The Racing Card

The Bet - Who will be the first woman prime minister of the 21st century?

Patricia Hewitt 8-11
Yvette Cooper 4-1
Ruth Kelly 14-1
Tessa Jowell 14-1
Mo Mowlam 16-1
Ann Widdecombe 33-1

(Source Ladbrokes)

The bookies are not very confident that there will be a woman prime minister this decade. In fact you can get 10/1 if you think there will be. Given these odds it is surprising that the prices on who will be the next woman PM are not very generous at all. The only explanation for Patricia Hewitt's price is that she has a rich anonymous admirer who has placed a big wedge on her. He or she obviously has more money than sense. I would put my money on Yvette Cooper, but 4-1 is very poor value. Mo Mowlam's star is certainly waning as she has gone out from firm favourite a year ago to a 16-1 outsider today. The only Tory in the betting is Ann Widdecombe, which is surprising given that the Tories are still the only major political party to elect a woman to lead them.

When I was inquiring about the odds on a woman prime minister I was intrigued to know what odds I could get on the next honours list. The problem was coming up with names that had escaped the new Labour eye for publicity. It seems that every ex-footballer, racing driver, boxer and film star has now been given their gong. Even I hadn't thought about Stirling Moss and Henry Cooper, though England's '66 World Cup winners were so obvious that every newspaper had already reported it. "What do you think the odds on you receiving an honour would be?" my man at the bookies inquired. I just laughed. Like Jon Snow and Polly Toynbee I, too, turned down a gong, but unlike them I agreed not to talk about it.

Charlie Whelan