I wasn’t going to mention this on the site because it’s basically a personal matter, but as most readers don’t use Twitter or Facebook it probably ought to be briefly filed for the record, given the amount of media coverage there’s been.
It won’t take long.
Earlier this year I entered into wagers with a couple of very different Scottish political commentators on the outcome of the US election, because I quite often like to put my money where my mouth is and back my analysis with a couple of quid.
I’ve undertaken plenty of wagers on Twitter and elsewhere in the past, and as a matter of the most elementary etiquette and character I always pay up if I lose.
I’ve had a few, for example, with George Eaton from the New Statesman. I paid up on the one I lost – that Labour would be behind in the polls by the middle of 2014 – and like a decent gentleman he paid up on the one he lost, namely that Ed Miliband would be Prime Minister in 2015.
(I even paid him out on one we didn’t actually make, on the indyref, because I was too dejected after the result to remember we hadn’t bet on it, because I was never sure how it was going to come out and I don’t gamble when I don’t even think I know.)
But McTernan and Hassan have no such dignity. The former has simply ignored all requests to settle, to the extent that on a point of principle I’ve filed a Small Claims Court case to recover the cash (gambling debts have been legally enforceable since the Gambling Act 2005), which has been widely reported as far afield as Australia.
Hassan’s behaviour has, if anything, been even worse. On the hook for just a measly £10 rather than the £76 owed by McTernan, he’s acknowledged the debt but refused to pay – instead proposing to donate some cash to a charity of HIS choice, and attempting to guilt both myself and McTernan into doing the same.
(So rather than getting the money I’ve won fair and square and deciding what I want to do with it, Hassan is trying to leave me out of pocket by blackmailing me into donating to a charity HE supports, and thereby ensure that HE also gets the credit for both donations and gets to shoot for the moral high ground if I refuse. If he’d at the very least offered to donate to one of MY choice I wouldn’t have minded so much.)
(I’ve no idea if he’s actually given Women’s Aid the money or not.)
So that’s the story. I’m honestly surprised that neither has paid up. I thought that even among the lowly denizens of the British media there were some basic dignities that couldn’t be sunk below, but I was wrong. It’s just lucky I didn’t have any money on it.