Has Gordon decided that it’s better to have a contest?

Has Gordon decided that it’s better to have a contest?

DT Brown challenge.JPG

    Is Brown-Miliband contest looking more likely?

Over the past month all the indications from the Gordon Brown camp suggested that they were totally opposed to a contested election for the Labour leadership and everything was being designed to give the Chancellor his coronation.

We had Margaret Beckett and Peter Hain making statements suggesting it was almost being anti-Labour for anybody to consider fighting against Gordon. There was also the reported plan of Brown’s campaign manager, Jack Straw, to close down options for other possible challenges by orchestrating huge numbers of Brown supporting MPs to make their declarations for him in the immediate aftermath of the process being started.

Now we have Gordon’s comments yesterday reported above seeming to indicate that they really want his succession to the top job to have been as a result of a proper contest.

    My guess is that Brown would still prefer to have a coronation but he and his team have decided to bow to the inevitable pressure and at least appear to be wanting a proper fight. It would have been very damaging for a contested election to be seen to be foisted on him.

This surely is the right strategy for I’m convinced that a large part of the anti-Brown media campaign that has been gathering momentum has been in response to statements like Margaret Beckett’s “warning to Miliband”.

There’s a new element as well this morning – an article in the Telegraph by Irwin Stelzer, who is said to be a close advisor to Rupert Murdoch – in which he talks favourably of David Miliband.

One thing we cannot rule out is that other potential challengers could put themselves forward. For if Miliiband did stand and was beaten he could then be seen as the heir presumptive thus blocking other career minded Labour politicians.

Last night one of our regular contributors who is usually well informed on Labour matters, HenryG, posted this: “About a week ago I thought that David Miliband wouldn’t stand for the leadership. The other day I thought he was odds against to stand. Now I’m now pretty convinced he IS going to stand for leader and that the Guardian in particular will be upping their calls for him to do so after the May election results…I’m not going to say anymore than that – for those that like nice and tidy attributed sources with weblinks they can choose to disregard this if they like. But for those that think I’m more right than wrong on these matters, you may want to adjust some of your positions accordingly… So, I’d make the odds on Miliband standing 1/5. The chances of him winning 3/1 – making him about a 7/2 shot. I can’t bring myself to back him in these circumstances, but I’m sure there’s money to be made buying and laying off if nothing else.”

There’s been no real change in the betting with Gordon still at 0.28/1 and Miliband trading at about 6/1.

Mike Smithson

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