IT may be Grand National weekend, but bookies have made the General Election result in Westmorland a one horse race.
Lakes MP Tim Farron has been given overwhelming odds to retain his Westmorland and Lonsdale seat in 13 months time.
Ladbrokes are offering 1/20 that the Liberal Democrat president easily keeps his seat in May 2015.
A local bookmaker explained: "1/20 on Tim Farron means if he won, you would win £1 and you would get your £20 back. The bookies are basically saying that it's a certainty that he'll get re-elected.”
But Westmorland Conservative Party activists say that the odds will shorten in the run up to next year and their runner in blue is worth a punt.
They say their prospective candidate - Dr Ann Myatt - could easily come from behind after Ladbrokes made her 8-1 to win.
And dark horses South Lakes Labour warned ‘many a firm favourite has fallen at the final fence’.
Mr Farron won by a landslide at the last election in 2010 - securing a massive 12,264 majority and over 60 per cent of the vote.
That compared to the Conservative candidate of the time, Gareth McKeever, who polled 18,632 votes compared to Mr Farron’s 30,896.
Voting was closer in 2005 when Mr Farron unseated sitting Tory Tim Collins in a ‘photo finish’ by just 267 votes.
Mr Farron said in response: “Odds fluctuate, but what they do tell us that it is a clear choice between the Lib Dems and Tories here in the South Lakes.
“Right through to the next election, I will do what I have always done, work hard for our community and campaign for more investment, well paid jobs and health services.
"Together we have been able to secure investment for broadband, electrifying the Lakes Line, funding for Kendal College’s engineering hub and brought a chemotherapy unit to Westmorland General. I will keep fighting and campaigning for our area every day I have the honour of being our community's MP.”
However, a spokesman for Dr Ann Myatt, the recently-selected Conservative candidate for the 2015 election race, said they were comfortable with her odds of 8-1.
Dr Myatt's agent, the Allithwaite-based SLDC Tory councillor Andrew Gardiner, said: “I would personally put a bet on Ann, especially at those odds. We have an excellent candidate who has a great chance. Early odds will dramatically change in the run-up to polling day and more and more people will back Ann locally and David Cameron nationally.”
Last month (February,) over 120 people attended a Conservative dinner at the Castle Green Hotel to celebrate the launch of the election campaign for Dr Myatt, who now lives in Kendal and works as a consultant dermatologist at Westmorland General Hospital.
And Westmorland and Lonsdale Labour leader, Paul Braithwaite commented: “I’m not surprised at the odds but nevertheless, politics is an uncertain game, and many a favourite has fallen at the final fence. The local Labour Party will select its parliamentary candidate in the autumn."
"In 2015, voters would be well advised to study our form in recent local elections – the results show our vote is on the up.”