Happy 39th birthday David Cameron

Happy 39th birthday David Cameron

Tory leadership: RED Cameron, BLACK Davis, BLUE Clarke, GREEN Fox

    Cameron now odds-on in all markets after YouGov poll boost

A YouGov poll of Tory party members has confirmed the betting trend of the past week that David Cameron, 39 today, looks in a very strong position to take the Tory leadership provided that his fellow MPs vote him onto the final short-list of two that will go to the national ballot next month.

    In just seven days the implied probality of a Cameron win based on the best betting odds has moved from less than 10% to more than 50%.

The poll, which was restricted to the same paid up members of the party who took part in a similar survey in September has Cameron 39%: Clarke 26%: Davis 14%: Fox 13%. In head to heads Cameron beats Clarke by 60-33% and Davis by 66-27%.

If Cameron fails to come in the top two in the MPs ballot Clarke would beat Davis by 49-44% but Davis would beat Fox by 44-41%. We take the YouGov survey seriously because in a similar poll of Tory members in 2001 the company got the IDS-Clarke shares precisely right.

A poll of normal voters, by ICM for the BBC, finds that Ken Clarke remains their favourite candidate, with 27% naming him as their preferred leader. Cameron has moved up to 13% to put him joint second with David Davis. This reflects the relatively low name recognition of all but Ken Clarke amongst the public at large and is a sign of the immense challenge that the party faces.

With things moving so much to Cameron it is becoming harder to envisage MPs not being influenced by the membership to the extent that the young ex-Etonian is not included in the final line-up. But we cannot be certain and David Davis still has many more MPs pledging their support. We need to see more of them coming out for Cameron before we can say bet at these prices.

The conventional bookies now have a best price of 5/6 for Cameron, 7/4 Davis, 11/2 Clarke and 17/2 Fox. The betting exchanges have Cameron at 0.9/1 and Davis at 2.7/1.

As well as the MPs ballots the big uncertainty for Cameron now is whether these latest poll figures represent just a post-conference boost or whether they can be sustained. It will be two months before the final result is declared.

Mike Smithson

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