Archive for the 'Coalition' Category


Hillary Clinton is winning this election because it has become a referendum on Donald Trump

Thursday, October 20th, 2016


Trump is too thin-skinned for his own good

I’ve just got back from Brussels where Matthew Shaddick (the famous Shadsy of Ladbrokes) and I gave presentations about betting on politics which is almost certainly more advanced in the UK than anywhere else in the world.

Of course BREXIT is still a big focus but we sought to look forward to November 8th when America decides.

I’m just catching up with events in WH2016 and there’s lots of interesting insight and analysis in the US media today following the overnight third and final Clinton-Trump debate. I like this analysis from James Hohmann of the Washington Post picked up by PoliticalWire:-

“..“Clinton has spent the past few months trying to frame the election as a referendum on him. She’s succeeded, in part, because Trump’s favorite thing to talk about is, well, Trump. And he takes everything personally. Trump started his answer on the Supreme Court vacancy, for example, by noting that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said nasty things about him and claiming that she was ‘forced to apologize.’”

On the same theme Margaret Down New York Times observed:-

“. “In Trump’s warped fun-house mirror of a psyche, every rejection is a small death. That is why he harps on humiliation, that America is being humiliated on the world stage, that we are losing potency — a theme that resonates with angry voters who feel humiliated by their dwindling economic fortunes and angry about illegal immigrants and refugees swarming in who might be competition.

She (Clinton) once more proved adept at getting her rival’s goat: She again contended that he’s not a self-made man but a spoiled rich kid who was underwritten by his father and she accused him of choking on bringing up the issue of who would pay for the wall when he met with the president of Mexico.

Trump tried to stay calm, but he can never let go of a slight.”

Mike Smithson


Latest Ipsos Mori polling sees the Tories with an 18 (eighteen) point lead

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

Surely on these figures the Tories should comfortably hold Witney tomorrow with an increased share of the vote?

On the approval ratings that are often better predictors of general elections than voting intention figures

Three months in Theresa May is doing worse than Gordon Brown but better than Margaret Thatcher

But if general elections, unlike referendums, are won ‘on it’s the economy, stupid’ these are troubling numbers for Mrs May



Punters continue to desert Trump as do more leading Republicans

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016


The embattled GOP nominee is continuing his fight even though leading Republican figures are in effect disowning him. He’s now as likely to focus his anger on his own party as Hillary Clinton. He’ been particularly venomous about the leading Republican in Congress, Paul Ryan.

Inevitably the betting has continued to move away from him. Just 16 days ago he was a 35% chance on the Betfair exchange – that’s now down to just over 15%.

    But his following remain enthusiastic and fired up and you can see a post-November 8th scenario when the party leadership is seen as having betrayed the legitimately elected nominee.

For the Republicans the worry is the impact Trump will have on the other elections particularly the fiercely contested battle for it to retain control of the Senate.

At the moment I’m trying to identify new betting opportunities.

Mike Smithson


Welcome to the new gerontocracy

Saturday, October 8th, 2016


The pendulum has swung against the cult of youth. Why?

So much for reconciliation and unity. So much for Shadow Cabinet elections. In an act that was at once decisive and divisive, Jeremy Corbyn’s reshuffle this week has made absolutely clear that there is no new start. As he said at the time of his re-election, “sadly for everyone I’ll be the same Jeremy Corbyn.”

And so he is. Carrying out a snap reshuffle without forewarning is in fact good politics. For all that John Cryer might criticise his leader, the fact is that reshuffles have to come unexpectedly; anything else is a recipe for push-back, intrigue and chaos. Corbyn is also sensible to act while his mandate is fresh and his allocation of portfolios, whether out of choice or necessity, to so few of those who left in the summer has reopened the division that never really closed between the bulk of the PLP and the leadership. But it does mean that he now has a Shadow Cabinet he doesn’t have to distrust.

However, if the factional aspect within Labour has been closely analysed, one feature of the new line-up that’s been less remarked upon is the extent to which it’s led by older politicians.

