Archive for October, 2017


As the pressure grows on Trump over Russian connections his core supporters rally round even more

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

Most Trump loyalists think Russia wanted Hillary Clinton to win

A new US poll by Public Policy Polling finds record level of support for the President to be impeached. Now 49% say he should with 41% saying he shouldn’t.

But it is not all one way traffic as this extract from the firm’s analysis of its news finding suggest.

Attempts by Trump world, Fox News, and other affiliated interests to try to turn the Russia news back onto Hillary Clinton have had some effect. A month ago we found that among Trump voters 41% thought Russia wanted Clinton to win the election last year, to 29% who thought it wanted Trump to win. Now that’s up to 56% who think Russia wanted Clinton to win and just 18% who grant that it wanted Trump to win.

That’s part of a general pattern when it comes to Trump voters and the Russia story. Only 7% believe that members of Trump’s campaign team worked in association with Russia to help him win the election, to 83% who don’t think that happened. And even if collusion is proven they don’t care- just 11% think Trump should resign if that’s the case to 79% who believe he should remain in office. 75% dismiss the entire Russia story as ‘fake news,’ to 13% who disagree with that assessment. This poll was conducted mostly after the news that indictments were coming was out, but before the actual indictments were released..”

We always knew that America was very divided. The election of Trump seems to have polarised things even more.

Mike Smithson


BMG finds 63% now want an elected House of Lords – up 15 points on two years ago

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

And 27% (+5) want it abolished completely

Maybe its down to the Brexit-induced greater focus on constitutional affairs but support for overhauling the second chamber has soared over the past two years – from 48% backing partly- or fully-elected upper house in 2015, to 63% now, according to polling by BMG Research commissioned by the Electoral Reform Society.

The poll found that 27% thought the second chamber should be abolished – up from 22% in 2015 – while only 10% think it should remain as it is.

This polling comes at a critical time with lots of predictions that their Lordships are going to try to amend the Brexit bill when it gets there in the New Year. It also coincides with a report by the Lord Speaker’s Committee on the Size of the House being released later this afternoon. This is expected to announce changes such as a 15 year term limit on new peers, and a commitment from parties to reduce their representation by a quarter over the next 10 years.

    The ERS have described the recommendations as a ‘cheap compromise’ and ‘mere tinkering’, criticising the committee for ruling out changing how peers get there in the first place.

The 2010 Coalition agreement provided for an elected House of Lords but progress on the bill got derailed by a Tory backbench rebellion which led to it being abandoned.

I agree with ERS boss Darren Hughes when he says:

What we need is a much smaller, fairly-elected upper house that the public can have faith in – and where voters can hold ineffective peers to account.

Peers cannot be allowed to mark their own homework when it comes to fixing this broken upper house. The public call for a real overhaul is loud and clear. Now let’s get on with it and give voters the democratic revising chamber Britain needs.

Mike Smithson


Trump failing to complete a full term now odds-on as court moves start against former campaign chief

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

The biggest current political betting markets on whether Trump is going to survive and him being there at the end of 2020 is looking a touch less likely with his campaign boss, Paul Manafort, due to make a first appearance later today.

On Betfair Trump not making it to the end of his term is now a 53% chance.

In broad terms the charges are that Manafort oversaw a money-laundering scheme involving more than $75 million from pro-Russia political groups.

It is the alleged help that Russian interests gave to Trump to help him defeat Hillary Clinton that have been dominating DC politics for months. These latest charges relate to tax avoidance, illegally working as for a foreign government and making false statements.

Those of us old enough to remember Watergate in the early 1970s remember how it was the cover-up that was Nixon’s final undoing.

These things can take a lot of time but the speed of the latest moves are what is striking.

As to the betting there are two key markets. Will the Donald fail to make it all the way to the end of 2020 and whet year will he depart.

Mike Smithson


In the TMay successor betting the BoJo price slumps

Monday, October 30th, 2017

The political day in the UK has been dominated by the Westminster harassment allegations and the spreadsheet listing the names of MPs, including ministers, said to have committed inappropriate behaviour.

Whether this has driven the changes in the next CON leader betting I don’t know. The chart based on Betfair last trades at 2100 GMT is above.

The trend has been moving away from the ex-mayor since the election when he stood as a 30% chance.

The problem with this market, of course, is that it could be years before there’s a vacancy. When will TMay decide to call it a day or be pushed? That’s very hard to say.

Mike Smithson


If these rumours turn out to be accurate I can see a 2018 general election happening

Monday, October 30th, 2017

Robert Peston’s Facebook post is very interesting, the bit that stood out for me was, this bit

That said, any escalation of the scandal that prompted resignations of MPs and by-elections would be a catastrophe for a prime minister and Tory party whose grip on office is the most tenuous of any government since the 1970s.

May somehow needs to hose down this fire pronto.

Unlike the expenses scandal, where there was a general election within a year which allowed some miscreants to announce their intention to stand down, today we’re potentially over four years away from a general election, so that option isn’t feasible. Unlike then, we now have a recall law to recall MPs if they meet a certain threshold.

If the badly behaving MPs are indeed cabinet ministers that also impacts on the equilibrium, or lack thereof, in the cabinet when it comes to our post Brexit deal.

