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Bookmakers see slim odds on "sorry" in budget spee


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Odds are slim that Chancellor Alistair Darling will use the word 'sorry' during his budget speech on Wednesday -- but you can bet the house he will mention 'difficult times' at least once.


As high street betting shops gear up for the event of the year in British public finance, they are focussing on the words politicians will use to define the plight of the economy.


Betting firm Ladbrokes said the expression "credit crunch" had a 3/1 chance of coming up during the speech, and gave a 1/4 chance that "recovery" would be mentioned at least once.


The ominous-sounding "depression" was a long shot at 10/1, while "boom and bust," which Prime Minister Gordon Brown promised to end, was an even longer bet at 20/1, the firm said.


There was a 1/2 chance of hearing the phrase "difficult times," Ladbrokes said.


More interesting to punters, however, was whether Darling would say "sorry" for any miscalculations that lead to the economic crisis, something Prime Minister Gordon Brown has steadfastly avoided doing.


Ladbrokes said customers had staked more money on that word than all others put together, with the odds of hearing a "sorry" narrowing to 7/1 from 20/1 in the run-up to the speech.


In keeping with the sombre tone surrounding the budget, the betting firm gives a 3/1 chance that Darling will wear a blue tie for the speech, with a mournful black tie unlikely at 20/1.


And unlike past budget speeches during which speakers have sipped from a range of beverages to soothe their throats -- including whiskey -- Darling is expected only to have water in front of him.


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