Ladbrokes have some odds on what Ed Miliband will mention first during Prime Minister’s Questions today. It’s Evens that “Coulson” gets a mention before any of the other options we’ve listed.

Cameron will obviously be prepared for the questions relating to Andy Coulson but I guess there’s a chance that Ed will open up on foreign policy instead.

A note on the rules; we will settle on the first word used in Miliband’s actual questions and disregard any preamble. If none of the terms are mentioned, all bets are losers.

 Result Update:

Ed went straight in with Coulson.

Ladbrokes quote the former Happy Mondays dancer and now political activist at 25/1 to win the Salford & Eccles seat at the general election

There will be hundreds of Independent candidates running at the next election. The vast majority of them will get under 5% and lose their deposit. There are only two examples of genuine Indies winning seats in recent times. (I’m excluding non-aligned former politicians such as Dai Davies in Blaenau Gwent).

  • Richard Taylor. Wyre Forest 2001 & 2005. Running on a single issue platform relating to the local hospital, he was helped by the Lib Dems standing aside in his favour.
  • Martin Bell. Tatton 1997. He ran as an alternative to sitting Tory MP Neil Hamilton, who’d become caught up in “sleaze” allegations. Labour & the Lib Dems stood aside.

Bez has got a few things running for him that most Independents don’t have:

  • Name recognition. He’ll already be known to the majority of the voters in Salford. He’s also quite a popular guy as evidenced by his 2005 Celebrity Big Brother victory.
  • Early start. He’s going about this the right way by launching his campaign well in advance of the election, rather than just rocking up three weeks before the vote with a few leaflets. His Reality Party stood in the Irlam ward on Salford council last month and got a very respectable 17% of the vote.
  • Retiring MP. Hazel Blears is standing down and thus Labour will need to field an inexperienced and possibly little known candidate in her place.

I suspect Bez will do a lot better than some other “celebrity” candidates and wouldn’t be that surprised if he could get 10% or so, which would actually be a very creditable result. This is a very low turnout seat (55% in 2010); perhaps if he can motivate a lot of previous non-voters he might do even better than that.

Fancy trying to predict exactly how many seats the Liberal Democrats will win next May? Ladbrokes have now issued some odds on their exact total

Just in case you need any help, I’ve collated some predictions/forecasts from a few others on the chart below.

You can read Iain Dale’s seat by seat guide here, which helped him get to his prediction of 28 a few weeks ago.

Last week Nick Clegg was 8/1 to be replaced as Liberal Democrat leader before the next election. Yesterday morning that was 5/1 – by last night he was just 5/2 to get the boot.

We saw some money for Tim Farron to be next leader, who is now 7/4 favourite. A few shrewdies are on at 10/1, which was the price immediately after the 2010 general election. But Clegg going now might not be a good thing for his leadership chances; it increases the prospect of a more short term appointment,  notably Cable. I also noted a couple of interesting bets for Steve Webb who is now 16/1 from 20/1.

Here’s where the money has gone since we started betting on Clegg’s successor in May 2010.

1. UKIP go from 7/2 to 11/4 to win the Newark by-election. They “won” the seat in European votes, and that has livened up a market which was beginning to assume that the Tories would win easily.

2. Nick Clegg shortens into 4/1 to be ditched as Liberal Democrat leader before the general election. Personally, I don’t think it’s all that likely and Hills’ quote of 6/4 is probably just an attempt to garner media attention rather than a serious estimation of the probabilities. Ladbrokes can be guilty of that as well –  we’ve quoted Clegg at 25/1 to be next Governor of Gibraltar following the Liberal landslide on The Rock.

3. Thanet South is now 4/6 favourite to be the seat that Nigel Farage chooses to stand in at the general election. This is starting to resemble a treasure hunt at a pirate-themed kids’ birthday party. “South of the river” and now “next to the sea” have been the clues that Nigel has opened so far.

4. UKIP are now 1/2 to win a seat anywhere at the general election.

5. Ed Miliband is Evens to be next Prime Minister, pushed out from 4/5. That’s probably quite a fair price given that Labour are still odds-on to win most seats at the next general election. But nobody seems very interested in backing it.

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