Archive for May, 2015


We now have the actual wording of the referendum question

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union”

As expected the wording of the EU referendum question makes remaining in the EU the YES option while leaving the NO one.

There’s a view that people prefer to vote Yes to things than be negative and the planned wording therefore favours staying in the EU. I’m not so convinced. The last two big referendums, AV in 2011 and the IndyRef in Scotland, both saw No sides win.

What will be interesting is how the question plays out in the polls. The latest finding by YouGov last weekend had the wording “Do you think that the UK should be a member of the European Union?”

This was neutral in relation to the status quo and had Yes 12% ahead.

We don’t know yet about timing though reports overnight suggest that the government is aiming for May next year when the devolved government elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland take place. There is also the London Mayoral election.

Mike Smithson


Getting EVEL through will be a tough fight for the Tories

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

The next move is with John Bercow

A significant moment on this historic day in the commons was a point of order by Alex Salmond about the Tory plans to introduce EVEL (English Votes for English Laws) by changing the House’s standing orders.

Salmond argues that this is a major constitutional issue and that the incoming government should not be allowed to make a change which creates two classes of MPs by using its majority to change standing orders – the rules under which commons business is carried out.

Bercow responded by saying he’d look into the Salmond point and report back. My reading is that the government’s initial plan won’t get through and some other mechanism will have to be made.

The big thing today, of course, has been the presence of the huge contingent of 56 SNP MPs who look set to have an impact in all sorts of ways and this was just a taster.

Mike Smithson


Developments this afternoon show that Yvette Cooper is still very much in the LAB leadership race

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

At current prices she’s the value bet

This afternoon it’s been announced that a further six MPs have come out and said they are backing Yvette Cooper – a move that reminds me of Henry H Manson’s words on the site ten days ago about her having the best organised campaign.

This fits with an article that Isabel Hardman of the Spectator wrote yesterday about Yvette’s effort.

“…But even while she has been rather quiet about what she thinks, Cooper has been phenomenally well-organised. Her leadership campaign, already up and running in the country, not just in Westminster, with the first Yvette4Leader meetings in the diary and regional organisers in place already. Given the party is now electing its leaders through one member one vote, that sort of outreach operation to the party membership is even more important than before.”

Wirh second preferences likely to be very important then Yvette looks set to benefit more than either Mr. Burnham or Kendall.

I’ve taken some of the very good prices for Yvette on Betfair getting one on a 7/1.

Mike Smithson


It looks as though Cameron will try to get referendum out of the way as soon as possible

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

It’s Queen’s Speech day and the first time that Cameron had been able to act free of the restrictions of coalition.

Judging from the headlines a key measure that the new government will seek to bring in quickly is the referendum on whether Britain should remain part of the EU. LAB had already said it will back the plan and the only change it might seek is on the extension of the franchise to 16-17 year olds.

From what’s come out overnight the planned question will involve voters choosing Yes to stay in and No to leave.

From a political perspective Cameron is trying to get this dealt with as soon as possible on the parliament. The referendum itself creates uncertainty and having the vote sooner rather than later minimises that.

The out campaigners have already indicated that they’d prefer a longer period before this comes to the crucial vote.

Which way will it go? The best stay betting price is 4/11 from Ladbrokes while Hills have 9/4 on leave.

Mike Smithson


PB Nighthawks is now open

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

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, when it comes to your lurking, why not, Give It Up, Get Down Tonight and get posting.

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

  1. Antifrank looks at 2020: the geography of Labour’s next campaign
  2. Liz Kendall: full story of the outsider who became the Labour leadership candidate with the ‘mo.’ As the Blairite challenger picks up the backing of Chuka Umunna, who is Liz Kendall?
  3. All of the leadership candidates are good, but there’s something about Mary
  4. Ryan Coetzee’s take on what went wrong for the Lib Dems in the general election
  5. The problem for Labour isn’t toxicity, it’s credibility
  6. Labour’s saviour may never reach Downing Street
  7. Cameron tries to bring the campaign into government
  8. Nicola Sturgeon: Hard for SNP to get Tory concessions
  9. UKIP’s Suzanne Evans calls for cross-party alliance to create EU referendum ‘no’ campaign
  10. Welsh first minister attacks Labour’s strategy in Scotland: Carwyn Jones says Scottish Labour failed to learn from party’s fight against rising nationalism in Wales, and might struggle to recover
  11. Alistair Carmichael’s political survival has become a matter of principle
  12. We need a truly proportional voting system
  13. Labour’s Tom Watson steps into limelight
  14. Oops… Anti-gay Westboro Baptist church blames Ivory Coast for Ireland’s gay marriage result
  15. Vindication at last for those of us who drink nights and work days
  16. Dawn of the cyborgs: how humans will turn themselves into gods


Ladbrokes saying that LAB leadership now a 2 horse race between Burnham & Kendall

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

I’m not sure that Yvette can be written out so easily

I’m very mindful when considering the LAB leadership battle of the comments in the recent post from Henry G Manson who has built up a good reputation for his reading of Labour.

Just over a week ago Henry observed that Yvette Cooper not Burnham should be the favourite. I am very cautious about ignoring his advice on these matters.

But there’s little doubt that the momentum is with Kendall at the moment and that is being reflected in the betting.

We are a very long way from the end of this race – September 12th – and an awful lot can happen in the intervening period.

Mike Smithson


The widespread assumption that Dave won’t lead CON into the next election might be wrong

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

How much should we attach to the famous Landale interview?

Whenever people discuss the next election they will invariably point out that the Tories will not, unlike 2010 and 2015, be led by David Cameron.

All this is based on the televised kitchen conversation that the PM had with the BBC’s James Landale in March a week or so before the official campaign began.

    My reading after watching the video again is that this was not a firm commitment to stand aside and that we cannot necessarily conclude that a new person will lead the Tories in 2020.

A key factor, of course, is that Cameron’s comments were made when virtually nobody, himself included I guess, thought a Tory majority was possible. Now that he has pulled that off he’s in a much stronger position within his party and the country. Cameron is now what he wasn’t in 2010 – an unequivocal winner.

Of course there is a lot that could go wrong in the next five years. The EU negotiations and referendum won’t be an easy ride but I wonder whether having tasted a clear victory on May 7th will have impacted on Cameron’s career planning. He is, after all, a relatively young man and would only be 53 at the next election.

If you are prepared to lock up your stake for 5 years then the William Hill 16/1 that he’ll cease to be CON leader in 2021 or later looks a value bet.

Mike Smithson


After the IndyRef experience it’s going to be harder not to allow 16/17 year olds to vote in the EU referendum

Monday, May 25th, 2015

When Alex Salmond pushed through his measure to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in last September’s IndyRef in Scotland it was only a matter of time before this became an issue for the whole of the country.

With constitutional change, like Scotland going independent or Britain leaving the EU, there’s clearly a strong argument that those who will be most affected, the young, should be able to participate in the decision.

    After their apparent reversal on having an EU referendum at all Labour clearly wants to be seen to be doing something that means this is not all a Tory measure.

The big risk to Cameron is that the referendum bill could get clogged up in the House of Lords where it is in the minority. A concession, using the Scottish precedent is possible although it will be strongly opposed by some sections of the blue team.

The polling suggests that the older you are the more you oppose Britain remaining in the EU.

Mike Smithson