Well this morning I was on betfair politics zone. For those unfarmiliar with betfair, its an ingenious system in which you lay bets against fellow punters. If you reckon, say, that Man U will win the league, your money will be matched up with someone who reckons they won’t. The odds you get go up and down with supply and demand. Watching the trends is interesting in itself.
So anyway I thought I might try and pick out a couple of bets worth making. This morning I put £15 on the lib dems to get 40-44 seats at odds of around 9-1 – so that’s £125 profit if i’m right. This might strike you as overly pessimistic but let me explain my reasoning. In 1997 the Lib Dems won 46 seats with 16.8 per cent of the vote. In 2001 they made it to 52 seats with 18.3 per cent, and to 62 seats in 2005 with a whopping 22% of the vote.
Now there are various reasons for think they will get mauled – and mauled back down to 1997 levels or further. Most obviously the polls predict a big swing against the lib dems. This time they are polling at 17%, 5 per cent lower than last time. Meanwhile certain conditions that allowed the Lib Dems to rise above their station no longer apply. In 2005 they got a big anti-war vote. Nowadays we are out of Iraq, while the Libs have taken no distinctive stand on Afghanistan. Perhaps more importantly they have far less breathing space to the right. Back in 2001 and 2005 the Tories were lead by men who – in both style and substance – were very much on the nasty reactionary end of the party. Understandably they were able to pick up lots of votes from “tories with jumpers”, and others who , while not of the left identified with modern urban sensibilities.
Equally the chips are really down in this election. In places like Cambridge – where they grabbed a seat last time – they seemed to get the vote of those who treated voting as an exercize in political self expression, or a parade of their moral conscience, rather than a practical attempt to determine the future. You know, those self indulgent tossers who opine, with great moral gravity, “I couldn’t possibly vote labour”. With a change of government on the cards – and at a time when politics will really save people or fuck people – I expect people to really, actually vote for who might form the next government – i.e. Labour or the Tories.
Finally their is the Lib Dem leadership factor: even with a body composed mostly of alcohol, Charles Kennedy was a thousand times more charismatic than Nick Clegg. For a brief moment it seemed he would really improve the profile of the Lib Dems and of gingers, before the fatally boring Nick Clegg caused both to crash back down.
And now for another little tip: if you are a green and you like to vote for your team, the odds on Caroline Lucas are pretty decent. Last time I checked you could bet on her at about 2.3 – so a £20 stake would get you £46 quid plus your original stake back.
So, fellow bloggers, what are your tips?