Was the Chancellor the big loser?
The next Labour leader betting markets could be interesting over the next few days as politicians and punters digest the sensational by-election loss to the Lib Dems of the seat where Gordon Brown lives.
Over the past three weeks there has been a sharp move back to Gordon in the betting on who will replace Tony Blair – his price tightening from 0.53/1 to 0.42/1. This has been driven by the new view at Westminster that an new arrangement had been worked out with Tony Blair about the leadership transition.
But can Brown be assured of the top job if Labour cannot hold onto seats which are so associated personally with him? Until the boundary changes last May large parts of the seat were represented by Brown and he now sits for the constituency next door. He has played a key part in the by-election campaign.
The result is also terrible news for the Tories who must have been hoping to make some progress under their new leader. To see their vote fall sharply is not good and no amount of spinning can make up for this.
For the Lib Dems this could not have come at a better time after all the problems of the past few weeks.