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If Johnson is to fight a successful election campaign he needs to cope with situations like this better

September 18th, 2019

First mistake: Denying it was a press event when it was blindingly obvious it was

Mike Smithson



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Latest YouGov favourability polling shows the enormous mountain that Corbyn has to scale

September 18th, 2019

It was 3 years ago that YouGov began issuing leader favourability ratings a move that followed suggestions from me. I’ve long been in the leader ratings matter much more than voting intention numbers camp and the format I most like is when poll samples are asked whether they favour a particular political leader or not.

The numbers for Johnson speak for themselves and the biggest electoral pointer, surely, is how Corbyn is currently perceived. That 70% view the LAB leader unfavourably is hardly a good starting point if there is an early general election campaign.

I know LAB supporters will point to the incredible recovery that the party saw at GE17 but they can’t have any certainty that that will be replicated. Corbyn’s numbers started to slip following the antisemitism row and haven’t shown any sign of recovery.

One real concern for the Labour Party is that although Swinson is new to the LD leader’s job the numbers show that in net terms she is looked on more favourably by GE2017 LAB voters than Corbyn is.

He is on net minus 6% from those who voted LAB last time while Swinson is on a net plus 10%.

Johnson, for all his apparent parliamentary troubles sees his numbers advance doing particularly well amongst Leavers and CON voters.

Mike Smithson


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In the General Election betting a CON majority drops from a 40%+ chance to a 29% one since MPs returned after the summer recess

September 18th, 2019

What happened when MPs took back control

Until the afternoon of Tuesday September 3rd everything had been going well for Cummings and Johnson. The proroguement of Parliament cutting down the numbers of days before the October Brexit deadline when Johnson and his team would be subject to parliamentary scrutiny had been drastically slashed and all seemed on target.

Then MPs moved to take control of the Commons agenda allowing the Benn bill to go through – a measure designed to tie Johnson’s hands.

We then saw 21 Tory MPs, including several former cabinet members expelled from the party instantly losing the Tory majority.

It is in this context that the betting moved against a Tory majority on the Betfair exchange.

This has been partly down to closer examination of the Commons arithmetic. To win a majority Johnson needs to do better than TMay at GE17 while likely losing a bunch of seats to the SNP and the resurgent LDs.

Where are the Labour seats for the Tories to win to offset the losses and more? This is harder to see

Mike Smithson


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Once again political gamblers have been overstating the chances of an early general election

September 17th, 2019

Chart via the betdata.io

The favourite month has gone from September to October to November to December and now 2020

For decades or as long as I have been political betting one of the characteristics of political gamblers is that they overstate the chances of an early General Election being called. Somehow it is always easier to make the case in your own head that one is going to happen soon than that it probably won’t.

So over the past few weeks like other PBers I have been laying, betting against the current favourite month in 2019 and hopefully will make a nice profit.

A key factor to remember now is that under a statute that was enacted in 2013 the minimum campaign period for a general electio was laid as down 25 working days. Clearly from the betting quite a lot of punters are not fully aware of the implications of this.

On top of that it is useful to have at the back of your mind the provisions of the Fixed Term Parliament Act for how an election is called as a result of a vote of no confidence in the government. Once that has been decided there is a period of 14 days for it shall come into operation.

When the act first came into being and certainly for the years that followed the general view has been that this made no difference to the prime minister’s ability to call an election. Even though two-thirds of all MPs have to vote for one the view has always been, until this month, that the opposition leader would have to fall in line.

That, of course, is what Corbyn didn’t do two weeks ago and it is arguable that he is the one who will determine the election date rather than Mr Johnson.

Mike Smithson


 



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Halloween’s going to be a massive moment in British politics and it is hard to predict what’ll happen

September 17th, 2019


When I went on my holiday two and a half weeks ago TSE and others made a big deal about this being an occasion when big political stories seem to break. Well that the events of the last two and a half weeks have more than proved that theory.

Well I’m now heading back overland from Andalusia after my holiday in the Osborne (no relation) sherry town of El Puerto de Santa María and will be back in the UK on Wednesday.

