Is it all over for the Lib Dems in Oldham?

Paddy Power says the Lib Dems winning in Oldham is “as unlikely as Manchester United finishing botto

With no polling carried out on the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election, arguably the best guide to the result comes from the bookies. Paddy Power, which has Labour on 1/6 to hold the seat, has made this amusing prediction:

What Nick Clegg believes about his party's chance of winning Oldham East contradicts all recent betting patterns. Victory for the Lib Dems in Oldham is now as unlikely as Manchester United finishing at the bottom of this year's Premier League with Roy Keane in charge!

As I suggested earlier, Clegg may well regret describing the by-election as a "two-horse race" between the Lib Dems and Labour if his party is pushed into third place. The heckler who today told Clegg, "'I'm disgusted by the way you stabbed my generation in the back" is unlikely to be alone.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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An alternative Trainspotting script for John Humphrys’ Radio 4 “Choose Life” tribute

Born chippy.

Your mole often has Radio 4’s Today programme babbling away comfortingly in the background while emerging blinking from the burrow. So imagine its horror this morning, when the BBC decided to sully this listening experience with John Humphrys doing the “Choose Life” monologue from Trainspotting.

“I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got Radio 4?” he concluded, as a nation cringed.

Introduced as someone who has “taken issue with modernity”, Humphrys launched into the film character Renton’s iconic rant against the banality of modern life.

But Humphrys’ role as in-studio curmudgeon is neither endearing nor amusing to this mole. Often tasked with stories about modern technology and digital culture by supposedly mischievous editors, Humphrys sounds increasingly cranky and ill-informed. It doesn’t exactly make for enlightening interviews. So your mole has tampered with the script. Here’s what he should have said:

“Choose life. Choose a job and then never retire, ever. Choose a career defined by growling and scoffing. Choose crashing the pips three mornings out of five. Choose a fucking long contract. Choose interrupting your co-hosts, politicians, religious leaders and children. Choose sitting across the desk from Justin Webb at 7.20 wondering what you’re doing with your life. Choose confusion about why Thought for the Day is still a thing. Choose hogging political interviews. Choose anxiety about whether Jim Naughtie’s departure means there’s dwindling demand for grouchy old men on flagship political radio shows. Choose a staunch commitment to misunderstanding stories about video games and emoji. Choose doing those stories anyway. Choose turning on the radio and wondering why the fuck you aren’t on on a Sunday morning as well. Choose sitting on that black leather chair hosting mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows (Mastermind). Choose going over time at the end of it all, pishing your last few seconds on needlessly combative questions, nothing more than an obstacle to that day’s editors being credited. Choose your future. Choose life . . .”

I'm a mole, innit.