Is there anything to justify her favourite status?
Just looking down the list of potential runners in the next Labour leader race betting and one names stands out, the current leader of the house and the person who won the deputy contest in June 2007, Harriet Harman.
The best you can get on her is 10/3 – a price that owes a lot to her success in that election two years ago. But are we giving too much emphasis to the deputy contest? She came through there in a very large field of six which is hardly likely to be repeated whenever the top job become vacant.
One feature about her chances that doesn’t bode well is a recent YouGov poll of Labour members. Those surveyed were asked to say whether a number prominent party figures were doing well or badly. Surprisingly Harriet came out with the second worst scores – beaten only by Jacqui Smith for the wooden spoon.
What was interesting was the sharp gender divide. Just 28% of the women members surveyed said Harriet was doing badly against 35% for the men.
For me the big question mark is the practical politics. Whenever the next leadership election occurs the party will want to elect the person who is best placed to boost Labour in the circumstances of the time.
If this was before the election then it’s hard to envisage HH being seen as the one who can stop the seepage to the Tories. A contest after the election and Labour will surely be looking to the next generation – someone now in their late 30s or early 40s. It maybe ungallant to say so but Harriet would be just too old.
Maybe this forecast will come back to haunt me but I believe we can now cross Harriet off.