Archive for October, 2019


How each of the constituencies voted at the Referendum

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

The projections from Prof Chris Hanretty of Royal Holloway

One thing’s for sure in the coming battle is how individual seats voted in the referendum on June 23rd 2016. Above is the standard reference on this projected by the leading political scientist, Prof Chris Hanretty of Royal Holloway. Most seats are just projections but in a number there are real results coming from councils which issued data down to ward level.

I have the spreadsheet set up so that they are in ascending order by leave vote. You can make your own adjustments.

This is going to be an election without precedent because the UK is on the brink of leaving the EU. I’d expect those seats with the heaviest remain and leave votes to perform in very different ways.

In the strong leave seats expect a battle between Farage’s Brexit party and the Tories while in strong remain seats there’ll be a fight for which party should be the first choice for those opposed to Brexit.

Mike Smithson


The General Election – identifying the top bellwether seats

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

Every single GB constituency ranked by how close they’ve been to the national swings over the past 3 general elections

Thanks to AndyJS for once again creating a very interesting and useful spreadsheet. He mentioned this on the previous the previous thread and I thought it deserved to be highlighted even more.

Sure the fact that the top seat is Bedford has made this stand ot for me. Interestingly at the referendum Bedford’s leave percentage was almost exactly the same as the overall UK result – 51.94%.

Mike Smithson


New polling finds fewer than 1 in 3 think that Brexit will happen by Jan 31st 2020

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

Are we going to see almost perpetual extensions?

The latest extension of the Article 50 process is the third time this has happened and, as the latest YouGov polling shows, just 23% believe that we will be out on by the end of January next year.

It is not as though an extension is unusual. By my counting this is the third time the process has been put back and, who knows, we could see the same happen again.

Of course so much depends on a general election which is looking more likely. Assuming that this goes ahead then everything depends on the outcome. If Johnson gets his desired majority then the chances of Brexit happening will be greater but what if he doesn’t? What if there’s another stalemate?

All the signs are that the Tories will lose seats in Scotland and to the LDs who are now polling at two to three times the level of GE2017. That means that they’ve got to offset the losses in gains from LAB. Where?

There’s also the complication of those MPs who are no longer within the parties that they were part of a GE2017. How many of those are going to be returned at the election? Quite a few, like Dominic Grieve, are going to be helped by the fact that the LDs and Greens are standing aside.

The standard theory that people vote for parties not their individual MP is going to be strongly tested.

Could we be heading for a period when we are neither fully in the EU or fully out of it.

The Tories are very much the party of Brexit which is not as popular as it was in the aftermath of the referendum. The Tories cannot rely on the DUP which feels betrayed by Johnson and really require a clear majority.

Mike Smithson


The LDs seem to be spending big in a seat where they lost their deposit at GE2015 and got just 5.9% in 2017

Monday, October 28th, 2019

If this is a target seat then you cannot fault their ambition

This morning the above 8 page glossy A4 leaflet was delivered to my house by the postman (ie the distribution was paid for). What’s odd is not that this should happen but that I live in the Bedford parliamentary constituency which you could hardly describe as an LD prospect.

At the last election this was a LAB gain from CON with the LDs getting just 5.9% of the vote. This was better than two years earlier when the party lost its deposit. At the referendum Bedford voted Leave by 52-48%

I do know that there was fairly heavy tactical voting by LD supporters at GE2017 including me, In May this year the seat’s LD elected mayoralty was retained and the party won most of the council seats in the constituency. The Tories which held the seat from 2010 to 2017 now not have a single councillor.

My guess is that the expensive leaflet is part of overall national strategy to build on local strengths where they exist. Getting in early is clearly important.

GE2019 could produce some shock results.

Mike Smithson


Sell BREX, Buy PC, GRN & LDs – My current Commons seats spread bets

Monday, October 28th, 2019

With December 2019 general election looking more likely I have just placed another Commons seats spread bet with SportingIndex.

With this form of betting the more you are right the more you win and the more you are wrong the more you lose. It lends itself very well to general election betting on things like how many seats will a party get.

My latest bet is a BUY at 56 seats of the LDs on the LibDem 50 up market. What’s appealing about this is that if Swinson’s party got below 56 my maximum loss would be based on a 50 seat starting line. So if the party ended up fewer than 50 my maximum loss would by six times my stake level.

I think yellows have the potential to do well but I’m not confident enough to take the standard buy of 45 seats where my downside exposure would be greater.

