Archive for January, 2005

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Will Blair get his Bagdhad bounce?

Monday, January 31st, 2005

    But why aren’t the markets moving in his direction?

After the success of yesterday’s elections in Iraq can Tony Blair now draw a line under the war and its aftermath and start to relish in what some have described as his “Bagdhad Bounce”?

For if there had been any doubt at all about whether he will be returned with another huge majority it has been over his decision to take the country into the war without UN sanction and against huge opposition both within his party and throughout the country.

The war and its associated issues like the Andrew Gilligan interview, the Kelly suicide and the Hutton and Butler inquiries have taken their toll on the Prime Minister, particularly on the level of trust he enjoys from the British public. Labour has hardly been out of the 30s in the opinion polls and the only consolation the party has had is that the Tories have been doing even worse.

Can we expect Labour to climb into the comfortable poll positions that they had at this time before the last election – or is there still a worry for Tony Blair?

    Will the fact that Iraq is now on the road to democracy secure, for certain, an unprecedented Labour third term with a huge majority?

So far the markets have been unimpressed. In spite of yesterday’s three new opinion polls all showing Labour well ahead and the news from Iraq the moves on the spread-betting markets have been in the opposite direction. It’s the Tory price, not Labour’s that has progressed today – something that we did not predict and cannot explain.

Latest IG Index spread prices: LAB 355-362 (nc): CON 190-197 (+1): LDs 70-74 (nc)

Mike Smithson



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Posting Arrangements

Monday, January 31st, 2005

As we get nearer the General Election there will be more active moderation in order to ensure that the site remains a place where people from all parties can feel comfortable discussing the effect of issues in relation to political outcomes on which betting takes place. We should try not to get into debates on the issues themselves, particularly if they are controversial, and we should avoid being offensive to others who make comments

We have slightly changed the posting arrangement so that the site will no longer accept comments without a name and an email address. Hopefully this will not cause too much inconvenience – most browsers now remember this information so you should only need to type it in once.

Also please remember the laws of libel. Anything that is potentially defamatory will be edited as I had to do yesterday.



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Enter the era of dog whistle politics

Monday, January 31st, 2005

    Sending a message that’s only heard by the target audience

The real reflection of the state the Tories are in is that if they make the magic number of 200 seats it will be seen as some kind of victory. Yet even at that level Tony Blair would be returned with an overall majority of more than 70 – sufficient to sustain the party for a full third time.

It’s against this background that the poll moves after last week’s immigration speeches have to be judged. Both the pollsters that carry out very regular surveys so you can spot trends – YouGov and ICM – recorded 2% improvements for the Tories against Labour over the days before and after the announcement.

    Does this mean that we’ll see more of what is known in in Australia as “dog-whistle politics” – putting out a message which, like a dog whistle that is inaudible to humans, is only heard by the people at which it is aimed.

As Andrew Grice of the Indpendent observed at the weekeend – the dog whistle looks as though it has been imported into British politics.

He wrote: Dog-whistle politics has been used successfully by John Howard, Australia’s conservative Prime Minister. He has played the immigration card without making overtly racist comments. It is no coincidence that the man who ran his four successful election campaigns, Lynton Crosby, is now Michael Howard’s election campaign director. The Tory leader’s carefully chosen words were designed to strike the right chord with his target audience. Labour strategists fear the subconscious message will play well in marginal seats in areas such as the West Midlands and among eurosceptics tempted to vote for the UK Independence Party.

Perhaps this is the first evidence of the impact that Lynton Crosby – described down-under as “the master of the black arts of politics” – could have on the coming election. It looks as though we wil be in for an interesting 13 weeks between now and May 5th.

As we predicted yesterday’s spate of polls have stalled the recent Tory progress on the spread-betting markets where punters bet on how many of the 646 Commons seats at stake each party will win.

