The Racing Card

The Bet - How many seats will the parties win at the election?

Labour Party: 405-410
Conservative Party: 172-177
Liberal Democrats: 46-48

Source: Sporting Index

I didn't bother to attend the party press conferences earlier in the week because I was fed up with listening to the finest journalists in the country repeating the same questions about Europe. Do they really think that Gordon Brown will slip up? It is not just William Hague who has misjudged the mood of the country. The voters have little interest in Europe during this election, yet it is the obsession of hacks and Tories.

The other media hang-up is the very process of the election. They love talking about spin-doctors and how new Labour manipulates the media, so much so that the Guardian reported that, last week, the biggest proportion of all news reports was about the election process itself. This amounted to a huge 37.2 per cent. All the evidence is that the punters see health, education and the economy as the most important issues, so it's no wonder that even top Tories such as Tim Yeo are putting their money on Labour. Indeed, the bookies have seen all the money going on Labour. In the past week, Labour seats have gone up ten points on the spread, even though some pundits claim the Tories have had a better campaign.

The Lib Dems have been big movers, too, and will probably reach 50 by the time of the polls. Last week, we saw William Hill offer 9-4 on a 64 per cent turnout, but City Index now offers a spread of 66.2-67.2 per cent, which I think is still worth buying. City Index is giving half the profits on this bet to Age Concern. It obviously has plenty of spare cash since the Chancellor abolished betting tax.

This article first appeared in the 04 June 2001 issue of the New Statesman, A dying body attracts vultures