Archive for the 'Guest slot' Category


Why Dominic Cummings Should resign (from a fan)

Saturday, May 23rd, 2020

A guest slot from Richard Tyndall

First a declaration of my view of Dominic Cummings. 

I am a huge fan both of the man himself, of what he has tried to achieve over many years, and of his successes as a political advisor and brains behind the Leave campaign. So it should be clear that my views on the Durham-gate affair are not based on personal antipathy towards him. In an ideal world I would want nothing more than for him to stay as Chief of Staff at No 10 for the next 4 years. 

Sadly I do not think that is now a tenable position. 

There has been lots of debate over the last 24 hours about the rights and wrongs of Cummings’ actions and what the consequences should be. These have been broadly but not exclusively along the expected fault lines of pro and anti-Brexit, pro and anti-Johnson and Left and Right. What most of the arguments have done is mixed up three distinct lines of debate into a single position of attack or defence. So I think it is worthwhile unravelling those three strands of argument.

Firstly there is the argument of whether or not Cummings was right to do what he did from a personal point of view of doing what was best for his family. This has been the primary line of defence from those seeking to absolve him of wrong doing but it was actually ydoethur – who is no fan of Cummings – who took the measured view on this. If Cummings felt that he was best protecting his family by taking them to Durham so his child could be cared for by relatives then he was completely right to do so. I suspect that almost all of us, if we genuinely believed that our families well-being was being put at risk, would have taken the same decision. He may have been wrong in his assessment but there is no point trying to second guess someone trying to do their best for their family in a time of crisis. So I have nothing but sympathy on this point. 

However I do not consider it to be a valid defence.  

The second line of argument – and the one I think is most important when deciding the rights and wrongs of Cummings’ behaviour – is whether or not what he did was best for the good governance of the country and the safety of the population.  Like it or not, Cummings is at the heart of power, helping to frame decisions that have massive consequences for the whole country including, in these extraordinary times,  literally matters of life and death. His actions cannot help but undermine the message the Government has been trying to hammer home for months now. And in undermining the message, he has undermined the whole Government strategy,  the apparent rule of law and the safety of tens of thousands of people who might now believe that it is reasonable and safe to ignore the Government guidance. This is not a matter of politics but of basic good governance and on that basis Cummings has failed entirely.  

That does not mean Cummings should not have done what he did. One reason why I and many others recognise we could never be in positions of power is because we could never put the good of the country before the good of our own close family. And whilst it might be rare, there are times when one has to make that choice when you are at the heart of government. What Cummings should have done, having chosen family over duty, is to resign. It would have shown he knew that he was wrong to have undermined the Government message and that there are consequences to making these difficult decisions. Instead what he ash tried to do is square the circle and claim that doing something because it was best for his family means he can ignore his duty to the country as a whole.  That is an untenable position. 

Finally, and to my mind least important, is the politics of it all. This of course is what will ultimately decide whether Cummings stays or goes. The Government are hoping this is the proverbial storm in a teacup and by this time next week the whole news cycle will have moved on. The Opposition are hoping it does not but are also not necessarily going to rush and push for Cummings to go. They will be banking on him being far more of a liability to the Government staying in power as damaged goods than being sacked to draw a line under the issue. This makes the whole thing difficult to call in terms of Cummings’ survival. But to my mind at least this is immaterial. The question as to whether he will survive may be difficult to call. The question as to whether he should survive, for me at least, is very, very clear. 

For the good of the country and the future health of countless citizens, he should go now.   

Richard Tyndall  

Richard has been a longstanding PBer



28 Weeks Later: The Coronavirus Aftermath for the NHS and its Political Implications

Sunday, May 17th, 2020

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning” 

The NHS has come through the first phase substantially intact, but with considerable losses, and a mixed performance at best, as ably outlined by Cyclefree in a previous header.

Moving to the next phase is a challenge across all the domains of economics and society, but my thoughts turn to the next phase for the NHS. The NHS has a central role in British Politics, whether Labour’s “24 hours to save the NHS”, the Brexiteers “£350 million pounds per week for the NHS” or the Conservatives “forty “new” hospitals and 50 000 “new” nurses”. The NHS remains political catnip for voters, and there is little reason for that to be less so at the next General Election. Indeed every reason for it to be a central issue once more, alongside the related Social Care services.

Peak coronavirus seems to have passed, and though the stress has been significant, there has been enough reserve capacity mobilised to avoid the overloading that was feared. This has not been without cost, as many elective services have been suspended since mid March. There are concerns that many other conditions are going untreated as a result. The next phase is to restore these services, and to recover the position pre-deluge or better. There are several interconnected issues that make this a quagmire.

Command and Control Centrally:

It is quite striking how at the first whiff of gunpowder the policy of the last 30 years of localised commissioning and increased independence of providers vapourised. Since March the NHS has had a top down system more centralised than ever in its history. Decision making descends from Whitehall, and while some of these decisions may well have been mistaken or reckless, others have been more successful. Even Mr Corbyn must have raised a quizzical eyebrow at the requisitioning of the Private Hospitals, and effective abolition of private medical practice in the UK for the first time in history. 

How long will this centralised system continue? Or will services be restored to local organisational control, with all the risks of fragmentation and loss of political control?

The Continuing need for a significant workload of Coronavirus Patients:

My own hunch is that rather than a large second wave that the virus situation will shift from a pandemic pattern to an endemic one. I suspect significant ongoing numbers of new cases for many months to come, perhaps around 100 Covid-19 inpatients per million population for the rest of the year. Even if the numbers are less than this there will be a need to have such reserve capacity as to be able to cope with a second wave, should one occur.

This necessitates the separation of all patients into Covid and non-Covid streams, whether in one site or more, with testing early in the patient pathway in order to direct patients accordingly, and duplication of staff and equipment. In particular, there will be a long term need for more than baseline Intensive Care (ICU). This either denies that capacity directly or indirectly for other services, with anaesthetists and theatre staff running overflow ICU at the expense of those facilities being used for elective surgery.

