Archive for the 'Wales' Category


Looking at the Welsh constituency betting

Sunday, November 17th, 2019

This looks like being a volatile election in many areas, but nowhere is that truer than in Wales. Five different parties are currently polling in double digits and none is yet polling above 30%. Current polls suggest that the current distribution of constituencies could be upended. Polling, of course, could still change dramatically before the election actually arrives.

Historically, Wales has been dominated by Labour. They have won the most seats in every election since December 1918. At the last election, Labour won 28 out of the 40 seats and 49% of the vote.

Perhaps Labour will recover to that vote share but right now that looks unlikely. They last polled at 29%, having mislaid fully 40% of their support since 2017. When parties suffer such dramatic falls, uniform national swing becomes a very dangerous rule of thumb to be using.  In all likelihood the distribution of that loss of support will vary considerably between constituencies.

In 2015 in Scotland, Labour lost 42% of their support from the previous election. But that loss of support differed dramatically between constituencies. In Edinburgh South, Labour actually gained vote share. In Glasgow North East, Labour lost over 50% of its vote share. In some seats in which Labour were not in contention, the loss of vote share was still higher as Labour got squeezed (they lost more than two thirds of their vote share in Ross Skye & Lochaber, for example). 

So those betting on Welsh constituencies need to consider not just what the parties might eventually poll but how that might be redistributed. How efficient each party’s vote is going to be is going to be critical.

Unlike in Scotland in 2015, no one party has taken advantage of Labour’s travails. Relative to the 2017 election, the Conservatives are polling just one point up at 28%. The Brexit party have taken a sizeable chunk – 15%. The Lib Dems are up 7.5% to 12% and Plaid have inched forward 1.5% to 12%.  

Appropriately for a country whose national flag bears a dragon, this polling suggests that the Welsh constituencies are going to be a battle of the five armies (you can decide for yourself who are the eagles and who are the orcs).  Anyone making confident predictions is a lot braver than I am. Too much looks to depend on the distribution of the vote as well as the vote shares.

Anyway, let’s take a butcher’s at the constituencies. Here they are alphabetically. I present these for betting purposes from the perspective of Labour, since they are in contention in most constituencies.  

It is, however, more useful to sort these by the price on Labour, as here.  Immediately, as you would expect, the red mostly rises to the top. Labour are priced at 5/6 (the bookies’ evens) or better in 20 seats. This is actually ahead of what uniform national swing would suggest, which is for them to win 18 seats.   If Labour’s vote were to crash as hard as the most recent polls indicate, you would expect them actually to underperform uniform national swing: the floor in their vote in their weakest constituencies means that the loss of vote share would need to happen elsewhere ie in constituencies with more Labour voters at the last election.

So bettors appear to expect Labour to do better than recent Welsh polling suggests.

As it happens, I agree with the consensus. Labour have already been doing a bit better in UK-wide polling since the election was called and there is no reason to assume that anything different is happening in Wales. And that long muscle memory of voting Labour in Wales is likely to help them when it comes to the crunch.

Even if you disagree, in some of the seats the main challengers are preposterously short. In Ogmore, Labour are priced at 1/5 to retain a 37% majority. In Newport East, they are at just 4/6 to defend a 21% majority.  Perhaps some bettors have inside information. I’m dubious. In both of these seats I’d rather be backing Labour at those prices than the Conservatives at 3/1 and 11/10 respectively. The prices are just too short.

For the same reason, Labour look good value at 3/1 in Vale of Clwyd. They hold the seat with a very experienced MP in Chris Ruane, who is very used to scrapping for votes. The seat is relatively close to Merseyside, which has a Labour party that in recent elections has demonstrated a ferocious ability to work neighbouring constituencies to secure outsized swings as compared with the national figure. He’ll be harder to unhorse than that price suggests.

If you’re looking to bet on the Conservatives, unless you have compelling information, I’d be looking at the size of swing required. The 5/4 in Bridgend looks tempting, given that the Conservatives only require a 5.5% swing and the polls suggest that they’re doing twice as well as that in Wales. With 40% of the vote last time, they might take the seat just by standing still.

There’s no evidence as yet of the Conservatives significantly gaining vote share in Wales, so I would not bet on them in seats where they had a low vote share in 2017 – the votes would have to fall in a very precise way for them to take such seats unless they actually gain vote share. I’ve mentioned Ogmore once. The Conservatives tallied 25% of the vote in 2017. If they’re not going to increase their vote share, 3/1 is ludicrously short for them to win it.

Plaid Cymru haven’t advanced much in the polls so you wouldn’t expect them to be particularly well-placed to make gains.  Ynys Mon is their best prospect, but that is murky, given its long history of voting for the person rather than the party. You’d need more local knowledge than I have to risk your money.

The Lib Dems have their tails up. However, they have few obvious targets in Wales – unsurprisingly since they were wiped out in 2017. If they tally 12% in the polls, that vote will have to go somewhere, but it’s not at all clear where.  They will fight hard to retain Brecon & Radnorshire, which they won earlier this year at a by-election, and they will scrap with Plaid Cymru over Ceredigion (like Ynys Mon, a very personality-driven seat). Elsewhere their best hope in reality is to establish themselves as being back in contention. They held Cardiff Central till 2015 but 11/2 looks very mean for them to get a 24.5% swing from third place. Not a bet for me.

