Having looked at the Scottish seats, I feel confident enough to move onto Wales. My local knowledge of Wales is even more compelling than Scotland: I once visited Conwy Castle, I had a single trip with work for the day to Cardiff and I went on a (very memorable) stag weekend to Barmouth, just outside Aberystwyth. I'm sure you're all suitably impressed.
I do not propose, therefore, to say much about the intricacies of each seat, but to analyse the swings needed, the markets and to draw some inferences. There seem to be some really good prices in Wales and I'm going to take a lot of talking out of that conclusion.
I have ignored those seats where one party has crushingly short odds and each party where its odds in a seat are very long (except where it is on the list of another party’s target seats). Once again, I’ve listed these seats in ranking of odds, and included the swing. What do the markets seem to be saying? Well, they seem to be confident of quite a few Conservative gains.
The Tories must be hoping to add to their three Welsh seats. By the time that you get to Clwyd South, they will need just under a 10% swing. For that, the best price that you can get is 11/8. I suggest that is not that exciting a prospect.
Interestingly, the market assumption in England that Lib Dem seats will hold out better than Labour seats against the Tories seems not to apply very strongly. The two Lib Dem seats are a little lower on the list than we might expect if they were Labour seats, but only a little. Perhaps these are two unusually weak Lib Dem MPs. Certainly Lembit Opik in Montgomeryshire has a reputation to live down.
Turning to the Lib Dems, every picture tells a story:
First, the Lib Dems don’t have many realistic targets in Wales. Secondly, all such targets are in Labour seats. Thirdly, the markets seem, shall we say, optimistic about Lib Dem chances in their few targets. Are the Lib Dems really going to get an 11% swing in Newport East (a seat where they are only a few hundred ahead of the Conservatives) and a 7% swing in Swansea West? The polling evidence for this possibility is sparse and certainly doesn't justify the short odds on the Lib Dems doing so.
On the other hand, the markets are surprisingly gloomy about the Lib Dems chances of retaining their seats. The best-priced odds in Cardiff Central are frankly insulting to the local MP. Ladbrokes quote the Lib Dems' chances in this seat at 1/33 and that seems far more realistic to me than the odds that all the other bookies quote on this seat. Labour would have to play out of their skins to take this seat. As we shall see, they probably have their hands full elsewhere.
I've already noted how Lembit Opik doesn't feel much love from punters. To be quoted at only 2/5 to avoid an adverse swing of 11.4% is astounding. Has he really blotted his copybook that much? Local knowledge in a seat like this is everything, but these odds look very generous at face value. The best Conservative price is 11/4, so it is possible to back both and make a profit - no one else stands an earthly.
Plaid Cymru are in contention in a surprising number of seats:
Arfon, while notionally Labour, has a sitting Plaid MP. But look at the odds in Llanelli - 6/4 to get a swing of over 10%? You have to put a lot of faith in their ability to convert Welsh Assembly results into Westminster votes for that. I don't.
Historically, Plaid Cymru have flattered to deceive at Westminster elections. There isn't much sign in the polls that they will do amazingly well. I would prefer to be betting against them than for them.
This brings me to what I regard as the bonanza, Labour prices:
Some of these are incomprehensible unless you assume Labour is going to be hammered and that the Welsh Assembly and EU election results are going to be repeated. Even then, some of the prices are barely comprehensible.
Cardiff West, Llanelli, Newport East and Wrexham all look like complete steals at 1/2. Can you see more than one of these falling? I can't. I doubt whether any of them will. Look at the swings required. In Wrexham and Newport East, there are a multiplicity of challengers as well. Swansea West at 10/11 also looks great value, when you consider that the challenger is the Lib Dems, who have been languishing in Wales.
I am more wary where the Conservatives are the challengers to Labour, since they do appear to have made progress in Wales. Even there, many seats have no tradition of voting Conservative. Progress is likely to be slower than in returning English heartlands.
Finally, Ynys Mon is a seat I would like to know much more about. Plaid fancy their chances there, but they fancied their chances there in 2005 and were disappointed. Is the 5/2 on Labour worth having? My spider sense tells me that it might be.