Forget opinion polling, bookmakers are usually the most astute predictors of election outcomes. Ladbrokes are out in force in Rochester town centre this morning, giving odds on what might happen here and in the wider Tory-Ukip drama.
Following Ukip’s victory in the by-election, they are giving 4/6 odds on the Conservatives holding Rochester and Strood, 5/4 for Ukip and 33/1 for Labour. Ladbrokes also have a list of top target seats based on their constituency odds. Top is Douglas Carswell’s seat, Clacton, at 1/10, Thanet South (where Nigel Farage is standing) at 2/5, Thurrock 8/13, Boston & Skegness 4/6 and Great Yarmouth is 5/4. Rochester and Strood is not in their their top ten.
On the next Tory MP to defect to Ukip, this is current lineup — although the latter two seem a tad unlikely:
- 2/1: Philip Hollobone (Kettering)
- 3/1 John Baron (Basildon & Billericay)
- 4/1 Henry Smith (Crawley)
- 6/1 Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin)
- 6/1 Peter Bone (Wellingborough)
- 8/1 George Eustice (Cambourne & Redruth)
- 10/1 Gordon Henderson (Sittinghourne & Sheppey)
- 16/1 Adam Holloway (Gravesham)
- 16/1 Aiden Burley (Cannock Chase)
- 16/1 Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes)
- 20/1 Philip Davies (Shipley)
- 100/1 Grant Shapps (Welwyn Hatfield)
- 500/1 David Cameron (Witney)
Interestingly, their number one pick Philip Hollobone flanked Mark Reckless as he was sworn in as the MP for Rochester and Strood this morning. Their number two pick John Baron recently said ‘you should never say never in politics’.
Although Ukip remain gleeful at the prospect of more MPs joining their army, time is running out before the next election and the limited period makes defections trickier. This means we’ll soon find out if the bookies are right.