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Why my money’s on Ken

September 29th, 2005
    How PB.C’s Tories swayed my betting

In the immediate aftermath of the French refendum in May rejecting the EU constitution I put a big spread bet on Ken Clarke for the Tory leadership because it appeared that the issue that distanced him from the bulk of his party had been kicked into touch. No UK referendum meant that he was not going to be put on the spot in the run-up to a similar UK vote.

From my non-Tory standpoint it was obvious that Ken was the man who would resonate most with voters. True – he carries a lot of baggage but he has a remarkable ability to shake it off.

Like Tony Blair Ken Clarke has the vital Teflon quality that means that things like his tobacco links don’t stick.

Within a week I closed down my position at a big profit after being influenced by the intense hostility that the former Chancellor aroused from many of the Tory participants in PB.C’s discussion forums. In June he hardly had any supporters.

Today I’m back into Ken in a big way – at a much reduced price. I’ve done it for the same reasons – the opinions lucidly expressed by Tory contributors here – many of whom are now supporting Ken because they argue that he is the only potential leader who has a chance, even if still a bit remote, of denting Labour’s majority at the next General Election.

Now the election process is under way there’ll be intense media scrutiny of the contenders and it is here that Clarke scores. Just compare the way he approaches interviews with David Davis. Yesterday I was invited to appear on Radio 4’s World at One and just before my interview they had David Davis on. I was flabbergasted by how the Shadow Home Secretary failed to project himself and clearly the producers were frustrated because they only ran him for about half a minute.

By all accounts Davis did a great job when he was chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee and as Shadow Home Secretary he can count at least one ministerial scalp to his credit. But a leader needs to have a presence and charisma and he needs to be good with the media.

The big danger of my betting position is that Clarke will not make the final two for the membership ballot. That’s a risk but I’m now convinced that if he does get to that stage then there’s more than an even chance that membership will elect him.

Tory leadership betting prices

  • Conventional bookmakers best price: Davis 8/15: Clarke 9/4: Cameron 10/1: Fox 12/1: Rifkind 33/1
  • Betfair betting exchange: Davis 0.59/1: Clark 3.1/1: Cameron 13.5/1: Fox 10.5/1: Rifkind 69/1
  • BinaryBet spread market. Davis 56-63: Clarke 23-29: Cameron 5-9 Fox 5-9: Rifkind 1-3
  • Mike Smithson






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