It's only a week since the betting markets (or rather the notion that they are some sort of predictive God) faced their Waterloo, but it looks to me like it could easily happen all over again. As of this moment, Theresa May is the strong favourite on the Betfair exchange to become the new Prime Minister, with Michael Gove way back on 4/1 - the equivalent of a 20% probability of a Gove premiership. Those look like crazy odds. Gove should easily make the final two in the MPs' ballot, and I would then expect him to boss the head-to-head TV debates with May (assuming she is the other candidate). Quite honestly, though, I think Gove would win a members' ballot even if it was held tomorrow. Presumably the markets are going astray because punters are looking at Gove's very real unpopularity with the public and assuming that's bound to translate into members' votes against him - but it won't. Remember this is the party that preferred Iain Duncan Smith to Ken Clarke, and by quite some margin.
That probably means we're going to have the third post-war Scottish Prime Minister - in terms of origin, I mean, rather than constituency. I'm wondering if Gove's accent will count for anything at all north of the border? After all, we're a country that will quite happily pick up the phone and vote for fairly nasty and horrible people to win reality TV shows as long as they talk like us. Gordon Brown's accent may have been almost entirely responsible for Scottish Labour's dead cat bounce in 2010. So surely having a Scot at the helm will at least add a couple of percentage points to the Tories' ratings, and perhaps even give a shot in the arm to the anti-independence forces? Well, the polling evidence so far suggests otherwise. A YouGov poll earlier this week reported that Gove had 5% support across Britain as the best new PM - but just 1% in Scotland. Perhaps this is an example of the Michael Forsyth phenomenon - once someone is sufficiently associated with the worst extremes of Toryism, we cease to notice anything else about them.
My own favourite Gove moment (apart from the 'clean for the Queen' photo, obviously, which is everyone's favourite) was back in 2003, when he was still a journalist and pundit. He appeared on STV on the morning after the Holyrood election, which had brought mixed fortunes for the pro-independence movement - the SNP had suffered losses, but the overall number of pro-independence MSPs had slightly increased. Gove declared that, to his surprise, George Robertson had been proved right, and that devolution had killed Scottish nationalism stone dead after all.
For the Tories' sake, I hope his political antenna has improved since then.