Rupert Murdoch hints that tonight’s YouGov IndyRef poll has NO and YES even closer

September 6th, 2014


David Herdson looks at what happens next if it’s a Yes?

September 6th, 2014

Scotland GE Map

Should we be looking at the best bets?

The best odds on Yes winning the Scottish referendum a week on Thursday are 11/4 with bookies, or 3.3/1 on Betfair.  Considering that not a single poll has shown Yes ahead and precious few have shown that side within touching distance, those offerings don’t look particularly attractive.  A Yes, however, would be far from the end of the process: there would be consequences for all the parties, their leaders and the 2015 election.

Would Cameron go?

Some have speculated that if the Scots vote Yes, the PM should resign on the grounds that it’s an epic failure for a Unionist to lose a substantial portion of the country on his watch.  Alternatively, that such a defeat would trigger a no confidence vote in his leadership from a party rarely slow to wield the knife.  I disagree on both grounds: I don’t think Cameron would see a campaign he’s rarely been actively involved in as a personal failure and his party would take a similar view.  If you do buy the scenario, the Next PM market is the obvious place to look.  With Hague (50/1) planning to stand down at the election, the likely pre-election successor would be Hammond (33/1, Coral), or May (16/1).  Osborne (25/1, PP) might have done well at the Treasury but he’s still not a front man for an election campaign.  Ladbrokes’ 16/1 for Cameron to leave Downing St during 2014 is an alternative reasonably-priced possibility.

How would it affect 2015?

If Scotland does vote Yes, expect an SNP landslide there in 2015.  (Ignore comments that the election should be deferred or that Scots should play some lesser part, if any at all: such legislation would be seen as manifestly unfair unless there were some significant prompt to think otherwise, and only then might a bill be attempted).  Alex Salmond’s party won over 70% of the constituency seats at the 2011 Holyrood election and something similar could be expected.  That alone would have a significant impact on the result as most of the gains would be from Labour.  A secondary effect of such a result would be to even out the bias in the system: combinations like Con most seats / Lab most votes (66/1, Ladbrokes), which are almost impossible at the moment would come into play.

How England and Wales might react to separation would depend to some extent on how tough a stance the Scottish negotiators take.  Parties with leaders not viewed as weak might be expected to benefit.  However, no Westminster party is polling well at the moment and a slap in the face to London from Scotland could easily prompt voters to deliver a similar verdict, with an increase for UKIP, the Greens and possibly others too.  Bearing in mind the effect of the debates in 2010 and the Farage’s enhanced chance of inclusion should his party win the Clacton election, Ladbrokes’ 20/1 against UKIP securing 20-25% would suddenly become a lot more attractive.

Two outsiders

Following on from the suggestion that UKIP might be a beneficiary of a Yes vote, back in January, I sketched out a somewhat tongue-in-cheek scenario as to how Farage might end up as the next PM.  It’s not impossible and he remains 80/1 with PP: those aren’t silly odds.  Finally, if the nationalist tide sweeps to the other end of the country, Ladbrokes are offering 100/1 on Mebyon Kernow winning a seat in 2015.  Again, it’s unlikely but not a stupid bet at those odds.  Should UKIP suffer a serious embarrassment between now and the election, and with the Lib Dems and Tories not winning gold stars for popularity in government, MK offer an alternative.

A final word

All these observations are predicated on a Scottish Yes.  I don’t actually expect that to be the outcome – the current odds on the Betfair exchange of 9/2 7/2 look about right to me – but it’s wise to be prepared if it is.  Such a result would be an earthquake to the political system and things (including odds) might change rapidly thereafter.

David Herdson


Local By-Election Results : September 4th 2014

September 5th, 2014

Carfax on Oxford City (Lab Defence)
Result: Labour 168 (44% +12%), Liberal Democrats 101 (27% +4%), Greens 63 (17% -9%), Conservatives 24 (6% -12%), United Kingdom Independence Party 24 (6%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 67 (17%) on a swing of 4% from Liberal Democrat to Labour

Folkestone, Harvey Central on Shepway (Con Defence)
Result: United Kingdom Independence Party 287 (28%), Conservative 224 (22%), Liberal Democrats 198 (19%), Labour 196 (19%)
United Kingdom Independence Party GAIN from Conservative with a majority of 63 (6%)

Old Dean on Surrey Heath (Lab Defence)
Result: Labour 290 (44%), Conservatives 196 (30%), United Kingdom Independence Party 171 (26%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 94 (14%)


As the big day gets closer Sporting Index returns to political spread betting

September 5th, 2014

Not too long after the 2012 White House race Sporting Index disappeared from the political betting scene. This was to be much regretted. I’m a huge spread betting fan and just love the way that political futures can be traded like stocks and shares.

