Brown and out in Brighton, but the bets are still on

WITH the prime minister Gordon Brown being asked on television yesterday whether he is on &ldquo;pills&rdquo; on the day the Labour Party conference began, the pressure is mounting on the PM. <br /><br />Although he doesn&rsquo;t have too many close friends at the moment (except Peter Mandelson, naturally) the chances that he will stand down before the next election are surely slim &ndash; and anyway, who would want his job? <br /><br />With conference season getting into full swing today as the Labour Party hauls itself to Brighton, this is perhaps the time to start casting about for a few political spread bets. The big question is, just how long it will be before the removal men are dragging Brown&rsquo;s belongings out of the front of Number 10? <br /><br />Sporting Index has a spread on the number of days that Brown has left in his current job, of 995-1,005. This spread started a little while ago, but the state of play is that if he were to leave office today, then the result would be 824, whereas if he held an election on the very last day that he could &ndash; 3 June 2010 &ndash; that would be 1,072 days. <br /><br />If you do think that there is some manoeuvring behind the scenes, or that Brown might take Charles Clarke&rsquo;s advice and stand down for reasons of ill-health, then this might be worth selling. Of course, the alternative that he will hang on grimly until the very last moment hoping for a miracle is also more than possible. <br /><br />Whoever is fronting the Labour Party as we next go to the polls, the result seems in little doubt (even Lazarus would think twice) and so the only question remaining is, by how many seats will David Cameron&rsquo;s Tories win? have a spread on the number of seats that each of the major parties will pick up, offering spreads of 201-206 for Labour, 358-363 for the Conservatives and 48-51 for the Liberal Democrats. To put this into context, in 1997 Labour won 419, the Conservatives 165 and Lib Dems 46. <br /><br /><strong>PROTEST VOTE<br /></strong>Even in 2005, after the Iraq and Afghanistan adventures had begun, Labour won 356 seats, the Conservatives 198 and the Lib Dems 62. This all suggests that you could even go long on the Tories. <br /><br />And remember that on the doorstep, the old question of expenses will be wrung for every vote that it is worth and with people losing their jobs, the John <br />Lewis list is going to cost Labour lots of votes. If a big protest vote comes out in safe Labour seats then independents could benefit and selling Labour might look attractive. <br /><br />If that doesn&rsquo;t excite you, then another bet that extrabet is offering might &ndash; on who will become the next governor of the Bank of England. Favourite for the post is the current deputy, Charles Bean, who has a price of 6/4, while Paul Tucker is on 2/1 and Rachel Lomax on 7/2. For those who fancy a long-shot (or a laugh) the chancellor of the exchequer Alistair Darling has a price of 150/1. Gordon Brown&rsquo;s name is nowhere to be seen.