General Election 2017: The six best Labour constituency bets
Rather than backing Labour to win the election, Paul Krishnamurty says there's no reason to take such a risk when there are easier ways to profit from their advance. Check out his best six Labour bets here...
"Wirral South is a cracking bet where the odds are all about national swing, that does not appear to relevant in the specific seat. Popular MP Alison McGovern is from the area and, in 2015's catastrophic national defeat, won more votes than her predecessor managed in Tony Blair's 2001 landslide."
So you want to bet on Labour. You've seen their polls rise throughout their campaign and believe they have momentum. Jeremy Corbyn has easily surpassed low media expectations, while Theresa May's 'strong and stable' brand has nosedived during the campaign. Moreover, you've seen with Brexit and Donald Trump that the media and long-range betting market trends are becoming less reliable nowadays. Backing the underdog makes sense!
Here's the problem. For all Labour's progress, they are still highly unlikely to win more seats than, or even prevent the Conservatives winning a majority. As explained on Sunday when measuring the potential for their comeback to gather pace, Corbyn still has a mountain to climb. To become PM, he needs a polling and geographical miracle. To gain seats rather than lose them, as every indicator suggests Labour will, in the wake of UKIP's demise.
The good news is that, in order to win money on Labour, you need not back them to win the election or even achieve anything special. I've studied the UK's 650 parliamentary seats - 50 of which are analysed here in our Constituency Guide - to find the best value bets on each party. None of these require Labour gaining any seats off the Tories, let alone Corbyn becoming PM. In fact, it is perfectly possible that all of these bets win, despite the Conservatives winning a big majority.
The key to finding Labour's most fruitful targets involves identifying the main opposition and measuring the demographics of the area. Seats where the Lib Dems are the main opposition are infinitely preferable to straight LAB/CON fights. Younger populations are preferable to older. In every seat, the scale of UKIP's 2015 vote and therefore likely boost in the Tory share, is the key dynamic.
Back Labour to win Bermondsey & Old Southwark @ [1.8]
The fundamental dynamic behind narrowing polls barely involves Corbyn winning over Tory voters. Rather, Labour are hoovering up the progressive vote at the expense of smaller rivals, as the post-Brexit climate fosters a return to two-party politics. London voters are more progressive than ever and Labour are expected to rise across the capital. Apart from specific local and tactical situations, the Lib Dems feel like a wasted vote. Even accounting for the return of popular former MP Simon Hughes, there's nothing to suggest they can overturn a 4,459 majority.
Back Labour to win Edinburgh South @ [1.72]
Now it seems clear that Labour are not going to be wiped out, as some doom-mongers had predicted, their sole remaining Scottish seat looks safe. If the SNP could only muster 34% in their peak 2015 result - mirroring nationalist support in a strongly unionist seat - it is hard to see how they ever win it. A sustained Tory surge in Scotland might eventually bring it back into their orbit but, for now, the unionist vote seems certain to coalesce around Labour. A recent Survation poll for the constituency reported LAB 40, SNP 30, CON 20.
Back Labour to win Huddersfield @ [1.43]
Generally, overwhelmingly pro-Brexit Yorkshire looks very troublesome for Labour, but this relatively young, liberal constituency only split 51-49 and shouldn't be any bother at all. They start a massive 18% down against a popular MP in Barry Sheerman, and there are only 15% of Kippers to squeeze. The 2010 Lib Dem collapse - shedding three quarter of their votes - may have permanently altered the maths in Labour's favour. I doubt the Tories will put up much of a campaign.
Back Labour to win Leeds North West @ [3.25]
Only a brave punter would take odds-on about the Lib Dems in any seat right now - especially a younger, liberal progressive constituency that looks absolutely perfect for Corbynism. He seems much likelier to enthuse students and younger, progressive types to vote than recent Labour leaders. Greg Mulholland did remarkably well to defy the national swing against his party in 2015 but a majority below 3,000 is vulnerable. Labour are squeezing the Greens nationally and if they do so in this university seat, those numbers alone are enough to wipe out the Lib Dem majority.
Back Labour to win Nottingham South @ [1.55]
These odds were a lot better only a few days ago but, even at this prohibitive mark, it looks a banker Labour hold. Again, this is a seat where progressives have consistently been the majority for decades. Where the demise of the Lib Dems after 2010 has dramatically favoured Labour, who earned a higher share in 2015 than their 2005 national victory. Nottingham South has one of the largest student votes in the entire country and there is no more enthusiastic bank of support for Corbyn, especially since the commitment to abolish tuition fees.
Back Labour to win Wirral South @ [2.08]
A cracking bet where the odds are all about national swing, that does not appear to relevant in the specific seat. Popular MP Alison McGovern is from the area and, in 2015's catastrophic national defeat, won more votes than her predecessor managed in Tony Blair's 2001 landslide. The UKIP share here is only 9%, smaller than her majority. Corbyn drew a huge, young crowd at West Kirby beach recently, before appearing with the Libertines at the Wirral Music Festival.