Sunday press roundup, 21st August 2005

Sunday press roundup, 21st August 2005

Sunday’s stories sifted
Printing press
As usual for August, it’s a quiet weekend for political news, but a few pieces in today’s papers will interest political gamblers.

The Conservative leadership has been a reliable source of interest since May, and continues to provide stories. The talk at the moment is of whether Kenneth Clarke and David Cameron can present a united front in a “dream ticket”. The Sunday Times reports that Lord Heseltine is backing a bid led by Clarke with Cameron as his deputy. However, with press coverage on Friday and Saturday reporting that Clarke supporters such as Tony Baldry moving to Cameron’s camp, there must be a question on whether Heseltine is really in touch with the situation in the parliamentary party. The Observer reports that Clarke would give up his business interests in companies such as British American Tobacco if he became leader, but not during a leadership contest. This will prompt some to wonder whether he really believes he can win. The article also mentions scepticism over whether Cameron’s supporters would back a “dream ticket”. Betting odds are 4.3/1 Cameron, 9/1 Clarke, with David Davis still favourite at 0.71/1.

The Observer also reports that Mo Mowlam regarded Gordon Brown as unfit to be Prime Minister. One might speculate on how many other Labour figures privately feel this, but with no clear challenger Brown remains the strong favourite to succeed to the Labour leadership, at 0.28/1.

Scotland on Sunday – the Sunday edition of the Scotsman, which has excellent coverage of UK-wide as well as Scottish politics – reports on the selection of a Labour candidate to fight the by-election in Livingston. Five contenders are mentioned; with all of them having local connections, Labour seems to be doing the right thing to avoid a serious challenge from the SNP or Liberal Democrats. No betting markets seem to be open on the by-election result yet.

Finally, looking overseas, the Washington Post reports that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, once seen as a leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, is spending more time than expected with his Tennessee constituents. The paper speculates that he will abandon his White House ambitions and run for re-election to his Senate seat in 2006 after all. Frist, as a respected Senator but very poor media performer, would probably find a happier outcome this way. The Tradesports exchange rates Frist as an 8% chance (odds of 11.5/1) for the presidential nomination, with no odds on the Tennessee Senate race yet.

Philip Grant
Guest editor

Mike Smithson is on holiday until 5th September.

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