Who will be the face of the new £50 note?

October 17th, 2018

Picture: The latest odds by Ladbrokes, others are available.

In these highly partisan times I’d rule out any politician, with the exception of Clement Attlee. Atlee’s role in winning World War Two and setting up NATO & the NHS marks as him as a truly great politician that transcends normal politics.

I expect the campaign to get Mrs Thatcher as the face of the new £50 note will be doomed despite her worthy qualities, sadly there’s parts of the country that would sooner burn a £50 note with Mrs Thatcher on it than use it.

The other campaign that seems be gaining traction is for Noor Inayat Khan, The Telegraph report

The new £50 note could become the UK’s first to feature someone from an ethnic minority, as the Bank of England begins its call for submissions from the public.

Historians and politicians are among those who have called for the first British Muslim Second World War heroine, Noor Inayat Khan, to be the “face” of the highest-denomination note, which will be reissued in plastic from 2020

The campaign, started by activist Zehra Zaidi and backed by historian and BBC presenter Dan Snow, as well as Tom Tugendhat MP and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, had already gathered hundreds of supporters in its first day.

Ms  Zaidi said: “Noor Inayat Khan was an inspirational and complex woman who was a Brit, a soldier, a writer, a Muslim, an Indian independence supporter, a Sufi, a fighter against fascism and a heroine to all. She navigated complex identities and has so much resonance in the world we live in today.”

A Muslim Sufi pacifist, who began her career as a children’s writer living in Paris with her family, Ms Inayat Khan was perhaps an unlikely candidate to spy for Britain against the Nazis.

However, after escaping to Britain following the fall of France, she trained for the Women’s Auxiliary Airforce and was later recruited as a secret agent for the Special Operations Executive (SOE). She became the first female radio operator sent into Nazi-occupied France in 1943 – aged just 29.

The spy, born to an American mother and a father of Indian royal descent, ran the Prosper network of resistance communications in Paris, which was commissioned by Winston Churchill to “set Europe ablaze”.

She was shot and killed by the SS at Dachau concentration camp after being betrayed by a French woman and suffering 10 months of starvation and torture at the hands of the Gestapo. For her bravery, Ms Khan was posthumously awarded the George Cross in 1949.

Whilst I can understand the support for Noor Inayat Khan and other women in this era of #MeToo my tips are for two former alumni of the finest university in the world, Stephen Hawking and Alan Turing. Both changed the world in their own way, the latter generally being regarded as the father of computing as well as helping to win World War Two whilst the former changed our understanding of the world and universe.

Choosing Turing would go in some small way in further correcting the horrific injustice perpetrated by the state against Turing for the crime of being a homosexual, that injustice ultimately led to the end of Turing’s life.

The Bank of England say about who they might choose: “UK characters who are widely admired and who have made an important contribution to our society and culture. We also avoid fictional characters, or people who are still living”.

At 16/1 and 33/1 it is worth putting money on both Hawking and Turing in my view, they’d be worthy choices as well as being relatively non controversial and fitting the Bank of England’s parameters.

You can access the Ladbrokes market by clicking here.




Bercow going in the summer opens the way for a Buckingham by-election

October 16th, 2018

The yellows must fancy their chances in this Remain seat

The news that John Bercow is bowing to the inevitable and planning to stand down in the summer opens up the prospect of what could be a humdinger of a by-election. For it is hard seeing him continuing as an MP when he ceases to be Speaker.

There is a tradition of outgoing Speakers not staying around in the House and such a move by Bercow would follow recent precedents. His immediate predecessor, Michael Martin, quit as an MP and no doubt Berow would follow suit.

    This opens up the likelihood of the contest in a constituency that went for Remain at the Brexit referendum by 51.4% to 48.6%.

I’d imagine that this is one where the LDs will fancy their chances. All the analysis of GE2017 finds that the yellows did best in constituencies that voted for Remain.

What is intriguing is that there is no main party past voting history in Buckingham for the past three general elections so there’s noting since 2005 that we can use for comparison purposes. The custom is for LAB, CON and the LDs not to contest the Speaker’s seat at general elections.

At GE2010 Nigel Farage stood against Bercow there and was pushed into third place by a former pro-EU CON MEP, John Stevens who ran a campaign that relied heavily on LD activists.

Let the betting begin.

Mike Smithson


Another day closer to March 29th 2019 – the way forward on Brexit remains unclear

October 16th, 2018

Mike Smithson


To add to the current incendiary political mix Bercow is coming under pressure to resign

October 16th, 2018

Can he hang on?

When the report on sexual harassment in the Palace of Westminster came out yesterday I thought that Bercow was extremely lucky over the timing.

Everything at the moment is so focused on the critical stages in Britain’s exit from the EU that what in normal times would be a colossal political development was going to get sidelined.

This morning’s newspapers suggest otherwise and my initial view was wrong. Although print circulations are drastically down on the glory days what goes on the front pages of the main national newspapers can have a political impact. That the Times is leading on the report this morning keeps the pot boiling.

