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The 2015 UK General Election has been the talking point in the United Kingdom for months now, as it is looking like it is heralding a new era in British politics. While the 2010 brought in a coalition government, with the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats agreeing to work together, the 2015 General Election will see the emergence of at least one other party, while the minority parties will also see a bigger share of the votes. Yes, the Scottish National Party are the real players in the 105 General Election, while the United Kingdom Independence Party, the Green Party and Plaid Cwmru are all on course for far better showings.
But once you look past the politics of it all, and what it might mean for the next five years in the United Kingdom, there is a far more serious side to it, and that is the betting side of it. Yes, the 2015 General Election has more betting markets than you could shake a stick it, with every seat that is being contested available to bet on, as well as the number of seats each party will get, what the next UK Government will be, vote percentage and so on. So I thought it would be worthwhile having a look at the highlights of this election in its betting form, looking at the important markets for each party and the key seats.
It makes sense to look at the Conservative Party first, since they are the main party in the United Kingdom at the moment, with Prime Minister David Cameron their leader. The main thing to look at is what price David Cameron is to win his seat. It should be no shock that he is in one of the safety Conservative seats in the country in Witney. He is currently 1/100 to win his seat at the election. It is probably the safest way to make a 1% return on your investment.
The Conservative Party are favourites to win the most seats, and the value has long since done on that. Even just last week, they were 1/2, now they’re around 2/9. The polls and statistics show this is likely to be the case, purely because the Labour Party are facing a wipe-out in Scotland thanks to the SNP. If somehow Labour can overcome the SNP in Scotland and hold on to a few more of their seats than is being predicted, the Conservatives are going to struggle to win the most seats.
The main story coming out of the election build-up is that is David Cameron fails to win a mandate to govern the United Kingdom, he will more than likely step down as leader of the Conservative Party. So that takes us to the market for Next Leader of the Conservative Party. Currently, Boris Johnson is the favourite at around 2/1. Theresa May is not far behind at around 7/2. Chancellor George Osborne is third favourite 8/1, while other big hitters such as Phillip Hammond, Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt are in double-figures. Boris Johnson is the public’s favourite as well as the bookies’ favourite, but history shows that favourites do not do well when it comes to securing the Conservative Party nod. Just ask Michael Portillo. Phillip Hammond might just be the value here.
The official Opposition in the United Kingdom, they are led by Ed Miliband, who is currently the bookies’ favourite to be the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. You can get around 10/11 on Miliband being the next Prime Minister, but given that no-one seems to be able to predict the outcome of this election, or possible coalition partnerships, there is no value in this at all. The fact is, yes, more parties are likely to align with Labour, but Miliband has ruled out any formal coalition with the nationalist parties, so the permutations start to get confusing.
To win the most seats, the Labour Party are around 4/1 to do this. Is it likely? Not if you believe the polls. Is it possible? Sure. The swings that are taking place in Scotland appear to be huge. If the polls have overestimated the power of the SNP, then Labour are going to win far more seats in Scotland than predicted. That being said, when it comes to political betting, it tends to pay off following the money, and the money has been going on the Conservatives to win the most seats.
And what happens to Ed Miliband should he not become Prime Minister? Well, it’s safe to say that his party will not be standing for it, and he’ll be kicked out of the leadership position of the Labour Party. That brings up the question of who will be the next Labour Party leader? Well, for a long time Chuku Umunna was the dark horse in this market, but recently he’s been gathering momentum, and fits the bill of what the Labour Party would be looking for. He’s more to the left of centre than his predecessors, he’s erudite, and he appeals to a far broader spectrum than Miliband. Andy Burnham is the bookies’ favourite, followed by Yvette Cooper. Obvious choices, both, but Umunna is being groomed for the top job, and would look good value to be the UK Prime Minister in 2020 should Miliband not become Prime Minister this year.
The Coalition has not been kind to Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats, who are facing obliteration in the 2015 General Election. It’s safe to say the Lib Dems are not going to get anywhere near the 57 seats they currently have in the UK Parliament, and their share of the vote looks like dropping from 23% into single figures. The bookies have the line at 25.5 seats, and, personally, that looks high. They are going to be wiped out, more or less, in Scotland, thanks to the SNP, with Charles Kennedy likely to lose his seat, and traditional student heartlands where they felt they were strong have now turned on them, thanks in no small party to their U-turn on tuition fees. In fact, Nick Clegg, at one point, was looking like he might lose his Sheffield Hallam seat. Of course, he’s now 1/4 to win the seat, showing that the hard work has paid off. But that 1/4 is no value at all, because stranger things have happened. Keep an eye on Sheffield Hallam, even if he holds onto it, because the swing from the Liberal Democrats will show just how bad things are for the party.
And if Nick Clegg is forced out due to the bad performance, who will take over? Tim Farron, the party chairman, is odds-on favourite to take the job, and I can’t see anything other than that happening. Farron would start steering the party back to the left, which is where many of the party’s supporters want to be. We’re going to be seeing a changing of the guard in the Liberal Democrats after the 2015 General Election. The other viable candidate is Norman Lamb, whose media presence over recent months has got him in the mind of the public, as well as the fact he’s held a Cabinet position in the Coalition government. He’s an interesting runner, but he’d need the backing of the majority of the party’s supporters, and Farron just has the mass appeal to traditional Liberal Democrat supporters.
