At a 70%+ chance the betting markets are surely over-rating Trump’s chances of being the WH2020 GOP nominee

July 17th, 2018

The best post-Helsinki bets?

Judging by the reaction in the US overnight Donald Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin has gone down like a like a bowl of cold sick most strikingly within his own party. He’s been damaged.

There’s no point in me repeating here the wide coverage that we’ve seen but question for punters, surely, is what are the best Trump bets.

There are, as we know, many markets.

Will he complete a full first term? (Betfair 74%)

What year will see him leave the White House? (Betfair after 2020 80% chance)

Will he win the presidency in 2020? (Betfair 40%)

The bet I like most because it covers more possibilities is whether he will be the Republican nominee for 2020. The Betfair Exchange currently has this at 70%+ chance which to my mind, giving everything we now know, overstates his chances.

So I have just laid (bet against) Trump being the Republican nominee at the Betfair exchange level of 1.42 – which equates to a 70% chance.

My guess is that that this will ease in the aftermath of his talks with Mr. Putin and possibly offer short term trading opportunities.

Mike Smithson


Trump appearing deferential to Putin isn’t going to help him win WH2020

July 17th, 2018

Given the initial US media reaction, even that from Fox News, the President isn’t getting good coverage for his historic meeting with Putin.

This was from former Republican cabdidate and current Senator, John McCain:

Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.

President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin. He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world….

No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant. Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary; but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are—a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad. American presidents must be the champions of that cause if it is to succeed. Americans are waiting and hoping for President Trump to embrace that sacred responsibility. One can only hope they are not waiting totally in vain.”

Petty damning stuff from a respected figure in the party.

Quite how this will play out in the leader ratings and November’s midterms we’ll have to wait and see but there’s no doubt that this has been a pivotal event.

Mike Smithson


TMay caves in to the Brexit Taliban over Chequers plan

July 16th, 2018

Moggsy now appears to running the Brexit show

Mike Smithson


LAB takes clear leads in the GB polls but Scotland remains a problem

July 16th, 2018


Just 8 years ago it won 41 Scottish seats – latest polls have that down to 1

The two GB polls over the weekend from Deltapoll and Opinium were both very good for LAB showing clear leads which weren’t down to its share increasing but the biggest shares for UKIP since GE2017.

Certainly based on these figures if there was an early general election then Corbyn’s party would be in a strong position to become top party although an overall majority might be more of a struggle.

An issue, which I’ve raised before is that Scotland remains a massive problem for the party. We don’t see many Scotland only polls but the Survation one that came out at the end of last week was very much in line other surveys – the SNP progressing, the Tories in second place with Labour in third.

Even at GE2010 when LAB lost its UK-wide majority 41 of the 59 seats north of the border returned Labour MPs. The Scottish seat projections based on the latest polls have this down to a single MP. What used to be a certain stronghold is in danger of being wiped out.

In a House of Commons of 650 seats Corbyn’s LAB really needs to get closer to the LAB 41 seat GE2010 haul in Scotland. Unless it can do the swing needs to be higher in England and Wales.

Also we are just under four years away from the next general election and it is hard to see TMay, or her successor, using the processes laid down in the Fixed Term Parliaments Act to go early.

I don’t buy the argument that a new CON leader would press the general election button even if the blue team returned to double digit leads.

Mike Smithson


The hold that Putin holds over Trump could be revealing that the Russians did try to fix WH2016

July 16th, 2018

Straight from Russia’s undoubted success in staging the World Cup the biggest news today will be the secret meeting in Helsinki between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.

Normally when leaders meet they have aides with them but not so this meeting and this has set up a whole series of rumours and speculation. There are all sorts of theories around about the hold that the Russian president has over the occupant of the White House and, of course, it has been noted widely that Mr Trump never ever publicly criticises Mr Putin unlike virtually every other world leader.

Could it be that the Russians have some hold over the President?

One of the theories I like was in a comment on the excellent US political site {$) PoliticalWire relates directly to the story that has never been totally stopped by Trump – the allegation that the Russians actively helped in his election two years ago.

“You know, maybe what Vladimir Putin has on Trump is simply, “I can make it look like you colluded.” Trump and his team were such bumblers that they repeatedly gave Putin opportunities to create evidence of collusion even if none actually occurred.

