Will there be another wheeze to keep the show going?
One of my great sayings used to be “Nobody ever got rich betting against Tony Blair”. Certainly he has been in tight corners before and the money has piled in from punters on an early departure.
Just three years ago, in the frenzy over the Hutton Inquiry following David Kelly’s death, Blair became odds on for a while to go before the end of September 2003.
Then on one famous weekend in May 2004 Gordon Brown became the odds on favourite to lead his party at the General Election amidst reports of the pressure that the Blair family was under.
And only last year, immediately after the General Election the bookie price on him going in 2005 tightened to evens. Then everybody was pointing to the EU constitutional referendum which he had committed Labour to and the talk was of him going after that. Fortunately for Lucky Tony the French said “Non” and Blair got out of that one.
So don’t underestimate this guy. His ability to surprise and deal with the moment is extraordinary and clearly he wants to make it very hard for Gordon to succeed him.
A normal tactic is to change the subject – to “draw a line under what’s gone on”. Another possibility could be that some outside event develops that only he can handle in his own messianic style. You can hear the tremble in his voice now as he looks at the camera calling for everybody to back him in his latest endeavour which is vital to the nation and his party.
My betting position is still on a Q4 2006 departure which I backed at 6/1.
Mike Smithson – still on holiday