Knobbling the Favourite

I'm not much of a gambler. The odd pound on the National Lottery, a couple of bob each way on the Grand National is the whole extent of my experience.

One thing that I do know about gambling though is that the bookmakers set the odds to ensure that no matter what the result they will make a profit. The form has little to do with the odds, stick a million pounds on a donkey and the donkey will suddenly become odds-on favourite.

I've never put a bet on the outcome of an election. If I was to do so I think that I would bet to gain a consolation prize if my candidate didn't win. If the SNP win in Glasgow East - that will be prize enough for me. The return on a tenner, if Labour wins, might ease the cost of drowning the sorrows.

That is why I have never understood the obsession that some political commentators have with who the bookies say are "favourites". What the bookies say is all to do with money placed for diverse reasons, not what the electorate is likely to say.

I doubt if anybody in any constituency changes their vote, based on the bookies starting price. I was going to vote Conservative, but the odds on the Liberal Democrats has shortened to 5/2 so I'm voting LD now!

However if people were influenced by the bookies odds, then the political system could be manipulated by rich people backing donkeys!

The Herald suggests that this might be happening in Glasgow East:

But don't place your money until you hear the apocryphal tale of the election agent encountered in the street during one campaign with a large wad of banknotes protruding from his sports jacket.

His plan was simple. Having collected £1000, a sizable sum, from committed supporters, he was hotfooting it to the local betting shop to skew the odds so wildly that there could be no comeback for the opposition. It was one week out from the vote and the agent reckoned timing was everything. He was right - once the money was over the counter all bets were off and the agent's man was the bookie's surefire winner.

What's the price on democracy down the bookies?!


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