Equipment Issues:

NHS PPE supplies seem adequate at last (though supplies remain tight, and protocols less protective than other lands), but still are an issue in Social Care. Other supplies are now becoming more of an issue, particularly some pharmaceuticals used in ICU and also in anaesthesia, and of haemofiltration equipment for renal failure. 

Much elective surgery is an “Aerosol Generating Procedure” (AGP) that is high risk of transmitting the virus to staff, and also contaminating the operating room environment. Currently this requires respiratory masks, full length gowns, and much longer case turnaround time due to donning, doffing and extra cleaning between cases. This includes all general anaesthesia, and all dentistry. Not only is this uncomfortable and gruelling for staff, expanding the amount of surgery exhausts precious PPE and pharmaceutical stocks.

Social Distancing and related measures:

UK hospitals are designed for high throughput and occupancy. Corridors are narrow, lifts are small, offices and examination rooms crowded and most wards are designed with bays of six patients rather than the single rooms common abroad. Waiting rooms are intimate and diagnostic units such as outpatients and emergency departments can not work at full capacity while maintaining a 2 metre distance. Architecturally UK Hospitals are amongst the worst places for social distancing, and are by their very nature full of the highest risk population. Patients are in large part right to be wary.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention:

Rather like the retail and business sector, healthcare is experiencing a decade of change compressed into a few weeks. There has been a vast increase in the proportion of telephone and video consultations, up from 10% to 85% in General Practice. The implications on quality of care and accuracy of diagnosis are yet to be explored, but much General Practice will continue in this style. There are also areas within Secondary care where this can be used. There has also been a renewed interest in the generic skills of hospital staff, with anaesthetists and theatre nurses running ICU, and orthopedic juniors looking after respiratory patients.

There will be further innovations too, and better more reliable testing may reduce the need for PPE, by screening admissions a week or so in advance (though these may need multiple swabs and isolation over the week). Some of the 40 new hospitals may need to be redesigned to accommodate a greater ability for social distancing. 

The Perfect Storm:

The combination of a 3-4 month suspension of elective surgery, reduced availability of operating theatre space and reduced throughput on operating lists will greatly lengthen surgical and diagnostics waiting lists. I suspect this productivity will drop by 50% or more for the duration of the coronavirus, so likely to be for 12-24 months. Within a year patients waiting over a year for treatment in England and Scotland will be common, they are already in Northern Ireland and Wales. Within 2 years we will see some patients waiting 24 months. Non surgical specialities including mental health will be similarly affected, though these get less media attention.

Seven day working and evening working may help to some degree, but the numbers of personnel and need for all support services to be functioning over these extended days will be limiting factors. The private hospitals will not be able to take up the slack as exactly the same issues of reduced theatre productivity, supplies and social distancing apply. These are international issues so international recruitment presents no magic solution.

Even if the virus is solved by vaccination or miracle in 2021 we are going to have an enormous backlog of waiting lists that will still be present at the next General Election, and a hotter political potato than ever. Not least because clinical outcomes will worsen from the delay.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer will not be able to find the savings he needs for deficit recovery in the Health sector, and the failure to deliver the 40 hospitals and 50,000 nurses will prey on his mind too. That £350 million per week extra is going to be needed not for expansion, but simply for political survival, particularly for placating the newly acquired older, more working class Tory electorate.

This perhaps explains why, despite a comfortable majority and massive poll lead at present, Betfair exchange has for next GE, Con most seats at 1.8 and Con Majority odds against at 2.92. No overall majority looks reasonable value at the current 2.62.


Foxy is a PB regular, and a Hospital Doctor in both NHS and Private Practice.


Can anyone stop Sanders – looking at the contenders one by one?

Friday, February 28th, 2020

Bernie Sanders is rightly the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. RIght now he leads in national polling, delegates, popular votes cast and has gone 3 out of 3 (Including a blowout delegate win in broadly representative Nevada) for states that have thus far cast their votes.

Who can challenge him though ?

Examining the candidates officially still in the race and those with odds of less than 1000.0 on Betfair. So in broad order of plausibility…

Tom Steyer – He might have a good night in South Carolina, but his other heavily worked state, Nevada bombed with a poor vote share. He seems invisible in all states past South Carolina too. Likely never a viable candidate, it won’t (Sadly for the big green number I have next to him) be Steyer.

Tulsi Gabbard – There are the has beens, the also rans and the never weres in this nomination process. Tulsi has been barely above the Deval Patrick, John Delaneys and Marianne Williamsons in this process, Tulsi is firmly in the “never were” category.

Amy Klobuchar – Seems to have got embroiled in rows with Pete Buttigieg. There are bigger fish to fry than Buttigieg in this process and despite her having some niche midwestern appeal, her polling is nowhere outside of her home state of Minnesota right now. There looks to be absolubtely no plausible way forward for her.

Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton – I’ll deal with these together. At a contested convention, Clinton (Or Mrs Obama if you prefer longer odds fantasies) will take to the stage to make a speech about how the party needs to unite; and suddenly chants of “I’m with her, I’m with her” erupt all over the arena. She’s ruled out running, but the adulation is too great and extremely reluctantly Hillary Clinton with a click of her Lucite heels accepts the Democratic nomination. It’s the stuff of nightmares for Betfair layers, Ladbrokes, hilarious for everyone else and would probably burn twitter’s servers down. Trump would find it hilarious, but really how likely is this ?

Not going to happen, we’ve moved on from the 1952 Democrat convention – they are much wider affairs now. Delegate horse trading would be between existing candidates.

Buttigieg – A very competent candidate with a good start, but the road ahead looks extremely challenging for him. He’s had his best states, and has never connected at all with black voters. He is forecast to attain 197 delegates and his odds of winning a plurality of delegates are 0.4% according to Nate Silver’s model. Almost uniquely suited for the demographics of Iowa and New Hampshire I feel his best days in the nomination process were those first early days.

Warren – Warren has had something of a polling uplift in recent days with some strong debate performances. Her problem is that she is likely many voters second choice particularly Sanders voters. With Sanders in such a strong position fighting off the other Bs in the contest (Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Biden) can the aware liberal voter afford to potentially waste a vote on Warren if it might be better off spent on Sanders to secure him more delegates ? It is a rhetorical problem (No).

