Empowering the Freelance Economy

Betting on broken promises: a freelancer’s guide to political punts down the bookies

We take a satirical look at political betting and how freelancers could make a killing based on broken promises. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels
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OPINION

We take a tongue-in-cheek look at the pros and cons of political betting and if freelancers could have an upper hand down the bookies

Jon Connell, the founder of The Week and contributor to The Knowledge’s newsletter, touches on the subject of political betting this week. The practice has not exactly caught on by the masses. Just Westminster types seem to have a penchant for making a political punt with mixed success.

Take the upcoming General Election, for example. According to Gus Carter of The Spectator, just £426,000 has been wagered on the general election on Betfair, compared to about £300m on the Grand National.

These are small takings, despite many in Westminster having an ear to the ground on political gossip. Their efforts have also proven at times awkward and damaging.

The Guardian reported this week that four Conservative Party candidates and officials are under investigation by the Gambling Commission following news that they could be among the hundreds of people who had placed bets on the timing of the poll in the days before Sunak announced the general election.  

Those under investigation include “Sunak’s top parliamentary aide, Craig Williams, the candidate for Montgomeryshire and Glyndŵr; the Tory candidate in Bristol West, Laura Saunders; her husband and the party’s director of campaigning, Tony Lee; and the party’s chief data officer, Nick Mason, who has denied wrongdoing,” said the Guardian report.

An unnamed Metropolitan police officer who is part of Sunak’s close protection security team has been arrested in connection with the inquiry, it was also reported.

The Guardian report also said Labour is not planning any action restricting political betting by its candidates or staff at the time of writing. That is if the bets are not placed with any insider information.

Speaking at a school in Kettering, Keir Starmer said:

I’m not sure we need to start changing the rules. The rules actually aren’t the problem here; there’s a problem with the politicians. The moment the election was called, they didn’t say, ‘Give me a microphone and let me make my case,’; they said, ‘Let me head down to bookies.’

Don’t put all your bets in one basket

This isn’t the first time those in politics have made a trip to the betting shop and it has become public knowledge.

Connell relays the time a member of the Remain campaign reportedly put £5,000 on Leave, then “irritated colleagues by appearing cheerful as the results came in”.

Some that have gone on to bet, have lost more than just face, he writes:

Someone on Theresa May’s 2017 team apparently lost their life savings betting on a Tory majority. And one parliamentary aide tells me he bet against a candidate in a Tory leadership contest, knowing this person was the subject of a ‘dossier’s worth of gossip’. Sure enough, the hopeful dropped out and the staffer made a “healthy return.

Betting on broken promises

Anyone who has been freelancing in the UK for the past decade or more has probably become disenchanted by broken political promises to abolish IR35 or to regulate umbrella companies to crack down on tax avoidance schemes. That’s why making a punt on either hot potato issue could make any freelancer a few quid. This is just a guess, I don’t have any insider information. It’s just my hunch politicians could repeat history.

For years, freelancers have heard countless assurances from politicians, only to see these promises wither away like forgotten office plants. But why cry over spilt political milk when you can profit from it? Here’s an albeit satirical (yet pretty spot on) look at all the issues freelancers could bet on—and possibly win—due to historically broken political promises.

1. IR35 Reforms: The Never-Ending Story

Politicians have treated IR35 reforms like a hot potato, promising relief only to toss it aside at the first sign of heat.

Betting line: “Government to simplify IR35 regulations this year.” Odds: 1000 to 1.

For years, freelancers have been told that IR35, the notorious tax legislation, will be simplified and made more transparent. Yet, every announcement seems to complicate things further, leaving freelancers feeling like they’re navigating a labyrinth with a blindfold. Place your bets on another year of confusion!

2. Umbrella Companies: Regulatory Rainchecks

Umbrella companies have been the umbrella to many a freelancer’s rainy day, providing a semblance of shelter while simultaneously pocketing chunks of their earnings.

Betting line: “Strict regulation of umbrella companies to protect freelancers.” Odds: 500 to 1.

Promises of cracking down on exploitative practices have been as empty as a freelancer’s bank account post-payroll. Despite promises to regulate these middlemen, the promised “storm” of reform remains a drizzle at best. Wager on the status quo and watch your winnings pour in!

3. Late Payments: The Eternal Waiting Game

“Freelancers will be paid promptly,” said no politician who actually delivered on this promise.

Betting line: “Legislation to ensure timely payments to freelancers.” Odds: 750 to 1.

Freelancers have heard pledges of timely payments more often than they’ve actually received timely payments. This chronic issue sees them chasing invoices like a dog chases its tail. Betting against the resolution of this problem is a surefire way to keep your spirits—and wallet—up.

4. Universal Credit: The Freelancer’s Fantasy

Universal Credit was supposed to be a safety net for all, including freelancers. But it has more holes than a colander.

Betting line: “Universal Credit system to be streamlined for freelancers.” Odds: 1200 to 1.

Politicians have sworn to adapt the Universal Credit system to better suit the fluctuating incomes of freelancers. Yet, it remains as user-friendly as assembling flat-pack furniture. Put your money on another year of bureaucratic gridlock.

5. Affordable Workspace: The Nomad’s Mirage

Remember when politicians promised affordable workspaces for freelancers? Neither do we.

Betting line: “Government to provide affordable co-working spaces for freelancers.” Odds: 900 to 1.

Every so often, a politician will dangle the carrot of affordable workspace in front of freelancers. But these promises are about as substantial as a hologram of a carrot. Bet on freelancers continuing their hunt for elusive, reasonably priced desks.

6. Digital Infrastructure: The Buffering Blues

High-speed internet for all was supposed to be the backbone of the “growing” and “innovative” UK economy. Instead, freelancers are left buffering.

Betting line: “Nationwide high-speed internet rollout completed this year.” Odds: 1100 to 1.

Freelancers rely on robust digital infrastructure like politicians rely on sound bites. Unfortunately, promises of comprehensive high-speed internet remain laggy. Wager on yet another year of many cups of tea made for your visiting broadband engineer.

Beating the odds

For freelancers, broken political promises are as predictable as tax season. So, instead of stressing, why not turn these political pipe dreams into a profitable betting pool? With odds like these, you can rest assured that while you may not get better working conditions or regulatory protection, at least you’ll have a bit of fun—and maybe even some winnings.

Disclaimer: The above article is a work of satire and should not be taken seriously. It pokes fun at the perpetual cycle of political promises and the freelance experience. Any resemblance to actual political broken promises or incompetence, real or imagined, is purely coincidental. No bets should be placed on political promises, as even the most absurd odds can’t guarantee sanity in politics.

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