The Racing Card

The Millennium Bet - What will happen in the year 2000?

Hague to become a father 6-4
Gordon Brown to marry 6-4
Blair baby to be called Tony 8-1
General election 10-1
Income tax abolished 500-1
(Source: Ladbrokes/William Hill)

We may all be completely fed up with the millennium, but for the bookies it is yet another chance to come up with "fun" bets designed to give the companies publicity. Not many of these are political, mainly because people don't associate fun with politics.

If you think that the Archbishop of Canterbury will confirm the Second Coming in the year 2000, you can get 1,000-1, which is exactly the same odds as a British woman winning the Wimbledon singles title. There are plenty of Jeffrey Archer bets to be had, but they are very silly, such as 100-1 to have the Christmas No 1 hit next year - Cliff Richard at 9-4 is actually very good value.

I'm tempted to take William Hill's odds of 10-1 for a general election to be held next year, which is better value than the 10-11 they are offering for Ken Livingstone to become London mayor.

There are plenty of political baby bets to be had. Hague to become a father at 6-4 is worth a punt, but I can't see the Blairs calling their baby Tony. If it's a boy, Peter or Alastair is more likely.

I don't really think that Gordon Brown will scrap income tax in his next Budget; in fact I know he won't, so the odds of 500-1 are not generous at all. Even less generous is Gordon to get married to Sarah at 6-4. Still, I've put a "pony" on it; so come on, Gordon.

If you are really feeling miserable and can't bear to go through another festive season, why not have a few quid on the world to end at 10,000,000-1. The problem is you wouldn't be around to pick up your winnings.

Charlie Whelan

This article first appeared in the 20 December 1999 issue of the New Statesman, Now then, are we getting anywhere?