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UK Political Election Bets: "It's all gone quiet over here!"

UK Politics RSS / Mike Robb / 12 February 2008 /

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With all the attention currently focused on the US, Betfair's political odds expert Mike Robb takes a look at what the election betting markets have to say about what's going on here in the UK

With Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama going at each other like two heavyweight boxers across the pond, UK politics has taken a back seat over the last few months. There's been nothing has of significant interest since the Lib Dem election in December . Sure we've had big events like the Peter Hain resignation, donation scandals, Gordon Brown visiting China and more, but nothing really newsworthy has had a massive affect on the betting markets.

What every punter needs to ask themselves is whether or not this lack of impact is because the US elections are taking all the interest at the moment or if it's simply because these events do not have a lasting influence on the outcome of events.

Does Peter Hain resigning lessen the chances of Labour winning the next election? Is Alastair Darling's increasingly spurious position going to shorten the odds of a Conservative victory? Do the accusations constantly being thrown at Ken Livingstone dramatically increase the chance of Boris Johnson being the capital's next Mayor?

If you think they do then you should be watching the UK markets more closely while many punters are looking elsewhere.

Mayor of London Election:
Ken Livingstone's price has been slowly drifting over the last month or so and is currently at [1.67]. Ninety per cent of the money backing him has been between [1.5] and [1.7], however, so we are yet to see a real negative move for him in the markets.

At the same time there seem to be a plethora of stories, events and comments coming out against him. Accusations of financial irregularities, expensive trips abroad at the taxpayers' expense, charges that London has become his 'personal fiefdom', bullying in the GLA, and smear campaigns against whistleblowers are but a selection of the myriad of juicy stories coming out against 'Red Ken'.

Nevertheless, he is still a warm odds-on favourite to win another term. A YouGov poll in December put Conservative Boris Johnson just one percentage point behind Ken (on 44%). A later poll, at the end of January, showed a four point lead for Ken, but this is still very much within any margin of error.

In other words, the race is a very close one and certainly one that appears closer than the [1.67] afforded to 'Ken Leninspart' would suggest. The [2.56] currently offered for Boris Johnson implies just a 39% chance of victory but the news would all seem to suggest that although Ken may well still have an edge it is much closer than these prices suggest.

Click here to bet on the 2008 London Mayoral election

General Election Betting

Next Election Date
This market went mad in the final few months of 2007 as many anticipated an election to be called on the back of favourable opinion polls for Gordon Brown and a well received conference speech. So expected was an election that the price went as low as [1.4] in what turned out to be a coup for the layers as Cameron bounced back in style for the Tories.

The Betfair market now suggests that Gordon is likely to hold off for as long as possible, with the [2.16] favourite being an election from January 2010 or later. Remembering that he has to call an election in May 2010 at the latest, these odds suggest that he is currently in a weak position with no immediate prospects for improvement.

If you think there is going to be an election called in 2008 you can get an average of [24.0], but given the economic problems this price seems too short. An election in the first half of 2009 is available at [3.15] while the second half of 2009 is at [5.4]. You have to suspect that the market has the chances absolutely spot on at the moment, with the likelihood that he will hold on as long as possible. Saying that, [2.16] is somewhat short so it might be a case of biding your time and watching out for any sudden suggestions from Number 10.

Click here to bet on the next election date

Most Seats/Overall Majority
The Conservatives are the current [1.8] favourites to win the most seats at the next election, with Labour on [2.28] and the Lib Dems an also-ran at [95.0]. This market has matched over £580k so there is decent liquidity and opportunities to trade will most certainly present themselves on the back of relevant events.

The favourite in the overall majority market is 'no overall majority', available at [2.64]. This price really shows the fact that the balance between the two parties is very tight and that the prospect of a hung parliament following the next election is real and present. This, no doubt, will be music to Liberal Democrat ears.

The [2.92] on the Conservatives to win a majority seems a decent bet to me at this moment in time. With so much time to go before an election, the likelihood of the economic situation improving seemingly remote, and the fantastically efficient manner in which Labour members are unravelling scandal after scandal suggests only one thing to me: Labour are imploding slowly but surely. I can only see this price for a Conservative majority coming in, and will be looking to get a bet in if it gets much larger.

Click here to bet on the party to win the most seats at the next election

Click here to bet on who will win an overall majority at the next election

Betfair Politics Zone


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