Archive for January, 2007


Dunfermline: When the betting was last completely wrong

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

    Like the Casino decision a warning of the dangers of following the market

After yesterday’s sensational news that the betting outsider, Manchester, had won the race for Britain’s new super casino I thought I would look back at the last time when the betting markets got it totally wrong.

dunfermline paper1.jpgFor next week, no doubt, Lib Dem will be celebrating the first anniversary of the party’s sensational victory over Labour in the Dunfermline by election which took place in the aftermath of Charles Kennedy having to stand down as leader and the tabloid revelations on Mark Oaten and Simon Hughes – two of the main figures to emerge in the contest to replace him.

A few days beforehand YouGov in the Daily Telegraph had put the party on 13%. How could the then leaderless party succeed in the seat next door to Gordon Brown’s?

These are the final fifty minutes of the Politicalbetting threads before the Dunfermline result was announced. The swings in the betting are truly amazing.

    Read it. It’s exciting and amazing how the betting market got it so completely wrong right at the end. Quite why punters were piling into Labour in those final five minutes is not clear.

This is a salutary warning not to just follow favourites

LDs shortening on betfiar re DF.
Tabman February 9th, 2006 at 11:42 pm

Has any government EVER had such a good -election record?
The Professor February 9th, 2006 at 11:42 pm

LibDem agent in Dunfermline says they are ‘optimistic of retaining second place’.

Nick Palmer MP February 9th, 2006 at 11:43 pm

Professor) If you correct for the lower number of -elections these days (longer life expectancy and younger MPs), the Tories in the 1950s were about equal – or arguably slightly better since they actually gained Sunderland South while they were in government.
book value February 9th, 2006 at 11:45 pm

Money going on Lib Dems in Dunfermline and no one laying Labour What is going on
Mark Senior February 9th, 2006 at 11:47 pm

Yes, shortening quickly
Tabman February 9th, 2006 at 11:49 pm

Jack W has played a ramp very cleverly?
Lewis February 9th, 2006 at 11:50 pm

No doubt you will all win pots of money betting on the libdems even though LABOUR will win. Gordon really must regulate your activities.
The Professor February 9th, 2006 at 11:53 pm

Well with a 48% turnout then Labour have almost certainly won it. All Labour losses in elections have been on much lower turnouts = this is almost GE territory – in the same way that Hartlepool was.

Rob February 9th, 2006 at 11:55 pm

(Professor) Have you no sense of irony – “Gordon really must REGULATE…
You are without doubt (alas, even including Jack W…sorry old bean) the most consistently hilarious contributor to our proceedings: it’s the way you tell ‘em

John O February 9th, 2006 at 11:58 pm

• “Has any government EVER had such a good -election record? ”
It’s hard to say. This government ensures that -elections don’t occur in marginal Labour-held seats.

Sean Fear February 10th, 2006 at 12:09 am

• BTW No ramping on my part ! Haven’t had a brass farthing on D & FW. …… if you said on the Lib Dem leadership …. I plead guilty to the odd shilling on Huhne and a few pennies on Ming. I’m a loser on the Rev ….. but short of divine intervention !!
Anyway Lib Dems are in bouyant mood at the count ….. it’s close … but my tame BBC mans says they may have pulled it off ….. HEALTH warning ….. still counting.

Jack W February 10th, 2006 at 12:09 am

News 24 – lib dems look like they’ve won according to Curtice.
by ukpaul February 10th, 2006 at 12:08 am

From BBC- ‘Lib Dems may have done it’
by Tim February 10th, 2006 at 12:08 am

Money available on lib dems betfair at 2.0 – £100 if you want it!
by ukpaul February 10th, 2006 at 12:09 am

BBC website says turnout is 48.74%. I think that’s about 34,000 votes in total.

by Alan J February 10th, 2006 at 12:10 am

Gone now.
by ukpaul February 10th, 2006 at 12:10 am

Sky News- ‘village vote’ may win it for Labour. VERY close.
by Tim February 10th, 2006 at 12:10 am

Not any more Amazing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
by Mark Senior February 10th, 2006 at 12:11 am

Update ….. recount possible …. “Labour glum”. HEALTH warning still counting !!
by Jack W February 10th, 2006 at 12:15 am

SNP increased vote so it may have taken enough away from Labour for Liberals to win – Nicola Stureogn on Grampian TV (sp)
by marcia February 10th, 2006 at 12:16 am

