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 some time to work out what they’ve said”.

UK bookmakers had Labor as hot favourites, Guido just now got a few quid on the Coalition opposition winning at 35%. Well worth a punt…

UPDATE 21.30 : Coalition now given a 75% of removing Julia Gillard, it’ll all come down to how the independents go.

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 for it given his health. He hasn’t said he will run for sure, yet punters still make him the runaway favourite. The rest of the likely runners include Christopher Monckton, the leading global warming sceptic and former adviser to Maggie. David Campbell Bannerman is a policy guy, former Tory SpAd and latterly a spinner before getting elected as an MEP.

Gerard Batten is another MEP and former London mayoral candidate, Spanish Marta Andreasen is the EU auditor turned UKIP MEP.

Guido has put a few quid on Monckton on the grounds that the outsider has fewer internal UKIP enemies and UKIPpers do like exotic characters…

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 by Labour and Tory backbenchers and the Nats.

Currently punters give AV a 64% chance of passing…

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 are behind David Miliband. The headbanging Tory hating activists go for Balls and lefties back Abbott with Burnham picking up a Northern token vote.

Supporters of Ed Miliband are adamant, despite polls showing David has more than twice as much support among Labour supporters, that he will win on second preferences.  Will Straw at LeftFootForward has even built a predictive model that forecasts Ed scraping through. Yet punters persist in making David Miliband the runaway favourite. Are the punters or the wonks right?

Guido accepts that Ed will probably win the union’s endorsements, though the Fabian’s Sunda Katawala argues that doesn’t necessarily mean he will win the votes of union members. Punters agree with Will and give Ed a 60% chance of winning the union votes.

Guido and punters make David the 80% favourite to win the MP/MEPs vote.  Will forecasts it will be closer than that but accepts that David will win this part of the electoral college.

It is over the membership vote that Will’s model and punters differ dramatically. Based on a non-representative, self-selecting poll of LabourList’s readers (DM 34.9% EM 30.8%), he predicts that the second preferences from the more left-wing candidates will switch to Ed and he will thus beat his older brother. The argument being that since Ed is positioned to the left of David, second preferences won’t tack right to the most centrist candidate. This is delusional.

Not all the voters will see the candidates in such finely calibrated positions on the centre-to-left spectrum, much of the electorate will vote on character and personality. Apart from Diane Abbott the policy positions of the candidates are in reality very closely bunched and Ed Balls’ new found tactical leftism is transparently risible.  Experience shows that second preferences tend to break in correlation with first preferences. The correlation isn’t perfect, but nor is it so weak as to be insignificant. Yet Labour sympathisers in the media and even more objective pundits like Toby Young believe Ed will come through.

So if it will be decided by the membership vote, is the LabourList poll accurate? It is unlikely that a self-selecting web poll will be. YouGov actually put Balls ahead of Ed Miliband but behind David with Labour voters (and another private poll by Survation put Diane Abbot within 5% of Ed among union members).  With the polling confusion Guido puts little reliance on the sampling and absent of clear polling evidence Guido opts to “follow the money”. David Miliband has raised more money than all the rest and he has the weight of  punter’s money backing him. It will be close, but Guido suspects Ed will lose to his big brother.

Osborne Ties Up the Bookies

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. At least someone was a winner out of this budget.

Coronation or Will Cruddas Stand?

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. Others doubt he has the bottle and think he’ll calculate he can’t win and chicken out. If he doesn’t stand it will be another coronation for David Miliband.

The bookies have this morning marked Cruddas up to second favourite ahead of Balls and Ed Miliband. Burnham hasn’t ruled himself out either…

UPDATE : On the basis of a tip and some clues Guido called Matthew MacGregor from Blue State Digital’s London office to ask if his firm was going to be running the Cruddas online operation.  No denial has been forthcoming, so with those clues and the sudden overnight movement on the betting markets it is “Game On” as they say in Labour’s new media circles…

When Will Gordon Go?

As was widely predicted before the election, Gordon is still squatting in Downing Street. He doesn’t seem able to accept that he personally has been comprehensively rejected.

There is of course the possibility that the LibDems could prop up a Labour regime, but that at the moment is a theoretical possibility. The LibDems have made it pretty clear that the message is “don’t call us, we’ll call you”, in any event it wouldn’t be Gordon they would be calling. 

His demise is the first pre-condition of any possible deal…

UPDATE : Punters currently think that Brown has a 28% chance of still being Labour leader at the next PMQs – from either the opposition or government benches.  Meanwhile the next Labour leader betting is pretty busy, Miliband is runaway favourite for some reason, Darling is also well backed as a caretaker safe pair of hands.  Guido has a few quid on Hattie Harman…

Final State of the Campaigns

Above is the Guy News poll of polls taken from tonight’s final round of polls. Below is where we started the campaign.  The big story is clear, the LibDems have gained massively from the TV debates taking 6% from the […]

Labour Third, Pollsters and Punters Expect Cameron to be PM

This is the latest rolling average of the last week’s polls.  Political punters give Cameron a 84% chance of being the next Prime Minister, which seems like a bit of a sell given punters currently make a hung parliament […]

State of the Campaigns : LibDems Peaking

The poll rise of the LibDems appears to have been checked in the averages, they are under a lot more scrutiny now with the front pages of the Tory press literally throwing the kitchen sink (on his expenses) at Clegg.  […]

It’s Not Just the Leaders Debating
Hague, Miliband and Davey Next

Given the profound effect ninety minutes of television has had on the fickle electorate, it will be worth keeping an eye on the other debates happening in the run up to polling day.

The Daily Politics have organised almost all […]



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Quote of the Day

Adam Spiegel, producer of Nazi themed “The Producers” musical says…

“Margate seemed a perfect place to start the promotion. I’m disappointed but not entirely surprised to see that UKIP are trying to hitch a publicity ride on the back of the show.”

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