Could his replacement once again become an issue?
One thing that we’ve learned about Gordon in the past eighteen months is that he thrives when things are going his way. Cast your mind back to his supreme confidence in the July – September 2007 period and just look at how he has been transformed in the past three months.
But what if it starts to go wrong again? What if the couple of polls at the end of 2008 turn into a trend and Labour’s position declines as the full impact of the recession kicks in? Could we then be back to the June-September situation when all the speculation was on his replacement?
It’s in this context that the latest Ladbrokes market on who will be Prime Minister on New Year’s Eve 2009 starts to look interesting. Could a faltering Brown once again open up the possibility of a challenge as Labour looks towards an election defeat?
The one thing we’ve learned in the past couple of years is that the most dangerous assumption punters can make is that things will go on as they are.
So let’s, for the sake of argument, assume that Labour does experience set-backs in the polls and has a horrible day in June when the local and Euro elections take place. Would Gord be able to survive once again and if not who would be his replacement?
I quite like some of the long-shot prices. I don’t think it’s going to be David Miliband whose half-hearted effort last July hardly inspired confidence. For me Alan Johnson doesn’t hack it – he comes over as surprisingly light-weight and Jack Straw is getting too old.
That leaves Harriet who is enjoying a high profile at the moment and is well positioned as the elected deputy leader of the party. She, it will be remembered, saw off the highly fancied odds-on favourite, Alan Johnson, in June 2007. Harriet’s 25/1 could be worth a punt.
The other option that looks like a value bet is James Purnell at 66/1. Like Tony Blair fifteen years ago Purnell could be the media choice which would help a lot.
I gather that Ed Miliband is being added to the list at 66/1. He strikes me as being by far the more able of the Miliband brothers and comes over much better.
There’s a final option of course – David Cameron at 7/2 – though if Labour’s electoral prospect are such that there’s a new leader then, surely, there’ll be no general election.