Archive for the 'About the site' Category


StJohn returns with his annual Christmas Day Crossword

Friday, December 25th, 2015


A welcome return to what was a PB Christmas Day tradition

There was a time when Christmas Day on PB wasn’t Christmas Day without the annual crossword by St John. We’ll this year he’s back and here it is. Enjoy and have a great day.

Thanks to everybody who had made the site what it is. To my son Robert whose hobby since for nearly 12 years had been keeping the technical infrastructure working a big thanks. Also to TSE who’s my stand-in and let’s me have regular holidays as well as providing regular insights from his Conservative campaigner perspective.

Since the general election I’ve sought to extend the range of regular contributors to join Harry Hayfield who does the local by-elections and David Herdson who has been contributing here the longest.

We’ve now got the pollster Keiran Pedley with the excellent PB/Polling Matters podcasts; my former BBC news colleague Don Brind, Alistair Meeks, formerly Antifrank, as well as many others.

A thank you to Mark Hopkins of Nojam for the excellent competition widgets and also, of course, the many commenters on the site who regularly share their views, insights and occasionally betting tips that prove to be winners.

Finally there’s the moderation team who are there to keep me out of the law courts and to try to ensure the conversation remains civilised.

Everybody works on a voluntary basis.

I should add that I’m hoping that we’ll see the return of Marf in the New Year.

Happy Christmas to everybody.

Mike Smithson



1 Former parliamentarian attends Point to Point as Prime Minister (10)

6 Preserves King out East (4)

8 State banks are broken (8)

9 VW reportedly hid a carbon problem ultimately abhorrent to nature (6)

10 Prime Minister briefly identified with his opponent’s wife (4)

11 Red Queen is a female chess piece (4,6)

12 Michael Collins was one revolutionary leader eliminated over a Union (10)

14 With old age society decreases (5)

17 Condition of second philanthropist (5)

19 Writer is a woman’s MP (9)

22 Liberal Democrat leader, surprisingly sure at replacing Left, is of

variable quality (7,3)

23 Collaborators in a Northumberland village (4)

24 Intellectual Prime Minister nearly retired holding a speciality (6)

25 Reagan’s campaign message was characteristically negative (8)

26 Blooming short Prime Minister (4)

27 Governing while wearing political colours is Panglossian (4-6)


1 Right wing was caught up in dodgy conflicts (5,4)

2 Pitched battles over Clause Four in the past? (3,4)

3 Franklin Island or resort (8)

4 Republican Cat supports a pair of Democrats in America (8,7)

5 Whitehouse fought for this intern (6)

6 Rebel leader was a cabinet minister (4,5)

7 Chancellor said to be overly sentimental (7)

13 After retreating President Kennedy withdrew (9)

15 Disengaged and rejected Healey embraced idle action (9)

16 Tony Benn’s time as the most divisive figure (8)

18 Tory leader insulting to the French Prime Minister (7)

20 On course to overtake and expose Left wing extremist (7)

21 No single lover was once an MP (6)


Alex Salmond tells the Commons about this morning’s PB Osborne betting tip

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015


Date for your diary: Next PB gathering October 29th 2015 – Shooting Star pub close to Liverpool Street Station

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

We’ve got a lot to catch up on

The last PB gathering in London took place in March while EdM was odds on favourite to be the next PM, UKIP appeared to be heading for at least half a dozen seats, the LDs had 56 MPs, the SNP had just six Scottish seats and issues like whether the Honourable Jeremy Corbyn would kneel before the Queen were beyond anybody’s imagination. Since then an enormous amount has happened.

Like last time we are using a different pub a few yards away from our previous regular haunt, Dirty Dicks. The start time is 6.30pm. Be there.

Thanks again to the slim-line Fat Steve for making the arrangements.

If you’ve never been to one of these sessions then it really is worthwhile. It’s great fun just putting faces to names.

Mike Smithson


PB competitions results

Saturday, September 12th, 2015


The results are in and the winner is David. Many congratulations on your victory. Mike Smithson will contact you on how to claim your prize.

Many thanks are due to Mark Hopkins of Nojam for creating the  competition widget and to William Hill for providing the competition prize.

The summary of results is available by clicking here

The full spreadsheet of entries is available by clicking here.



