Matthew Shadsy of Ladbrokes on the WH2020 betting phenomenon of Andrew Yang

March 19th, 2019

Why the US betting support?

The 2020 US Presidential Market is gathering steam right now with most of the top-tier Democratic possibles having announced their candidature. Just waiting on Joe Biden who has recently become favourite for the nomination at Ladbrokes. No doubt his price will drop a little further if and when he announces, but the bigger impact on the overall market would be if he says no.

Oddly though, the biggest loser with Ladbrokes would be someone who the vast majority of US voters have never heard of, and typically polls at 1% (if pollsters even bother to include him):Andrew Yang.

He’s been backed down from 200/1 into 33/1 to be elected President and now shows at just 16/1 fifth favourite to be the Democrats’ nominee. Amazingly he’s now ahead of people like Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker in the betting.

He seems like a smart guy and is pushing a few unique policy positions, notably Universal Basic Income. His odds are no doubt massively influenced by his appeal to a young, internet savvy fan base and this feels a lot like the huge 2008 gamble on Ron Paul to become President. Despite hovering at around 5% in polls of Republican voters for most of the run up to the primaries, Paul got down to around 12/1 in the outright Presidential odds as an army of fans backed him to win.

Also, take a look at how highly American punters like Yang’s chances. Here are the latest odds from PredictIt.

That makes him about 9/1 on the only platform that US citizens can legally bet on politics. Although people from outside of the US can’t trade on PredictIt, it will have a knock on effect on the rest of the worldwide betting market, as a lot of people will no doubt assume that the US facing odds are more accurate. I think there’s a big problem with this though which arises from the very restrictive terms on which PredictIt allows people to bet. For regulatory reasons, they don’t allow people to have more than $850 at stake on any one contract, which hugely limits the ability of layers to resist market moves on outsiders like Yang (who probably has a lot of small-staking fans).

PredictIt also has some quite high commission charges, which makes it quite hard for anyone to correct any arbitrage opportunities, even if they could get access to US and non-US odds. So, we might continue to see some pretty big differences in the two markets right up until election day.

On the plus side for Yang, the rules for who gets in the Democratic debates later in the year mean he’ll probably make it (because of the number of individual doners to his campaign) whatever his opinion poll rating shows. Perhaps that will give him a big boost, although he probably wouldn’t get more than a few minutes to say anything very much.

I won’t be backing him, but I have had a bit of money on another little known outsider, Pete Buttigieg, who I think might have a better chance of making a run for it. Ladbrokes have him at 50/1 to be elected POTUS. Don’t know if anyone has any past examples of 50/1 Presidential election winning bets?

Matthew Shaddick


You can’t blame Bercow for enforcing what is a sensible precedent

March 19th, 2019

The real problem is the totally divided Tory Party

The speaker, John Bercow, as you’d expect, gets a lot of stick from the right wing press this morning following his ruling yesterday stopping the tabling of the government motion for a third time.

Sure a consequence of it is that it might make Brexit happening a tad less likely and that might be what Mr Bercow himself  wants. If he did go wrong, I’d suggest, it was not blocking last week’s vote which also fell foul of the precedent.

Most bodies that I’ve sat on or have been associated with over the years have had rules similar to that which Bercow is trying to enforce. Once something has been decided then you can’t go on repeatedly putting it forward within a specific timescale.

The real problem is that the Conservative Party remains totally divided on the issue of Europe a fault line that has existed for several decades. Whoever had been the Tory leader and prime minister at this point was going to find it very difficult securing the agreement of the Commons particularly given the fact that the party is in a minority.

I don’t think that Mrs May is helped by her rigidity and her apparent lack of ability to sell things. But you have to admire her resilience.

In many ways the developments over the past few months on Brexit have totally justified her decision two years ago to seek to increase the party’s majority by calling an early election. She foresaw then that there weren’t the numbers, given the party splits, to get things through the Commons. The only problem was that when it came to voting in June 2017 she lost seats rather than gained them.

Where do we go from here? My guess is that they’ll be trying to find a way of getting it before the House again in a manner that Bercow will accept. It might just be the fact that because Brexit has appeared in jeopardy over the past 24 hours could make a third vote, if it happens, more likely to produce the outcome that Mrs May seeks.

