Bookmakers laboring to explain odd betting patterns ahead of Labor vote

Bookmakers-Labor-PartyUK bookmakers are poring over their records in an effort to explain why the odds on Ed Miliband winning the leadership of the Labor Party fell dramatically in the final 24 hours before the results were made public. Prior to Saturday’s result, it was David (the elder) Miliband who’d been the betting favorite, but odds on Junior went from 6/4 against on Friday afternoon to 1/4 by Saturday morning.

Party officials had submitted the result to Electoral Reform Services for verification on Friday afternoon, after which the details were put onto a memory stick, which rode the rails to Manchester for Saturday’s public announcement. Now questions are being raised as to whether the stick went off the rails at some point, and whether someone attempted to benefit from its privileged contents.’s Mike Smithson mused on his blog as to whether “prices are being driven by more than the views of a blogger.” (We’re pretty sure the blogger Smithson was referring to wasn’t himself.) The folks at William Hill definitely suspected something was awry, which is why it ended up limiting bets to minor sums. Betfair suspended betting entirely after 10am, although they claim it was for purely procedural reasons, and that there was “nothing to make us suspicious.”

Of course, we heartily enjoy conspiracy theories, so we’re going to suggest that the Tories are behind it all. After all, they’ve just decided to gut a whole host of government quangos – perhaps Electoral Reform Services was one of them.