GE2017 – Gains and losses

So how was it for you? On an extraordinary election night Mrs May’s Conservatives lost their overall majority and now appear to be relying on the support of the DUP to continue in government.

Mrs May’s gamble failed, but how did my betting go? I’ve been through all the tips I’ve made through the course of the blog and I’m pretty happy with my success rate. Throughout the campaign I was more positive than the markets on Labour’s chances – a hunch which paid off on the spreads as well as fixed odds and, generally speaking, my constituency tips bore fruit.

Here’s a full breakdown of my tips (hope you were on!):

25/4 – UKIP under 0.5 seats – 2/9 – WON

27/4 – Lib Dems to win Bath – 5/6 – WON

30/4 – Over 152.5 Labour seats – 5/6 – WON

3/5 – Labour to win Broxtowe – 12/1 – Lost (although v. close, Con held by just 863 votes)

4/5 – Lib Dems to win Bermondsey – 4/6 – Lost

6/5 – UKIP under 0.5 seats – 1/10 – WON

8/5 – Conservatives to win Eltham – 4/9 – Lost

11/5 – Labour to win Sheffield Hallam – 6/1  – WON

17/5 – Lib Dems over 13.5 seats – 5/6 – Lost

25/5 – Labour to win Gower – 7/2 – WON

26/5 – Labour to hold Ealing Central & Acton – 6/5 – WON

28/5 – Labour to win Sheffield Hallam – 7/2– WON

29/5 – Labour to win Bury North – 7/2 – WON

29/5 – Labour to win Bolton West – 13/2 – Lost

1/6 – Over 63% turnout – 4/5 – WON

5/6 – Labour to hold Hampstead & Kilburn – 4/11 – WON


On the spreads I recommended a BUY of Labour seats @ 186 (75 point win) and a SELL of Conservative seats @ 375 (57 point win)



GE2017 – Tracker – Thursday 1st June – A week away

Conservatives: Av u/o seats = 367.5 – 24hr change = -2

Labour: Av u/o seats = 201.8 – 24hr change = -0.7

Lib Dems: Av u/o seats = 11.2 – 24hr change = -0


Spreadex | Con 362-368 (24hr = -2)| Lab 198-204 (+2) | LD 12-14.5 (-0.25)

Sporting Index | Con 361-367 (-4) | Lab 198-204 (+2) | LD 12.5-14.5 (-0.5)

(2015 result | Con 330 | Lab 232 | LD 8)


Much like last night’s election debate, May is now not with us and this time next week the polls will be open for hashtag GE2017. I can hardly contain my excitement.

The last two weeks have seen a dramatic narrowing in the polls which has been reflected in the betting with money coming in for Labour. For ten days or so after the local elections Ladbrokes pitched its under/over Tory seats line at 400.5 – the firm now goes 370.5. For evidence of Labour’s impressive campaign consider that at the election’s call Paddy Power offered 5/6 under/over 167.5 Labour seats (this was to drop to as low as 157.5 on May 8th) – the line is now 210.5.

See below for a graph of how the bookmakers (Paddies, Sky and Labdrokes) have bet the under/over party seats line through the campaign. Notice SkyBet have generally been more optimistic about the Tories and more pessimistic about Labour than the other bookmakers (the Murdoch influence no doubt!).

party seats by bookmaker.png


Doesn’t need me to tell you that the polls have been all over the place recently, with the Con lead pegged at pretty much everywhere from 3 to 12 pts in the last week.

One thing that is emerging is just how important turnout – and in particular differential turnout between age groups – will be in determining the election’s outcome. Indeed, the narrow Tory advantages in certain polls appear to be a symptom of younger voters a) disproportionately backing Labour and b) according to self declaration, this demographic being more likely to turn out to vote than at previous elections.

But how do the bookies bet overall turnout?

SkyBet set the line at 63% with Unders 10/11 and Overs 4/5

Paddy Power also have a 63% line and go Unders 6/4 and Overs 1/2

On the spreads, Sporting Index are offering a turnout market and quote 62.3 – 63.

[For context: 2001 = 59.4%, 2005 = 61.3%, 2010 = 65.5%, 2015 = 66.1%, EU ref = 72.2%]

Recommendation: Back Over 63% turnout with SkyBet 4/5.

Both the 2010 and 2015 elections saw turnouts in excess of 63%. The EU referendum engaged many previous ‘non voters’. The 2017 campaign, although unwanted in some quarters has engaged others. The narrowing of the polls means complacent Tory voters or resigned Labour voters staying at home is less likely. I don’t expect turnout to exceed that of the Brexit referendum, but is likely to go above 63%.