However you look at it the final day of October is going to be an extraordinary day in British politics. Even if the EU issue has been resolved by then, which I doubt, this will still mark the end of the, at times, controversial Speakersrship of ex-CON MP John Bercow.

Chances are, though, that the EU exit won’t have been resolved and there could be a mighty battle going on whether Johnson, if he’s still PM then, has sent the letter to the EU asking for an extension of the Article 50 process as he is required to do by law.

It might be, of course, that Johnson has been able to agree a revised version of TMay’s deal with the EU and that that has been approved by the House of Commons. It is the latter which I find hard to envisage. The anti-Brexiteers have got their tails up, there is increasing talk of not just another referendum but revoking Article 50. If that happens those that blocked TMay in the spring are going to feel a bit sick.

It might be as well, that Johnson has decided to defy the law that was passed earlier in the month and not sent the letter. In which case we can expect a mighty legal battle going on with the prospect of him being injuncted and then maybe even going to prison.

All this is without today’s hyped ruling by the Supreme Court on the legality of the prorogation.

So many things are possible and in the current environment nothing should be ruled out.

Mike Smithson


 



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On the eve of the big court case some of the main brexit betting markets

September 16th, 2019

Charts of Betfair exchange prices from Betdata.io.

Mike Smithson


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Swinson’s great LD gamble – making cancelling Brexit party policy

September 16th, 2019

Inevitably this new policy agreed to at the party conference in Bournemouth today is going to be attacked for being anti-democratic. The big question is how will it impact electoraly assuming there’s an early general election?

Even the only Green MP, Caroline Lucas, who you would have thought to be an ally, has Tweeted her concerns about it.

The criticism is based on the premise that the result on June 23rd 2016 was in fact democratic and there are reasons for questioning that. In any case the referendum itself was only advisory.

Really this is all about branding and the Lib Dems have prospered in the last few months by being unambiguously the party of Remain.

My guess is that this will have been researched at some length and the decision has been taken to take the risk and go with it. The fact that we are nearly three and a half years on from the referendum and ministers are still trying to work out how this will happen reinforces the point about having a simple straightforward position.

Assuming that we do indeed leave on October 31st then this policy platform is a good basis for campaigning to rejoin.

This policy platform will also make any LAB position on Brexit appear equivocal. It also gets Swinson and the party noticed.

Mike Smithson


 



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Warren maintains her strong betting favorite position for the Democratic nomination

September 16th, 2019

But Biden continues to top the polls

With all the focus on the United Kingdom’s political crisis PB’s not covered the 2020 American presidential race for some time. At this stage, of course, this is all about who the Democratic party will choose to take on Donald Trump in November next year.

This, as we all know, is a long process and the fight is on at the moment to establish who the front runners will be when voting actually starts in February.

Although the first state to decide, Iowa, doesn’t make its decision until February 3rd the main contenders are slugging it out to boost their chances in the early primary states.

The latest event, before the weekend, was the third major Democrat TV debate. This time the number of candidates involved was restricted to 10 which meant it was held on a single night enabling the frontunner, Joe Biden and his main opponent, and Elizabeth Warren, to face each other on live TV for the first time in the campaign.

The debate lasted for three hours and it was clear, near the end, that the extended time involved was taking its toll particularly on the ex-VP and current leader in the polling, soon to be 77, Joe Biden. This clip in which Biden talks “record players” is being much repeated by those who question whether Biden is simply too old to cope with the demands of a prolonged campaign.

Even before he formally entered the race Biden headed the polls on likely Democratic contenders and this has been maintained. But the gap has been narrowing and in the latest YouGov US poll he’s running level with Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Biden’s poll position is not reflected in the betting. His chance of winning the nomination is now at 22% on Betfair against 37% for Warren. Behind them are Bernie Sanders, Senator Kamala Harris and the 37 year old Pete Buttigieg.

I have now cashed out of all my bets, taking some profits, on the nomination and I’m waiting for the Iowa caucuses which will be the first really big pointer about what’s going to happen when real voters have to make a choice. I’ve got a feeling that Biden will struggle there and Warren and Pete Buttigieg might do well.

Mike Smithson