Clacton doesnâ€™t look like being the most exciting of elections.
Matthew Shadwick [Shadsy] of Ladbrokes was kind enough to invite me along on a visit to the scene of one of tomorrowâ€™s by-elections. I wondered whether he might need help collecting a flood of money, or maybe he just wanted some company while he stood outside the firmâ€™s shop on Pier Avenue with his board optimistically offering odds of 1/50 UKIP, 14/1 Conservative and 33/1 Labour. Weâ€™d arranged to meet at 10.30 am. I got there at midday and still felt it was an hour too soon. There was a queue of about a dozen people, but that was for the bus. The driver was taking rather more money than Shadsy.
On the way Iâ€™d asked directions from a couple carrying UKIP boards. No, they couldnâ€™t help; they were strangers here too. The locals looked disinterested. Even the seagulls looked bored.
Over a leisurely lunch we discussed the contrast with Newark where there was a lively atmosphere and a steady stream of (ultimately unsuccessful) UKIP backers. Perhaps the re-election of Douglas Carswell in UKIP colours is just too much of a foregone conclusion. Perhaps too little rides on the outcome. Perhaps the voters of Clacton just donâ€™t like that kind of thing. They couldnâ€™t even be tempted by Shadsyâ€™s generous offer of 25/1 against Charlotte Rose [Independent] to beat the LibDems. â€œI mean, if she canâ€™t beat the LibDems, who can she beat?â€
We caught sight of the Sky TV crew, leaving early. A local MP, down in support of Giles Watling [Conservative], kindly spared us some time but was unable to offer any insights, or even a bet. Labour was nowhere to be seen.
On the way home I passed the UKIP offices, festooned with Carswell banners. It looks like tomorrow will be a coronation. What will be his vote share? Ladbrokes go 11/8 against 50-60%, 5/2 60-70%, 11/4 40-50%. Yesterday gave no clues as to where the value lies.
Turnover at Under 50% might be a bet. Shadsy will give you evens. I see from my betting notes that I went for Over, back in August when the market, like the weather, was a good deal warmer.
All right, we all make mistakes.