Which media is covering the By Election? Will Andrew Neil’s programme stay on until the result, or will I have to rely on the radio? (I don’t have Sky etc.)
by Augustus Carp February 10th, 2006 at 12:18 am

For the Lib Dems to win they must have taken even more from Labour.
by Dean February 10th, 2006 at 12:18 am

It would be astonishing if LD won – truly astonishing, given the last month. Could be quite a significant blow to the current political scene, be it Blair, Cameron or SNP. Would also make Nick Palmer look like an utter idiot for his comments here over the last days. Would also be the first bye-election win from Labour by Lib Dems EVER. I dont believe it yet!…

by Mark February 10th, 2006 at 12:20 am

=“Would also be the first bye-election win from Labour by Lib Dems EVER.” Were you not still up for Brent E and Leicester S?
by book value February 10th, 2006 at 12:21 am

In Scotland, that is…
by Mark February 10th, 2006 at 12:21 am

‘Would also be the first bye-election win from Labour by Lib Dems EVER’ What?

by Tim February 10th, 2006 at 12:21 am

Have we forgotten Leicester South already? Never mind all the Liberal successes against Labour in by-elections past.
by Iain February 10th, 2006 at 12:21 am

Grampian TV – The SNP vote has gone up – Labour making excuses – Lib crowing – Tories making excuses

by marcia February 10th, 2006 at 12:22 am

The Tories must have utterly collapsed.

by David February 10th, 2006 at 12:22 am

Win or lose it is obviously so close my gast is flabbered
by Mark Senior February 10th, 2006 at 12:22 am

Labour favourites again on Betfair.
by Chrisco February 10th, 2006 at 12:23 am

Exactly matched on 1.8 now…

by Chrisco February 10th, 2006 at 12:24 am

Looks like Labour.
by Mike L February 10th, 2006 at 12:27 am

Looks like Labour have held on.
by Tabman February 10th, 2006 at 12:27 am

Betfair seems to suggest Labour have just held on…

by Chrisco February 10th, 2006 at 12:27 am

Betfair indicating a Labour hold. I’m afraid
by somewhatanon February 10th, 2006 at 12:28 am

There’s money to be had on Betfair at 1.2 if Labour have won

by Chrisco February 10th, 2006 at 12:29 am

Really poor show from the news channels here.

by ukpaul February 10th, 2006 at 12:30 am

Just chattering on
by marcia February 10th, 2006 at 12:30 am

All green. Not getting invoolved again
by somewhatanon February 10th, 2006 at 12:31 am

LD won

by Andrea February 10th, 2006 at 12:32 am

Bloody hell!

by Stephen Tall February 10th, 2006 at 12:33 am

You can’t back the Lib Dems any more!

by Chrisco February 10th, 2006 at 12:33 am

Mi Lord Rennard does it again !!!!!!!!!!!!!
by Jack W February 10th, 2006 at 12:33 am

Bloody hell Baldrick!
by Chrisco February 10th, 2006 at 12:33 am

Disaster for Brown! What a slap in the face from the good folk of Fife.

by David February 10th, 2006 at 12:33 am

No recount?

by John13 February 10th, 2006 at 12:34 am

by Mark Senior February 10th, 2006 at 12:35 am

What a thread and it’s is amazing how the markets got it so wrong.

Mike Smithson


Is a methodology change behind the CR poll shock?

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

    Best to wait until we’ve seen how they’ve done the calculations

There’s a poll with, apparently, some sensational figures from Communicate Research in the Independent this morning but judging by Andrew Grice’s accompanying report by and the quoted party shares there is something not quite right.

The voting intention shares with changes on December are CON 34% (-2): LAB 29% (-8) LD 21% (+7). So Ming’s party is up half again on the figure it recorded just five weeks ago.

What makes me suspicious that something has changed is this from Grice; “.To help determine how the “don’t knows” might vote, CommunicateResearch asked people: “Generally speaking, do you think of yourself as Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat or other?..The results of the “party identification” question show that Labour is struggling to retain the backing of its natural supporters…”

Grice goes on: “Some 82 per cent of those people who regard themselves as natural Tories intend to support the party in a general election – the highest “core vote” rating of the three main parties.”

This party identifier question was not even asked in the December Communicate poll and now it is being suggested that the responses are central to the calculation.

PBC regulars might recall that I have not been happy with the new monthly CR survey for the paper and after raising some issues was told at the end of November that the methodology was “under constant review“.

