Archive for December, 2008

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The final bet of 2008: Will Gord survive till midnight?

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

What I am carrying forward into 2009

At midnight tonight, assuming nothing untoward happens to Gord, I pick up on quite a hefty bet that I placed in the early summer at 5/6 that Brown would still be Prime Minister at the end of the year. And if by any remote chance he doesn’t there are a another couple of bets I placed at 6/1 and 5/1 at a different time that he would be out by the end of 2008. The amounts staked and the odds are such that whatever happens there’s a profit.

For one of the characteristics of political betting is that often your wagers are fairly long-term. What you have to do is judge the percentage chance of the outcome happening and decide whether the odds being offered represent good value. You can, like with the Brown survival bet, be on both sides of the outcome. When you see a good bet act quickly because others are also on the look out and bookies can change their prices very fast.

I move into 2009 with a series of other long-term wagers including:-

  • Jacqui Smith: I’ve got 6/4 that she won’t still be home secretary on general election day. This bet is no longer available
  • Party leaders: I put £200 on at 7/4 yesterday that Brown would be the first of Cameron/Clegg/Gord to go. I’ve also got a range of bets in Betfair “Party Leaders at the General Election” market that pay out whatever happens – being “all in the green” is the punter’s parlance.
  • General Election timing and winner I’ve got 5/1 on an election before June 30th 2009 in which the Tories end up with most seats.
  • David Blunkett There’s a bet at a very tasty 100/1 (now 50/1) that Blunkett will be back at his old job of home secretary a year from today
  • White House race 2012: I’ve got £50 on with Ladbrokes at 200/1 that Jon Huntsman will win – that’s £10,000 if it comes off. This morning the best you can get from the firm is 25/1.
  • Next Labour leader: I’m on Ed Miliband at 33/1 (now 12/1); John Reid at 50/1 (now 33/1) and for some reason that must have appeared good at the time Tessa Jowell at 100/1 (now 50/1)
  • There are a range of other bets as well but, surprising for me, I’ve nothing on the general election spread markets at the moment. I don’t see any value either way.

    Have a profitable 2009!

    A special appeal to PB’s “Lurkers”: Your votes in the election for PB Poster of 2008 are especially welcome. Most of the voting until now has come from regular posters themselves. Please spare a couple of minutes to give us your view as well. Voting ends at midnight.



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    Which one is likely to be out first?

    Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

    Is the William Hill 7/4 on it being Gord a value bet?

    Thanks to Noisy Summer on the the previous thread for picking this up but William Hill has just launched a new online market on which of the three party leaders – Brown. Clegg or Cameron – will leave their post first.

    The bookie makes Clegg the 11/10 favourite with Brown at 7/4 and Cameron at 5/2. I think that they have got this wrong and that the Brown odds offer the value.

    Nick Clegg. After a tentative start Clegg is now seen within the party to be doing a lot better and his stances of civil liberties issues are resonating. He performed very well over Greengate – an issue that’s likely to erupt again in the next few weeks if the case is dropped.

    After going through two leadership contests within such a short time there is simply no stomach in the party for a new contest and it would take a massive explosion for something to force Clegg out. Yes some polls have been poor for the party but their ICM figures have been pretty stable and that pollster has by far the best long-term record of getting the third party share right. Even if there are general election set-backs I think he will remain in the post for the foreseeable future.

    David Cameron: I can’t see any circumstances in which the Tories would change horses this side of the election. It’s just too close and Cameron has shown that he’s resilient when things have been down. Clearly a below expectation general election outcome would make him vulnerable but unless Labour is returned with workable majority then he appears secure.

    Gordon Brown: He’s had a renaissance in the past ten weeks but if things turn badly wrong again then his leadership, surely, could become an issue again. If this does happen then it’s going to hit his confidence very hard. My sense for some time is that if Brown thought he was heading for certain defeat in the general election then he might step aside on health grounds.

    So 7/4 on it being Brown seems like a value bet and is where my money has gone.



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    Is this the main argument for a 2009 election?

    Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

    Can Labour expect a drubbing on June 5th?

    Cast your mind back to the last Euro Elections which were held on the same day as the local elections on June 10th 2004. In the weeks beforehand the Tories had suffered serious opinion poll reverses as UKIP’s strength started to emerge and all the predictions were that the Tory leader of just eight months, Michael Howard, was going to fail at his first major electoral test.

