As the dust settles after the Lib Dems' by-election win, Max Liu discusses the odds on Batley and Spen which takes place on 1 July...
"The Conservatives are 1.364/11 to win Batley and Spen which has been Labour 3.711/4 since 1997."
The Conservatives are odds-on to win the Batley and Spen by-election even after their unexpected defeat in Chesham and Amersham this week.
The Liberal Democrats pulled off a stunning victory, which was 16.5 on the Exchange this time last week, in the Buckinghamshire constituency, but bettors think that when voters go to the polls in Yorkshire on 1 July, it will be the Tories who emerge victorious.
They are 1.364/11 to win Batley and Spen which has been Labour 3.711/4 since 1997.
That said, the Conservatives were 1.051/20 (a 95% chance) to hold Chesham and Amersham and this week's upset there is another reminder that anything is possible in an age when the electoral map of Britain is being re-written.
Until Thursday, Boris Johnson looked like he'd mastered the art of winning elections but now his aura of invincibility has been punctured. Tory MPs are warning the prime minister that their party is in danger of losing the long-held but newly-christened 'Blue Wall' in the south of England.
No such thing as a safe seat
Parties simply cannot take any voters for granted and we are fast approaching the point where there is no such thing as a safe seat.
The Lib Dems could challenge the Tories in over 80 seats in the south-east, south-west and even in the north of England:
A stat to remember: there are 89 parliamentary seats where the Lib Dems are in second place and 79 of them are held by the Tories.? George Eaton (@georgeeaton) June 18, 2021
The Conservatives remain around 10 points ahead in national polling but they have drifted to evens to win a majority at the next general election. They shortened to around 1.814/5 at the height of their vaccine bounce.
Polling in Batley and Spen this week showed the Tories leading Labour by six points. Labour are throwing everything at the by-election with Keir Starmer, shadow cabinet members like Lisa Nandy, and party grandees, such as Harriet Harman, descending on the constituency to try to keep it in Labour hands.
Johnson, meanwhile, was there on Friday, promising to level up Britain in favour of north of England constituencies which he says have been neglected by successive governments.
It is not, as has been emphasised already, another Hartlepool. It was Tory in 1983, '87 and '92, before Labour gained it in 1997, when Tony Blair swept to power after 18 years of Tory rule. It presents a different kind of test for Starmer's party.
He came under fire this week from the left of the Labour movement after the party won just over 1% of the vote in Chesham and Amersham. Lefties were quick to point that, when Jeremy Corbyn was leader in 2017, Labour took over 20%.
But to be fair to Starmer it is obvious that there was a lot of tactical voting at play this week, as people who had previously voted Labour backed the Lib Dem candidate Sarah Green to stick to the Tories. This is surely the way forward if the Tories are to be denied a majority at the next general election which is 1.538/15 to be in 2024.
Whether Starmer gets to lead his party into that election is no certainty - as indicated by 2.47/5 on him leaving his position in 2024 or later and 3.185/40 on him stepping down next year - and the outcome in Batley and Spen will provide a fairer measure of the party's progress under his leadership.
Scottish government will aim to break referendum deadlock
England and Scotland played out a tense draw in Euro 2020 at Wembley on Friday night and one tabloid was quick to say Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon would be displeased that the two countries couldn't be separated. Arf.
It's been fairly quiet on the independence front since the SNP's emphatic win May's Scottish elections. But behind the scenes Sturgeon is working on plans to call for a referendum on independence.
Like Friday's match at Wembley the outcome of any such vote is likely to be close which is why Johnson is determined to prevent it from happening. Sturgeon has compelling arguments that the mandate is there for another vote, however, and she will make them in the not too distant future.
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