Archive for December, 2008


SeanT wins the “most amusing” poster accolade

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

There’s still time to vote for the PB posters of the year

If you have not voted in the PB Posters of the year you now have until Sunday midday.

As was reported on the previous thread voting in the “Most Amusing” category was stopped in the early hours of Saturday after an attempt was made to fix the poll.

    Accordingly I have taken as the final outcome the position of the nominees before the attempt was made – and this has been won by SeanT. Well done Sean.

These are the remaining elections – and remember that there will be a vote on the overall poster of 2008 next week.

Who has been the most insightful poster on PB during 2008?


Which poster has been the best betting tipster on PB during 2008?


Which poster has been the best newcomer on PB during 2008?


Mike Smithson


Morus’ Saturday Slant

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

[Two men, quite burly, dark suits and ties, sunglasses, black gloves watching a front door. One of them keeps looking nervously in a ring binder]

MCCANN: You sure this is it?

GOLDBERG: How many towns called Haltemprice do you think there are around these parts?

MCCANN: And this is definitely the house?

GOLDBERG: Not many families called Davis in these parts. Wales mostly.

MCCANN: I suppose. And you sure I’m right for this?

GOLDBERG. You know what I said when Mr Cameron called my office? I mean naturally he called me personally to take care of it. And you know who I asked for?



MCCANN. That was very good of you, Goldberg

GOLDBERG. No, it was nothing. You’re a talented man, McCann.

MCCANN. You’re too kind, Goldberg, coming from a man in your high-up position.

GOLDBERG. Well, I’ve got a position, I won’t deny it.


MCCANN. Umm, Goldberg, just one little thing …


MCCANN. This job — no, listen — this job, is it going to be like anything we’ve ever done before?

GOLDBERG. [Makes an exasperated sound]

MCCANN. It’s a simple question, Goldberg.

[Goldberg puffs himself up, and puts on an extremely poor upper-class accent, in an attempt to patronise McCann into silence]

GOLDBERG. Without wishing to obfuscate our fundamental purpose, and recognising the broad similarity of duties to be undertaken this evening with those of previous endeavours in the taxonomy of our professional activities, there may be cause this evening for novel additions to the usual routine. However, I can assure you that tonight (whilst perhaps carrying a tinge of the unfamiliar) will not substantially differentiate itself from our methods, either in the past or in the future. Satisfied?

MCCANN: [grinning with relief] Thanks, Goldberg!

[Go to black. Sound of a window being carefully smashed, and a door unlocked. Single bulb lit Centre-stage with a simple wooden chair beneath and a full-length mirror behind it. Goldman enters through door stage right, followed by a miserable-looking man in his pyjamas and an SAS beret, guided by the shoulders by McCann]

GOLDBERG: You know why we’re here to see you Davis, don’t you?

DAVIS: I want my breakfast [being seated on the small wooden chair by McCann].

GOLDBERG: You’ll get breakfast in good time, Davis. We just need to ask you some questions, that’s all.

MCCANN: Nothing to worry about

GOLDBERG: Over by sunrise

MCCANN: Bacon and eggs

GOLDBERG: Maple syrup on toast

MCCANN: Orange juice in the coffee pot


DAVIS: What do you want with me?

GOLDBERG: It’s very simple, Davis

MCCANN: We’ve been asked to collect you


MCCANN: Bring you back into the fold

GOLDBERG:  Clean you up

MCCANN: Put you back where you belong

GOLDBERG: Destroy your history

MCCANN: Re-ignite that bond of love with the party


GOLDBERG: What did the Director of Liberty tell you to do?

MCCANN: Where did Miss GB finish in the re-election?

GOLDBERG: What tie were you wearing when you chose to resign?

MCCANN: What was the bus you caught to the House that day?

GOLDBERG: What did your wife think about your betrayal of the Organisation?

DAVIS: I never betrayed the Organisation, I mean, the Party … it was principled!

GOLDBERG: But they felt betrayed, Davis, horribly betrayed

MCCANN: Shown up, humiliated, humbled

DAVIS: I stood up for what I thought was right … [shouts] I have no regrets!!


MCCANN: There’s a role for you, Davis, if you want it

GOLDBERG: Even if you don’t want it, Davis, there’s a role for you

MCCANN: Nasty business, this new  ‘No Moonlighting’ rule they’re bringing in

GOLDBERG: It’ll hit some of them where it really hurts

MCCANN: Some more than others

GOLDBERG: Not an even-handed punishment, some might say

MCCANN: But can’t deny the link to performance, can you though?

