conservatives

GE2017 – Tracker – Wednesday 31st May – The end of May?

Conservatives: Av u/o seats = 369.5 – 24hr change = -10

Labour: Av u/o seats = 202.5 – 24hr change = +13

Lib Dems: Av u/o seats = 11.2 – 24hr change = -0.3

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Spreadex | Con 364-370 (24hr = -10)| Lab 196-202 (+14) | LD 12-15 (-1.5)

Sporting Index | Con 365-371 (-10) | Lab 196-202 (+10) | LD 13-15 (-0.5)

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

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High drama overnight as The Times published a YouGov poll/prediction/model/forecast (no one quite seems sure what it actually is) suggesting the Tories are set to lose 20 seats on June 8th and we’d end up with a hung parliament.

It’s an extraordinary prediction given that throughout the campaign the question has been how large the Tory majority will be, not whether they manage to win one at all.

The forecast has been met with some scepticism and it’s worth bearing in mind that yesterday a ComRes poll gave the Tories a fairly comfortable 12pt lead. Nevertheless, YouGov’s numbers are driven by a poll giving the Conservatives 42% and Labour 38% – certainly close enough that Tory losses from 2015 are possible.

As you’d expect, the betting markets have responded by shifting up expectations of Labour seats and, again, slashing (I think we can sensibly use that word) Tory lines. On the spreads for example, Spreadex moved its Labour quote up 14 and the Tories down 10. Nevertheless, the betting at this stage still implies a Tory majority of 80 or so.

Conservative most seats is still best price 1/12 and a Tory overall majority 1/6. However, Corbyn is now as short as 9/2 to be PM after the election.

If you’re a YouGov believer it’s worth looking at the constituency betting for opportunities. For the prediction to be realised Labour would need to gain a chunk of seats from the Tories and in many of the party’s top target constituencies, the Labour candidate remains odds against.

Taking the target list from psephologists Rallings and Thrasher, Paddy Power offer the following for Labour wins in the Conservatives’ most marginal defences:

Gower 2/1

Derby North 10/3

Croydon Central 2/1

Vale of Clwyd 9/4

Bury North 7/2

Morley & Outwood 4/1

Thurrock 7/1

Plymouth Sutton & Devonport 5/1

Brighton Kemptown 6/4

Bolton West 13/2

From that list the two Welsh seats (Gower and Vale of Clwyd) as well as Bury North and Bolton West look like exceptional bets. I’d leave Thurrock as I think we’ll see the UKIP collapse help the Tories there and whispers suggest the Tories are doing OK in Plymouth.

Good luck and remember to keep breathing.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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GE2017 – Tracker – Friday 26th May – Corbyn closes the gap

Conservatives: Av u/o seats = 384.8 – 24 hour change = -3 Week change = -13

Labour: Av u/o seats = 182.8 – 24 hour = +3.7 Week = +16

Lib Dems: Av u/o seats = 12.5 – 24 hour = 0 Week = 0

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Spreadex | Con 375-381 (24hr = -8)| Lab 179-185 (+7) | LD 14-17 (+0.5)

Sporting Index | Con 378-384 (-6) | Lab 179-185 (+7) | LD 14-17 (0)

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

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Once upon a time the biggest danger faced by the Conservative campaign was complacency. The idea was that the Tories were so far ahead in the polls and Mrs May’s personal ratings so superior to those of Mr Corbyn that voters would assume the election was a fait accompli and not bother to go the polling station.

There was a thought that the prospect of Corbyn getting into Number 10 needed to be real enough to engage the electorate. Without it, apathy may undermine a stonking majority.

Well CCHQ, be careful what you wish for. Yesterday’s YouGov poll had the Conservative lead over Labour down to just 5 points. The narrative is shifting from the size of the Tory majority to whether there will be one at all.

Only a week ago The Spectator, with its tongue only partly in cheek, published a list of ten Labour candidates that Tory voters ought to lend their vote to for the good of Parliamentary democracy. No such moderate largesse in evidence now; with the polls narrowing, every seat will be crucial in justifying Mrs May’s decision to go to the country early.

Looking at the betting over the last two days, not surprisingly we have seen significant moves to Labour both on fixed odds and the spreads. However, more surprisingly, despite Labour’s momentum in the polls bookmakers are still predicting a comfortable majority for Mrs May.

