What result does Labour want?
With only hours to go before the polling booths open our latest betting price chart on the Cheadle by-election markets shows that the implied probablilty of a Lib Dem win in the eyes of punters and bookmakers has continued to decline. From an 88% chance of success just ten days ago the figures has slumped to 66%.
So Charles Kennedy’s party is still the odds on favourite but there’s nothing like the confidence of the early stages of the campaign. Throughout we have commented on the lack of support for the party at the heavy odds-on price and this, inevitably, has caused the market to drift. If punters are not attracted by the odds on offer then inevitably they move out.
William Hill have now joined Betfair in offering a market and they have much more attractive Tory prices than the betting exchange. It’s currently 2/1 against 1.6/1. On the other hand the the Betfair Lib Dem price is much more generous.
A key to this election will be the Labour vote which dropped from 14% in 2001 to 8.8% on May 5th. That tactical switch was in the context of the possible threat of a Tory government. That will not exist tomorrow and Labour have been campaigning much more in the seat than many expected.
What result do Labour strategists want? Is stopping the Lib Dem momentum more important than allowing the Tories to chalk up their first by-election victory since the Falklands War? In my judgement they will probably be seeing the Lib Dems as a greater threat than the Tories.
My Betting. I have finally put a bet on but without much confidence and only because I always have a punt on by-elections. My choice – the 2/1 that William Hill has on a Tory victory.