But if not the Chancellor – who?
The current best price on Gordon Brown to be next leader of the Labour Party is 1/4. That means that if you bet Â£100 your winnings would be Â£25 and given Tony Blair’s statement about his plans then you could be waiting for, maybe, four years to collect. If so your winnings would barely cover the interest on putting the money in the building society.
But have the recent promotions of Charles Clarke and Alan Milburn changed Brown’s status as a certainty?
The latest price on Clarke is 11/2 and on Milburn 15/2. Maybe these are better value bets?
The problem for Gordon Brown is that he has been the heir apparent for so long and the only direction he can move is down. The four years between now and then provides the space for other candidates to emerge and Brown himself will be heading for his mid-50s. With the reports that Tony Blair is planning to reduce the role of the Treasury after the election then his position could start to slip. Certainly this could take away a lot of the power that he enjoys.
If this was a betting exchange market there would be a strong case for laying Brown at the current level.
The uncertainty created by Tony Blair’s announcement in September that he intends to step down by the end of his next term will intensify speculation and will almost certainly become an election issue.
If it is not to be Brown then we are far from convinced that the second favourite, Charles Clarke, is worthy of his position in the betting. Milburn, also looks as though the gloss has started to fall away. Our long-shot at 25/1 is Peter Hain.
As yet there is no market on the next Tory leader. Maybe that’s a good sign for Michael Howard.