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The challenge in the constituency betting is identifying where shifts in polling reveal value.

I like the look of the 6/5 Paddy Power offer for Rupa Huq (Labour) to hold Ealing Central & Acton. Although Huq defends a small majority (274) I feel this west London seat could well be an easier hold for Labour than, say, Eltham in SE London where Labour incumbent Clive Efford is 15/8 to hold.

GE2017 – Tracker – Wednesday 10th May – Fox Hunt

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

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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)

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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.

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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.

24hr change graph.jpg

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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.

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GE2017 – Tracker – Tuesday 9th May – Eden project

Conservatives: Av u/o seats = 399.5 – 24hr change = 0 | Week change = +10.7

Labour: Av u/o seats = 157.8 – 24 hr = +0.6 | Week = -2.3

Lib Dems: Av u/o seats = 16.2 – 24 hr = -0.3 | Week = -7.7

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Spreadex | Con 395-401 (24hr = -2)| Lab 152-158 (+1) | LD 16-19 (0)

Sporting Index | Con 395-401 (-3) | Lab 153-159 (+3) | LD 16-19 (-2)

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

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Enthusiasm for the Tories tempers a little as, after the shock of the locals, Labour seats nudge back towards 160.

Appears that the Lib Dems are friendless in the market. In the campaign’s early days many firms were bullish about the prospect of an anti-Brexit ticket propelling a Lib Dem revival – Paddy Power went under/over 34.5 Lib Dem seats. The average fixed odds line is now less than half that at 16.2

There’s a very good essay on politicalbetting.com by Alastair Meeks on why the Lib Dems may struggle to realise a net gain that would get the party anywhere close to the 57 seats it won in the 2010 election.

His well-researched thoughts are definitely worth a read, but to summarise: the Lib Dems can expect to do well in Conservative-facing Remain seats (e.g. Twickenham and St. Albans) but these are few; more numerous are Con-facing Leave seats in which the Lib Dems could well struggle. Worse still, there are Lib Dem held Leave seats which are vulnerable to a Conservative challenge – the Lib Dem deputy leader Norman Lamb is 4/9 to hold his North Norfolk seat against the Tories (13/8), whilst the Conservatives are indeed 8/11 favourites to gain outer-London seat Carshalton & Wallington.

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been active on the campaign trail and yesterday ‘Monsieur Zen‘ was taking the waters (or drinking the Kool-Aid) in the Royal Spa town of Leamington. Typically leaders focus efforts on marginals; the constituency of Warwick and Leamington is 1/200 to return Conservative candidate Chris White.

You might imagine that historic Warwick and the nearby regency streets of Leamington would be true blue Tory territory. Whilst the constituency was the seat of Conservative Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden between 1923 and 1957, like so many across ‘middle England’ it was won by New Labour in 1997. The Tories didn’t get it back until 2010, even then aided by some helpful boundary changes. Proving, perhaps, that ill-advised embroilment in Middle Eastern diplomacy goes down fairly well in this part of England.

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Sir Anthony Eden – not the last PM Tony to get into hot water over a Middle East intervention

GE2017 – Tracker – Sunday 7th May

Conservatives: Av u/o seats = 398.5 – 24hr change = -0.7 | Week change = +9.7

Labour: Av u/o seats = 159.2 – 24 hr = 0 | Week = -1

Lib Dems: Av u/o seats = 17.8 – 24 hr = +0.3 | Week = -6.3

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Spreadex | Con 398-404 (24hr = -1)| Lab 149-155 (+2) | LD 18-21 (-3)

Sporting Index | Con 398-404 (-3) | Lab 150-156 (+4) | LD 18-21 (-3)

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

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Plotted below are the average under/over line and the average spread midpoint for Tory seats.

Notice that, especially on the spreads, Tory seat predictions increased swiftly over the first week of the campaign – most likely due to weight of money getting with the Conservatives. Prices then settled in the run up to the locals but, understandably, spiked after the extent of the Tory gains on May 4th became clear.

Early days, but there has since been a slight correction in favour of Labour. Will be interesting to see if the Conservative prediction remains north of 400 seats (that’s a majority in the region of 150) through the month.

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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)

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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.