PB’s “Labour insider” gives his view
I recently explained why I think Andy Burnham shouldnâ€™t be priced as the odds on favourite for the Labour leadership contest. Looking at the Deputy race, I think the opposite is the case and that the current favourite Tom Watson should in fact be a good deal shorter.
Watson is stand-out value at 6/4 with William Hill and Ladbrokes – and should be closer to 1/2. There is currently a big field of rivals but the market is distorted by the short price of Stella Creasy. Creasy has commanded support in the betting markets since she declared. She has a strong media profile and a recent Labour List survey had her on the same level of support as Tom Watson with Caroline Flint in 3rd place. All of this overlooks one crucial matter â€“ Creasy is really struggling to get close to the 35 nominations and make the ballot paper. Her relations with fellow MPs are cool if not frosty and there are plenty of alternatives for MPs to nominate instead.
Angela Eagle and has the same number of nominations as Creasy (10), Rushanara Ali has 11, Ben Bradshaw has 13, John Healey is on 18 and Caroline Flint has 32 declared MPs backing her. Tom Watson currently has 50. See the helpful rolling summary from the Staggers blog.
As the nominations reflect, the main opposition to Watson comes from steely Caroline Flint who is also a value saver at 9/2 with Ladbrokes (Hills have it right at 5/2). Take Creasy out of the field and Watson and Flintâ€™s prices will be cut/adjusted considerably. I canâ€™t see Creasy picking up the remaining 25 MPs she needs in the next week. Thereâ€™s more momentum with female London rival Rushanara Ali who only declared she was running on 24th May and has netted the support of well-known figures Chuka Umunna, Tristram Hunt and John Mann. Stella has cultivated no base in the PLP and this appears to be coming home to roost.
Tom Watson is a deserved front runner and is working harder than any other candidate wooing members around the country and his campaign appears far organised. Expect many of the individual trade union affiliate supporters to back him too.
While Labourâ€™s leaders move towards the centre ground, Watson can perform the role of the partyâ€™s conscience which John Prescott performed to good effect with Tony Blair.
By no means is it in the bag yet for Tom Watson and John Healey, Angela Eagle are also experienced and well-liked campaigners. However it is Caroline Flint who I expect to run him the closest and to run an effective campaign. She’s worth backing as a saver at 9/2. Despite this, Iâ€™ll be surprised if Tom Watson isnâ€™t elected as deputy leader in September and anything better than evens is worth snapping up now.