Nevertheless she might just have enough delegates (And be sufficiently Sanders friendly) to negotiate concessions at a contested convention to “get him over the line” if he is just short. She may well stay in for this reason, as she can attract a more moderate voter than Sanders too. On a personal level she seems disgusted by Bloomberg trying to literally buy the nomination – and quite right too.

Bloomberg – I for a whole heap of reasons one never believed his candidacy could have achieved the polling numbers it seems to have generated; however it seems hundreds of millions of dollars of advertising (Orange man bad) does seemingly make people want to buy anything you’re selling – particularly Florida voters that are even older than he is (The one state I think he could win). 

But here’s the problem – he could well be heading into Super Tuesday with Sanders as the presumptive frontrunner, and Joe Biden coming off a bounce from South Carolina (It’s not completely inconcievable Biden might be in the delegate lead heading into ST). He’s going to split the potential Biden vote far more than any effect on Sanders, indeed if you wanted a poster child that represents everything Sanders stands against – well you couldn’t do much better than Mike Bloomberg. He’s a lousy debater, is tone deaf on issues particularly of sexism has #Metoo issues.. and his head to head polling against Sanders is poor. 

Perhaps more than any other candidate he has created the conditions to flip the Sanders-Biden dynamic since the start of the process in favour of Sanders.

Onto JO ‘No malarkey’ BIDEN

Biden has had a poor campaign thus far. It should probably be no surprise given he is a man who plagiarised Kinnock speeches. Trump’s impeachment likely hasn’t helped either highlighting the murky world of jobs for the well connected boys (Jo’s son Hunter) in this case. The calendar has definitely been unhelpful, if South Carolina or Nevada had gone first he’d be in a much stronger position.

Though with a strong debate in Carolina, and the strongest part of his electoral coalition (Black moderate voters who really like Obama’s legacy) about to have their voice heard in SC he is probably the best placed candidate of the 3 (Moderate) Bs to challenge Sanders for the nomination.

He’s still behind in theoretical H2H polling but the gap is nowhere near as big as Bloomberg, and Buttigieg simply doesn’t have the electoral coalition. Will the others realise enough that Biden is likely their only shot at stopping Sanders ? Probably. Will they realise quickly enough ? Probably not.



Is the monarchy in trouble?

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

The British monarchy has its origins so far back in time, it’s easy to forget just how old it is. Its roots – in both Anglo-Saxon England and the ancient Kingdom of Alba – stretch back well over 1,000 years and it’s now comfortably into its third millennium. So, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s as stable and enduring as the rocks that form these islands themselves.

You’d be wrong. The monarchy – as an institution – is far more vulnerable than it might first appear. As the winds abate (for now) from the storms that blew through it over Prince Andrew in December and Megxit in January it’s time to contemplate its future.

If you review opinion polling for the last 30 years support for the monarchy has been remarkably stable. Republicanism has bounced up and down in the 15-25% box with monarchism itself between 65-80%. Ups and downs are more frequent than we think – there have been several crisis years in 1987, 1992, 1997, as well as 2019 – but support has quickly bounced back at Jubilees and Weddings. However, the Queen has been on the throne so long it isn’t clear how much is personal support for her rather than for the institution itself. The 1950s – when a change of reign last occurred – were a very long time ago.

Key to her success has been her understanding of the rules. The British public (by and large) support the monarchy because they value a non-partisan head of state that symbolically embodies our national story. The reflective amongst them also like the stability and continuity it provides as the centrepiece of our constitution. Prime Ministers – who might not always start as resolute royalists – are often swayed in office as they come to recognise the value of the monarchy as a diplomatic asset for the UK, as well as someone for the loneliest of officeholders to confide in.

However, avoiding politics doesn’t mean a monarch doesn’t need political skill. Queen Elizabeth is clearly a deeply conservative woman but has been good (phenomenally good) at maintaining tradition whilst trimming her sails into the winds of change throughout her reign. Key to this has been her supreme self-discipline and self-awareness of public opinion. She’s recognised the need to be as even-handed to Labour and Liberal politicians as to Conservatives, and has spent as much time soothing the ex-industrial regions of the UK and the inner cities as she has opening galas and fetes.

But this balancing act is getting harder and harder. The march of “identity politics” will make the monarchy no exemption. And what makes it particularly hard to navigate is that there is no easy line to tread – it’s about what you are as well as what you say or do. Barring a terrible tragedy, the line of succession guarantees that for at least the next 50 years we will have a series of monarchs with relatively short reigns all of which will be white, male, old, protestant and wealthy.

We’ve seen glimpses of how some of her heirs intend to handle this. Prince Harry hasn’t been shy of accusing the media of racism and sexism. And Prince William dealt a firm rebuke at the BAFTAs over its lack of diversity. Prince William became the subject of jokes from other celebrities for his trouble, including from one commentator that his statement represented the “biggest stone thrown from glassiest house”. More dangerously, in a marriage that was originally lauded as an act of inclusive modernisation, by putting race at its centre and then mismanaging the messaging Megxit could still yet actively turn a section of Britain’s population against the monarchy.

The risk for the Royals is that by embroiling themselves in this debate they will become part of it. And it’s a battle that cannot be won. In the current Labour leadership contest we’ve already had one contender put forward a referendum on the monarchy as part of his platform. Another – still in the race and arguably the most impressive so far – has self-declared as a sceptic. On the other side, you have radical Leavers arguing that the monarchy too is part of the politically-correct Establishment and, like the House of Lords, an obstacle to reform and the People’s Will.

The monarchy could easily become subject to a pincer movement from both sides and end up with a referendum on its future. This must be avoided at all costs. Whilst ‘Retain’ would be very likely to win – Britons are unlikely to agree on the alternative and support for the monarchy is still very robust in almost all areas of the country – its bedrock of support does represent a turbocharged Conservative vote (as James Kanagasooriam has written here). A referendum would establish a fissure in British life that would be unlikely to be healed ever again. A victory on 55% of the votes simply isn’t good enough for an institution that’s meant to unite the country.

