Will he be returned uncontested?
After this afternoon’s dramatic resignation from the Lib Dem leadership by Charles Kennedy the money has been going on the 64 year old ex-international sprinter, Sir Menzies Campbell to win the contest to replace him.
Just two hours after Kennedy’s announcement the best bookmaker price available on Campbell was 8/15 with 0.51/1 being available on Betfair.
Campbell is the only person to formally declare his candidature and has received endorsements by a number of senior colleagues. He is helped by a number of factors:-
His Age. The old saying “Young Cardinals vote for old Popes” applies here. The last thing many of the ambitious young Lib Dem MPs want is for one of their generation to get it blocking their chances for years to come
He’s not Simon Hughes. It was always said that whenever Kennedy had threats to his leadership his camp would say -“You don’t want Simon Hughes.” For although the runner-up last time is said to be the choice of the activists he is not popular amongst his Westminster colleagues.
Today’s YouGov poll. The fact that Campbell leads Hughes by 49 to 20 in the YouGov member survey will help his campaign’s momentum.
The new election rules agreed four months ago in a move, apparently, to help Charles Kennedy might make it difficult for many MPs to stand. Each candidate has to secure the support of at least 7 MPs and that keeps out frivolous challengers.
Will Campbell do it? As David Davis will tell you being the front runner is not always an advantage but my bets on Campbell, placed at nearly 2/1 this morning, look good. In fact I could cash them in now at a nice profit.