Will all three be in their jobs at the next election?

Will all three be in their jobs at the next election?

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    Has Ming got the most job security?

With last Thursday’s historic resignation by Tony Blair we reached the unprecedented situation where all three main parties have ousted leaders within the past four years.

Labour and the Lib Dems have taken up what used to be the exclusive Tory habit of deposing leaders who are thought to be performing badly.

    This is new territory for UK politics and means, surely, that none of the three has real job security. Once you have ousted a leader for the first time you break a taboo and the chances of it happening again become higher.

So which of the three is most at risk? Both Labour and the Tories are hungry for power and will stick with their leaders as long they look like winners. But when the prevailing mood in the party is of an impending electoral disaster then, as we have seen, the leadership becomes an issue.

Cameron has probably got the biggest challenge because in order to make his party electable he has taken it in a direction that is fiercely opposed by many traditionalists. You can almost feel the anguish on sites like CONhome when the party does well. The only way they can get “their” party back is if the leadership is seen to be failing.

Brown has got internal challenges too, especially after the battles with the Blairites, but there will be a great gathering round the new leader in the interests of the party. Unless Gordon is backed then the Tories could be let in. Cameron is Labour’s great unifier. Expectations are much lower because Brown starts from a position where the party has been polling badly. Another thing in his favour is that he is not Tony Blair – a great plus for many in his party.

Campbell has, on the face of it, the toughest challenge but he is carrying less of a burden of expectation. He is less vulnerable to poor poll ratings than the other two because nobody believes that the Lib Dems will win the next election. Also the ousting of Kennedy is still in people’s minds and they don’t want to go through the trauma again very quickly. If his health stays OK then he should still be there.

The big question is whether Brown can take Labour forward in the polls and whether they can eat into Tory poll shares. If the Cameron’s party is pulled back to 35% or below then it could get interesting.

Betting. I am meeting Betfair on Monday and plan to suggest that they repeat the successful 2003-5 party leaders market.

Mike Smithson

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