What would happen to the “certain” bet with this scenario?
With the Tories moving even further down in the spread markets Jon’s plan, for a “sure thing” General Election betting strategy could look even more promising. His plan is to combine a Tory buy spread contract at the depressed prices with a Labour winning most seats win punt on Betfair where the odds are now 1.17.
The effect of the combination is that you are protected against a loss even if the Tories get 17 seats less than that in your buy bet.
Since he put forward his idea we have been trying to visualise the circumstances where it could go horribly wrong. And one such scenario is contained in the Lib Dem poster above from the 2001 General Election? This was based on a Mori poll showing that the parties would divide LAB 36%: CON 23%: LD 33% when those surveyed were asked – “if you thought the Liberal Democrats could win in your constituency, how would you vote?”
From the the headline figures in that survey Labour dropped 13% and the Tories 8% when faced with the “Lib Dem winning here” proposition. Simply extrapolating what would happen in today’s world of much reduced Labour shares and the map above gets even more yellow. Zap those proportions off the current ratings, add them to the LD present poll figures, and things start to look ridiculous.
At these vote share levels the first past the post voting system works very well for Charles Kennedy’s party for playing about with the vote shares in Martin Baxter’s calculator we get more than 500 Lib Dem MPs! Heaven help us.
The flaw in all of this is that the 2001 polling question on which it is based is very suspect because it invites a particular answer.
Although we all know this is not going to happen there are some who are arguing that if the Lib Dems got into the mid-20s in the polls during the campaign then they could be perceived very differently and the old “wasted vote” argument would be much harder to sutstain. At that point, it is suggested, anything could happen.
We are living in unusual times. When a Chancellor is widely reported as telling his boss that in future he will never believe anything that the PM says we are entering a strange and unpredictable new world. This is made the more so because the main opposition, according to the polls at least, have failed to capitalise.
But we’ve been here before with the notion of the third party coming through. At one stage in the first Thatcher Government the SDP/Liberals was polling as the top party. That all fell away by election day and in 1983 Michael Foot did what Tony Blair and Neil Kinnock never achieved – he got a bigger share of the vote than the opinion polls were stating.
As to Jon’s bet – let’s reconsider it when the Tory price drops to 180 seats.
[NOTE: I am on a short holiday away from internet access so the next site update will not be until Wednesday]