Archive for the 'Betting' Category


Looking at the Welsh constituency betting

Sunday, November 17th, 2019

This looks like being a volatile election in many areas, but nowhere is that truer than in Wales. Five different parties are currently polling in double digits and none is yet polling above 30%. Current polls suggest that the current distribution of constituencies could be upended. Polling, of course, could still change dramatically before the election actually arrives.

Historically, Wales has been dominated by Labour. They have won the most seats in every election since December 1918. At the last election, Labour won 28 out of the 40 seats and 49% of the vote.

Perhaps Labour will recover to that vote share but right now that looks unlikely. They last polled at 29%, having mislaid fully 40% of their support since 2017. When parties suffer such dramatic falls, uniform national swing becomes a very dangerous rule of thumb to be using.  In all likelihood the distribution of that loss of support will vary considerably between constituencies.

In 2015 in Scotland, Labour lost 42% of their support from the previous election. But that loss of support differed dramatically between constituencies. In Edinburgh South, Labour actually gained vote share. In Glasgow North East, Labour lost over 50% of its vote share. In some seats in which Labour were not in contention, the loss of vote share was still higher as Labour got squeezed (they lost more than two thirds of their vote share in Ross Skye & Lochaber, for example). 

So those betting on Welsh constituencies need to consider not just what the parties might eventually poll but how that might be redistributed. How efficient each party’s vote is going to be is going to be critical.

Unlike in Scotland in 2015, no one party has taken advantage of Labour’s travails. Relative to the 2017 election, the Conservatives are polling just one point up at 28%. The Brexit party have taken a sizeable chunk – 15%. The Lib Dems are up 7.5% to 12% and Plaid have inched forward 1.5% to 12%.  

Appropriately for a country whose national flag bears a dragon, this polling suggests that the Welsh constituencies are going to be a battle of the five armies (you can decide for yourself who are the eagles and who are the orcs).  Anyone making confident predictions is a lot braver than I am. Too much looks to depend on the distribution of the vote as well as the vote shares.

Anyway, let’s take a butcher’s at the constituencies. Here they are alphabetically. I present these for betting purposes from the perspective of Labour, since they are in contention in most constituencies.  

It is, however, more useful to sort these by the price on Labour, as here.  Immediately, as you would expect, the red mostly rises to the top. Labour are priced at 5/6 (the bookies’ evens) or better in 20 seats. This is actually ahead of what uniform national swing would suggest, which is for them to win 18 seats.   If Labour’s vote were to crash as hard as the most recent polls indicate, you would expect them actually to underperform uniform national swing: the floor in their vote in their weakest constituencies means that the loss of vote share would need to happen elsewhere ie in constituencies with more Labour voters at the last election.

So bettors appear to expect Labour to do better than recent Welsh polling suggests.

As it happens, I agree with the consensus. Labour have already been doing a bit better in UK-wide polling since the election was called and there is no reason to assume that anything different is happening in Wales. And that long muscle memory of voting Labour in Wales is likely to help them when it comes to the crunch.

Even if you disagree, in some of the seats the main challengers are preposterously short. In Ogmore, Labour are priced at 1/5 to retain a 37% majority. In Newport East, they are at just 4/6 to defend a 21% majority.  Perhaps some bettors have inside information. I’m dubious. In both of these seats I’d rather be backing Labour at those prices than the Conservatives at 3/1 and 11/10 respectively. The prices are just too short.

For the same reason, Labour look good value at 3/1 in Vale of Clwyd. They hold the seat with a very experienced MP in Chris Ruane, who is very used to scrapping for votes. The seat is relatively close to Merseyside, which has a Labour party that in recent elections has demonstrated a ferocious ability to work neighbouring constituencies to secure outsized swings as compared with the national figure. He’ll be harder to unhorse than that price suggests.

If you’re looking to bet on the Conservatives, unless you have compelling information, I’d be looking at the size of swing required. The 5/4 in Bridgend looks tempting, given that the Conservatives only require a 5.5% swing and the polls suggest that they’re doing twice as well as that in Wales. With 40% of the vote last time, they might take the seat just by standing still.