Scottish National Party
This is looking like the biggest General Election for the SNP. They are looking likely to almost wipe out Labour, the Convervatives and the Liberal Democrats in Scotland, leaving each party with just a handful of MPs come Friday, May 8th. This is on the back of a defeat in the Scottish Independence Referendum, as well as strong showings from Nicola Sturgeon in the leaders’ debates.
Currently, the SNP has six Members of Parliament, and they’re on course to get around eight-times as many this time around. The line is 50.5, which is achievable, but they might just fall short. The polls show that they are dominating throughout Scotland, but expect a late surge from Labour, the Lib Dems and even the Conservatives that might just leave the SNP falling short at around 48 seats.
Whatever the result, Nicole Sturgeon and Co will not be disappointed, but it might not be the total doom and gloom for the rest of the parties. In fact, as long as the Conservatives can keep a hold of their one seat in the Scottish Borders, they’ll be extremely happy.
United Kingdom Independence Party, Green Party, Plaid Cymru
This is a big election for the so-called smaller parties, with a rise in the UKIP vote making them the fourth biggest party in the United Kingdom. Will that translate into seats? Probably not. They currently have two members of Parliament, and it looks likely that they will be between 1 and 3 MPs come Friday morning. Douglas Carswell is almost a certainty to keep his seat, while Mark Reckless looks like losing his to the Conservatives, although he might squeeze back. That leaves Nigel Farage, whose is contesting the Thanet South seat, and while he’s odds-on to win it, there is going to be a strong protest vote from Labour and Lib Dem supporters to get the Conservative candidate over the line. Would I be taking 4/6 on Farage winning? Not likely. But what you have to consider are ‘Shy Kippers’ – those people that are going to vote UKIP but don’t want to tell everyone through fear of repercussions. The same happened with ‘Shy Tories’ in 1992, which got John Major into No.10. So look for a pick up in the UKIP share of the vote. The line for UK MPs is 2.5, and Under 2.5 is Even money, which is probably just about right. I can see Carswell and Farage being the sole UKIP MPs, but with an increased showing in the polls. That being said, there’s no ‘super’ value either way.
The Greens, well, they’ll get Caroline Lucas back into the House of Commons, but will they get another MP? Probably not. Their key battleground in Bristol looks like going to Labour, and it’s hard to see where they’ll pick up more seats. 0.5 seats is the line, they’ll beat that, but it’s 1/5, so not value at all.
Plaid Cymru, the party of Wales, will be looking to nick a few Labour seats in the valleys. The currently have 3 MPs, and there is a chance they could steal one or two more. The line for the number of seats is 3.5, so all they need is to steal one more. With the performance of Leanne Wood in the Leaders’ Debates, she’s raised the prominence of the party, which might just be the boost they need to get that extra seat. Odds-against for 4 or more Plaid MPs looks like a nice bit of value.
There are several interesting seats, and I’ve already pointed out the seats of Witney and Sheffield Hallam. Ed Miliband’s seat of Doncaster North is another one that is as safe as houses. Miliband is best price 1/33 to hold his seat. 3% interest on your money in just a couple of days is actually pretty nice!
Nigel Farage is currently a best price of 4/5 to win Thanet South. As mentioned above, there’s no value there. It’s a two-horse race, and the Conservative candidate is best price 13/8 to win Thanet South, which might be the real value.
Leader of the Greens, Natalie Bennett, is contesting the Holborn and St Pancras seat, which she’s going to lose out on to Labour. She’s a best price of 28/1 to win it. After the campaign she’s had, and the fact it’s a Labour stronghold, that is no value at all.
There are several interesting seats to watch, with Nuneaton being a key one. It’s currently a Conservative seat, but if Labour can take it, it could be a sign of things to come. Labour are 10/11 to win it, while the Conservatives are 5/4 to hold it. It could go either way, it really is 50/50. And since it is 50/50, the 5/4 on the Conservatives is the value.
Up in Scotland, there are big fights for Douglas Alexander and the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Jim Murphy. Alexander’s seat of Paisley and Renfrewshire South is in danger, with the SNP a very short 2/5 to win it. The loss of Alexander will be a huge hit to the Scottish Labour Party. Jim Murphy’s seat of Renfrewshire East is seen as a 50/50 chance by the bookies. If Scottish Labour want to avoid obliteration, they need to win here. So look for a big push by Murphy to keep a hold of it.
Of course, there are hundreds of interesting seats being contested over the General Election, but those are the ones that are going to generate the headlines
This is an election for the history books. No-one can predict the make-up of the UK Parliament at this moment in time, and it’s reflected in the bookies’ prices. The fact both major party leaders are the same price, more or less, to be the next Prime Minister of the UK sums it up. With potential coalitions also not clear, the final outcome is anyone’s guess. Still, it sure as hell is fun for having a punt on, especially if you know something we don’t!
The best place to bet the UK General Election, and all of the betting tips mentioned in this article are at Bet365.