Andrew Mitchell is not having a good time at the moment, Dispatches turned him over for having a few quid in a tax haven (who doesn’t?) and the Sunday Times has caught him intervening on behalf of Cocoa-finger, the commodity hedge fund trader Anthony Ward. Nothing wrong with backing British firms. Except when they make donations to your political office. He has now been referred to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner and is the bookies favourite to be for the chop from the Cabinet. Oops…
This Wednesday sees the Spending Review, when we discover where unfunded over-spending will stop. We are told that some ministers still have not agreed a budget. Vince Cable at Business, Michael Gove at Education, Theresa May at the Home Office, Ken Clarke at Justice and IDS at Work and Pensions – though he is said to be close to doing a deal with the Treasury.
It is barely conceivable that Gove would resign – he is a core member of the Cameron project and education is where the government intends to have made a reforming impact before the 2015 election. So no matter what he’ll still be in office on Thursday. Theresa May has the professional politician’s ability to accept and argue her brief no matter what – she is not one for political heroism – so expect her to remain facing Balls across the dispatch box for now. IDS has reportedly got most of what he wanted, he has a habit of threatening to resign more often than Mrs Fawkes threatens divorce. Unless Osborne double-crosses him at the last moment, IDS will stay put.
That leaves Ken Clarke at Justice, the bookies give him a 5% chance of being the next to resign, he could make a glorious end of career stand. He would go without much acclaim, the Treasury has run a successful briefing operation against him and Crispin Blunt, painting the liberal Justice team as soft on criminals and wanting more money for better meals for prisoners. Guido thinks it only worth a flutter if you like 20/1 long shots…
Vince Cable, is once again the bookies favourite to resign next – replacing Liam Fox who has successfully played his defence budget cards. In truth this is Vince’s last chance to exit the government with honour. As it is he permanently looks like he has swallowed a bee, if he wants to save his “progressive” reputation this is the rubicon, after he accepts the policies that derive from the terms of the Spending Review he can’t later turn back. A big decision, he is a vain old man, he’ll probably never have another chance to be in government. Is he really that principled?
Guido thinks there is a good chance that a LibDem lower down the juniour ministerial ranks will seek to make a name for themselves and lay down a marker for the future. Smarkets have a bet on any government minister, at any level, resigning on Wednesday. Currently punters give it a 15% (11/2) probability. That looks worth a few quid…
Guido has basically got his betting book flat on the Labour leadership, after backing David originally, flipping around onto Ed last Friday and adding to his position substantially during the week. Guido took the book to basically neutral last night, after selling Ed at ridiculously high prices going into the result.
Why? Because it is just too close to call with confidence.
Unless the Electoral Reform Society has leaked – something Guido doubts – the Thursday night flip happened because punters put money on Ed, it snowballed taking him beyond evens and making him favourite. There was no new poll or information on Thursday, the price moved simply and only because there were more buyers than sellers.
At the time of writing the specialist political bookies Smarkets* have Ed with an 80% probability of winning, it should be nearer 50/50 based on the polling and closeness of the count. Guido is tempted, on a valuation basis, to sell Ed at that price…
*As far as Guido can see they are the only bookies still making prices.
This morning the Guardian is reporting that Jim Murphy, one of David Miliband’s two campaign managers, attended a meeting with members of the Ed Milband camp to map out how they would handle Saturday’s leadership result in the event of Red Ed winning. The Telegraph says “The overture is being seen as a signal that the elder Mr Miliband, long regarded as the front-runner in the race to succeed Gordon Brown, is bracing himself for defeat.”
Bookmakers overnight saw a big move onto Ed Miliband, some suspect that any deep pocketed operation to manipulate betting markets on behalf of David Miliband to keep his odds low has come to an end now that voting has closed. The odds are now more accurately reflecting the closeness seen by the pollsters. Mike Smithson over at PoliticalBetting.com is calling it for Ed and predicts that the brothers will soon be at evens or Ed will go favourite before the result is known on Saturday…
The campaigning is over, the counting has begun. For political punters like Guido there is a fascinating divergence between the punters and the pollsters, YouGov is calling it narrowly for Red Ed, the punters reckon it will be David Miliband. Why?
Guido has heard various theories:
- YouGov got the weighting wrong for the union affiliates – being peddled by some Mili-D supporters.
