Betting on politics: the next Lib Dem leader

Jo Swinson © Getty images
Jo Swinson is one favourite to succeed Cable

More than a week ago, the Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable announced that he plans to step down as Lib Dem leader. Even given the ongoing drama around Brexit, and the fact that Cable’s plans were known for some time, it was significant how little attention this gathered from the media.

There is an outside chance that the leadership election could be postponed from the provisional date of May due to an early election, a second referendum or the Lib Dems deciding to merge with The Independent Group. Still, both Ladbrokes and Betfair have markets on the outcome. Ladbrokes has Jo Swinson (pictured) as the favourite at evens (50%), followed by Layla Moran at 11/8 (42%), and then Ed Davey at 8/1 (11%) and Tom Brake at 20/1 (4.7%).

Other candidates include Norman Lamb at 33/1 (3%), Alistair Carmichael and Jamie Stone at 50/1 each (2%) and Tim Farron at 100/1 (1%). Betfair has Swinson at 2.0 (50%), Moran  at 2.6 (38.4%), Davey at 8.0 (12.5%) and Lamb at 14.5 (6.9%).

There seems to be a general feeling within the Lib Dems that it is time for a female leader, which suggests that the betting markets are right that that will either be Swinson or Moran. My guess is that Swinson’s involvement with the 2010-2015 coalition, which proved to be disastrous for the Lib Dems, will make it very difficult for the Lib Dems to elect her. By contrast, Moran – who was elected in 2017 – represents a clean break with the past. So I suggest that you go with Betfair’s 2.6 on Moran.