Archive for April, 2005



Thursday, April 28th, 2005

    Iraq continues to depress Labour seat prices

In spite of the strong ICM poll showing for Labour this morning the main attention of elections gamblers has been the impact on the outcome of today’s formal disclosure of the Attorney-General’s advice on the legality of the Iraq War.

As reported last night IG Index marked Labour down sharply following last night’s leaks. This did not prompt an immediate response elsewhere and it has only been late this afternoon that all the spread-betting markets have come into broad alignment.

  • Predicted Labour majority 76 seat (-2)
  • Predicted vote shares LAB 37.7 (+0.1) : CON 33.7 (nc): LD 21.7 (+0.1)
  • In view of possible challenges to results IG have issued the following. We expect other bookmakers to follow suit:

    1. If a seat is declared for Party X in the normal way, but then ends up in the courts, it will be counted as a seat for the party to whom it was awarded on the night. This falls under our “Podium Position” rule which means that once an official result is declared in any event, and subsequent appeal or disqualification is irrelevant for our purposes.

    2. In the event that no official result is declared in any given seat(s) and the contest goes straight to the courts, we will not count that seat for the purposes of swift settlement. As you know counting will drag on throughout Friday, and possibly into Saturday and it is in everyone’s interests for bets to be settled as soon as possible. Therefore if Constituency X does not declare and it becomes a legal battle between Parties Y and Z, we will award it to neither party, but make adjustments to clients accounts at a later date if we feel that that is the appropriate thing to do.

    NOTE: The regular BALANCE OF MONEY predictions are based on how spread betting gamblers are investing their money on all the main UK markets from Spreadfair, IG Index, and Sporting Index. Please note that the vote share markets are based on the total UK figures unlike the polls which operate on a GB basis. The latter is about 0.97 of the former.

    A full round-up of all General Election Betting is available here

    PLEASE REMEMBER To help keep this site running please use our bookmaker links. The only funding we get is from commissions they pay us and these goes nowhere near the huge costs of keeping Politicalbetting open.

    Mike Smithson


    Paddy Power declares that it’s all over and begins paying out

    Thursday, April 28th, 2005

      Start collecting your winnings on Blair’s 2005 election victory

    In a remarkable move this afternoon the Irish bookmaker Paddy Power have announced that the election is over and will pay out from today on all bets on Labour placed before Thursday 28th April.

    They say they are doing this because of “Labour’s increasing lead in the opinion polls” and hardly anybody is betting on anything other than a Labour victory in this market. The price on Tony Blair’s party has moved from 1/14 at the start of the campaign to the final 1/25 before the bookmaker declared that, for them at least, this bet has been resolved even though there is a further week of campaigning to go.

    If by any chance that the Tories manage to win then Paddy says that they will honour the bets.

      This is obviously a good PR move for the bookie and means that they can close down with some style their market on most seats.

    Paddy Power emphasises this it still has a full range of other General Election bets which are included in our roundup here.

    Will other bookmakers follow suit? It will be interesting to see .

    The interesting question is how this will go down with those wavering Labour voters who are fairly uncertain whether to vote or not. All the effort by the Labour campaign team to scare them to the polling station with threats of a Michael Howard government might be that bit harder.

    Mike Smithson


    Can we lower the volume please

    Thursday, April 28th, 2005

    A week to go and tempers are getting a bit frayed. Can we tone things down a bit?

    There are plenty of other sites to go to abuse supporters of other parties.

    Many thanks.

    Mike Smithson


    Do we now have shy Lib Dems?

    Thursday, April 28th, 2005

      Are Kennedy’s supporters reluctant to admit it?

    For several years ICM has been adjusting its published polling figures to deal with voters who are deemed “too shy” to admit their allegiance in a polling interview. This was introduced, initally, to deal with Conservative supporters who, it was thought, were reluctant to say so and, as a result, were distorting poll figures.