There’s no evidence as yet of the Conservatives significantly gaining vote share in Wales, so I would not bet on them in seats where they had a low vote share in 2017 – the votes would have to fall in a very precise way for them to take such seats unless they actually gain vote share. I’ve mentioned Ogmore once. The Conservatives tallied 25% of the vote in 2017. If they’re not going to increase their vote share, 3/1 is ludicrously short for them to win it.

Plaid Cymru haven’t advanced much in the polls so you wouldn’t expect them to be particularly well-placed to make gains.  Ynys Mon is their best prospect, but that is murky, given its long history of voting for the person rather than the party. You’d need more local knowledge than I have to risk your money.

The Lib Dems have their tails up. However, they have few obvious targets in Wales – unsurprisingly since they were wiped out in 2017. If they tally 12% in the polls, that vote will have to go somewhere, but it’s not at all clear where.  They will fight hard to retain Brecon & Radnorshire, which they won earlier this year at a by-election, and they will scrap with Plaid Cymru over Ceredigion (like Ynys Mon, a very personality-driven seat). Elsewhere their best hope in reality is to establish themselves as being back in contention. They held Cardiff Central till 2015 but 11/2 looks very mean for them to get a 24.5% swing from third place. Not a bet for me.

This brings me to the newest party on the block, the Brexit party. So far they’ve had a woeful election, withdrawing candidates from every Conservative-held seat after pressure from the newspapers. They are as a result unlikely to obtain anything like the 15% in Wales that they polled in that last poll. But if they do, that vote is likely to be concentrated in specific seats. The Brexit party performed very well in the Welsh valleys in the Euro elections and UKIP scored fairly well in some of these seats in 2015, demonstrating a continuing strident Euroscepticism in these areas. The bold might fancy a flutter on some of the long shot bets on them in such seats – 80/1 in Llanelli or 50/1 in Torfaen for example. This is 2019. Stranger things have happened.

Alastair Meeks


Focus on Wokingham where two ex-CON MPs are slugging it out against each other

Friday, November 15th, 2019

The longstanding Brexiteer versus the defector to the LDs

The Berkshire constituency of Wokingham is one of the most intriguing battle grounds at the General Election for it is where the veteran Brexiteer, John Redwood, is seeking to defend his seat against the remain backing former CON MP from the neighbouring constituency, Philip Lee. Redwood has been MP there since 1987.

It will be recalled that when Parliament resumed in September it was while Johnson was speaking that Phillip Lee crossed the floor of the House of Commons from the Tory benches to sit next to Jo Swinson. His defection left the Tories with no working majority in the House of Commons

Lee and Redwood, of course, have totally different views of the EU with the former being closer to voters in Wokingham than the latter. At the referendum Wokingham went 57% remain.

This is a seat which is part of the Unite to Remain alliance and there is no Green standing. The key importance of this is that it is a signal to LD activists outside the area that it is a key battle ground and where they should help.

There was a small sample Survation poll which had Redwood 4% ahead.

In Euro2019 the LDs came top in Wokingham with 33.45% with the Greens getting 11.3%. The Tories were estimated to have got 13.4% with BP at 29.4%. LAB was at 4.9%

The question here is whether Redwood has built up support over the past third of a century there to get re-elected. Everything depends on the importance of Brexit to those who voted for Redwood at GE2017.

Ladbrokes currently make the Tories 1/4 favourites with the LDs at 11/4 which I regard as value. I’d assess this as closer to 50/50.

Mike Smithson


Just six months ago Betfair punters were making LAB the favourite to win most seats

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

How things can change rapidly in politics

The above chart shows how views of the general election “seat winner” market have changed so much in the past six months. On May 12th Corbyn’s party was rated as a 48.1% chance ahead of what was then TMay’s Tories.

This reflected the polling. The Tories failed to record a single polling lead between April 5th and May 30th.

That was all a time when the party was totally divided by Brexit and the repeated failed attempts to get the withdrawal agreement passed by the Commons. It was in that context that TMay quit as leader thus opening the way for Johnson.

