Could he have greater influence over the succession?
Surely the big political impact of Tony Blair’s extraordinary farewell speech this afternoon is that he, and nobody else, will decide on the precise date when the removal vans will arrive at Number 10?
The “tour de force” and the amazing reception he was given by delegates in Manchester put him in a unique position for the coming months. It’s going to be hard for anybody, particularly Gordon, to put any pressure at all on about the departure date. Blair is there for as long as we wants until next year’s Labour conference.
My guess is that the coverage of today will give the party a small but significant boost in the polls and this will reinforce Tony’s position. We might even see Labour back into the lead in the October Populus survey for the Times which is due out next week.
Blair’s conciliatory approach to being ousted in the way he was will win him friends and give him an influence on both party and national events that he has not enjoyed since the invasion of Iraq. His standing will increase.
A telling moment this afternoon was the reception he got when he laid into David Cameron. This was probably the most effective attack on the young Tory leader since his election last December and might indicate that there’s trouble ahead for the Tories. As ConservatveHome describes it this afternoon “Blair is our deadliest opponent.”
Quite who Tony wants to succeed him nobody knows but it is hard to imagine him not having a huge influence. Maybe that’s good for Gordon maybe it’s not.
In the betting PaddyPower has just introduced a market on the actual month of the departure. The prices are Sept 25/1: Oct 14/1: Nov 18/1: Dec 11/1: Jan 11/1: Feb 9/1: Mar 7/1: Apr 6/1: May 11/8: Jun 3/1: July 10/1: Aug 25/1 September 2007 and beyond 10/1.
I quite like the 10/1 on September 2007 and beyond – just in case he decide to bow out just ahead of a new leader being installed at next year’s conference.
The spread market from Cantor Spreadfair on how many weeks Blair’s third term will continue for is now showing a spread of 95 – 100 weeks. Week one began on May 9th 2005 so the buy price starts in the second week of April 2007.