How many more of these has Tony got in his back pocket?

How many more of these has Tony got in his back pocket?

blair get out of jail free.jpg

    Why I’m betting again that Blair will survive

Yet another week goes by and Tony Blair is still there doing what he’s always been brilliant at when things get rough – changing the media agenda.

After the carefully concerted Gordon Brown barrage in the immediate aftermath of the local election results, a brace of poor opinion polls and probably the toughest PMQs of his nine year tenure Lucky Tony is just ploughing on finding other things to dominate the headlines.

For when you are Prime Minister what you say makes news and Blair knows this. His skillful use of the latest concern on crime and ability to find an angle that resonates with the headline writers and bulletin editors has got people focused on things other than when he will step down.

Blair’s been helped by the media starting to raise questions about Brown. That ICM poll on people being opposed to having a Scot as Prime Minister is significant for what it says about current media thinking – not the findings themselves which to my mind were of little value.

    That the BBC should be commissioning a pollster to ask the Scottish question and then run the story big should be worrying to Camp Brown.

Things could get tougher in the Commons with the return of the controversial Education Reform bill that only got through in March with the help of Tory support. Maybe Cameron-Osborne are preparing a trap this week that could see a Government defeat in a major part of its leigisaltive programme. That could help bring Blair down.

    But both Brown and Cameron, who have a unique common cause in wanting a change at Number 10 as soon as possible, must be wondering how many other “Get out of jail free” cards Lucky Tony has got in his back pocket?

The combination of Blair’s amazing resilience and media skills together with Gordon Brown’s reluctance to strike the killer blow make this great political theatre. But will Brown initiate the formal steps that would oust Blair? He’s gone about as far as he can without that move and it has not worked.

Having closed down my betting position on Blair surviving until the end of 2007 I’ve now gone back into the market again. And the price I’ve got 3.4/1 is better than when I got out just before the local elections so I’m getting more potential winnings for my money.

At this price betting on Blair to stay looks great value.

Mike Smithson

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