Will naming a date keep the Blair premiership alive?

Will naming a date keep the Blair premiership alive?

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    ICM has 42% saying he should go now

With relations between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown said to have reached new lows an ICM poll in the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World has 42% saying that the Prime Minister should step down immediatly.

A further 15% say he should “go within a year” and a further 13% want him out before the next General Election. Only 21% think that Tony Blair should stay on until after the General Election.

    One factor that must be worrying for the Chancellor is that the poll found no overwhelming public desire for a Gordon Brown premiership.

To a question of “who would make the best Prime Minister” Brown and Blair got 30% each with 31% saying neither. Given the current frenzied climate I would have expected a substantial Brown lead.

With Camp Blair suggesting that the Chancellor sought to scupper Labour chances in the May local elections by not renewing the pensioners £200 Council Tax rebate Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer says that Number 10 fears that Brown is mounting a “creeping coup against him”.

Rawnsely writes of the pressure on Blair to give a public debate and notes “….Interestingly, some of the Prime Minister’s most influential friends have separately reached the same conclusion. In their view, declaring a date is the one gambit available to him to seize the initiative from his enemies and regain control of his premiership. He would have to do more than set a date. He would also have to set out what he intends to do with that time. Whether to declare a date, and what that date should be, is now being intensely debated within the Blairite inner circle. One of his closest allies suggests to me that he should announce that he intends to step down as Prime Minister in the autumn of 2008.If he really wants to push the envelope, he could declare that he wants to go on until January 2009, which would take him past Margaret Thatcher’s record to become the longest-serving Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool in the early 19th century…..By announcing a late date, Mr Blair would be saying to Mr Brown: come and get me, if you think you are hard enough.”

For political gamblers this is intriguing and there are a wide range of betting options available. One bookie has prices for each month, another is offerings odds for each year while the Betfair Betting Exchange has prices based on quarters.

You can get 2.9/1 on Blair surviving until the end of next year while William Hill have 6/1 available on him last longer than Mrs.Thatcher – which would take it to November 2008.

I stick with my view that the prices on Blair staying for a further 20 months represent good value and that the 6/1 on him beating Mrs Thatcher tenure is worth a punt.

Mike Smithson

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