Home News Why the UK election betting scandal sparked outrage

Why the UK election betting scandal sparked outrage


Rishi Sunak’s stakes are high. Five weeks ago, the British prime minister staked his bet on his belief that a summer election would be a better way to keep his Conservative Party in power than waiting until the autumn.

transfer Early elections It was Sunak’s last roll of the dice. But it turned out that before he stood in the pouring rain on May 22 to tell the nation he was heading to the polls, some of his colleagues and subordinates were making more practical bets.

Looking at the data from the week before Sunak’s announcement, bookmakers noticed that Betting surges The bets were small – just a few thousand pounds in total – but the sudden frenzy of activity was enough to warrant further investigation.

The question of whether the bets were a quick profit for political officials using Sunak’s inside information has become a focus of attention in the Conservative Party’s final days in power, and a reflection of how some voters feel about the Conservatives after 14 years in power.

“This whole incident has heightened the public’s prior concerns,” said Luke Tryl, executive director of the research group More in Common. “It gets to the heart of the matter: ‘One rule for them, one rule for everyone else.'”

Craig Williams, one of Sunak’s key parliamentary aides and the Conservative candidate for the White House, was the first to arrive. Under scrutiny He has been suspended after the Guardian reported he placed bets on the July election on 19 May, three days before the prime minister announced the result. He admitted an “error of judgement” but insisted he had committed no criminal offence.

Many have been linked to gambling scandals as the Gambling Commission, the regulator that oversees Britain’s rich and varied gambling industry, widens its investigation. Other senior Conservative Party staff All are listed as under investigation.

They include Tony Lee, the Conservative campaign director, and his wife, Laura Saunders, who was the Conservative candidate for the upcoming general election but has been suspended by the Conservative party.

Nick Mason, the Conservative Party’s head of data, has been put on leave after being told he was also under investigation, amid rumours that several other Conservative staff could soon be investigated.

Meanwhile, a police officer protecting Sunak has been arrested on suspicion of betting on the timing of the election, with the Metropolitan Police having comfirmed The department is investigating a number of other law enforcement officials.

The scandal is another blow to Sunak, who is campaigning not to win the election due on July 4 but to stem potential losses for his party.

he already Caused an uproar After he left a television interview early for the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, a decision he later apologised for, he was widely mocked for claiming he had suffered as a child because his parents would not allow him to watch satellite TV.

Pollsters say the gambling allegations have compounded the damage, heightening the sense that political parties are out of touch with reality and seem to think they are above moral considerations.

The most damaging potential factor is “the perception that we are acting outside the rules we set for other people,” said Michael Gove, one of the Conservative Party’s most high-profile MPs. told the Sunday Times“When ‘Partygate’ happened it was very damaging,” he said, referring to the scandal over Boris Johnson’s lockdown-breaking party at Downing Street during the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s the same thing now.”

Political betting is a growing industry — with more than $1.5 billion wagered on the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, it may be the largest single gambling event ever — but industry insiders say the market on when the election will be held is essentially a niche market.

The bets are effectively novelties designed to generate publicity and, hopefully, new customers, according to a longtime political betting expert who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the industry’s sensitivity.

“The goal of these bookmakers is not to generate huge returns,” he said. “The goal is simply to not lose money for these bookmakers, who assume that someone — not just lawmakers but various party officials — has better information than they do. To limit losses, bookmakers limit the amount of money anyone can bet on the market.”

Bets placed in the days before Sunak’s announcement would meet that criteria. Williams, for example, was accused of placing a bet of just 100 pounds ($125), when the prize was actually just a few hundred pounds. “For senior politicians, that’s not life-changing money,” said Joe Twyman, a director at Deltapoll, an opinion consultancy.

Indeed, the small size of the market may first alert authorities to unusual activity: in markets such as horse racing or football, such a surge might go unnoticed.

The UK has a peculiar relationship with gambling, perhaps best exemplified by its place in the world of sport: in football, for example, as in baseball, players are completely banned from betting on their own sport.

Last year, England striker Ivan Toney was banned for six months for betting on matches, while Brazilian midfielder Lucas Paqueta could face a lifetime ban if he is found to have bet on matches he played in. He has strongly denied the allegations.

However, Toni and Paqueta both play for club teams – Brentford and West Ham United – which were sponsored by bookmakers last season. They play in stadiums plastered with betting shop logos. Brentford’s owner, Matthew Benham, bought the club with money earned from his hugely successful career as a professional sports gambler.

This cognitive dissonance around gambling is no stranger to the UK, where gambling is seen as a social ill and a disturbingly harmful addiction if it takes place in one of the thousands of betting shops that dot the country’s high streets.

If it happens Royal Ascotand you are wearing a beautiful hat, which is the social event of the season. Mr. Williams, the Prime Minister’s assistant, said it very well, Describing his bet as “a gamble” — The British call it a small bet, essentially trivial, harmless and amusing.

Experts say the election scandal resonates with voters not because they oppose all gambling, but because it reflects poor ethics on the ruling party.

“It encapsulated what everyone was thinking at the time,” Mr Twyman said. “It reinforced the existing narrative that had been built around the historical issues of Partygate. And it had an opportunity cost: people were talking about it rather than what the Conservatives wanted them to talk about.”

The extent to which the scandal has affected ordinary people is shocking, according to Mr Tryl of More in Common, whose figures show the gambling scandal, along with Sunak’s “gaffe” during D-Day and his comments about cable TV, have become defining topics of the campaign.

Terrill said the allegations had not had much of an impact on opinion polls, but that should be of little comfort to the Conservatives because it was not a reflection of how uncaring the public was, but how many voters Already transferred against his party. “A lot of people have already left,” he said.

That is certainly the view of the bookmakers: the odds on the Conservatives remaining in power on July 4 are currently 70/1.

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