Is the Chancellor now unstoppable?
After the odd betting activity of the past two weeks all the money in the Labour leadership betting now seems to be going on Gordon Brown. As the price chart shows those who were betting against him at prices up to 0.58/1 now seemed to have withdrawn and the best you can get this morning is 0.46/1.
So a Â£100 bet winning today would produce would produce a profit of Â£46 – earlier in the month you could have got Â£58. But the price has has still to tighten to the Â£40 profit level – where it was in the immediate aftermath of Brown’s speech at the Labour conference in Manchester three weeks ago. By comparison in the heady days after Labour’s victory in May 2005 some punters placed bets where Â£100 staked would only produce Â£22.
The two immediately behind him in the betting, John Reid (10/1) and Alan Johnson (12/1) have seen their prices ease considerably. The only two other potential candidates being rated at all by the markets are David Miliband (28/1) and Hillary Benn (49/1).
What seems to be driving this is what’s seen to be the declining potential influence of Tony Blair. Any ability the Prime Minister might have to influence the race is being undermined by the apparent draining away of his authority – as seen in the head of the Army Iraq comments affair.
As each week goes by it is hard to see what could possibly impede a Brown succession. The one black cloud on the horizon is a Labour collapse in the polls. If ICM or YouGov started finding Labour support slipping to near the 30% mark then the questions over Gordon’s electability might emerge again. The only problem is that there is not an obvious alternative candidate who could do better.
I switched some of my betting last week to take benefit from the relatively good prices although I am still a net loser if Gordon does it.