Lib Dem By-Election Shock a Bigger Upset Than Trump and Brexit
The Liberal Democrats’ by-election victory over the Conservatives in Chesham and Amersham will go down as one of the biggest upsets in politics betting history.
Sarah Green overturned a majority of 16,000 to beat her Tory rival Peter Fleet by 8,028 seats and flip a safe Conservative constituency yellow for the first time since its establishment in 1974.
The Tories had been on course to take the seat comfortably and maintain their dominance at a local council level. Only last month did Boris Johnson’s party turn Hartlepool blue in a major coup for the government.
“We were told it was impossible for any party to beat the Tories here in Buckinghamshire,” said Lib Dem leader Ed Davey. “We were told this seat was too safe and the Tories too strong. This Liberal Democrat win has proved them utterly wrong.”
Politics Odds Rumbled
Indeed, it wasn’t just the pollsters who were proved wrong here as betting sites were forced to shell out big wins to punters who backed the Lib Dems at remarkably long odds.
In the days leading up to the by-election, Ms Green was as wide as 10/1 to win this seat. The Tories, in contrast, were as short as 1/11. That gave Mr Fleet a 91% implied chance of winning, which highlights just how confident the bookies were in Chesham and Amersham staying blue.
Indeed, so great was the reversal that it dwarfs both the 2016 US presidential election result and the Brexit vote.
Five years ago, Donald Trump rocked global politics by beating Hilary Clinton to the White House. Trump was considered a big outsider but no wider than 7/2, meaning a £10 bet would have returned £45.
Earlier that year the British public voted to exit the EU during the Brexit referendum that fell 52-48 in favour of Leave. Those odds before polling day were floating around 11/4, meaning a return of £37.50 on a tenner wager.
In contrast, the same money bet on the Lib Dems this week would have returned £110, which shows just how monumental the by-election result is.
What Happened To The Tories?
Both political and betting analysts will pick over the 2021 Chesham and Amersham by-election result for months but there were two major issues for voters on the ground.
The first was the construction of the HS2 railway line that is being built through the constituency and towards which there is fierce local opposition. The second are the government’s planning reforms that could result in more homes being built in rural areas.
The Lib Dems were also hot on the ground, with Mr Davey himself visiting the constituency 15 times. Meanwhile, Labour’s slump to a record-low 622 votes suggested left-wing voters shifted to the Liberals to keep the Tories out.
How the bookmakers missed such a groundswell of support may have been from the lack of national media attention upon the constituency.
However, after this and the Hartlepool result, by-election betting is likely to be more closely scrutinised in the future.
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