Archive for the 'Betting' Category


Do as I have done and re-invest some of your IndyRef winnings on Mayor Dorothy in Watford

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

PaddyPower’s 5/2 is a great bet

One election result from Friday that barely got reported was the selection by the Watford Lib Dems of Mayor Dorothy Thornhill as candidate for the general election.

This is something that I had been anticipating and over the months and have built up what is my biggest GE2015 betting position on her with a best price of 11/2.

Dorothy Thornhill is a remarkable figure in the town who on the disastrous May 2014 elections day for her party was returned for the fourth time as elected Mayor. Watford is one of the 18 English local authorities which after local referenda have this system of local government.

To give you an idea of Dorothy’s appeal her first round vote share of 45.9% was the precisely the same as what she achieved on general election day in 2010. Check out her electoral record here. Although the parliamentary seat is not quite contiguous with the local authority area it mostly is there.

The May 2014 Ashcroft constituency poll pointed to this being a tight contest with just five points separating the three main parties. At the time of that poll the Lib Dems had not selected their candidate.

General elections are not, of course, mayoral elections and different consideration probably apply. But voters are not selecting a party or a prime minister but an individual to be their champion at Westminster. Watford looks set to be what will be a very rare result on May 7th 2015 – a Lib Dem gain. I rate Dorothy’s chances at better than evens.

PaddyPower have her at 5/2. That won’t last long.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Four final polls published, two more to come, and it looks as though NO might have just edged it

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Certainly that’s how punters are seeing it

Yesterday the other bit of Betfair, the one that operates like a traditional bookie with the firm fixing the odds, announced that it was paying out on NO winning bets. This part of the firm accounts for a very small slice of its business and serious punters don’t go near. That they only had to fork out a “six figure sum” says a lot.

For just look at the betting panel above and shape of what now looks set to be a record for a British political betting event. The scale and interest has been enormous.

    I’m still nervous about the outcome. The split of 52-48 from the online surveys from Survation, ICM and Opinium look pretty tight and if YES does manage an effective GOTV (Get Out The Vote) operation tomorrow then who knows?

The problem with all last night’s polls is that they are online and maybe are not fully representative of the electorate as a whole. Most firms struggle to reach the young and so often we see their views scaled up by quite big proportions because the pollsters fail to pick up sample targets. You’ve got to have certain engagement in the political process to be in a position where you are filling in an internet survey.

If turnout is going to be as high as some are predicting then those voting tomorrow could including large numbers for whom the process is a novel experience. The Ds, Es and the 16-24s who might not be fully represented on online panels.

Against that the events of this week might just have galvanised the more marginal NO voter to turnout.

Whatever in betting terms I am a winner tomorrow having “traded” for the past few months so I take several hundred pounds whichever way it goes. I’m going to keep it that way – this still could be a YES victory or NO could win with a double digit lead.

  • NOTE that the fourth final poll was the one last week from TNS showing 1% lead
  • Mike Smithson

    Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


    David Herdson says “LAB most votes – CON most seats” is a good bet at 66-1

    Saturday, September 13th, 2014

    Collage-DC-EM-NC-NF (1)

    Why the “impossible” could happen

    Labour has won most votes at a general election before and come out behind on seats.  It happened in 1951, when Attlee’s Labour polled over 13.9m votes: around a quarter of a million more than Churchill’s Conservatives, who nonetheless formed a majority government (and for that matter, more than Labour has ever polled in any other election).  A lot has changed since then and the conventional wisdom is that such an outcome is no longer possible.  And indeed, without great change, it’s not – but great change is happening and greater change still could be just around the corner.

    The reasons why it shouldn’t be possible are simple enough: the turnout in Labour’s safe seats is much lower than equivalent Conservative ones, Labour’s seats are on average slightly smaller, and Labour has fewer seats where it is a moderate third, winning a decent number of votes without being in sight of winning.  There is a fourth reason: Scotland.  In 2010, Labour won one MP for every 25,000 votes north of the border; the Tories won one for over 400,000 votes.

    For the bet to come in, three things would need to happen: firstly, Yes would have to win the referendum on Thursday; secondly, Lab would have to have a narrow lead on polling day; and thirdly, there’d need to be a differential impact in the two big polling shifts during this parliament.  Taken together, I think the chances of that happening are better than the 66/1 Ladbrokes are offering.

