Miliband moves into the 2nd favourite slot

Miliband moves into the 2nd favourite slot

chart 1770207 labour leader.jpg

    Meanwhile the Guardian continues its barrage against Brown

The chart shows the changing betting exchange prices in the Labour leadership markets where for the the Environment Secretary, David Miliband, has now taken over as second favourite from the Home Secretary, John Reid.

This is a big change and reflects, in part, the heavy media backing that seems to be gathering round, first, the idea of a proper challenge to Gordon and secondly for Miliband himself. The latter has, of course, ruled himself out of the race in several statements but no matter – he’s a politician isn’t he?

The Guardian, meanwhile, continues its anti-Brown coverage this morning and this should not be underestimated. If by any chance that the Chancellor does not make it then the paper will have played a pivotal role.

    For one of the great weapons that the Guardian has at its disposal is the choice of issues to test in its monthly ICM poll. Questions that probe Brown’s vulnerabilities could help frame the internal party debate.

The next survey in the paper is due out next week or possibly the week after. Today there’s a sharply argued piece by Martin Kettle under the headings “Brown has every reason to be frightened of Miliband – Support for a man who denies he will stand for the leadership exposes the depth of doubts about the chancellor”.

This is how Kettle sum it up: “First: now as in 1994 – the year of the last leadership contest – Labour risks losing a general election under Brown that it might otherwise win. Second: as chancellor Brown is too intimately bound up with Labour’s decade to be a credible fresh opponent for Cameron. Third: there needs to be a mainstream challenge so that the quality of Brown’s leadership claims can be properly assessed. Fourth: a contest would be good for Labour’s standing, and even for Brown’s. Fifth: there are no personal downsides for Miliband from challenging Brown, even if he loses. Sixth: Miliband might actually win – and as it happens this is the outcome the Tories fear most…..these are fears that dare not speak their name in public except through journalists willing to report them. Not the least of the disabling legacies to Labour of the dysfunctional Blair-Brown relationship is that a party full of sensible people seems to have collectively mislaid the ability to have an honest and grown-up political discussion about its achievements and problems.”

Anti-Brown pieces in papers like the Telegraph are one thing and have little impact. Anti-Brown pieces in the Guardian are read by the wider movement and can influence the debate.

Personally I have doubts about Miliband and find it hard to see how he could progress. Maybe I’m wrong but I will not change my betting just for now.

Mike Smithson

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