The Great Election Gamble

Well, yesterday’s general election didn’t exactly go to plan for the Tories, did it?

It turns out that, yet again, most of the opinion polls were way off the mark and the Labour Party’s share of the vote exceeded most expectations, including mine. Theresa May’s  decision on calling the election was a silly gamble to try to increase her majority in the House of Commons which, having failed spectacularly, has resulted in her losing that majority altogether. Theresa May nevertheless continues as Prime Minister courtesy of leading the largest party and doing a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party, a reactionary group of homophobes and young-earth creationists. We’ll have to wait and see how long that unholy alliance lasts. My bet would be for another election in October…

he PM was quoted last night that she had `no intention of resigning’ in the aftermath of the election she previously said she had no intention of calling. I infer that means she will soon resign. I don’t have any sympathy for her: if there’s one kind of politician I really dislike it’s the kind that takes the electorate for granted.

Although I’m personally delighted to see the Tories given a smackdown, it’s best not to get too carried away. For one thing, we’re still up Brexit Creek without a paddle and the UK’s already weak negotiating hand just got considerably weaker. The other thing worth saying is that although Jeremy Corbyn has gone up enormously in my estimation by the way he led his party, Labour still didn’t win even against a Conservative campaign that was unspeakably dire.

Anyway, regular readers of this blog (Sid and Doris Bonkers) will know that I like to place wagers on elections. My normal strategy of the compensation bet – putting money on the outcome I don’t want to happen – would have been useless in this situation as the Conservatives were odds-on to win so the return would have been poor. I therefore decided to use the occasion for my first foray into spread betting.

I took this decision when I saw that the spread being offered on the number of seats won by Labour was (205-212). In a spread bet you place a deposit (`margin’) and then wager on whether the actual total is above or below the spread by £X per seat; if it’s inside the spread you lose your deposit. In the lingo, placing a bet to win above the spread is called a `buy’; below is `sell’. The danger of spread betting is that if you bet high and the actual result is low then you lose £X per seat. Losses can therefore exceed your deposit if you’re badly wrong. This is why I’ve never bet this way before. Believe it or not, I’m actually very cautious when it comes to gambling.

The quoted spread seemed to me to be centred very low (in line with the majority of opinion poll predictions), but I felt it highly unlikely that even a bad night for Labour would have them ending up on fewer than 200 seats, because there are so many safe Labour seats. I therefore wasn’t too concerned about the possibility of a truly disastrous loss. So I paid my deposit and bought at £100 per seat.

Suffice to say that it’s my round in the pub tonight….

P.S. I forgot to mention another memorable event last night: the first seat to declare was Newcastle Central, who beat arch-rivals Sunderland to the prize for the fastest count.

P.P.S. A couple of other things worth mentioning are that Kevin Brennan won my seat (Cardiff West) with a hugely increased majority. In fact all seats in Cardiff went to Labour, including Cardiff North which had previously been held by the Conservatives. Brighton Kemptown, in which constituency I lived before coming back to Cardiff and which was also previously held by the Tories, also went to Labour.

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8 Responses to “The Great Election Gamble”

  1. I am old enough to remember Harold Wilsons term as PM, and will never trust Labour again, as a result. I am also old enough to remember Ian Paisley, the originator of the DUP. I think we should give Theresa May a chance to prove herself, what she did was courageous, I don’t think for one moment we were taken for granted, she hadn’t been voted in, and she gave us an opportunity to vote her in, or not.

  2. Meanwhile, many (most?) French voters remain sensible. Macron had said that many “ordinary people”, as opposed to career politicians, would be the MPs. One of them is Cedric Villani who, among other honours (including probably “best dressed mathematician”), won the Fields medal.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Blimey, I didn’t know Cedric was standing! He became the great man of my original field of research, the nonlinear Boltzmann equation, before I departed for pastures Bayesian.

    • I have to agree with Le Pen though in her criticism of the electoral system. PR is better because more democratic. (In France there is also a first-past-the-post system in the sense that the candidate with the absolute majority gets elected and other votes don’t count, but at least there is a runoff if no-one has an absolute majority. In the UK there isn’t even a runoff.) Yes, it would mean more seats for the Front National, but it is a greater evil to have a less democratic system. “Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right” in the words of Salvor Hardin.

      I am really annoyed when rules are used, or, worse, changed, to prevent some party from being represented. Even worse is when the reason for keeping or changing the rule allegedly has nothing to do with disadvantaging a particular party.

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