Will “loans for honours” be what determines the leaving date?
With some union leaders planning to walk out on the Prime Minister when he makes his speech at the TUC today September is continuing to be a nightmare month for Labour’s triple General Election winner. For not only has he been forced to harden up his leaving plans but still simmering in the background is the police investigation into the cash and loans for peerages tow.
Already it’s known that at least two ministers have been interviewed by the police and Blair’s Middle East envoy and party fundraiser, Lord Levy, had to face the indignity of being arrested.
Could the next step be the arrival of officers at No 10 itself and if so how would this affect the planned departure date? Could it even be the case, as some were betting on in July, that Tony could be arrested?
Given the pivotal role that the Prime Minister has in the honours it’s hard to see how the police can carry out their task without a conversation with him. The suggestion before the holidays was that this could take place before the Labour Party conference which starts in Manchester on Sunday September 24th. If so then including today there are only nine working days left between now and then.
For punters who have invested on the Blair departure date markets the police move could be crucial. There’s a tempting 4/1 still available on the Blair’s moving out during 2006 while on Betfair the Q4 2006 price has stayed pretty firm at 3.2/1 in spite of last week’s developments.
The best bookmaker price on 2007 is now down to 1/7. On Betfair the Q1 2007 price is 3/1, Q2 the favourite at 1.38/1, with 11.5/5 being offered for Q3.
Quite what the reaction both within the party and the public at large will be to Blair being interviewed is hard to say. It might be that the fact that he is on his way will take the sting out of such a move – but who knows?
The precise terms of the Betfair market are “When will Tony Blair officially cease to be leader of the Labour Party?” I read that as being when he hands over to his successor at the end of the election process. So it’s not when he makes the announcement but when he actually goes.
There’s speculation, as well, that Blair could continue to be Prime Minister even after a new Labour leader had been put in place. I’m not convinced by that.
My money, at an average 6/1, is still on Q4 2006 though the 11.5/1 that available on Q3 2007 looks quite interesting.