Let’s liven up the betting
Notwithstanding yesterdayâ€™s BES poll giving the Tories a 2.8% lead amongst those â€œcertain to voteâ€ the weight of polling evidence is that the chances of Michael Howardâ€™s party winning most seats, let alone gaining a Westminster majority, are very slim indeed.
For even if the pollsters are overstating Labourâ€™s leads by as much as the 6.6% of 2001 the polls are doggedly showing that Tories are still behind and even if they managed to get above Labour in the popular vote the electoral system would almost certainly give Labour most seats if not an overall majority.
But there is one goal that is feasible and which could affect the post-election political environment – the Tories could win England.
In 2001 the 529 English seats split LAB 323: CON 165: LD 40 IND 1 from vote shares of LAB 41.4%: CON 35.2 LD 19.4. . So the current swing in the polls could allow the Tories to over-haul Labourâ€™s 2001 lead of 6% in the popular vote which of itself could be presented as something of a victory.
Being top dog on English seats is going to be more challenging. Even if the Lib Dems and George Galloway reduced the Tory target by winning ten English seats between them Michael Howard would still need to get to 239 seats south of the border to reach this target. Possible? Just about particularly if the seats divide, as we think might happen, nearer to a swing from 1997 rather than 2001.
- Would Howardâ€™s party have anything to lose now playing the English card? Issues like the higher than average per capitia public spending in Scotland and why MPs from Scotland are allowed to vote on England-only matters but not the other way round might resonate well.
A few months before the 2001 election I sat next to one of Hagueâ€™s top aides, now a leading Tory front-bencher, at a dinner and he told me that they were considering this strategy then. Could this be a possibility now?
We’ve called before for a betting market on this and we make this call again. It would certainly be more interesting than the current “most seats” markets where the best Labour price is 1/10.
Politicalbetting was launched a year ago today. Thanks to everybody for their support and contributions that have made the site the success it has been.