For the Lib Dems, Paddy Power means something entirely different

by Stephen Tall on January 5, 2011

There were only 103 votes in it back in May, a statistic the voters of Oldham East and Saddleworth may have noticed one or twice on Elwyn Watkins‘ Lib Dem by-election campaign literature.

But, according to bookmakers Paddy Power, the race is over. As The Guardian’s Andrew Sparrow acerbically notes on his essential daily live-blog, “I’m normally reluctant to quote bookies, because their press releases are cheap bids for free publicity which normally don’t tell us anything very new” — before breaking his own rule to quote a press release from Paddy Power (also received by the Voice):

“Victory for the Lib Dems in Oldham is now as unlikely as Manchester United finishing at the bottom of this year’s Premier League with Roy Keane in charge!”

Which is an odd statement, really. Paddy Power currently lists the Lib Dems as 7/2 second favourites to win the by-election (behind Labour, but well ahead of the Tories’ 16/1 odds). Yet the bookmaker doesn’t even offer odds on Man U. being relegated (I checked).

So here’s an offer to Paddy Power: I’ll place a bet on the Lib Dems winning the by-election if they’ll match the odds offered by Betfair that Man U. will be relegated, current 949/1.

Sounds fair to me, and I’ve emailed the following offer to Paddy Power:

Will you take a bet of £20 at 949/1 that the Lib Dems will win Oldham? I’m assuming so from your press release, so look forward to confirmation by reply.

Meanwhile, for Lib Dems of a puritan disposition worried by all this talk of gambling, here’s a comforting image of some real Paddy Power.