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Could my 200-1 long-shot come in?

January 21st, 2006
    The PB.C comment that could make me richer

At 7.39 am on January 11th Alex posted this short comment on the site. It read simply “Apparently Huhne has 5 certain backers among MPs. Why is he still 200-1?”

For gamblers like me there is something very seductive about a long-shot and within a few seconds of reading Alex’s comment I had taken the £20 bet at 200/1 that was available on the Betfair betting exchange as well as £22 at 150/1.

For those not familiar with betting exchanges Betfair is not a bookmaker laying bets itself. Rather it brings together people who went to back, like me on this occasion, and those who want to be like a bookmaker and lay bets. The layer is in effect betting against the proposition. So the maximum I could get on was that which other punters were prepared to lay.

In the ten days since then Chris Huhne’s challenge has gathered pace and now, with just three contenders left in the race, the Betfair price is at 6.2/1.

Maybe this is wishful thinking brought on by the prospect of being several thousand pounds richer but I am starting to think that he might have a realistic chance. Huhne seems to offer a freshness and an originality of thought not shared by Hughes and Campbell and this is very appealing.

    There is little doubt that Campbell’s problems are his age, questions about his health, and the “Ming the Merciless” tag that he has acquired for his part in the downfall of Charles Kennedy.

Hughes, meanwhile, has a strong and committed following but he probably does not have the support to take him over the 50% mark in the first count. At that stage the second choice votes of those going for the third in the ballot will be redistributed. If Ming is the one who drops out my guess is that Huhne would pick up the lion’s share his first preferences.

If Hughes is in third place then Huhne is well set as well to get the second preferences. So if Huhne can avoid last place in the first round then his chances of taking it are high.

In the absence of a new Lib Dem members’ poll this is all guess work – but I think even Huhne’s current price tag is good value.

UPDATE: New Mori Poll:
The January survey in today’s Sun has the following party shares with comparisons on the pollster’s December poll:- CON 39 (-1): LAB 39 (+8): LD 15 (-6).

Unlike the other pollsters carrying out monthly surveys Mori does not weight by past vote recall and so is much more vulnerable to sample error. As we point out repeatedly phone polls usually have a hit ratio 6-1 calls to successful interviews.

The pollster is thus reliant on those that it manages to reach using randomised unsolicited phone calls being representative. The heavy weight of data over many years shows that such respondents tend to be more Labour-inclined than the population as a whole.


Mike Smithson






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