GOLDBERG: The very good performers will survive, I’ve no doubt

MCCANN: But wouldn’t like to be one of the lazy ones

GOLDBERG: The distracted ones

MCCANN: The complacent ones

GOLDBERG: Nasty business, this new ‘No Moonlighting’ rule


GOLDBERG: Difficult time for the upper classes

MCCANN: Difficult time for the plebs too, of course, out in the … wider world

GOLDBERG: Difficult making them see eye-to-eye with the incoming regime

MCCANN: Hard to make the plebs see that the Organisation understands their plight

GOLDBERG: Feels their pain

MCCANN: Metaphorically, of course

GOLDBERG: The image is wrong, you see? Too much toffery, too much…

MCCANN: Bullingdon

GOLDBERG: Grossly unfair, of course. Best chaps for the jobs, but for the life of them, some of them just can’t hide their breeding

GOLDBERG: Education’s an issue too – no-one likes a smart-arse

MCCANN: Especially a rich one.

GOLDBERG: Need more normal faces

MCCANN: Know any normal faces, Davis? Ones that might not fit the current club?


GOLDBERG: Of course, Mr Osborne in particular is irreplaceable

MCCANN: A titan of a mind in a hummingbird of a body

GOLDBERG: No-one better placed on the intricacies of macro-economics

MCCANN: Gives a rousing speech when pressed, too. Remember the PBR response?

GOLDBERG: True, true, clearly uniquely-placed to shadow the Exchequer

MCCANN: Loves the job too, rarely away from his desk

GOLDBERG: Not one of the work-shy or a moonlighter. Privately wealthy, you see?

MCCANN: We might never get a better Shadow Chancellor

GOLDBERG: But has to go

MCCANN: Of course, of course

[Pause – they look at Davis simultaneously to register any response. There is none]

GOLDBERG: [deliberately] If only there were someone to take his place

MCCANN: Someone numerate you mean?

GOLDBERG: Helpful but not necessary. A history degree would cover it. BSc even better, especially if actually in a ‘science’

MCCANN: Used to high office I presume?

GOLDBERG: Maybe, but better he has had a financial role

MCCANN: Public finances

GOLDBERG: Taxpayers’ money

MCCANN: Protecting their liberties

GOLDBERG: Safeguarding their wallets

MCCANN: A big beast?

GOLDBERG: Not too big, you understand

MCCANN: Clarke’s out

GOLDBERG: Redwood’s never going to happen

MCCANN: Neither could be trusted

GOLDBERG: But then they said that about you, after your episode, Davis?

DAVIS: [suddenly seems to rouse himself] They did? Not…trusted?

GOLDBERG: Of course! Thought you a madman. Fighting the law and the government and an election and the Speaker. Coming … back up North?

MCCANN: They’re still not convinced by you

GOLDBERG: Very talented, but unpredictable

MCCANN: A loose cannon, they say, highly-strung

GOLDBERG: No doubting the potential, but far too risky

DAVIS: And my face doesn’t fit. That was the other reason. The face doesn’t fit…

MCCANN: But don’t you see, that’s not a problem any more – it’s the solution!!

GOLDBERG: You chaired the Public Accounts Committee, did you not?

MCCANN: A ruthless defender of the taxpayers’ purse-strings!

GOLDBERG: A Master’s degree in business!

MCCANN: And a successful corporate career to boot!

DAVIS: All a long time ago … I’m a civil liberties campaigner now

GOLDBERG: And you will be again Davis – we just need you to do this small favour

MCCANN: Brush-up on the old Maths skills

GOLDBERG: Think back to your old Finance classes

MCCANN: Recover your rank and reputation

GOLDBERG: Take that heavy burden from Mr Osborne’s shoulders, won’t you?


DAVIS: But what then? Do I get to keep the job in government? Do I get to talk about civil liberties and Magna Carta? What time will the driver be here?

GOLDBERG: All in good time, Mr Davis, all in good time

DAVIS: Wait … surely you can’t want me just for my face? Not that alone?

MCCANN: Of course not, Mr Davis, your voice is just as important

DAVIS: And the others? What about the others? I wouldn’t want them hurt

GOLDBERG: And they won’t be, Mr Davis, if they behave themselves.

MCCANN: Mr Osborne will get a … less-prominent role

GOLDBERG: But no less important – Chairman of the Party. Not Chairwoman.

MCCANN: An important distinction. Duncan goes. And Letwin.

GOLDBERG: And then the other one too – the other reason you can’t be left out

MCCANN: What if you hit it off with Mr Hague, eh?

GOLDBERG: Friend on the backbenches – the Yorkshire connection

MCCANN: Dangerous times, that would lead to. Serious conversations.

GOLDBERG: Far better that you’re put back on the front bench, Davis. Where they can keep an eye on you

DAVIS: Do I have a choice in the matter?

