in Politics, Wandsworth

If I were a betting man…

I probably wouldn’t make much money out of political betting.

I did try once: when I was the Conservative candidate for Great Grimsby and spent an afternoon touring bookies to see if they would give odds on the seat. All politely declined, apologetically telling me that the result was a foregone conclusion. When I said I was actually looking for odds on the scale of my defeat (I wasn’t stupid, even if I was a bit wet behind the ears back then) their sympathy turned to suspicion, as if I could somehow engineer a particular majority to ensure I won the bet.

It never occurred to them that if the Conservative organisation in Grimsby were capable of such a feat, it might have used its incredible power to win the seat, rather than just a few quid from them.

Again, Ladbrokes aren’t offering odds on the Grimsby seat, but are on a lot of other seats, including the three in Wandsworth (their site it run by scripts, so it’s difficult to link to the page, but you can find the latest odds under ‘Politics’, then ‘UK General Election’).

While I’m fairly confident I might break my losing streak this year – I’ve not been involved in a winning campaign since 1992 – I’m finding it almost unbelievable the Tories are such favourites in so many key seats, including all those in Wandsworth.

Winner Battersea Putney Tooting
Conservative 1/20 1/100 1/3
Labour 7/1 12/1 2/1
Liberal Democrat 100/1 100/1 50/1

Unless I’m hoping for an upset (and obviously, I’m not) there’s not much to be made, for example in Putney a £100 stake on Justine Greening would win just £1. Even in Tooting I’d only win £1 for every £3 I bet.

Having said all that, after the week Gordon Brown’s had, maybe the odds aren’t so outlandish after all.

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  1. In the 2004 US Presidential elections I placed a bet one way and voted the other way. That way I figured at least I’d be (slightly) compensated if my guy didn’t win and I’d be so happy I wouldn’t care about the lost money if it turned out the other way.

    I used my winnings plus original stake to buy a pack of cigarettes.

  2. I’d agree that they are favourites, but I’m quite surprised that the odds of a Tory win in Tooting are quite that short. I wonder how much data they put into modelling these odds?

    • I’m not sure. Usually odds are set based on the stakes placed, but I can’t imagine they are seeing huge numbers of bets for all those seats, so you would imagie there’s some analysis or local knowledge at play.

      The shortening of the Lib Dems in Tooting from 100/1 to 50/1, for example, suggests they are at least aware that Labour have always struggled to hold them off from taking Graveney Ward.