I’ve sold BREX seats at the 4 level because it is very hard for a party on 11/12% in the polls to take seats under first past the post. That’s since dropped to a sell level of three seats which I still regard as value,  Farage’s parties have a long history of struggling in Westminster elections.

My Green party buy was at 1.5 and is based on the party benefiting from the Unite to Remain arrangement in key marginals under which there would be only one of the LDs, Greens or PC standing. The Green seats spread level buy is now at three so that bet is in profit if I sought to cash out.  The same thinking led me to buy PC at 4.5.

Mike Smithson


On the betting markets a December general election is now evens favourite

Monday, October 28th, 2019

The Swinson December 9th plan could succeed

As can be seen from the chart there’s an increasing belief amongst punters that there will be a December general election.

Later today the Commons will vote on Johnson’s motion under the FTPA for there to be an early election which he says would be on December 12th. Although he has named a specific date there is nothing that will make it happen then if 434 MPs do give it their blessing. For the Act leaves the choice of the actual date in the hands of the PM.

With the main opposition parties planning to oppose it is hard to see it getting the require 434 MP votes and for the third time the PM would have be denied his request to go to the country. But unlike previous efforts to use the FTPA formula this would not be the end of the matter. For the Jo Swinson plan, made public Saturday evening, is on the table.

The proposal from the LD leader is in a one line bill that would require just a simple majority of MPs. It also names the date of December 9th and has been designed to ensure that the country votes in a general election before the Commons consider further the withdrawal agreement.

My guess which I’ve bet on is that given all his public calls for an immediate general election Johnson would find it hard to not go forward with something like the Swinson plan and I think there’s an increasing chance that we’ll have general election in the run up to Christmas

From the LDs perspective the election would all be about the Johnson Brexit bill for which they would find it easy to portray themselves as the main opponent. Their battle cry would be “Vote LD to stop Brexit” and we would be going into an election campaign on an issue where the official opposition has been sidelined.

Johnson’s pitch would be straightforward about honouring the referendum result.

Labour’s clear difficulty in having a position would, I suggest, be good for both Swinson and Johnson and would likely ensure that the former would get a lot more attention during the campaign than you’d expect for a party that secured just 7.6% of the vote at GE2017.

Tomorrow night the GE2019 battle could begin.

Mike Smithson


By two to one the voters think the Brexit referendum should not have been held

Sunday, October 27th, 2019

Hindsight is a wonderful thing

Today’s Observer is reporting that

Twice as many people now think it would have been better never to have held a referendum on Brexit than believe it was a good idea, according to the latest Opinium poll for the Observer.

Asked to consider the difficulties the government has had in reaching an agreement, 57% of UK adults surveyed said that they believed it would have been better not to have had a public vote in June 2016.

This compares with 29% of voters who believe it was right to hold the referendum on whether the UK should stay in or leave the EU.

The findings reflect a growing sense of public weariness about arguments over Brexit, which have paralysed British politics and divided the country. People who voted to remain in the EU are overwhelmingly of the view that the referendum should not have taken place, with 87% agreeing and only 7% saying it was a good idea.

Those who voted to leave, however, still have a majority view – although a decreasing one – that it was right to have put the question to the people; 57% of this group said that they believed it was the correct decision, against 32% who now think the reverse.

This type of polling, coupled with consistent polling from YouGov about Brexit being the wrong decision, makes me think the Brexit fault line will not heal no matter what happens next.

If Boris Johnson’s deal passes in its current form then the cliff edge of No Deal rears its head at the end of 2020 and we’ve still got years worth of negotiations to come regarding the United Kingdom’s long term relationship with the European Union, this fault line will not go away anytime soon.



Betting on the turnout at the next general election

Sunday, October 27th, 2019

Ladbrokes have a market up on the turnout at the next general election and I can understand why the 65% to 70% band is the favourite as it is the band at what turnout has been at every general election this decade.

If Boris Johnson is granted his desire and we have a December general election we will have a first general election in forty-five years that hasn’t been held in the April to June window. There’s a belief amongst some that this will have a negative impact on turnout but I have my doubts on this theory.

As we can see in the chart above of the turnout at general elections in the 1970s the turnout in February 1974 didn’t fall but increased by nearly 7% from June 1970, the October 1974 election saw turnout fall back but was still higher than June 1970.

I think the value might be in the highest band, 75% and over, because if Brexit is seen to be in danger (or being potentially stopped) I can see turnout surging as both sides rush to the polling stations to ensure their side ‘wins’. But this isn’t a market I’ll be betting heavily on at this time, when the date of the election and the status of Brexit on election day is confirmed then I’ll stake a bit more (odds permitting.)