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Stop The Bets

21 June 2024
| by Field Team

When Rishi Sunak called for a surprise General Election, he likely hoped the element of surprise would work in his favour. With less than two weeks to go, the odds seem increasingly against him.

It seems the only winners are those who placed bets in the days leading up to Sunak’s unexpected call for the Election.

It all started last week when allegations surfaced that one of Rishi Sunak’s closest aides, Craig Williams, had placed a £100 bet, with the odds at 5-1, on a July polling day three days before the Prime Minister announced the date. This week it emerged the Conservative Party’s head of campaigning, Tony Lee, along with his Conservative candidate wife, Laura Saunders, were also being investigated over suspicious betting patterns observed in the days leading up to Sunak’s announcement.

Data from the Financial Times, sourced from Betfair Exchange, implies there may be worse to come as there was a large spike in bets placed on May 21st, just one day before the announcement.

While it’s all a further blow to Sunak’s ailing campaign, events like these also undermine public trust in all politicians. Trust is the foundation of a well-functioning government, and when it is eroded, the consequences can be far-reaching.

The problem with scandals like these is they linger and resonate in the public's mind. They also grab the attention of those who would otherwise be unengaged in politics. After all, stories like these are hard to ignore.

Data from the National Centre for Social Research has shown that a record high of 45% now say they ‘almost never’ trust governments of any party to place the needs of the nation above the interests of their own political party. This is 22 points above the figure recorded in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. A further 58% also say they ‘almost never’ trust ‘politicians of any party in Britain to tell the truth when they are in a tight corner’, up 19 points from 2020.

This data is telling. The next government will need to persuade the public its genuine focus is on the people and the nation, not their personal image or party. They will need to overcome the mistrust that has become embedded in the public’s minds and the perception that those who make the rules, break the rules. Whatever the outcome of the election, reversing this trend will be as challenging as any other task they face.

(Photo provided by the Independent)

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