Mike Smithson


While all the focus is Speaker Bercow

March 19th, 2019

And if you haven’t seen this

The main overnight Brexit news


Bercow’s ruling adds to the Brexit uncertainty

March 18th, 2019

It’s looking more like TMay will have to ask for more time

So another day and more uncertainty over what is going to happen over brexit just 11 days away from the March 29th article 50 deadline. The Commons speaker, John Bercow, ruled in the house this afternoon that the government could not bring the deal plan back to the house for a further vote. He was applying the the rule that in any one session The Commons can only make a decision once.

This was very much a surprise and makes it more difficult for Theresa May who had been hoping that she might just get enough MPs to support her deal in vote intended to take place tomorrow. My guess is that some smart wordsmith with be trying to rephrase the motion that’s been rejected twice in a form that has the same effect but is different. It would be then be back in Bercow’s court.

A problem for ministers is that there has been bad blood between the Tories and the Speaker going back to the coalition years.

Unless a procedure fix can be found then the next stage is surely going to be the government having to ask Brussels for an extension to the article 50 period. The problem here is that it is thought that ministers would have to state a reason. The other 27 Nations within the EU are hardly going to grant the request unless they can see what it is for.

Those hoping for another referendum have been heartened by the news and on Betfair it is now a 28% chance that such an event will take place this year.

Mike Smithson


The betting money’s going on the Commons approving the deal

March 18th, 2019

Betdata.io chart of movement on the Betfair exchange

Up from a 16% chance to a 32% one in five days

At the start of another dramatic week on Brexit in the Commons there has been more news of CON MPs saying they are ready to back the deal just 10 days away from the Article 50 deadline.

What we don’t know is whether there will be enough of them in order to push the total beyond that which is required for Mrs May to get a majority. She’s failed before but this time with the deadline hovering before everybody it might just be that this goes through. At least that is what the betting markets are starting think as seen in the chart of the Betfair Exchange above.

It has been fundamental to Theresa May’s strategy throughout that when faced with the prospective of No Deal and possibly the loss of Brexit altogether her party would get together behind backing what she has been trying to get agreement for for months.

Will it work? Will some LAB or other party MPs either abstain or shift over to her side? The Indy’s John Rentoul, who has been keeping a close eye on the actual numbers, was suggesting yesterday that the only way this could go through if was if a number of Labour MPs moved to back it.

The view is that this will only happen if the chances of it succeeding look pretty good. There’s no point in being a LAB rebel and “voting with the Tories” quotes if it ends in failure.

Meanwhile there is this:

Mike Smithson


The Leaver case for a second referendum

March 18th, 2019

A guest slot by Dots

Once upon a time a grand and determined queen wanted to build a bold new home on the hilltop. Everyday her men would work hard to build the palace only to find on following day their work undone in piles of rubble. The queen was advised to seek help of a local boy born to a virgin mother. The boy advised why the palace could not be built, in a pool beneath the hill two dragons were entwined in combat. He told the queen to dig looking for the lake and the dragons, only once their conflict is resolved can the palace stand and the lands be at peace.

Here in present day is an argument giving UK the best opportunity to come together and move on results from a second referendum endorsing a form of brexit. I will now explain this argument from the point of view of voting leave and wishing to see the 2016 result respected.

A few hours after 2016 result Cameron was in EU asking for a form of leave as close as possible to his deal, still today in the minds of some who could torpedo MV3 this week, Common Market 2.0 was that leave on the ballot paper. Norwegians walk around in their form of vassalage boasting they are not in EU, some claim this also is the leave Britain voted for. Others say Canada+ is leave voters wanted, and others say its May’s deal voters endorsed.

The option was leave, the campaign didn’t paint a picture of leaving with no deal nor May’s controversial deal anymore than it defined Common Market 2.0, Canada FTA+ or Norwegian vassalage. Some of these leave outcomes are contradictory and completely different end points.

Now let’s be honest, if polls showed leave with 20 point lead if there was second referendum, would many be very hostile to a new public vote on the deal, because it’s is so clearly undemocratic and brexit betrayal, actually be in favour?

This is how I answer the question. It does not surprise me brexiteers are hostile to second referendum. They have convinced themselves that the perfect storm that won them 2016 would not be repeated. They would lose brexit. But if they are correct or not in that certainty of defeat, (side stepping if they should be allowed to reshape Britain if they are convinced they couldn’t win again tomorrow) their opinion doesn’t matter in terms of democratic steps that can tie up this conflict between direct and representative democracy.