So, is the Monarchy in trouble? Not yet, and all is not lost. The Queen has also overseen an unprecedented period of social, economic and cultural change over the last 67 years. Furthermore, over the next fifty, identity politics may abate as the UK becomes increasingly diverse – if so much of the population isn’t in a minority anymore then it’s harder to make the privileged argument by race.

But it shouldn’t be taken for granted. It wouldn’t take too many unforced errors for it to falter. Then, rather than being a rock of impermeable granite, we might find out the monarchy is actually more akin to a deceptively strong shale: looking to possess impressive integrity at first glance, but vulnerable to two or three sharp strikes that – taken together – would shatter the whole edifice.

Casino Royale

Casino Royale is a long standing PBer and tweets as CasinoRoyalePB


Irish General Election 2020 : Results & Review (Part Two : G – L Constituencies)

Friday, February 14th, 2020

It has now been nearly a week since the Irish General Election took place on the 8th of February 2020 and we are still no further on to getting a Dáil government elected. It was pretty much a three way tie with Micheál Martin’s Fianna Fáil on 38 seats, Mary Lou McDonald’s Sinn Féin on 37 seats and Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael on 35 seats. Who is going to be the next Taoiseach and which parties will form the coalition? We simply don’t know but what do know is the elected T.D’s, but who were they? Find out here.

Green Machine


Irish General Election 2020 : Results & Review (Part One : C & D Constituencies)

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

A general election never fails to excite or interest us and there was simply no inception here. The main talking points were Health, Homelessness & Housing (they must like or dislike the letter “H” in Ireland). Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael & Sinn Féin are the main three parties, but who will win and where did they go wrong? Find out below!
Carlow / Kilkenny (Quota = 12,274)
As expected Kathleen (Sinn Féin) got elected here, although I didn’t expect her to win. John McGuinness (Fianna Fáil) was the second candidate elected. The Green Party achieved the upset.
Result : Five Elected
Kathleen Funchion (S.F) 17,493 (1st Count)John Paul Phelan (F.G) 13,172 (Count 8)Jennifer Murnane O’Connor (F.F) 12,839 (Count 8)John McGuinness (F.F) 12,612 (Count 6)
Malcolm Noonan (G.P) 10,543 (Count 10, Final Count)
Best Runner Up: (NOT Elected) Bobby Aylward (F.F) 9,985.

Cavan / Monaghan (Quota = 12,031)
The top three elected runners will either be elected in the first or second count. Who will get the last two remaining seats? this really is a lottery.

Result : Five Elected
Matt Carthy (S.F) 16,310 (1st Count)Pauline Tully (S.F) 13,457 (Count 2)Heather Humphreys (F.G) 12,808 (1st Count)Brendan Smith (F.F) 11,004 (Count 11, Final Count)
Niamh Smyth (F.F) 10,951 (Count 11, Final Count)
Best Runner Up: (NOT Elected) T.P O’Reilly (F.G) 8,646.
Clare (Quota = 11,900)I always thought Clare would be a pretty close battle and that there wouldn’t be anyone elected on the first few counts. It was fairly balanced between the top three parties. Michael McNamara (Ind) was the first across the line. Strangely enough, all four candidates were elected via the 10th and final count, but who were they?
Result : Four Elected
Michael McNamara (Ind) 12,205 (Count 10, Final Count)Violet-Anne Wynne (S.F) 11,903 (Count 10, Final Count)Cathal Crowe (F.F) 11,471 (Count 10, Final Count)Joe Carey (F.G) 11,345 (Count 10, Final Count)
Best Runner Up: (NOT Elected) Timmy Dooley (F.F) 10,630.
Cork East (Quota = 10,909)
There was a candidate elected on the first count, but who was it?
Result : Four Elected
Pat Buckley (S.F) 12,587 (1st Count)Seán Sherlock (Lab) 11,237 (Count 8, Final Count)David Stanton (F.G) 10,309 (Count 8, Final Count)James O’Connor (F.F) 9,731 (Count 8, Final Count)

Best Runner Up: (NOT Elected) Kevin O’Keeffe (F.F) 9,078.
Cork North Central (Quota = 10,356)
This was a tricky one to call but I knew Thomas Gould (S.F) would get a seat with ease. who followed him over the line?
Result : Four Elected
Thomas Gould (S.F) 13,811 (1st Count)Padraig O’Sullivan (F.F) 12,099 (Count 12)Colm Burke (F.G) 10,649 (Count 14, Final Count)Mick Barry (SOL-PBP) 9,396 (Count 14, Final Count)

Best Runner Up: (NOT Elected) Kenneth O’Flynn (Ind) 7,280.
Cork North West (Quota = 11,593)
With only three seats up for grabs, can Aindrias & Michael Moynihan (not related) get a seat or will one of them lose out marginally?
Result : Three Elected
Michael Creed (F.G) 13,060 (Count 5, Final Count)Michael Moynihan (F.F) 11,240 (Count 5, Final Count)Aindrias Moynihan (F.F) 11,173 (Count 5, Final Count)

Best Runner Up: (NOT Elected) Ciarán McCarthy (S.D) 8,588.
Cork South Central (Quota = 11,429)
I knew Simon Coveney (F.G), Micheál Martin (F.F) & Michael McGrath (F.F) would be elected here without many obstacles, although was it plain sailing or nail biting?
Result : Four Elected
Donnchadh O’Laoghaire (S.F) 14,057 (1st Count)Simon Coveney (F.G) 12,170 (Count 8, Final Count)Micheál Martin (F.F) 11,505 (Count 6)Michael McGrath (F.F) 10,809 (Count 8, Final Count)

Best Runner Up: (NOT Elected) Lorna Bogue (G.P) 9,179.
Cork South West (Quota = 11,085)
Michael Collins (Ind) was a forgone conclusion in his beloved constituency, who would join him?

