Bookies give Coulson a 75% chance of going before Conservative Party conference and only a 25% chance of him staying. Guido’s money is on him staying.
Sometime this afternoon, Paul Staines posted that on the Guido Fawkes blog, in an update appended later on to a 2pm post.
In truth, it was a very tiny market to begin with. But newspapers being newspapers, that could have been reportable.
Until, that is, the odds suddenly changed dramatically - now giving Coulson a 90% survival chance.
Unless I am misreading what the screens mean, that was because a brave punter - or somebody or other - has decided to plonk £990 on Coulson staying, with the effect of shifting the odds this afternoon from 1-3 on (25% of survival) by offering 9-1 against (90% survival chance). (I am not a smarkets expert; will correct this post if that is not accurate).
Just like that.
No doubt, the most plausible explanation is that Guido's betting tips are very influential indeed.
Though one or two others may have got a voicemail saying it was a bit of a steal.
Others will know more about whether chucking £990 about for a bit of liquidity (and to freeze the odds) - when there is about £72 on the other side of the ledger - is just what happens on online betting when the City boys are bored. So perhaps we can all be grateful at this significant indicator that the economic downturn has well and truly gone.
Newspapers should be much more cautious in reporting betting odds around political odds. Given that these are a key "momentum" indicator, it is not difficult to see why it could be in the interests of a public figure, campaign or their supporters to take an interest in what the odds are (and perhaps make a few quid out of it too). There was much speculation about what was going on when ex-banker Chris Huhne was became the bookies' favourite to win a leadership contest he narrowly lost to Ming Campbell.
As Andrew Grice of The Independent has written:
One Huhne aide said: “It is true that the changing odds were useful to us and we did everything to publicise them. Yes. Did we put money on? No.” The Huhne camp claims there was one occasion on which supporters of Sir Menzies might have put money on him to stop his odds lengthening.
Mike Smithson, a former BBC producer at Westminster who set up the politicalbetting.com
website, says that there was some “artificial, odd betting taking place to position Huhne as favourite”.
Although Huhne’s rivals claim relatively small amounts could move the market, Smithson believes that the sums involved could have been as high as £50,000-£60,000.