The Liberal Democrats’ chances seat by seat

Rob Ford wrote an interesting round up of the Liberal Democrats’ prospects for Sunday’s Observer. I thought I’d compare his summary to the latest odds in each seat.

In the table below, I’ve converted the odds into an implied “win chance” for each of the 57 existing Lib Dem seats. If you check his article out, you’ll see what each of the “Ford Ratings” is about

Seat Win Chance Ford Rating
Westmorland and Lonsdale 86% SAFE
Norfolk North 80% SAFE
Orkney and Shetland 80% SAFE
Twickenham 79% SAFE
Colchester 76% SAFE
Lewes 74% SAFE
Bath 73% OPEN
Thornbury and Yate 73% SAFE
Carshalton and Wallington 71% LOCAL
Hazel Grove 70% OPEN
Yeovil 69% SAFE
Cambridge 68% URBAN
Southport 65% LOCAL
Cheltenham 63% LOCAL
Kingston and Surbiton 63% LOCAL
Leeds North West 62% URBAN
Sutton and Cheam 62% LOCAL
Bermondsey and Old Southwark 61% LOCAL
Eastleigh 61% SAFE
Eastbourne 58% LOCAL
Brecon and Radnorshire 58% HEARTLAND
Sheffield Hallam 56% URBAN
Ceredigion 56% HEARTLAND
Ross, Skye and Lochaber 54% LOCAL
Cheadle 53% HEARTLAND
Birmingham Yardley 51% URBAN
Bristol West 47% URBAN
Cornwall North 47% HEARTLAND
Torbay 47% HEARTLAND
Berwick-upon-Tweed 36% OPEN
Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk 35% LOST
Portsmouth South 33% LOST
Devon North 32% HEARTLAND
Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross 31% LOST
Chippenham 30% LOST
Hornsey and Wood Green 30% URBAN
Wells 28% LOST
Bradford East 26% LOST
Taunton Deane 26% OPEN
Fife North East 25% LOST
Cardiff Central 24% URBAN
Dorset Mid and Poole North 23% OPEN
Somerton and Frome 23% OPEN
Dunbartonshire East 22% LOST
St Austell and Newquay 22% HEARTLAND
Solihull 21% LOST
Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine 18% LOST
Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey 16% LOST
Burnley 16% LOST
Gordon 16% OPEN
Edinburgh West 15% LOST
Brent Central 10% OPEN
Manchester Withington 10% LOST
Redcar 10% OPEN
Argyll and Bute 8% LOST
Norwich South 7% LOST

So, we mostly agree with Rob about where the safest and most vulnerable seats are. The betting says that Eastleigh is the most precarious of Rob’s “safe” category, with a 39% chance that the Lib Dems will lose it. On the flip side, the odds say that Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk might not be the lost cause that Rob suggests – we give them a 35% chance of holding on there.

Looking at his list of possible surprise Liberal Democrat gains, we agree on Montgomeryshire and Watford as being the top two prospects, but the betting has a few above his third choice of St Albans:

Seat Gain Chance
Watford 34%
Montgomeryshire 28%
Maidstone and The Weald 20%
Truro and Falmouth 16%
Winchester 15%
Oxford West and Abingdon 15%
Cornwall South East 14%
St Albans 11%

Clegg behind in the polls, still ahead in the betting

Some more fascinating Ashcroft polling out today which, overall, doesn’t look too bad for the Lib Dems.


The one big exception is Nick Clegg’s situation in Sheffield Hallam, with another poll showing Labour on course to take his seat. Before this new poll electionforecast gave Clegg an 83% chance of holding on whereas the Polling Observatory‘s last forecast had him at 14%. The Ladbrokes’ odds this morning rated him as a 71% chance.

Clegg’s odds have drifted from 2/5 to 4/7 as a result of today’s poll. That works out to suggest he still has around a 57% chance of winning.


The other big movers in reaction to today’s surveys:

  • Tories in to 1/8 from 1/2 to retain Camborne & Redruth
  • Liberal Democrats go from 10/11 to 1/3 to hold Cambridge

You can find all of our betting on every single UK constituency here.

Any Liberal Democrat GAIN just 6/4

Mike Smithson thinks that the Liberal Democrats can win back Montgomeryshire from the Tories and tipped it to his army of readers yesterday. That’s now a 9/4 shot with Ladbrokes. You can now have the option of backing the Lib Dems to win any seat in the country that they did not win in 2010. It’s 6/4 they do, and 1/2 that they don’t.


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According to our odds on every seat in Britain, here are their Top Ten chances.

