Archive for the 'Betting' Category


Ladbrokes saying that LAB leadership now a 2 horse race between Burnham & Kendall

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

I’m not sure that Yvette can be written out so easily

I’m very mindful when considering the LAB leadership battle of the comments in the recent post from Henry G Manson who has built up a good reputation for his reading of Labour.

Just over a week ago Henry observed that Yvette Cooper not Burnham should be the favourite. I am very cautious about ignoring his advice on these matters.

But there’s little doubt that the momentum is with Kendall at the moment and that is being reflected in the betting.

We are a very long way from the end of this race – September 12th – and an awful lot can happen in the intervening period.

Mike Smithson


The widespread assumption that Dave won’t lead CON into the next election might be wrong

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

How much should we attach to the famous Landale interview?

Whenever people discuss the next election they will invariably point out that the Tories will not, unlike 2010 and 2015, be led by David Cameron.

All this is based on the televised kitchen conversation that the PM had with the BBC’s James Landale in March a week or so before the official campaign began.

    My reading after watching the video again is that this was not a firm commitment to stand aside and that we cannot necessarily conclude that a new person will lead the Tories in 2020.

A key factor, of course, is that Cameron’s comments were made when virtually nobody, himself included I guess, thought a Tory majority was possible. Now that he has pulled that off he’s in a much stronger position within his party and the country. Cameron is now what he wasn’t in 2010 – an unequivocal winner.

Of course there is a lot that could go wrong in the next five years. The EU negotiations and referendum won’t be an easy ride but I wonder whether having tasted a clear victory on May 7th will have impacted on Cameron’s career planning. He is, after all, a relatively young man and would only be 53 at the next election.

If you are prepared to lock up your stake for 5 years then the William Hill 16/1 that he’ll cease to be CON leader in 2021 or later looks a value bet.

Mike Smithson


The trade union member who could be the next Tory leader

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

George Osborne praising Robert Halfon’s campaign for cheaper fuel.

I’ve always thought the next leader would be someone associated with George Osborne, he declined to run in 2005 and he probably will not enter the next Tory leadership election, and prefers to be the éminence grise for another Tory leader. Sajid Javid seemed to be best placed in such a scenario, but perhaps, there is another, the man who was Osborne’s Parliamentary Private Secretary prior to the election, Robert Halfon, who must be one of the very few Tory MPs to be a member of a trade union.

Some of Halfon’s policies are the sort you don’t normally associate with the Tory party, in 2012, he wrote a pamphlet entitled “Stop the union-bashing” where he “set[s] out to debunk the myths and misunderstandings about the relationship between the Conservative party and trade unions and conclude[d] that the two could become ‘soulmates.’ In 2013 he talked what sounded like the language of Ed Miliband by talking about a windfall tax on energy companies who he saw as charging too much to their customers.

A few days ago he talked about his boldest idea

Robert Halfon, the MP for Harlow, has said the Conservative party should change its name to The Workers’ Party. He told the Sun the party had “an incredible opportunity” to claim the mantle of championing workers’ rights from Labour, and turn the party into “the modern trade union movement for working people”. Their tree logo – which replaced the older torch – could now be exchanged for a ladder, he suggested.

“We are the party of the ladder, it was Churchill who first said that,” said Halfon. “The ladder symbolises everything we’re about . . . It’s not just leaving people to climb up it themselves, we hold that ladder for them. Labour on the other hand are the party of dependency and the welfare state, and that’s why they didn’t get in.”

He added: “When we knock on people’s doors, I want people to know we are on their side – on the side of the workers, that we are the workers. The Labour Party have demonised us, and unsuccessfully as it turned out – as 11 and a half million people still voted for us.”

He’s also a very good campaigner, in 2013, he cost the Treasury 1 billion pounds, with his campaign on lower fuel duty,  Halfon also has the advantage of being recently appointed Deputy Chairman of the Tory Party, which should give him regular unfettered access to Tory activists and members, who ultimately have the final say on who will be the next Tory leader. He also has an interesting way of campaigning as this video shows, which explains his increased majority.

One of the perceptions for the current Tory party is that they are out of touch with most voters due to their backgrounds, electing Robert Halfon would repudiate that line instantly given his background and make it difficult for the opposition parties to attack Halfon in the same way they’ve been attacking the current leadership of the Tory party.

It will be very hard to attack someone who is the son of immigrants, a trade unionist with a disability, non Oxbridge educated guy as an out of touch Tory, especially in light of some of the policy platforms he has set out.

At the time of writing, only four bookies have odds on Robert Halfon as next Tory leader, with Ladbrokes offering the best price of 50/1.



