The Odds: Labour under-dogs

By Sandamali Zbyszewski

William Hill lengthened the odds for a Labour victory today. The governing party has been given 8/11 shots to poll less votes than both the opposition parties.

The prospects for the party seem so dire in this penultimate day of the election race that the bookies has also given odds on whether Gordon Brown will announce his resignation as Labour leader before Saturday.

William Hill spokesman, Graham Sharpe, remarked “For the time in modern political betting history, Labour are favourites to finish bottom of the ‘popular vote’ market”.

This downward trend was reinforced by leading Labour figures inviting the electorate to vote tactically in key marginal seats to counter the recent Conservative upturn.

Since these appeals, William Hill are taking bets on how many Cabinet Ministers will be defeated in their own constituencies. They offer 9/4 none; 2/1 for one or two and 10/3 for three or four.

Ed Ball’s future has also been cast into doubt by punters today.

The schools secretary, whose controversial pleas for tactical voting have attracted some harsh criticism from all quarters, has been fingered by William Hill as the likeliest politician to suffer a “Portillo Moment” by being defeated in his Morley & Outwood constituency.

William Hill make him 8/15 to win, but say that punters are betting on him being beaten by the Conservatives who are offered at 11/8. Indeed, the Tory contender’s profile has steadily risen during the race.

He seems to have made a significant impression on the constituents of his borough and has accordingly been well backed by local punters.

Another high profile figure finds himself in a precarious situation today if punters are to be believed. Charles Clarke, the former home secretary, has come under threat as his Norwich South seat has been contended by three opposing parties.

William Hill have offered the following odds on the four-way marginal: the Liberal Democrats are 5/4 favourites to take the seat with Clarke 13/8 to hold it, the Tories at 5/1 and the Greens 11/2.

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