Labour firm favourite at Hartlepool

Labour firm favourite at Hartlepool


    By-election a test-bed for Labour’s new anti-LD approach

A conventional bookmaker, Paddy Power, has now joined the betting exchange, Betfair and opened a market on the Hartlepool by-election to find a replacement for Peter Mandelson.The prices are:-

LAB 4/7: LD 5/4: CON 8/1: UKIP 14/1

The Tory price seems a bit mean given you can get 29/1 on Betfair. UKIP are so out of this race following their decision not to have a high-profile candidate that the 14/1 is ridiculously low. Betfair have not even given a listing for UKIP and nobody has asked them for one.

    We are waiting for detailed reports from the field before making a call but the LD price does look tempting and we rate their chances at least equal to Labour.

As we’ve said before here it is a brave punter who bets against the LDs in a by-election. They are by far and away the “form” team ande came a good second to Labour in the all-postal local elections there in June.

Meanwhile in Hartlepool itself Labour campaigners seem to be using the campaign to try out their new approach to dealing with the LDs. They are saying that a vote for the Lib Dems would lead to a Tory-LD coalition government and that this would be a way of letting the Tories in by the back door. In their latest missive they’ve accused Charles Kennedy’s party of wanting to team to with the Conservatives to abolish the NHS.

We think that this lacks the key ingredient for effective campaign rhetoric – plausibility. You also get a sense of desperation and we doubt whether this will fire up Labour activists to campaign hard. We would have expected Labour to follow the highly effective strategy from Birmingham Hodge Hill of finding a chink in the LD candidate’s armour and then being single-minded. They held on there.

The current move is in line with the national Labour campaign to try to make voters aware of the “dangers” of supporting the LDs.

Party planners have yet to come up with an effective strategy of dealing with the rising LD share which has largely been of Labour’s own making because of the war and its aftermath, tuition fees and the big decline in trust in Tony Blair.

On the betting it’s really good to have another bookie in the field. In July’s contests we had to wait until the final week before other options were opened up.

In spite of all the talk of a hung parliament the spread markets remain unmoved at:-
LAB 343-351: CON 210-218: LD 66-70

Mike Smithson

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