This brings me to the newest party on the block, the Brexit party. So far they’ve had a woeful election, withdrawing candidates from every Conservative-held seat after pressure from the newspapers. They are as a result unlikely to obtain anything like the 15% in Wales that they polled in that last poll. But if they do, that vote is likely to be concentrated in specific seats. The Brexit party performed very well in the Welsh valleys in the Euro elections and UKIP scored fairly well in some of these seats in 2015, demonstrating a continuing strident Euroscepticism in these areas. The bold might fancy a flutter on some of the long shot bets on them in such seats – 80/1 in Llanelli or 50/1 in Torfaen for example. This is 2019. Stranger things have happened.

Alastair Meeks


The Scottish play. Will Wales follow Scotland and abandon Labour at a general election?

Sunday, November 3rd, 2019

We saw in Scotland tribal loyalty to Labour can be upturned by a nation changing referendum, will Wales be next?

The latest polling in Wales shows the Conservatives leading Labour 29% to 25% yet that 4% lead for the Conservatives still sees Labour win more seats than the Conservatives so it is understandable why Labour are the favourites in this market because first past the post and old constituency boundaries are working against the Conservatives in Wales.

I think there’s also an expectation that we could see 2017 redux when in the run up to the 2017 general election the Conservatives led Labour by 10% in Wales but in the actual election the Conservatives ended up 15% and 20 seats behind Labour.

If I had to choose I’d back Labour to win the most seats, but it wouldn’t be for much money. Another factor that should work against the Conservatives is the Remain Alliance that worked against them in the Brecon & Radnorshire by election, although I’m fairly certain that most of the Conservative candidates in the Wales will not be convicted criminals. Today’s Sunday Times reports that ‘The Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and Plaid Cymru are set to announce plans for a “remain pact” in up to 60 seats in a bid to deny Boris Johnson a Conservative majority…An announcement is expected as early as Tuesday.’

Once the full Welsh constituency markets are available there may well be better value for proxy bets if you’re not keen on betting in this market from Ladbrokes.

If you’re feeling bold you might want to take the 50/1 on the Brexit Party on winning the most seats in Wales, after all they won the popular vote in Wales in the recent European elections. I cannot see it being a winner even if the Brexit Party stood candidates in every seat in Wales, but given the potential for volatility it could be a decent trading bet.



(UPDATED) Could Welsh Labour be about to experience a near wipe-out similar to that which Scottish Labour saw at GE2015?

Monday, July 29th, 2019

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

It is not often that all eyes are on Welsh politics but yesterday’s Tweet from the respected Professor Roger Scully of Cardiff University has really set things going.

We don’t get very much Wales only polling but what there is generally associated with Professor Scully. And for him to be trailing his survey for ITV in this way suggests a sensation.

His tweet reminds me of a similar one from Ben Page of Ipsos-MORI in late 2014 relating to a poll that his firm had produced for STV. There was a similar big build up and then the numbers can and which point pointed to the total collapse of Labour in Scotland. This is, of course, what happened six months later at GE2015. LAB moved from holding 41 of Scotland’s 59 seats to just a single MP.

We know from Wales only polling over the past nine months that Labour’s once invincible position in the Principality is on the decline. Last December Survation had Corbyn’s party in 47% with Scully’s YouGov poll at 43%. In May that was down 25% with the Brexit party just two behind.

At GE2017 Labour won 28 of the 40 Welsh seats. If that number is substantially reduced and there is still no recovery for the party in Scotland then it is very difficult to see how LAB can win most seats overall in a UK general election.

We wait in anticipation for Professor Scully’s new poll. Hopefully it will be out by late morning.

Updated – the poll is now out

Thus LAB drops to its lowest ever level in Wales with the Tories up 7 to take the lead and the LDs up 4. The Brexit party’s down 5 Plaid up 2

Mike Smithson


It looks as though August 1st will be the date of the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

The signs are that today will see the writ being moved for the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election to fill the vacancy created by the success of the recall petition that has seen the sitting Conservative MP, Chris Davies, forced out of his seat. This follows his conviction and sentencing for expenses fraud. The date looks set to be August 1st bang in the middle of the holiday season.

Extraordinarily it was confirmed yesterday that Mr Davies has been selected as the Tory candidate in the upcoming fight which on the face of it seems a very brave decision. He can be literally described as a “convict” by his opponents and the Tory Party approach to Law and Order can be portrayed as being bit lapse when it comes to one of its own.

What makes this really interesting is that the by-election will take place in the week after both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties will have new leaders. It also means that the by-election campaign will run parallel to the leadership campaigns that are taking place in those two parties.

No doubt Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson for the Tories as well as Ed Davey and Jo Swinson for the Lib Dems will be keen to make sure that they are photographed working hard in the by-election campaigns.

