There are only six weeks to go until the election — the life expectancy of a May bug. A few voters are energised, many are alienated, and most are bored. But given the likely dangers to MoneyWeek readers’ wallets from a Labour win, I am assuming that you are sufficiently interested in the outcome to follow the trends.
So, who’s most likely to win? With seven parties to juggle, published polls are inert. So we must look to the bookies to see where the money is going. The spreads quoted for the number of seats expected to be won by each party are as follows (with my comments – should you be tempted to place a small wager on the outcome of the election – in brackets):
• Tories: 280-6 (a possible buy: my target is 300)
• Labour: 270-6 (a possible sell: my target is 250)
• Lib Dems: 25-28 (no value)
• SNP: 38-41 (no value)
• Ukip: 5-7 (no value)
I will go through the electoral arithmetic and explain why I believe that David Cameron will still be prime minister on 8 May in my next article. (A good way of making money on the outcome would be to buy shares in Lloyds bank. I will explain that suggestion further in my next piece as well.)
But for now, I’ve spotted an interesting punt for political spread betters: Gordon, in Aberdeenshire.
In Gordon, Alex Salmond is the overwhelming favourite to succeed the Liberal Democrat, Sir Malcolm Bruce, who is standing down. Sir Malcolm had a majority of 6,748 (36%) over the SNP (22.2%), Labour (20.1%) and the Tories (18.7%).
The odds quoted for the winning party (with my comments in brackets) are as follows:
• SNP: 1-8 (no value)
• Lib Dems: 9-2 (perhaps a small investment)
• Tories: 50-1 (see below)
Sly, glib and bombastic in equal measure, Salmond needs no introduction. He’s hardly a local, but he’ll probably win. Tactical voting by Labour supporters to shore up the Lib Dem candidate – a worthy but dull lady from outside the constituency – might shake Wee Eck’s complacency.
But the Tory, Colin Clark, has an outside chance. A charismatic 46-year-old local farmer and successful job-creating entrepreneur, he lives in the middle of Gordon.
On top of that, 40 years ago this part of Aberdeenshire was strongly Conservative; Aberdeenshire voted by over 60% to stay in the Union last September; Aberdonians are famously canny; it is the richest part of Scotland; and the troubled North Sea oil operators have just been thrown a lifeline by the chancellor in the Budget.
This is the industry that Salmond promised voters in the referendum would pay for Scotland’s prosperous independence. With Brent at $55 a barrel ($110 then), his fibs have been laid bare.
So, for those who fancy a Highland fling, 50-1 might be worth a tenner. The odds are wrong and the time may be right, in every sense of the word.
Adrian Sykes will be writing regular election commentary on the MoneyWeek website between now and 7 May. If you enjoy his columns, sign up to our free daily email Money Morning to be alerted to when a new one is on the site.