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Osborne 5/1 to be next Chancellor

December 22nd, 2005
    Brown succession worries cause Balls price to ease

One market we have not looked at for some time is “who will succeed Gordon Brown as Chancellor?” In one of those quirks that sometimes happen on betting markets the close Tory colleague of David Cameron, George Osborne is now 5/1.

    For Osborne to be Brown’s successor Tony Blair has to continue right up to the General Election, the Tories have to win, and David Cameron has to decide to leave Osborne with the Treasury brief. You would also be locking up your money for, perhaps, four years. Just 5/1 for all of that seems ungenerous to say the least.

This seems to have been caused by a very light market and a change in sentiment about Ed Balls – former close adviser to Gordon Brown who became an MP in May. A month ago Balls had tightened to evens but he’s now moved out to 2.75/1 – probably because his future is very much linked to Brown securing the leadership and this is not quite as certain as it looked.

Balls is always popping up to give interviews when Gordon is not available which would normally seem odd for a rookie back-bencher. But Balls is no normal MP after being Brown’s closest adviser for a decade. Negatives are his hectoring style which seems stuck in the 1990s and his powers as an orator that make David Davis’s infamous Blackpool speech sound good.

Just after the General Election we suggested that the then 4.2/1 Balls price might be a better way of profiting from Brown succeeding than the odds-on price then being quoted on the Chancellor. The argument being, of course, that Brown would choose Balls to take over at Number 11. Given Gordon’s less than certain position now and Balls’s underwhelming performances anything tighter now should be avoided.

REMEMBER TO BOOK FOR THE PB.C PARTY. Saturday January 14, “Star Tavern” Belgrave Mews West, London SW1 (nearest tube Hyde Park Corner but also 10 minutes walk or an affordable taxi ride from Victoria – for those who attended the last one, it’s the same venue). Time – from 6 o’clock onwards. Please contact Innocent Abroad if you want to attend.

Mike Smithson






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