Result : Three Elected

Michael Collins (Ind) 11,712 (1st Count)Christopher O’Sullivan (F.F) 11,262 (Count 8, Final Count)Holly Cairns (S.D) 10,078 (Count 8, Final Count)
Best Runner Up: (NOT Elected) Tim Lombard (F.G) 9,526.
Donegal (Quota : 12,909)
Pearse Doherty (S.F) was the biggest certainty of this election and as expected he was elected on the first count with flying colours. Thomas Pringle (Ind) was elected but as expected, it wasn’t straight forward. Unfortunately for Fianna Fáil, Pat “The Cope” Gallagher just missed out by 350 votes.
Result : Five Elected
Pearse Doherty (S.F) 21,044 (1st Count)Pádraig MacLochlainn (S.F) 13,891 (1st Count)Thomas Pringle (Ind) 12,245 (Count 9, Final Count)
Joe McHugh (Fine Gael) 12,104 (Count 9, Final Count)Charlie McConalogue (F.F) 11,432 (Count 9, Final Count)

Best Runner Up: (NOT Elected) Pat “The Cope” Gallagher (F.F) 11,074.

Dublin Bay North (Quota = 11,935)
It was predicted that Denise Mitchell (S.F) would be elected here and that prediction lived up to the expectation. This constituency was fairly balanced between five parties. We knew the G.P vote would improve here but was it enough?

Result : Five Elected
Denise Mitchell (S.F) 21,344 (1st Count)
Richard Bruton (F.G) 13,367 (Count 10)Cian O’Callaghan (S.D) 12,438 (Count 14, Final Count)
Aodhán Ó’Ríordáin (LAB) 11,283 (Count 14, Final Count)
Seán Haughey (F.F) 10,955 (Count 14, Final Count)

Best Runner Up: (NOT Elected) David Healy (G.P) 8,527.

Dublin Bay South (Quota = 7,919)

Eamon Ryan (G.P) is a well liked Politician in this part of Ireland and he was expected to get elected without any problems.

Result : Four Elected

Eamon Ryan (G.P) 8,888 (1st Count)Chris Andrews (S.F)  8,797 (Count 8, Final Count)
Eoghan Murphy (F.G) 7,602 (Count 8, Final Count)Jim O’Callaghan (F.F) 7,158 (Count 8, Final Count)
Best Runner Up: (NOT Elected) Kate O’Callaghan (F.G) 6,270.

Dublin Central (Quota = 6,288)

The Green Party are getting more popular in most parts of Dublin, Mary Lou McDonald (S.F) was home on the first count, of course.

Result : Four Elected

Mary Lou McDonald (S.F) 11,223 (1st Count)Neasa Hourigan (G.P) 6,551 (Count 9, Final Count)Paschal Donohoe (F.G) 6,126 (Count 9, Final Count)Gary Gannon (S.D) 5,718 (Count 9, Final Count)

Best Runner Up: (NOT Elected) Christy Burke (Ind) 5,168.

Dublin Fingal (Quota = 10,574)

The two O’Brien’s (Joe from the G.P & Darragh from F.F) were safely elected but who followed them across the line? Again, this constituency was fairly balanced between five parties.
Result : Five Elected

Louise O’Reilly (S.F) 15,792 (1st Count)
Joe O’Brien (G.P) 10,720 (Count 8)
Darragh O’Brien (F.F) 10,652 (Count 8)
Alan Farrell (F.G) 10,577 (Count 11)
Duncan Smith (Lab) 8,340 (Count 12, Final Count)

Best Runner Up: (NOT Elected) Dean Mulligan (I4C) 8,152.
Dublin Mid West (Quota = 9,091)
I expected Sinn Féin to get two of the four seats here and that’s what happened. Emer Higgins (F.G) was elected on the final count but I wasn’t expecting her to take as long.
Result : Four Elected
Eoin Ó’Broin (S.F) 11,842 (1st Count)Mark Ward (S.F) 9,808 (Count 2)Emer Higgins (F.G) 9,735 (Count 9, Final Count)Gino Kenny (Sol-PBP) 8,089 (Count 9, Final Count)
Best Runner Up: (NOT Elected) John Curran (F.F) 7,383.
Dublin North West (Quota = 8,097)

Of course, Dessie Ellis (S.F) was elected first in this constituency and as expected, there was no barriers for Róisín Shortall (S.D) in this election.
Result : Three Elected.
Dessie Ellis (S.F) 14,375 (1st Count)Róisín Shortall (S.D) 8,148 (Count 4)Paul McAuliffe (F.F) 7,403 (Count 6, Final Count)
Best Runner Up: (NOT Elected) Conor Reddy (Sol-PBP) 6,308.
Dublin Rathdown (Quota = 10,601)
Both Fine Gael candidates would be elected here but it wasn’t straight forward. Who would get the first seat?
Result : Three Elected.
Catherine Martin (G.P) 11,444 (1st Count)Neale Richmond (F.G) 9,704 (Count 8, Final Count)Josepha Madigan (F.G) 8,677 (Count 8, Final Count)
Best Runner Up: (NOT Elected) Shea Brennan (F.F) 8,277.
Dublin South Central (Quota = 8,659)
Although Joan Collins (Ind) would have to wait until count 6 (final count) to be elected, she was a few hundred ahead of her nearest rival.
Result : Four Elected
Aengus Ó’Snodaigh (S.F) 17,015 (1st Count)Bríd Smith (Sol-PBP) 9,547 (Count 2)Patrick Costello (G.P) 8,582 (Count 6, Final Count)Joan Collins (Ind) 7,807 (Count 6, Final)
Best Runner Up: (NOT Elected) Catherine Byrne (F.G) 7,431.

Dublin South West (Quota = 11,261)
Seán Crowe (S.F) was the first candidate to be elected via the first count. Sol-PBP, Fianna Fáil & Fine Gael all had multiple runners here but unfortunately for them, they only got one each elected. Find out below who they were.

Result : Five Elected

Seán Crowe (S.F) 20,077 (1st Count)
Paul Murphy (Sol-PBP) 12,311 (Count 8)
Colm Brophy (F.G) 11,543 (Count 10)Francis Noel Duffy (G.P) 11,138 (Count 11, Final Count)
John Lahart (F.F) 10,974 (Count 11, Final Count)

Best Runner Up: (NOT Elected) Katherine Zappone (Ind) 8,050.
Dublin West (Quota = 8,726)

The main four parties got one T.D each in this one. Leo Varadkar (F.G) was elected but it was far from straight forward.

