How will Michael Howard do in Folkestone?
Apart from the main “who will be the overall winner” market the most popular bet this week with site users, based on the number of click-throughs to online bookmakers, is how well will the Tory leader, seen here at St Martins Primary School, do in his own constituency?
Skybet have created an imaginative market on whether Howard will do better or worse in percentage terms than he did in Folkestone at the 2001 General Election. Then the result was CON 20,645 (45.02%): LD 14,738 (32.14%): LAB 9,260 (20.19%) and even before Michael Howard became leader the Lib Dems had put the seat high up on their list of “decapitation targets”.
What’s good about this bet is that it is not on whether Howard will hold on. Party leaders have a long history of doing better than their parties as a whole and even with a Labour share of 20% to squeeze only the most optimistic Lib Dem think they can take the seat. But clearly there’s the potential to put Howard under a lot of pressure.
Against that the Tory leader will have the media focus on him throughout the campaign and there is often a lot of local pride at stake in having your man or woman so much in the public gaze.
The prices of 4/9 on Howard increasing his majority and 13/8 against it decreasing have not changed during the week which indicates that the bookie has judged it right. There’s enough in there for both Tory and Lib Dem supporters to think that this is a value bet.
The second most popular bet which is only a short way behind is Skybet’s similar market on Tony Blair in Sedgefield. There the prices are 6/5 against it increasing and 8/13 on it decreasing. In 2001 the shares were LAB 26,110 (64.86%): CON 8,397 (20.86%): LD 3,624 (9%).
Â© Mike Smithson 2005