The secret comments by Howard Flight revealed in the Times this morning and his subsequent removal as Tory candidate at Arundel at the election have made for a lively Good Friday.
It was good to see Labour moving quickly with their hastily arranged press conference providing John Reid, Ruth Kelly and Alan Milburn the opportunity to get election campaign onto the territory that Labour wants – the danger of Tory spending cuts.
It was also good to see Michael Howard’s hastily put together statement announcing that the Flight would be stopped from being a Tory candidate at the election.
So who wins and who loses. How is this going to affect the campaign?
On the face of it this looks like really bad news for the Tories and there’s little doubt that it will enthuse Labour activists giving them a more powerful argument about voters doing anything that could let the Tories back in.
But will Howard come out of this well with his core consituency? He’s been shown to be decisive and ruthless – qualities that many in his party might find appealing. He’s also managed to take the story forward today away from the damaging expenditure cuts allegations that Flight started. You can see Tory spinners in the days to come contrasting Howard’s firm action with the departures of Peter Mandelson and David Blunkett.
Judging the reaction of the betting markets has been quite difficult because today’s YouGov poll also had an impact. What is interesting is that on the Spreadfair betting exchange there been a big move to the Tories in the Commons seat markets. Maybe this is short-term but there were hardly any punters about today prepared to bet against Howard’s party.
Spreadfair – LAB 349.5 -354.5: CON 200-212: LD 65 -69