This article first appeared at The Hub, on Monday 25th November
Last month, I explained how the United Kingdom’s Brexit impasse had prompted a General Election, scheduled for 12th December. Now, halfway through the campaign, let’s consider the hundreds of markets available on Betfair.
All signals point towards a thumping Conservative win. They are between 10-19% up in the polls, very short odds to win Most Seats and strong favourites for an Overall Majority of parliamentary seats. However as we’ve repeatedly learnt, much can change down the run-in. At this stage of the 2017 election, they were trading considerably shorter for an overall majority, yet fell nine short.
A repeat is not obvious. By this stage, the switch was already underway and the narrative around both leaders in reverse. Opinions now seem entrenched, whether that be Brexit or either leader.
Boris Johnson has been a central figure in public life, whether as politician or celebrity, for decades. Everyone has a view. Whereas Jeremy Corbyn was still introducing himself and his ideas to the electorate in 2017, most have a fixed view now and his personal ratings are awful.
It doesn’t feel like the polls will change much yet the parliamentary arithmetic means everything is still to play for. A limited advance from Labour – reducing the deficit to 6-7% – would probably produce No Overall Majority.
Plus thanks to Brexit, this election involves unique tactical considerations. The issue cuts through traditional partisan lines like no other. Whilst the Conservatives are a clear ‘Leave’ party, a significant minority of their voters backed Remain and would do so in the second referendum supported by all their rivals.
Labour’s role in blocking Brexit has already lost a large chunk of Leave voters (a minority in a largely Remain party), and hopes of a comeback rest on winning some back. They are also being squeezed by the third party. The Lib Dems want to cancel Brexit altogether and that clear stance could help them take Remainers from both. The Scottish National Party (SNP) will likely beat all three of them in 75% plus of Scotland’s 59 seats.