Are his supporters trying to influence the race through the betting?
In the early hours of this morning there was a big move back to Menzies Campbell on the Betfair betting exchange and a major easing of the Simon Hughes price. From what I can ascertain there is no apparent reason – there does not appear to be anything in the papers.
At 11pm last night Ming’s price was at about 1.62/1 with Hughes on 1.32/1. The latest price as this article is published are Ming 0.91/1: Hughes 1.66/1: Huhne 13/1: Oaten 21/1.
We cannot rule out the possibility that supporters of the interim leader are backing their man hard in order to change the perception that his campaign has faltered
The betting seems to have taken place in the early hours of the morning when there were few other punters about to respond and it probably did not cost very much to put the 64 year old Scottish QC back as an odds-on favourite.
Such an idea was foreseen by Jackie Ashley in her Guardian article on Monday bemoaning the influence of betting on leadership races.
In September, when the David Davis camp was making so much of their man’s “bookies favourite” status I suspected that something similar was happening. Part of Davis’s case to Tory MPs was that they might as well go public in support because the betting showed that he was such a certainty.
The alternative explanation is that big backers are sharing the view I put yesterday that Ming’s chances were better than evens. It will be interesting to see if Ming remains odds-on during the day. I think that it probably will – provided Prime Minister’s Questions goes OK at noon.