Result : Four Elected

Paul Donnelly (S.F) 12,456 (1st Count)
Jack Chambers (F.F) 9,107 (Count 6, Final Count)Leo Varadkar (F.G) 8,763 (Count 5)Roderic O’Gorman (G.P) 8,260 (Count 6, Final Count)

Best Runner Up: (NOT Elected) Ruth Coppinger (Sol-PBP) 7,580.

Dún Laoghaire (Quota = 12,459)

This was a wide open constituency, as expected. Sinn Féin polled awful here but that wasn’t a surprise. Fine Gael had three runners including two females and strangely enough they both have double barrel surnames. One of the two just missed out but who was it?

Result : Four Elected

Richard Boyd Barrett (Sol-PBP) 16,364 (Count 5)
Ossian Smyth (G.P) 12,510 (Count 6)
Jennifer Carroll MacNeill (F.G) 12,061 (Count 8, Final Count)Cormac Devlin (F.F) 11,071 (Count 8, Final Count)

Best Runner Up: (NOT Elected) Mary Mitchell O’Connor (F.G) 10,612.

REVIEW: Thank you to all the political fans who followed my insight and review before the election. This is a brief review of the outcome and results. Well done to all the elected T.D’s and commiserations to all the non-elected runners up.



Irish General Election 2020 : Predictions & Review, Part One

Sunday, January 26th, 2020

Last week, Leo Varadkar called an early Dáil Election. Will his choice backfire or will he get another term? Find out below.

Michael Martin (Fianna Fáil) has been putting the pressure on few quite some time, Fine Gael only won by a handful of seats last time (2016 election) and Leo is now starting to feel the heat.

Leo has made a handful of school boy errors and according to the recent polls, Michael Martin should be elected as the new Taoiseach on 8th February 2020.

Politics is of course very interesting and exciting, the general public have the control to elect anyone from their constituency. So far, Eighteen (18) former TD’s have announced that they won’t be running including Gerry Adams (Sinn Féin) & Edna Kenny (Fine Gael).

Ireland is a country that in my opinion has more than enough Independent TD’s. There are only a few places up for grabs, but who’s going to get them?

I will be submitting my predictions in alphabetical order.

Carlow / Kilkenny (5 TD’s)

Bobby Aylward (Fianna Fail), John McGuinness (Fianna Fail), John Paul Phelan (Fine Gael) High, Pat Deering (Fine Gael) will be elected.

Jennifer Murnane-O’Connor (Fianna Fail), Kathleen Funchion (Sinn Fein), Malcolm Noonan (Green Party) & Patrick O’Neill (Fine Gael) will fight it out for the 5th spot.

Prediction: Kathleen Funchion (Sinn Fein) will get the 5th seat.

Cavan / Monaghan (5 TD’s).

Matt Carthy (Sinn Fein), Heather Humphries (Fine Gael), Brendan Smith (Fianna Fail) & Niamh Smyth (Fianna Fáil) are the front runners here.

T.P. O’Reilly (Fine Gael), Pauline Tully (Sinn Fein) & Robbie Gallagher (Fianna Fail) will be trying their best to get the last seat.

Prediction: T.P O’Reilly (Fine Gael).

Clare (4 TD’s)

Timmy Dooley (Fianna Fail), Cathal Crowe (Fianna Fail) & Pat Breen (Fine Gael) will be elected.

Joe Carey (Fine Gael), Michael McNamara (Ind), Martin Conway (Fine Gael) & Roisin Garvey (Green Party) are the front runners for the 4th and final seat.

Prediction: Roll a dice.

Cork East (4 TD’s)

Kevin O’Keeffe (Fianna Fail), David Stanton (Fine Gael) & Sean Sherlock (Labour Party) should be elected in Cork East.

Pat Buckley (Sinn Fein), James O’Connor (Fianna Fail), Pa O’Driscoll (Fine Gael) & Mary Linehan-Foley (Independent) are all hoping to gain the fourth seat.

Prediction: Pat Buckley (Sinn Fein).

Cork North Central (4 TD’s)

Colm Burke (Fine Gael), Padraig O Sullivan (Fianna Fail) & Thomas Gould (Sinn Fein) will win a seat.

The final seat will be between Mick Barry (Solidarity), Tony Fitzgerald (Fianna Fail), John Maher (Labour Party), Oliver Moran (Green Party) & Kenneth O Flynn (Ind).

Prediction: This is one of the toughest to select. One to watch.

Cork North West (3 TD’s)

Michael Creed (Fine Gael), Aindrias Moynihan (Fianna Fail) & Michael Moynihan (Fianna Fail) shouldn’t have too much to worry about.

Prediction: John Paul O’Shea (Fine Gael) has a very slim chance.

Cork South-Central (4 TD’s)

Micheal Martin (Fianna Fail), Michael McGrath (Fianna Fail) & Simon Coveney (Fine Gael) are foregone conclusions.

The final seat should be between Donnchadh O’Laoghaire (Sinn Fein) & Lorna Bogue (Green Party).

Prediction: Lorna Bogue (Green Party).

Cork South-West (3 TD’s)

This is one of the most open constituencies, All five of Michael Collins (Independent), Christopher O Sullivan (Fianna Fail), Tim Lombard (Fine Gael), Margaret Murphy O’Mahony (Fianna Fail) & Karen Coakley (Fine Gael) have a pretty good chance.

Prediction: Michael Collins (Independent) & Christopher O’Sullivan (Fianna Fáil).

Donegal (5 TD’s)

Pearse Doherty (Sinn Fein), Charlie McConologue (Fianna Fail) & Joe McHugh (Fine Gael) will be elected in Donegal.

we’ll have a great contest here, it’ll be between Pat the Cope Gallagher (Fianna Fail), Thomas Pringle (IND), Padraig MacLochlainn (Sinn Fein), Peter Casey (Ind) & John O Donnell (Ind). I think Pat “The Cope” Gallagher can squeeze through.

Prediction: Pat “The Cope” Gallagher & Thomas Pringle.