Her real problem is that the repeated failed commons votes highlighted the huge divisions within her party and generally voters don’t warm to parties that are split.

That Johnson’s party should now. if punters have got this right, be a 94% chance of coming out as seat winner with a 62% chance of a majority is, in many ways, a testament to his ruthless approach and the continued divisions with the official opposition.

If this turns out to be right then LAB would be heading for a fourth successive general election defeat.  The last time LAB suffered a fourth consecutive defeat paved the way for Tony Blair.  Somehow I don’t see a figure like that emerging after December 12th.

Mike Smithson


Tories trading today at record highs on the Commons Seats spreadbetting markets

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

With nominations for GE2019 closing at 4pm tomorrow we are just four weeks away from polling day. Postal voting is likely to start perhaps a week and a half later depending on the local authority.

The Tory polling position is nothing like as dominant as it was at this stage in 2017. Indeed four weeks ahead of that election ICM had CON 49%, LAB 27%, Farage’s party 6%, LD 9. TMay’s team was totally dominating the narrative and LAB looked doomed.

Then, of course, came the Tory manifesto with its dementia tax plan and the whole mood of the election totally changed. But just because the narrative changed last time round does not mean it will be the same.

My view is that the final week is going to be crucial because the country could be then so much closer to Brexit actually happening. A majority for Johnson would ensure that the referendum would be honoured while if he fell short then Brexit would be in doubt. If LAB is still some way behind in the polling then the possibility of Corbyn being PM would be far less.

This is likely to matter most in those seats where Remain came out top. Will Tory-voting remain backers stick with their party? The question then is whether possible CON losses in Remainia will be more than offset by gains from LAB.

Mike Smithson


Now five of the top 6 in the Democratic nomination betting are septuagenarians – the other’s 37

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Is the party really going to choose an old’un to fight the 74 year old

We have not looked at the WH2020 nomination recently but the latest development is that Wall Street multi-billionaire, Michael Bloomberg (77), has started registering to ensure that he’s on the primary ballots in some states. On top of this there’s a lot of betting interest in Hillary Clinton (72) although she has not said that she is running.

They join septuagenarians Bernie Sanders (78), Joe Biden (76) and Elizabeth Warren (70) who are competing hard to get the nomination to fight Trump next November.

As a septuagenarian myself, I was born three weeks before Trump, I think that this is crazy. The party’s flag carrier needs to be as different from the incumbent President as possible and on top of all his other troubles Trump’s age is showing.

The Democrats seem to do best at re-taking the White House when they go for a young and less known nominee. Look back at John Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and, of course Barack Obama.

So I am not convinced that a septuagenarian will make it this time. I’m on Pete Buttigieg and my most recent bet, £8 at 770/1, was on Amy Klobuchar. The latter is still in there and is beginning to get more attention after taking effective swipes at Buttigieg.

Looking forward I now plan to be in California, the biggest state of all, for its primary on March 3rd. With Texas voting as well that day there are so many delegates at stake that we could have a clearer view of the likely outcome.

  • Betting trend chart of Betfair market from

    Mike Smithson

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    A Brexit Carol – how last time is shaping views of GE2019

    Monday, November 11th, 2019

    There is a ghost which is stalking this election in the media coverage, and it is the spirit of 2017. Everywhere one looks right leaning journalists are fretting and not quite believing the polls. The spirit of Election 2017 and a good ghost for Labour it is too – “Oh Jeremy Corbyn !”.

    Everywhere one looks the written media is observing this election as a closish horse race “You can’t rely on labour leavers to not revert to type” twitter journalists type. “I’ve found Brexit party switchers in Workington and they are ALL from the Conservatives” rings Goodall. 2017, a haunted spirit of an election for the Conservatives hangs heavy in everyone’s mind where Corbyn seemingly did the impossible and reduced May’s seats.

