Could the Lib Dem race still spring a surprise?

Could the Lib Dem race still spring a surprise?

lib dem chart 1502.png

    Just two week to go before new leader is elected

The chopping and changes in the betting chart above show the extraordinary fluctuations there’ve been in the Lib Dem leadership race from the day after Charles Kennedy announced his resignation just six weeks ago. The chart shows the implied probability of success based on the Betfair betting exchange market.

In the first phase the money piled on Ming Campbell after a YouGov members poll on the morning of Kennedy’s resignation showed him beating Hughes by 49-21.

Then, just four days later, the sentiment moved sharply away from Ming after a lacklustre debut in the leader’s slot at Prime Minister’s Questions. Simon Hughes moved into the favourite’s slot.

This was followed by the awful final part of January for the party when Mark Oaten pulled and ahead of the rent boy allegations and Simon Hughes was forced to go public about his gay past. Then Hughes got a boost again from an unusual ICM panel survey.

All the while the former MEP, Chris Huhne was slowly gathering support until the second published YouGov members’ poll last week that put him just ahead.

    So is it all over? Will Chris Huhne take over the job in a fortnight’s time?

After predictring the Tory races of 2001 and 2005 to within one per cent it’s very difficult to argue against YouGov’s record in membership polls and there’s little doubt that the momentum was with Huhne when the ballot papers arrived last week. But Ming did marginally better in the Question Time debate and has had the advantage of being acting leader when the Dunfermline sensation happened.

I’ve taken another set of soundings from Lib Dem members that I know to see if there have been changes since I last spoke to them. The message I have got is that there is very little movement. Most have already voted and they’ve not changed their mind from my conversations earlier in the month. Those who were split between Campbell and Huhne seem to be just favouring the younger man.

My prediction. I think that Huhne will just scrape in but by a very small margin over Campbell. But I am not confident enough to throw all my money behind him and I am continuing to bet on Ming whenever his price eases to above 1.75/1. I’m in profit whichever of the two gets it.

Mike Smithson

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