Dublin Bay North (5 TD’s)

Sean Haughey (Fianna Fail), Richard Bruton (Fine Gael), Aodhan O’Riordain (Labour) & David Healy (Green Party) should be elected bar miracles.

The 5th and final seat will be between Denise Mitchell (Sinn Fein), Cian O Callaghan (Social Democrats), Catherine Noone (Fine Gael), Deirdre Heney (Fianna Fail)

Prediction: Denise Mitchell (Sinn Fein) could take this by a low margin but I wouldn’t play at 4-11.

Dublin Bay South (4 TD’s)

These three should become a T.D in the election: Eamonn Ryan (Green Party), Jim O Callaghan (Fianna Fail) & Eoghan Murphy (Fine Gael).

Kate O’Connell (Fine Gael), Kevin Humphries (Labour Party) & Chris Andrews (Sinn Fein) will go head to head for the final place.

Prediction: Kevin Humphries (Labour).

Dublin Central (4 TD’s)

Mary Lou McDonald (Sinn Fein), Paschal Donohoe (Fine Gael) & Mary Fitzpatrick (Fianna Fail) will be elected here bar accidents.

The fourth and final seat will see Neasa Hourigan (Green Party) go up against Garry Gannon (Social Democrats) and Neasa should do enough to get over the line.

Prediction: Neasa Hourigan (Greens).

Dublin Fingal (5 TD’s)

These three people will get over the line: Darragh O’Brien (Fianna Fáil), Joe O’Brien (Green Party) & Duncan Smith (Labour Party).

The fourth and fifth seat will see two from Louise O Reilly (Sinn Féin), Alan Farrell (Fine Gael), Lorraine Clifford-Lee (Fianna Fáil), James Reilly (Fine Gael) & Dean Mulligan (Ind) get elected.

Prediction: Alan Farrell (Fine Gael) & James Reilly (Fine Gael).

Dublin Mid-West (4 TD’s)

Eoin O’Broin (Sinn Fein) & John Curran (Fianna Fail) will get elected with plenty in hand.

The remaining seats will be between: Emer Higgins (Fine Gael), Mark Ward (Sinn Fein), Gino Kenny (SBP), Paul Gogarty (Independent) & Catriona McClean (Fianna Fail).

Prediction: Gino Kenny (SBP) & Paul Gogarty (Independent).

Dublin North-West (3 TD’s)

Roisin Shortall (Social Democrats) & Paul McAuliffe (Fianna Fail) will be the first two over the line.

Seat Three: Dessie Ellis (Sinn Fein) vs Noel Rock (Fine Gael), Dessie should do enough to get elected.
Prediction: Dessie Ellis (Sinn Fein).

Dublin Rathdown (3 TD’s)

It’ll be unbelievable if Catherine Martin (Green Party) doesn’t get in.

Four way contest between Josepha Madigan (Fine Gael), Shane Ross (Independent), Shay Brennan (Fianna Fail) & Neale Richmond (Fine Gael) for the second and final seat.

Prediction: Josepha Madigan (Fine Gael) & Neale Richmond (Fine Gael). I can see Fine Gael getting two TD’s here.

Dublin South-Central (4 TD’s)

Aengus O’Snodaigh (Sinn Fein) should get a seat.

This one will be very close and is basically a lottery between Catherine Ardagh (Fianna Fail), Patrick Costello (Green Party), Joan Collins (Independents 4 Change), Catherine Byrne (Fine Gael), Brid Smith (Solidarity Before Profit) & Rebecca Moynihan (Labour)

Prediction: Catherine Ardagh (Fianna Fáil) & Patrick Costello (Greens).

Dublin South-West (5 TD’s)

Sean Crowe (Sinn Fein), Colm Brophy (Fine Gael) & John Lahart (Fianna Fail) will be elected in this one.

Francis Noel Duffy (Green Party), Katherine Zappone (Ind), Paul Murphy (RISE), Ciaran Ahern (Labour Party), Charlie O’Connor (Fianna Fail), Deirdre O Donovan (Fianna Fail) & Ellen O’Malley Dunlop (Fine Gael) will go toe to toe for the remaining two seats.

Prediction: None for this really close constituency.

Dublin West (4 TD’s)

Leo Varadkar (Fine Gael) & Jack Chambers (Fianna Fail) will enjoy a nice wage packet for at least another few years after this election.

Roderic O’Gorman (Green Party), Ruth Coppinger (Solidarity Before Profit), Paul Donnelly (Sinn Fein), Joan Burton (Labour) & Emer Currie (Fine Gael) are the other runners & with only two seats left, it’s going to be a mouth watering showdown. 

Prediction: Roderic O’Gorman (Greens).

Dun Laoghaire (4 TD’s)

Richard Boyd Barrett (SBP), Ossian Smyth (Green Party) & Mary Mitchell O’Connor (Fine Gael) should get elected.

Cormac Devlin (Fianna Fail), Jennifer Carroll MacNeill (Fine Gael), Mary Hanafin (Fianna Fail) & Barry Ward (Fine Gael) will battle is out for the last seat but this could come down to only a few votes.

Prediction: This will be very close.

That’s the end of part one, part two will be completed next weekend.



History of the Political Punter: Always Expect the Unexpected

Sunday, December 1st, 2019

The modern era of big, open, political betting began in 1963 when Ron Pollard of Ladbrokes offered odds on the Conservative leadership contest for the ordinary punter. It was a dismal start as the 5/4 favourite Rab Butler was beaten by the 16/1 shot Alec Douglas-Home.

In offering the market Pollard tapped into a long, often secret, history of political betting in Britain. In the 1920s, people on the stock exchange would bet on ‘majorities’ – what we now call spread betting – where seat totals would be calculated and traders would buy/sell above or below the line.

It proved popular, and in 1931, the bookmakers traded over £750,000 on the election. They had severely under-estimated the prospect of a Labour collapse when they set a line of 200 for a National Government majority. It ended up being a 469 seat margin. The losses of one punter led to a much-publicised court case when a trader refused to pay up, citing the Gaming Act as his defence. The Council of the Stock Exchange subsequently banned election gambling.