If we do see by elections I suspect Brexit will feature heavily in them, with candidates at  the end of the political spectrum winning, such as those who are opposed to Brexit and those who get tumescent at the prospect of a Hard/WTO Brexit, which could impact the type of Brexit we get.

I suspect if Mark Garnier’s is forced to resign as a minister, he won’t be the only one, there’s some bad vibes around this whole sorry saga.

Given the downright surrealness of the last few years in the world of politics, the government and the type of Brexit we could get might be determined by the appalling behaviour of some MPs towards their staff and other political workers.



Congratulations to TMay for surviving beyond October 29th

Monday, October 30th, 2017

She’s doing better than IDS in 2003

Yesterday was the 14th anniversary of what I considered to be one of the best political betting days ever where the best place to find out what was happening was to look at the prices on the Betfair Exchange.

After taking over from William Hague two days after 9/11 Iain Duncan Smith struggled for more than 2 years to maintain the confidence of his party and that all finally snapped at the end of October 2003. His opponents in the Parliamentary Conservative Party gathered up enough letters for a confidence vote. These were presented them to the chairman of the 1922 committee who then called the ballot for the following day.

That IDS was going to lose that confidence vote and be replaced, without the having to face an opponent, by Michael Howard all became apparent during the afternoon of the vote on Betfair. Suddenly on the next CON leader market all the money started draining away from the favourite at the time, David Davis and before the confidence vote was announced Michael had become odds on favourite to become Tory leader.

Then of course, the Tories were in opposition and not in government as now and a leadership election to replace Mrs May would be about choosing a new prime minister.

Remember that less than a month ago all the talk was of such a move against Mrs May in the period after conference. We had the suggestion that the party chairman under Cameron, Gavin Shapps, was collecting letters but clearly not enough MPs have been prepared to act now.

In the meantime TMay has had some tricky Commons performances particularly at PMQs where Corbyn had become much more sure footed.

    But we’ve got to the end of October and the PM is still there with almost no talk of immediate confidence votes any more. She appears, and I write guardedly, safe for now.

The Tory party could be in danger of losing its reputation of being the most ruthless when it comes to failing leaders. Mrs May had a majority, called an election that wasn’t necessary, lost the majority and ended up having to agree the £1bn+ deal with the DUP.

She has been helped, of course, by the fact that there is no obvious favourite to replace her. Boris has become a diminished figure since the election and DDavis isn’t going to set the world on fire.

So Mrs May remains and that is something of an achievement. Congratulations.

Mike Smithson


When Mrs May announces her decision to stand down or is removed

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Announcing her departure at the Tory conference in October 2018 looks value at 12/1

I like this market from Paddy Power, a lot of the markets on Theresa May’s departure are when she formally stops being Prime Minister, this market is when she announces her intention to stand down (or loses a vote of confidence of the parliamentary party), not when she actually goes. For example if this market had existed for David Cameron, it would have paid out on June 24th 2016 when Dave announced his intention resign, not July 13th when he ceased to be Prime Minister.

I suspect 2018 will be dominated by Brexit and by the time of the 2018 Tory conference the shape of the Brexit deal, or lack therein, will be clear, despite the hopes and fears of many, the United Kingdom will be leaving the European Union in March 2019 and I think shortly after that Mrs May will formally go.

Much like David Cameron’s assurance prior to the EU referendum that he wouldn’t resign as PM if Leave won, we know Theresa May’s assurance that she will fight be Tory leader at the next general election will be similarly honoured, it just won’t happen because of political gravity will kick in.

In normal circumstances a Prime Minister announcing their departure date would only hasten their departure as their political authority weakens, but since 10pm on June 8th Mrs May’s authority has already been non existent, so she has nothing to lose on that front.

In front of the Tory faithful on October 3rd 2018 makes for an ideal opportunity for Mrs May to announce her departure date, Paddy Power imply there is a sub 8% chance that she will, my instincts thinks it is a bit higher than that.



It’s Mueller time

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Important news for those of us betting on whether Trump will be impeached or serve a full term

CNN reported in the early hours of Saturday morning UK time,

A federal grand jury in Washington on Friday approved the first charges in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to sources briefed on the matter.

The charges are still sealed under orders from a federal judge. Plans were prepared Friday for anyone charged to be taken into custody as soon as Monday, the sources said. It is unclear what the charges are. 

A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment.

The White House also had no comment, a senior administration official said Saturday morning.

I might be reading too much into this but I am surprised this story hasn’t had more coverage, but if we do see people taken into custody Donald Trump’s twitter account will be even more compelling for all the wrong reasons.

Whilst charges being brought shouldn’t mean an automaticity of guilt, I’ve always viewed Trump as nearly as paranoid as Richard Nixon. I suspect Trump will do something spectacular to protect himself, not quite the Saturday Night Massacre but he might start pardoning people before the normal criminal routes have been completed, which might cause Trump even more problems.

My consistent view has been that even if the Democrats controlled The House and voted to impeach, I don’t think they’d have sufficient votes to convict Trump in The Senate, but this does make things very interesting. Depending on who is charged I might be changing my betting position on Monday. Given the way Trump campaigned, you can almost hear a deafening crescendo of ‘Lock him up’ from his opponents once the person who is charged is named, as people wish to hoist Trump by his own petard.

Since Trump became President if feels like we’re all living in a giant constitutional law seminar, this will only reinforce that perception.