Will there be a Labour Crispin Blunt tomorrow night?

Will there be a Labour Crispin Blunt tomorrow night?

IDS - Crispin Blunt.jpg

    Could the close of polls trigger concerted action against Blair?

Just as the polls were closing at the end of local election day in May 2003 the Tory trade spokesman Crispin Blunt, resigned his front bench post in what appeared to be a planned and concerted move to bring down the then Tory leader, Ian Duncan Smith.

The pundits had been predicting a very poor Tory performance in the elections and Blunt’s move appeared to be timed to coincide with that. Whether there were other plotters we do not know – because what stymied their efforts was that the Tories made 600 gains and IDS could present the evening as a triumph.

The timing here was crucial. Blunt made his statement branding IDS as a “handicap” to the party’s chances of returning to power at a point when he could not be accused of undermining the Tory chances in the election but at a moment that gave him maximum publicity.

    For when it comes to being ruthless against leaders seen to be failing the Tory party wins hands down. But could a similar move be being planned by anti-Blair rebels tomorrow night?

All the focus as the results are counted will be on Labour’s performance and, if the party does badly, then the official commentariat on Friday morning could well be predicting the Prime Minister’s early demise. To fuel that a few calls for Blair to go by Labour figures not normally amongst “the usual suspects” might be being planned.

What could set the leadership issue alive is an announcement that there’s to be a “stalking horse” candidate ready to run against Blair. Just 70 MP signatures are required to put this course of action on the agenda.

I do not know whether this is going to happen but an election night, when all the focus will be on the party’s performance, seems a good moment.

As a precautionary measure I’ve closed down some of my betting positions on Blair surviving until the end of next year. The current price of 3.2/1 is likely to ease and I might then go back into the market at longer odds if I think Blair will do it.

Meanwhile in the local election betting there are now nearly thirty councils where you can bet on which party will have control on Friday morning.

Following the death of Peter Laws Betfair have opened a market on “Which party will the winning candidate in the WELSH ASSEMBLY Blaenau Gwent by-election represent?”. With his widow talking of standing this could be very interesting.

Mike Smithson

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