Which Lib Dem Ministers are most likely to lose in May?

Many people think the Lib Dems face being wiped out in May as voters punish them for their part in the Coalition since 2010. After looking at the current odds for the 59 Scottish seats in this recent post, I thought I’d have a look at the odds for the 16 Lib Dem MPs who are currently Government Ministers. This table display the current odds from Ladbrokes as of 4th January, and the probabilities of victory these odds imply.Screenshot 2015-01-04 at 11.25.54 AM

Of the 16, 8 seem pretty safe at the moment, including Nick Clegg, Vince Cable, and Pensions Minister Steve Webb. 4 are favourites to retain their seats, but have a less than 75% chance of doing so. These are Energy Secretary Ed Davey and DEFRA Minister Dan Rogerson, who are facing challenges from the Tories, and Simon Hughes (Justice) and Stephen Williams (Local Government) who are in relatively close fights with Labour.

That leaves 4 Lib Dem Ministers who are highlighted red in the table above. They have a less than 50% chance of winning in May. Three of them are women. Lorely Burt (Whip) looks likely to lose to the Tories in Solihull. Labour look likely to take Lynne Featherstone’s (Home Office) Hornsey and Wood Green seat, and Jo Swinson (Equalities) faces the fight of her life against the SNP in East Dunbartonshire. Finally, and leaving the best till last, it’s looking increasingly likely that Danny Alexander will lose his Inverness seat to the SNP. Ladbrokes estimate he has only a 33% chance of victory at present. If any Lib Dem deserves to lose, it’s him. Fingers crossed.

If the bookies are right, how many seats would each party win in Scotland in May?

There have been a lot of stories recently about opinion polls north of the border showing a huge surge in SNP support at the expense of Labour. This article in the Guardian last week is a good example, which predicted that the SNP could win up to 45 of the 59 Scottish seats next May. With this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to see whether the bookies (and their punters) agreed with these dire (for Labour) predictions. Ladbrokes currently have odds up for every Westminster contest, and I’ve reproduced the odds for each Scottish seat below (click on each image to enlarge). I’ve only displayed the odds for the parties Ladbrokes currently have 1st and second in each race. Odds are correct as of 31st December. As you can see, the current odds don’t reflect the polls.

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Based on the bookies’ current odds, in this next table I’ve indicated what this looks like in terms of number of seats won.

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The headline numbers don’t look too bad for Labour. They have 40 seats at the moment and remain favourites to win in 33 of those in May. They current odds suggest they will lose just 7 seats to the SNP, who in turn will all but wipe out the Lib Dems, leaving them with just 3 seats, while the Tories retain their only Scottish seat. In a further 3 seats, Ladbrokes have the SNP tied with Labour.

A closer look at the odds though should give Labour less cause for complacency however. I have called a result ‘likely’ if the current odds are 1/2 or shorter. This is the case for all of the SNPs current 6 seats, but also 7 more (including interestingly, Danny Alexander’s). For Labour however, this is true of only 21 of the 40 seats they currently hold. The other 12 in which they are favourites are still very much up for grabs according to Ladbrokes, and they have all become Labour/SNP marginals. The Lib Dems meanwhile can only be confident of winning 2 of their 11 Scottish seats.

The third line on the number of seats table shows those seats Ladbrokes feel are ‘slam dunks’. I’ve called a seat a slam dunk if the current odds are 1/10 or shorter. There are only 7 Scottish seats in this category, 6 for the SNP and one for the Lib Dems. Labour currently have no slam dunk seats, which must be a cause for concern. It will mean they will have to spend a lot more money in Scotland on campaigning than they are used to.

Based on the above then, here are some prediction bands for the number of seats each party could win:

Labour: 21-36

SNP: 19-32

Lib Dem: 1-3

Tory: 1-2

These are only the current odds of course, and they will undoubtedly change before election day. So will the polls though. The SNP are doing fantastically well in the polls are the moment, but surely they will narrow somewhat between now and May? It seems fairly set in stone now that the Lib Dems will be almost wiped out in Scotland in May, while for Labour, it could still go either way.

UPDATE: On reflection, I think I’ve been a bit harsh on the Lib Dems here. They have a chance of winning up to 7 seats in May on current odds, so they do have a chance of avoiding a wipeout.

Some General Election Predictions

After yesterday’s by-elections, I’ve been looking at the different odds for the results of next years General Election, and for fun, I’m going to make some predictions. I am using the current odds as offered by Ladbrokes (other bookmakers are available). I’ll be staking £5 on each prediction (It’s for fun, so I’m not willing to lose my shirt).

1. Who will win most seats? alittleecon prediction: Labour @ 8/11

I just can’t seeing Labour doing worse than last time, and they don’t have to do much better to become the largest party on 8th May.

2. Majority betting. alittleecon prediction: No overall majority @ 11/10.

While I expect Labour to do better than last time, they will struggle to hold all the seats they have in Scotland, so I think a majority may be beyond them.

3. Labour seats. alittleecon prediction: Under 305.5 @ 10/11

As of now, Labour have 257 seats. They will almost certainly pick up seats, but more than 48? I’m not convinced.

4. Conservative seats. alittleecon prediction: Over 277.5 @ 10/11

As of now, the Tories have 303 seats. They will lose some to Labour and possibly a couple to UKIP, but I expect them to nick a couple off the Lib Dems, so think overall they will lose less than 26 seats.

5. Lib Dem seats. alittleecon prediction: Over 32.5 seats @ Evens

The Lib Dems currently have 56 seats. While they are currently polling in single digits, in the areas where they have MPs, they seem to be popular. There’s no doubt they will lose seats, but while some are predicting a bloodbath, I think they’ll manage to hang on in a surprising number of seats.

6. UKIP seat totals. alittleecon prediction: Over 4.5 seats @ 11/8

I was tempted to go for over 9.5 seats at 3/1, but I’m fairly confident they’ll win at least 5 seats. We’ve seen Douglas Carswell win today, and there seems a good chance Mark Reckless will make it two shortly. It seems fairly certain Farage will win, and they must have a good chance in some parts of the North like Lincolnshire and on the east coast.

7. SNP seat bands. alittleecon prediction: 16-20 seats @ 10/1

This is a long shot, but after 45% of Scots voting yes in the referendum and SNP membership trebling to over 75,000 since then, there must be a good chance of them winning a significant number of seats from both the Lib Dems and Labour. They have 6 seats now and I think it’s possible they could treble that, which would hobble Labour’s chances of a majority in Westminster.

8. Greens to win a seat. alittleecon prediction: Yes @ 5/6

I think Caroline Lucas is popular enough in Brighton to be reelected, so yes is the call.

Here’s my prediction for the number of seats each party will have on 8th May 2015 (excluding NI as I know nothing about NI politics):

Labour: 293

Conservative: 279

Lib Dems: 34

SNP: 16

UKIP: 6

Plaid Cymru: 3

Greens: 1

Hopefully my maths are right (18 NI MPs). I’m assuming that Labour will put up a decent candidate against George Galloway in Bradford West (this is by no means guaranteed!).

So 8 £5 bets and an overall seats prediction. We’ll see how wrong I am next May! Interested in your predictions if you want to share them. How much will I win/lose?