Most people will scoff at the idea that the Liberal Democrats could win any new seats at next year’s general election. But, according to political punters, they have a few chances. Here are five of the most interesting possibilities:

1. Montgomeryshire. Conservative majority 1,184

In terms of the odds, this was the biggest shock result of the 2010 election, as the Tories wiped out a 7,000 Lib Dem majority. Perhaps this was not entirely unconnected to the identity of the sitting MP, Lembit Opik. Some are expecting a turnaround with a new candidate.

2. Watford. Conservative majority 1,425.

A desperately tight three way marginal; the Lib Dems easily retained the mayoralty last month. In Lord Ashcroft’s constituency specific polling, they were just 5 points behind the Tories.

3. Oxford West & Abingdon. Conservative majority 176.

Another relatively surprising loss in 2010, this seat will certainly still be a target for the Lib Dems, although the Ashcroft polling puts them 11 pts behind the Tories.

4. Ashfield. Labour majority 192.

It might seem extremely improbable that the Lib Dems could gain a Labour seat in the current circumstances but, if there is to be one, this could be it. The local party did an incredible job getting so close in 2010 and, based on the betting we’ve seen, have not given up hope here.

5. Maidstone & The Weald. Conservative majority 5,889

The least likely in our list, but Ladbrokes have seen money for the Lib Dems to oust sitting MP Helen Grant. She hasn’t been without her critics and the Lib Dem vote seems to have held up in local elections here.

There have been reports that Cameron has been threatening to bring forward the date of his planned In/Out EU referendum if Jean Claude Juncker gets the job of President of the EU Commission. Ladbrokes have pulled the market on Juncker’s chances, as that now looks like a certainty.

If anyone thinks these reports are true and this is any more than a bluff, you can back a 2015 or 2016 referendum at nice prices.

Of course, the biggest obstacle to a referendum happening is that the Tories need to still be in government after the next election.

Ladbrokes have some odds on what Ed Miliband will mention first during Prime Minister’s Questions today. It’s Evens that “Coulson” gets a mention before any of the other options we’ve listed.

Cameron will obviously be prepared for the questions relating to Andy Coulson but I guess there’s a chance that Ed will open up on foreign policy instead.

A note on the rules; we will settle on the first word used in Miliband’s actual questions and disregard any preamble. If none of the terms are mentioned, all bets are losers.

 Result Update:

Ed went straight in with Coulson.

Ladbrokes quote the former Happy Mondays dancer and now political activist at 25/1 to win the Salford & Eccles seat at the general election

There will be hundreds of Independent candidates running at the next election. The vast majority of them will get under 5% and lose their deposit. There are only two examples of genuine Indies winning seats in recent times. (I’m excluding non-aligned former politicians such as Dai Davies in Blaenau Gwent).

  • Richard Taylor. Wyre Forest 2001 & 2005. Running on a single issue platform relating to the local hospital, he was helped by the Lib Dems standing aside in his favour.
  • Martin Bell. Tatton 1997. He ran as an alternative to sitting Tory MP Neil Hamilton, who’d become caught up in “sleaze” allegations. Labour & the Lib Dems stood aside.

Bez has got a few things running for him that most Independents don’t have:

  • Name recognition. He’ll already be known to the majority of the voters in Salford. He’s also quite a popular guy as evidenced by his 2005 Celebrity Big Brother victory.
  • Early start. He’s going about this the right way by launching his campaign well in advance of the election, rather than just rocking up three weeks before the vote with a few leaflets. His Reality Party stood in the Irlam ward on Salford council last month and got a very respectable 17% of the vote.
  • Retiring MP. Hazel Blears is standing down and thus Labour will need to field an inexperienced and possibly little known candidate in her place.

I suspect Bez will do a lot better than some other “celebrity” candidates and wouldn’t be that surprised if he could get 10% or so, which would actually be a very creditable result. This is a very low turnout seat (55% in 2010); perhaps if he can motivate a lot of previous non-voters he might do even better than that.

Fancy trying to predict exactly how many seats the Liberal Democrats will win next May? Ladbrokes have now issued some odds on their exact total

Just in case you need any help, I’ve collated some predictions/forecasts from a few others on the chart below.

You can read Iain Dale’s seat by seat guide here, which helped him get to his prediction of 28 a few weeks ago.

Page 11 of 13« First...10111213