Paying the price of TMay’s GE17 gamble. Tonight the saboteurs struck back and won

December 13th, 2017

We all remember the memorable front page of Dacre’s Daily Mail the day after Theresa May called her snap general election in April.

For the whole point of building up the number of Tory MPs was to give TMay The Commons numbers so that those who were in disagreement, particularly those within the party, were unable to impede what she was doing.

It all seems so easy then. The Tories had a small majority and TMay was expecting that with 20%+ poll leads the size of the Tory Party at Westminster would be enlarged to deal with rebellions on the Brexit bill.

In spite of a heavy whipping operation tonight’s Conservative rebellion, backed by LAB and other opposition parties, overturned the government on a key part of the legislation. Essentially the PM’s hands are being tied and her scope for action is there much more limited. It will be very hard to turn that round.

In spite of being in the minority the progress of the Brexit bill through Parliament has until tonight been relatively easy for the government. They have been lots of votes but prior to this evening these have been dealt with relatively easily .

The difference with the latest measure is that the proposer was Dominic Grieve the respected former Tpry attorney general and they focused on a single issue which ultimately was about the power of parliament.

Parliament is now going to be involved a lot more in the final decision on the deal something that Team Theresa had been trying to avoid.

Mike Smithson


Bookies holding back payment to Alabama punters because the result was tight and there could be a recount

December 13th, 2017

Those punters who backed the Democrats in the Alabama senate race are probably going to have to wait for their winnings. The losing candidate, Roy Moore, has refused to accept the result and it looks as though there might well be a recount. See his comment to supporters in the CNN clip above.

I actually think the bookies are right here even though I’m going to have to wait. Those who been betting on American politics for sometime will recall the Iowa Republican Primary in 2012 when Mitt Romney was declared winner of the Republican contest the result only to be overturned sometime later after a recount. I know that Betfair and some other bookies paid out on Romney and were pressed later by Rick Santorum backers when the final results were counted.

This has been a bitter race in Alabama and the outcome could have huge consequences. If there’s just chance, however slight, that this could be overturned then they are going to take it.

Compared with some of the accusations in the campaign about Moore’s sexual activities when he was in his thirties being seen as a poor loser is no big deal.

Mike Smithson


Huge blow for Trump as GOP loses the Alabama Senate election on a hugely exciting betting night

December 13th, 2017

The chart above is from Betdata.io and shows the dramatic changes in the Betfair price.

As was widely predicted this was amazingly tight with the markets changing all the time as more information came in. What was particularly good was a New York Times model that was looking at the demographics of each polling area and impacting on the overall outcome as the information came in.

This turned out to be highly predictive and those who followed that for their betting did extraordinary well.

I have been saying for a week so that where you’ve got something that appears a toss up the value bet is on the one that is the outsider and so it turned out to be. Unfortunately at the end of the day I did not take my own advice and cashed out my winnings when there was a sudden movement for the Republicans and I thought I had lost. I ended up making a few hundred pounds but nothing like what I was hoping to achieve.

    The fact that the Republicans were unable to hold onto a seat which is solidly Republican will have huge ramifications. This means that the Republican-Democrat split in the Senate is now 51-49 as opposed to 52-48 which creates a situation where only one Republican senator needs to rebel.

Of course everything in US politics now is set against the background of President Trump who made a huge effort in the final stages of the campaign to get backing for his man, Roy Moore, over whom there were several allegations of sexual abuse of underage girls.

Britain’s Nigel Farage, a former UKIP leader, was also a loser. He has played his part speaking for Moore at a rally prior to the primary that selected Moore as the candidate.

There can be little doubt that the result undermines the President who will even more be seen as an electoral negative.

Mike Smithson


The Alabama result are starting to trickle in…

December 13th, 2017


For the first time Scots CON leader, RDavidson, hints that Westminster might be a possiblity

December 12th, 2017

The first step to her becoming leader?

The woman who saved TMay’s bacon on June 8th, Scots CON leader Ruth Davidson, has hinted that becoming a Westminster MP might just be a possibility.

For a very long time Davidson has figured highly in the betting and in surveys of Tory members. There’s little doubt that it was her leadership in Scotland that helped the party gain 12 Scottish seats on June 8th. Without the CON performance in Scotland the overall party performance would have looked a bit sick.

Clearly the first requirement for her to be leader is to be an MP.

Mike Smithson


For the first time since GE2017 consecutive polls have Corbyn’s Labour behind

December 12th, 2017

His ambivalence over Brexit impedes LAB on the biggest issue

Two Westminster voting intention polls in the past 24 hours have both got the COM in the lead and of course LAB in second place. This is the first time since the general election that consecutive polls have showed this.

    Labour’s real problem is that it is failing to have a clear distinctive voice that resonates with the vast numbers of Labour voters Who are strongly for remain.

Brexit is by far the biggest issue of the day yet Mr Corbyn seems extraordinarily reluctant to talk about it and exploit opportunities where the Conservatives appeared to be divided. An opposition leader worth his salt would have seized upon the divisions in government and be piling the pressure on now.

