Flying blind in London…

Flying blind in London…

……………………………………….betting without the aid of opinion polls
The next big political betting event – the London Mayoral Election – is less than six weeks away but there has been almost no polling information to guide punters and very little media coverage.

Unlike in 2000 just one bookmaker is offering odds and there is a single, but lively, betting exchange market.

When Ken Livingstone was first elected in 2000 he was taking on the Labour establishment and his fight made big news night after night. There were opinion polls at least once a fortnight and the election was seen as a battle between him and Frank Dobson, the official Labour candidate. This time he IS the Labour candidate and there’s a strong sense that most people think that his re-election is a foregone conclusion. has been arguing for weeks that by Ken running under the Labour flag the race is not as one-sided as it might seem. The polling commentator, Anthony Wells, has now published an article taking a similar view and describes how difficult it is for the opinion polls to produce an accurate prediction when the turn-out is less than one-in-three. In spite of all the media coverage last time only 34% of Londoners bothered to vote. In June this is likely to be much lower.

    The national opinion polls are a guide to what might happen in London. In the last three all-London local elections Labour’s aggregate vote has been 13-15% LESS than its national opinion poll rating. The Tories and Lib Dems each secured 3-6% MORE than the opinion poll share.

In the GLA election that is being held at the same time the Tories look to improve substantially on the 34% of the London aggregate vote that they got in 2002 while IDS was still leader. Almost all of these votes will go to Norris in the Mayor election. The Lib Dems could get 20-25% with Simon Hughes securing the party’s mayoral votes. Labour will be squeezed. Clearly Ken has a strong personal following and will do much better than his party. But how much better and will he get enough first preference votes to beat Norris on the first count?

    He needs to because the widespread assumption that Ken will pick up a large share of the Lib Dem second preferences is debunked in the table on page 15 of this detailed report on precisely what happened to the second preferences last time.

Excluding the Dobson factor it is hard to see how Ken Livingstone get can get anywhere near near half of the available second preferences. Norris must be a certainty for the top two and the only way that Simon Hughes can do it is if Ken comes in third place. If Hughes is still there for the second preference count then he will surely win it.

Last night I backed Steve Norris at 11 which seemed fabulous value given that the Tories are almost certain to win most votes in the GLA election. There’s no better political bet anywhere! The most they would let me put on was £100 on and I was prevented from betting in this market today.

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