There’s Â£200 on the the table that says there will be a contest
One of the pleasures of running the site is that occasionally I get asked by the media for my views on current political developments. Yesterday Radio 5 Live wanted to know what my forecasts were for 2007. I gave two: that John Cruddas would win Deputy Labour leadership and that Gordon would face at least one challenger in Labour’s leadership election.
My rationale for the latter is that once Blair has announced his departure time-table the whole political climate will change. Once we’ve got over the tributes and adulations the focus will be on the succession and my strong sense is that the media narrative will be calling for a contest. The press and television love leadership elections and absolutely hate foregone conclusions
They will be egged on by David Cameron who is already getting good mileage out of his “Labour only has a mandate for a full Blair term – anything else requires a General Election”. You can hear him and other Tories saying now “..and they’ve stitched it up so there’s not even an election in his own party”.
The Cameron strategy, surely, is to try to inflict as much damage on Brown as quickly as possible and what better starting point than the circumstances in which the succession is taking place? Add onto this a plethora of polls asking whether the public want a contest and there will be a lot for the Brown camp to deal with.
My guess is that a challenge will develop within Labour “for the good of the party”. MPs who have been reluctant to back rival bids and not support nominations will start talking about how healthy for the Tories the 2005 leadership election turned out to be.
The way John Reid is operating suggests that he still thinks there will be a fight and let’s not forget John McDonnell – the only person so far who has put his hat into the ring. Of course there is the problem of getting the required 44 nominations but if he’s prevented because Labour MPs shun his approaches then that will not look good for the incoming Brown regime.
Then there is Blair himself. My reading is that he still wants to stop Gordon and he retains an awful lot of power over the succession process. He sets the time-table and the form in which it is presented.
This is something that we should be able to bet on. I would love to see a market and to encourage things I am proposing this wager to get things going. The Â£200 can be split between several people who want to take the bet at even money. Alternatively the parties could agree to trust each other.
Is there anybody who wants to take the bet?
Please email me.