UK General Election: How Will Labour Do?

UK General Election: How Will Labour Do?

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With a fortnight of campaigning left, there’s no doubt Labour are in a very bad place. On current estimates derived from YouGov’s MRP model, they will lose 51 seats, handing the Tories a majority of 68. As always in political betting on elections, remember to treat such projections with caution and that two weeks is a hell of a long time.

Low Expectations Make This A Good Time To Bet

This may be the ideal moment to bet on Labour targets. Their polling remains grim, but better than last week. Opinium’s 19% Tory lead was probably an outlier, but it showed the threat of a wipe-out remains. Two of the last four recorded the lead down to 7% and, critically given the number of marginals there, Labour enjoyed a big swing in the latest Welsh poll.

However the aforementioned MRP model has attained gold standard pedigree in the media after bucking the trend in 2017, correctly forecasting a hung parliament. Their 43/32 projection and distribution of seats is now the headline narrative. I will be extremely interested in their final prediction but at this stage, the model hasn’t reduced any of the uncertainty. The best political betting sites odds match this projection also.

Merely Slight Improvement Could Save Dozens Of Seats

On these latest numbers (few of which were surprising), the margin between Conservatives and Labour is less than 5% in 67 seats. It wouldn’t take much for them to rise from the current 211 projection to 240, even 250 plus. On the downside, I can’t envisage lower than 190.

That positive transformation could come about via a small national swing - say 2% - or from strong local campaigning by incumbent MPs, differential turnout, the rise in youth registration translating into votes or tactically-minded supporters from other parties.

Indeed a squeeze is quite predictable. The Tories have risen to 43% by largely consuming the Brexit Party vote. It is largely factored in. Whereas there may be more scope for Labour to squeeze the other parties, because in many seats the smart tactical choice for Remainers has been unclear. It will become clearer down the final stretch, whether they are informed online or by activists on the ground.

Labour Look Booked For The Thirties

With so much uncertainty in seats, I’m wary of taking a firm position about totals. A more reliable target is their vote share. Ladbrokes offer of 4/6 about 30-39.99% looks very generous. They’re already polling consistently in the thirties and 40% is surely beyond the toxic Corbyn.

Without doubt, the best constituencies to back Labour are ones they already hold. Preferably areas where the demographics are positive and voted to Remain in 2016. One Brexit seat where I do fancy them is Hartlepool - recommended earlier at 5/4, now 4-5 best with Bet365. Those odds are still very reasonable - they are up against split Brexiter opposition.

Back Labour To Keep These Remain Seats

The following three are much more vulnerable in numerical terms, but are not places where the Tories are likely to thrive. Birmingham Edgbaston (8/11 with Bet365), Bristol North West (5/6 with Unibet) and Cardiff North (10/11 with Bet365) all voted to Remain - the former by 53/47, the latter pair 61/39. Labour are solid favourites in each, and look rock solid bets here.

Edgbaston is a one-time marginal that has been trending Labour for decades. 32% of this constituency are aged 18-34, 52% are homeowners and only 69% are white British - that combination makes the Tory ceiling much lower than most of their top-100 targets.

Both Bristol North-West and Cardiff North were quite stunning upsets in 2017 - seats that were comfortably held by David Cameron in 2015. The dramatic swing showed how Brexit has been a double-edged sword for the Tories - attracting Leave voters in Labour’s Midlands and heartlands, especially constituencies with older populations, but alienating Remainers in the South, especially younger constituencies.

One of the stories of this election will involve the accentuation of those trends. These types of constituency will record less of a swing, if any, from Con-Lab. However accurate the overall YouGov model turns out, I do think their estimates are a good guide to where that swing will be. In those three defences, they record Labour 11-12% ahead.

One seat about which I have switched is Portsmouth South, where the Lib Dems were initially fancied to regain as the beneficiaries of Remainer tactical voting. That was wrong - YouGov record Labour 7% ahead of the Tories and therefore primed to squeeze the Lib Dems, against what looks a limited Tory challenge. They’ve crashed to 4/7 now with Bet365 and it's easy to see why.

 

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