Latest IG Index spread prices: LAB 355-362 (nc): CON 189-196 (nc): LDs 70-74 (nc)

Latest Spreadfair prices: LAB 357-359 (nc): CON 189-194 (-1): LDs 71-73.4 (nc)

Mike Smithson



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Who’ll be the loser from Kilroy-Silk’s new party?

Sunday, January 30th, 2005

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    Where’s Veritas going to get its votes from?

With the UKIP share down to just 1% in one of the weekend’s polls there are further blows for the party with news tonight that it has lost one of its two London Assembly members to Robert Kilroy-Silk’s new political party, expected to launch on Wednesday.

Mr. Damian Hockney said Mr Kilroy-Silk had made him deputy party leader of Veritas, Latin for truth and sources stated that around eight other members of London UKIP were also planning to jump ship.

    The big question for punters is which of the parties will be vulnerable to the Veritas development?

The Tories improving position – reducing Labour’s margin by 4% on ICM in six weeks and now nearly level-pegging on YouGov – has been partially helped by the troubles at UKIP. Will they be now vulnerable to Veritas or will their latest policy statement on immigration help shore up the dillution of their right wing support?

Labour has escaped relatively unscathed from the UKIP phenemonon but could it now be vulnerable to losing votes at the margin to Kilroy-Silk’s populism? He was, of course, a former Labour MP and it was his anti-Tory rhetoric that caused some of UKIP’s backers to move away.

The Lib Dems might find their tasks more challenging in the face of the likely high-profile development of what will be presented as the party of protest.

UKIP itself has already suffered substantially from the Kilroy-Silk splits and the latest move indicates that this will continue.

A lot depends on money. UKIP’s June surge was supported by big campaign donations from the Yorkshire businessman, Sir Paul Sykes. Has Kilroy-Silk got a financial backer who can put the money in? We should know on Wednesday.

Meanwhile optimists on the UKIP Forum website are having a good discussion on whether 100/1 from William Hill on the party getting most seats at the election is a good value bet. Amazingly some participants seem to think it is. We beg to differ.

Mike Smithson



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Conventional pollsters show big Labour leads

Sunday, January 30th, 2005

    The methodology divide deepens

Three new surveys this morning from conventional interview-based pollster show big leads for Labour and contrast sharply with the interviewer-free YouGov poll on Friday that had the party just 1% ahead.

ICM in the Sunday Telegraph, which uses telephone interviews, have the Labour margin down by 2% on last week’s survey by the same pollster in the Guardian. The shares are – CON 32(+1): LAB 37(-1): LD 21(nc). Interestingly both YouGov and ICM are recording the same trend.

The MORI poll in the Observer is the first to be published from the firm since November and the comparison is based on that survey. The figures – CON 32(+1): LAB 38(+3): LD 22%(-1). The pollsters uses conventional face-to-face interviews.

Communicate Research for the Independent on Sunday has, with comparisons on their last survey six weeks ago, LAB 40 (+1): CON 32 (-2) LD 20 (+1). This contrasts sharply with ICM which has seen a 4% drop in the Labour lead during the same period.

The Lib Dem share remains fairly constant at 20-22% with all the pollsters. CR’s lower figure is probably due to the fact that, uniquely, it does not prompt with the party options.

The huge gap between the conventional firms and the internet-based YouGov is underlined by two surveys on how people would vote in the Euro Constitution referendum – the formal question for which was announced during the week. ICM record 39%: YES 41% NO. Compare that with yesterday’s YouGov figure which has 24% YES: 45% NO.

There was a difference in the questions that were put. YouGov – where respondents read from a computer screen – had “If a referendum was held tomorrow, would you vote Yes or No in response to the question ‘Should the UK approve the treaty establishing a constitution for the European Union?’ The ICM telephone interviewers asked: “Should the United Kingdom approve the treaty establishing a constitution for the European Union?

The internet pollsters would argue that when you vote you do it in private at a time that you choose by reading a question and marking a ballot paper without the potentially distorting intervention of another human being.