GE2017 – Tracker – Sunday 28th May – We need to talk about Nick

Conservatives: Av u/o seats = 380.5 – Change since Friday PM = -4.3

Labour: Av u/o seats = 188.2 –Change since Friday PM = +5.4

Lib Dems: Av u/o seats = 11.5 – Change since Friday PM = -1


Spreadex | Con 375-381 (Since Friday PM = 0)| Lab 181-187 (+2) | LD 13.5-16.5 (-0.5)

Sporting Index | Con 376-382 (-2) | Lab 180-186 (+1) | LD 13-16 (-1)

(2015 result | Con 330 | Lab 232 | LD 8


A feast of opinion polls yesterday evening with no fewer than five of the critters released into the wild. In the words of PT Barnum, the 19th century American politician and circus master (the jokes do themselves really), there was something for everyone: Labour closing the gap to single figures, a comfortable double digit lead for the Tories, evidence that the Corbyn surge was continuing and that peak Jezza has passed. The one consistent element? The Lib Dems and UKIP stuck in single figures.

ICM Con 46 (-1) Lab 32 (-1) Con +14

YouGov Con 43 (-) Lab 36 (-2) Con +7

ORB Con 44 (-2) Lab 38 (+4) Con +6

ComRes Con 46 (-2) Lab 34 (+4) Con +12

Opinium Con 45 (-1) Lab 35 (+2) Con +10

And the impact on the betting? Drumroll, fanfare, and curtain up… Negligible.

Barely a flicker in the predicted seats spread markets and the fixed odds average line showing a move to Labour mainly off the back of Paddy Power. Over the course of the weekend the Irish compiler revised its under/over Labour seats line up 14 to 195.5 (quite comfortably the high of the campaign so far) and pulled its Tory prediction down 10 to 375.5. The two other bookies in our sample, Ladbrokes and Sky Bet, have shown far less volatility.


Despite the fact Labour are polling much better than at the start of the campaign, the bookmakers still have Mrs May in for comfortable majority. The graph below shows the size of the Conservative majority implied by the average midpoint of the Spreadex and Sporting Index Tory seats quotes throughout the campaign.

con maj.png

Predictions of the Tory majority reached a peak just after the party’s impressive performance in the local elections. The spread firms briefly had quotes over 400 for Tory seats, which would equate to a majority in excess of 150. As the campaign has continued, with the social care U-turn and then the Manchester bombing, we have seen Tory seats quotes fall away – but less than two weeks from the election the implied majority is still north of 100 seats.

My view is there is still scope to Buy Labour seats and/or Sell Conservative seats. Expectation management it might be, but there are whispers coming from the Tory camp that the party would be happy with a majority of 60-80 seats. Mrs May is staggering to the finish line whilst Mr Corbyn does seem invigorated by the campaign. Getting with Labour on the spreads offers more realistic hope for success than backing Labour most seats (best price 8/1) or a Labour majority (best price 20/1) with the fixed odds firms.

I’ve been building up a few spread positions over the last week and am currently short at 380 Cons and long at 169 Labour. Should the Labour quote ever touch 200 I may well be persuaded to trade out before polling day.


We need to talk about Nick

One of the most fascinating constituency battles of the election is rumbling on in Sheffield Hallam where former leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg is facing a fierce fight from Labour to hold onto his seat.

Back in the heady days of the 2010 election campaign at the height of ‘I agree with Nick’ Clegg-mania there was a national YouGov poll that put the Liberal Democrats ahead of both Labour and the Conservatives in GB share of the vote. However, this failed to translate into an electoral breakthrough, indeed the Lib Dems suffered a net loss of seats in 2010. Clegg’s decision to take his party into coalition in the Conservatives proved devastating to its electoral prospects and at the 2015 election the Lib Dems managed to hold only 8 of 57 seats. Clegg was one of the survivors but his majority was reduced from 15,284 to 2,353 and there was a school of thought that he only kept his head above water on account of tactical voting from Sheffield Conservatives as a ‘thank you’ for getting Dave into Number 10.

