Are the calls for him to quit quickly going to have an effect?
With the trade union movement gathering for the TUC congress there’s pressure this morning on Tony Blair to step aside sooner rather than later. Union leaders want him out of Downing Street within a year.
This follows comments on Wednesday by the boss of the TUC, Brendan Barber, that the Prime Minister should stand down in in time to have a smooth transition ahead of the next election. Today the Observer reports the same call, but in more forthright terms, from Tony Woodley of the T&G and Derek Simpson of Amicus.
According to the paper “Simpson… said Blair should announce at the party conference in Brighton that this was his last conference as leader. ‘This would give the party a year to plan an orderly transition and a new leader two years at least to run-up to the next general election.”. Woodley is reported as saying that it is common-sense that Blair should go within a year.
There moves are reinforced by a YouGov poll in the Sunday Times that shows that seeks to measure the impact of different leader possibilities on voting intention. It shows:-
Current intention: LAB 37% CON 32%
Brown v Ken Clarke: LAB 42% CON 31%
Brown v David Davis: 44% CON 30%
Tony Blair’s long-standing position is that he will step down as leader before the next election but that he intends to serve almost a full third term. Clearly he wants to go on his own terms and does not want it to appear that he has been forced out.
It could be that the calls from the most power men in the trade union movement in such a public manner will make it more difficult for Blair to go early.
On the betting markets you can get 2.3/1 that there will be no change at Number 10 before January 1 2008. But the price on his departure taking place in the first quarter of next year is just 2.4/1.
Indy on Sunday Poll A survey by Communicate Research shows that it if was Brown against Clarke the split would be LAB 44% CON 25%. John Rentoul then seeks to compare this with a YouGov poll before the General Election when Blair versus Howard had 52-35%. I have a great respect for Rentoul EXCEPT for his coverage of opinon polls. Before Christmas we had to take him to task and this time he is trying to draw conclusions by comparing two totally different polling methodologies as if they were the same. Communicate Research is alone amongst the phone pollsters in not weighting by past vote. YouGov, of course, is internet based and does weight by past vote. The CR approach generally produces better Labour numbers than YouGov.
Tory leadership betting prices
Conventional bookmakers best price: Davis 8/13: Clarke 9/4: Cameron 9/2 Betfair betting exchange: Davis 0.85/1: Clark 2.25/1: Cameron 9.5/1 BinaryBet spread market. Davis 49-56: Clarke 24-30: Cameron 7-11 BetHilo spread on age of next Tory leader 51-53 years