Archive for December, 2019

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The big development in the Democratic nomination betting is the rise and rise of Bernie

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019

With all the focus on the GE2019 aftermath we haven’t paid much attention to what will almost certainly be the biggest political betting event of 2020 – the White House Race. At the moment, five and a half weeks before the Iowa caucuses the main activity has been on the Democratic nomination battle.

Iowa is the state that is the first to decide and generally has a big impact on shaping how the race will go in the states that follow.

Currently, as seen in the latest betdata.io chart of the Betfair betting it is the ultra-oldies pair of Sander and Biden (both in their latest 70s) who are seen by punters as making the running.

There’s a view that Biden doesn’t need a good result in Iowa because of his likely big win in South Carolina – the third state to decide. Bernie is, however, different and he needs a top or close runner-up place in Iowa to maintain momentum.

My view is that they are far too old and the party needs someone far younger to contrast with the then 74 year old Trump.

I’ve now cashed out at a profit of all my nomination and next president positions while I wait for what I see as strong indications from Iowa where Mayor Pete continues to lead in the very few state polls that there have been.

Mike Smithson

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On the LAB leadership betting markets Starmer and Long-Bailey continue to dominate

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019

Chart of Betfair exchange price movements from Betdata.io

It is now two and a half weeks since Corbyn announced his intention of standing down and although quite a number of names have been mentioned as a possible successors it is Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long Bailey who continue to attract the attention of punters.

The “race” is expected to start formally next week when the party’s NEC meets and the rules for the contest agreed. A big challenge of all wannabee leaders looks set to be the requirements the NEC decide on to get on the ballot and we’ll know next week whether the party will stick with the rules as currently laid down.

It is hardly surprising that the battle will be over whether the party stays as it has become under Corbyn or whether seeking to win a general election becomes the key priority. RLB represents the former camp with Starmer the latter.

I’m not betting until such time as we know what the rules will be.

My guess, and I might be totally wrong, is that the hammering that Corbyn’s party had to ensure on December 12th will put the focus on electability. Labour has lost four elections on the trot and will want, surely, to end that run.

Mike Smithson

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LAB leadership fight latest: Angela Rayner says she’ll back RLB

Monday, December 30th, 2019

Starmer moves to a 35% chance on Betfair – his highest yet

Mike Smithson




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Reflections – Part One

Monday, December 30th, 2019

Sometimes, it’s apparently minor decisions in politics which can annoy the most.  Here is my list.

1. Lords and Ladies

Peerages for Nicky Morgan and Zac Goldsmith but not Ken Clarke. Eh? There are many arguments for having a different second chamber to the current House of Lords but surely, while it exists, those joining it should be politicians with experience and knowledge to contribute. Whether you agree with Clarke’s EU views, he has – since the referendum – played an absolutely straight bat, despite his personal views. He also exemplifies a type of Tory politician who used to be much more common and may, who knows, be again, especially after the election changes to Tory MPs: a politician rooted in and proud of his provincial background. As for Morgan and Goldsmith, they are ennobled to keep their jobs until a rumoured reshuffle in February. Weren’t junior Ministers available? Why should a retired politician and one who lost his seat (for the second time) with relatively little experience be given a lifetime role in our legislature just to cover a short-term HR issue?

2. Parliamentary #MeToo

14 months after the damning report by Dame Laura Cox into a culture of bullying, harassment and abuse of staff by MPs and senior Commons staff, including the former Speaker (allegedly), it has disappeared without trace. No follow up. No action. No clear guidelines for the new Parliamentary boys and girls and their staff. Not so much kicked into the long grass as buried deep in quicksand. Staff will simply have to hope that their bosses behave well, put up with the intolerable or leave. How very 19th century. One to remember the next time an MP opines on bad employment behaviour in the world outsideWestminster.

3. Russian Enigmas

The Intelligence and Security Committee Report has a strong record of issuing thoughtful reports, most recently on the security services’ responses to terror threats, particularly IS (currently regrouping and as dangerous as ever, according to those same services). But its report on possible Russian interference in British politics was not published prior to the election and may now not be for months. Commentary has focused on its Chairman (Grieve) or whether it reveals some nefarious link to the PM but it is surely more important than that. Russia’s willingness to interfere in British politics, in British life – through its money, investments, its social media use – is something which needs to be aired, understood and discussed, if we really want to understand the new background against which democracy will be practised. Russia is unlikely to be the only foreign state seeking to extend its influence in unorthodox ways, after all.

4. Rewards for failures

It’s not always easy to define what differentiates a professional from other craftsmen and trades. But one characteristic is surely this: professionals should take what they are charged with at the start of their career and hand it on in as least as good and – ideally – better state to those following on after. By this standard, Alison Saunders has hardly distinguished herself, certainly not to the extent of being worth a Damehood. The CPS’s recent record during her period in charge has been lamentable. Rather than improving it, it has led to further apparently serious and endemic problems going to the heart of the criminal justice system to embed themselves more deeply. Her successor will need to spend energy correcting those problems. Improvement seems a long way off. But, apparently, she is to be rewarded for years of service, as if she worked for nothing all those years, did not build up a munificent pension and get herself an even more well paid private sector job at the end of it. Why are we so accepting and tolerant of the second-rate? Why don’t we try expecting – and rewarding – excellence?

