Darling now favourite to be next Chancellor
Given the 0.33/1 price tag on Gordon Brown being the next Labour leader a more interesting market for those turned off by such tight prices is on who will be his replacement as Chancellor.
The above chart shows the implied probability of the two front-runners, Alastair Darling and Ed Balls based on best betting prices. Apart from a shot period immediately after David Cameron’s Tory leadership victory when George Osborne came into the frame the market has been dominated by Balls (RED) and Darling (BLUE).
In the immediate aftermath of last May’s General Election we had a good argument on the site when I suggested that Ed Balls, then an MP for less than a week, might be an interesting way of cashing in on an expected Gordon Brown promotion.
For Balls, who had been Brown’s close adviser from 1997, seemed to have a reasonable chance because of the closeness of the two men’s relationship – a view shared by punters in what, admittedly, has been a very light market.
In recent weeks, though, the sentiment has moved away from the former adviser and Alastair Darling is now the 2.4/1 favourite. The position of Balls has not been helped by his lack-lustre speaking style and the less than convincing way he has handled radio and TV interviews.
The MP for Normanton is still a back-bencher and the suggestion that he could suddenly move to one of the top job’s in Government after spending so little time in the Commons seems a big argument against. But Brown will want his close friends round him in his cabinet and Balls fits the bill.
A Balls bet at the current 3.1/1 price might just be worth a punt because there is little doubt that there’ll be big interest in his chances once Tony Blair has announced his departure date and Brown looks all set to take over. This could see the Balls price tighten sharply.