Labour are pouring a great deal of effort into this seat and with tactical Tories migrating back to May and a national Liberal Democrat campaign that has failed to capture the imagination, I like the look of the 7/2 that Ladbrokes offer for Labour to topple Clegg.

nick clegg.jpg

GE2017 – Tracker – Wednesday 17th May – Up for Dennis

Conservatives: Av u/o seats = 399.2 – 24hr change = 0 | Week change = 0

Labour: Av u/o seats = 162.2 – 24 hr = +0.7 | Week = +3.3

Lib Dems: Av u/o seats = 13.8 – 24 hr = -0.7| Week = -1.7


Spreadex | Con 394-400 (24hr = -1)| Lab 158-164 (+2) | LD 14.5- 17.5 (0)

Sporting Index | Con 397-403 (+3) | Lab 155-161 (-1) | LD 14-17 (-1)

(2015 result | Con 330 | Lab 232 | LD 8)


Selected others:

PM after general election:

Jeremy Corbyn: Best price 12/1 (Unibet) but as short as 5/1 (William Hill)

Theresa May: Best price 1/20 (Various), as short as 1/33 (also William Hill, come on lads!!)

Labour under 100 seats: 16/1 (SkyBet)


For a week now not one of our three sample bookmakers (PaddyPower, Sky, and Ladbrokes) has moved its under/over Conservative seats line. The Labour line has drifted back up to a level similar to that before the locals. The Lib Dems, however, continue to slide with both SkyBet and Ladbrokes offering 5/6 under/over 13.5 seats. With the strong possibility of the party making a handful of gains in west London and a spattering of constituencies in the South West also in play, the time is right to go over Lib Dem seats.

Come on Tim! We need you to be winning somewhere!


Rumours circulating in the pubs of Westminster that even some of Labour’s safest seats could be in trouble.

Dennis Skinner, the beast of Bolsover, is a Commons stalwart having first taken his seat in 1970. Paddy Power have the Conservatives 7/2 to take the seat. Meanwhile, deputy leader Watson is 4/11 to hold on in West Bromwich East. In elections gone by these seats would be hundreds-on bankers for Labour. However, add 9,000 or so UKIP votes to an apparently toxically unpopular Labour leader and you have a recipe to overturn 10,000 vote majorities.

On the 9th of June will we be asking ‘Were you up for Dennis?’


My attempts to turn roving vox pop political reporter during my time in Chicago have hit the wall. Few Americans know the UK is having a general election, fewer care.

Interestingly, Brexit does have cut through here – most likely because it’s lumped in with Trump as part of the ‘populist’ / ‘post truth’ phenomenon. The names Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are met with blank lack of recognition; Boris Johnson is the only UK politician that appears to have any profile. “He’s like the British Trump,” said one man.

GE2017 – Tracker – Thursday 11th May – Leak!

Conservatives: Av u/o seats = 399.2 – 24hr change = 0 | Week change = +10.7

Labour: Av u/o seats = 158.8 – 24 hr = 0 | Week = -2.7

Lib Dems: Av u/o seats = 15.5 – 24 hr = 0 | Week = -7.3


Spreadex | Con 397-403 (24hr = -1)| Lab 153-159 (-2) | LD 16-19 (0)

Sporting Index | Con 395-401 (0) | Lab 154-160 (0) | LD 16-19 (0)

(2015 result | Con 330 | Lab 232 | LD 8)


In not so much a leak as a burst water main spouting big-state policies, a draft version of Labour’s manifesto yesterday found its way into the hands of the press. Stories this morning abound of Corbyn’s plans to take us ‘back to the 1970s’ through a wide-reaching programme of public ownership. Who knows, maybe he’d even renationalise the Tote – just don’t bring back betting tax please!

My own hot take is that whilst a number of the proposed policies – renationalisation of the railways, stopping arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and scrapping tuition fees – individually have good public appeal, as a package they play into the Tory narrative of unremitting Labour tax/borrow and spend.

I find it hard to believe that a public reluctant to vote for Miliband’s ‘soft left’ manifesto in 2015 will be more enthused by Corbyn’s harder stuff. I can see such a manifesto stacking up votes in student seats, inner London constituencies and doing well for the party in South Wales. But will they care in Nuneaton? There’s a good essay here from the New Statesman’s George Eaton on why policies don’t even matter that much in general elections anyway.

Yesterday I backed Labour at 6/1 (still available @ Betfair Sportsbook) to win Sheffield Hallam (Nick Clegg’s seat). I’m optimistic that the draft manifesto, with its strong messaging on student fees and equivocation on Brexit, could help Labour further here.


Seems it’s not just me doing the betting advice. According to Buzzfeed’s Jim Waterson the Tories have been buying ads tipping up Corbyn’s longshot credentials

If you do fancy another shock, JC is best price 14/1 to be PM after the general election.


