Archive for April, 2009


Projected Tory majority up 4 on PB’s Index

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009


Punters continue to bet against Brown/Labour

The latest version of the PB Index, which tries to extrapolate current betting prices into a general election outcome, has a projected Conservative majority four seats higher than when we last looked at this five days ago.

The index is now pointing to an overall majority for the Tories of 62 seats – which is the highest it has ever been. The calculation is done by taking the seat ranges on the two spread markets and the Betfair line market.

The current levels are:
Extrabet CON 354 – 359: LAB 220 – 225: LD 45 – 48
Betfair CON 353 – 356: LAB 218 – 220: LD 47 – 50
Sporting Index’s CON 355 – 350: LAB 220 – 225: LD 44 – 47

I’m currently a seller on the spreads of Labour at the 228 level and a buyer of the Lib Dems at 45 seats.


Poll: Labour loses half its 2005 voters

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009


Can they be won back by the election?

Tucked away in the detailed data of the latest ComRes poll is one scary statistic for Brown Central.

A total of 240 of those surveyed said they had voted for the party that was then led by Tony Blair in 2005 – Yet over the weekend when the fieldwork was taking place only half of them, precisely 120, told the pollster that they planned to do so next time.

This is the full split of the 240 Labour 2005 voters:-
120 (half) voting Labour again
41 (one sixth) voting Conservative
15 (one in sixteen) voting Lib Dem
7 (more than one in forty) voting SNP/PC
6 (one in forty) voting Green
4 (one in sixty) voting BNP
5 said they were voting for another party
Remainder saying “not voting”/”don’t know”/”won’t say”

ComRes allocates 100% of those saying they will vote but refuse to say who for in accordance with the party the respondents say they most identify with – a measure that generally boosts the Labour share.

There was, of course, a little bit of seepage from the Tories and LDs but nothing on the scale of Labour’s 2005 voters. In fact the total of Tory losses on 2005 was dwarfed by the other votes that it was picking up.

There were, of course, others in the survey who, for whatever reason, did not vote in 2005. Of the overall party totals that make up the headline figures nearly a quarter of all the Labour vote came from 2005 non-voters. The Tory and Lib Dem shares consisted of only one in five who had not voted in 2005.

I have long argued that the non-voting in 2005 segment of the the sample are the ones that you can least count on.


Is this the man who could stop the Tory landslide?

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

What are we to make of Reid getting involved again?

Last Wednesday on budget day a power Labour voice from the past was wheeled out to argue the government’s case in interview after interview. He was powerful, he was lucid and most of all he was persuasive in a way that not one of the current crop Labour front-benchers can manage.

Although he might have a bit of back history and is planning to leave the commons at the election could the man who was Tony Blair’s most effective attack dog be planning a come-back? Could John Reid be the person who could impede Cameron?

Well the signs are there that something is happening. Following his budget appearances there have been suggestions in the Mirror that Reid might soon be replacing Harriet Harman as Labour chairman – a role that would give him a platform to play a key part in the coming election campaign.

Two years ago Reid, who had been tipped for a long time as a possible leader, made it clear that he wasn’t going to join Brown government and until last week we had hardly heard from him.

So why would Reid come to help his old enemy, Brown, out now? Could it be that he’s got an ulterior motive? Does he smell blood and would the party chairmanship be an ideal position if Brown’s leadership once again came into question?

Of course there would be minor issues like finding a parliamentary seat but this is Scottish Labour that we are talking about. If the will is there it would be no problem.

I have long been hugely impressed by the communication skills of the man who is now chairman of Celtic. He is in a totally different league from the rest and would, if let loose, be a tough one for Cameron to handle. He’d be a great opposition leader particularly because he hasn’t been tainted by the Brown premiership.

During Tony Blair’s time he was the one who had the best approval ratings. In 2006 one poll found that there was a 9% margin in his favour when people were asked whether they thought he was doing a job or not. This was a substantially bigger margin than Gordon Brown, Tony Blair or even David Cameron then enjoyed. Amongst women Reid seemed to be going down particularly well with a 12 point positive rating – double the similar figure for the Tory leader then.

