General Election 2017: The 10 best odds-against bets ahead of polling day
With the polls opening in under 24 hours, we asked our seat-by-seat previewer Neil Monnery to pick out the top 10 value bets ahead of the 2017 General Election...
"Theresa May rolled up into Don Valley last week where Labour are defending close to a 9,000 majority. She's not going there unless the canvassing shows her that it is very much a winnable seat."
Dennis Skinner should not be in any sort of trouble. Having served as an MP for his constituency unbroken since 1970, the 85 year-old is one of the most recognisable faces in the House of Commons. With Labour surging in the polls, any thought he might lose his seat seems to have cooled. Yet Tory sources are sounding increasingly confident that they could topple him. With my thought that there is a significant shy Tory vote ebbing away from Labour in strong Brexit areas, at 5/1 this seems like it is overpriced.
Another theory I have is watch where the leaders are going. Two years ago most pundits were scratching their heads as to why David Cameron campaigned in Yeovil where the Lib Dems had a 13,000 majority and the polls pointing towards a hung parliament. As we now know, the Tories would go on to win that seat. Theresa May rolled up into Don Valley last week where Labour are defending close to a 9,000 majority. She's not going there unless the canvassing shows her that it is very much a winnable seat.
Exactly the same as above. Why on Earth is Theresa May holding a rally in Bradford three days before the country goes to the polls? It isn't because she wants to put Labour on the back foot. It is because the Tories believe it is yet another seat where Labour are vulnerable to a Conservative surge thanks to their tough stance on security and Brexit. Bradford South has been red since the end of World War II. This could well end in the early hours of Friday morning.
I know the electorate went to the polls in this seat not a few months ago for a by-election. Labour would win that with a 2,620 majority on a 38% turnout. The big difference this time is the turnout could well be double and UKIP are reeling. The Tories should be able to pick-up a considerable amount of this vote leaving it as a Tory lean. To get odds against in this scenario is always a bonus.
This one is based purely on historical factors and looking at the candidate line-up. Even in the 1997 landslide, Labour only won this seat by 7,004 votes. That isn't a massive amount considering some of the swings over the country. Labour have consistently won here since but in 2010 when we saw a very competitive campaign, they held on only 531. With no UKIP contender and Labour potentially haemorrhaging votes to the two other anti-Tory parties in the Lib Dems and the Greens, this is a toss-up so to get 2/1 seems decent enough to me.
Away from areas that voted to leave the European Union by a significant margin, the Tories aren't as dominant. One case in point is the south coast seat of Eastbourne. One of two neighbouring constituencies where the Lib Dems lost in 2015 due to poor tactical voting. This time around there seems to be a more concerted effort to rally behind the most obvious Anti-Tory candidate in many places. With a majority of just 733, clever campaigning should be enough to make it a rare Lib Dem gain in England.
The neighbouring seat of the above written about Eastbourne. Pretty much exactly the same scenario is playing out here. This seat did vote slightly to remain (whereas Eastbourne went slightly the other way). In Lewis though, the party are bedding in a new candidate, which is a small knock. Still, all they have to do is squeeze that Anti-Tory vote and this will go yellow. The Greens finally stood down and endorsed Kelly-Marie Blundell and they took home 2,784 votes last time out. If even half of them go Lib Dem then they will be the favourite.
This might be heart over head but I still don't understand the big move away from Simon Hughes here. The Lib Dems were odds on just ten days ago but now are all the way out to 13/5. An unbelievable amount of time and resources have been invested into getting the 66 year-old back on to the green benches. If you walk around the constituency you'll see that the party are winning the poster and skateboard war by a huge margin. It is a near 4,500 majority to overturn but those odds are way too long considering he was the betting favourite for most of the campaign.
This one might be off the radar but all the noise coming out of the Lib Dems here is that that they are neck and neck with the Tories and it will come down to the Labour squeeze. Jeremy Corbyn's candidate in the seat is expected to get around 15% of the vote but won't get anywhere near the two contenders. A huge concerted effort is underway to get these people to hold their noise and vote for Tim Farron's local candidate. If enough do then this one will go yellow. If they don't the Tories are likely to hold on. At 5/2 it seems like a value play.
I wrote about Plymouth, Sutton & Devonport in detail yesterday but suffice to say it is still one of the best value Labour plays around. It is a seat many expected to go red two years ago but the Tories held on by a measly 523 votes. This time Labour aren't fighting as many seats around the south west so they'll be putting in even more effort here. The huge student population will also help if they've been able to get them registered at their term tide addresses.
My final thought going into polling day from a betting standpoint is I think the Tories are more competitive in hard Brexit seats than the recent polling indicates. I also think in metropolitan areas along with a handful of southern and south western seats, Labour and the Lib Dems are better placed than the markets indicate to unseat incumbent Conservatives.
You can follow @neilmonnery on twitter where he'll be updating constituency odds throughout the General Election.