— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) January 27, 2015
The full article is here. This is an extract that’s most relevant to PB
“…The original purpose of both sides â€“ trying to make a profit on the transaction â€“ is certainly not absent. Indeed, in recent years it has become more central. At the heart of this phenomenon is a new class somewhat different from the blokes who hang round the betting shops. Their bible is a somewhat clunky blog-cum-website, PoliticalBetting.com, founded ten years ago by an ex-journalist, university fundraiser and Liberal Democrat candidate called Mike Smithson, who lost his political betting virginity as a teenager in the 1963 Tory leadership shemozzle.
Smithson uses the slogan: â€œThe view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubbleâ€ (Bedford, actually), which for political betting purposes is definitely the place to be. No one can make money from the bookmakers by following conventional wisdom. And Smithson and his small team of contributors are particularly good at getting beyond that.
But of the two words in the siteâ€™s title, the first is more significant. This is a wonkish site first and foremost. I am not sure whether knowing that the Conservatives retained a seat on Rother District Council by winning the Darwell by-election adds to the sophistication of my political analysis, especially when I am not sure where either Rother or Darwell might be. But it certainly makes me feel clued up. As does the rigour Smithson brings to the study of polling data.
The siteâ€™s small profit, however, comes from the betting firms paying commission on click-throughs that generate custom, although the companies are just a bit wary of this new business. â€œI know who some of these people are,â€ says Matthew Shaddick, head of political betting at Ladbrokes. â€œA lot of them are political obsessives: activists, poll-watchers, or they work in political HQs. Real anoraky stats people, or political scientists with their own models.â€ In other words, not necessarily the mug punters the bookies traditionally love…”
“..We aficionados all have our failures, heaven knows. But we can smile about our past triumphs, as over some long-ago night of passion. I was a fairly early Obama backer but Mike Smithson spotted him long before I did and backed him to be president at 50/1. My own moment of glory came in 1990, when I divined that Michael Heseltine would indeed topple Margaret Thatcher but then get punished by being deprived of the prize himself; therefore I knew â€“ just knew â€“ that the answer to the question simply had to be John Major, at 10/1. And I kept betting until Hills told me to get knotted.
I am relishing the 2015 election first and foremost because I care about my country and want it to be run by politicians who share my vision of its future; second because, for a journalist, it will be fascinating to write about; and third, because I hope that I might just have another moment of blinding insight to match the one I had 25 years ago. Which may be lucrative in a medium-sized way â€“ and gloriously satisfying.”