Reid led a wide range of different areas. He’s been Minister for Transport; Secretary of State for Scotland; Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; Minister without Portfolio and Party Chair; Leader of the House, Health Secretary, and Defence Secretary before moving to the Home Office – his final post.

In the betting you can get 100/1 that he’ll succeed Brown. That’s worth a little punt.

HAT-TIP on the Mirror article to Peter Hoskin of the Spectator Coffee House.


Tories move up 5 with ComRes

Monday, April 27th, 2009

CON 45(+5) LAB 26(-2) LD 17(-1)

So another survey with no respite for Brown?

Since last week’s budget the only pollster we’ve had voting intention numbers from has been YouGov – although we have had two surveys so it’s good that tonight another poll is published. The survey from ComRes for the Independent has shares very much in the same area.

The comparisons are on the last ComRes poll at the end of March and an enormous amount has happened in the meantime – the G20, Smeargate, the continuing MP expenses row and, of course the budget.

The big change here is the shift in the Tory share which is well above the margin of error. ComRes is showing a 19% lead over Labour which is one point higher than the the two YouGov polls.

All three surveys since the budget have Cameron’s Tories on the same number 45% and all three would produce a landslide victory for the party if repeated at a general election.

These are the worst figure for Labour from ComRes since August – the only difference between now and then is the maximum time for recovery before the general election can be held. We are in the final year and each week we get closer to when the voting has to be held.

ComRes is a telephone pollster that uses past vote weighting though the way it operates this is different from ICM and Populus. I always like to see the main data before fully committing myself to a verdict.

It’s very hard to see how Labour can break out of this spiral of decline and it’s hard, also, to predict anything other than a substantial Tory victory.


Commons seat spreads reach new Tory high

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Sporting Index Spread Markets

The buy price for the Tories on Sporting Index has hit the 360 mark for the first time as punters pile onto the Tories.

I was hoping for the othe main market, Extrabet, to put out revised numbers today but, alas, nothing.


How will these look when the expenses are revealed?

Monday, April 27th, 2009


LABOUR 33% (-4)
LIB DEMS 16% (+3)

YouGov: London moves further to the Tories

A new YouGov poll on voting intentions in London is out in tonight’s Evening Standard. The comparisons above are with the last such poll which was published in mid-January. Then it appeared that the swing to Cameron’s party was less than in the rest of the country.

That trend is still there though things have got much worse for Labour nationally. Today’s poll points to a 9.5% swing to the Tories on the May 2005 general election which compared with the the 10.5% swing suggested in the last YouGov national poll published yesterday.

The big shadow hanging over London MPs is the publication of all their detailed expenses. How will those dumb and greedy enough to have claimed for second homes be perceived when that comes out in July? This is not going to be good for incumbents and Labour has more of them

Even so according to the seat projections based on this latest poll Labour is set to lose 14 seats. There’s also the possibility that the Lib Dems seats of Carshalton, Sutton and Richmond might be vulnerable – but none of their London MPs claim the second home allowance.

What the poll does not help us with are some of the key betting constituencies such as Brent Central where sitting MPs Sarah Teather (LD) and Dawn Butler (Lab) are in a rough fight following boundary changes. My money is on Sarah – currently 6/4 – who is a non-claimant.


Solving the puzzle of the 66/1 bet against Labour

Monday, April 27th, 2009



Did Lord West actually place a SELL Labour spread bet?

There were two initial mysteries over the Sunday Times report that one of Gordon Brown’s ministers had bet against the party in mid-2007 – just about the time that the next PM entered Downing Street. Who was it and how on earth could he get such massive odds on Labour not winning?

For the quoted price of 66/1 that the papers said that the man, now named as Lord West the Navy Minister, was simply so far off what we’ve seen on the general election markets that my first thought was that this was a porkie.

Just look at the panel above showing the prices from Betfair on the day Brown arrived at Number 10 and it’s hard to see how anybody could have got on a bet at anything like 66/1. In fact the longest it’s got on for no overall majority has been 5/1.

