Safe Bets

I’ve been watching the Wings Over Scotland/Gerry Hassan/John McTernan betting curfuffle (a good Scottish word, that) with no small amount of amusement – mostly because of a wee incident from last month.


Messrs Braiden & Campbell were discussing the Garscadden & Scotstounhill by-election, where most people seemed under the impression that the SNP didn’t have much of a hope. Things went a bit further, when a wager was thrown into the equation:


Mr Braiden was not willing to take the Reverend up on his offer.

Was there no-one willing to take a chance on the SNP on this night?


See, I’m not normally a betting man. Part of it is because of my research into Stuart McMillan’s activities in the run-up to the Scottish election. Stuart has, among other things, made much headway in tackling gambling problems around fixed-odds betting terminals: our MP, Ronnie Cowan, has followed Stuart’s years of work by bringing the issue to the UK Parliament. While we still have a while to go until the Council elections, and indeed we don’t have our candidates announced, it seems likely that we will continue to highlight this issue, and offer our dedication to fixing it, next year. In any case, I have something of an aversion to gambling, given the research I’ve done on the subject.

When I was over seeing relatives in Arizona, we took a trip to Nevada, which was not too far away from us. We stopped at a casino, just so we could say we were there. Lo and behold, we were given $10 to be used on the machines by the casino, hoping to lull us all into a false sense of fortuity. I thought it’d be nice just to fritter away that $10 – after all, it couldn’t be exchanged or anything, not even for drinks at the casino’s bar – and I looked for a machine to feed. As luck would have it, there was a dinosaur-themed slot machine, which seemed to be a sign. I figured I could at least enjoy the idea of little casino goblins munching on the digitised cash.

As I say, I’m not a gambler, so when I started actually winning, I was experiencing precisely the opposite intended emotion – vague frustration. Every time it looked like I was going down to my last dollar, I’d get even more back. I eventually gave up after $40: that’s enough for a wee treat for the family.

This is why I don’t tend to bet on politics: even if I won, it’d find some way of biting me back.

Yet I was confident that the SNP could pull this one out of the bag. Glasgow had experienced an utter paradigm shift since 2014, and I felt it was absolutely possible for the SNP to win even more than 15%. Other recent by-elections were thwarted by tactical voting: since Glasgow was a place where SNP regularly got over 50% of the vote anyway, it didn’t seem outside the realms of possibility.

And lo, it was not:

snpgaingarscaddenscotstounhill takingabet_04snpchriscunninghamsnpchriscunninghamthanks

Gaun yersel, Chris!

Unfortunately, since the Reverend did not see my comment until after the election results were in, and it’s hardly fair to expect someone to pay up a bet to someone they didn’t know accepted it, I didn’t get my tenner:


I just have to think: if the Rev did see my acceptance of his challenge in Mr Braiden’s stead in time to publicly acknowledge it, then he would have been honour-bound to pay up a tenner (even if, in all likelihood, I would’ve said he could keep it, and consider it a site donation) – with the added bonus that he could demonstrate himself as a man who honours his wagers. Given he has now taken Mr McTernan to task on the much weightier sum of £100, I can but chuckle wistfully at this recent turn of events – and remind myself to remain wary around the dangers of gambling.


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