The somewhat hysterical reaction to Nick Clegg's performance in Thursdays electoral debate has thrown general election betting into rather a tizzy.
I am pleased to say I placed four bets, perhaps on rather fringe characters, well before all this excitement began. My bets (which do not demonstrate endorsement) were:
UKIP's Nigel Farage to beat the speaker John Bercow in Buckingham: £10 at 11/4
Respect's Abjol Miah to win Bethnal Green: £5 at 11/4
Respect's George Galloway to win the three way fight in Poplar and Limehouse: £5 at 13/2
Respect's Salma Yaqoob to take Birmingham Hall Green from Labour: £10 at 6/1
Of these I made a major mistake with Yaqoob, who was 14/1 on most websites shortly before I placed my bet. My dithering may have been a significant mistake. Of the others the odds on the rather unpleasant Abjol Miah are I think particularly generous, given Respect hold the seat, and he has long been Galloway's designated successor.
Elsewhere I suspect the Tories chances in Poplar & Limehouse may be slightly overstated. Yes parts of the area have been gentrified but the Tories are starting from such a weak base. However the potential for white working class voters to turn to the Conservatives, and thus say a plague on both your houses following the exposure of Islamic Forum of Europe influence over Respect and (especially) Labour in the East End clearly exists. Galloway however, with his mastery of old style canvassing, and the likely block vote from local mosques, is a great bet at the price.
In Birmingham Salma Yaqoob has been boosted by a lacklustre local Labour campaign, and claims of the endorsement of an outgoing Labour MP from elsewhere in the City, Lynne Jones. That explains the sudden fall in her price, although it obviously remains to be seen whether that is merely the bookies being cautious. The bet I am most confident of is UKIP's Nigel Farrage against the oily John Bercow in Buckingham. The type of people Farrage appeals to always vote, and to me for Bercow to win he needs to hold a good section of the Tory vote, and to get Lib Dem and Labour voters out (neither party stands against the speaker). I am not sure they will, and UKIP's populist rhetoric will not do them any harm.
I shall report back on the progress of these bets on May 7th. Given the nature of the candidates it may be an overstatement to say I have my fingers crossed, but it will at least be interesting......