    I think this phantom haunts me too as this piece- which is based on an attempt to see objective truth and clarity through the murky and muddied polling light has me instinctively disbelieving my own conclusions. But yet it is there – now onto what those Will o the wisp polls, the best light to guide us but occasionally lead us into a murky betting grave are saying:

    The simple polling evidence points to a Tory % of somewhere between 35 and 41% whilst Labour is between 25 and 30%. Regional polling suggests the Tories are losing votes in the south whilst gaining or at least holding steady in the north and midlands. Based on where the marginals lie that’s a deal you’d take at CCHQ. Candidates who have made any sort of questionable utterance on Twitter are being dealt with ruthlessly before media stories can gain traction – Anthony Calvert and Nick Conrad have been politically dealt with quickly and efficiently. They’ll certainly ship some seats in Scotland to a well revived SNP – but Sturgeon comes with her own unhelpful demands from Labour’s perspective…

    The Lib Dems are seemingly doing well with individual southern constituency surveys in the south, but beware these do not have the greatest predictive powers – I note the Lib Dem candidate and John Redwood were both named in a Wokingham one commissioned which showed Redwood narrowly hanging on.

    Now I’m not saying the Lib Dems aren’t doing well in the home stockbroker belt, they are – but the swings needed for them to capture these seats on a significant scale aren’t being borne out by the polling right now. The swings needed to take out Raab in Esher and Walton and Guildford are to put it mildly ‘large’ – far beyond Con Gain Bolsover in the East midlands as an example … It will be a good night for them just not as good as Jo’s forays into Kensington early on in the campaign might suggest.

    The Labour vote, I think is where the narrative isn’t quite matching up to anecdata. It is plummeting not just in the Midlands and the north, but also interestingly central London. They appear to have become a remain party to leavers and a leave party to remainers. This is the opposite of and the biggest change to 2017 where they pulled the trick of appearing to be a leave party to leavers and a remain party to remainers.

    Who will they swing to though ? The remainers look to have a ready home in the Lib Dems but the Labour leavers, well perhaps they will simply sit this one out. It’s hard to find an unenthused staying at home Labour voter as a journalist, and easy to find a vocal Con -> Brexit switcher. Add to this the anti-semitism rows, splits and ex Labour MPs urging a vote for Johnson and in short this looks like it could be a very bad night for Labour indeed. They are not dealing with questionable candidates anything like as well as the Tories, Sultana is still running in Coventry South last time I checked – a marked contrast to Broadland and Wakefield for the Tories.

    The ghost of 2017 haunts everyone,  but with under a month to go till the election and a lifetime of not changing his spots behind him a macabre poltergeist of election future likely awaits Corbyn’s Labour.



    The spreads move even more sharply to the Tories

    Monday, November 11th, 2019


    The mood on the spread betting markets this morning has been sharply to the Tories with both LAB and the LDs seeing their projected seats numbers drop markedly.

    This follows a weekend of good polling news for Johnson with LAB and the LDs seeing disappointing drops in their poll shares. The picture is all of Johnson heading for a comfortable working majority.

    On Friday evening, as I reported here, I made my first big spread bet of the elections – a SELL of LAB seats at 210. As can be seen the sell level is now down below 200 and I could cash out of my position at a nice profit.

    The LDs have no doubt been hit by the drop of 3% in the latest BMG poll and are in the mid teens.

    What has happened is that Johnson seems to have stopped the flow of GE2017 CON remainers to the LDS. The majority are are sticking with their choice last time.

    Of course everything, even more so in LD targets is down to what happens in individual seats and how the campaigning is going.

    Mike Smithson


    Betting on the Scottish battlegrounds

    Monday, November 11th, 2019

    Goodness knows I try not to offend. Among the more controversial posts that I have ever put up, however, was one that concerned the SNP’s results at the last election. I noted that the SNP had lost more seats than the Conservatives and that they came within a whisker of losing many more. Their strategic position for the next election looked terrible.

    This did not go down well with the nationalist fraternity. Yet here we are in 2019, facing that next election. How do things look for the SNP now?

    This gets a bit data-heavy, so forgive me for giving you a couple of external links. Here is a link to a table of the Scottish seats organised from an SNP perspective, from safest seat to most challenging target (I’ve included all the best odds at the time of writing as well – be aware that Coral also have seat prices taken from Ladbrokes and Betfair Sportsbook have Paddy Power’s prices).