    Over the past year or so the formula that ICM and Populus use, based on taking a proportion of the past vote recall of those who will not tell interviewers what they will do, has been providing a boost for Labour figures becoming what was dubbed the “Bashful Blairite” phenomenon. Now, for the first time that I can recall, Lib Dem numbers in an opinion poll are being inflated by the same formula.

      In the last ICM survey in the Mirror for which there is detailed data the LDs had a boost of 2% from the 20% that the poll interviewers found to 22%.

    The adjustment formula has been the subject of much discussion by poll watchers who have questioned whether it is really valid. We’ll see a week today whether they got it right but we cannot think of any new factor during this campaign that is causing Lib Dems to be shy about it.

    Meanwhile the latest ICM poll in the Guardian has LAB 40%: CON 33%: LD 20%. The same pollster at this stage in the 2001 election reported a 19% Labour lead which turned out to be double what the party achieved on polling day. That survey underestimated the Lib Dems by 2%, the Tories by 4.7% and overestimated Labour by 5%.

    The Spreadfair, IG Index, and Sporting Index have the Lib Dems in the region of 64-67 seats. Latest Lib Dem seat prices can be found here.

    PLEASE MENTION POLITICALBETTING if opening an account with a bookmaker. The commissions we receive are our only form of income to help us defray some of the costs of running the site.

    Mike Smithson


    Today’s BALANCE OF MONEY predictions

    Wednesday, April 27th, 2005

      Markets shaken by Channel 4’s publication of Iraq war advice

    Sharp price moves this evening on one of the main spread markets have seen a two seat drop in Labour’s predicted majority. With only IG Index having reacted so far the latest BALANCE OF MONEY prediction shows Labour down to 78 seats. If the other bookies follow IG then this will drop to 74 seats. This is the first downward shift in Labour’s position since the opening of the campaign.

    On the vote share markets there has been little movement with LAB 37.6 (-0.3) CON 33.7 +0.1): LD 21.6 (nc). Note that these are all UK figures. To convert the pollsters GB only poll shares multiply by 0.97.

    OUR SEATS CHANGING HAND TIP GOES INTO PROFIT. Less than a week ago we said BUY the number of seats changing hands at the then spread of 42-47. This evening the price was 50-55 so those who followed our advice could close their bet down now and take a substantial profit.

    IG Index has promised a statement tomorrow about how they will handle the settlement of elecrtion bets should there be a lot of appeals because of the massive increase in postal voting. We hope the other bookmakes will follow suit

    NOTE: The regular BALANCE OF MONEY predictions are based on how spread betting gamblers are investing their money on all the main UK markets from Spreadfair, IG Index, and Sporting Index

    A full round-up of all General Election Betting is available here

    A SPECIAL PLEA: To help keep this site running please use our bookmaker links. The only funding we get is from commissions they pay us and these goes nowhere near the huge costs of keeping Politicalbetting open. Also – please do not put bookmaker links into comments – rather refer to our links bar on the right hand side. Many thanks for all your help.

    Mike Smithson


    Birmingam: fraud case votes still going out

    Wednesday, April 27th, 2005

      Politicalbetting’s Icarus finds out about the disputed votes

    When the Birmingham vote fraud case broke on the day that but for the Pope’s death Tony Blair would have called the General Election the view of many on the site was that it would have little impact beyond the city itself. But with the Times and other parts of the media continuing to focus on the new postal voting arrangements it is clear that this will not go away.

    Meanwhile, Richard Mawrey QC, the judge in the Birmingham post fraud case, has confirmed to a site regular, Icarus, that those on the electoral roll at the centre of his inquiry will still be getting postal votes for next week’s General Election – presumably at the addresses that were registered.

    For in spite of the massive case and the actions that have been taken the electors involved are still registered for postal votes even though they might not know it. Icarus, a long-standing contributor to this site, wrote to judge and the Electoral officers after raising this issue here and this is the reply he got from Richard Mawrey:

    I was not able to take any action about the postal votes which had been wrongly or fraudulently registered but I was told by Counsel for the Returning Officer that the Elections Officer (John Owen) had written to everyone on the absent voters’ list to ask whether they were properly on the list and, if so, whether they wanted to remain on the list. I’m not sure that there is very much more that can be done at this stage. The obvious way for the future would be to scrap all existing lists and require new registration (preferably, as in Northern Ireland, with proof of identity).