Given the messages that have been coming out PaddyPower’s 7/4 2016 EU referendum price looks like a good bet

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015


All the signs are that the new Tory government wants to move fast with the EU referendum. We should get an idea on the timing in the upcoming Queen’s Speech.

2016 seems to make a lot of sense. It coincides with devolved parliament elections in Scotland and Wales as well as the next London Mayoral election – all areas of the UK where support for staying in is generally higher than elsewhere. It also will get the issue out of the way faster.

So the 7/4 that PaddyPower is offering looks a value bet. Well worth a punt. As a general rule with PaddyPower you can get more on at one of their betting shops than online.

Mike Smithson


As the post GE15 polling debate continues SPIN’s Aidan Nutbrown asks “Are Elections Random?”

Monday, May 18th, 2015

The outcome showed why punters should expect the unexpected

Albert Einstein famously said: “God doesn’t play dice”. He was wrong. Everything has a random element to it. I aim to board the 8.08 train each morning but sometimes for unforeseen reasons I miss it. And sometimes for unforeseen reasons it doesn’t appear. This uncertainty is precisely why betting is fun, and why bookies exist.

It is a given that sports events have large degrees of uncertainty to them. A horse can clip a fence and fall, a batsman can misjudge an awkward delivery or an underdog, with a dollop of good fortune can fell a goliath (note Leicester City’s 5-3 victory over Man Utd, September 2014 as just one example).

However there appears to be a widely held belief that Elections don’t follow this pattern – that they are entirely predictable. That with correct methodology expert pollsters should be able to tell us precisely how many seats each party will win. This is a false assumption. Even if their methodology is correct it supposes that nothing happens between the poll and the election itself. That people don’t change their minds, or decide not to vote. Polls are a great guide to the state of play at that moment in time – a snapshot – but as forecasts they are limited.

    One reason is that the media demand dumbed-down answers – headline numbers about exactly how many seats will be won, by whom. In fact forecasters should be providing probability distributions. If we understand that there’s a 10% chance of rain today why can’t we understand that there’s a 6% chance of a Tory majority?

At Sporting Index we like to use a football analogy to explain how the polls are our best guide as to how to calculate and align our forecasts. Polls are like having a dataset of matches that tell us to expect, on average, 2.7 goals in a Premier League match. But any forecast model needs to allow for the uncertainty that may follow. This uncertainty may take many forms – the weather affecting turnout, shy Tories, lazy left-wingers as recently uncovered by Prof LVW, Jungian crowd behaviour or a myriad of other factors we may not have even thought of yet. The levels of this uncertainty may reduce as the date of the election nears, or they may not – news might break that swings the public one way or the other. In short the probability distribution of our forecast has to account for a considerable degree of unpredictability. It has to be wider and flatter – in other words more disperse.

In football we frequently see 0-0 results, or as above (but more rarely) eight-goal bonanzas. Describing how to model football scores or seats distributions is beyond the scope of this post, but it is worth showing Sporting Index’s distribution models for Con & Lab seats that were created in March 2015 and that are aligned to the polls of the time, giving expected seats of Con 284 and Lab 262. By varying the degrees of uncertainty, the chances of Con getting most seats and a majority can be seen to change. In the first graph the chance of a majority is 0%, in the second it is about 10% and clearly describes a far more complex situation than the former, which is much more akin to the straightforward “forecasts” we were provided with in the media in the run up to May 7th.


By allowing elections randomness, and crucially by describing the possible outcomes as a range of chances, it is perfectly feasible that the pollsters in the final days were in fact not necessarily wrong. Rather that they provided an expectation and the actual outcome based on this expectation was improbable but not impossible – much like Leicester City beating Man Utd in an eight-goal thriller.

One thing that the 2015 Election forecasters did get wrong though was to tell us that there was 0% chance of a majority. This bold statement was due to insufficient modelling and a failure to respect the market view, in which a Tory majority was trading at around the 5-10% mark for much of April and May.

Another pointer to this underlying randomness is the relative success of the Exit Poll. Yes it has a much bigger basis, but the clue really is in the name. The Exit Poll is after the fact. The turnout ratios are perfect. There is no time left for uncertainty. The only variation from the result emanates from the limitations in the numbers and locations sampled and having to extrapolate nationwide.

There is another big live televised event that many view as predictable and not subject to uncertainty, and the 2015 running is only days away. It is Eurovision. Like an Election it follows a basic predictable framework – that the Balkan states will vote for their friends and that the UK will do atrociously as we don’t ‘get’ Eurovision. But that view is limited and doesn’t allow any room for chance to play its part. The UK can win it – note Katrina & The Waves in 1997 – and for three years in a row from 2001 to 2003 the winners were 20-1 underdogs!

