Nick Clegg is still leading the Lib Dems?

January 29th, 2015

If so, who will be more grateful? The Lib Dems or their opponents?

One of most striking things of this parliament, is the Lib Dems’ unshakeable calm whilst the national opinion polls suggest in May the Lib Dems are headed for an epochal defeat that may end up being a modern Charge of the Light Brigade. We regularly get polling with the Lib Dems in single digits nationwide, and recently, in fifth place behind the Greens, yet there’s no appearance of outward panic.

There’s probably been more talk about Ed’s leadership than there has been of Nick Clegg’s leadership in the last few months. So why haven’t the Lib Dems replaced their leader or even discussed it publicly?

I think the answer is because Lord Ashcroft’s constituency polling which shows the Lib Dems doing better than national polling indicates, a recent batch in Lib Dem/Con marginals showed only a 2% LD to Con swing in these seats. Without this polling I think the Lib Dems would have removed Nick Clegg as it is easier to reassure colleagues worried about losing their seats, that there’s non internal polling showing them holding their seats.

A few years ago, Nick Clegg criticised Lord Ashcroft’s influence on British politics and tax status, but today he might be very thankful for the Good Lord’s intervention, which confirms we live in interesting times, with a Tory MP urging his constituents to back the Greens and the Tories hoping for the SNP to do well. This all tells us this is going to be a fascinating election.

We should also remember today’s political opponents, may soon become tomorrow’s allies.



For those who didn’t see it the Lord Ashcroft interview on SkyNews

January 29th, 2015


Remember 2005 when LAB and CON were level pegging on votes in England but LAB won 92 more seats

January 29th, 2015

There’s little to suggest that such a distortion won’t happen again

The blue team has understandably found great cheer and encouragement in the latest polling from a range of firms. The race is undoubtedly getting closer in terms of votes but it’s seats that matter.

One of the reasons why I’ve been highlighting England is because of what happened in the 529 seats being fought there at GE2005 when the Tories just had the edge on votes but LAB came out with 92 more English seats.

That election was fought on different boundaries, they were revised for 2010, and, of course, there’s a very different electoral environment with the vote being far more fragmented than ever before.

Could the the English seat split in May be so much more favourable to Labour once again?

One of the great drivers has been tactical voting with those opposed to the Tories being much more ready to switch their votes than those opposed to Labour. This has helped the LDs enormously in their CON facing constituencies as well as Labour in the LAB CON marginals. My guess is that we’ll see a repeat of the pattern from previous elections.

This could be offset to an extent by the Tories being able to attract ANTI-LAB from other LD supporters and, of course, those who have switched to UKIP. But I’m less convinced that Tory voters will abandon their traditional reluctance to switch to stop the party most able in their seats to impede LAB.

The other factors that cause the system to appear biased against the blues remain. The boundaries are the same and LAB voters are likely to turnout at lower levels in the party’s traditional heartland.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


The build up starts to what will be the biggest polling event so far in 2015

January 28th, 2015

Ever since the first post-IndyRef Scottish polls came out showing a huge move to the SNP the standard assumptions that were being made about the GE15 outome were put on one side.

For although in GB terms the the loss in the LAB vote and increase in the SNP one amounted to less than one percent overall the number of seats involved was enormous.

At GE10 LAB easily held onto its 41 Scottish seats with very comfortable majorities. Only three of them had leads over the SNP of less than 20% and in none of them was the margin less than 10%.

There’ve been projections that the SNP could take more than 50 of the 59 Westminster MPs in Scotland leaving Scottish LAB with a small handful. If that happens then EdM’s party will be struggling to win most seats never mind a Westminster majority.

The big question is whether the polling picture will hold when you get down to the constituency level and how those polled will respond the Lord A’s two stage voting question – the first a standard one and the second asking interviewees to think specifically about their own seats and the candidates who are likely to stand.

    Could we see well known incumbents getting a bonus and could there also be pro-unionist tactical voting? The fact is we don’t know but Lord A is starting to find out.

Whatever I’ve little doubt that our view of the general election overall will be changed by the findings. They are due out next week.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


A worrying trend for Ed Miliband’s team: Labour’s 2010 Lib Dem crutch is getting shorter

January 28th, 2015

Many ex-yellows are now going green

Over the last two years we’ve been keeping a close eye on the group of swing voters who could have a big impact on the May 7th outcome – those who voted Lib Dem in 2010 but have now switched to Labour. In my latest calculation, for January, the number has dropped to a low point.

This is not the sort of trend that you can easily discern from a single poll which is why I’ve gone for monthly averages.

The above chart is based on eighteen months of the twice-weekly Populus poll and shows the proportion of 2010 LD voters who are now telling the pollsters that they’ve switched. Populus has been chosen because the other regular one, YouGov, does not present its numbers in a way that you can easily extract the data.

What seems to be happening is that they are not going back to Clegg’s party but are now saying Green.

If the Ashcroft marginals polling is correct then we are likely to see less of an effect in key seats that the Tories are defending from LAB or trying to take from the LDs.

Professor John Curtice calls the yellow switchers “Labour’s crutch” – well it’s getting shorter.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Cracking New Statesman piece by Matthew Engel on betting & politics

January 28th, 2015

The full article is here. This is an extract that’s most relevant to PB

“…The original purpose of both sides – trying to make a profit on the transaction – is certainly not absent. Indeed, in recent years it has become more central. At the heart of this phenomenon is a new class somewhat different from the blokes who hang round the betting shops. Their bible is a somewhat clunky blog-cum-website, PoliticalBetting.com, founded ten years ago by an ex-journalist, university fundraiser and Liberal Democrat candidate called Mike Smithson, who lost his political betting virginity as a teenager in the 1963 Tory leadership shemozzle.

Smithson uses the slogan: “The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble” (Bedford, actually), which for political betting purposes is definitely the place to be. No one can make money from the bookmakers by following conventional wisdom. And Smithson and his small team of contributors are particularly good at getting beyond that.

But of the two words in the site’s title, the first is more significant. This is a wonkish site first and foremost. I am not sure whether knowing that the Conservatives retained a seat on Rother District Council by winning the Darwell by-election adds to the sophistication of my political analysis, especially when I am not sure where either Rother or Darwell might be. But it certainly makes me feel clued up. As does the rigour Smithson brings to the study of polling data.

The site’s small profit, however, comes from the betting firms paying commission on click-throughs that generate custom, although the companies are just a bit wary of this new business. “I know who some of these people are,” says Matthew Shaddick, head of political betting at Ladbrokes. “A lot of them are political obsessives: activists, poll-watchers, or they work in political HQs. Real anoraky stats people, or political scientists with their own models.” In other words, not necessarily the mug punters the bookies traditionally love…”

Engel concludes:-

“..We aficionados all have our failures, heaven knows. But we can smile about our past triumphs, as over some long-ago night of passion. I was a fairly early Obama backer but Mike Smithson spotted him long before I did and backed him to be president at 50/1. My own moment of glory came in 1990, when I divined that Michael Heseltine would indeed topple Margaret Thatcher but then get punished by being deprived of the prize himself; therefore I knew – just knew – that the answer to the question simply had to be John Major, at 10/1. And I kept betting until Hills told me to get knotted.

I am relishing the 2015 election first and foremost because I care about my country and want it to be run by politicians who share my vision of its future; second because, for a journalist, it will be fascinating to write about; and third, because I hope that I might just have another moment of blinding insight to match the one I had 25 years ago. Which may be lucrative in a medium-sized way – and gloriously satisfying.”