Who is going to get the blame?
Masses and masses of coverage in the papers this morning that won’t make comfortable reading at Number 10. Having skimmed most of them on the net the piece that seems the most wounding is from the usually loyal Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer. The headline says it all “They will call him Bottler Brown and it is going to hurt”.
He writes: “This was not got up by the media. It was a monster made in Downing Street. The original idea was to destabilise the Tories by worrying them with the thought of an early election. But as Mr Brown’s poll ratings began to swell, and with it the heads of some of the people around him, what began life as a tactical wheeze grew into a much more serious proposition… Ed Balls, the Prime Minister’s closest ally in the cabinet, even went on the radio to openly debate the balance of risk between waiting until later and going to the country early. The Schools Secretary made it evident that he was leading the case for an election this autumn. Asked about it at a conference Q&A, the Prime Minister himself made a teasing little joke about ‘telling the Queen first’ – a crack that now boomerangs on him.. Moreover, it was an invitation to the media to interpret everything that the Prime Minister said and did through the prism of electioneering. His ill-conceived trip to Iraq in the middle of the Conservative conference was almost universally denounced by the press as a cynical, opportunistic stunt…
No one around Mr Brown appears to have given enough thought to what would happen if an early election suddenly looked like a very bad idea. No one had planned a graceful exit strategy for the Prime Minister.”
For punters it’s been an amazing few days and I’ve now switched my attention to Betfair’s “Next General Election – party leaders” market. Here you have to guess which of the current three will still be there on polling day and for me the best option is to bet against, by laying, all three still being in post.
There’s obvious pressure on Ming and, who knows, Brown himself could get into trouble if Labour’s ratings slide and he gets the blame.
On the Commons seat spreads I’ve built up a big Labour sell position – a series of trades amounting to Â£100 a seat at levels ranging from 332 to 312. My guess is that the weekend’s events and future polls will lead to quite a lot of betting against Labour and I want to be able to trade.