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Conservatives clear favourites to win British election: bookies

world Updated: Apr 06, 2010 19:26 IST

The Conservatives are clear favourites to win the British general election, bookmakers said Tuesday -- though the chances of them getting a clear-cut majority are much less likely.

Britain's major betting chains said Conservative leader David Cameron was the odds-on favourite to become prime minister after the May 6 polls.

However, the chances of a messy election, with a hung parliament -- where no party has an absolute majority, and has to seek a deal with others -- and a possible poll re-run remain high.

"That's the big question bookmakers are asking -- will the Conservatives do enough," Paddy Power spokesman Darren Haines told AFP.

Ladbrokes makes the Conservatives 1/8 to win the most seats -- but only 8/15 to have a majority in the House of Commons.

At Paddy Power and William Hill, they are 1/6 to get the most seats, with Hills making them 8/13 for a majority.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour Party are 7/2 to win at Paddy Power, Coral and William Hill, with Ladbrokes making them less likely to triumph at 5/1.

"It was looking like -- to our annoyance -- it was going to be an almost unbettable election with the Conservatives being such red-hot favourites that nobody would bother to bet," William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe told AFP.

"But it then began to turn, up to the point where on Friday, they were 8/11 to win an overall majority -- the longest odds they've been almost since the previous election.

"The short-term trend has been in favour of the Conservatives; the mid-term is in favour of a Labour comeback."
A hung parliament is 6/4 at William Hill, 13/8 at Paddy Power and 15/8 at Ladbrokes.

Paddy Power make the Liberal Democrats, the third biggest party, 6/1 to form a coalition with Labour, 8/1 to team up with the Conservatives and 1/5 to join forces with neither.

William Hill make Cameron the 10/3 favourite to become prime minister in a hung parliament, with Brown more remote at 3/1.

Another general election in 2010 is also 3/1.

"A hung parliament has been a favourite bet for the last week or two. But the last few days have seen a swing back in favour of the Conservatives," Haines said.

Besides the straightforward results, there are wacky novelty bets aplenty.

In the head-to-head television debates, Liberal Democrat chief Nick Clegg is the clear favourite to start sweating first, followed by Cameron, with Brown keeping cool and trailing way behind, said Paddy Power.

Strict rules govern the debates, with audience applause the one most likely to be broken first, then booing, heckling and cheering.

Streaking -- which is not specifically banned -- is nonetheless a long shot at 50/1.