Last week Nick Clegg was 8/1 to be replaced as Liberal Democrat leader before the next election. Yesterday morning that was 5/1 – by last night he was just 5/2 to get the boot.

We saw some money for Tim Farron to be next leader, who is now 7/4 favourite. A few shrewdies are on at 10/1, which was the price immediately after the 2010 general election. But Clegg going now might not be a good thing for his leadership chances; it increases the prospect of a more short term appointment,  notably Cable. I also noted a couple of interesting bets for Steve Webb who is now 16/1 from 20/1.

Here’s where the money has gone since we started betting on Clegg’s successor in May 2010.

1. UKIP go from 7/2 to 11/4 to win the Newark by-election. They “won” the seat in European votes, and that has livened up a market which was beginning to assume that the Tories would win easily.

2. Nick Clegg shortens into 4/1 to be ditched as Liberal Democrat leader before the general election. Personally, I don’t think it’s all that likely and Hills’ quote of 6/4 is probably just an attempt to garner media attention rather than a serious estimation of the probabilities. Ladbrokes can be guilty of that as well –  we’ve quoted Clegg at 25/1 to be next Governor of Gibraltar following the Liberal landslide on The Rock.

3. Thanet South is now 4/6 favourite to be the seat that Nigel Farage chooses to stand in at the general election. This is starting to resemble a treasure hunt at a pirate-themed kids’ birthday party. “South of the river” and now “next to the sea” have been the clues that Nigel has opened so far.

4. UKIP are now 1/2 to win a seat anywhere at the general election.

5. Ed Miliband is Evens to be next Prime Minister, pushed out from 4/5. That’s probably quite a fair price given that Labour are still odds-on to win most seats at the next general election. But nobody seems very interested in backing it.

Are the betting markets more accurate guides to election results than pollsters? In this instance, yes they were.

The Ladbrokes figure is based on our last percentage lines for each party, which you could have bet at either 5/6 over or under. The pollsters are their respective last published poll and the figures are just for Lab, Con, LD & UKIP. The higher the bar, the more inaccurate they were.

To be fair to pollsters, some of the final polls were a few days before the vote. Also, I’m sure had you actually asked a pollster for a “prediction” they would mostly have got closer as they would have been able to factor in some of the vote going to all of the un-prompted itty-bitty parties on the ballot (Pirates, Christians, Lib Dems, etc.).

I was particularly pleased that our line on An Independence From Europe’s vote share got so close. We had it at 1.5%, they got 1.49%. The only party who actually out-performed the betting market prediction were the Tories.

Ladbrokes have a market on which constituency Nigel Farage will stand in at the general election.

When deciding not to stand in Newark, he cited the fact that he had no personal connection with the area. That should pretty much rule out everywhere outside of the South East. He dropped another hint last week; when asked if he would be standing in Essex he replied that it would be somewhere “south of the river”.  I’m assuming that refers to the Thames, but perhaps he has cleverly given himself the wriggle room to claim the river in question was, in fact, The Humber.

45% of all the best we’ve taken on this market have been for Thanet South, and it was favourite from the start. Farage stood here in 2005, was born nearby and UKIP have polled very well in local elections in the area.

It’s also a seat that could be won with about 35% of the vote and has a retiring MP, so no incumbency effect. Ladbrokes’ latest odds* on the constituency were:

  • 5/4 Conservatives
  • 2/1 Labour
  • 9/4 UKIP

If Farage goes for this seat, I expect UKIP would instantly go odds-on.

The betting now implies that it’s pretty certain that wherever he chooses, it will be somewhere in Kent. UKIP’s local election results were actually fairly poor in Eastleigh, which had been talked up as a possibility after their close placed second in the Westminster by-election.

*Ladbrokes have temporarily suspended betting on individual constituencies to give us a bit of time to re-assess after the locals/Euros/Ashcroft poll. Should be back up in a week or so.

UPDATE: Is Clegg under threat?

Probably not. In response to the speculation today, we’ve resurrected our market on whether Clegg will be LD leader at the general election and it’s 1/10 that he is. You can get 5/1 he is replaced before then. I guess this could get a bit of traction if they get zero seats and finish behind the Greens in the European vote.

Initial media reactions to UKIP’s local election results have been slightly tempered by various well informed commentators pointing out that their performance probably wasn’t that much better (perhaps even worse) than in the 2013 locals.

We’ll see on Sunday night whether they’ve topped the Euro poll. If not, I think Thursday’s results will come to be seen in a whole different light by the rest of the commentariat.

Here are Ladbrokes’ latest odds on how they’ll do in next year’s general election:

The price on them to win a seat has moved significantly in from 4/5 to 1/2.  It’s hard to believe that Farage on his own won’t be odds on once he picks his seat (South Thanet most likely, according to the odds). And there are several other extremely plausible targets in Rotherham, Grimsby, Eastleigh and plenty of places in Essex and Kent.

The mid point for their predicted vote share is around 12%, according to Ladbrokes’ odds. If they turn out not to have won the Euros and then fail to win or get close in Newark, I expect there will be a lot of talks of bubbles bursting.

Could Darling get back to No.11?

One other bit of betting activity that caught my attention – a customer in one of our London shops put down £500 on Alistair Darling being the next Chancellor of the Exchequer at 16/1. I wonder if they are thinking that Balls would be unacceptable to the Lib Dems in a possible Lab/Lib coalition government? We’ve cut his price to to 10/1.

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