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Do punters have any real idea about the outcome?

July 18th, 2007

    Is following the markets a good idea?

Ever since the Dunfermline by-election in February 2006, when I bottled out of most of my Lib Dem position in the final half hour, I have been very wary of the predictive powers of punters as evidenced in betting price movements. Then, it will be recalled, the Labour price was 1/5 just as the returning officer started to announce the result. Crazy.

    What I find interesting about the current Ealing Southall market on Betfair is just how little money has been traded. Just over an hour ago the total was barely £30,000 and it does not look as if any party is approaching this with real confidence. That total is pitifully small though it should surge by tomorrow.

My last by election bets were in June last year when I took a big odds on position on the Tories in Bromley. I won but for the party’s margin to have been reduced to just 600 votes was a massive shock. Again following the markets could have been very costly.

The other by election on that day, in Gwent, also saw an odds on favourite, Labour, not making it.

Ealing Southall is proving to be a great by election but it has yet to arouse the real interest of punters and those involved don’t appear confident enough to risk very much. The best betting odds now have the Tories out to 6/1.

Mike Smithson






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