Markets opens on the Lib Dem leadership
It’s a sign, surely, of the position that the Lib Dems now have in British politics that a bookmaker considers them important enough to open a market on whether their leader will survive. The price is 1/3 that Charles Kennedy will still be in post at the General Election and 9/4 that he won’t.
Given that we might be four years off a General Election there is no point in locking up your cash for so long for such a modest return on him staying. But what about the 9/4 on him going?
Whenever his leadership has come under scrutiny by his fellow Lib Dem MPs Kennedy has managed to play the Simon Hughes card. This was brilliantly described by in the Times by Matthew Parris. “.. Simon Hughes, the ageing young pup who for a decade has seen himself as the natural â€œelsewhereâ€ heir to the leadership, is more admired by Lib Dem activists than by their MPs. Charles Kennedy knows this. He adopts the flip side of the resort of fugitives who hold in front of them a captive child: â€œShoot and the baby gets it.â€ Kennedy holds Hughes behind: â€œShoot and youâ€™ll get the baby as your leader.â€ It always works.”
The big short to medium term danger for Kennedy is if David Cameron enjoys a prolonged media honeymoon. The liberal, with a small L, social agenda that DC appears to be following together with a much softer Tory line on environmental issues might start to eat into Lib Dem territory.
If the party’s poll share starts to decline and May’s local elections are disappointing then we might see a move – but we doubt it. The Lib Dems have not got the ruthlessness of the Tories when it comes to getting rid of leaders.
Either way we do not see this as a bet worth making.
Why the story was replaced. The original piece was written in the belief that the timing of the bet was December 31st 2005 not the General Election. I was misled because this was how it appeared on the betting odds search engines and the betting slip itself says “Liberal Democrat Specials. Charles Kennedy to be leader. 12:00 31/12/2005. Stay or Go”. The bookmaker has not responded to my written request for clarification but we assume from another page of their web-site that the General Election is the date – information you would not see if you got into their site from one of the search engines.
I thought that 1/3 on Kennedy still being there on New Year’s Eve seemed a great bet. If it had not been for a problem with my credit card details I would have put Â£900 on in the expectation of making Â£300 in six weeks. Blue Square should take immediate action to clarify the terms of the market on the betting slips and in the information going to the betting search engines.