Labour price eases after Blunkett’s resignation

Labour price eases after Blunkett’s resignation

    Will the loss of the Mail’s “Giant amongst pygmies” hurt Blair?

The best bookmaker price on Labour winning most seats has eased from 1/7 to 1/6 in the aftermath of the Home Secretary’s dramatic resignation yesterday.

Although not a big move it does reflect the importance that David Blunkett had in leading for Labour on the key theme of their pre-General Election legislative programme. Almost all the keynote bills in last month’s Queen’s Speech, including the introduction of compulsory ID cards, were from the Home Office and had Blunkett’s fingerprints all over them.

    Will the Cambridge-educated Charles Clarke be able to resonate with Labour’s core supporters and the Murdoch press in the way that Blunkett did?

The ID card move was a brilliant Blair-Blunkett strategy designed to expose the libertarian divisions within the Tories and to portray the LDs as being soft on crime and terrorism. It’s still going forward but will it quite have the same force without Blunkett?

Crime and law and order has long been a problematic issue for Labour. In September Populus found a 70-22 split against the Government on the question “Before Labour was elected in 1997, Tony Blair said they would be ‘tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime’. Do you think they have been? This is also an area of policy where it’s hard to attack Michael Howard on authoritarian grounds.

Another electoral legacy from David Blunkett will be the comments on Cabinet members attributed to him in the biography published yesterday. Howard exploited these brilliantly in the Commons last week and yesterday sought to give Tony Blair a copy of the book as an “early Christmas present”. Have no doubt – they will be repeated time and time again.

In spite of all of this it’s hard to rate Labour at being less than 1/6 and the only objection to betting is one of economics – you would be locking £60 up to win £10 in maybe five months or possibly 18 months time.

Mike Smithson

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