Corbyn himself is 67 and the oldest leader of any major party in over 30 years. His Shadow Chancellor also qualifies for the state pension, as do Nick Brown and Jon Trickett. Two more Shadow Cabinet members – Dianne Abbott and David Anderson – are in their sixties, as will Nia Griffith be by the end of the year.

Given that the role of Shadow Ministers is not only to hold the government to account but to prepare for office, Labour could find itself going into the election with a sizable number of its top team in their late sixties or early seventies and – if successful – then expecting to serve several year more in office.

To some extent, Corbyn is simply making use of what he has available. With so many either refusing to serve or giving the wrong indications to the leadership, his available pool of talent is limited. His inner confidantes – McDonnell and Abbott – are also very long-standing associates so it’s unsurprising that they’re of the same generation. But it may be more than that.

There’s been if not a move to a preference for older politicians of late, then at least an age-agnosticism that’s come across many electorates. Across the Floor from Corbyn, Theresa May earlier this year became, at 59, the oldest person to become Britain’s prime minister since 1976. McDonnell’s opposite number, Philip Hammond, is the oldest Chancellor since 1979. Not only is entering your sixties no bar to high office but it’s not even an issue.

Nor is the trend a purely British one. Next month, Hillary Clinton will take on Donald Trump for the presidency of the United States. If she is elected, she’ll be at inauguration the fifth-oldest ever US president. Little more than a year later, she’d be second. If it’s Trump then he’d be the oldest person ever first elected to the White House. Similarly, across the Channel, the favourite to succeed Hollande in the Élysée Palace is already into his seventies. Again, age barely seems to enter into the debate.

What happened? Firstly, we shouldn’t get too carried away. There are counter-examples – Justin Trudeau and Matteo Renzi, for example – but the world is a big place and there always will be. Although those cases still show the potency of star appeal, the trend that seems to be underway is that image is losing out to policy.

Not that policy necessarily means substance but all the same, rather than putting faith in an individual as an individual, electorates increasingly prefer to support campaigners selling a message. So from Trump, Le Pen and others on the populist right selling national renewal and railing against foreigners and globalisation, to Corbyn and Sanders on the populist left abhorring the practices of big business and the effects of globalisation, to those like May or Juppé making a virtue of solid competence, the message matters.

What of Hillary? Is she not the antithesis of such a critique, running as policy-light as she is? To an extent yes, but she’s an exception that proves the rule. If she wins – and she probably will – it will be despite her character and despite her campaign. She may well be the least respected candidate ever to win the office; she just happens to be less unpopular than her opponent and to have been favoured with an unusually thin primary field. Rather than focus on her win (if a win it is), we should ask why and how first a self-declared socialist and then a hate-filled businessman and TV personality ran her so close.

They did so because in an uncertain and scary world, people want answers and critiques more, and generic blanding less. Pretty young faces might still have an advantage, other things being equal, but all things are now much less equal; the swing of the pendulum away from personality and towards policy has seen to that.

David Herdson


It looks as though Mrs. May’s BREXIT strategy isn’t helping confidence on the markets

Friday, October 7th, 2016

The pound’s downward spiral continues

At one stage during the night the pound tumbled for a few minutes to below $1.20 on the foreign exchanges. It has recovered a bit since then but the trend from the FR chart is very clear. Before the referendum the pound was touching $1.50. Until the weekend it had kept above the $1.30 mark – a line that has been well and truly broken.

The PM’s need to say something strong at her conference seems to have gone down poorly. Announcing the March 2017 invoke Article 50 date, as she did, appears to have undermined what negotiating position that she had.

Of course this makes the UK’s exports cheaper but it also makes imports more expensive. The international oil prices are in dollars which at some stage will be seen at the pumps.

At least TMay has the consolation that she’s facing in Corbyn’s Labour a piss-poor opposition without the skills, or even the desire, to capitalise.

