Archive for January, 2014


The Six Nations thread

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Wales v England from last year, when Wales defeated England, an epochal defeat that most England fans are either still in denial about or haven’t recovered from.

Tomorrow sees the beginning of the 2014 Six Nations Championship, and I look at the betting opportunities available.

When betting on the tournament, The fixture schedule needs close attention, given that England’s first match is France away, which means England’s Grand Slam/title aspirations maybe over by 7 pm on the first Saturday. I think it maybe more prudent to back England in this match, and possibly trade out for a profit, the best odds on England to win this match are 17/10

Additionally, I think this may be a Six Nations where England are focussing upon peaking for the World Cup being held in England in the Autumn of 2015, past experience shows they have an uncanny ability to peak at the right time for a world cup, for older readers, who can forget the shellacking David Sole’s Scotland gave England in 1990. But a year later, it was England who defeated Scotland for a place in the World Cup Final.

If you are wanting to do proceed to the final, sometimes you need to experiment, which explains England dropping of the likes of Chris Ashton and Ben Youngs for the debutant Jack Nowell for tomorrow’s match.

I will not be backing England to win the tournament/or win the Grand Slam for the above reasons, but laying them instead for the title/grand slam,

Last year’s champions, Wales, will be boosted by the return of their Lions coach, Warren Gatland, who stood aside last season to focus upon his Lions coaching role.

I was tempted to back Wales for the tournament, but their bests odds are 2/1 with a variety of bookmakers, I think the better value is to back Wales to win the Triple Crown at 9/2.

On a thread earlier on this week, long standing pber and Irish rugby fan Neil, suggested a strategy which chimed in with my own thoughts. Back Ireland for the tournament/grand slam, their hardest matches are towards the end of the fixture cycle. The best odds on Ireland are 11/2.

PBers should be reassured that in the past, when both Neil and myself have bet on Ireland to win, they do so and it is very profitable for both of us. Obviously if this bet tanks, I’m blaming Neil.

My other bet is for Scotland to finish fifth or sixth overall at 9/4 and 7/4 respectively which may seem odd given their performances last year, but sometimes some bets just feels right, and these are two of those bets.

The complete betting markets on the Six Nations is available here.  If you fancy betting on the World Cup, the odds are available here. 



Local By-Election Results : January 30th 2014

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Heanor East on Amber Valley (Lab Defence)
Labour 548 votes (59% +6% on 2012)
Conservative 350 votes (37% +12% on 2012)
Liberal Democrat 41 (4% unchanged on 2012)

Labour HOLD with a majority of 198 (22%) on a swing from Lab to Con of 3%

Chadsmead on Lichfield (Con Defence)
Liberal Democrat 206 votes  (36%),
Labour 157 votes (27%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 108 votes (19%)
Conservative 102 votes (18%)
Liberal Democrat GAIN from Conservative with a majority of 49 (9%)

Buckie on Moray (Ind Defence)
Independent (Cowie) 830 votes (45%),
Scottish Nationalists 670 votes (36% -9% on 2012),
Independent (MacRae) 220 votes (12%),
Conservatives 143 votes (8% +1% on 2012)
Independent HOLD with a majority of 160 (9%)

January 2014 Summary
Conservatives lose Haverhill East on St. Edmundsbury to UKIP, lose Borough Green and Long Mill on Tonbridge and Malling to Independent, lose Broadheath on Trafford to Labour, hold West Leigh on Southend, lose Chadsmead on Lichfield to Liberal Democrat (Overall Change: -4)

Labour hold Swinton South on Salford, GAIN Broadheath on Trafford from Conservative, hold Motherwell North on North Lanarkshire, hold Heanor East on Amber Valley (Overall Change: +1)

Liberal Democrats GAIN Chadsmead on Lichfield from Conservative (Overall Change: +1)

United Kingdom Independence Party GAIN Haverhill East on St.Edmundsbury from Conservative (Overall Change: +1)

Independents GAIN Borough Green and Long Mill on Tonbridge and Malling from Conservative, hold Buckie on Moray (Overall Change: +1)

Harry Hayfield


Why even this 4 percent lead on votes projection might not be enough for the Tories to win most seats

Friday, January 31st, 2014

My 4/1 bet that LAB wins most seats but CON gets most votes

Yesterday I placed a bet at 4/1 with PaddyPower that LAB will win most seats at GE2015 but will trail the Tories on national vote share.

