Punters who have been playing the Tony Blair and Party Leader markets will be intrigued by the comments from broadcaster, Melvyn Bragg, about how close the Prime Minster came to stepping down in the late Spring.
At one stage in mid-May the price on Gordon Brown being PM at the General Election touched evens and the timing of this seems to coincide with the period that Bragg and others were talking about.
What’s said to have changed Tony Blair’s mind has been the realisation that he was, perhaps, not the liability to the party that he feared and the sharp decline in Tory fortunes during Euro Election campaign.
It was Blair’s brilliant move to agree to a referendum on the EU constitution that trumped Michael Howard’s core strategy for dealing with the Euro-sceptics and ripped off the sticking plaster that was covering up the Tory’s continued deep divisions.
This also paved the way for UKIP to emerge as a force in UK politics which the Tories continue to suffer from. Throughout 2004 until May the Tories were staging a steady recovery and at one stage touched 40%. There were even reports at the time that Tory planners were hoping to secure 42% of the vote in the June 10 elections which was being seen as a springboard for the General Election.
Looking at the poll charts the speculation on Blair going and the price were in direct proportion to Tory progress.
The UKIP emergence in late May put pay to that. The Tories got 38% in the local elections but only 26% in the Euros. They have been in the doldrums ever since.