Well SPIN has found the Scottish Referendum irresistible. It has become a massive, in political betting terms, market and across the board the bookies are reporting high levels of activity.

There are two SPIN spread markets:-

Independence Index: 4.8 – 6.3 (Yes = 25, No = 0)

Turnout percentage: 78 – 79

Hopefully this will be a precursor to the firm operating its usual General Election spread betting markets.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


Boris, the betting favourite for next CON leader and 2nd favourite for next PM is in danger of falling at the first fence

September 5th, 2014

Boris’s selection for Uxbridge is not a foregone conclusion

We all know that the main impediment to Boris being Cameron’s successor is that he’s not an MP. That appeared to have been resolved a few weeks ago when he made it clear that he would seek to return to the Commons at GE2015.

Suddenly the London seat of Uxbridge came into the frame and there was a widespread assumption that if Boris wanted the Tory nomination there then he would get it. Indeed at one stage a bookie was offering 50/1 that Boris wouldn’t get it – a bet that, alas, is no longer available.

Today the local party is announcing the names of four people on the shortlist and the Sun reports this morning that one of them, the deputy leader of the council, David Simmonds, could be in with a good chance. The paper quotes what it describes as a “prominent Uxbridge Tory”:

“Boris is not at all a shoe-in and he’s got a real fight on his hands now. David Simmonds is very popular around here, and Uxbridge’s kind of guy. We don’t go in for flashy and we’ve never been interested in celebrated MPs…”

The Conservative party way is that the decision is in the hands of local party members who will vote. Simmonds has, it appears, been regarded as the heir apparent for years and there must be a chance that he’ll get it.

For Boris this would be a huge set-back and could make it harder if he sought another seat.

My view is that the Mayor should put his hat into the ring for the Clacton by-election.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Harry Hayfield’s Local By-Election Preview : September 4th 2014

September 4th, 2014

Carfax on Oxford City (Lab Defence)
Result of last election to council (2014): Labour 33, Liberal Democrats 8, Green 6, Independent 1 (Labour majority of 18)
Result of last election in ward (2012): Labour 288 (32%), Green 235 (26%), Liberal Democrat 207 (23%), Conservative 159 (18%)
Candidates duly nominated: Maryam Ahmed (Con), Kenrick Bird (UKIP), Tony Brett (Lib Dem), Alex Hollingsworth (Lab), Richard Scrase (Green)

The gleaming spires of Oxford has hidden a battle between the Liberal Democrats and the Greens as to who is best able to challenge Labour and the reason for this is that Oxford is a Conservative free zone. Yes, that’s right, there is a council in the Southern heartlands of England that does not have a single Conservative councillor on it. I am not quite sure when Conservative wipe-out was achieved in Oxford but since 2004 the number of Conservative councillors has been a big fat zero. In 2006, the Liberal Democrats had the upper hand becoming the largest grouping on the council but that only lasted one set of elections as in 2008 Labour regained their lead and in 2010 gained overall control of the council and since then the Liberal Democrats have collapsed from 17 in 2010 to 13 in 2012 and then eight this year. On the other hand the Greens have done very little by comparison starting off with seven councillors in 2004 reaching a peak of eight in 2006 but never dipping below five (as they did between 2008 and 2012) and with a sizeable 23% Lib Dem vote share in this ward could the Greens stage a recovery back towards their peak? Well, in the European Elections in the Oxford local count area a very respectable 21%, however this was down on the 26% they polled in 2009 and as a result Labour gained the local count area from the Greens (just as they did in Norwich and Brighton and Hove) so if the Greens cannot beat Labour, could UKIP (who polled 13% in 2014 up from 8% in 2009) pull off a suprise and see their first councillor in the city?

