Yes, someone walked in to one of our shops in Sheffield yesterday and put £15,000 on Ed Miliband to remain as Labour leader until the general election. At odds of 1/8, they will be picking up a profit of just under £2,000 if they are right.

People are sometimes sceptical of these reports of relatively large bets being placed on political markets. If you were to go on to our website, you’ll usually find the maximum stakes allowed are much lower. That’s because we need to have some automated controls to prevent us running up large liabilities in the event of something relevant happening whilst we’re not paying attention. On the other hand, if you go into one of our shops or ring our telephone betting lines, you’ve got the chance to ask for much bigger amounts and get them referred to a trader. In the case of politics, usually me. Then we get a quick chance to have a think, make sure nothing important has happened to effect the odds, and make a decision.

If we don’t get our automated risk management systems right, we run the risk of losing a lot of money when stuff happens, especially if that stuff happens when the relevant traders aren’t around. The worst example of that happening in politics was the announcement of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate in Autumn 2012. The news leaked overnight, things didn’t work as they should have at our end, and I woke up to discover we’d taken thousands of pounds at around 3/1 on Ryan to be the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate. Utterly galling, when you’ve spent weeks managing a market that was previously looking quite promising.

Ladbrokes took a £16,500 bet on UKIP at 1/33 to win the Rochester by-election today. That intrepid punter will be collecting a £500 profit on Friday morning if things go as expected. If by some chance the Tories pull off a shock victory, it will probably be the most profitable by-election result in history for the bookies. I don’t hold out much hope.

The media narrative has already moved on to the guessing game of whether any other Tory MPs will be jumping ship. We now make it odds-on that at least one other Conservative defects before Christmas.

Favourite for a while now has been the MP for Kettering, Philip Hollobone. Interestingly, he is an old boy of Dulwich College, along with Nigel Farage. Some shrewdies have been backing UKIP to win his seat at the general election, now 6/1. I guess that might be better value than the 2/1 about him being next out.

If some of the recent Westminster polling is reflected in next May’s general election, the SNP are heading for a landslide next May. Yet, at Ladbrokes, we still make Labour favourites to win most Scottish seats.

Despite the incredible rise in their membership, it’s not going to be easy keeping up the enthusiasm and momentum generated by the YES campaign. It’s also quite likely that they are experiencing something of a honeymoon effect from Sturgeon’s election as leader.

If they can persuade the huge numbers of previous non-voters who turned up to vote YES to support them next year, there is obviously a chance that they can pick up a very large number of seats. However, it’s not hard to imagine that most of those people will revert to type and not bother for the Westminster election. That may not matter, as it’s pretty clear that enthusiasm for Scottish Labour is at an all-time low. If Jim Murphy is elected as leader (he’s currently a hot 1-5 favourite) he might be able to improve that somewhat.

Currently, the SNP hold 6 of Scotland’s 59 seats. The Tories and Liberal Democrats combined should probably win around at least five seats, so to get a plurality ahead of Labour, the Nationalists are probably going to have to win about 27. Looking at Ladbrokes’ individual constituency odds, their 27th most likely win is Glasgow Central. Not easy.

Constituency profile courtesy of ukpollingreport.

Pretty amazing. Having come fourth with 11% in 2010, the SNP are now favourites to win the East Dunbartonshire seat next May and unseat the Lib Dem incumbent, Jo Swinson.

This could be one of the most interesting three way marginals in the whole of the UK, and we’ve seen support for all three main contenders. The shrewdies who took 50/1 about the SNP in the days before the referendum can be quite pleased with their position now.

Perhaps the SNP should be even shorter. If you take a look at electionforecast.co.uk their probabilities would produce odds of:

  • 4/9 SNP
  • 4/1 Labour
  • 10/1 Lib Dems

I would advise anyone to have a good look at the FAQs on their site before committing too much money on the basis of their forecasts. Predicting Scottish seats is incredibly tricky at the moment. The basic problem is how much can you anchor forecasts to the 2010 results, or do we just accept that the world of Scottish politics has totally changed and start from scratch? We’ll have a better idea once we get some constituency level polling in the New Year.

 

Channel 4 are planning a “mockumentary” based on the early days of a UKIP government. So, naturally, we’ve knocked up some odds on who will play Farage. I don’t really have much more to say, but if anyone has any good suggestions for other possibles, post them here and we’ll add the best ones to our betting.

 

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