Forget the bookie – you are better off with the building society?
Even though Tony Blair has made it clear that he will only step down after he’s served another full term there’s a healthy market on who will replace him.
Acording to this time-table it will be 2008 or 2009 before the Blairs move from Downing Sttreet to their new house in Connaught Square but the price of Gordon Brown being the successor is a staggering 1/3. That’s with William Hill – the PaddyPower odds are 1/4. So for locking in, say, £100 now, you could have to wait for nearly five more years for winnings of just £25 and your stake back
To show how ridiculous this is the same money invested in a Nationwide Building Society ISA bond at 5.15% would produce a return to you of £28.54 plus your £100 back with almost total security!
So taking into account the “cost” of the money required for the bet the PaddyPower price is a negative while the William Hill one works out at 1/33. No option in a market should be at 1/3 when you may have to wait five years.
On top of that you have to add on the risk that Brown might not make it after all. The Chancellor is now the man to beat and as time passes others will start to see themselve as possible leaders and will judge Brown in a different light. He might have had total control of the economy for more than seven years but he has built up plenty of enemies out there. While a Michael Howard-type accession might have been possible if Tony Blair had, as reported at the famous Admiralty Arch dinner, gone this summer. In 2008 or whenever there is certain to be a contest.
Second favourite is Alan Milburn at 11/2; David Blunkett and Jack Straw are at 20/1. They even mark Ken Livingstone at 250/1 and he is not even an MP!
Far better if you want to bet on the Labour leadership is on when Tony Blair will leave Downing Street. The 3/1 on him going at any time in 2004 or 2005 covers you for the possible consquences of a wide range of events – his health failing; Labour not winning a majority at the Election; Labour losing; Blair being ousted in his Sedgefield seat; Blair realising that he is an electoral liability to Labour; Gordon Brown being brave enough to mount a coup etc.