Betting on politics: A look back at our Labour bets

With the by-elections in Stoke and Copeland now behind us, it might be instructive to see how this column did, and to look forward. As expected, Labour won in Stoke, which meant that if you’d followed our advice to do a weighted bet on both Labour and the Conservatives, you’d have made a profit of 62.9%. Labour lost in Copeland (and hence so did we) – the first time that a governing party had gained a seat at a by-election in nearly 35 years.

The question on everyone’s lips is about the other part of our Copeland bet – whether Corbyn will be Labour leader at the end of the year. Normally, such a crushing defeat would have led to him quitting immediately. However, expectations were so low that the fact Labour “limited” the Conservative’s victory to a margin of 2,147 votes almost seems like a minor victory (to Corbyn backers at least). Combined with inertia, and a worry that a leadership challenge will lead to a repeat of last autumn’s debacle, and you can almost see him clinging on.

Still, I think that Labour’s dismal performance in the polls and the steady trickle of resignations from both the shadow cabinet and Corbyn’s own team will lead to his downfall sooner than many think. Indeed, I think the upcoming round of local and mayoral elections, which take place in less than ten weeks’ time, will provide the final catalyst for Labour MPs to take action – hopefully with a stronger candidate than Owen Smith.

Having been burnt before, I’m not going to recommend any more Corbyn-themed bets. However, one opportunity too good to pass up is William Hill’s offer of 5/2 (28.5%) on Diane Abbott not to be shadow home secretary by the end of 2017. I can’t see her staying in the shadow cabinet, let alone her current post, if he leaves. The bet also pays out if she is moved to another post, which is quite possible given the current rapid turnover.

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