Anne Marie Waters is the betting markets’ favourite to lead UKIP

“Anti-Islam" Waters is currently the favourite to replace Paul Nutall as leader of UKIP.

According to Oddschecker, Anne Marie Waters, described by the BBC as an “anti-Islam candidate”, is the favourite to become UKIP’s next leader with all eight firms currently offering odds for the contest providing odds that suggest she is most likely win. For example, Ladbrokes is offering odds of 10/11 for a Waters victory.

Peter Whittle, one of London’s two UKIP Assembly Members, is the betting markets’ second favourite to win, having previously been seen as the front-runner, with Ladbrokes offering odds of 3/1 for a Whittle victory.

Who will win?

General elections are difficult to predict, but large-scale polls and focus groups make the task much easier. Polling has had a bad few years, but at least the methodology finds results that end up being relatively close to the public's actual voting behaviour.

When it comes to polling members for an internal leadership contest, things are a bit trickier. In order to do this, polling companies need access to members, and so far there has been no UKIP membership poll to suggest things are going one way or the other. However, there is precedent for large polling companies to survey members, with a 2015 YouGov Labour members poll finding that Jeremy Corbyn was ahead in the leadership contest.

In this case, polling cannot help so the betting markets are a useful tool in seeing how things are shaping up. On top of this, here are four thing we do know:

  • Firstly, according to the Guardian, UKIP party sources said back in July that a thousand new members had joined in what they thought could be an “influx” of Waters supporters. If true, in a tight contest, such new members could tip the balance.
  • Secondly, the Independent reports that an anti-Waters alliance has been created, led by Jane Collins MEP. Collins’ is currently the third favourite to take over as leader, according to Oddschecker. For example, Ladbrokes offer odds of 8/1 for a Collins victory.
  • Thirdly, just 15,405 members voted in the previous contest out of a possible 32,757, according to the BBC. Compared to the main three parties’ memberships – and even the SNP’s – UKIP’s membership numbers are relatively small, and with such a low turnout rate last time, it gets ever more difficult to pinpoint an outcome.
  • Fourthly, UKIP leadership contests are held using the first-past-the-post system. With a crowded field of candidates, the winner could become leader with something like one-third of all votes cast.

The results of the leadership contest will be announced at the party’s annual conference at the end of September.

All cited odds are from Oddschecker, which can be accessed here, and are accurate as of 21st September.