Back Bush to lose and Blair to go
How are the political fortunes of George Bush and Tony Blair going to be affected by the findings of the Iraq Survey Group about the lack of WMDs, especially as this come on top of the acceptance by Donald Rumsfield that Saddam was not responsible for 11 September?
Even before the WMD report the the White House race was moving back to John Kerry after his success in the TV debate last Thursday and there’s another poll out putting him ahead.
So, the Democrats will argue, why with no al-Qaeda link to Saddam and no WMDs did Bush go to war? And as the junior partner Tony Blair will be under the same pressure.
An indication of the scale of the change in sentiment is that William Hill have halved the odds on John Kerry defeating George Bush in the US Presidential race from 11/4 this time last week to 11/8, while the President’s odds have lengthened from 1/4 to 8/15 favourite. Other prices have also moved.
Unlike George Bush, who faces his country in less than four weeks, Tony Blair has more time on his side. He’s been fortunate that the vote shift in the UK has been to the Liberal Democrats and not to the main opposition party, the Tories, but there’s a limit to this electoral safety belt. The Tories can score General Election gains even if their vote share does not move beyond the 32.7% of 2001. For every move from Labour to the Lib Dems reduces the Labour margin and will see more and more seats switch.
We think that the latest news will just reinforce the poll trend to the Lib Dems.
One glimmer of hope for Tony Blair is that this is the issue of the moment because of the Presidential election on November 2nd. After that there’ll be less coming out of Washington which could make Tony Blair’s desire “to draw a line under it” a little bit easier
But the collapse in trust will remain and the chances that Blair will lose his overall majority get higher but this is something that, as yet, you cannot bet on.
A good alternative is the William Hill bet at 3/1 on Tony Blair stepping down as PM in 2004 or 2005. It covers a host of other options as well as the possible consequences of a hung parliament. The big surprise is that the price has not come down. BET before it does.
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