    As you can see, from Paisley & Renfrewshire North onwards, there is an abundance of marginals. 15 SNP seats would fall to an adverse swing of 2%. Six seats could be taken with a favourable swing of 2%. For a party that got swings of 30% and more in 2015, these margins are the vibration of a grass stem on the edge of a volcano.

    From an SNP perspective, however, recent polls have been broadly encouraging. They are polling ahead of their vote share in the 2017 election – though it should be noted that they underperformed their pre-election polling then. One hopes that the pollsters have made appropriate corrections this time around. Better still, both the Conservatives and Labour have fallen back since then, with the Lib Dems making something of a revival. The Lib Dems pose little threat this time for the SNP, seriously challenging in only one seat (Fife North East). This turn of events suits the SNP well. 

    None of this alters the strategic position. In a world of four party politics, Gore Vidal’s dictum applies: it is not enough to succeed, others must fail. The big risk for the SNP is that there is greatly increased tactical voting this time round from unionists. The big opportunity for them is that with the unionists having fallen out over Brexit and over Jeremy Corbyn’s politics, tactical voting may in fact wane.

    Let’s turn to the betting. Here are the Scottish seats ranked by odds on the SNP winning them (I’ve stripped out parties with a best price of more than 20/1 to make the table more usable). You will immediately see that the order differs markedly from the order by swing. Labour are seen as ripe for the taking while the Lib Dems are seen as the tough nuts to crack.  

    The effects are really quite extreme. The SNP are 1/8 to take Rutherglen & Hamilton East, a Labour seat and Labour are third favourites in East Lothian, a seat they hold.  Meanwhile the Lib Dems are 4/6 to take Fife North East, presumably because they are seen as very transfer-friendly for other unionist parties.

    Enough chit chat. What are the betting opportunities? Well, the first thing to note is that the SNP are best priced at 5/6 (the bookies’ evens) in 47 out of 59 seats. That suggests that if you are going to play the under/over markets, you’re probably better going under – you can get 5/6 with William Hill, with the line set at 49.5.  This looks like a clear bet to me.

    Next, the prices seem to be based on the assumption that unionists will not get their act together with tactical voting. This seems very questionable to me, given that the number one topic for most Scots remains independence (whether for or against). The 4/6 with Paddy Power on the Lib Dems in Fife North East looks marked to me, but the point applies still more strongly in seats where the incumbent is not from the SNP.  Many of these are first term incumbents and can hope for a bounce: so the 7/2 with Paddy Power on Labour in East Lothian and even the 4/1 on Labour in Glasgow North East look reasonable bets. The 11/4 with Paddy Power on the Conservatives in Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock looks generous, given that the SNP need a 3% swing to take the seat.

    Nor are SNP-held seats immune. They are surely far too short in Perth & North Perthshire at 1/6, given they took the seat by just 21 votes. The Conservatives must be worth a punt at 3/1. While it is one of the longest standing SNP seats, that does not mean all that much in the maelstrom of Scottish politics: three of the six seats that the SNP held in the 2010-15 Parliament have already fallen to the Conservatives. There are similar examples.

    I would, however, steer clear of those SNP-held seats like Edinburgh North & Leith and Lanark & Hamilton East where both Labour and the Conservatives fancy their chances. In all probability they will both knock each other out, particularly at a time when their vote share looks to have declined. At 2/9 in both of these seats, the SNP are not going to get you rich, so I wouldn’t bother on that side of the fence either.

    Bear in mind: it’s not so much that I expect the SNP to underperform – I don’t particularly – but that their ultimate seat count is at least as dependent on how their opponents work together or against each other as on their own performance. That right now seems murky, so the value will tend to be found against the short-priced bets. Trying to keep hold of what is going on is like trying to keep hold of a greased pig. Of course, when you’re trying to keep hold of a greased pig, the chances of ending up in a mess are high, so these are markets where it’s always wise to have an eye to safety. Proceed with care.

    Alastair Meeks