Should Brown punters be nervous about the honours probe?

Should Brown punters be nervous about the honours probe?

    What are we to make of today’s Observer story?

We have now reached a stage, surely, where the only thing that should concern those who have risked money on Gordon Brown for leader is what Harold Macmillan described as “events dear boy, events”. The Brixton-born former Tory PM was responding to the question “what represented the greatest challenge for a statesman?”

One of those “events”, if the Observer this morning is right, could be the honours probe. For according to the paper “The ‘cash for peerages’ controversy took a dramatic new turn last night when it was revealed that one of Gordon Brown’s top aides was sent a memo about Labour’s secret loans in the run-up to last year’s general election”.

The heart of the story is a reported email sent to Labour figures involved in the 2005 election campaign warned against attacking the Tories on loans because the party was doing the same. A person said to have received it was Spencer Livermore, one of Brown’s close advisers.

The response from Brown’s office is that Livermore had no memory of even reading it and that he was “receiving a huge number of emails in the run-up to the election.”

    Maybe I’m wrong but my sense is that this does not sound that much and the Observer’s billing of a “dramatic new turn” in the affair is perhaps over the top.

The problem is that as Brown’s premiership gets closer then everything that he has done is going to come under the most intense scrutiny. Clearly all links with the honours probe will be highlighted.

Elsewhere in the Observer the paper’s political editor, Gaby Hinsliff, is suggesting that Tony’s last day at Number 10 will be July 26th 2007 and that he will announce his plans following the May elections.

Latest leadership betting
has Brown at 0.24/1 – slightly easier than he was immediately following the Queen’s Speech debate comments by Tony Blair.

Mike Smithson

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