As content editor of the comprehensive Betfair Predicts coverage of the UK General Election, I made a series of 13 films alongside the former Lib Dem MP and broadcaster Lembit Opik, and the political biographer Mark Stuart, an academic at Nottingham University. Here are some of the highlights.
I particularly enjoyed discussing UKIP, having successfully forecasted their gamechanging rise and victory at the 2014 European Elections. While their success represented a genuine new force in England, which yielded 4M votes, both Mark and I were dismissive of their chances of winning many parliamentary seats under our First Past The Post voting system. Their projected total when making the film was above 5, I predicted 3, Mark 2 and Lembit 8. The result was just 1!
This second film concerned betting on the individual constituencies. Mark and I both successfully predicted UKIP leader Nigel Farage to lose, when he was rated 70% likely to win. Likewise, our best bets – the Conservatives to win Watford and Loughborough – both won easily. Another winning tip concerned the biggest headline scalp – Esther McVey. Mark produced the real highlight though, tipping the Conservatives for a massive 10/1 upset in Gower, and the shock defeat of Lib Dem Vince Cable in Twickenham.
Mark also excelled himself in predicting the Lib Dems wipeout, very much ahead of market trends. Both of us comfortably won our bets on the party getting less than 26 seats although in truth, we underestimated the scale of the disaster. Whereas our predictions of 22 and 17 produced winning bets, anyone who correctly predicted them winning just 8 seats could have won a fortune!
Finally, we discussed another emerging phenomenon in UK politics – the Green Party. In this short film, I explain their growth as part of a wave of liberal, anti-capitalist support, particularly among students. As predicted, they won just a single seat in Brighton.