UPDATED Heathrow expansion to go ahead: Zac Goldsmith resigns

October 25th, 2016


As had been widely predicted Theresa May’s government has decided to go ahead with the expansion of Heathrow. A third runway will be added to the two that have been in place there for 70 years. A short time ago Zac Goldsmith announced that he was quitting his Richmond Park seat.

The immediate political interest is what is the Richmond Park CON MP and 2016 Mayoral candidate, Zac Goldsmith, going to do. He has long threatened to resign thus producing a by-election. He’s made it known that he wants to talk to his constituents first and will be announcing his intentions tonight.

    It was hard to see how in view of his past position he could do other than carry out his threat.

The immediate political interest is the by election in Richmond Park. Until 2010 large parts of his seat were in Lib Dem hands and after Witney the yellows must feel that they have a chance of winning. Zac might stand as an anti-LHR Independent in which case it is not clear what the Tories would do. It is hard to see them giving him a free ride.

The LDs require a swing a fraction more than they achieved in Witney last week to win. They start, though, in a better tactical position having been second at GE2015.

The by election will be about BREXIT as well as LHR3 and the seat recorded one of the biggest REMAIN totals anywhere in the UK on June 23rd.

I’d make the LDs the favourite.

Mike Smithson


Updated UKIP leader betting and some of the controversial Tweets

October 25th, 2016

What Raheem Kassam Tweeted about Nicola Sturgeon

And others..

Earlier version of this post appeared last night for a short period


The Telegraph does a sting on the Trump campaign and finds that it’ll accept illegal foreign donations

October 24th, 2016

This has replaced the previous thread posted a couple of minutes ago


After decades we should be getting the Heathrow expansion decision tomorrow

October 24th, 2016


Whatever the political fireworks will begin

It has been an awful long time coming but we are promised that the long awaited decision on the expansion of Heathrow will come tomorrow.

It’s reported that TMay and other ministers on the airport subcommittee will meet before cabinet. It is being speculated that we could get an announcement before the markets open because it is felt that this is so politically sensitive.

Theresa May herself will make a Commons statement at 12.30.

All the signs are that the plan chosen will be one of the Heathrow options.

No doubt one of the first people to respond will the Richmond Park CON MP, Zac Goldsmith, who has threatened to resign his seat and force a by-election if LH3 goes ahead.

Mike Smithson


Why you shouldn’t rely on the BREXIT experience as a pointer to a Trump victory

October 24th, 2016


The elections are not as comparable as they might appear

There’s an ongoing argument that’s being made every day that Donald Trump can take heart from the fact that the BREXIT polling, betting and forecasts were wrong.

Certainly there’s little doubt that in broad terms he appeals to the same demographic groups that backed LEAVE. He’s tapping into much of the anger that we saw in the referendum. In the betting we’ve also got what we experienced ahead of June 23rd – in terms of the amount of money being wagered the balance was to REMAIN while in terms of the overall number of bets the LEAVE side had it.

Most bookies are reporting the same with WH2016. They have had more Trump bets than Clinton ones but overall more money on the latter. That might, of course, be down to the tight odds-on price that the former Secretary of State has moved to. A Clinton bet doesn’t offer much value.

Also unlike the referendum only a very small proportion of bets placed in the UK are from those who’ll be able to vote on November 8th. The online bookmakers go to great lengths to stop bets from the US being placed.

The expectations from leading pundits was that REMAIN would win which is just the same with WH2016 and Hillary Clinton.

Where it falls down is that the polling pattern does not compare.
In the final three weeks leading up to June 23rd there were more polls with LEAVE leads than REMAIN ones. In the US race Trump has had very few leads of late with most national and swing state polls going the Clinton way.

Another factor is early voting. After June 23rd it was said that LEAVE had secured a big lead amongst postal voters which made up about a fifth of the total. In the Trump-Clinton fight what early voting indicators there are point to the Democrats at least equalling or doing better than four years ago.

This doesn’t mean that a Trump victory is out of the question just that the two elections are not as comparable as is being suggested.

Mike Smithson


This analysis might well disprove the theory of Shy Trumpers

October 23rd, 2016

If there are ‘Shy Trumpers’ you’d expect Donald Trump to have outperformed the polls during the primaries and caucuses.

One of the more interesting theories posited during this White House race on why Donald Trump will become President is that the polls are wrong because there are shy Trumpers not being picked up in the polls. With Donald Trump proving to be the most controversial Presidential candidate since George Wallace, you can understand why some of his voters might be shy and embarrassed to tell pollsters about their true intention to vote for Donald Trump.

