Archive for May, 2012


Welcome to PB NightHawks

Thursday, May 31st, 2012


Welcome once again to PB’s overnight open thread in the relaxing atmosphere of the PB NightHawks cafe.


Will Jeremy Hunt soon be an ex-cabinet Minister

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Catching up with the first part of Jeremy Hunt’s testimony at the Leveson Inquiry, the one thing that sticks out for me at least is this, Vince Cable was removed from the decision making process for showing prejudice, at the very least, Jeremy Hunt, should have showed a perception of complete neutrality.

In politics, occasionally the perception matters more than the facts, and on perceptions alone it doesn’t look good for Hunt.

Given that we have the Jubilee long weekend holiday coming up, perhaps this is the optimal time for Hunt to step aside.

There are still opportunities to back Jeremy Hunt as the next out of the cabinet (Paddy Power & Ladbrokes have opportunities available)


Note: Mike Smithson is on holiday until June 7th.


Is it worth taking out Mitt insurance?

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

David Herdson on the Republican nomination.

What are the chances that Romney won’t be nominee?

Following his comprehensive win in Texas this week, the media have generally called Mitt Romney as officially over the winning line, with more than half the delegates for the Republican convention later this year.

Yes and no.

Some states which held caucuses months ago have still to allocate their delegates as the initial vote was just the first stage in the process.  If delegates are apportioned according to stated intentions or the presumed outcome of these partially completed processes, Romney is indeed over the line.  If we just go with what is absolutely certain, not quite.  That said, with no serious rival and a bumper harvest coming up in the California primary amongst others, it’s only a matter of time.

So, with three months to go to the convention is it worth cashing in bets on him now or letting them run?  At this late stage, there are still three main ways in which Mitt could end up without the nomination.

The first is that some scandal or gaffe erupts that’s so significant that he has to withdraw.  We can almost certainly rule out the possibility of some deeply hidden scandal: Romney has been a front-runner for the nomination for years.  Were there anything, it surely would have come out by now.  A dreadful gaffe is marginally more likely but again, he’s gone through months under the intense glare of media and opponents and not come close to that sort of error.  There are many criticisms that can be levelled at him but a loose cannon isn’t one of them.

The second is if health concerns force him out of the race, or if he’s otherwise physically incapacitated.  There’ve not been any signs that this should be an issue but it’s always a possibility for someone in their mid-sixties who’s running for president: it’s a draining and demanding process.  There’s also the risk that those with ill intent pose.

Finally, there’s the chance that he is somehow manipulated out of the nomination.  This seems even more unlikely.  For all the efforts Ron Paul supporters might be putting in, there are simply too few delegates up for grabs now.  Even if they were to deny him an overall majority by working the state conventions (itself highly unlikely), Romney would still have an overwhelming relative majority and surely prevail on a second or third vote.  But we’re getting into political fiction territory here.

It’s still possible to back Romney at 1.03 on Betfair and the lay price at the time of writing was 1.05.  Is the chance of his slipping up at this late stage really so high?  I don’t think so and the value is probably still in backing him, though it’s a boring bet.

Those wanting insurance might be better advised to look for who the alternative candidate might be in the unlikely event of a vacancy, which for all his supporters’ fervour isn’t second-favourite Ron Paul.  More likely would be either Rick Santorum, who ran a credible second in the real race, or some unifying candidate who didn’t run at all.


David Herdson


Overnight Andy Coulson was charged with perjury.

We are now entering a different phase legally and and there should be no speculation, smears or innuendos regarding these developments.

Any posts on this subject matter needs to come from a reputable source, with a link.

Any poster disregarding this will have their post removed and will be banned from posting.


Who will be Mitt’s running mate?

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Following the Texas primary last night, Mitt Romney secured enough delegates to be his party’s Presidential nominee, now he will be considering who to select as his running mate.

Jeb Bush has said he would consider an offer to become Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate “very carefully.”

The former Florida governor told Italian news outlet Linkiesta in an interview on Tuesday.

“If Romney were to offer me the job of vice president, I would consider the proposal very carefully,”

Bush told the online news outlet, according to a Yahoo News translation.

“But I don’t think he’ll pick me.”

Like Jeb Bush, I don’t think Mitt Romney will offer it to him.

I still have high hopes that it will be Rand Paul, who I backed at 50/1 and who is currently 14/1.