GE2016 – Tracker – Saturday 6th May – Local response

Conservatives: Av u/o seats = 399.2 – Change after local elections = +10.7

Labour: Av u/o seats = 159.2 – LE change = -2.3

Lib Dems: Av u/o seats = 17.5 – LE change = -5.3


Spreadex | Con 399-405 (Change after locals +9)| Lab 147-151 (-8) | LD 21-24 (-3)

Sporting Index | Con 401-407 (+17) | Lab 146-152 (-15) | LD 21-24 (-1)

(2015 result | Con 330 | Lab 232 | LD 8)


The betting markets have responded to the Local Election results and it’s no surprise that Conservative seat estimates have been revised up significantly. The average under/over Tory seat line (taken from Paddy Power, Sky Bet, and Ladbrokes) is now just shy of 400, up 10.7 points from before the locals; the spread betting companies too have upped Conservative predictions – Sporting Index up a whopping 17 points to 401-407 seats.

Looking at the fixed odds lines it’s interesting that it’s the Lib Dems who appear to have taken the biggest hit. The Lib Dem average seats line is now 17.5, down 5 after the locals. Labour, by comparison, remain fairly steady with the fixed odds companies: somehwere around 160 seats. The story is a little different on the spreads with both Spreadex and Sporting Index calling their Labour seats predictions down to the mid 140s.

The biggest losers of the Locals were surely UKIP. The party was all but wiped out having lost all the 150 or so council seats it held and gaining just one. UKIP’s moment of electoral significance appears to be well and truly over. It might be a short price, but the 1/10 Paddies offer for zero UKIP seats at the general election is still generous. It’s difficult to conceive where Nuttall can hope for any success.

before after locals.jpg.png

GE2017 – Tracker – Friday 5th May – Locals update

Not possible to give complete updated betting information as most markets are suspended whilst the results of yesterday’s local elections continue to filter through.

What’s clear from the declarations so far is that it’s been a good night for the Conversatives, slightly disappointing for the Lib Dems, alarming for Labour, and disastrous for UKIP.

Spreadex have responded and have moved their Conservative seats spread up 10. Somewhat of a landmark moment – this is the first fixed odds or spreads price putting Conservative seats at over 400.

Spreadex | Con 400-406 (24hr change +10) | Lab 147-153 (-8) | LD 23.5-34.5 (-0.5)


Conservatives: At time of writing, the Tories have made a net gain of 125 council seats. Judged against the historical trends of locals this is a stonking performance for a governing party. Mrs May will be particularly pleased to see decent progress in Wales and that the apparent Lib Dem threat in the South West has faltered. Furthermore, winning wards from Labour in bellweather Midlands areas such as Nuneaton and North Warwickshire (Con gained Warwickshire County Council from NOC) bodes well for the General Election.

Liberal Democrats: A net loss of seats will disappoint the Lib Dems. The party do not appear to have taken advantage of an unpopular Labour party. A handful of gains have been cancelled out to losses to the Conservatives. Farron will hope that his anti-Brexit message will have more resonance in a national race than local polls.

UKIP: Yet to get off the mark at the time of writing and having lost all 30 seats being defended, UKIP is in dire straits. The triumph of Brexit is the party’s downfall – shorn of its macro purpose the party is suffering an identity crisis. There is little residual loyalty to the UKIP brand and by many accounts the party’s ground game has been woeful.

UKIP’s voters appear to breaking overwhelmingly for the Conservatives. Take a look at the breakdown for Lincolnshire:

Whilst a good chunk of the 17% will be ‘returners’, UKIP voters heading back to the Tory fold after the EU referendum, ex-Tories can’t account for the whole. UKIP has acted as an electoral decompression chamber, a conduit for the switching of loyalties of traditional Labour voters to the Conservatives.

These desperate results in Lincolnshire – a bastion of the Leave vote – are bad news for Nuttall generally and specifically for his chances of winning the Boston & Skegness constituency in June.

It’s a short price, but UKIP 0 seats in the general election looks safe.

Labour: Challenging, difficult, just plain dreadful – call it what you will – these results are not good news for Labour. The party has lost seats across Britain on various fronts: to the Tories, a handful to the Lib Dems, and to Independents in Blaneau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil. Even if the Welsh can’t bring themselves to vote Conservative, they’re in no hurry to give their vote to Corbyn.

Caveat #1 – The Labour vote has held up reasonably well in the Welsh cities and the party has held control of Cardiff, Swansea, and Newport councils. Polling suggestions of a Labour wipeout in Wales may have been overstated.

Caveat #2 – This was difficult electoral ground for Labour. When this set of seats was last contested in 2013, Labour had a lead over the Tories in the opinion polls (around 5pts) and Miliband’s leadership was enjoying something of a honeymoon.

Caveat to the caveats – Opposition parties shouldn’t need caveats in local elections.