    What makes this a value bet is because the vote share window when this could happen is much larger than the commons seat calculators suggest.

Look at the uniform national projection above from Electoral Calculus in which the Tories retain the 37% of 2010 but LAB only edges up 3.3% from the 29.7%. On the face of it the projection looks fine but there is a huge problem that is not factored in.

This is, of course, CON-LD battlegrounds which are the only source of blue gains, to offset losses to LAB in the model above. The projected CON total includes 22 many of them in seats they would have won on a universal swing in 2010 but didn’t

The evidence is that strong yellow incumbency makes these difficult nuts to crack and the blues will do worse here than the seat calculators point to. This was supported by the Ashroft marginals polling which found a swing of just 0.5% from the LDs to the Tories.

Interestingly, as well, a University of Nottingham study last year suggested that GE2010 would have produced an additional 13 CON seats but for Lib Dem incumbency.

The underlying issue, of course, is that the LAB seats:votes ratio is much lower than for the Tories and other parties. When the ComRes 1% LAB lead poll came out on Monday I ran the party shares through the Electoral Calculus seat predictor which pointed to LAB getting 327 seats just above the 325 seat threshold for a majority.

The main reason for the electoral bias, of course, is that LAB voters are generally much more reluctant to turn out to vote where it doesn’t matter – notably CON and LAB heartlands.

GE2015 will be decided in 100 seats with the other 531 mainland being almost foregone conclusions. In the latter I’d expect even poorer turnout levels by LAB voters than we’ve seen before.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Let this week be a lesson for us all: Don’t get too excited about a single survey

Friday, January 31st, 2014

That was almost the polling week that was

We’ve now got to Friday in what has been a dramatic polling week and the chart above shows what’s happened to the five times a week YouGov “daily polls”. After three surveys which really looked as though Labour’s lead had narrowed we’ve now got Miliband’s party in its best position of the year with any pollster.

The latest could be an outlier but the lesson, surely, is not to pay too much attention to a single survey.

We are now just 15 months and one week from polling day and suddenly the opinion polls are getting a wider attention. As we are seeing the political environment is becoming much more febrile and not just the Westminster village is homing in on every developments that could affect the outcome on May 7th 2015. This is almost the pre-campaign mode.

    One of the big mistakes those of us who follow politics closely can make is to assume that each new move like Labour 50% tax rate plan is going to have an instant impact. So something big happens one day and the next poll sees a sharp movement we assume that these are linked.

Generally, though, things can take time to sink in and wise heads say that you should wait for up to a fortnight.

Later this morning we’ll see the latest from Populus online. Its last survey, taken at the same time as the ComRes 1% lead poll, had LAB with a comfortable 7% margin. It didn’t receive much attention maybe because it wasn’t out of line.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Local By-Election Preview : January 30th 2014

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Heanor East on Amber Valley (Lab Defence)
Result of last election for council (2012): Con 24, Lab 21 (Conservative overall majority of 3)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Lab 838 (53%), Con 391 (25%), BNP 284 (18%), Lib Dem 69 (4%)
Candidates duly nominated: Steven Grainger (Con), Sheila Oakes (Lab), Kate Smith (Lib Dem)

Chadsmead on Lichfield (Con Defence)
Result of last election for council (2011): Con 46, Lab 10 (Conservative overall majority of 36)
Result of ward at last election (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservative 416, 385
Liberal Democrats 326, 206
Labour 303, 278
Candidates duly nominated: Marion Bland (Lib Dem), Bob Green (UKIP), Jon O’Hagan (Con), Caroline Wood (Lib Dem)

Buckie on Moray (Ind Defence)
Result of last election for council (2012): SNP 10, Ind 10, Lab 3, Con 3 (No Overall Control, SNP and Independents short by 3 of an overall majority)
Result of ward at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Independent 648, 557 (48%)
Scottish Nationalists 967, 169 (45%)
Conservatives 179 (7%)
Candidates duly nominated: Gordon Cowie (Ind), Margaret Irene Gambles (Con), Marc MacRae (Ind), Linda McDonald (SNP)

For the next few local by-elections, I will only be able to detail the result of the council at the last election, the ward’s last election and the candidates nominated. This is because at the same time I am tallying the European Elections (at the local level) for the 1999, 2004 and 2009 European Elections in order to tally (when the local results are published) the 2014 European Elections. There are a total of 380 local areas and with the assistance of Tim Bickerstaff (who created and maintains the UK-Elect election software) the data will be released after the European elections when the programme is updated. I apologise in advance for any inconvenience that this may cause but hope it will pay off with a detailed analysis of the European elections towards the middle of June.


