And is this a first for Mail and Guardian front pages?
For political punters, surely, the saddest aspect of the selection of Baroness Ashton as the first EU High Commissioner is that PB’s Morus (AKA Greg Callus) who posted his exclusive tip here on November 9th, was unable to place a bet himself. He’s currently on a Fulbright scholarship at Columbia University in New York and there’s a very strict ban on US residents betting with foreign bookmakers
So Greg would have risked being thrown out of the US if he’d sought to get some money on with Ladbrokes – the only bookie at that point which was taking gets on her.
PaddyPower, which was also running an online market, had not even got Ashton listed as a runner.
So the main beneficiaries of what will surely be the best political bet of 2009 were those who were following the thread that night who acted fast. For there’s one thing for certain about betting opportunities like this – they don’t last long and when you see them you have to move.
Knowing Greg as I do I knew that he would not have put his head above the parapet in the way he did unless his information was good – so I was one of the fortunate ones.
Well done to Ladbrokes for settling the market so quickly – though I guess that they made a packet on it because all the early indications were that David Miliband was going to get the job and I’m sure that he dominated the betting. Cathy Ashton, who is the spouse of YouGov boss Peter Kellner, was still at 6/1 when the market closed.
As to the political impact of the news – both the Guardian and the Mail have precisely the same headline “The Great EU Stitch-up”. That must surely be a first for two parts of the media which have very different backgrounds and differing views of Britain the EU.
The Mail’s secondary headline points to possible political problems back home – “Low-profile Labour crony is made EU foreign minister – so a fanatical Belgian federalist can become President”.
The report goes on to note that Baroness Ashton was until October 2008, Labour’s leader in the House of Lords, and had played a key part in getting the Lisbon Treaty through the upper house in the face of calls for a referendum.
I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this one.