Giving people a vague open ended option and no say in how political lords and masters interpret and impose it, is recipe for impasse and unhappy outcome rather than strong democracy. It’s actually easy for leavers to advocate a 2nd referendum on the basis that the 2016 vote told politicians to go off and make a good plan for it. A second vote is endorsing or rejecting that plan/stitch up MPs come up with, because if you genuinely support direct democracy over representative, this sequencing completes good model of direct democracy. It’s identical to democracy government insists underpins industrial relations.

The reality of the impasse today is Leavers arguing the best democratic outcome is let the executive or representative interpret and decide the 2016 leave vote. I argue let the people have a say in how MPs ultimately interpret 2016 result, I argue this not to bury brexit, but to save brexit from becoming a bad deal or vassalage. I argue it as our best opportunity to unearth and separate those warring dragons and restore peace to these lands.



Betting on a Peterborough by election in 2019

March 17th, 2019

A 16% return in just over a month?

This market by Ladbrokes is not on the result of any potential by election but whether there will be one in 2019. The recall petition in Peterborough opens on Tuesday and ends on the 1st of May 2019 meaning this bet will pay out in a little over six weeks.

I think the nature of the conviction and claiming a salary whilst in prison would enrage voters in all circumstances. Coupled with the polarised nature of the country over Brexit now matter how she votes (or abstains) on Brexit she’ll annoy voters which might see a few more signatures collected.

The dynamics of North Antrim clearly don’t apply here where the first ever recall process occurred but insufficient signatures were received to trigger a by election. With both parties urging the convicted criminal Fiona Onasanya to stand down as an MP so I think the threshold of 6,967 signatures to trigger a by election will be reached.

If you want to understand how the recall process works click this link.




Labour’s path to victory. The seats that could put Labour in power

March 17th, 2019

Link to the map above

Imagine, if you will, Jeremy Corbyn beaming and waving from the steps of 10 Downing Street, installed in power after a general election victory. On most current polls this looks unlikely: Labour are well adrift, perhaps as much as 10 points behind the Conservatives. Politics, however, is particularly volatile at present and Labour managed to turn around a much bigger deficit than that in 2017. Such fantasies or nightmares cannot be dismissed as fanciful just yet.

If Labour are going to win the next election, how are they going to do it? For a start, they’ll need substantially all of the 262 seats that they won at the last election, including those taken by those who have since left the party, but on top of that they’ll need gains. Above is an interactive map of Labour’s 100 most attainable targets, representing every seat that could be taken on a 7% swing. That’s a big swing, but Labour would need to take nearly two thirds of these to get an overall majority of one.  

I have categorised these by Brexicity. Where Leave or Remain won with more than 60% of the vote, I’ve labelled them strongly in that category. More close-fought seats are labelled Moderately Leave or Remain (as appropriate).

The first thing to note is just how many of these are in Scotland: 28. Even if Labour would settle for being the largest party, eight of the 30 most attainable targets are in Scotland too. That’s wholly disproportionate – fewer than one in ten seats in Parliament are Scottish.

Labour can win without Scotland but it would make their job a heck of a lot harder.  They would need nearly a 7% swing to get a bare majority. This would mean them taking seats like Southport, Worthing East & Shoreham and Cities of London & Westminster, seats that they have never taken before.

Labour’s dismal polling in Scotland should be a huge concern to them. If turning things around in Scotland isn’t in their top three priorities right now, they are making a big mistake.

What about the question of Brexit? Superficially, it’s more or less a wash.  47 seats leaned Remain and 53 leaned to Leave. But once you take out Scotland and London, just 11 out of 62 target seats voted to Remain in the EU. If you wondered why Labour haven’t seemed more enthusiastic about courting Remain voters, there’s your answer.

(This may nevertheless be a strategic error. Labour’s voters are disproportionately drawn from the ranks of Remainers even in heavily Leave-voting seats and will form a majority of their voter base in almost every seat they hold. A high priority should be keeping these voters happy. Manifestly many of them currently are not.)

Those 62 target seats outside London and Scotland are in the main very different from Labour’s traditional metropolitan strongholds. Labour have been focussing on the concerns of towns and this is why. Gloucester, Colchester, Carlisle, Mansfield and Telford are very different places but all have the similar concerns of third division places in a world that to many seems as if it is increasingly being run for the benefit exclusively of those in the top tier.

Labour is looking to move the conversation on from Brexit. That may be an impossible task but it is its best chance of further progress.

Alastair Meeks