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Thursday’s battle for the city of Bristol could be tight – is there money to be made?

November 11th, 2012

Shadsy from Ladbrokes assesses the chances

Thursday sees the vote for the first directly elected Mayor of Bristol. Ladbrokes have had a book open on this since the city voted to create the post earlier in the year and here’s our guide to the runners, riders and market moves so far

1/2 Marvin Rees (Lab)
4/1 George Ferguson (Ind)
5/1 Jon Rogers (LD)
16/1 Geoff Gollop (Con)
25/1 Spud Murphy (Ind)
33/1 Owain George (Ind)
66/1 Stoney Garnett (Ind)
100/1 Danielle Radice (Green)
200/1 Tim Collins (Ind)
200/1 Neil Maggs (Respect)
200/1 Tom Baldwin ( TUSC)
200/1 Rich Fisher (Ind)
200/1 Dave Dobbs (Ind)
200/1 Tony Britt (Ind)
200/1 Phillip Pover (Ind)

15 candidates and a right old mix of well meaning citizens and deluded egotists. Each if the three main parties have some strength in the city. Labour hold two of the Westminster seats, the Lib Dems and Tories one each.

Marvin Rees looks like a pretty solid Labour candidate. Given the national polls, one would think Labour should be a certainty here, but we have seen some odd things happen in these sorts of contests before as local issues come to the fore.

George Ferguson is a reasonably well known local figure, an architect with strong links to the city. Previously a Liberal councillor and then Lib Dem member, he quit the party to stand as an Independent here. He appears to have run a pretty strong campaign and certainly has enough local name recognition to give him a shot. He’s been the best backed candidate so far; who knows whether that money is partly designed to cut his odds to make his chances look stronger to prospective voters?

Jon Rogers might have had an excellent chance had the Lib Dems national standing not been so weak. A retired GP and deputy leader of the council, he’s also been well backed. A few in-the-know locals are on at the 50/1 available before he became the official LD candidate. However, the vibes I’m getting are that Lib Dem high command are not particularly hopeful of Winning Here this time.

Geoff Gollop has gone pretty much unbacked, and he doesn’t look like the South West’s answer to Boris Johnson.

Of the rest, there has been a fair bit of money flying about for some of the Independents. Local ” character” Spud Murphy has been the subject of support in some of our local shops, as has pub landlord Owain George, backed from 200/1 into 33/1. I’m not losing any sleep over their chances.

The voting system is the same as for the London Mayoral vote, with voters getting a first and second preference. Rees must be a total certainty to be one of the top two candidates. If I were the Labour campaign, my only worry might be if Ferguson made the top two, as he might get a reasonable number of second preferences. However, past experience tells us that the chances of the second round making any difference are slim. Even in the London election, when everyone knew with absolute certainty who the top two would be, only a minority of those casting their first preference votes for the other candidates had a meaningful second preference vote. That’s likely to be even more pronounced in this election.

Unless we get a freaky three or four way split ( see Doncaster 2009) I strongly suspect the Labour candidate will be too far clear from the first round, and will win fairly comfortably. There has been one “survey” reported by the local press. I am struggling to find any methodological details but it looks like they simply stopped people in the street in a series of locations. I suspect there has been no demographic or other weighting, so the findings are not likely to be very reliable. Rees got 21% of those who had decided who to vote for, Ferguson 9%, Gollop 7%.

It’s not often I say this about one of our prices, but I think the 1/2 about Marvin Rees is probably much too big, thanks to the support we’ve seen for the Indys.

Matthew Shaddick