- YouGov / LeftFootForward have analysed the distribution of second preferences incorrectly – something Guido has questioned.
- Someone is deliberately manipulating the betting markets on behalf of Mili-D to influence the MP/MEPs’ votes – they want to back a winner for careerist reasons – they can be influenced by the publicly available odds.
We’ll find out in two days…
Paddy Power and William Hill are no longer taking bets fearing something might leak. The latest prices from Political Smarkets* are:
In the humiliation stakes punters still reckon that despite Guido’s never-ending support, Ed Balls is still the favourite to to be eliminated in the first round. Guido thinks he might not come last and is a seller at 41%.
*These are implied probabilities, when they add up to over 100% it is called the “over-round”, the bigger the over-round the less efficient the market is, for an explanation see here.
After reading endless tips from Mike Smithson on PoliticalBetting.com to back Ed Miliband, Guido switched his bets on Friday. David Miliband’s implied probability of victory had already dropped from 75% to 65% by the time Guido shifted his money from one brother to the other. He is at the time of writing given a 59% chance of winning the leadership (40% for Ed Miliband). Given it is too close to call that could narrow to 50% / 50% soon. Both camps are of course claiming their internal polling numbers point to victory.
In the humiliation stakes punters reckon that despite Guido’s never-ending support, Ed Balls is still the favourite to to be eliminated in the first round. His odds on avoiding humiliation have improved, dropping from a 62% certainty down to a still not good 41%, with Diane Abbott on 35% and Burnham given 30% a chance of going out first. If you are reading this Sally Bercow, and still think Balls is going to win the leadership, a £5 bet will win you £1000.
Someone is going to get a shock based on these Sunday Times/YouGov polling results. With two weeks to go until the results are known and voting already taking place it is, all are agreed, going to be close. Punters are predicting a win for David Miliband whilst pollsters YouGov are predicting a narrow win for Ed Miliband. Admittedly the punters could change their positions on this news, but as things stand currently they are ignoring the pollster overall.
Guido is sticking with his money on David Miliband to beat his brother Ed because he disagrees with the YouGov / LeftFootForward analysis of how the second preference votes will break. It will be close undoubtedly and there does seem to have been a shift in the union affiliates section of the electoral college and Guido has taken money off David to win that section (Ed is now 60% favourite to win the union members vote). David Miliband is still overall favourite to win the leadership, the MEP/MPs votes and the members votes. Guido can only think that the switch in union affiliates to Ed is a result of Union bosses’ endorsements sent out with ballot papers.
UPDATE : Ed Balls remains favourite to be eliminated in the first round. Oh dear…
Well not quite, but Channel 4 News have certainly put The Guardian in a tricky spot. The paper’s strategy is to drip out one former Screws hack every day to keep the story alive, but it seems that they are grasping at straws already:
“Paul McMullan told the Guardian newspaper this morning that David Cameron’s communications chief “would certainly be well aware that the practice was pretty widespread,” but Channel 4 News has learnt from the former features executive that he left the paper in 2001, two years before Mr Coulson became its chief.”
Investigatory journalism at its finest…
Officially there is no vacancy. Officially Andy Coulson has the full support of the PM and the government machine. Officially he isn’t going anywhere. Unofficially last night was quite the flurry of activity.
He may not be going anywhere just yet, but the longer the BBC, Guardian and the Labour Party keep screaming, the more they wound Coulson as he becomes the story.[…] Read the rest
Labor PM Julia Gillard is refusing to concede defeat tonight, she is trying to woo Independents and fight to form a government. “The people have spoken” she told supporters earlier, quoting Bill Clinton, she said, “it was going to take some time to work out what they’ve said”.[…] Read the rest
Bit wordy, and the legislation may yet be blocked by Labour and Tory backbenchers and the Nats.[…] Read the rest
Given the last thirteen budgets have been dominated by cheap tactics and false flags, it was no surprise George Osborne had a trick up his sleeve. Well closer to his collar actually:
The cunning coin-keeper chose a tie of bluey/green today which caused a bit of headache for Ladbrokes who were offering bets on both blue and green and had to pay up for both.[…] Read the rest
Over at Politicalbetting.com thinks Jon Cruddas might throw his hat in the ring for the Labour Party leadership. Guido has spoken to a number of Labour insiders who are divided on the issue. Some say he has to come off the sidelines as a critic and do something now Brown is banished.[…] Read the rest