Could the former postman and union boss make it if Brown falters?
While all the focus has been on the Tory leadership race there’s been a quiet revolution taking place in the “who’ll replace Blair” betting. Because Gordon Brown is seen as such a certainty there’s been no serious examination about what would happen if, for whatever reason, the Chancellor is unable to make it to the top job. Who is next in line?
Although there’s been very little betting activity the ex-union leader and now Trade and Industry Secretary, Alan Johnson, has now become the 9/1 second favourite. He is way ahead of all the other Cabinet heavy-weights in spite of the fact that he is probably less well known amongst the general public.
Is Johnson’s position just a quirk caused by there being very little activity in the betting or is he really the main contender to take over should Gordon Brown not do it?
Johnson was seen by many in the party to have had a good General Election but being DTI Secretary is perhaps not the best place for him if he wants to be considered a serious contender. Behind Johnson at 12/1 is David Miliband while David Blunkett is 16/1 and you can get 26/1 against Charles Clarke. Amongst the younger generation Hilary Benn is 84/1 and Ed Balls is 119/1.
For all the efforts by New Labour to bring in more women Laboue MPs only the Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, figures in the betting and she is 84/1. The name of the Education Secretary, Ruth Kelly, is not on the list.
The biggest outsider at the moment is not even a member of the Labour party – George Galloway at 169/1.