Last week at PMQs, it will be recalled, the Labour leader totally failed to mention what was then the biggest embarrassment for the government – the statement by David Davis earlier to a committee that there were no impact assessments as he had been talking about for months.

Today an opposition leader worth his salt would have really being tearing into the government over the comments made by David Davis which have now been seized on by other European leaders has reasons to delay proper trade talks.

Corbyn has two problems: He doesn’t really believe in staying in the EU which means he is very much out of line with party voters. Second is that he simply does not have the mental flexibility to seize issues that could embarrass the government and develop them.

One of the findings in today’s YouGov poll has Theresa May extending her lead by five points as who is the best prime minister. She was up and he is down.

How different it all looked in the summer when he made his Glastonbury appearance a week or so after the general election. Then we were being told that he had predicted that he would be in Downing Street by Christmas . Well it ain’t going to happen.

Mike Smithson


The great Alabama polling Gamble. Robo calls v human interviewers

December 12th, 2017


Above is the latest polling table from Real Clear Politics with surveys on today’s special senate race in Alabama where the Republican candidate is Roy Moore – the man who has been accused of sexual abuse against girls as young as 14.

As can be seen the surveys give a totally mixed view of what is likely to happen ranging from Moore 9% ahead to the astonishing Fox News poll that came out yesterday afternoon with a Democrat lead of 10%.

Looking a bit deeper the huge variations in the numbers can be put down to polling methodology. This is Nate Silver on his 538 site.

“..Most polls of the state have been made using automated scripts (these are sometimes also called IVR or “robopolls”). These polls have generally shown Moore ahead and closing strongly toward the end of the campaign, such as the Emerson College poll on Monday that showed Moore leading by 9 points. Recent automated polls from Trafalgar Group, JMC Analytics and Polling, Gravis Marketing and Strategy Research have also shown Moore with the lead.

But when traditional, live-caller polls have weighed in — although these polls have been few and far between — they’ve shown a much different result. A Monmouth University survey released on Monday showed a tied race. Fox News’s final poll of the race, also released on Monday, showed Jones ahead by 10 percentage points. An earlier Fox News survey also had Jones comfortably ahead, while a Washington Post poll from late November had Jones up 3 points at a time when most other polls showed the race swinging back to Moore. And a poll conducted for the National Republican Senatorial Committee in mid-November — possibly released to the public in an effort to get Moore to withdraw from the race — also showed Jones well ahead..”

The big difference between automated polls and those where live interviews are used is that the former are prohibited by law from calling voters on their mobiles. Research has shown that those voters with landlines are older than the average voting population and the more likely to be white – characteristics which correlate strongly with voting Republican.

    One statistic from the Fox News poll that stands out is that amongst those within the sample who were contacted on their mobiles the Democrats have a 30% lead. The same poll found that support amongst the landline the part of the sample had a very balanced response between the Republicans and the Democrats.

The betting has been bouncing around particularly in the immediate aftermath of the Fox News data. It then swung back to the Republicans when other surveys more favourable to GOP came out.

The hardest thing to judge in this election is turnout and how many Republican voters might follow the lead of the senior senator in the state who has announced that he is not supporting Mr. Moore. There’s also an expectation that GOP women might be less inclined to back Moore.

As I’ve been saying for the past week or so this race is wide open and that the value has been on the longer odds option – the Democrat.

Mike Smithson


It’s not easy being Green but he’s expected to be cleared on Wednesday

December 11th, 2017

Mrs May’s week looks to keep on getting better.

Robert Peston reports

I am told by three well-placed sources that Theresa May’s deputy, the First Secretary of State Damian Green, will be informed on Wednesday by the Cabinet Office and his boss the PM that he does not need to resign – following allegations from former police officers that in 2008 there was porn on his House of Commons computer and from the journalist and academic Kate Maltby that he behaved inappropriately with her.

According to several members of the government, no other women have presented evidence against Green.

And the police testimony does not prove beyond all doubt that it was Green himself who was watching the porn on the parliamentary equipment – which should not have used in this way.

For the past several weeks the senior Cabinet Office civil servant Sue Gray has been examining whether Green breached the ministerial code of conduct and failed to meet the standards of his office.

“It looks as though he’ll be ok” said an authoritative source.

“Damian won’t have to resign” said another. “The confirmation is expected on Wednesday”.

The prime minister will be deeply relieved that arguably her most important and loyal colleague will remain in his post.

Her defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon chose to quit because he felt his historic conduct with women was not becoming of a minister with responsibility for the military.

Some Brexiteers in the cabinet and the Commons may be disappointed that Green is expected to keep his job – because he was an ardent Remainer and argues in Cabinet for a softer Brexit than they want.

This will be great news for Mrs May who is probably having her best week as Prime Minister, where in the Commons today she was praised from all wings of the Tory party, Tories as diverse as Ken Clarke, Anna Soubry, and Iain Duncan Smith praised her Brexit deal to date, it represents a good start for her going into to 2018

As I, and others too, have noted, losing Damian Green would not only have been very symbolic but very damaging to Mrs May and her government.