Following on from previous odds-analysis, from Paddy Power’s spread on the Assembly Election constituencies, what about those with a more solitary route to election, or in some cases, re-election?
Some constituencies have more independents than others, Foyle and East Antrim have just one apiece. North Down however has 3, and West Tyrone tops that particular league table with 4. But what do the bookies make of their chances?
Not much, I’m afraid.
If you’re running as an independent, this is the place to be. Both independents are odds-on for election, the best available odds on an independent by a furlong (or five).
Claire Sugden is in the key-five spots at 4/9, returning just £0.44 on a £1 bet, and Gerry Mullan slightly outside of Sugden at 5/6, giving you £0.83 on your quid stake. Why such short odds?
Re-election, that’s why. The odds-settters are clearly weighting the stakes in favour of re-election bids. Both of these candidates have a party history though, Sugden worked for the late David McClarty, who was in his later years an independent himself, but originally in the UUP. Gerry Mullan is a much more interesting tale, having been elected in 2016 as the SDLP MLA for the constituency, only to be de-selected for the 2017 race, sparking his race as an independent candidate (and a legal battle was suggested in the press). It’s incredibly unlikely that both of these independents could scrape in, but the fact that two party-less candidates are in the odds-on range does much to dispel the suggestion that the reduction from 6 seats to 5 per constituency could hurt plurality of voice.
On the other hand, both could be job hunting by the end of the week, so this race is one that definitely needs to be seen run to run its course.
What is it with West Tyrone and the independent candidates? Four here this year, and quite the price range. From Roisin McMackin at 33/1, good odds and no mistake, and Sorcha McAnespy narrowly outside McMackin, at 50/1 herself, and then picking up the back of the field, Corey French and Susan-Ann White, both at 200/1 – nobody could give much hope to these candidates. I know everyone thinks they’ve spotted the next Leicester City, but if they have, it isn’t in West Tyrone. It is interesting though that the range of odds offered on independent candidates here, 33/1 for McMackin offers slim to no hope of election, but past form when compared to the bottom end of the scale means there’s something in McMackin’s campaign that piques the interest of voters and bookies alike.
Two independents here, but only one worth watching for. Jonathan Bell, technically still on the books as a DUP member, although suspended currently following his involvement in revealing parts of the RHI scandal, strong odds at 9/4 – however the movement by the DUP of Education Minister Peter Weir to Strangford must surely be seen as a knockout punch for Bell’s chances at re-election. The other independent here, Jimmy Menagh isn’t too far away either, his odds of 16/1 aren’t likely to be taken by many, but compared to some independents about the country, this isn’t to be sniffed at! Menagh hung in well in 2016 to be eliminated in 8th place, something that, to be frank, Jonathan Bell may only aspire to in the 2017 race.
This is the independent that is most baffling as far as the odds are concerned. Jordy McKeag, a famous(locally) for five seconds (if that) candidate from yesteryear. Being championed as a comedy-candidate of sorts by LAD and the Notorious Barrick Boys, promising to bet his MLA salary on a long-odds bet (perhaps he could gamble on one of the 200/1 candidates from West Tyrone?) to recoup the money lost from RHI. At 20/1, McKeag is the seventh best odds of the 20+ independents running in AE17a. What gives, Paddy Power, what gives? Reminiscent of H’Angus the monkey’s campaign to be Hartlepool Mayor many moons ago, perhaps McKeag is the man of the moment… at 20/1, there are worse bets out there… but is he likely to push past those he needs to push past? Unlikely – but those who finish below him (likely to include SDLP, Sinn Féin, NI Conservatives, and others, if these odds are representative) will have to be slightly embarrassed at their showing.
THE REST OF THE PACK
I feel it only fair to give the odds for the other independents running, whilst their odds might give them little hope of election and probably, for some, no hope of recouping their electoral deposit even, they’re out there anyway – so let’s acknowledge them and their odds.
Monica Digney – North Antrim – 5/1 (Impressively short odds for an independent in a constituency which changes as fast as it’s famous Giant’s Causeway!)
Hugh McCloy – Mid Ulster – 8/1
Chris Carter -North Down – 33/1 (First of a trio of North Down independents, all at same-odds)
Melanie Kennedy – North Down – 33/1
Gavan Aloysius Reynolds – North Down – 33/1 (Maybe not likely to be elected, but undoubtedly a candidate for best name on a ballot paper in AE17a
Adam McBride – North Antrim – 50/1
Patrick Clarke – South Down – 50/1 (A controversial candidate, banned from holding public office at council due to convictions, some of which are particularly worry-some, Clarke is said to have received legal advice that this ban doesn’t hold him back from the Assembly, a regional office, as opposed to the local races, which he is ineligible for.)
Keith John Gray – Lagan Valley – 100/1
Jonny Orr – Lagan Valley – 125/1
David McMaster – South Antrim – 200/1
Adam Millar – Belfast North – 300/1 (This guy’s social media graphics are quite something…. think… if Peter Kay did a sitcom about an uninspired graphic designer in the mid 90s.)
Ricky Best – East Antrim – 300/1 (I think I saw Ricky Best actually advertise the fact that he wouldn’t be elected – so vote for him as a protest and your REAL first choice as your number 2 pick. Imagine if EVERYONE took him up on that message… and put £1 on it each…)
Arthur McGuinness – Foyle – 300/1
So, is anyone persuaded to back any independents in this election?