Constituency 2010 Winner LD win odds
1 Watford Conservative 13/8
2 Montgomeryshire Conservative 9/4
3 Oxford West & Abingdon Conservative 10/3
4 Ashfield Labour 7/2
5 Truro & Falmouth Conservative 4/1
6 Winchester Conservative 5/1
7 Maidstone & The Weald Conservative 5/1
8 Cornwall South East Conservative 11/2
9 St Albans Conservative 6/1
10 Newton Abbot Conservative 7/1

Click here for all of our latest general election odds.


How many seats will the Lib Dems win?

Fancy trying to predict exactly how many seats the Liberal Democrats will win next May? Ladbrokes have now issued some odds on their exact total.


Just in case you need any help, I’ve collated some predictions/forecasts from a few others on the chart below.

You can read Iain Dale’s seat by seat guide here, which helped him get to his prediction of 28 a few weeks ago.



East Dunbartonshire: SNP now favourites.

Constituency profile courtesy of

Constituency profile courtesy of

Pretty amazing. Having come fourth with 11% in 2010, the SNP are now favourites to win the East Dunbartonshire seat next May and unseat the Lib Dem incumbent, Jo Swinson.


This could be one of the most interesting three way marginals in the whole of the UK, and we’ve seen support for all three main contenders. The shrewdies who took 50/1 about the SNP in the days before the referendum can be quite pleased with their position now.

Perhaps the SNP should be even shorter. If you take a look at their probabilities would produce odds of:

  • 4/9 SNP
  • 4/1 Labour
  • 10/1 Lib Dems

I would advise anyone to have a good look at the FAQs on their site before committing too much money on the basis of their forecasts. Predicting Scottish seats is incredibly tricky at the moment. The basic problem is how much can you anchor forecasts to the 2010 results, or do we just accept that the world of Scottish politics has totally changed and start from scratch? We’ll have a better idea once we get some constituency level polling in the New Year.


The 50/1 unknown who might be the next Liberal Democrat leader


The Liberal Democrat PPC for Ashfield, Jason Zadrozny, has been the subject of some interesting market support to succeed Nick Clegg as party leader in recent days. We added him to the betting at 100/1 a couple of weeks back; he’s now 50/1 and we took some more money at that price today.

Sure, we’ve only taken a few hundred pounds on him, but that’s already more than we’ve taken on better known possibilities like Jo Swinson and Simon Hughes.


The first major hurdle for him to clear is getting into parliament. The Lib Dems did a great job of getting within 200 votes of winning the seat in 2010, making it the second biggest Lab-LD swing in the country. It might seem unlikely that they can gain any new seats next May, but we make it only 4/1 that they unseat Gloria De Piero here. This is a seat where it’s easy to imagine that UKIP might poll quite well and disproportionately take votes away from Labour.


I suppose it’s extremely unlikely he could win an immediate post-election leadership contest, if Clegg does step down. Perhaps a few years down the line though; after all Clegg was only an MP for two years before he became leader (although he already had a reasonably high profile as a former MEP).

One other relatively unknown name to keep an eye on is the PPC for Watford, Dorothy Thornhill. The popular Mayor is only 13/8 to win the seat for the Lib Dems next May and if the party wanted a female leader, there might not be much competition around after the election. She’s only 33/1 to succeed Clegg.

Could the Greens beat the Lib Dems at the General Election?


We’ve cut the odds on the Greens out-polling the Lib Dems in 2015 from 5/1 to 4/1 today. That follows last night YouGov poll which put the Greens ahead.

Pretty staggering considering that at the last general election the Liberal Democrats got twenty five times as many votes as the Greens. There’s a good Telegraph article here which highlights some of the main issues behind the Green rise in the polls.

I think there are a couple of factors which would make me slightly wary about taking the 4/1 though.

1. How many candidates will they stand? In 2010, the Greens stood in just 310 UK constituencies i.e. under half. This time they are reported to be aiming for three quarters, which would be something around 490. No matter how bad things get for the Lib Dems, I’m sure they will still be on the ballot in the 631 seats outside of Northern Ireland (and the Speaker’s seat).So the Greens would have to get 28% more votes per seat contested than the Lib Dems to outscore them nationwide. That might not be as difficult as it sounds; presumably the seats they won’t contest will be the less favourable ones for them anyway.

2. Will they fade away in the campaign? If the current TV debate proposals go ahead, then Nick Clegg will be in two of the three debates. The Greens won’t feature in any. The Green’s most skilled media performer, Caroline Lucas, will be busy trying to hang on to their one seat in Brighton Pavilion (she’s currently a marginal favourite), so the face of their campaign will be leader Natalie Bennett, who hasn’t convinced everybody yet.