Conservatives: Av u/o seats = 399.2 – 24hr change = -0.3 | Week change = +10.7
Labour: Av u/o seats = 158.8 – 24 hr = +1 | Week = -2
Lib Dems: Av u/o seats = 15.5 – 24 hr = -0.7 | Week = -7.7
Spreadex | Con 398-404 (24hr = +3)| Lab 154-160 (+2) | LD 16-19 (0)
Sporting Index | Con 395-401 (0) | Lab 154-160 (+1) | LD 16-19 (0)
(2015 result | Con 330 | Lab 232 | LD 8)
The big news today is the CPS’s decision not to prosecute Conservative MPs over alleged expenses irregularities during the 2015 campaign. One case, South Thanet, does remain open as this file was received later and separate from the other allegations.
No discernible Tory bounce in the markets at the moment, but perhaps check tomorrow to see if slipping the Battle Bus sword of Damocles sees Conservative seat lines soar above 400.
Looking at the campaign as a whole, after the betting markets settled in the first few days after May’s snap announcement the trends we have seen are the Labour predicted seats line staying fairly consistently around 160; the Conservatives edging up towards 390 and then getting a 10 point bounce after the locals; and the Lib Dems experiencing attrition as every day the line drifts down a seat or two, today reaching a low for the campaign of 15.5.
Graph below shows the daily changes in the fixed odds seat line average. Eye-catching is the big spike/dip responding to Conservative gains in the local elections. But notice also how the Lib Dem line has spent most of its time in the negative and how, despite the attention being on Corbyn, the locals hit the Lib Dems harder than Labour in the betting markets.
Elsewhere on the stump, Theresa May has promised a free vote on fox hunting (with hounds) if she should win the election. But what of her party’s own Fox Hunt?
Dr Liam Fox can feel pretty safe in North Somerset: he took over 50% of the vote in 2015 and is 1/200 to hold the seat. However, don’t call the dogs off Jeremy Hunt just yet. In South West Surrey the beleaguered Health Secretary is facing a challenge from the National Health Action (NHA) candidate Dr Louise Irvine. She stood in the constituency in 2015 and took a respectable 4,851 votes; this time she is helped by the Greens standing down and Labour and Lib Dems fielding paper candidates, promising not to campaign in the seat.
Her task is a tough one, Hunt won in 2015 with close to 60% of the vote and is 1/50 to hold the seat. The 10/1 Paddy Power offers about the NHA party feels a little skinny but there is form for such campaigners unseating unpopular incumbents. The ‘Health Concern’ candidate Dr Richard Taylor won Wyre Forest in 2001 around the single issue of saving Kidderminster A&E – remarkably he held the seat in 2005 and was only narrowly defeated in 2010. And who can forget the white-suited Martin Bell unseating the sleaze-soaked Neil Hamilton in Tatton at the 1997 election.
Whilst there are many across the country who would love to see Hunt toppled, my instinct is the wily Jeremy will have enough support to hold on.