GOLDBERG: Of course you do, Mr Davis, and a fine choice it is too.

MCCANN: You start tomorrow, after a press conference

DAVIS: And if I say no?

[Silence. McCann and Goldberg look at each other in trepidation, nod, place a hand each on Davis’ shoulders, bow their heads, and begin singing Parry’s “Jerusalem”. Music fades]


[Fade to black]


[Light-bulb flickers back on. Davis is sat, chin on chest, making no movement]


GOLDBERG: So you see Davis, we’ll watch over you

MCCANN: Advise you

GOLDBERG: Give you proper support and briefings

MCCANN: Let you join the Carlton Club

GOLDBERG: An office at CCHQ

MCCANN: Hold the doors

GOLDBERG: Bake you cakes

MCCANN: Darn your socks

GOLDBERG: Polish your ties

MCCANN: Lick your cufflinks

GOLDBERG: Unbutton your shoes

MCCANN: We’ll provide the red box

GOLDBERG: The green benches

MCCANN: The black door

GOLDBERG: The steel-rimmed glasses

MCCANN: The tumbler of whisky

GOLDBERG: The Biretta pistol

MCCANN: The pocket watch

GOLDBERG: The final speech

MCCANN: The tear-jerking eulogy

GOLDBERG: What more could you ask for?


MCCANN: Now then, Mr Davis, where are your socks?

GOLDBERG: Still the same old Davis. Come with us, sir. Come on, Mister Shadow Chancellor…



Morus, with apologies to Harold Pinter


The PB Posters of 2008 – the voting

Friday, December 26th, 2008

..and now the election you have all been waiting for!!!

This is the voting for the PB Posters of the Year. Please select one in each category. Voting will continue throughout the weekend until 0400 on Monday morning.

This is by first past the post and you can follow how the election is developing by clicking on view results. The nominees in each category are listed in REVERSE ALPHABETICAL ORDER.

    Make sure that you have clicked on the drop down menus to see all the nominees before voting in each category

The winners in each category will then be put into another election for the overall PB Poster of 2008.

Best of luck.

UPDATE 0500 Dec 27

I have suspended voting in the “most amusing” category because of serious voting irregularities.

This was highlighted in my comment at 119. I will be declaring a winner later.

Who has been the most insightful poster on PB during 2008?


Which poster has been the best betting tipster on PB during 2008?


Which poster has been the best newcomer on PB during 2008?


Mike Smithson


Which is the best bet here?

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

Could one of the three main leaders be out in 2009?

In the panel are the prices in the Ladbrokes leader markets for 2009. The question is whether there is any value in any of them?

Is Brown going to survive and if so is the 4/11 you can get a good bet? I’m not wholly sure because if the polls went sharply against him then would the party be so forgiving again? Could there be a forceful challenge or could Gord decide to call it a day if a general election defeat looked inevitable?

With David Cameron we have now seen two periods of polling reverses – the three months after Brown became PM in the summer of 2007 and the last three months. In each case there were murmurings – mostly from those in the party who have never reconciled themselves to the the new leader – but Cameron survived. The closer it gets to the general election the better Cameron’s prospects look.

Would the party consider a change before the general election if the polls continue to move against the Tories? My guess is no but the 1/8 is hardly attractive.

Surprisingly Nick Clegg is probably the safest of the three provided ICM, the pollster the party most trusts, continues to show reasonable Lib Dem shares. Having been through two traumatic leadership contests this parliament the party is hardly likely to go for a third – and in any case Clegg’s position on civil liberties is resonating well at all levels.

Again I find the 1/8 odds unattractive though it looks a pretty good bet.

Mike Smithson


StJohn’s Christmas Crossword

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

For the second year running StJohn has produced a crossword for our Christmas day entertainment.

Thanks to StJohn for his creativity and best of luck to all who try to do it.

Clues Across
1. Institution created by punter and followed by St.John. (11)
7. Army right for a sailor? (3)
9. Stationery used for sheet music? (9)
10.Foot’s problem didn’t start the organisation of workers. (5)
11.Speaker has one in The Green Man- a short one! (7)
12.Mother covered her head at Gandhi’s address. (7)
13.Expert Saint George included. (5).
15.Cecil was a valued servant to the Queen. (9)
17.Quixotic charge in treason debacle. (9)
19.Island Chief leads football game. (5)
20.Left magazine to old magistrate. (7)
22.Sweet reversal to get spliced. (7)
24.“Twice Nightly” hosted this tribe. (5)
25.On top of a hill, it’s difficult to capture a harvest with bad soil. (9)
27.Newt quit after losing leadership. (3)
28.Election ran into trouble through illiberal attitude (11).