But the only betting that squares with the story is what has happened to the spreads since Mr. Brown assumed office. On that day at the end of June 2007 the Labour spread was 282 – 286. Today it is at 220 – 225 seats – so there has been a decline of about sixty seats.

So I reckon that Lord West placed a spread bet – and although his party might be heading for defeat at least he has the comfort of a pile of cash to come. For with this form of betting profits and losses are calculated by taking the difference between the level when the bet was entered into and what it finishes up as.

So anybody who sold Labour for £100 a seat on the day Brown became PM is now sitting on a profit of nearly £6,000. The great thing with the spreads, of course, is that you can realise your winnings at any time – provided you have got it right! This is the main reason why my biggest area of betting activity is the spreads.

UPDATE 1145: I’ve just caught up with this story: “..arriving today for a conference in London, West said: “I have never placed a bet on Labour losing the election.” He added: “I have never placed a bet at all while a minister ever on a political issue.”

Latest general election prices.


A watershed election for South Africa?

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

BBC News

ANC misses 2/3rds, DA wins W Cape, COPE disappointing

So, for the first time during the post-apartheid era, the ANC had to pull out all the stops during an election campaign, the emergence of the new COPE party galvanising its efforts, and in the event, its vote share at 65.9% was only four points down on 2004.

    However the ANC will not have a constitution-changing two-thirds majority in the new National Assembly, with its final tally of 264 being just three seats short. Despite what many thought would be a difficult election for the ANC, its score was above what it achieved in 1994 and only just below that of 1999 – its vote share has been between 62 and 70% in all four elections in the new era of South African politics, demonstrating the enduring depth of its support as the movement that saw off the apartheid regime.

For the opposition parties, the results were a mixed bag. The biggest disappointment was undoubtedly COPE, who some analysts earlier in the year predicted could get up to 18%, and scored well into double figures in the polls, but secured just 7.4% of the vote. Detailed regional breakdown of opinion polls had suggested they could score up to 30% in Limpopo and Mpumalanga, but in the event only got 7% and 3%, with their best score being 16% in the Northern Cape. COPE are on the map, but with almost nine ANC voters for each COPE voter, it was something of a whimper.

The IFP had a disastrous election, with their vote share falling for the third election in a row, from 10.5% in 1994 to just 4.5% now. The decline in their KwaZulu-Natal heartland, which accounted for 90% of their votes in 2009, has been even more precipitous, from almost 50% in 1994 to just over 20% now. The ANC appeared to be really gunning for the IFP in this election – there were several claims of campaign irregularities in KZN and Zuma’s Zulu ancestry meant that the ANC were able to successfully go after Butheleizi’s party – as a force in national politics they are now a marginal player at best.

The Democratic Alliance emerged as the biggest winner from the election relatively speaking. At 16.7%, their vote score was over four points up on 2004, and leader Helen Zille will have been delighted that the “Stop Zuma” approach has borne fruit and the ANC were prevented from obtaining two-thirds of the seats (“it could be your vote that stops them” Zille said in the campaign). The Western Cape is now a DA stronghold – they won the province by 16 points and their vote there was up 22 points on 2004 – a very strong vote of confidence from the party’s heartland. Not only that, but they also had a similarly resounding triumph in the Western Cape provincial election, as well as a respectable score of 21% in the most populous province of Gauteng at the national election.

The controversial figure of Jacob Zuma will thus become the new President of South Africa, and it remains to be seen how he performs in office dealing with the country’s many problems. Crucially however the ANC will not be able to change the constitution, and it is the DA, not COPE, that has emerged as the clear opposition challenger. Those who have warned that South Africa may be on the slippery slope to becoming another Zimbabwe will have been heartened to see a vibrant democracy in action, a high turnout, and an election judged to have been free and fair, one or two issues notwithstanding. But the big question remains – what do the other parties have to do to challenge the ANC’s seemingly relentless grip on power?

Iceland election results

Double Carpet