    To take Scotland first, I’m surprised at how long the odds on Yes are.  True, the polls mostly have No ahead but only by a few points.  I’ve written before about why I’m not putting too much faith in the polling and the sudden clustering around 52-48 doesn’t give me any reassurance: are they all more-or-less accurate or are they finding comfort in each other’s company?  Even if they are right today, it wouldn’t take much of a swing for Yes to be ahead on Thursday.

    Of course, should Yes does win, Scotland will still be a part of the UK in May 2015 but we could expect very different election results from a soon-to-be-independent Scotland compared with one with a future in the UK.  The three GB-wide parties are likely to be in a state of shock and the SNP riding a wave, Labour’s battle-cry, to ‘protect’ against evil English Tories would be obsolete, and most of all, the voters would be unlikely to wish to send mixed messages about the independence negotiations.  In 2011, the SNP won 53 constituency seats to Labour’s 15 and the Tories’ 3.  That’s probably not a bad guide to what might be expected should Yes prevail.

    The second condition, of Labour being narrowly ahead can be quickly dealt with: it’s where we are now and although a Scottish Yes might shake up politics in England and Wales, there’s no reason to assume that it would substantially benefit either Labour or the Conservatives’ relative to the other.  There may be Black Swans between now and then, including possible leadership changes, but this is a probabilities game and the probability to my mind is for little change in that lead.

    The third factor is more interesting.  For Labour to win most votes but fewer seats, their vote would have to become less efficient, even if the Scottish effect is substantially reduced.  That might well happen too.  We know that the two main polling movements since 2010 have been a big shift from Lib Dem to Lab, and the rise of UKIP at the expense of all the others but principally the Tories.  The question here is whether those movements will occur disproportionately in safe seats as against marginals.

    In theory, this is what you’d expect to happen.  Where the results were close in 2010, you’d expect tactical votes to have already been substantially squeezed so there’d be fewer Lib Dems to move across.  Likewise, although UKIP voters as a whole may be relatively ambivalent about the alternative prospects of Miliband and Cameron as PM, there are still plenty to be pressured in the marginals, whereas ‘safe’ seats (I write this in advance of Clacton!), may offer a more cost-free protest vote, reducing Tory majorities and votes while still returning MPs.  In reality, the constituency polls don’t particularly bear this out but there are still nearly eight months to polling day and a lot of hard campaigning to go between now and then.

    As with all long-odds bets, I’m not suggesting that this scenario is going to happen.  What I do think is that there’s a better than 1 in 67 chance that it will – and on that basis, there’s value.

    David Herdson


    Betfair sees £2m of matched IndyRef bets in just 36 hours as the polls continue to move up and down

    Thursday, September 11th, 2014

    The IndyRef is proving to be one of the biggest UK political betting events of all time with a colossal £2m. being matched on Betfair alone since mid-afternoon on Wednesday.

    This, of course, is being driven by the polls with large amounts going on as different pictures emerge. The chart shows the current (0005 Friday) and the changes since 1545 on Wednesday.

    I’ve never known polling to have such an influence on the betting nor have we seen betting at these levels.

    I quote the Betfair figures because these are publicly available but I’ve little doubt that the traditional bookmakers and the spread firms are experiencing the same activity boosts.

    I’m still maintaining a level all green book on the September 18th outcome having traded a fair bit, in the past couple of days.

    Mike Smithson

    2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


    NO now back above a 70% chance on Betfair’s IndyRef market

    Sunday, September 7th, 2014

    YES needs more polls like YouGov

    As can be expected the weekend polls have triggered off a lot of betting activity. The market we can monitor best is the Betfair exchange where the price of the last trade is being constantly updated.

    The YES price on the Betfair exchange did touch 33%. It has now slipped aback a touch.

    Unlike many political markets there are a lot of punters on either side ready to risk their cash and the total matched should top £4m by tonight.

    I ploughed into YES when the first news of the YouGov poll started to emerge and closed my bets down when Panelbase came out. Once again I have an even book.

    Mike Smithson

    2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


    YouGov poll has Yes leading by 1% – A month ago, no led by 22 – Update Panelbase still has No ahead

    Saturday, September 6th, 2014

    As ever this is one poll, but since the second debate, it would appear the momentum is very much with Yes. It is the first poll to have Yes ahead since last September.

    The price as predicted over on Betfair has fallen significantly. Just prior to Rupert Murdoch’s tweets this afternoon, the price on Yes was 4.6, it is now at 3.25.

    To quote a famous Scotsman, it is now squeaky bum time for Unionists.

    Update Panelbase is out




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

    Saturday, 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


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

    Friday, 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