We should learn to embrace the chaos and expect the unexpected. After all this is why it is fun to bet.

Aidan Nutbrown is Sporting Index’s political trading supremo


Henry G Manson, PB’s LAB insider, says Yvette, not Burnham, should be favourite for the party leadership

Saturday, May 16th, 2015


Under the new rules this is about organisation

It’s only been a week but it’s shaping up to be a lively leadership and deputy contest so far. Some early discussion on lost voters, did Labour spend too much, was there much wrong with Labour’s manifesto if anything and even which type of unsuspecting supermarket shopper should the party pouncing on in the car parks in five years time. Is New Labour the right model for victory or was that where the rot set in. How did Labour lose and to which leader can the party turn to? Labour’s leader and deputy contests will be a half Silent Witness and half X Factor.

Nominations will be able to be made from 9th June until the 15th for leader and 17th for deputy. Each aspiring candidate needs at least 35 nominating MPs before they make the ballot paper which will be issued a whole month later and counted in mid-September. The timetable set out by Labour’s National Executive was said to benefit the candidates with lower profiles but I’m not sure about that. Some on the right of the party like Liz Kendall and Mary Creagh have ready-made explanations for the defeat that will take a while for others to counter.

It will be helpful to trade unions that they have more time to encourage individuals to sign up to supporting Labour, but so far the task has proved harder than even their leaders have anticipated.

    This contest will be very much about grassroots members and under new rules there won’t be big union machines to propel certain candidates forward.

Some have suggested that Andy Burnham will be union-backed. Don’t count on it. The unions know that it will be down to their members and want to encourage all candidates to make their case to them. As it happens Burnham has a decent record to talk about, but there’s scope for Cooper and others to charm them too and win some over on her approach to migrant labour which will play well with some in the private sector unions.

The contest will partly be determined by which of the main candidates can best reach out of their comfort zone and grasp some of their weak points which the party will have to address to be anywhere near contention. So for Yvette Cooper the big issue will be tackling Labour’s complete failure of Ed Miliband and her husband to build trust on the economy. Will voters’ opinion of Ed Balls hinder them putting her into Downing Street in 2020 or will the prospect of a female PM suffice?

Andy Burnham will have to demonstrate his appeal is broader than the north of England and that he can win back some Tory voters from 2015 and 2010. It’s all well and good spending the money, but what is economic vision and strategy for earning trust? So far Liz Kendall shows signs of being quite an interesting candidate and certainly has a thoughtful intellectual range that may not be initially appreciated by the pigeon-holers. Will she be able to communicate this in the time she has and demonstrate support from the centre-left of the party too?

The decisive factor could be the nuts and bolts of the campaign teams and approach. So far Yvette Cooper’s campaign shows signs of having the hallmarks of the German football team. Meticulous preparation and wooing of support through second parties means that she will start strong when the nominations are published. But will that be enough? Andy Burnham’s campaign has already shown itself to be more promising than his 2010 effort. Crucially in the last five years he more than any other former government minister has shown he knows the different between governing and opposition. He starts with a lot of grassroots goodwill but the scale of Labour’s electoral challenge means that will be asking hard questions of all candidates.

Liz Kendall will be a beneficiary of Chuka Umunna’s surprise withdrawal from the race, but she could do with snapping up his supporters and support quickly to be in contention. But what’s her ground game like? Is she well known and liked enough to reach beyond MPs and the think tanks? Her team need to use every single day to get her out and about and ready to perform well in the hustings. Her good media performances will help but won’t be enough. People will want to meet her face to face and both Cooper and Burnham have spoken at huge numbers of constituency Labour party dinners well in recent years.

Looking at the odds I think Yvette Cooper really should start as narrow favourite ahead of Andy Burnham on the strength of her formidable campaign operation alone. Burnham has the potential to overtake her if he can demonstrate he is a candidate of the head as well as the heart. At the moment Yvette Cooper should be a 4/5 favourite and certainly represents good value at 9/4.

Henry G Manson


Big shake up in next LAB leader betting following Chuka Umunna’s withdrawal from the race

Friday, May 15th, 2015


Meanwhile away from UKIP runners declare themselves in 3 political races and an 8/1 tip from Damian McBride

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

The LAB leadership contest

The LD leadership contest

LAB selection for the 2016 London Mayoral race

And a tip from Damian MaBride