Tomorrow, the electorate of England, Scotland and Wales will head to the polls for critical local and national elections that will shed light on the faultlines running through UK politics in the wake of Britain leaving the EU and a year of the COVID-19 pandemic…
The outcome of ‘Super Thursday’ results will be consequential with regards to PM Boris Johnson leadership and control of government, SNP’s push for Scottish independence and the public’s judgement of Keir Starmer performance as leader of a divided Labour Party… SBC gets the bookies lowdown!
SBC: As voters prepare to go to the polls on Thursday across England, Scotland and Wales – which constituencies are heating up for bookmakers?
Patrick Flynn (Political Analyst – Smarkets): Ahead of Thursday’s by-election in Hartlepool, we’ve seen some big shifts on our market, which is now the largest ever for a parliamentary by-election. This morning [Tuesday], the Conservatives surged to an all-time high price of 83% to take the seat from Labour, following the publication of a constituency poll that gave the Conservatives a 17-point lead over Labour.
Our markets on the Conservative and Labour vote shares for the by-election suggest a lead closer to 7 points (Conservative 46%, Labour 39%), indicating that the markets are fairly confident of a Conservative victory, though perhaps not as large a one as the recent constituency poll indicated.
In London, Sadiq Khan is cruising to near-certain re-election, with his chances standing at 98% with over £7.5m traded (our second largest politics market ever — beaten only by last year’s US presidential election). Our markets also give Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey a 98% chance of finishing second, with the Liberal Democrats’ Luisa Porritt and Siân Berry of the Greens both at a 49% chance to finish in third place. It could be a great night for Labour in London, with the party also climbing to a price of 83% to be the first party to ever win a majority of seats on the London Assembly.
In some of the other mayoral elections, the Conservative incumbents are both at record-high chances to win re-election in the Tees Valley and West Midlands, with Ben Houchen and Andy Street last trading at 91% and 93%, respectively.
North of the border, the SNP are effectively guaranteed to win the most seats in the Scottish Parliament, but the party’s aim to win a majority remains on a knife-edge. The market has flipped in recent days, making ‘no majority’ for the SNP the marginally more likely outcome at 53%
SBC: Does the Labour Party need a drastic rethink of its values, strategy and leadership as polls indicate that the Conservative Party will continue to take constituencies within its former strongholds?
Matt Shaddick (Head of Politics – Ladbrokes): I think it’s a bit early to write off a Starmer-led Labor party just yet. Even if they do very badly on Thursday, we’re a long way from a general election and a lot of things that seem very important now will have been forgotten about by then.
Even if they did decide to ditch Starmer, it isn’t particularly obvious who would make a big difference. The leadership can plausibly brush off setbacks now as being a result of a temporary vaccine-induced sense of optimism. If the Tories are still ahead in the polls this time next year, things might be a bit different.
I think it’s completely plausible that come the next general election, the “time for a change” message after 14 years of Tory led government could be quite powerfu
SBC: SNP looks set to secure its Holyrood majority, but does the outcome guarantee its desired second Scottish Independence Referendum?
Sam Rosbottom (PR Manager UK/IRE – Betfair): The SNP’s race to a majority is very tight and it’s currently odds-on that they fall short of the required 65 seats. The SNP are 5/6 to fail to win a majority while getting to 65 seats or more is 11/10.
An independence referendum is 9/4 to take place in 2022, while 2023 is 9/2 and 2024 11/2, however for the referendum to not take place before is short odds at 11/10, which takes into account the tight race for a majority in this election and will be a fascinating market to follow as the results filter in.
At 8/11, voting to stay a part of the United Kingdom is the most likely outcome in the next Scottish independence referendum, while leaving is Evens.
SBC: Securing the Conservative outright General Election victory in 2019 and increasing their majority following COVID pandemic…. Is Boris now untouchable?
Joe Lee (Head of UK&IRE – Paddy Power): The only way is up for Boris right now – having bottomed out at an approval rating of 34% in Oct/Nov 2020, as the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel was difficult to see, he has made all the right moves (apartment renovations aside).
Clearly the success of the vaccine roll out in the UK, compared to that of other European nations, is very much in his favour and has somewhat leveraged the Rule Britannia sentiment. Since Oct 2020 his approval rating has climbed to 46% and the only way is up over the coming months.
He has little to worry about in the Hartlepool by-election on Thursday as Jill Mortimer looks a sure thing to carry the day at 1/14. Much like Keir Starmer struggling to land a blow against a punchbag, the Labour candidate Paul Williams is very much on the slide at Paddy Power and is now all the way out to 5/1 for those brave enough to go against the flow. Both polls and punter betting patterns suggest this is a two horse race, and ultimately really only a solo run when it boils down to it.