Folkestone, Harvey Central on Shepway (Con Defence)
Result of last election to council (2011): Conservatives 44, Independents 2 (Conservative majority of 42)
Result of last election in ward (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 539, 481
Labour 388, 328
Liberal Democrats 233
Independents 220
Candidates duly nominated: David Callahan (UKIP), Seth Cruse (TUSC), David Horton (Green), Tom McNeice (Lib Dem), Wendy Mitchell (Lab), Rodica Wheeler (Con)

Shepway, the council area that covers the parliamentary constituency of Folkestone and Hythe, has been nothing short of a Lib Dem disaster area. In 2003, the Liberal Democrats controlled the council with a majority of 12 (Lib Dem 29, Con 16, Lab 1) and served notice on Michael Howard, elected as Conservative leader in late 2003, that they were gunning for him despite his majority of 5,907 votes (13%) over the Liberal Democrats. There was only really ever going to be one result and Michael Howard held the seat with a majority of 11,680 votes (24%) on a swing of 5.6% from Lib Dem to Con and that was the cue for Lib Dem humiliation in the 2007 local elections. The Liberal Democrats lost 19 seats with every single one going to the Conservatives who despite that did manage to lose one seat to the Independents who also picked up the sole Labour seat and in 2011 the same thing happened again. Ten Lib Dem losses matched with ten Conservative gains and Lib Dem wipe-out. So the Conservatives have it all their own way and can expect a landslide win? No, because in the Euros Shepway voted UKIP by 43% to the Conservatives 27% and not that long ago another part of Folkestone elected a Green at a local by-election suggesting that anything could happen here (and if a friend of mine who lives in Folkestone says “All of them (councillors) are useless, so my vote is going to a useful party” then UKIP gain, Green gain and even a TUSC gain cannot be ruled out).

Old Dean on Surrey Heath (Lab Defence)
Result of last election to council (2011): Conservatives 36, Independents 2, Labour 2 (Conservative majority of 32)
Result of last election in ward (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 553, 526
Conservatives 337, 324
United Kingdom Independence Party 130
Liberal Democrats 91, 51
Candidates duly nominated: Heather Gerred (Lab), Eddie Hill (UKIP), Max Nelson (Con)

If Shepway has been a Lib Dem disaster area, then Surrey Heath has been an opposition disaster area. Back in 2003, the Conservatives barely won the council having an overall majority of four. (Con 22, Lib Dem 13, Lab 3, Ind 2) In the 2007 local elections, the Conservatives got to work on the Lib Dems making eight gains (six of which came from the Lib Dems) the others coming from Labour and the Independents and in 2011 (as in Shepway) wiped out the Lib Dems gaining the seven seats they had remaining leaving just two Labour (both from this ward) and two Independents which shows just how dire a situation the Lib Dems are in and probably explains why they have not nominated a candidate but again we have the perfect conditions for a UKIP surprise (a virtual one party state with the major mainstream parties fighting against each other) and given that in the Euros Surrey Heath saw a 7% swing from Con to UKIP the chances of a UKIP surprise must be pretty good.


After the rumours that a YES lead poll is about to be published Ladbrokes open market on the next Panelbase findings

September 4th, 2014

This might be a good way to flush out the data. If the odds change sharply or Ladbrokes suspend market then we’ll know something’s happening.

I’ve got a feeling that TNS might do very well in the IndyRef polling table. The firm’s fieldwork is face to face as part of larger consumer surveys.

YouGov, of course, made big methodological changes to their Scottish polls in mid-August. Until then they hadn’t been including 1-17 years olds and they now have a weighting based on whether people were born in Scotland.


Two weeks to go in Scotland and NO edges up on the exchanges to a 77% chance

September 4th, 2014

The YES YouGov bounce starts to recede

The widely reported news at the start of the week of the dramatic polling changes from YouGov in Scotland led inevitably to the money on the £3m Betfair markets to edge more towards YES. At one stage YES touched being a 26.5% chance but that has now started to recede with NO moving back upwards.

The situation is nothing like as clear-cut as it was before the second TV Salmond-Darling TV when the betting split was YES 13% to NO 87%.

With so few polls there is a paucity of data on which betting decisions can be made and as I wrote yesterday there’ve only been two full surveys since mid-August. Others, including one from what has proved to be the most YES-friendly pollster, Panelbase, are said to being the pipeline.

    At times the atmosphere is febrile with protagonists desperately looking for any information that supports their position.

    Last night there was a big social media rumour that Panelbase, which polls for YES, had them in the lead. That later got squashed. There was no such poll.

Aside from the polling there are the reports “from the ground” as well and what’s coming out of the campaign HQs.

So where are we? I still think the weight of NO support amongst the older age groups will prevail. If there are signs that that segment is moving then things might be different.

My betting approach is to “bet on the betting”. So I went “all-in” on YES after the latest YouGov and then reverted to a balanced all-green position yesterday taking a profit.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble