Markets shrug off election day strike threat

Markets shrug off election day strike threat

Hughes moves up further in the polls
On the face of it the decision of the RMT union to hold an Underground strike on June 10 – the day of the London Mayoral Election – would seem to be manner from heaven for the Norris and Hughes campaigns. Any reminder of Ken Livingstone’s left-wing links would seem to reinforce the determination of non-Labour voters to turn-out and that must be bad news for Ken.

    The whole Livingstone campaign has been based on playing down any links he might have with Labour although he went to huge lengths to be readmitted into the party fold.

The betting markets, however, disagree – the Tory and Lib Dem prices move out while the Labour price hardens up. All this does is provide more value for anti-Ken backers.

    The strike raises the issue of whether it’s right that the RMT’s general secretary, Bob Crow, should be on the board of Livingstone’s Transport for London authority – something that the other candidates are making the most of.

You can only assume that the the RMT is so persuaded by Ken’s poll lead , see a new one in the Times today, that they do not think their choice of strike day will affect his re-election. To recap on what we’ve been saying for months – the conventional pollsters got the 2000 race wrong. Norris’s 29% today is 12% higher than any rating in any conventional poll last time. Livingstone’s 42% is 7% lower. On the day in 2000 Ken’s actual lead was 21% less than the smallest margin in any one the polls published throughout the election.

A major factor in the current poll is the rising position of Simon Hughes – now at 20%. Given that a very large proportion of Green voters will give Ken their 1st or 2nd choice it’s hard to see how Hughes could get into the final two for the run off. But he might be the main beneficiary of the strike and if he did manage second place he would pick up a huge part of the second preferences. He’s polling ahead of his party for the Assembly – Norris isn’t.

As part of our Norris call we have been suggesting that punters cover themselves with Hughes bets, particularly at the relatively high prices. There is still a chance that Hughes could be there so the Ken lay, if the price is right, is probably a safe bet.

Also, for just about the first time in this market, the Livingstone price is better with the bookmakers than the betting exchanges. With Norris the prices are about the same – but with Hughes you can only get 10 with the bookies but 18 on Betfair – that’s really good value.

My hope next week is that the YouGov final poll will feature some probing questions on differential turnout intentions between the candidates which was missing from the 2000 polling.

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