The new Bank of England Governor, Andrew Bailey, is perhaps a more difficult case. His work at the BoE and the PRA has been fine. But his most recent period of leadership at the FCA has, frankly, been undistinguished, marked by feebleness in enforcement (failing to stand up to Barclays’ Board when its CEO blithely ignored his Bank’s own whistleblowing rules), in supervision (Woodford conducting regulatory arbitrage in plain sight, while exhibiting all the characteristics so common in a poor culture: arrogance, hubris, a myth of indispensability with the FCA’s CEO tut-tutting on the sidelines when finally asked what was happening), in taking seriously its obligations to protect consumers.  Was he really the best the BoE could do? Or is there the teensiest suspicion that the safe, won’t rock the boat option was chosen with the FCA experience quietly ignored or explained away?

5. Rigging the Jury

Control the process and you go a very long way to controlling the outcome. A lesson the government has learnt well in its response to the Henriques report on the Metropolitan’s failures in the Carl Beech sex abuse cases. Those failures stemmed in very great part from guidance that allegations must be believed as true. And who wrote that guidance? Why – Sir Tom Winsor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary. And who is to conduct the further inquiry into the Henriques report recommendations. Yes. You guessed right! Sir Tom Winsor. Why bother. The police will continue as before, there will be blather about lessons being learnt, no-one will be responsible, nothing will change and when some future miscarriage of justice arises from a similar cause it will only be the old and those with memories like encyclopaedias (remember them?) who will remember. Who cares about due process?

6. Standing By

Alderton Park Primary School finally got a permanent exclusion order against those protesting against LGBT lessons. An important victory for the school, its indomitable headmistress and staff and Birmingham Council. Where, however, was the Secretary of State for Education in all this? Where was the public support, the signal – not just to this school – but all others and all those with an interest in ensuring that religion should not be used as a pretext or justification for ignoring the law, for unkindness, hostility and intolerance, that this sort of bullying simply will not do in Britain in 2019?

Small irritations maybe but ones relating to Parliament, Select Committees, the police, prosecutors, our financial regulators and our educators: the institutions which make a democracy, a free society work. We should cherish them more.

Finally, two plaudits:-

Reportedly, the Home Secretary has been trying to allow HK protestors with British overseas passports to get the right of residence in Britain, against the wishes of the Foreign Office, which does not want to upset China.  Here’s hoping she succeeds. It is one small thing which Britain can do for those fighting for freedom.  (If Boris is looking for a role for Steve Barclay, replace Raab with himtin the Foreign Office. If we must have senior politicians whose main quality seems to be how smart they look in John Lewis casual wear, at least Barclay looks pleasant rather than mulish and arrogant.)

The final plaudit also goes to Priti Patel for personally visiting the Dunn family  to tell them the process which will be followed now that Mrs Sacoolas has been charged. It was a very human, very kind gesture. It showed that Ms Patel understood that grieving parents need to be listened to, need to feel that the government is on their side, that it will try do their best for them. Contrast this with the irritated way their plea was dismissed by Raab. The Dunns may well never get the justice they crave but at least they can feel they did their most for their son. Ms Patel deserves credit for taking the time to give them some time.

Who’d have thought I’d end the year praising Priti Patel.

Still sometimes it’s good to surprise oneself.

CycleFree

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In Scotland all the polls in the entire 2017-2019 parliament understated the SNP

Monday, December 30th, 2019

The SNP’s 45% of the Scottish vote gave the party 81% of the Scottish seats

One of the features of this month’s general election that hasn’t received much attention is how successful the SNP were in the 59 Scottish sets.

For the third general election is succession it was this part of the UK that saw the most change in terms of seats  with on December 12th 15 of the 59 constituencies ending up in different hands. This always looked likely to be the case and why Scotland only polls continue to be very important.

Unfortunately the polling performance north of the border was not  quite as good as the GB polls which as noted here last Thursday came out of this month’s  election looking good.

The big surprise in Scotland was that the SNP did better than any of the surveys that took place not only during the campaign period itself but throughout all the 2017-2019 Parliament. Not a single Scottish poll in the two and a half years of the last parliament had Sturgeon’s party at or above the 45% that was actually achieved.

The other factor this time was the overstatement of the Scottish Tories with the final polls having the party between 26% and 29%  higher than the 25.1% that actually happened. Johnson’s party lost seven of its thirteen Scottish MPs while Scottish LAB was reduced from seven seats north of the border to just one.

While the LDs saw the loss of Jo Swinson’s seat it came out with four Scottish MPs the same as GE2017 on an increased vote share.

The fact that Johnson’s party was able to secure a substantial majority while losing more than half its Scottish seats shows how successful it was in England and Wales.

  • NOTE: PB’s server has been updated over the weekend thanks once again to my son Robert

Mike Smithson




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Server Upgraded!

Monday, December 30th, 2019

Now with shiny https!

Hopefully no problems. But if you do see problems, please send me an email at my gmail, and I’ll look into them.

Thanks, rcs1000



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Sorry!

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

About all the site problems.

I did a server upgrade, and Vanilla refused to play nicely with the new server. So I rolled it back… and Vanilla refused to play nicely with the old server either. 🙁

You can access the comments here.

I’m communicating with Vanilla, and I’m sure we’ll get it sorted soon.

Thanks, Robert



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Occasionally 52% of voters have impeccable judgment, here’s the proof

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

52% of voters are correct is not a sentence I expected to write but here we are. This finding isn’t a surprise, after all the star of the film, Bruce Willis, has himself said Die Hard is definitely not a Christmas film, after all film released in July 1988 can hardly be categorised as a Christmas film can it?

TSE