The current favourite appears to be Ohio Senator, Rob Portman, who is scheduled to meet Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, as a way of boosting his foreign policy credentials and visibility.

Marco Rubio is another contender, The Senator from Florida ticks many boxes, but has said in the past he would said no if offered the slot.

I’m wondering whether to also back Kay Bailey Hutchinson who is currently 66/1, purely on the basis that a Massachusetts/Texas ticket does have a nice balance and symmetry to it, but for every JFK/LBJ, there’s a Dukasis/Bentsen.

Ladbrokes, Stan James, Paddy Power and Betfair all have markets up on who will be Mitt Romney’s Running Mate.


Note: Mike Smithson is on holiday until June 7th.


Michael Gove – bottom of the Populus ratings

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Is he really a potential leader?

There has been a lot written about the education secretary, Michael Gove, since his assured and lucid appearance before the Leveson inquiry. He’s even being talked about as a possible replacement for Dave and at least one bookie makes him the third favourite.

But does he have popular appeal? Has he got that special quality that marks a politician out as having leadership potential?

The most recent polling I can find are the regular ratings from Populus where respondents are asked to rate specific politicians on a scale of 1 to 100 depending on how positive or negative they view the person. If those sampled have never heard of the person or do not have a view then their responses are excluded from the calculation.

These are the latest numbers from a month ago just before the local elections.

47.99 Boris Johnson
47.22 William Hague
44.83 David Cameron
41.43 Vince Cable
39.91 Theresa May
39.67 Nick Clegg
39.23 Ed Miliband
38.81 Ed Balls
38.76 George Osborne

This made news at the time because it was just about the first polling to have Osborne behind Balls.

The Gove figures are interesting though, of course, the questioning took place before his Leveson appearance.

There’s little doubt that Gove is highly lucid and effective communicator. I just wonder whether he has a personality that people don’t warm to for at times he can come across as being smug and self-satisfied.

Mike Smithson


The Irish Referendum

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

The Republic of Ireland will hold a referendum to accept the European fiscal compact treaty tomorrow with the problems in Greece and Spain in the background.


The polls are showing the yes side will win, but there are significant don’t knows in the polling.

A recent Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll put the support for the treaty at 39%, with 30% against the treaty, some 22% are unsure of how to vote and 9% intending not to vote.

In March it was 30% for the treaty, 23% against and  39% undecided and 8% that won’t vote.

How these don’t knows will break will be crucial.

All the polls during the campaign and before have shown the yes side leading, other pollsters have shown larger leads.

Betfair, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and Stan James have markets on the outright result.

Paddy Power have a market up on how the individual constituencies will vote.

Paddy Power & Ladbrokes have a market on turnout .

Paddy Power also has a market on which constituency will have the highest turnout and highest yes vote.

Sadly there is no market on how many plebiscites it will take for the Irish to get the “right” result.


Note: Mike Smithson is on holiday until June 7th.



Welcome to PB NightHawks

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Welcome once again to PB’s overnight open thread in the relaxing atmosphere of the PB NightHawks cafe.


Why aren’t SNP voters backing Salmond on independence?

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

What happens if defeat looks certain?

One electoral fact that hasn’t been given much attention is that the SNP’S vote share in the Scottish council elections on May 3rd was 13% down on what Salmond’s party secured a year earlier in the Holyrood elections.

In 2011 it was 45% while in 2012 it was 32%. Not only did the SNP fail to take its much hyped key target of Glasgow it saw the city’s council move back to Labour overall control.

Now comes news that one of the party’s leading donors, Sir Tom Farmer doesn’t want independence.

What a gift to the unionist campaign on two levels. How can the SNP be pressing for independence when it is split on the issue?

Secondly the key challenge for the party has always been over the economic case and as we get closer to the day the views of businessmen like Farmer will be given more and more attention.

This development comes in the wake of a YouGov Scotland poll which found that just 58% of those who voted SNP in 2011 want an independent Scotland and that 28% are against.

All this points to a massive mis-reading of the SNP’s success at the Holyrood elections last year.

This was not evidence, as many pundits claimed, of a desire for independence but rather it was a statement by Scottish voters that only plausible candidate for First Minister in May 2011 was Salmond.

Whatever the SNP leader is now in a mess. The referendum looks as though it will be lost and Salmond has to find a way of getting himself off the hook.

But bottling out of an election, as his fellow countryman Gordon Brown might advise, can have terrible consequences.

Mike Smithson