So you want to bet on Labour. You’ve seen their polls rise throughout their campaign and believe they have momentum. Jeremy Corbyn has easily surpassed low media expectations, while Theresa May’s ‘strong and stable’ brand has nosedived during the campaign. Moreover, you’ve seen with Brexit and Donald Trump that the media and long-range betting market trends are becoming less reliable nowadays. Backing the underdog makes sense!
Here’s the problem. For all Labour’s progress, they are still highly unlikely to win more seats than, or even prevent the Conservatives winning a majority. As explained on Sunday when measuring the potential for their comeback to gather pace, Corbyn still has a mountain to climb. To become PM, he needs a polling and geographical miracle. To gain seats rather than lose them, as every indicator suggests Labour will, in the wake of UKIP’s demise.
The good news is that, in order to win money on Labour, you need not back them to win the election or even achieve anything special. I’ve studied the UK’s 650 parliamentary seats – 50 of which are analysed here in our Constituency Guide – to find the best value bets on each party. None of these require Labour gaining any seats off the Tories, let alone Corbyn becoming PM. In fact, it is perfectly possible that all of these bets win, despite the Conservatives winning a big majority.
The key to finding Labour’s most fruitful targets involves identifying the main opposition and measuring the demographics of the area. Seats where the Lib Dems are the main opposition are infinitely preferable to straight LAB/CON fights. Younger populations are preferable to older. In every seat, the scale of UKIP’s 2015 vote and therefore likely boost in the Tory share, is the key dynamic.
The fundamental dynamic behind narrowing polls barely involves Corbyn winning over Tory voters. Rather, Labour are hoovering up the progressive vote at the expense of smaller rivals, as the post-Brexit climate fosters a return to two-party politics. London voters are more progressive than ever and Labour are expected to rise across the capital. Apart from specific local and tactical situations, the Lib Dems feel like a wasted vote. Even accounting for the return of popular former MP Simon Hughes, there’s nothing to suggest they can overturn a 4,459 majority.