Maybe Putin can simply say, “Donald, I can provide proof that a) we swayed the election (so you’re illegitimate) and b) you and yours helped.”

Politcalwire notes:-

“Ordinarily, in preparation for such a meeting, diplomats would have established a list of “deliverables” before the high-profile summit. But in this case, as the New Yorker reported, the Russians told White House national security adviser John Bolton, “The meeting is the deliverable.”

For any other U.S. president, the political ramifications of keeping the meeting with Putin would be disastrous.

For Trump, however, the political ramifications of cancelling may be worse.”

His links with Putin are going to dog Trump for the rest of his time as President and no doubt there will be stories for years about what the two man say behind closed doors today.

Mike Smithson


The Tory leadership – an alternative view

July 15th, 2018

Ian Whittaker on why Esther McVey might be the one to watch

David’s piece yesterday was very insightful on the mechanics for how a new Conservative leader could be elected. I wanted to add a few thoughts on what has happened over the past week, and what are the betting implications on the political front.

    First of all, standing back, the last week has been, objectively, a disaster for Theresa May. That may seem harsh and it puts me odd with David and Mike. But, logically, there is no other conclusion.

In increasing order of importance, she has lost two Cabinet Ministers, seen the President of the United States give succour to Brexiteers, whatever his later comments, and clear signs those who support Brexit, the bedrock of Conservative support, see the Chequers plan as a sell out, with the Conservative vote down 6pc in the Optimum poll today with UKIP rising to 8pc. Also, ominously for May, while Remainers have praised the plan and Brexiteers have condemned it, the middle of the Conservative Party has largely kept its mouth shut, suggesting a “wait and see” attitude. If May was hoping the World Cup and the Trump visit would distract from the Plan, she has been disappointed.

Secondly, I don’t think this is the end of the resignations for May. Ironically, the lack of Brexit related resignations over the past couple of days should probably worry May more. It suggests discipline on the Brexiteers part, realising that announcing resignations when England were playing in the World Cup Semi-Final and Trump was visiting would annoy its supporters ( in fact, The Sun’s front page on Tuesday was effectively a warning not to do so). These events are now over.

And any future departures and actions are likely to be well planned to create maximum harm on May. The most important departure has not been David or Johnson but that of Steve Baker, the arch-Brexiteer. Anyone who read Tim Shipman’s magnus opus on the Brexit vote will know how effectively Baker can coordinate effective guerrilla warfare against the Government. And they are likely to play clever. For example, do we really believe Suella Fernandes staying in Government is because she is convinced of May’s plan or more a way for the Brexiteers to be kept in touch with Government thinking?

What does this mean for the likely course of events?

To me, and I run the risk of being completely wrong, the course is clear. May’s Achilles Heel is not the Brexiteers like JRM but that the priority for most Conservative MPs is keeping their seats. The chances are there will be a continuing deterioration in the Conservative poll position, especially as the EU pushes for further concessions and the likelihood May will give further ground. As that happens, those MPs will become more fearful.

What makes this situation even worse for May is the unusually high number of seats in this Parliament with wafer-thiin majorities. It does not take that many voters to switch sides or abstain for the Conservatives to be looking at its seat tally rapidly falling. And as its pro-Brexit base see May as betraying true Brexit and giving in to the “Remoaners” with some determined to punish the Tories by going for “Anyone but May” that is more than plausible. Both MPs and constituency chairs will turn their thinking to how May is putting their jobs at risk and damaging the Conservative position. And the Brexit rebels will, as that happens, find more recruits to their cause.

Hence, In effect, a re-run of what happened with Thatcher in 1990 over the Poll Tax looks likely with May trying to cling on but the party deciding she is too much of a liability and she needs to go to save their seats. Re the betting implications, I think this makes it more likely May will face a challenge (and go) in 2018, probably towards the end of the year. Several have pointed out here that the unintended consequence of the challenges to Brexit is that, in the event of no-deal being reached, then hard Brexit on WTO terms is the default. That is the “promised land” to the Hardliners. So, the logical conclusion now for the hardliners would be to feed the “Stab in the back” storyline, see the Conservative vote fall further in the polls (helped by rebellions on their part), pull in more MPs who fear for their jobs, and then strike at an optimal point in time when it would become impossible to agree any sort of deal with the EU with the timeline involved. Anytime in 2019 risks being too close to the March 2019 date that the party shirks from a contest. Striking around the time of the Party Conference or afterwards makes more sense.

