So far so good. We might just get to the end of the week without a Cabinet exit

November 16th, 2017


This is unlike each of the previous two weeks

As BBC Radio 4’s the Now Show has observed TMay’s Cabinet had begun to look like Strictly with a much publicised departure in the previous two weeks.

Well so far this week, and I know it is only Thursday, it looks as though TMay’s cabinet will remain intact. Her deputy and long-standing friend from her Oxford days, Damien Green, hangs on and my guess is that TMay will fight tooth and nail to keep him.

The former London Mayor is still there probably because it is far better to have him inside the tent p***ing out than outside p***ing in that wonderfully phrase credited to LBJ. He is joint second favourite with PaddyPower alongside DDavis and the PM herself.

But these are very difficult to predict. Remember the weekend after the general election when the widespread assumption was that she, in that memorable GOsborne phrase, “a dead woman walking”.

What there could always be is a confidence move against the PM herself. My sense is that she is finding her mojo again, her confidence is coming back and this might deter a move for now.

Mike Smithson


NEW PB/Polling Matters podcast: Why aren’t the polls moving?

November 16th, 2017

The PB / Polling Matters podcast returns! Keiran is joined by Leo Barasi and Matt Singh to discuss the latest developments in Westminster (and beyond) and what the numbers tell us about what is going on.

On this week’s show the team discuss why the polls are not moving despite the government’s struggles, what the public really think about Brexit and whether the Democrats might be on course to take Alabama in the upcoming U.S. Senate race.

Follow this week’s guests:




Listen to the show below


The Telegraph front page that has been making the political weather all day

November 15th, 2017

PB’s David Herdson hit the nail on the head


Marf on the dramatic events in Harare

November 15th, 2017

A coup or not a coup?

Dr Julia Gallagher, Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Royal Holloway, University of London, said:

“This has all the hallmarks of a military coup. It looks like this is direct consequence of President Mugabe’s sacking of his Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week. Mnangagwa is an unpopular figure, widely associated with brutal repressions in Matabeland in the 1980s, and with election violence more recently. However, he is supported by Zimbabwe’s military, who want him to succeed Mugabe.”

Mike Smithson


Now it’s being established that Russia did interfere with EURef what next?

November 15th, 2017

At some stage it might be argued that this undermines the validity of the result

In the US the objective of those trying to examine the Russian impact on their Presidential election a year ago is clear
– to undermine and possibly get rid of Trump.

Whether they succeed or not will be dominate the political narrative for months and maybe years to come. Even if Trump survives this will be used to try to taint him to impede his efforts win a second term in 2020.

But what of the growing evidence of the Russian effort to secure a Leave outcome in the Brexit referendum?

So far there have been almost no voices saying that this in some way invalidates the result but that might come.

What could be highly significant is the ongoing Electoral Commission probe into the funding of parts of the Leave campaign. That the ultra right wing Breitbart has been seeking to attack the probity of the Commission itself suggests that it sees the danger.

And what are we to make of TMay’s Mayor’s Banquet speech when she made huge attack on Russian efforts to interfere? That was based surely on security briefings she has received.

I thought that this was a very brave speech when she appeared to have got her mojo back but what was the objective? It must have been realised in Number 10 that this can be used to raise questions about Brexit.

All this comes at a very challenging time for the government as it tries to move towards the next stage in its negotiations with Brussels and of course the big parliamentary battle over the Brexit Bill.

I’ve so far refrained from betting on whether Brexit will happen according to the Government’s timetable but there might come a moment when it is worth a punt.

Mike Smithson


Blow for Farage after he loses libel case against anti race hate group

November 14th, 2017

But the former UKIP boss denies that he lost even though he withdrew the comments

The political legal story today is Nigel Farage agreeing to withdraw offensive comments about anti-racist group Hope not Hate.

The action had been brought against him following an appeal for funds which saw 16,000 people make donations.

In a statement laid before the court Farage said “Having now considered the position further I am happy to acknowledge that Hope Not Hate does not tolerate or pursue violent or undemocratic behaviour.”

Later Farage denied that he’d lost the case. “I am very surprised at Hope Not Hate’s announcement today that they have won their legal case against me. Some victory! Their statement today is thoroughly disingenuous.”

Mike Smithson


TMay falls further behind Corbyn in latest YouGov favourability ratings

November 14th, 2017

And CON voters are moving away from Boris

Mike Smithson


Punter anger at the way William Hill settled its LAB MPs resigning in 2017 market

November 14th, 2017

Bet definitions are so important

In the last thread there was a lot of discussion about the precise definition of what particular markets mean. What exactly, for instance, is defined as Britain leaving the EU?

The definitions of political bets can often be problematical and can lead to arguments with bookmakers.

A current case involves a prominent PBer who has raised the question of how William Hill has settled its number of LAB MPs to resign in 2017 market which it opened at the start of the year. This is how he described it:

I’ve just discovered William Hill have settled my ‘6 or fewer Labour MPs to resign their seats in 2017’ bet as a loser. I asked them why, and they’ve treated MPs not standing in the snap election as resigning. I consider resigning as an MP to only count if you leave mid-term, and that those MPs simply retired when their term expired and didn’t seek to extend it.

As a result I wrote to Hills 8 days ago the following email:

I am writing a piece on the difficulties of settling a market you had at the start of the year on how many LAB MPs would resign their seats during 2017.

This, you will recall was in context with dissatisfaction with Corbyn and the MP for Copeland quitting Parliament and then Tristram Hunt doing the same his Stoke Central seat to take a job at the V&A. Thus creating two by elections. There was talk at the time of others following suit.

You put up a market on how many LAB would resign by the end of 2017. The lowest option was 6 MPs or fewer which you have now settled as a loser. Your reasoning was that several LAB MPs didn’t stand again at the general election thus taking it above the 6 threshold.

It can be argued that not standing again in an unforeseen general election is not the same as resigning during a parliament thus creating by-elections

Can I ask whether those who bet on more than 6 MPS resigning will be regarded as winners?

I have had no response from William Hill

Mike Smithson