As the Number 10 tries to head off a rebellion on the immigration bill here’s the latest YouGov polling

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Which is more important electorally: country or family?


Based on YouGov’s first three polls this week the gap is getting narrower

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

The latest YouGov/Sun daily poll, published last night, has LAB 38/CON 35/LD 10/UKIP 11 – so a continuation of what we’ve been seeing all week.

For my chart above I’ve calculated a provisional weekly average based on the first 3 polls and as is clear there is a narrowing. The question is whether this is down to normal margin or error, which it could well be, or are we seeing real change?

We should get another YouGov tonight and, of course, the regular survey for the Sunday Times at the weekend.

In all these matters we need to see other pollsters. The Monday Populus poll had LAB on 40% with a 7 point lead. The next one from the firm is due tomorrow. Will that also be pointing to change?

Also coming up this weekend is Opinium for the Observer which is the only online polling not to have any past vote or similar political weighting. In the past year it has tended to show much higher UKIP shares and lower CON ones.

So it’s too early to come to firm conclusions but things could be getting interesting.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Nighthawks is now open

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Home of the web’s best political conversation

Why not relax, and converse into the night on the day’s events in PB NightHawks.

If you’re a lurker,  why not take the final few Steps and delurk, it’ll be a Tragedy if at least 5,6,7,8 lurkers don’t delurk. I’m sure your contributions won’t be Better Best Forgotten.

The round up of recent events (click on the links below, and it will bring up the relevant link)

  1. PMQs verdict: Ed resists the urge to be the quiet man – and turns up the volume
  2. David Cameron Refuses To Rule Out Cutting Tax For The Rich
  3. The Tory rebels have a choice: shut up or lose the election
  4. Douglas Carswell on why he was wrong to rebel
  5. How many Ukippers will be dead when the referendum happens? Sorry, but it matters
  6. If Mark Carney had one message for the people of Scotland, it was: “You can’t have your oat cake and eat it.”
  7. Would a Currency Union Work for an Independent Scotland? History, and Mark Carney, Suggest Not
  8. Scottish Catholics are being desperately wooed by the SNP; they could swing the result
  9. Britain’s economy is finally growing again. Three cheers for the coalition? The dismal experience of the past few years has obscured the UK’s very real economic strengths. Now we need to deal with its weaknesses
  10. Can electoral reform help Labour reach into the “electoral deserts” of the South?
  11. The Tories need a generous not a coercive rhetoric about the poor
  12. Reverse the child benefit cut and the politics of the 50p rate become irrelevant
  13. The two big lessons for the UK from Germany and the Nordics. Social investment welfare spending is central to future prosperity and the state has to become a more active and assertive economic actor.
  14. “We will not allow Nigel Farage to set our moral compass”
  15. However unsavoury Jobbik’s views are, Theresa May was right not to ban them
  16. UK’s ‘nasty xenophobia’ hurting Scotland’s universities
  17. The 800,000 people living in Britain with little or no English. Analysis of census figures shows how most people living in Britain who do not have a good command of English do not have a job
  18. The gagging bill looks designed to undermine trade unions, If passed, this law will not only curtail campaigning efforts, but also give the government access to membership records
  19. Liam Fox settles libel case over Adam Werritty claims. Fox to collect significant undisclosed sum in settlement of lawsuit against Dubai-based businessman Harvey Boulter
  20. Obama’s pot dealer beaten to death for farting in gay lover’s face
  21. Show me the poo!: Tower Hamlets park official calls for police back-up over ‘non-compliance of female’ over mystery dog foul
  22. Short man syndrome really does exist, Oxford University finds
  23. What can Dick Swaab tell us about sex and the brain?
  24. Hollywood’s villainous Brits may be playing out their final act
  25. Tomorrow is 365th anniversary of the execution by beheading of Charles I, for being tyrant, traitor and murderer; and a public and implacable enemy to the Commonwealth of England.
  26. Tomorrow is the 353rd anniversary of the posthumous execution of Oliver Cromwell.