The telephone pollsters argue strongly that internet survey samples are skewed because they are restricted to those who have access and are members of the pollster’s panel. Maybe this will be the biggest question to be resolved on May 5th.

Latest IG Index spread prices: LAB 355-362: CON 189-196: LDs 70-74

Latest Spreadfair prices: LAB 357-359: CON 189-195: LDs 71-73.4.

Mike Smithson



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Communicate Research – Labour gap widens to 8%

Saturday, January 29th, 2005

    But some good news for Howard and Kennedy

After Friday’s YouGov poll with a Labour lead of just one point a very different picture of the current political climate is shown in the January survey by Communicate Research for tomorrow’s Independent on Sunday.

The figures are: LAB 40 (+1): CON 32 (-2) LD 20 (+1) and mean that the pollster’s Labour total is 2% higher than any other firm.

    But all is not plain sailing for Tony Blair because the poll featured two elements that could undermine Labour’s current strong position.

For the Lib Dems the poll showed that 37% would vote Lib Dem if they thought the party had a realistic chance in their constituency.

For the Tories the poll shows that 71% said the Government did not have the problem of illegal immigration under control and 41% said that the issue might change the way they vote in the election, expected on May 5. Nearly a third of Labour supporters said they might switch on the issue.

All this chimes with the second YouGov poll if the week in the DailyTelegraph. When asked if Michael Howard was right to rise the issue, 71% thought he was, 18% thought him wrong. Only 12% of people thought it was racist of Michael Howard to raise the issue – 79% thought it wasn’t.

    The 8% Labour margin will certainly stall the Tory recovery on the spread-betting markets but the other messages from the CR survey will dillute its overall impact.

The media, meanwhile is taking election betting much more seriously. The Telegraph financial pages will feature General Election odds and spread-betting prices every day between now and polling day.

Mike Smithson



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A new market on Commons seats

Saturday, January 29th, 2005


An interesting new market on how many seats each of the main parties will win has been launched by Skybet. The structure is similar to the one that Bet365 recently had but with the seat options at levels more in keeping with current forecasts.

The markets make a good alternative for those wanting decent prices but are not willing to take the risks or get involved with the complications of spreadbetting.

Labour seats
7/4 0-340
15/8 340-365
6/4 365+

Conservative seats
5/4 0-190
2/1 190-205
15/8 205 +

Lib Dem Seats
7/4 0-65
6/4 65-70
5/4 70+

With these bets we like to look for value at the open-ended bottom or top ranges. With the Tories and Labour the mid-ranges are very much in line with current spread prices. With the Lib Dems however the latest spread prices are above 70 seats. If there is a value bet here it is the 5/4 on Charles Kennedy’s party getting more than 70.

No doubt some smart Politicalbetting users will find ways of combining these bets with the spread markets as Jon did so well two or three weeks ago.

Mike Smithson



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Surely this is the safest General Election bet?

Saturday, January 29th, 2005


In all the focus on spread-betting we’ve somewhat ignored the main General Election market on which party will win most seats.

This has just been spiced up by a new Labour price of 7/50 from SuperOdds – which offers almost twice the return as many of the other bookmakers. Given that you would only be locking up your stake for about 13 weeks this seems like a good value bet.

Betfair have a similar price but with the betting exchange you have to pay a commission of upto 5% on your winnings. Another Betfair market is on which party will get the second most seats. The Tory price is 1.15 – which looks pretty good value for what must be a near certainty. However the Lib Dems are doing they are going to be hard-pressed to leap above the Tories to the second seat position.

Apart from the election date markets there is almost nothing else to bet on. Bet365 seemed to have dropped their Commons seat markets and there are no takers for Blair/Labour in the Election Winner – party and person market.

So if you don’t want to take on the risk and complication of spread-betting the best, if not very profitable, punt out there is the 7/50 on Labour from Sporting Odds. It’s a better return than the building society.

Mike Smithson