I did try once: when I was the Conservative candidate for Great Grimsby and spent an afternoon touring bookies to see if they would give odds on the seat. All politely declined, apologetically telling me that the result was a foregone conclusion. When I said I was actually looking for odds on the scale of my defeat (I wasn’t stupid, even if I was a bit wet behind the ears back then) their sympathy turned to suspicion, as if I could somehow engineer a particular majority to ensure I won the bet.
It never occurred to them that if the Conservative organisation in Grimsby were capable of such a feat, it might have used its incredible power to win the seat, rather than just a few quid from them.
Again, Ladbrokes aren’t offering odds on the Grimsby seat, but are on a lot of other seats, including the three in Wandsworth (their site it run by scripts, so it’s difficult to link to the page, but you can find the latest odds under ‘Politics’, then ‘UK General Election’).
While I’m fairly confident I might break my losing streak this year – I’ve not been involved in a winning campaign since 1992 – I’m finding it almost unbelievable the Tories are such favourites in so many key seats, including all those in Wandsworth.
Unless I’m hoping for an upset (and obviously, I’m not) there’s not much to be made, for example in Putney a £100 stake on Justine Greening would win just £1. Even in Tooting I’d only win £1 for every £3 I bet.
Having said all that, after the week Gordon Brown’s had, maybe the odds aren’t so outlandish after all.