Mike Smithson


All our thoughts should be focussed on wishing Steven Woolfe a speedy recovery

Thursday, October 6th, 2016





A look back to EURef: Even at 3.10am, five hours after counting began, REMAIN was still a 51% chance on Betfair

Saturday, October 1st, 2016


The extraordinary moves on the biggest night of political betting ever

Even though it is now more than three months away I am still getting asked question and being invited to give talks on what happened on the betting markets on that memorable night for political punters – the EU referendum results. The above has been prepared for a session in Brussels that I am taking part in later in the month.

Michael Dent of Liberty Tech, is now providing what is an extraordinary resource (£) on his site – historical Betfair odds down to 10 minute segments on past big political and other events. The chart above has been created from the night of June 23/24 2016.

I found it fascinating to see the dramatic changes on that night. Remember when TV results programmes opened at 10pm with news that Nigel Farage had “conceded” defeat and, of course that YouGov poll carried out on the day that had a REMAIN 4% lead. Then as Newcastle and Sunderland were followed by other results showing that REMAIN was doing nothing like as well as expected the price started to move out and LEAVE became favourite for the very first time.

Then it was all reverse when the first London numbers started coming in with marked REMAIN leads. This led to the market totally turning round and at 0310 REMAIN was the odds on favourite.

Looking at my Betfair history I got on LEAVE, my first referendum bet, at 0054, at 2/1.

Mike Smithson


The big trend: CON and LAB are still failing to win voters from each other

Saturday, October 1st, 2016

Big Ben

The two big parties are left scrapping over the also rans

One of the more remarkable features of the polling in the last parliament was the almost complete inability of both Labour and Conservatives to win voters from each other. Vote shares may have gone up and down but it was gains from and losses to the Lib Dems, UKIP, the Greens and SNP (and non-voters) that was responsible; the direct swing between the big two was negligible.

As then, so now. All three polls released this last week tell the same story. ICM record 3% of the Labour vote from 2015 going to the Conservatives, with 3% of the Tories’ general election vote going back the other way; BMG’s figures are almost identical; YouGov have the Tories doing a little better, gaining 6% of Labour’s former vote while losing only 2% of their own but even there, that amounts to a swing of only a half per cent. We’re talking tiny numbers.

The current very comfortable Conservative leads are instead based on two different aspects. Firstly, the Tories are doing better at holding on to their own vote. ICM and YouGov record the Blues as keeping between 72-75% of their 2015 voters, against Labour’s 60-67% (this includes those who say they don’t know or would not vote). And secondly, the Conservatives have done better in the net swings from the lesser parties and in particular, from UKIP.

In fact, the notion that many Corbyn supporters have that the increase in the Conservative lead over the summer can be put down to the leadership challenge is at best only partly true. Labour’s introspection no doubt caused it to miss opportunities but the Labour share has drifted down only very slightly.

    Of far more significance since June has been what looks like a direct UKIP-Con swing, presumably off the back of both the end of the EURef campaign and the change in Conservative leader.

What looks to be the case is that Britain is a very divided country with the concept of the traditional swing Lab/Con voter close to extinct and instead, three distinct broad groups (with subdivisions but let’s keep this simple): those who would vote Conservative, those who would vote Labour and those who would vote neither (who, outside of Scotland, we can more-or-less ignore).

So while there’s barely any defecting between the Tory tribe and the Labour lot, they do potentially meet when they go walkabout elsewhere, to UKIP, the Lib Dems or (most frequently) to none of the above.

What that suggests is that the big boys, but especially Labour, need the also-rans to be performing fairly strongly. Without those parties being attractive enough to their rival’s supporters, the negative campaigning of old will be far less effective as voters might be disillusioned but find no real alternative home.

Interestingly, the Lib Dems have been performing fairly strongly against the Conservatives in local by-elections recently but this hasn’t made its way across into the national polls. All the same, that the party seems capable of big swings across the country suggests at least a willingness by Conservative voters to consider them again; a willingness that might translate into Westminster voting given the opportunity.

The Lib Dems will no doubt hope that the opportunity will come in Witney. That might be a little too early but with Con and Lab unable to take support from each other, with a far-left Labour and a Tory government engaged in debates about Europe, if they can’t take advantage in the next two years, they never will.

David Herdson