My guess, and until I have analysed the full data tables this is only a guess, is that CR are using the new question as a form of past vote weighting to ensure it has a politically balanced sample.

    If that is the case then it is very interesting and I applaud the pollster and the paper for testing new approaches.

I have invited the boss of Communicate, Andrew Hawkins, to comment and he is usually very helpful. Clearly, though you cannot make a valid comparison with previous surveys if there has been a change in approach. Hopefully the full dataset will be available during the day and when it is I will update the article.

Whatever the move to the Lib Dems is entirely in line with the recent ICM and YouGov surveys – so the trend is consistent.

UPDATE 1245. The boss of Communicate, Andrew Hawkins, has been in touch, about the changes in the methodology for this month’s poll. This is what he writes: “Yes there has been a change (two in fact). First, we’ve changed slightly the question wording to incorporate the three main party names in the actual questions (both main and squeeze). Second, we reallocated those who said don’t knows or refused according to their party identification, but also applied turnout weights to these.”

There is little doubt that the main beneficiaries from naming the parties are the Lib Dems. CR have had very small numbers and part of the big increase this month might be due to that change. The second element also partially explains the big change on last month’s poll.

The firm has yet to go all the way and adopt past vote weighting.

Mike Smithson


As Sakorzy arrives to campaign – has Royal fluffed it?

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

    Guest slot on the French Election by Tim Jones

segolene_royal_bordeaux_.jpgIt’s a remarkable testament to London’s pulling power, French failings and how European politics are running to catch with the blasting open of the continent’s labour markets. Tonight, London is experiencing a first: an election rally by a French presidential candidate.

It makes sense for Nicolas Sarkozy, the official candidate of the ruling UMP conservative coalition, to come looking for votes in a tight race. Out of a much larger number, more than 100,000 French citizens are registered in the UK and every vote will count.

My more pessimistic contacts on the French right remain convinced that their standard bearer will fail to dent the comforting, painless-change candidacy of socialist Ségolène Royal but I’m increasingly convinced she’s already fluffed it.

As someone who started putting money on her at 13.0 back in November 2005 and chased her down to 5.50, I should be be keeping this quiet and hedging the lot at Betfair’s generous 2.12. But I won’t just in case since, as a partisan for Sarkozy, the winnings would be the only compensation if she pulled it off in the second round on May 6.

Fortunately, I’ll probably lose my shirt. Her lamentable performance since the campaign proper began two weeks ago makes this unlikely.

The seven polls published since Sarkozy was selected as her opponent on January 14 have shown a marked puncturing of her previously strong support. The culmination was the BVA poll conducted January 22-23, which not only shows her losing 52%/48% to Sarkozy in the second round but reveals a severe 8-point drop in her first-round tally to 27%.

When I wrote about her here in June, I warned that her ratings were vulnerable because “she has to continue alienating nobody for 11 long, long months”. With the spotlight now on her and Sarkozy and no one else, she can no longer hide the gaping hole at the centre of her policy programme.

It was this void that François Hollande, the PS leader, tried to fill by promising to make anyone earning more than €4,000 net per month pay wealth tax. Royal, keen to keep the aspiring middle class on board, dismissed the proposal from the father of her children and hastily put together a taskforce to devise a fiscal plan.

Not only did this reveal she didn’t have a plan even though she had the chutzpah to stand for president but the ensuing debate led to the revelation that the Hollande-Royal household (households, as it turned out) itself pays wealth tax – a shocking notion for many socialists.

It gets worse. In her attempt to steer clear of awkward domestic debates, Royal has ventured disastrously into foreign policy. She began by travelling to China and Lebanon in a bid to look presidential. Unfortunately, the headlines she made back home were about her unwitting agreement with a Hezbollah politician who compared the Israelis with Nazis and her praise for China’s speedy justice system.

It’s speedy alright, said Sarkozy’s defence spokesman Pierre Lellouche, because China is “far and away the world champion in capital punishment”. She caused a diplomatic incident with Canada by appearing to advocate Quebec’s independence and then, in what she thought was a confidential phonecall with Quebec’s premier, joked that Corsica too should be independent. Oh, and this future commander in chief miscalculated by a factor of ten the number of nuclear-armed French submarines. Elections aren’t won or lost over foreign policy but it’s no coincidence that BVA found only 29% of respondents believing Royal had “presidential stature” versus 60% for Sarkozy.

