Bookies Slash Odds On Clegg Quitting Before 2015 Election

Bookies Slash Odds On Clegg Quitting Before 2015 Election

With at least one eye on their PR department, bookmakers William Hill have cut their odds on Deputy Prime Minister and LibDem leader Nick Clegg leaving politics before the next election from 6/5 to 5/4.

They have also shortened their odds that Clegg will leave before 2012 from 5/2 to 9/4, with spokesperson Graham Sharpe adding that "we have seen no money at all" on Clegg surviving to 2015 since the LibDem's fourth-place showing in the Inverclyde by-election.

Alongside the by-election defeat there has been further bad news for Clegg . An ICM poll recently gave the DPM a public approval rating of minus-20, due in large part to criticisms over his party's stance on health reform, tuition fees and fallout from the AV referendum defeat.

But how likely is it in reality that Clegg will leave before the 2015 general election? The coalition has stood up fairly well in the last year by most accounts, and while Inverclyde was a set-back, and losing the deposit was an embarrassment, it was perhaps not as significant as other by-elections such as Leicester South, where the LibDem vote held up much better than that of their Tory coalition partners.

In Clegg's favour is the fact that there is as yet no obvious candidate to take over as leader. William Hill's odds on who will be lead the party next reveal a relative dearth of candidates. The bookmaker placed Tim Farron favourite at 5/2, but below him stands embattled Chris Huhne at 4/1, followed by Danny Alexander (6/1) and Norman Lamb (7/1) with Vince Cable, Simon Hughes and even Charles Kennedy next equal on 10/1.

What these numbers demonstrate is that the one thing the LibDems do not have is strength in depth when it comes to potential leaders.

Prominent LibDem bloggers such as Mark Pack believe that for the party to have any chance at the next election the economy needs to improve, and if it does then Clegg will be strengthened by association.

"The more the economy recovers the more scope there is for the LibDems and Tories to show their differences," Pack said. "It's common for politicians to look forward to some point in their future where all their ludicrously manic daily pressures are no longer upon them, but you look at (Clegg's) age there is plenty of time for him to be party leader for a good long time yet."

If Clegg leaves before the next election most seem to think he will jump before he is pushed. At a lobby lunch with journalists in Parliament three weeks ago Clegg was open on how he wants to do things 'after politics', and commenters agree that Clegg won't want to stick around forever.

"I don't think Clegg will be forced out," said Mike Smithson, editor of "I think Clegg might just see that it's best for him and his future if he does stand aside. He doesn't look as though his heart is in it any more. I think he found the AV campaign quite hard, and if something big came up he might opt to take it."

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