Although the report does not mention anybody by name the Speaker does have overall responsibility for all things within the Commons and some of the guarded phrases in the report were clearly pointing at Mr Bercow.

Undoubtedly there is clearly a culture in the Palace of Westminster which needs to be sorted and the question is how that is to be done. This is quite difficult because MPs are not employees in the normal sense of the word. They are there because they have won an election and although there is a recall procedure it is hard to see how that can apply here.

Bercow is no stranger to controversy following his election after his predecessor, Michael Martin, resigned a decade ago. In many ways I think he has done a good job because he’s always been prepared to hold the executive to account and to make the Commons matter. You can see why ministers and those in government might at times be very frustrated with him but his approach has surely been the right one in a parliamentary democracy.

In the next speaker betting Bercow’s deputy, the popular Lindsay Hoyle, is the odds on favourite to replace him. The question is whether there will be a contest.

Bercow’s response to the report could be crucial.

Mike Smithson


Some numbers to show the shallowness of the German car-markers’ Brexit argument

October 15th, 2018

Mike Smithson


To win the next election LAB need to find converts and it’s hard to see where these are coming from

October 15th, 2018

Current polling finds LAB shedding support – not gaining it

With all the current speculation about a new election and the possibility of Corbyn becoming PM the latest polling is being sidelined and the question of where LAB’s required new support is going to come from is hardly mentioned.

The shock result at the last election has impacted greatly on both main parties in very different ways. The Tories fear the Labour threat and can’t take comfort in their polling position however strong it might appear. LAB, on the other hand, appears convinced that it doesn’t need to worry about the present because last time showed what could happen during the campaign when, as they will point out, the broadcasters have to be impartial.

    I’d argue that LAB was helped at GE2017 because nobody gave the party an earthly and they shouldn’t rely on the precedent of last time for the next election.

LAB and its leader, as will be recalled, received far less scrutiny during the campaign than a party that appeared on the brink of power would have come under. This made it so much easier or Corbyn because at no time did he come under serious pressure. We’ve seen over his initial responses to Salisbury and the antisemitism row that he doesn’t handle criticism and pressure well.

The current political environment is so unlike the build-up to the party last returning to power in 1997. The leader at the time, the one they don’t like talking about, realised that if the party was not to be defeated for a fifth successive time it needed to extend its base way beyond what it had at GE1992. Tony Blair made it “safe” for whole segments of the electorate to vote LAB for the first time.

To have any chance Corbyn’s LAB needs to retain the support of last year and to add some. So where are Corbyn’s converts going to come from and how is he is going to go about bringing them on board? That is as

Mike Smithson


Why I’m betting that that there is a greater than 35% chance that Brexit won’t happen next March 29th as planned

October 15th, 2018

If no deal becomes more likely the less chance of the date being met

Another week starts with growing uncertainty over whether a Brexit deal will be possible. Things have got so much more complicated and seeing a way through the fog is going to be massively challenging for the PM and her close advisors.

Keiran Pedley’s Tweet above raises a feature of No Deal that I haven’t seen discussed much. That people might just say of this is all too difficult so let’s let’s scrap Brexit. That could start to take hold within parts of the electorate and the mood could change quite sharply.

Whatever there are a huge number of obstacles to be surmounted before the official leaving day of March 29th next year and time is almost exhausted. As it gets closer to the deadline and the stalemate continues you can see pressure building up for at least an Article 50 delay beyond next March. The upcoming European court case on whether the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50 could add to the delay possibility.

Those politicians who predicted that all this was going to be so so easy have really misread what was involved and no doubt will be reminded of it.

This all leaves the Brexit betting where the Betfair exchange price on the March 29th deadline for exit not being met is now 35%. That offers value because it covers so many scenarios.

Mike Smithson


Will Theresa May be Tory leader at the 2019 Tory Party conference?

October 14th, 2018

Why I’m betting on Theresa May to still be Tory leader at the 2019 Tory party conference.

This Paddy Power market is essentially a bet on Mrs May getting a deal done and passed in the Commons. Iff she manages to achieve those two things then I’d expect Mrs May and the Tories to get a boost in the polls so ditching her straight away might not be possible.

With Boris Johnson confirming once again he is the modern day Churchill, Randolph that is, not Winston, the ERG in their desperation are talking about installing David Davis as interim party leader and Prime Minister. The tweet below shows why he is quite incompetent and lazy to be Prime Minister, and would struggle to be a reasonably competent head of a Wolverhampton Job Centre Plus. If Mrs May was at risk of being toppled David Davis would not be the great hope of the Leavers.

If we get a no deal Brexit then I’d advise piling on the no side of this bet but my expectation is that Mrs May (and most other Tories) realise that no deal results in the Tories being out of power for a generation, they cannot let no deal happen for their own interests as well as the country. No wonder stories emerged last night that a deal could be finalised today and has today seen Dominic Raab rush to Bruxelles for talks.


PS – I’ve always had a strong hunch that serial flouncer David Davis wouldn’t contest the next Tory leadership election but endorse and campaign for his former Chief of Staff  Dominic Raab.