What about the next Conservative leader? David made a very important point about the rules being more fluid around a contest. If a contest is triggered on the above circumstances, then the 1922 and party machine will be very aware that a selection where only Remainers or soft Brexiteers are put forward as candidates to the membership would lead to open mutiny in the party and would not solve the problem. Thus, as well as speed, the Committee will want to ensure breadth. Don’t expect either of these two groups to win machinations to rig the final selection.

So a more hardline Brexiteer has to be favourite. Who are the candidates? One of the positive aspects of the Chequers result from the next leader betting market is that it has narrowed the market considerably. Any Remainer is obviously out. Those Remainers turned Brexiteers like Hunt, Javid and Williamson are also out as they will be deemed to have put career above principle and will not be trusted. Gove has burnt his bridges by so openly supporting the deal. Mourdant and Fox are out for the same reason as is Raab.

Who does that leave? I think the next leader will have to Cabinet experience because of the tasks facing the Government. So I don’t expect JRM. Davis has ruled himself out. Boris is the obvious one given his resignation but two factors will play against him, firstly he is so associated with London, which may not play well outside the capital, and, less commented on, his seat is not exactly safe, which could be a risk.

Who is left? Notice two minor Cabinet members who have kept quiet on Chequers but who have ambitions. Liz Truss was a remainer but has reinvented herself as a low tax, smaller state, pro Brexit Conservative. For me, though, Esther McVey is the one to watch. She is a Brexiteer and her Northern Working Class roots are likely to appeal to the more Working Class Tory supporters who they are losing now. While she has not resigned, she has not vocally backed Chequers, unlike Mourdant (a mistake on the latter’s part) so may be more open to being “forgiven” on the issue. The NAO issue does not seem to have gained traction. She is 100/1 on Ladbrokes for next PM.

A few other points. If the scenario above plays out, expect 2019 as the election year. A new leader will want to claim authority and Corbyn will be keen to fight. More to the point, a hard Brexit will need to have been seen to have been supported at the polls. Secondly, I don’t understand why there is such a major difference in the odds between the next Conservative leader and the next PM (Esther McVey is 66/1 on the former, 100/1 on the latter). The transition from Cameron to May showed that the two moves are linked and, unless a new leader loses the support of the DUP, it is hard to see how they would not be the next PM.

Ian Whittaker


PB Video Analysis. Brexit: How We Got Here & What We Want

July 15th, 2018

So: Brexit.

I’ve artfully avoided addressing it in my videos so far, but the time has come. Today’s video is about Brexit. Specifically, it addresses the process through which Britain joined the EEC, and then asks what the UK government actually wants from negotiations. Why have there been all these gyrations, when the EU has proposed a CETA/South Korea type relationship already?

Be warned: this video will be equally annoying to Remainers and Leavers.

Robert Smithson

Robert tweets as ‘@MarketWarbles’


Rees-Mogg moves back into the favourite slot for next CON leader

July 14th, 2018

With the pressure on Mrs Mays leadership there has been renewed interest in who will succeed her and a change in the favourite on the Betfair exchange.

The previous long-term favourite, who was edged out by Javid, Rees-Mogg is now back there as the one the punters most fancy.

A lot of course depends on when a contest takes place and it has been interesting that Moggsy’s hard brexit faction has not been ready to “press the button” on a confidence motion in the Prime Minister.

The party rules mean they have, in their own words, “only one bullet” and the last thing they want to do is move a vote of no confidence and for Theresa May to be hanging on. They could then have to wait for a year before any movement was possible.

I agree with David Herdson’s assessment on the previous thread about this actually being a good week for Theresa May. She has coped with a huge number of difficult circumstances and apparently come out of it recently level-headed.

I still think that Moggsy’s problem is what it has been and that is securing enough backing from MPs to be in the top two on the members ballot.

He’s a very divisive figure and needs to put forward a coherent plan for Brexit not just his “vassal state” sound bite.

A problem for gamblers is that the longer Mrs May stays there in apparent impossible circumstances then the chances are that she can hold on.

Mike Smithson