    Yet when it came to real votes the outcome was terrible for Labour as can be seen in the panel above. The GB vote share of 22.6% that Blair’s Labour secured was unprecedented for a governing party in a national election. The Tories had “won” by a sizeable margin.

      If that’s what happened to Labour in the relatively benign environment of four and a half years ago what can Brown’s party expect on June 5th 2009? However you read it the Tories are doing much better than then and could be set up nicely if the general election is not on the same day or has been held beforehand.

    Gordon Brown, surely, does not want to go into the final period before the general election with his party seen as a big time loser?

    But that’s not all. It’s not just the Euro Election where Labour could suffer on June 5th – there are the local elections planned for that day as well.

      And here’s the rub – the vast bulk of these will take place in wards and divisions that were last fought on May 5th 2005 – the day of the last general election which inevitably led to local turnouts being way above what happens when they are held on their own.

    And turnouts in the 30s rather than the 60% average of 2005 will add further to Labour’s toll. For the overwhelming challenge Brown’s party faces is getting its vote out in elections when the government of the country is not at stake.

    So a June 5th 2009 general election or one just beforehand solves a lot of problems for the PM who in the spring will, no doubt, be boosted by the G20 meeting which has been scheduled for London for April. As host there should be plenty of photo opportunities for him and Barack Obama.

    In spite of all of this I am far from convinced that he will do it. The polls are not going to return to what they were in September 2007 and for any prime minister general election timing is a massive decision where deferral is often the easiest option.

    Gordon will be very aware that Harold Wilson probably got it wrong by going too early in 1970; Edward Heath should have gone earlier in February 1974 but dithered and then lost and, Labour lost power in 1979 when Jim Callaghan might have clung on if he had gone in October 1978.

    General election betting markets.

  • Remember to vote in the PB Poster of the Year election. This is open to ALL site visitors not just those who post here. So far there have been hardly any votes from “lurkers”.


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    Is politics down to the great mortgage divide?

    Monday, December 29th, 2008

    Have the interest rate cuts been behind the Brown bounce?

    Starting with the usual caveat about not reading too much into poll subsets there is some quite interesting data from the latest Ipsos-MORI poll linking the tenure of respondents to their voting intention.

    From what I can see the firm only started providing this information in November so there is almost nothing we can compare current figures with. But what we see in the panel above is an enormous split between those with mortgages or who pay rent and those who own their own properties outright.

    Thus if the voting was just restricted to the owning outright then it would be C53-L33-LD10 enough to give Cameron a massive landslide. Whereas amongst those still paying off their mortgage who have benefited enormously from the interest rate cuts the split C33-L39-LD15 which would produce a three figure majority for Brown.

    Clearly the owner outright group has many more older people in it and they generally tend to be more pro-Tory.

    One thing that makes the owners without mortgage so much more powerful is that they are disproportionally more likely to vote. Their certainty percentage is 68% compared with 47% for the mortgage payers and just 32% for private renters.

    This data will be worth tracking.



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    The PB Poster of 2008: the Final round

    Monday, December 29th, 2008

    Your chance to choose from the final four

    We are now at the final stage in the battle to become PB Poster of 2008. There are now just four people left in the contest:-

  • David Herdson – winner of the “most insightful” category
  • SeanT - winner of the “most amusing” category
  • JackW – winner of the “best tipster” category
  • SallyC – winner of the “best newcomer” category
  • Voting will be by email to this address. Simply give your email the title – “My Vote” followed by the name of your choice as it appears. Thus “My vote SallyC” does it. Do not write any body text in your email because these will not be opened.

    Please vote just once in the manner set out which has been designed to make it easy at my end. Voting starts immediately and will continue until 2359 on New Year’s Eve. The result will be announced the following evening.

    You will appreciate that it will be difficult for me to enter into any correspondence about the election and my decision has to be final final. I am sure that none of us want this to be affected by voting irregularities.

    Today’s cartoon by Marf is her final one of the year. Her website is LondonSketchbook.com.



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    Is this what’s driven Labour’s recovery?

    Monday, December 29th, 2008

    But what happens if optimism begins to wane?

    One of the great things about Ipsos-MORI is that it has been around for a long time and in many cases has been asking the same questions in the same way for getting on for three decades.

