Is Alan Watkins right?

Is Alan Watkins right?

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“Your turf accountant… doesn’t have a clue”

Amongst all the articles about Brown and Obama today there’s this piece by Alan Watkins in the Independent.

    [The odds] are largely made up – to begin with, at any rate. I once talked at length to a representative of one of our largest bookmaking firms, who specialised in political betting. It was, he explained, a very small part of their turnover. They did it for the sake of the publicity, which was usually favourable and always free. It was, as he said, “a bit of fun”.

Watkins goes on to say: “The bookies also got it wrong in Glasgow East. They were there, on the spot, taking bets. Their conclusion, according to Thursday’s papers, was that Labour would just manage to hang on. There is no disgrace in getting a by-election or any other result wrong. What it shows is that bookmakers are not a unique repository of political wisdom.”

So to what extent is Watkins right? Where do bookmakers, and the betting markets in general, stand as a barometer for the state of the political weather? Contributions welcome, especially from PB’ers who bet regularly or who are themselves part of the bookmaking fraternity.

UK update

John Prescott has warned that a leadership challenge would be “pointless and divisive” and that no potential successor had the “right skills” to replace Brown, while Harriet Harman said the party was focused on leading the country rather than plotting. Market links for party leaders at the next election and next Prime Minister.

International round-up

New Zealand (election date TBC, 15 November latest):

Austria (election 28 September)

Finally, opinion polls from around the world, including state polling for the US, from the excellent Angus Reid site.

Double Carpet

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