    Lin Homer, the city’s Chief Executive, responded to Icarus with this letter:-

    I have instigated a letter to all 53,000 permanent postal voters (to their home address if different from where their vote is sent) reminding them that they can cancel their vote or change where it is sent to. I have also put in place some capacity to undertake forensic analysis of requests. If we spot any areas of concern, the police have confirmed they will proactively pursue enquiries. I hope therefore, we will be in a much stronger position to deter fraud in the system.

    There is a two-fold danger for Labour in all of this. It might suffer on May 5th for having “devalued” the electoral process and the post-May 5th political environment could be dominated by specific claims on particular seats leading to challenges to the whole legitimacy of the result

    An issue for gamblers, particularly on the Commons seat markets, is that the bookmakers may defer payment until this is resolved. We would be grateful if representative of Spreadfair, IG Index, and Sporting Index could post a clarification.

    Mike Smithson


    Has the Tory spread price bottomed out?

    Wednesday, April 27th, 2005

    With the Tories now down to 190-195 region on the main spread markets of Spreadfair, IG Index, and Sporting Index there have been one or two signs that market sentiment has changed.

    Sporting Index reported a £3,000 a seat buy bet on Michael Howard’s party and IG yesterday told me that a senior figure in the party had bought at the £1,000 level on the market we have been tipping – the number of seat changing hands outside Scotland.

    This last bet seems to offer a reduced risk because it simply covers seat changes. So the tidying up of the party defectors, Shrewsbury and Robert Jackson’s Oxfordshire seat should be included as well as expected changes in Northern Ireland.

      We wondered whether Howard Flight’s Arundel seat could be treated as a Tory gain – after all, at the dissolution of parliament the seat did not have a Tory MP.

    We have been putting less focus on the polls of late but Tory backers might be encouraged by today’s MORI survey in the Financial Times showing CON 34(+2): LAB 36 (-3): LD 23% (+1). Like other Mori surveys the headline figures are of those certain to vote while other pollsters include those who are less certain about whether they will turnout.

    UPDATE. Meanwhile treat the Guardian’s report of Labour’s private poll with the utmost scepticism. This is not subject to any of the normal tranparency rules of normal polls and is being made available for a reason. Similar sources recently said that Labour’s private polling had had the party substantially behind in November – contrary to every opinion poll that month. I am amazed at the way the paper is reporting it[updated]

    A full round-up of all General Election Betting is available here

    OUR BALANCE OF MONEY PREDICTIONS: From today we will be publishing them in the evening rather than in the afternoon.

    Mike Smithson


    Labour backers shrug off the Sedgemore defection

    Tuesday, April 26th, 2005
      Labour price tightens to 1/25

    In spite of the Brian Sedgemore defection to the Liberal Democrats political gamblers have continued to pile huge sums onto Labour for what they see as a certain return on it ending up as top party on May 5th. At the start of the formal campaign you could have got 1/12. Yesterday it was 1/20 and today it’s tightened to 1/25. This mean that a winning £100 bet would produce a return of just £4.

    This market does not even require Tony Blair to secure a majority – all that has to happen is for Labour to get most seats so it’s no wonder that punters on Betfair and the main conventional have gone in with huge amounts.

    These returns might be big enough for very high rollers wanting a sure return on big sums but this sort of betting is not attractive to those of more modest means. This is why the focus now is on marginal seats where people are using their local knowledge to try to make some money.

    Quite what the Sedgemore defection and the general increase in the noise level on war related issues will have on the outcome is hard to say. The polling surveys of the next few days should be very interesting.

    While there can be hardly anybody about who does not believe that Blair is home and dry there are a number of issues to be resolved. What will be the size of the majority? What percentage vote share does Labour need for its victory to be seen to be legitimate? Will the increasing focus on the lax postal voting arrangements and suggestions of fraud have an impact?

    Mike Smithson