    One of those questions has been the firm’s “Economic Optimism Index” where polling respondents are asked “Do you think that the general economic condition of the country will improve, stay the same, or get worse over the next 12 months?” The pollster then subtracts the “get worse” figure” from the “improve” figures to produce its Economic Optimism Index. Recent trends are shown in the chart above.

    Back in July the index reached minus 64 – the worst number recorded since the firm started this back in 1979. Since then there has been something of a recovery and the December “EOI” is now at minus 48 – still bad but not on the same scale as in the summer.

    July, of course, saw some of the worst voting intention figures for Labour across a range of pollsters. Since then, and particularly following the banking bailout, there has been an improvement in the EOI and, at the same time, the general election voting intention numbers have got better for the party.

    Anthony Wells, in a brilliant piece of analysis on UK Polling Report just before Christmas, argues that the perception that Labour has bucked the trend of governments normally losing popularity when the economy turns is wrong. “..Labour’s position completely tanked in the months after the budget, at the same time as economic confidence really began to fall through the floor. The recent recovery in Labour’s position in the polls dates from the bank rescue in October 2008, which has also seen a recovery in economic confidence…”

    So what happens if confidence starts to wane again in 2009 with the massive retail closures, the increasing number of job losses and continuing economic bad news?

    If the Wells thesis is correct then those who have continued to back the Tories to secure an overall majority on the spread betting markets might have got this right after all. The latest prices from Sporting Index suggest a Tory total of 337 seats or enough for an overall majority of 24 seats.



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    When Gord became part of the panto……..

    Sunday, December 28th, 2008


    Movieposter.com

    What does this say about public opinion?

    There’s an amusing piece by George Grant and Roger Waite in the Sunday Times about how Gordon has become the butt of some of the humour in this year’s pantomimes.

    “..The scene is a basement in the City. Cinderella, a redundant investment banker, is sobbing because she has been forced to take on a cleaning job. Suddenly, after a blinding flash, Gordon Brown is standing before her.

    “Don’t be afraid, Cinderella,” he says, holding a magic wand aloft. “For I am your fairy godfather.”

    “Oh, fairy godfather,” says Cinderella. “Please will you wave your magic wand and help me to escape from this life of drudgery?”

    So Gordon waves his magic wand . . . and absolutely nothing happens.

    “But everything’s still the same,” sobs Cinders.

    “Oh no, it isn’t,” says Gordon.

    “Oh yes it is,” cries the audience.

    That’s a taste of what panto lovers have been enjoying this season as Gordon Brown and his ministers assume the role of traditional stage villains. In productions from Aladdin to Mother Goose, the government is mercilessly pilloried…”

    I think that this does have a political point. If audiences are really are reacting in the way the Sunday Times describes it then that it says something, surely, about public opinion?

    Mike Smithson



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    Is this how an election campaign might look?

    Sunday, December 28th, 2008


    What do we think of the Indy on Sunday’s mock ads?

    There’s a great piece in the Indy on Sunday about how a 2009 general election might look in terms of the ads that will be appearing on poster sites up and down the country.

    The paper asked half a dozen top advertising agencies to come up with some ideas and reproduced above are just three of the twelve that are featured in the article.

    I’m not sure how the Thatcher-linked Labour creation produced by the Green-consultancy might appeal. Certainly it would go down well with Labour activists – but many Tories would be delighted to see their man compared with the Baroness.

    ACQA’s creation for the Lib Dems “The Borrowers” using the movie ad notion is a powerful way of getting over Labour’s current strategy – but wouldn’t this work better as a Tory ad?

    The one I think is most effective and could conceivably be used is the Tory poster from 360 Degrees Advertising – a simple message which juxtaposes Labour’s brand colour with the reminder, the Tories would hope, about who got us here

    Labour, surely, are going to do what’s worked in the last three campaigns – to try to scare voters about the consequences of the inevitable Tory spending cuts.

    What makes this exercise interesting is to see how a range of highly creative communication experts perceive the weaknesses of the parties their ads are against and how they would seek to exploit them. Here the simple image and message can pay dividends reinforcing what voters watch on TV and read in the papers.

      Seeing the way the debt issue is portrayed in several of the ads suggests that Labour has a big challenge. For the response has to be much more complex than the attack and is not as easy to get over.

    In any case this is a great way for the IoS to be looking forward to the election on a very light news weekend in the middle of the holiday season.

  • Don’t forget to cast your vote in the PB Poster of the Year ballot.
  • Mike Smithson