Long-shot: a fun-money idea...

Examining the spreads for this contest over at igsports.com (look for the live prices tab) the following broad observations can be made about bettors' beliefs:

  • the Labour majority will plummet from 160 to about 60
  • 1 percentage point separates the projected popular vote for Labour and the Tories
  • there is an 85% chance Labour win a majority

These are all interesting positions to debate and wager on. But an intriguing scenario is this: if these spreads come right, where would that leave Prime Minister Blair?

A leader who scratches out a pyrrhic victory based on 37% of the popular vote and a majority slashed by over 60% does not endear himself to a party already half convinced that his finance minister would make a more politically palatable PM. Concrete traces of this rift (though it's hardly new) are all over the press - here's an example from the Tory-supporting Telegraph; and another take out of the left-leaning Guardian (we strive for balance).

So, consider carefully the spread for "Who will form a government after the next election". Prime Minister Blair enjoys overwhelming favour at 88-92. That is, one must bet 92 to win 100. Gordon Brown's spread is at 0-2. Viewed another way, is there really only a 2% chance that a skin-of-the-teeth victory fails to convince Mr Blair to walk? Or be made to?

Put this to Mr Brown and he would likely cite the Machiavellian Francis Urquhart.

"You might well think that; I couldn't possibly comment".

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