There's a plethora of betting options for Thursday's slate of elections. Paul Krishnamurty updates his analysis of the three biggest markets...
"These really are the perfect conditions for that Labour-Green swing, which is happening across Europe...The nap is 8/11 about Sian Berry to finish third."
Tomorrow is the biggest day in UK politics since the 2019 General Election, especially in terms of political betting. There are elections for the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, London Mayor and GLA, local councils and an extremely newsworthy by-election. Let's start with that.
Labour facing catastrophe in Hartlepool
When the facts change, one must be prepared to change tack. As announced on Twitter yesterday, I've done a complete 180 on Hartlepool and taken the hit, having initially put Labour up at Evens.
If this is wrong it will be a historic polling catastrophe. I've cashed out my Labour position for a loss. Can't see 1.27 about the Tories being around on Thursday. https://t.co/AwKjtJLYcp? Political Gambler (@paulmotty) May 4, 2021
What changed? Simply, polls appear to be answering the great unknowns of this contest - where will roughly a quarter of Hartlepool voters, who previously backed UKIP or the Brexit Party go, now those parties have disappeared or declined? Would these voters be prepared to break the habits of a lifetime and vote Conservative?
Two Survation polls have now shown the Tories on 49% and 50%. The first was easy to quibble with, on grounds of a small sample and that constituency polling is unreliable. But the second reinforced those numbers. It seems unimaginable that a reputable polling company would put their name to a survey that was 18% wrong. Plus it fits the national trend, in which the Tory vote seems more solid and less moveable than ever.
Critically, the smaller party vote appears to be coming predominantly from voters closer to Labour. Hartlepool may illustrate the new divide in Britain. A newly unified right-wing, consisting of registered, reliable, older voters and only one mainstream party. Versus perennially divided centre/liberal/left voters, with multiple options from which to choose.
Far-right parties have long had a presence in seats like Hartlepool. Apparently no longer. Boris Johnson has hoovered them up and this has ramifications for seats across the country.
SNP majority on a knife-edge
My sole bet on this - laying Yes to an SNP Majority at 1.68/13 - is faring better, now trading at 2.111/10. Various polls and 'Nowcasts' have projected both sides of this result, within a very small range. They need 65 for a majority and will almost certainly finish between 62 and 68. For example they are a 10.09/1 chance to get over 69.5.
Without holding a particularly strong opinion on this close call, I'm happy to run this position.
One of the great difficulties predicting Scotland is a long history of tactical voting. I expect the Unionist vote to be much better organised in this regard than in previous Scottish Parliament elections.
It helps that cause that Labour are improving under Anas Sarwar, albeit from a shockingly low base. Growing divisions among Independence supporters, notably Alex Salmond's new Alba Party, may have the reverse effect on that side of the argument.
Polls suggest Labour are in a very tight race with the Conservatives for second place on vote share, but the latter are strong 1.251/4 favourites to win more seats. Their vote is more efficiently spread to convert into seats and again, this looks rock-solid.
Back Khan to slightly underperform in London
Talking of solid favourites, no way on Earth will Sadiq Khan not win a second term as London Mayor. Sadly, at odds of 1.021/50, there's no way to make anything meaningful on that safe bet. I do very much like some specials here, though.
London is the converse of Hartlepool. The demographics - younger, socially liberal, private renters, graduates - mean the new political divisions that grew following Brexit fundamentally favour Labour. Hence even as Corbyn's Labour imploded at the 2019 election, they advanced in the capital.
I reckon that makes the London electorate extremely predictable and the polls will be very close. Ultimately after the second round of voting, Khan will win by around 61-39%. However I don't think he'll get particularly close to 50% in the first round.
Greens set for a good night
London's AV electoral system is liable to generate complacency and tactical, vote-lending among the Left. Those dissatisfied with Khan, Keir Starmer or the direction of the party nationally, have an easy way to register their protest. Vote Green, or Lib Dem, for the first preference, plus Labour as second preference, knowing the Tories won't win.
These really are the perfect conditions for that Labour-Green swing, which is happening across Europe.
With that in mind, try these two related positions. The nap is 8/11 about Sian Berry to finish third. Second, back Khan to score 40-44.99% at 7/4. The final Yougov poll shows these trends.
Final YouGov London mayoral voting intention (2-4 May)? YouGov (@YouGov) May 4, 2021
Sadiq Khan 43% (-4 from 1 Apr)
Shaun Bailey 31% (+5)
Siân Berry 10% (+1)
Luisa Porritt 5% (-2)
Laurence Fox 3% (-1)
SECOND ROUND RUN OFF
Sadiq Khan 59% (-7)
Shaun Bailey 41% (+7)https://t.co/yz7N1LEPOI pic.twitter.com/LhjiIhjk74
Likewise, those numbers confirm what seems obvious - that Lawrence Fox's relentless media exposure will be enough to beat the other very minor candidates.
Fox has created a clearly defined position, playing the right-wing populist 'anti-cancel culture' card and attacking lockdown. Both positions have a small core of support, liable to turn out and not aligned to the major parties. At 5/4 to win the Sportsbook market, he's preferred to Brian Rose - the only danger.