Sean O'Grady's Best Bets

The Independent's Economics Editor turns to money matters of another kind: how to make a mint out of the election
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Indy Politics

General elections are horse races, and, like the real thing, some are more exciting than others. This year's is the closest since 1992 and some £20m will be wagered on it.

The Tories are favourites to win, at least in terms of having most MPs: 7 to 1 on, at William Hill, as opposed to 4 to 1 for Labour and 150-1 for the Liberal Democrats. A Tory overall majority is 8 to 15, and for Labour it's 10 to 1. A hung parliament is the favourite outcome: 4/9 says it will be at Hills, and 13/8 that it won't. A Lib-Lab coalition is 4 to 1 at Paddy Power.

If you're rich and brave, you could make money on tight odds. If you think that the Conservatives will fail to win a majority of 100 plus, you might take Ladbrokes' offer of 6 to 1 against and make £100 profit for a £600 bet. The 11/10 offered by Ladbrokes on the Lib Dems winning a majority of seats in Cornwall is the best of the regional punts.

There is also the spread betting, where you bet, say £10, for each seat a party might win or lose against a threshold. Sporting Index is offering the Tories on between 334 and 339 seats, Labour on 216 to 221 and the Lib Dems between 60 and 63.

So if you think, say, that the Lib Dems are in for a bad night and they'll only hold 50 seats, at £10 a seat that would yield you £100; but if Clegg breaks through and wins 100 seats, you'll owe the bookie £400.

Political betting is best as an emotional hedge. If you're a dedicated socialist you should put a considerable sum on a Cameron win, so your political sorrow will be assuaged by your winnings. Well, that's the theory...

Most seats


William Hill: 1 to 7 Ladbrokes: 1 to 8 Paddy Power: 1 to 7


William Hill: 4 to 1 Ladbrokes: 5 to 1 Paddy Power: 4 to 1

Liberal Democrats:

William Hill: 150 to 1 Ladbrokes: 200 to 1 Paddy Power: 200 to 1

To deliver next budget...

George Osborne: 2 to 5

Vince Cable: 7 to 1

Alistair Darling: 8 to 1

Ed Balls: 10 to 1

Philip Hammond: 16 to 1

Michael Gove: 20 to 1

(William Hill)

To win one seat...

BNP: 11 to 4

Greens: 8 to 11

UKIP: 2 to 1


Esther Rantzen to win Luton S

6 to 1


Gordon Brown's successor

David Miliband: 9 to 4

Ed Miliband: 5 to 1

Alan Johnson: 6 to 1

Peter Mandelson: 15 to 2

Harriet Harman: 9 to 1

Ed Balls: 12 to 1

Caroline Flint: 100 to 1

Tony Blair: 100 to 1

(William Hill)

First to "noticeably perspire" in TV debates

Clegg: 11 to 10

Cameron: 6 to 4

Brown: 3 to 1

(Paddy Power)

Seat with lowest turnout

Glasgow North East: 7 to 4

Liverpool Riverside: 2 to 1

Salford and Eccles: 5 to 1


Will there be two or more UK Elections in 2010?

No: 2 to 9

Yes: 3 to 1

(William Hill)

Any leader not to shake hands at end of TV debate

5 to 1

(Paddy Power)