How does the Labour leadership market look now?

How does the Labour leadership market look now?

    Is Ed now better value than David?

In the light of all that’s happened over the last few extraordinary weeks, including Brown’s role in managing the economic crisis and even a Republican administration buying shares in American banks, now may be a good time to reconsider the Labour leadership market – especially as last night’s polls suggest that the party’s performance remains distinctly anaemic.

The table above is courtesy of Shadsy and “The Magic Sign”, and there are one or two prices that are definitely worthy of a closer look. Firstly, David Miliband, second favourite at 7/2. His “banana moment” in Manchester was heavily lampooned at the Conservative conference, while a Labour source described him as “finished”, for now at least. I’d suggest that 7/2 may be too short for him – and even whether, in this visual age, the banana has put his prospects into medium-term, if not terminal decline.

    For me, two of the value picks in the market are James Purnell at 12/1 and Ed Miliband at 14/1. Purnell has of course already been highlighted by Our Genial Host as a value pick and as someone that the PM’s team are worried about. One thing to consider if Purnell is seen as replacing Brown after a GE is that he may be vulnerable to a “Portillo moment” in Stalybridge & Hyde if there were a Tory landslide – he would fall on a 12% swing.

Ed Miliband however is safe as houses in Doncaster North and is very much seen as on the rise, reflected in his move to head up the new Energy and Climate Change department. There’s an interesting article about the Miliband brothers from the Times (although its August publication date seems like a different political age). An indication as to whether the Foreign Secretary has been totally eclipsed by his brother will be when “Miliband” is universally understood to mean Ed rather than David.

Other outsiders that may be worth a look include Andy Burnham at 20/1 and John Hutton at 25s – although again Hutton may have trouble holding on in Barrow & Furness. As always with the Labour leadership market, the likely length of Brown’s tenure is a key factor. Although George Howarth may have said that hostilities are over, could doubts resurface if Glenrothes is lost? Even if it is held, could Brown come under serious pressure after a bad set of local and Euro-elections next year – although might they even manage to improve on the 22.6% in the 2004 Euros?

Finally, an attraction to potential challengers of a leadership contest next autumn might be that pressure to hold an early election could be resisted until spring 2010, when one would be virtually due anyway, allowing a new PM time to bed in. One thing we have certainly learned from following recent British politics is that prognoses made at a particular point in time can have a habit of going out of date rather quickly. Things may look different when the risk of systemic banking collapse has passed, but a deep recession remains.

Double Carpet

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