It is finally Polling Day and we have two big by-elections this Thursday. Labour are fully expected to cruise to victory in Tamworth but the other seat is still considered a three-way tussle.
We take our fourth and final look at the betting market and the latest Mid Bedfordshire By-Election Odds…
Mid Bedfordshire By-Election Odds:
Conservatives – 8/11
Labour – 9/4
Liberal Democrats – 4/1
Independent – 100/1
Reform UK – 250/1
Green Party – 500/1
*Odds accurate as of Thursday 19 October, 2023, 07:30.
Talk about a wild ride and I’m pretty sure we’ll see yet more twists and turns until the result is announced in the early hours. The Tories and Lib Dems opened as joint-favourites at 10/11 but quickly it was Sir Ed Davey’s party who got the nod from punters as they came all the way into 4/11.
Labour’s victory in Selby & Ainsty gave them hope that they could actually take the seat, so suddenly Sir Keir Starmer’s party poured resources into the seat and with a narrative that nowhere was off the table for them, their odds took a tumble and they too were odds-on.
In recent days however, it is become clear that they haven’t fully established themselves as the best-placed party to stop the Tories and indeed, intel on the ground seems to suggest that it is the Liberal Democrats who are hanging around and fighing the hardest. There is no doubt that they are still working the seat and there has been no let up in activists flooding into the constituency.
This has led to Labour’s odds going out and the Tories once more are odds-on and open the day as the 8/11 favourites with us at Betfred. This is despite the party openly briefing that they fully expect their vote to collapse. Does anyone have any real idea how this by-election will play out?
I’ve thought for several weeks that betting on Labour were very much the sucker play. Had they initially invested time and effort into the seat then they would’ve stood a better chance but they gave the Lib Dems a head-start and they very much took it.
Until the Red Rose party took an interest, this was very much on course for another big swing from the Tories to the by-election specialists. When Starmer’s party finally got actively involved, it muddied the waters but with the Lib Dems not backing down and leaving the runway clear, it made the chances of a Labour gain look much slimmer.
It would be no surprise if the result was close and it could still go any way of three. I would have the Lib Dems shorter than the 4/1 offered and Labour longer than 9/4, if you flipped those odds, it wouldn’t be unfair. The demographics of this constituency has always led itself to being more fertile for Emma Holland-Lindsay and her yellow rosette.
The fact the Lib Dems are still briefing that they are very much in it and are saying ‘it is neck and neck’ between them and the Tories is not what you do when you know you are about to lose. We’ve all seen their by-election machine at work and they are following the exact same playbook as they did when they won in Chesham & Amersham, Shropshire North and Tiverton & Honiton.
This is incredibly tough to handicap but I’d say this might be one of those incredibly rare occasions when the third-favourite in a by-election can win. The 4/1 is definitely the value play. The Tories think they can win it with just 35% and they might well be right but backing them at odds-on in this current climate is not a smart play.
Whatever happens, the odds are likely to fluctuate throughout the day and it will be fascinating to see how it all played out at the ballot box come the early hours on Friday morning.