Will Tony be wearing one of these?

Will Tony be wearing one of these?

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    Are there 45 MPs who will sign up for the Chancellor to be challenged?

The rules governing Labour’s leadership election will give Tony Blair at least two votes when he finally decides to step down from the job or he’s forced out. The first will be as an MP who have a third of the influence in the electoral college. The second will be as an ordinary constituency member and he’ll have a possible third vote if he still belongs to an affiliated trade union.

    How he will use them is hard to say because he’s been studiously avoiding giving his support to Gordon Brown.

The same rules also make it quite hard for contenders to come into the race. Just to get on the ballot a candidate needs the public backing of 12.5% of the Parliamentary Labour Party. That’s 45 MPs to sign up and if the result looks like a foregone conclusion there might be a feeling amongst some MPs that forcing Brown to fight an election might not be a good career move.

It’s hard to see, given this rule, more than two challengers to the Chancellor.

On the “when front” Tony Blair has been pointedly talking about what he wants to see in 2008 – is that what he’s aiming at?

The price on a departure after the end of next year has tightened to 2.5/1. On the “who” markets Brown has eased a point to 0.36/1.

Mike Smithson

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