Will the Tories suffer most from Blair’s delayed departure?

Will the Tories suffer most from Blair’s delayed departure?

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    Are we about to enter the year of limbo?

One of the consequences of Tony Blair’s desire to leave during the summer could be that we won’t see Brown, or whoever, facing Cameron across the dispatch box until October 2007.

For if Blair actually steps down to allow his replacement to be in place at the end of July then the first weeks of the new Prime Ministership will be during the parliamentary vacation.

We will then have next year’s conference season and it could be mid-October 2007 before there’s a proper Prime Minisiter’s Question time with the new leader. The only face-to-face encounter between the two leaders expected to lead their parties at the next General Election will be Opposition Leader’s response to the budget in March.

What this means is that politics could be entering a period of limbo with the Tories not wanting to use their best anti-Brown lines and Gordon being unable to get stuck into Cameron. There’ll be no big political story because what goes on at Westminster will bear little resemblance to the next General Election.

Who wins and who losers in all of this? My guess is the Tories. The last thing they want to be doing is revealing policies ahead of Brown’s arrival yet they’re going to find it hard to continue keeping the policy-lite stance going.

    Oppositions need things to attack – with Blair still there they are deprived of serious opportunities

So while the next nine months will be frustrating for Brown they’ll probably be harder for Cameron. The main hope for the Tories is that something will emerge to blow up the post-Manchester calm within Labour and, no doubt, they will do what they can to encourage it.

UPDATE 1425. Peter Riddell from the Times has been in contact to say that there will be no Populus poll in the paper tomorrow. To avoid the distorting effects of polling during the conference season the October survey will be carried out next weekend.

Mike Smithson

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