How good is a 100/1 long-shot bet?
At 10 pm last night, after an evening in which the right-wing blogsphere had been buzzing over a speech directly to Gordon Brown in the European Parliament yesterday by the Tory MEP, Daniel Hannan, our friend Shadsy, the political market maker for Ladbrokes, popped up with a great bet. He had a simple posting here: “If anyone does want to take a flyer on Hannan as next Tory leader, you can have 200/1 at ladbrokes.”
In these things punters have to react quickly. Was this good value or not – for after all the incumbent, David Cameron, looks well set in and the 37 year old Hannan is not even in the Westminster parliament – a vital requirement if he has leadership ambitions.
Until now I’ve totally avoided the next Tory leader market because it could be at least a decade until there’s a vacancy. Who wants to lock up money for so long and in any case could the proceeds of a Â£10 bet, Â£2000, be worthless by then? Yet 200/1 is very tempting and I could not resist it. Other PBers felt the same and within just 20 minutes Shadsy has slashed the price to 100/1.
Yesterday wasn’t a good day for Gordon. After ex-minister Stephen Byers slammed last December’s VAT cuts the Governor of the Bank of of England, Mervyn King, issued a sharp warning about further stimulus measures – a story that headed the bulletins last night and is the lead in several papers this morning.
With next week’s G20 meeting in London and the budget in April the King criticism is a gift to the Tories and Liberal Democrats. Brown’s main strategy has been to isolate Cameron saying that nobody else in the world is following the Tory approach. King’s comments undermine that and provide the opposition with lots of valuable ammunition.