With reports this afternoon that “backbenchers are giving the Prime Minster until May 2009 to improve or stand down” the question arises as to which Labour figure would follow him into the hot seat whenever that occurs.
One thing’s for certain – there will be no coronations next time. Brown’s successor will have to fight it out in a competitive election in much the same way as the other parties go about it. So the question is – who would win a leadership election? with, possibly, several contenders?
The Ladbroke prices are on the right with David Miliband the favourite and Ed Balls just behind. Both would surely put their hats into the ring but I’m not convinced by either. Miliband had his chance last year and decided to duck out of it. Balls is said to be Gordon’s choice – which is probably the kiss of death.
Alan Johnson was tipped strongly two years ago and might just be able to assemble the coalition of interests that could get him the job. But his failure to win the Deputy job last summer will stand against him.
I cannot believe that there’s any value in James Purnell who clearly fancies his chances – a factor that will, no doubt, work the other way. Then there’s Yvette Cooper and John Denham – both of whom could make convincing cases.
Amongst the other potential runners I would single out Andy Burnham – a 38 year old Cambridge graduate who has risen quite fast since becoming an MP only seven years ago. He’s articulate, self-deprecating and quite convincing. He maybe young but then so is Cameron.
He’s the same price as Harriet Harman who did, of course, surprise many people with her Deputy campaign last year. She played the voting system effectively and I made her my betting choice when all the money was going on Johnson. She also did quite well at the recent PMQs when she stood in for Gordon against William Hague.
The others in last years race are really out of it. I cannot see a Scotsman being able to mount a serious challenge which leaves Douglas Alexander and Alistair Darling out of it. Charles Clarke has always, to me, seemed an impressive politician but I don’t think he would have a chance. The only other name that registers is John Hutton who I quite like.
Is it going to happen? Who knows though things might be a touch clearer after May 1st.