Bookies sort political favourites from rank outsiders

Political betting is one way of forecasting how this election might go.

Working on the premise that bookies rarely lose money and always do their homework, the odds they are offering might give an overall picture of what the country will look like electorally on May 8.

There has been a remarkable transformation in the fortunes of the leaders of the two main parties. Despite being trusted more by voters, Prime Minister, David Cameron is neck and neck with Labour leader Ed Milliband, to be the PM, with both being offered at 10/11 on.

Just as the opinion polls see the Tories (6/1) with a small lead on Labour (16/1) with the smaller parties likely to hold the balance of power, no overall majority is a very short odds on prospect at 1/6.

But it is in some of the key marginals where the betting could help shed a light.

Thurrock, once a fight between Tories and Labour, taken by only 92 votes by the Conservatives in 2010, looks likely to be taken by UKIP if William Hill’s odds are to be believed. Despite Labour having Milliband’s key aide Polly Billington as candidate, Hill sees UKIP’s Tim Aker as the odds on favourite (8/13) to take the Essex seat.

Hampstead and Kilburn was the number two most marginal seat at the 2010 election, when Labour took it by 42 votes. The bookies are reflecting recent polling data by Lord Ashcroft that saw Labour up by 17pts and Tulip Siddiq, the candidate chosen to replace the outgoing Glenda Jackson, is 1/4 to win.

In Warwickshire North, the third most marginal seat in 2010, taken by the Tories by 54 votes, UKIP’s damaging effect could have most impact. The 0.1% Tory majority has now been transformed to a Labour lead of more than 10 percentage points and the party is very short odds at 2/7. UKIP has stolen a large number of votes from both the Tories and Lib Dems.

In another key marginal, boundary changes mean Labour is likely to take Lancaster and Fleetwood and William Hill offers 2/7.

Labour is short priced to win key target seats in the North West. Government minister and former TV presenter Esther McVey looks likely to lose Wirral West in a close race. Labour are 8/11 on, with McVey even money. Ashcroft polling in March saw Labour with a seven point lead.

Closer to home there’s no money to be made. Labour is short priced in the majority of local constituencies. In West Lancashire Labour is 1/66 for the win, cruising in nearby Sefton Central at 1/50 and in staunchly red Knowsley, it is an even greater 1/100. The Tories are odds on to take South Ribble at 4/11.

The interesting constituency at one stage was Southport, where the Lib Dems faced a threat from both the Tories and Labour. However, sitting MP John Pugh is 13pts up in polling and is now 1/3 to take the seaside seat.

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Paddy Hoey

Paddy Hoey

Dr Paddy Hoey is a lecturer in politics and media at Edge Hill University. His research interests are in the areas of activist media, mediated politics, the public sphere and the internet, social media, Northern Irish politics and Irish republican activism. He completed his PhD in Irish Studies, focussing on Irish Republican politics.

His wider interests lie in the analysis of the effects of citizen and activist journalism on the public sphere, the development of new political identities online and political communication.

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