If the betting markets have this right then the Lib Dems are about to win back a seat that they gained in a 1987 by-election which was lost at the 2015 general election. But betting markets can be wrong as we saw a few weeks ago in Peterborough where the Brexit party had been odds on to take the seat but Labour hung on. At Peterborough, though, LAB disowned their MP as soon as she was convicted and put a new candidate up in the by-election.

This is the first by-election in a Conservative seat since GE2017 and since then the Tory national polling position has sharply declined while the LDs are doing better than at any time since entering the coalition in 2010.

Because of the shear size of the seat, it is the largest in England and Wales in terms of the area covered, it is a very difficult place to campaign. There are no towns bigger than 10k population and in many parts the mobile signals are almost non-existent.

No doubt a range of betting markets will emerge.

Mike Smithson







Marf on GE2017 looking a bit more competitive and TMay’s “social care” turnaround

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

As well as what’s being described as a U-turn over her manifesto pledge on social care there’ve been two new polls during the day all showing LAB making progress.

The one that has shown the biggest move is the YouGov Wales poll for ITV. The figures, if repeated, suggest that LAB’s lead over CON is now greater than it was at GE2015 in the Principality.

The one national poll so far has been ICM which is showing a similar picture of LAB progress but still a long way behind.

The betting markets have been relatively stable.

Mike Smithson


The poll finding that sums up GE2017 & why it’ll be a CON landslide. 67% of Welsh UKIP voters have moved to CON

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

There is so much General Election polling in coming out at the moment but sometimes it is quite useful just focusing on one small number in a much smaller sampling area.

Above is a screenshot of the dataset from the latest Welsh YouGov poll which covers the 40 seats at stake in the Principality on June 8th.

My red arrow points to one – the proportion of UKIP voters from the last general election who now say they are switching to the Conservatives.

At the 2015 general election 13.6% of Welsh voters went for UKIP. So two thirds of them now saying they are voting conservative represents a very significant shift and is the big driver behind the huge change in Welsh politics that we have seen.

In the previous Welsh YouGov poll commissioned by Professor Roger Scully of Cardiff University the proportion of UKIP voters who were moving to CON was 63%. So today’s poll suggests that that is staying and might be getting bigger.

At the last election the Welsh seats split LB 25 CON 11, PC 3 and LD one. Maybe the blues could be top party in Wales on June 8th

Mike Smithson


Checking the Political Weather in Wales

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Results of the May Welsh Political Barometer

In 2009 the Conservatives were the big success story of the European elections in Wales, topping the poll in a Welsh national election for the first time in over a century (I haven’t been able to track down an earlier occurrence, Labour has topped every poll since 1918 when the Coalition Liberals stormed to victory under David Lloyd George). This was mainly down to Labour’s nosedive (down 12.2 points since 2004) rather than a Conservative rise (up 1.8 points) and both parties sent one MEP to Brussels, but it was a victory nevertheless.

In 2014 however they are fighting not for the lead, but to grab the last of Wales’ 4 MEP slots.

For completeness, Plaid Cymru (+1.1%), Lib Dems (+0.2) and UKIP (+2.3) were all up on 2004, with UKIP jumping ahead of the Lib Dems to take the 4th MEP.

Now we’ve had the interesting (if slightly clunkily named) May Welsh Political Barometer published, which offers polling on not just the European Elections, but also Welsh Assembly (constituency and list!) and Westminster elections alongside some additional questions (EU membership, Welsh independence) as well. Truely a thing of delight for psephology nerds.

In truth I am a little leery about all the different elections being crammed into one set of polling due to the possibility of the different elections bleeding into each other and this goes alongside a general concern about polling for other elections during the final part of an election campaign. So I suspect the UKIP scores for the non-European elections may be a little high because of this (Labour has lost support on each election type compared to the last barometer in February with UKIP as the main beneficiary, and I think the focus on Europe is driving at least some of that).

But caveats aside let’s pull out the highlights in votes and seat projections (most of the projections are by Professor Roger Scully who has an excellent and more detailed piece on this polling alongside the data tables for hardcore pollwatchers.

For the European elections Labour and UKIP are certain of winning the first two seats. The final 2 seats are a 3-way contest between Plaid Cymru, Labour, and the Conservatives. Using all respondents as above leaves Plaid out in the cold, but applying a filter of only those certain to vote gives them the third seat with a dead-heat between Labour and Conservatives for the fourth.

It’s likely to be a nervous down to the wire count to see who’s left out.



Are the Welsh having problems cutting a quarter of their seats?

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Welsh boundary review proposals delayed until next year

The part of the UK that is most affected by the seat equalisation and reduction plan is Wales where the boundary commissioners are charged with reducing the number of constituencies from the current 40 to 30. This is a cutback of a quarter. The national reduction is from 650 seats to 600.

According to the initial time-table plans for the new Welsh electoral map was due out in the first week in September. Now that been put back to January 2012.

Welsh seats have traditionally had smaller electorates than those elsewhere and at the last election averaged in the region of 55,000 people. The England figure, by contrast, was over 70,000.

Clearly the greater the proportion of seats that need to be slashed the bigger the challenge and today’s news is not surprising.

What this will do is delay the production of fully functional seat calculators.