Could Blair face a challenge at next month’s conference?

Could Blair face a challenge at next month’s conference?

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    The Independent reports left-wing moves to press for an election

A report by Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor of the Independent, this morning says that “..demands for Tony Blair to quit over his support for US President George W Bush in the Middle East are to be taken to Labour’s annual conference next month in a direct challenge to his leadership by left-wing Labour campaigners.”

He says that all constituency Labour parties are being sent an emergency resolution calling for a leadership election within two months of the conference. What gives the move some force is that behind it are leaders of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, who successfully backed four candidates to the party’s NEC.

Among those on their list was Walter Wolfgang – the 82 year old who was ejected from last year’s conference after heckling Jack Straw.

    Whether this will gather any momentum is hard to say but in the past fortnight the tempo has clearly moved up a gear as a result of the Prime Minister’s position on Lebanon. An indication of the change is the way John Prescott’s reported use of the word “crap” about George Bush has been well received within the party.

Those campaigning against Blair are said to want to provide a spur to Gordon Brown to force the Prime Minister out. An NEC member is quoted as saying “So far, Gordon has been too afraid to strike. He has got to demonstrate that he is ready for the leadership by helping the party to get rid of Blair.”

Whatever the pressure it’s still very hard to see the Chancellor doing anything other than maintain his cautious approach.

The element that’s still in the background for Blair is the cash for peerages police investigation. That’s very much out of his control but it hasn’t gone away. What would be the impact of the police interviewing him on top of the current discontent in parts of his party?

I still think think that the 6.2/1 on Blair going in the final quarter of 2006 is a good value bet.

Mike Smithson

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