UK General Election: 7 Exciting Constituency Betting Heats
- Labour to win Kensington at 3/1 with Coral
- Lib Dems to win Portsmouth South at 11/10 with Ladbrokes
- Labour to win Hartlepool at 5/4 with Ladbrokes
To understand why this is the most unpredictable general election in living memory, check out the constituency betting. Literally hundreds could theoretically change hands - double the number under realistic consideration last time and unimaginable in political elections prior to Brexit.
Most are effectively two-horse races and I’ll be analysing the best targets for each of the main parties in the weeks ahead. First though, let’s consider these particularly fascinating seats, where it is impossible to narrow the field to two.
As things stand, with the Tories consistently polling in the high-thirties at worst, the fundamental dynamic involves how and where Labour and Lib Dems share the remainder.
Will the non-Tory vote - largely aligned with Remainers - coalesce around the best placed alternative in the marginals? Will they even know which party is best placed to beat the Tories?
Lib Dem surge throws London wide-open
This is a particularly acute problem in Remain-dominated London. On 2017 numbers Labour appear within range of several Tory targets. However the Lib Dems are polling at twice their 2017 poll share, while Labour are down a quarter. Those trends are particularly strong in the capital - a recent Yougov poll showed a 13% swing between the two since the last election.
If the betting sites are right, a split-Remainer vote will enable the Tories to retain Cities of London and Westminster (3/4 with Unibet) and Putney (8/11 with William Hill), despite over 70% supporting Remain in both. While Labour are a clear, competitive second, they cannot afford to shed many votes while the Lib Dems need a massive advance to win from third.
The former looks the more vulnerable of the two. Chuka Umunna is the Lib Dem candidate and his famous profile could win over many Tory Remainers. Labour aren’t out of it at 10/1 with Ladbrokes either, given a strong core vote, stark inequality in the constituency and their campaigning prowess. Alternatively, I give the Lib Dems a better chance in Putney, but the Tories are preferred hold on there.
Luciana Berger to fare best among high profile Lib Dem converts
A likelier Lib Dem target from third place is Finchley and Golders Green - a 5/6 chance with William Hill. This was a surprise hold for the Tories as it voted 69% for Remain but Labour underperformed, having become toxic among the large Jewish population in the constituency under Jeremy Corbyn.
Those tensions have worsened due to the party’s anti-semitism crisis and the Lib Dems are poised to reap the rewards. They have selected Luciana Berger - once a rising Labour star but who quit after being a repeat victim of anti-semitic abuse. She has roots in the local community and serious potential to win votes from both main parties.
Another high-profile defector, this time from the Tories, is Sam Gwimah, who is bidding for Kensington. This once ultra-Tory seat fell to Labour in a massive shock last time but Emma Dent Coad is rated the outsider of three at 3/1 with Coral. That could be a misread - Gwimah could win over more Tory voters. This is a seat with deep inequality, only 34% homeownership and a high 27% are social renters. Labour will throw serious campaigning resources at it and fight hard on the ground. Their core vote should hold up and the MP has a local profile.
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Lib Dems already thriving in Portsmouth South
Moving outside London, Portsmouth South is another genuine three-way marginal - won by different parties in the last three elections. Again Labour are both incumbent and outsider of three at 4/1 with Bet365.
A huge 38% of this constituency are aged 18-34 and the result hangs on their tactical decision as the Tory ceiling is probably below 40%. This is very close - a recent poll showed the three parties separated by just 6% - but if pushed, I’d choose the Lib Dems at 7/4 with Bet365.
Likewise, it will require tactical co-ordination to beat the Tories in Southport - which voted 54/46 for Remain - but that could prove difficult. Labour made huge advances in 2017 and confirmed progress in this year’s council elections.
The Lib Dems fell back after the retirement of long-term MP John Pugh. The Tories are preferred here at 11/10 with Ladbrokes as their share is under less threat now the Brexit Party has stood down.
Nigel Farage’s party are now competitive in a handful of seats at best, with Hartlepool the best chance. Party chair Richard Tice chose this prime target, which voted 70% for Leave and where UKIP scored 28% in 2015. I’m not convinced they can see off Labour. Mike Hill scored 52.5% of the vote in 2017, will shed fewer to the Lib Dems than elsewhere, and might get a benefit from being the ‘anti-Farage’ party. They’re 5/4 with Ladbrokes.
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