Features

Betting on politics: The contest in Swindon

With just three weeks before voters go to the polls, Matthew Partridge turns his attention to the council contest in Swindon.

We've already looked at the local council elections in Westminster (issue 887) and Trafford (issue 890). Now, with just three weeks before voters go to the polls, we're going to turn our attention to the contest in Swindon.

One third of the council is up for re-election. Ladbrokes is offering 11/10 (47.6%) on no party having overall control, 11/8 (42.1%) on a Conservative majority and 7/2 (22.2%) on a Labour majority. At the moment the Tories control the council with 30 out of the 57 seats, while Labour is on 25 and the Lib Dems on 2.

The Conservatives have controlled the council since 2004 and the parliamentary constituency of South Swindon, which spans the borough, is currently a Conservative seat, although hardly a safe one. This implies that the Conservatives should have a slight advantage over Labour in the battle for control.

However, last year's general election saw a larger than average swing to Labour, suggesting the area is moving further towards Labour than the nation at large.

With the Tories just two seats away from losing their majority, I'd say there's a far better than even chance of no party gaining overall control. I also think the odds on Labour gaining the four seats to take control are too long. I'm therefore going to suggest that you bet on both Labour winning and no overall control (NOC), for combined odds of 69.8%. In this case you should split a £10 betting unit by putting £6.82 on NOC and £3.18 on a Labour majority.

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