The new one member one vote rules will transform Labour’s leadership election

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Dan Jarvis rules himself out while Liz Kendall tells Andrew Neil that she is in

Well we are off in the race to find the next LAB leader. Last night one of the most heavily tipped possible runners, ex-army Major Dan Jarvis, announced that he would not be putting his name forward. A few hours earlier the relatively unknown Liz Kendall told Andrew Neil in a live TV interview that she would (link above).

A key element is that the party’s electoral system has been radically changed since Ed Miliband had his narrow victory over his brother five years ago when the contest was decided by three electoral colleges. These covered MPs, party members and affiliated organisations which largely meant the trade unions.

This time there’ll be a “one member, one vote” (OMOV) system. Candidates will be elected by members and registered and affiliated supporters, who will all receive a maximum of one vote. This means that, for example, members of Labour-affiliated trade union will need to register as Labour supporters in order to vote.

The biggest challenge initially is that in order to stand, candidates will need to be nominated by at least 15% of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) – now 35 MPs. The vote, as in previous elections, will be held by the alternative vote system. The deputy leadership election will be held under the same rules.

    In my judgement the new system will put a premium on strong communication skills and being able to perform effectively on TV.

On this score I was hugely impressed with Liz Kendall’s performance yesterday with Andrew Neil who is not the easiest of interviewers to face. Kendall is a fresh face without baggage from the past. Her prospects have been enhanced by Dan Jarvis, another good communicator and fresh face, saying that he won’t stand.

Paul Waugh has a good piece here on likely runners and riders.

  • A big thank you to all who have so far contributed to PB’s post general election appeal.

    What’s been raised so far will make a big difference. If you want to provide support then click on the button below.

  • Help keep PB going by making a donation to support the site's costs in the Post GE15 Appeal

    Mike Smithson


    Announcing PB’s General Election night event + today’s Populus poll

    Friday, April 17th, 2015

    Finborough Arms   Google Maps

    2200-0600 May 7th 2015 – Finborough Arms Kensington

    This is from Jeff Bell who used to post as Stonch.

    Kensington and Chelsea have now granted me and all night licence for the Finborough on May 7th so I can go ahead with an election all-nighter.

    The event will be ticket only from 10pm when polls close (the pub will be open to the public that day from 5pm however). The cost is £15 and that includes tea and coffee, mineral water and some snacks. The bar with extensive range of real ale, craft beer and all the rest will be open all night. The large HD screen is visible from every spot in the bar. We will show BBC coverage.

    I’ll be looking to close up at 6am when of course public transport will be operating. For tickets people should email me at Numbers will be limited of course but I don’t expect to have a problem with capacity.”

    The address is 118 Finborough Road, Kensington, London SW10 9ED. Thanks to Jeff, Fat Steve and others who have played a part in setting this up. Jeff tells me that there are two good Wifi connections (a primary and a back-up) and all the mobile networks have coverage in the pub. 4G seems to be good across the board.

    Mike Smithson

    For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


    Some pics from last night’s gathering

    Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

    Fat Steve and MikeK
    Fat Steve & MikeK

    Sunil and Stodge
    Sunil & Stodge

    Richard N and Antifrank
    Richard Nabavi & Antifrank

    Maybe because it was mid-week in a new venue but last night’s PB London Gathering didn’t attract the numbers that we have got used to. Still about 20 made the trip to a congenial pub close to Liverpool Street station for what turned out to be a really good evening.

    Clearly the the budget and the general election were very much in mind and, as you’d expect, everyone had strong views about what was likely to happen.

    Above are three of the pics of regular commenters that I took with my phone.

    Thanks again to Fat Steve for organising the event.

    Mike Smithson


    Marf for Wednesday and a reminder for next week

    Wednesday, March 11th, 2015


    Reminder: PB gathering March 17th at 7pm

    The next PB get-together will take place on Tuesday March 17th from 7pm at the Shooting Star in Middlesex Street. As the map below shows this is just round the corner from our normal venue, Dirty Dicks. We are hoping that this will be less crowded and noisy than the pre-Christmas bash. Thanks to Fat Steve for finding the new venue.

    There are also plans for overnight May 7/8 – details soon.

    shooting star