Rewards for failure

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As seen in the recent expenses rows, government ministers have a huge talent for sniffing out a few extra bucks. One minister has managed to combine this nous with acknowledgement of his party's tumbling popularity.

The unnamed minister told friends last month that he had placed a bet with bookmakers that Labour would fail to win a majority at the next general election and would be forced instead into coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

The odds at the time (mid-2007, mid-"Brown Bounce") were 66 to one. He claims to expect a "substantial" payout if proved correct. That's one way to top up your pension.