Nigel Farage’s Grand National Tip: Soll at 20/1

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We offered a charity bet to all of the main party leaders, and the only one to take us up was Nigel Farage. He’s had his £500 on Soll at 20/1, with any proceeds going to the RNLI.

Funnily enough, that was the horse I was planning to back. Not sure whether to be pleased or not that Nigel agrees with me. I ought to point out that I don’t remember backing a Grand National winner since the 1980s.

For political science groupies, the selection has to be Bob Ford at 50/1. I don’t think the horse was named after Manchester University’s Rob Ford, co-author of the excellent UKIP study Revolt on the Right, but I could be wrong.

If you fancy a bet, you can find the latest odds on the big race here.

Tory odds keep on falling.

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The odds on the Tories coming out as the biggest party are now shorter than at any time since November 2010 with Ladbrokes. Here’s how we bet immediately after the 2010 general election:

  • 4/11 Conservatives
  • 5/2 Labour
  • 16/1 Liberal Democrats

The Conservative odds hit an all time high in June 2013, at 2/1. One shrewd punter had £10,000 at that price. In fact, during the almost five years we’ve had this market open, over 84% of all the money staked has been for the Tories to be the largest party. That’s slightly surprising, given that for just over half of that time, Labour have been favourites.

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We’ve taken a grand total of £82 on the Lib Dems during the entire parliament, which is quite a bit less than on the Greens.

Election Betting Podcast

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Professional pollsters Kieran Pedley and Rob Vance were kind enough to invite me on to their Polling Matters podcast this week.

It’s definitely worth checking out their other episodes as well; I’d particularly recommend their chat with Chris Hanratty as being worth a listen

 

Labour ahead in the polls – Tories ahead in the betting.

A good few days for Labour in the polls. Perhaps it has something to do with the tax avoidance issue, perhaps not. Has this been reflected in the way Ladbrokes’ clients have been betting on the election? Not as far as I can see.

In fact, the pattern has been fairly consistent. On the outright market on which party will win most seats, more and more money is going on the Tories and hardly anyone wants to back Labour, irrespective of polling movements. The Tories became favourites three weeks ago and there is no sign of that moving back.

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Whilst most political science models predict a polling shift towards the Tories as we get closer to election day, there isn’t much sign of any movement in recent weeks. It’s been close for months and it’s hard to discern any real trend. Of course, the likelihood that Labour will lose a lot of seats to the SNP is a big factor. At the same time, it seems as if the Tories are doing relatively poorly in England and will struggle to prevent dozens of losses to Labour.

Based on our current odds in each individual seat, here are the 36 seats that the Conservatives won in 2010, but Labour are now favourites to take in May. The Lab Win % is the implied chance of a Labour gain from our constituency odds.

Constituency Lab Win %
Hendon 73%
Enfield North 73%
Cardiff North 72%
Brentford and Isleworth 72%
Wolverhampton South West 70%
Sherwood 70%
Weaver Vale 70%
Corby 69%
Lancaster and Fleetwood 68%
Warwickshire North 68%
Plymouth Sutton and Devonport 66%
Waveney 66%
Warrington South 65%
Broxtowe 65%
Hastings and Rye 64%
Hove 63%
Amber Valley 63%
Bedford 62%
Lincoln 62%
Carlisle 60%
Dewsbury 60%
Bury North 59%
Erewash 58%
Stroud 58%
Croydon Central 57%
Morecambe and Lunesdale 57%
Brighton Kemptown 55%
Ealing Central and Acton 54%
Nuneaton 53%
Halesowen and Rowley Regis 53%
Chester, City of 52%
Stockton South 52%
Pudsey 52%
Keighley 52%
Ipswich 51%
Cannock Chase 38%

Labour already hold Corby, thanks to a by-election win. Cannock Chase is an outlier; Labour are narrow favourites to win but have less than a 50% chance because UKIP make this one a three way marginal.

The Tories cannot afford to lose all of these seats and remain the largest party; but as long as 80% of all the money we are taking is on the Conservatives coming out ahead, the betting markets will remain in their favour.

Percentage of stakes placed on each party

Percentage of stakes placed on each party

Tories take over as General Election favourites

For the first time since March 2012, we now make the Conservatives favourites to win most seats at the general election.

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Polling data over the last few days has been reasonably favourable for the Tories, without showing anything particularly dramatic. Two factors in particular have been key:

  • Continuing polling evidence of a solid SNP lead in Scotland
  • A “Green Surge” which could enable the Conservatives to hold on to a number of seats where the left vote splits.

Even when Labour were a lot further ahead in the polls, political punters have been reluctant to back them. Here is the percentage of money staked since we opened the market immediately after the 2010 election:

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The overwhelming majority of punters want to be with the Tories and now the odds reflect that. You can find our full range of general election odds here.

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Why I’m backing a Labour minority government

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I get asked a lot for a prediction for the next general election. It’s difficult to get away from saying the same thing as virtually everyone else: It’ll probably be a hung parliament and, more likely than not, Labour will have the most seats.

Still, as a bookie, I’m more interested in making good bets rather than predictions, and I’m growing increasingly keen on the chances of a Labour minority government being formed after May 7th.

Pretty much all of the forecasting models are telling us that a hung parliament is now extremely likely. Stephen Fischer’s latest projection made it a 60% chance. Chris Hanretty’s model now puts it at 89%. Ladbrokes’ latest quote of 4/11 is equivalent to a 73% chance. Despite most pundits and political scientists anticipating some sort of swing-back to the Tories from the current polling, the electoral system currently gives Labour enough of an advantage to make them favourites to win most seats.

Check out the excellent May2015 site which provides a handy comparison of the various forecasts.

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Plenty of people look at the electoral maths and see an obvious opportunity for a Labour/SNP coalition, which has been very well backed at Ladbrokes. I think it’s extremely unlikely that the SNP would want to enter such an arrangment. Why would they want the hassle of being tied to a government which is going to have to make a lot of unpopular decisions? There is also the problem of the SNP not voting on England & Wales only legislation. An SNP/Lab coalition with just over 325 MPs might not actually have a parliamentary majority for that stuff. Either way, they are much better off sitting on the sidelines and propping up a Labour minority government for a while, in return for a few Scottish goodies.

A Lab/LD coalition is more plausible in my opinion, but at the moment it’s not clear that the Lib Dems will win enough seats to make that happen either. Politically, it’s not going to be easy for them to jump straight from a Tory led government to a Labour led one. I don’t rule it out, but I think some sort of confidence and supply arrangement would work better for everyone involved, at least for a while.

So, that leaves a Labour minority government as a highly plausible outcome. I’m on.

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