Could Charles Clarke upset the Gordon Brown succession?

Could Charles Clarke upset the Gordon Brown succession?

“Home Secretary planning to run for the leadership” – Independent

While all the UK political focus has been on the Tory leadership a feature by John Rentoul in the Independent today speculates that Gordon Brown might not have the easy ride to 10 Downing Street that most commentators have been predicting. In it he states Charles Clarke is planning to run for the Labour leadership when Tony Blair steps aside before the next General Election.

Rentoul contrasts Gordon Brown’s relative lack of visibility since the election with Charles Clarke who seems to be making new headlines day after day. He observes …Suddenly, Clarke – who intends to contest the Labour leadership when Blair goes – seems a credible challenger to Brown. No one else seems likely even to gather the necessary number of nominations (45) from Labour MPs (the other signal fact about the post-election reshuffle being the fact that John Reid is not Foreign Secretary). Brown is still a long way ahead, of course. But over the past three months the shape of the leadership contests in both main parties, neither of which has yet begun, has been transformed. It is now quite possible that the voters could face the choice at the next election of Clarke – or Clarke.

The number of MP nominations required certainly restricts the possibility of more than one or two people being able to put their hat into the ring. A big element, as well, is when this will happen. We’ve argued here before that the longer that Blair stays the more problems that Brown might face. His dour style has not made him universally popular at Westminster and a popular gag, recounted by Simon Hoggart in this review of a biography on the Chancellor, is that “Brown can brighten up a room just by leaving it”.

    Brown also has a problem in that his main appeal to some segments of the party is that he is not Tony Blair. Once the Prime Minister has moved on that selling point disappears.

From a betting standpoint there are few options at the moment. Betfair have an exchange market but as of the time of writing there was almost nothing available on Clarke who has attracted the grand total of £114 in matched bets. With this sort of betting you are restricted to what other punters are prepared to offer

The Gordon Brown price has continued to ease from the 0.24/1 in June to the current 0.37/1. Even if you are convinced that the Chancellor will do it there is little point locking up your money for maybe 2-3 years for that rate of return.

Hopefully the latest speculation will bring in more punters prepared to lay Charles Clarke. We wonder whether the price might settle below the current 7/1.

Sorry about the site problems earlier today. We were subject to a hacking attack overnight which brought the site down for many hours. My son, Robert, who handles the technical side, is on holiday in Sardinia and we managed to get things back up again thanks to the help of Philip Grant (Book Value) who acted recently as guest editor.

Thanks to Philip for all his help.

Mike Smithson

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