Small secret trades continued to take place and in 1945, bookmakers offered 5/1 on a Labour victory in the first election for a decade. Fortunately for them, few were enticed into backing Labour.

Five years later Labour were quoted at odds of 4/6 to win the election and there was much greater interest. It prompted The Economist to observe how ‘It is curious that in a nation devoted to gambling as the British, so little opportunity should nowadays be taken of a general election, the most sporting of all events’.

Punters would finally get their wish in the 1960s and at the 1964 election, William Hill followed Ladbrokes into the brave new world. In a newspaper advert, Hills claimed that ‘in response to public demand’ they would now offer odds on the result of the election. Labour won by just four seats and the 1-10 margin had been priced up at 14/1

Ever since betting has been a central part of the coverage of the election campaigns and has proved lucrative for shrewd politico’s. In 1970, the bookmakers and the pollsters misjudged the result.

Ladbrokes opened up on a Labour majority at 8/13 which was quickly backed into 1/12 as they took a poll lead. Events changed, the economy faltered and England were eliminated from the World Cup. The money came flooding in for Heath’s Tories and the Times reported that £5000 had been placed on them at 8/1. Heath confounded all by securing a majority for the Conservatives. Four years later however it was Harold Wilson who defied the odds. The Conservatives were seen as slight 4/7 favourites going into the ‘Who Governs?’ election but lost their majority.

The 1979 result was never in doubt and the Conservatives won after being priced up at 1/6 for victory. However, four years later, there was much better value to be had. Despite a commanding poll lead, the bookmakers opened up at an attractive 2/9 for the Conservatives to hold their majority.

In a sign of the growth of political betting, one punter staked £90,000 on the Conservatives to win and as the Sun noted, it seemed a big risk for little reward, especially when you consider that half of the profit would be ‘swallowed in betting tax’. It would prove to be one of the safest bets in political history.

The bookmakers expected Labour’s history to save them in their heartlands and offered a mouth-watering 28/1 on a Conservative victory by 97 seats or more. They subsequently ended up with a majority of 144 seats.

Surprisingly, by January 1987, many predicted that Labour could close the gap and the Tories were an attractive 4/9 to win the most seats. By the time the election campaign began, the Tories had been backed in to 1/7 to win a majority and they did in style.

After a decade of one sided contests, the 1992 general election was one of the closest in modern political history. Labour began the campaign as 8/11 favourites and with a week to go the money was still with them. Kinnock was expected to lead the biggest party at 2/5 but a hung parliament was priced in at 10/11.

The man who had made it all happen in the 1960s, Ron Pollard, was confident of a Labour victory. He layed a bet of £14,000 to a man from Stoke on Trent for the Tories to win an overall majority and told The Times that ‘he must be mad…but if he is right, he stands to win £142,000’. He then laid another £20,000 – the biggest bet of the election – at 11/4 on a Tory win. On the night, even the exit poll could not split the two but in the end, the Tories pulled off a major shock by winning a majority of 21.

The subsequent collapse of the Major Government from 1992 onwards led many to believe that Labour could return to office after eighteen years in the wilderness. Despite being mired by scandal and incompetence, you could still back the Tories to win an overall majority at 4/1 and a hung parliament was 10/3.

One enthusiastic Labour backer drew £25,000 from his building society account to back Labour at 1 / 4. Contrary to the myth that a landslide was inevitable, the initial seat total was priced at 367 seats for Labour to the Tories 242. Sellers of Tory seats had a great night when they chalked up just 165 MPs.

The most disciplined punter was the Durham taxi driver George Elliott. In 1983 he picked up a passenger who he thought ‘had something about him’. After a political discussion, he dashed to his local bookmakers to request a bet: that his new MP, Tony Blair, would one day become Prime Minister. 15 years later, Elliot picked up £5,000 in what must rank as the shrewdest £10 punt in political history.

Labour’s electoral dominance threatened to make the 2001 election another stalemate for punters. Tony Blair was the shortest odds-on favourite in UK political history at 1/40. Nobody expected the Tories to dent Labour’s majority. One bookmaker told BBC News: ‘If you want to bet on a Tory win, give us a call, if you want to back a Lib Dem win, we’ll send a cab.’

There was still money to be made, as firms offered 10/1 on a Labour majority of 160+. Despite the short odds, firms were stung by multiple six-figure bets on Labour. With such a large majority, it was as close to ‘buying money’ as one could ever hope to find.

Four years later, the bookmakers favoured Labour too heavily, offering 1/40 on a Labour win, despite polls showing the Tories within a 5pt margin at points in the campaign. To neutralise the risk, Paddy Power paid out on a Labour victory before a vote had been cast.

2010 would prove to be a much closer run contest. Bookmakers opened up at 8/15 on a Tory majority which had drifted from 1/3 just a few months earlier. The 6/4 on a Hung Parliament offered the best value of the campaign, which saw the Lib Dems odds shorten following ‘Clegg-Mania’.

2015 was another tight one with few expecting a majority for either side. One punter, who won £193,000, on the Scottish Referendum (from a £900,000 stake) invested a further £200,000 on a Hung Parliament at odds of 2/9. On the opposite side, one pensioner defied the polls and scooped £210,000 after he placed £20,000 on Cameron to win a majority.

Then in 2017, the Labour defied all the pre-election odds. Sporting Index began the campaign with the Tories in for 386 seats to Labour’s 164. The Tories opened up at 1/25 for a majority and quoted at 1 / 4 to win seats such as Great Grimsby. The election quickly unravelled for the Tories but with a week to go, you could still back a Hung Parliament at 7/1.

On election night – the markets failed to react to the exit poll – and then over-reacted. At 1:30 am Corbyn became the 6/4 favourite to become the next Prime Minister as it looked like May would not even be able to cobble together a deal with D.U.P.

As we approach the 2019 poll there will be many twists and tuns, wobbles and price shifts. If the electorate is as undecided as polls suggest, it could prove to be the most lucrative yet for those punters who can call it right. History, however, shows us that we should always expect the unexpected on election night.

Anthony Broxton

Anthony Broxton runs the Tides of History project on twitter and tweets as @labour_history