Clues Down

1. Daily Star. (3)
2. Bury Football Club. (5)
3. Foot-soldier’s description of bland bitter? (7)
4. Sharp note penned by writer – “Liberals no longer winning here!” (9)
5. Miner was confused by legal term. (2,3)
6. Ducks should be eaten by Poles. (7)
7. Chirpy individual blogger. (11)
8. Strands discerned from cricket scores at The Oval, say. (4,7)
11. Dale pursued PM with sex appeal – a leading politician. (11)
14. Being a rebel, Sid tends to stir about one. (9)
16. Point caller to volatility of voting. (9)
18. Molluscs spoken of –and not in a good way. (7)
19. Reportedly less costly and smaller version of 7 down. (7)
21. Throw water out in the name of the Prime Minister. (5)
23. Athenian lawgiver nearly said goodbye. (5)
26. Novel woman. (3)


Happy Christmas and thank you

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

Thanks to you for all your support this year, for your contributions and for making the site by far the most important and busiest online political discussion forum in the UK.

Thanks for your civility and general good manners which has enabled PB to continue to be a place where people of all allegiances have been able to come and publish instantly without the need for heavy moderation. Thanks especially to those who have provided insight and information to help us with our betting.

Thanks to Robert my son for all he does to keep the site running – this is a massive undertaking that has got bigger as our audience has expanded.

Thanks to Paul Maggs (Double Carpet) and Morus for acting as guest editors and for all their excellent contributions. Morus’s unique Saturday Slant and Paul’s Sunday international slot have really enriched the site. Thanks to Marf for joining the team as our cartoonist and adding an extra and often biting edge to PB.

Thanks to our advertisers and sponsors who I have relied on even more during 2008 following my move last Christmas to give up my job and salary to run PB full-time. There is still a long way to go to make up the short-fall but it is getting better.

Have a good Christmas Day and later I’ll be publishing the 2008 StJohn Christmas Crossword – which was hugely popular a year.


Happy Christmas from Marf

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

The latest from our great addition to the PB team

One of the great things to happen to PB during 2008 has been the arrival of Marf – our cartoonist who used to work for the London Evening Standard.

Her work, which is normally up four times a week, has added a different and often biting dimension to the site. Her humour can be savage, particularly when combined with her brilliant drawing.

It’s great to have to her on board.

Marf’s own site is – go there for present ideas of all kinds.

Mike Smithson


Should you take the 100/1 Blunkett Xmas present?

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

What about him getting his old job back?

One of the top ten political betting tips listed in my 2007 book, The Political Punter, was that if ever there was a chance to have a wager on something involving David Blunkett – then get your money on. For there was a period when the ups and downs of the visually handicapped Sheffield MP provided a steady income for those who liked gambling on politics.

Who can forget the huge media frenzy in December 2004 over whether Blunkett would survive as home secretary after getting into a “spot of bother” over a paternity case? For weeks, it seemed, the affair dominated the tabloids and TV bulletins and you could get 7/2 on Blunkett going by the end of the year. He did step down and punters cashed in.

Then on Christmas eve 2004 another bookie opened a market on whether Blunkett would return to the cabinet during 2005. The odds were a massive 5/1 – something we dubbed as a “Christmas Present to Punters”. Less than five months later, after Tony Blair’s third general election victory, Blunkett was back in the cabinet and those who had got on had another pay-day.

Sadly for the ex-Home Secretary things didn’t work out too well and on November 1st 2005 we announced “Christmas must be coming – there’s a Blunkett resignation market”. Alas Hills weren’t as generous as they’d been the previous year but you could still get 7/4 on him not making it to the end of the year. He didn’t and the betting profits mounted.

    Now there’s another Blunkett market – 100/1 on him being home secretary at the end of 2009 – and for old times sake I could not resist having another flutter if only for a tenner. Could it possibly be fourth time lucky? The odds from Ladbrokes are chunky and certainly reflect that this bet is nothing like as good as the ones three years ago.

But with Jacqui Smith possibly having to pick up the pieces when, as is being suggested, no charges, are brought against Damian Green, then there could be a vacancy at the home office. There have been a series of reports about a possible return for Blunkett as Gord tries to boost his line-up of heavy hitters ahead of the general election and what better choice is there for home secretary?

Mandelson was brought back so why not Blunkett? In any case I’ve also got a bet at 6/4 that Smith won’t be in the post all the way up to the general election.

Betting Update: Ladbrokes have slashed the 100/1 Blunkett price to 50/1.

Mike Smithson

  • Coming up this Christmas on PB – the StJohn Crossword and Rod Crosby’s political trivia session. We’ve also got voting for the PB top poster awards.