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Scale of gambling scandal for Tories is different magnitude to Labour’s issue | Politics News

After days of furore directed at Rishi Sunak for the election betting scandal, now a Labour candidate is under investigation by the Gambling Commission for his own betting activity – and is immediately suspended. 

Is this an equaliser in one of the grubbiest electoral sagas of recent elections? Quite possibly not.

There is no doubting the utter dismay in Labour HQ at the revelation that they too have a candidate caught up in the betting scandal.

Politics live: Labour to return £100k donation to suspended candidate

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Tories launch own probe into betting scandal

It lends itself to the easy narrative that there’s a plague on all politicians’ houses – everyone as bad as each other.

However, if the facts are as presented, the scale of the challenge for the Tories is of a different order of magnitude to that now facing Labour.

Labour’s Kevin Craig was suspended immediately after the party was informed by the Gambling Commission of the probe.

We are told that he placed a bet – not on the election date, but that he would lose his race in a general election.

He is certainly guilty of gross stupidity, as he admitted in a statement on Tuesday evening.

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However, if this scenario is as presented, it is hard to see an allegation being mounted that he had insider intelligence on the race – unless it can be proved he was deliberately setting out to lose.

An under-pressure Gambling Commission will investigate every candidate’s name on the spreadsheet from gambling companies of those who placed bets – but it is unclear from available facts where this will go.

The Tory betting saga, however, is more complicated and now on its 13th day.

It was almost two weeks ago that Craig Williams – Rishi Sunak’s closest parliamentary aide and former Montgomeryshire MP – admitted he had placed a bet on the election date – a date he might have known before the public at large.

He denies he committed any offence, and remains under investigation.

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Laura Saunders, standing for the Tories just south in Bristol North West, has also been suspended for putting a bet on the date when her partner worked in Conservative headquarters on the election.

For most of that time, Mr Sunak has been insisting he could not suspend either candidate because of the ongoing probe by the Gambling Commission.

Ministers, as well as opponents, weighed in.

And on Tuesday he reversed that decision under that pressure.

This means there are questions about the prime minister’s own judgement and unwillingness to act on top of questions about the behaviour of those closest to him.

Craig Williams and Laura Saunders. Pics: PA/Laura Saunders for Bristol North West
Image:
Craig Williams and Laura Saunders have both been suspended from the Tories. Pics: PA/Laura Saunders for Bristol North West

This story has had massive cut through with the public, topping the charts for any news story in the UK – according to YouGov’s AI news tracker – for the last four days.

There is dismay from the cabinet downwards.

Labour’s own problems have undermined their own ability to go on the attack. But it is not clear that voters will see the two issues on the same scale.

The full list of the candidates running for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich is:

Charlie Caiger, independent;
Tony Gould, Reform UK;
Mike Hallatt, independent;
Brett Alistair Mickelburgh, Lib Dems;
Dan Pratt, Greens;
Patrick Spencer, Conservatives.

The full list of candidates for Bristol North West is:

Caroline Gooch, Lib Dems;
Darren Jones, Labour;
Scarlett O’Connor, Reform UK;
Mary Page, Green Party;
Ben Smith, SDP.

The full list of candidates for Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr is:

Jeremy Brignell-Thorp, Green Party;
Oliver Lewis, Reform UK;
Glyn Preston, Lib Dems;
Elwyn Vaughan, Plaid Cymru;
Steve Witherden, Labour.

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