    Sarkozy’s political vulnerabilities have been well-aired. He has alienated young voters through his law-and-order image; he is unapologetically pro-American and made the mistake of being photographed shaking Bush’s hand; above all, people know he will shake up France’s labour market.

But ironically, it is these very weaknesses that make him hard for Royal to beat. The French know this man and his policies inside out and yet he consistently commands around 50% of second-round voting intentions. People know nothing about Royal except that she’s an attractive, articulate woman. As her policies and missteps emerge, she will alienate either the socialist core vote or the centrist floaters.

Tim Jones


Is this the Tory right’s stick to beat Cameron with?

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

    Why is UKIP failing to improve its poll ratings?

By any standards it’s been a big month for the United Kingdom Independence Party and its outspoken leader Nigel Farage. For during January the party has seen more coverage than at any time since June 2004 when it pushed the Lib Dems into fourth place in the Euro Elections.

    For UKIP has taken on a role much bigger than just opposing Britain’s membership of the EU – it’s now become the stick for the Conservative right to beat David Cameron with. If the leader wanders too far “off message” then they threaten to switch to Farage’s party.

So it has been over the past few weeks with the defection of two Tory peers and the former Thatcherite economist Tim Congdon. On top of that there’s been the declaration of possible support for UKIP by two millionaire ex-Tory donors and the relentless day by day support in the Daily Telegraph.

With all of this you would have thought that there would have been some progress for UKIP in the polls. And if something was going to register then you would have expected it to have been picked up by YouGov – the pollster that first detected the huge surge for the party ahead of June 2004 elections.

    But it didn’t happen. The change in the party’s fortunes has been almost zilch. UKIP is still finding it hard to extend its appeal beyond white males in their late middle age

Some analysis of what’s been going on shows the scale of the problem. For the data from the month’s three published polls should make worrying reading for those who believe that a boost for UKIP will keep Cameron’s Conservatives on the straight and narrow.

Populus recorded a drop from 2% to 1% with five out out of the seven supporters (not percentages you should note) being male.

ICM discovered that 11 people in its survey said they had voted UKIP at the 2005 General but only 3 were ready to do so now – all of them male.

YouGov found an unchanged 3% UKIP support level – the same as it has been for several months with the men, as ever, outnumbering women.

Another trend in the polls is that what support there for the Anti-EU party is not coming from the younger age groups with very few of those under 35 saying they are supporters. There is also an almost total lack of response to the party in Scotland.

How frustrating this must be for the Simon Heffers of this world. Unless UKIP is seen to be increasing its support and is a threat to the Tories then their main anti-Cameron weapon is just about useless. Judging by the January polls that’s the way it is going at the moment.

Mike Smithson


Was Alistair Campbell behind this move to get Gordon?

Monday, January 29th, 2007

brown football mail.JPG

    Who else would want to embarrass Brown over his support for Scotland?

On the face of it yesterday’s Mail on Sunday story quoting from a 13 year old article that Gordon Brown had written about his support for Scottish football was just something to chuckle about.

But on closer examination it looked more serious than that. For what could be more embarrassing than for Brown’s comments such as his saluting of the Scottish hooligans who tore up the Wembley turf and broke the crossbar after a victory over England, to be highlighted just as his “Britishness” initiative gets under way.

    So who could have done such a thing with such immaculate timing? Was somebody out to get Gordon?

Two words in a paragraph towards the end of the feature appears to explain everything. For it stated that the Brown article was published in 1994 in a book that had been edited by one Alastair Campbell. Yes him.

The question for anybody betting on the Labour leadership must be – “Is the former spin-master be out to get Brown – and if so how seriously should we take it?”

I have no idea whether Campbell had anything to do with yesterday’s article or not – but the fact that he must have known for years what was in the book that he edited and the extraordinary convenience of the timing makes me suspicious.

And if Campbell is working against Brown then might we see more “revelations” like this. After all Campbell knows where all NuLab’s bodies are buried.

If Campbell is getting involved with moves like this then Gordon’s chances of the top job are a little bit less certain than they were last week.

Mike Smithson


YouGov confirms the big Lib Dem recovery

Monday, January 29th, 2007

    But the Telegraph describes a 7% Tory lead as “evenly joined”

After last week’s ICM poll in the Guardian which had the Lib Dems moving up a massive five points to a 23% share there’s more good news for Ming Campbell’s party in this morning’s January YouGov poll for the Daily Telegraph.

