Why I’m backing a Labour minority government


I get asked a lot for a prediction for the next general election. It’s difficult to get away from saying the same thing as virtually everyone else: It’ll probably be a hung parliament and, more likely than not, Labour will have the most seats.

Still, as a bookie, I’m more interested in making good bets rather than predictions, and I’m growing increasingly keen on the chances of a Labour minority government being formed after May 7th.

Pretty much all of the forecasting models are telling us that a hung parliament is now extremely likely. Stephen Fischer’s latest projection made it a 60% chance. Chris Hanretty’s model now puts it at 89%. Ladbrokes’ latest quote of 4/11 is equivalent to a 73% chance. Despite most pundits and political scientists anticipating some sort of swing-back to the Tories from the current polling, the electoral system currently gives Labour enough of an advantage to make them favourites to win most seats.

Check out the excellent May2015 site which provides a handy comparison of the various forecasts.


Plenty of people look at the electoral maths and see an obvious opportunity for a Labour/SNP coalition, which has been very well backed at Ladbrokes. I think it’s extremely unlikely that the SNP would want to enter such an arrangment. Why would they want the hassle of being tied to a government which is going to have to make a lot of unpopular decisions? There is also the problem of the SNP not voting on England & Wales only legislation. An SNP/Lab coalition with just over 325 MPs might not actually have a parliamentary majority for that stuff. Either way, they are much better off sitting on the sidelines and propping up a Labour minority government for a while, in return for a few Scottish goodies.

A Lab/LD coalition is more plausible in my opinion, but at the moment it’s not clear that the Lib Dems will win enough seats to make that happen either. Politically, it’s not going to be easy for them to jump straight from a Tory led government to a Labour led one. I don’t rule it out, but I think some sort of confidence and supply arrangement would work better for everyone involved, at least for a while.

So, that leaves a Labour minority government as a highly plausible outcome. I’m on.



Matthew Shaddick

Matthew Shaddick has been Head of Poliical Betting at Ladbrokes since 2008. He's a writer and odds-maker with particular expertise in UK and US elections. Also known to dabble in music, literary and other out of the way betting markets. Sometimes issues tips on horse racing and football, which are best ignored.



They’d be mad to go for a minority govt. They’d need all their MPs to vote with the whip every single time, which the small group of left-wing MPs (Corbyn, McDonnell) simply won’t do on austerity measures. There’d be no stability to the government and Labour do not have the funds to go for a second election like Wilson in 74 – especially if union funding reform and public sector pay freezes discourage any further Unite splurges. And would they win more votes in a second election? Doubtful.

I’m one of those who plumped for value in long-shot SNP coalitions, but the likeliest outcome for me is a fairly unexciting Lab-Lib coalition. I’m amazed it’s priced as the sixth-likeliest outcome.


One thing that got missed in the party conference season – Labour proposing an elected second chamber to replace the House of Lords.

I cannot see that as anything other than a calculated post-election love letter to the Lib Dems…


Yes, I can see it makes sense for Labour. I’m not convinced it could make sense for the SNP to be tying themselves down and guaranteeing to support every gov’t bill. Not if they want to win Holyrood again in 2016 as the independent champions of Scotland.

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