To liven up betting on the General Election there should be market on which party will get most seats in England. This could be an easier target for the Tories because the way that Westminster seats are distributed means that they need to have a votes margin of at least six full percentage points to become the next Government – Labour is there even if it is three points behind.
Michael Howard has shown himself to be ruthless and already is questioning the right of Scottish MPs to vote on England-only legislation. The lone Tory in Scotland did not take part in the fees debate. If the Tories did win in England Michael Howard could claim a victory that would allow him to raise doubts about the whole legitimacy of Labour’s right to legislate in England.
Six months before the 2001 General Election a senior member of William Hague’s team told me that they if it looked as though the Tories were making progress then they would consider “playing the English card”. They would set themselves the target of being the top party in England even though Labour, through its huge strength in Scotland and Wales would end up as overall UK winners. The Tories have just one Westminster seat in the whole of Wales and Scotland.
Of the 648 seats to be contested at the next General Election 529 of them will be in England. This is what happened to the English seats at the 2001 General Election –
LAB 323 from 41.2% of English votes
CON 165 from 35.2% of English votes
LD 40 from 19.4% of English votes
Thus even in the landslide of 2001 the Tories were only 6% behind in England.
Assuming the total of 41 non-Tory or Labour seats remains static Michael Howard needs just 244 seats to be top in England with 265 required for a majority.
This would be a great market on the betting exchanges – come on Betfair or Betdaq!