Could Gordon be out before the general election?

Could Gordon be out before the general election?


    Is 5/1 that he will a good value bet?

Matthew Parris’s Saturday column in the Times is almost always a good read although his views on Gordon Brown have to be read in the context of an hostility that has continued for years.

But this morning he raises an issue that I have been planning to cover for weeks – could Gordon be out before the general election?

Parris concludes: “..Many political and journalistic reputations have been staked on taking this Prime Minister’s abilities seriously. What people say next has to be squared with what they said then, so now they insist that Mr Brown’s problem is a difficulty in “communicating” or “explaining” his vision; or that he has been sidetracked from “focusing” on his big ideas; or both. It’s all there, they hint: it’s just that we haven’t seen it yet.

Speeches are made and columns written urging the wizard to hurry up and show us his magic. But the wizard hasn’t got any magic. Poor wand-less Mr Brown isn’t concealing or delaying his abracadabra moment. There’s nothing there: nothing to get cracking with, nothing to communicate, nothing to explain.

I think his premiership is disintegrating. With no belief in the human at its centre I doubt the disintegration can be halted or reversed. I think this will become plain by autumn. One way or another, and very possibly before the next election, I think Mr Brown will go.

For this to take place, of course, something needs to happen that makes the party, and the wider movement, realise that they have to do something drastic to impede David Cameron’s march to Downing Street. I think that we are a long way from that and, it should be said, Labour hasn’t collapsed in the polls.

But May 1st could be tricky. Fortunately the party did badly four years ago so the potential for seat losses is much smaller. But a small vote share combined with Ken failing to hang on in London might just set the party thinking.

There is also, of course, his health. Just comparing pictures of him now with how he looked last July after taking over from Tony and you can see the toll that being PM has had on him.

Is an early departure worth betting on? Well I’ve got a few pounds at 6/1 on the “Cameron only” option in the following Betfair market on the line-up of party leaders for the election – which appears to be the only place where you can wager that Brown could go. Here you are offered options based on the line-up of leaders last July when, of course, Ming was still leading the Lib Dems.

The price has tightened a touch but may still offer value. The only problem with betting here is that very little money has been staked and there is not much liquidity. Maybe the focus on Brown’s future will cause that to change.


Mike Smithson

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