Harry Enten of fivethirtyeight has analysed Trump’s actual performance in the primaries & caucuses versus his performances in the polls, and we can see there’s no evidence of shy Trumpers, if there were shy Trumpers you’d expect Donald Trump to over perform his polling. I know primary & caucus elections are different to Presidential elections but on current evidence the term ‘Shy Trumpers’ causes real epistemological problems.



The EU moves on

October 23rd, 2016

Anyone who has been dumped will know the problem: what do you do next?  Bridget Jones was faced with exactly this dilemma.  She saw that she had two choices: to give up and accept permanent state of spinsterhood and eventual eating by Alsatians, or not.

The rest of the European Union has just been dumped by Britain.  It faces much the same dilemma as Bridget Jones faced.  And like Bridget Jones, it is choosing not.

Bridget Jones chose vodka and Chaka Khan.  The EU apparatchiki have also chosen the hard stuff (but Jean-Claude Juncker has yet to be seen dad-dancing to “I feel for EU”).

Freed of the brake that Britain put on developments, old integrationist aims have been dusted down.  The core of an EU army has been put forward.  New proposals on Europe-wide insolvency protection measures are being proposed.  The European Commission has sanctioned Apple, and Ireland, for their tax arrangements.  Ten countries are pressing ahead with a financial transaction tax.  Less Europe has so far found no takers.

In Britain the different camps have read into this what they want to see.  Leavers see this as proof that the EU was always going to integrate further and faster and that Remain’s lies to the contrary have been exposed.  Remainers see this as proof that without Britain’s influence the EU will develop in a way that is harmful to Britain (and to the EU’s own interests).  Take your pick.  Both can be true, of course.

Neither camp seems to have thought much about what this means for the impending Article 50 negotiations.  The news there is not good for Britain.  Right now the EU has a point to prove and Britain is the country against whom the point needs to be proven.

So in the short term, the EU will want Britain to suffer – in the words of the Maltese Prime Minister, “Most of my colleagues want a fair deal for both the UK and Europe, but it has to be a deal that is inferior to membership, so you can’t have the cake and eat it.  I don’t see a situation where Britain will be better off at the end of the deal.”  The EU will want others advocating withdrawal to be deprived of ammunition.

As a long term strategy, however, this makes no sense at all.  The EU should want Britain as a reliable neighbour, the more so because in many areas such as security it is a leader in the region.  It will want close cooperation with it on a whole host of subjects.  Alienating Britain is a really dumb plan for the long term.

So will cool reason win out in the Article 50 negotiations?  I very much doubt it.  There are too many different competing interests that have to be brokered and time is tight.  As the recent breakdown of CETA, the agreement between the EU and Canada, shows, problems can emerge for almost whimsical reasons.  Negotiations need to be concluded within two years of Article 50 being triggered – unless all parties unanimously agree to an extension, and even getting unanimous agreement to that might be difficult.  Some nation might always fancy their chances of extracting a ransom for their agreement.  Right now the EU favours tough exit terms and time is short to turn that round.

Theresa May is caught between on the hand for domestic reasons wanting to trigger Article 50 as soon as possible to get the ball rolling and calm Leaver nerves in Britain and on the other hand wanting as long as possible to allow cooler heads in Brussels and around Europe to appreciate the advantages of reaching a friendly agreement with Britain (and then persuading others).  It is a formidable challenge.

Theresa May is left in large part dependent on events.  The EU would only quickly change its default setting in a panic, and then anything is possible, as Turkey has adroitly shown in its handling of the refugee crisis.  Will an event that would change EU minds take place in the next two years?  That is unknowable but seems unlikely.  It may very well be that the single market remains irrational for longer than Britain remains solvent.  Stand by for a very messy break-up.

Alastair Meeks


Betting on will Donald Trump accept the election result

October 23rd, 2016


Paddy Power have a market up on will Donald Trump accept the result of Presidential election, the exact wording of the bet is ‘Donald Trump to publicly confirm he accepts the result of the poll at the post election rally.’

Given his comments from earlier on this week, the only way I can see Trump accepting the result of the election is if he wins it, so you’d be better off betting on him winning the White House Race where you can get odds of around 5/1. But I’m going for the 11/4 on him not accepting it, it feels like a ‘nailed on’ bet* for me, as it would require him to appear magnanimous, a quality he has hitherto failed to display during his Presidential election campaign, stretching all the way back to the primaries.

My presupposition is that were Trump to lose, his concession speech will be the ‘highlight’ of election night as I expect in defeat Trump will have a meltdown that will be like the Three Mile Island accident meets Richard Nixon’s concession speech of 1962.


*Other bets I have considered to be ‘nailed on’ in recent times include a hung Parliament in 2015 and Donald Trump not to be the Republican Party’s Presidential nominee in 2016.