These are the figures compared with the last survey by the pollster before Xmas. Con 38% (+1) Lab 31% (-1) LD 18% (+3). (Note the comparisons are with the poll that appeared in the Sunday Times and not the the earlier December Telegraph survey.)

    Not for the first time the oddest part of the survey is the way the Daily Telegraph is reporting it. The paper’s Anthony King writes as if it was bad news for the Lib Dems and bad news for the Tories saying “the battle remains more evenly joined than ever before”. Eh?

If a 7% Tory lead is “more evenly joined than ever before” what was last month’s 5% margin or last September’s poll that had Labour and the Tories level-pegging? Even allowing for normal Telegraph levels of Cameron-hatred this is stretching credulity too far. Get over it guys.

The survey itself was completed last Wednesday and normally would have been published on Friday. Clearly a lot has happened in the intervening period.

So what seems to be happening is that as disenchantment with Blair’s Labour continues the main movement has not been to the Tories but to the third party. This is welcome news for Ming Campbell and follows some assured performances on Iraq and the Saudi arms case controversy.

But there’s good news for Labour and for Brown in the the named leader measure that YouGov uses – a forced choice asking “would you prefer to see after the next election, a Conservative Government led by Cameron or a Labour Government led by Brown”. These are the responses to that question for the past year:-

FEB 2006 CON 37: LAB 43 (LAB +6)
JUN 2006 CON 44: LAB 38 (CON +6)
AUG 2006 CON 43: LAB 36 (CON +7)
OCT 2006 CON 46: LAB 33 (CON +13)
NOV 2006 CON 43: LAB 34 (CON +9)
DEC 2006 CON 45: LAB 32 (CON +13)
JAN 2007 CON 44: LAB 38 (CON +6)

This looks like a big recovery on the month but Brown’s party is still a long way off what it was a year ago. It does indicate that there should be a “Brown bounce” when he eventually takes over the top job. The big question, of course, is whether that will be sustained.

The main cloud on the horizon for Gordon is that only 31 per cent of those in the survey believe he “will prove a good prime minister” compared with 44 per cent who reckon he will not.

Whatever this is all a phoney war until Labour’s new leader is in place.

Mike Smithson


Is this the face of a man who wants to carry on?

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

blair 4 serpell.JPG

    How long will Tony be there?

Sometimes the still photograph is much more revealing than the moving image. These are screen grabs that I took from Blair’s interview earlier in the day on BBC’s “The Politics Show”. Together they make a powerful combination.

He looked at his most stressed when pressed on the dropping of the Saudi arms case investigation and, of course, when commenting on the handover.

If you have got half an hour it is well worth watching.

Latest Blair exit date betting is here.

Mike Smithson


How’s Gordon going to lead a party that’s on the brink?

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

notw labour bankrupt.JPG

    What’s the political impact of Labour’s cash crisis?

Of all the stories of woe for Tony Blair and Labour in the Sunday papers this morning the one that seems to have the most long term significance is this in the News of the World – the first part of which is reproduced above.

The story goes on to list the money that has to be paid back: “..£2.3MILLION to property developer Sir David Garrard in April, £1.5MILLION to Priory Clinic founder Dr Chai Patel in August, and £250,000 to curry magnate Sir Gulam Noon in October… The party must find another £1MILLION to pay back banking chief Nigel Morris in September and £2MILLION to former minister Lord Sainsbury…Before the next election it will also have to repay £2MILLION to fashion magnate Richard Caring, £1MILLION EACH to former Capita chairman Rod Aldridge and property entrepreneur Andrew Rosenfeld and £400,000 to stockbroker Derek Tullett…Added to that it owes £11MILLION to the Co-operative Bank and another £4MILLION to the Unity Trust Bank…”

It’s hard to see how a General Election could be fought by Labour with that mountain of debt around its neck and this must, surely, rule out any notion of an early election. It’s no wonder that senior figures want a cap on expenditure.

    The Tories who are fundraising very effectively with their new leader will have the capability to outspend Brown’s party many times over.

Clearly a major life-line will be the trade unions but what would be the conditions? Could Gordon be forced into a policy straight-jacket that of itself would make winning the next General Election that much harder?

In addition the taunts from the Tories and the Lib Dems if the party is forced into accepting urgently needed cash on onerous terms could affect the whole political environment. It could also be used to take the gloss off Gordon’s economic performance as Chancellor.

The latest General Election betting prices are here.

Mike Smithson