It Ain’t Over till the Electoral Reform Society Sings


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.

+ + + Ed Miliband Now Bookies Favourite + + +

David Miliband Preparing for Defeat

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 saysThe 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…

Counting Begins

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:

David

Ed

Next Labour Leader :

64%

34%

MP/MEPs’ Favourite :

89%

35%

Member’s Favourite :

67%

36%

Union affiliate’s Favourite :

11%

93%

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.

Nervousness in David Miliband’s Camp

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.

Pollsters Backing Ed V Punters Backing David

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…

Coulson Cleared

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…

UPDATE : Latest betting prices from Political Smarkets – Will Andy Coulson leave? Yes 43% / No 70%.

No Vacancy on Downing Street

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. The damage  is not just jeopardising his current job, but any future high earners he could move on to. So the feelers are going out and seem to centre on three key names…

There may not be an official vacancy, but that isn’t stopping Boris’s spinner and former BBC man Guto Harri putting his ear to the ground. he had been rumoured to be in talks with Welsh language channel S4C about their vacant CEO position, Guido hears that Welsh speaking Harri told them that if Coulson’s job became available he wouldn’t be in the running for the channel no one watches. Though some are worried where that would leave Boris with a re-election battle looming.

Another BBC man, James Lansdale, is also said to have given a nod of the head. This Old Etonian would slip easily into the Cameron circle and is greatly respected by his colleagues. Not that there is a vacancy of course.

Another name in the fray is, as ever, Ben Brogan. His Cameroon contacts are exemplary and second to none. Interestingly Mandrake, in Brogan’s own paper, was keen to keep him out of the runners and riders suggesting instead that Buckingham Palace’s Simon Walker is in the offing rather than their Deputy Editor. They also suggest George Pascoe-Watson, who is by all accounts happy with his new well-rewarded gig at Portland. Guido’s money is still on Coulson.

Aussie Election Neck and Neck

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 […]

+ READ MORE +

UKIP Leadership Race

The race has begun to succeed Lord Pearson as leader of UKIP. He has amused political observers with his candid honesty. Not a strategy for success in politics.

Nigel Farage is favourite, though one wonders if he is really up […]

+ READ MORE +

To AV or not AV? |This is the Question:

“Do you want the United Kingdom to adopt the ‘alternative vote’ system instead of the current ‘first past the post’ system for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons?”

Bit wordy, and the legislation may yet be blocked […]

+ READ MORE +

Punters versus Wonks

It is fair to say that London Labour’s activists and wonkish elite are by and large behind Ed Miliband, unless they are ideological Blairites (like the Progress crowd) or careerist greasy pole climbers like most MPs, in which case they […]

+ READ MORE +



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