- What about a market on which party will win England?
Given the fact that the overall General Election markets are almost a foregone conclusion why not a market on which party will have most of England’s 529 MPs after the General Election?
A crumb of comfort for Michael Howard is that the Lib Dems’ ability to take votes and seats off Labour puts this goal within sight.
If the Lib Dems just do as well in the General Election as they did last time then the Tories need 244 seats to be top in England. This involves the Tories taking 80 seats from Labour which, as things stand at the moment, looks challenging given that they got just 164 English seats in 2001.
But for each Lib Dem success against Labour in England the Tory target is reduced and if, say, 20 seats went Charles Kennedy’s way, then this might be possible.
Last week’s by-elections showed that tactical voting against the Tories might not happen on anything like the same scale as the last two General Elections when it reduced Tory seats by 30-40 compared with the national swing. With this factor then Michael Howard probably starts with a base of about 200 seats – a long way off the 324 for an overall majority but not too far from being top party in England.
Aiming to be top party in England might resonate well with English voters. Issues like per capita public spending in Scotland being much higher than in England and Labour MPs from north of the border voting on issues like university fees would be much easier to exploit as top party. Also the Tories have almost nothing to lose, just one MP, in Scotland.
Whenever there’s a red hot favourite bookies sometimes look at a way to create a handicap market. Could Englaand seats only be the one for the General Election? We think so