So why not do the same with share prices?
Our genial host, Mike Smithson, is furious this morning because amidst a number of newspaper stories about who might return to Labour’s fold the Independent on Sunday is quoting what look like betting odds which he cannot find being publicly available anywhere. There is no source mentioned by the paper and nothing to suggest that these might have been created in the newsroom.
Mike writes: “The validity of betting odds is that they are offered by bookmakers or punters on betting exchanges who are prepared to risk hard cash by laying bets at those prices. If these “prices” have been invented then there’s no financial element, it’s misleading and could undermine those punters like me who are gambling on markets like this. The Indy on Sunday might have found a bookmaker prepared to lay at these price but a source is not quoted.”
One of Labour’s “big beasts” who is coming back is former Health Secretary and Blairite “outrider” Alan Milburn. The fact that he is making a return to government nevertheless keeps the “all hands to the pump” momentum going, alongside speculation as to what this might mean for the timing of the next election, and how many more “big beasts” can be persuaded to return to help Labour in its hour of need and maybe secure a fourth term.
The MP for Darlington will be heading a commission on social mobility, and Tuesday will see a White Paper issued on the subject. Milburn will lead a major push by the government to open up the professions, such as law and medicine, to people from disadvantaged backgrounds. With the return of Milburn and Mandelson, the Blairite-Brownite wars are increasingly irrelevant as Labour’s survival in government is now the overriding issue.
However, the Independent reports that Alastair Campbell is complicating Brown’s efforts to bring the “big beasts” back by refusing a peerage and thus formalise his role. Other names who have been mentioned as possible returners are David Blunkett (as outlined here in this piece by The Mole in early November) and also Charles Clarke.
As for the election timing, my feeling remains that it will be May 2010, no matter how many key figures from Labour’s past return in the meantime. 2009 looks set to have a steady drumbeat of job losses and companies collapsing, and it remains very uncertain that the polls will be good enough for long enough to go to the country. An election this year would also run the risk for the government of bad news during the campaign, a la Rover in 2005 but on a bigger scale.
Elsewhere, the Telegraph reports that Damian Green looks set for a return to the Shadow Cabinet once he has been cleared, with the Met expecting the case against Green to be thrown out in perhaps as little as a fortnight. Unless Caroline Spelman is cleared over “nannygate”, it’s thought that Hunt, Pickles, or Grayling might become the new Party Chairman, while Green could then take over the vacated role at Culture, Local Government, or Work & Pensions. It remains to be seen whether Ken Clarke will be a piece in the reshuffle jigsaw, although the Indy wonders whether he might be given a peerage and thus face off against Mandelson in the Lords.
Later today on PB – the 2009 Forecast Competition