THE daftest bet of the election thus far is the Paddy Power customer in London who has staked £330 at 500 to 1 for Ukip to win the most seats in the General Election. The odds seem very mean.

Apparently the bold boy wanted to stage the full Monty of £500 and it was the bookie who set a limit on potential losses.

Now at face value Paddy Power were really silly not to take all of the bet and, as for the punter, well he really needs his head examined. However, just maybe there is more to this than meets the eye. He may have been trying to make an hugely subtle but essentially correct political point.

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The punter might have a reasonable claim that if Theresa May wins the election then it is really a victory for Ukip. On that basis he could nip off to the Racing Post arbitration board on wagers and claim his money!

There was a priceless moment on Question Time on Thursday night from Edinburgh. A rather patronising Tory lady from Money Week was trilling lyrical about how truly awful it was that 35 per cent of people in France voted for that nasty Le Pen and opining on how that could never possibly happen in this sceptered isle.

“Theresa May,” came the devastating intervention from Joanna Cherry.

And, of course, Jo is dead right. The difference between Monsieur Macron and Theresa May is simple.

Macron defeated the far right by confronting them and beating them soundly and fairly and squarely.

He presented a vision – pro-European, liberal, cosmopolitan – which was totally the opposite of Marine Le Pen. His victory was meaningful and, by the end of the campaign, the election was becoming a rout of la droite.

May on the other hand has ground Ukip into the electoral dust but her victory is a hollow one.

She has assimilated their message until the Tory Party and Ukip are as one. Mind melded by Sir Lynton Crosby, her dog-whistle version of politics is deeply depressing and will in time visit seven plagues of damage upon the UK.

Consider two speeches to further make the point. Macron made his generous acceptance speech last Sunday in front of the Louvre and Pyramides, having walked to the platform to the sound of the European anthem, Ode to Joy. His rhetoric was challenging but unifying, seeking to bind his country together behind the humanitarian values which are at the very heart of the foundation of the French Republic.

A few days earlier Prime Minister May had come straight back from the Palace and strode to a rostrum in front of Downing Street to dispense the absurd bogeyman prospect of other Europeans trying to sabotage her administration. In the days before the European Union, wars were started with much less aggressive rhetoric.

And then there was the villainous opposition at home, who were disgracefully daring to refuse to agree with her government. Infamy infamy, they’ve all got it in for her!

I am not sure what is the most mad vision at Theresa May’s tea party – her invented enemies without or her hyped-up enemies within!

If Nigel Farage had made such a speech then he would have been universally denounced from The Telegraph to The Guardian. May made the speech and is quids in to score a landslide victory at the polls in England.

Ukip may not have the resources or the people left to mount anything other than a token challenge at this election. However, in a very real sense they are on every ballot paper in the land. In that sense the Paddy Power punter was correct.

Every single Ukip prejudice has been boiled down to its poisonous essence and served up as Tory election tactics. The infection has consumed its host. The Tories have defeated Ukip by becoming Ukip.