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Will the betting markets be proved wrong?

October 17th, 2005

    Can we expect any more surprises?

Tory MPs go into the first round of voting tomorrow with punters – as the above chart showing the implied probability of success based on best betting prices indicates – thinking that this is a one horse race.

With the media almost totally focused on the Cameron drug issue the run-up to tomorrow’s vote has seen little discussion on policy issues with David Davis, Liam Fox and Ken Clarke finding it almost impossible to make themselves heard. Today’s final hustings in front of Tory MPs might see a proper debate return and could have a big impact.

David Cameron
His camp might have breathed a huge sigh of relief when reading yesterday’s Sunday papers but he still has to get enough support from Tory MPs to make the final two and as we saw from Michael Portillo’s experience in the 2001 contest he cannot regard that as a certainty. Betting: Best bookie price 4/7 – best betting exchange price 0.6/1. VERDICT There’s too great a risk to bet at this price.

David Davis. For all the David Cameron band-wagon has been attracting the media attention he is still a long way behind David Davis in terms of MP support. The Shadow Home Secretary’s has seen almost no defections amongst the group who declared publicly for him before the conference and remains the candidate to beat. Betting: Best bookie price 5/2 – best betting exchange price 3.5/1. VERDICT Could possibly do it if Cameron does not get through. Price needs to move out.

Ken Clarke. Yesterday’s declaration of support for the ex-Chancellor by Andrew Lansley might put new life into the Clarke campaign which has, as the chart shows, been most hurt by the Cameron surge. If it came to a Davis-Clarke final then the outcome would be very close. Betting: Best bookie price 10/1 – best betting exchange price 22/1. VERDICT If he is not facing Cameron and can get through to the final then Ken could just do it. Worth a couple of quid at 20/1 or more.

Liam Fox. In terms of declared support from MPs he is behind Ken Clarke but he should get a boost from the Cornerstone group of MPs and if David Davis performs below expectations then he could see a switch of support in the second round on Thursday. But he still has to make sure that he does not come bottom tomorrow. Betting: Best bookie price 8/1 – best betting exchange price 9.5/1. VERDICT. If Fox makes the next round and Davis underperforms then his price will tighten. Might be worth a punt.

Mike Smithson






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