- Will Gordon move in earlier if there is no contest?
After a day which has seen a lot of movement on the “When Blair will go” betting there’s another issue that could affect the markets. When would Gordon move in if he is the only candidate?
Let’s assume that Blair announces his departure in the aftermath of the May 3rd elections. The statement marking the end of the Blair age would be pure theatre and knock everything else out of the headlines for days. All the media would be asking – “When’s the last day going to be?”
Either from Blair himself, Downing Street, or the Labour Party would come a time-table for elections and, no doubt, the Deputy Race as well.
This will state that nominations will have to be in within a certain period and that the election in the three parts of the electoral college will take place within a specific time-table so that the new leader and deputy can take over, perhaps, on a day to be named in July. That date, Blair’s last day, would be headline news.
But what if, as seems increasingly likely, Gordon is the only candidate? Will he have to wait until the stated date or would he be declared leader there and then and move in once the period for nominations is closed?
My understanding is that this is an issue that is being talked about in the higher echelons of the party and nobody seems to know the answer.
On the one hand Tony Blair will want a bit of certainty when he makes his historic statement about the precise date the removal vans need to be called in. On the other it’s going to be mighty odd if Gordon is left out in the cold for a few weeks.
There’s likely to be a huge surge in Blair’s popularity in those final weeks and there could be a danger for Gordon if he seen to be not allowing the Prime Minister to step down with dignity.
All the messages from the Brown camp are that he wants to have his first confrontations with David Cameron at PMQs before the summer recess.
For Blair going during July could mean that Gordon would have to wait months, until after the holidays and the conference season, until he’s facing the Tory leader across the dispatch box. No doubt David Cameron, too, would like to get stuck in sooner rather than later.
- The key player in all of this, of course, is Blair himself and he has it within his power to put the mockers on the Gordon honeymoon. Given everything that has gone on between the two men is he going to make it easy or hard for his successor?
For those who have bet in any of the Blair leaving date markets this could be crucial. Will it be a Q3 departure or a Q4 one?