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New speculation that Blair will stand down in the summer

April 23rd, 2004

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There’s speculation by Simon Carr in the Independent this morning that Tony Blair might be planning to step down in the summer – after his 10th anniversary as Labour leader. This date has been mentioned before and in December there was much talk of some deal being done with Gordon Brown at that famous reconciliation dinner hosted by John Prescott after Gordon Brown returned from maternity leave.

It will be recalled that Brown returned to work with a series of TV interviews in which he was more forthright than ever about the occupant of 10 Downing Street. Prescott called the dinner and since then all has been quiet – but was there an agreement whereby Blair would step down?

For a few weeks the change in mood of Brown was noticed by many at Westminster and people were concluding that a deal had been done. Could they be right?

This is how Carr concludes his article on Blair:-

He’s had his lows, especially in the summertime, so maybe this is coincidence. But he is dealing with a slump in credibility, he has made a mistake over the referendum, and his 10th anniversary is coming up.
If he were to hand over power to Gordon Brown after the next election we would all recoil, would we not, at a Soviet-style breach of the democratic process. Ken Livingstone came to power in the GLC all those years ago without being elected. I don’t think Tony Blair and Gordon Brown would sink to such a stratagem.
So the blinding insight is this: they’re going to do the decent thing. Ha! The column that dares to say what others daren’t think!
The handover in the summer, the installation at the party conference, the election early next year.
Oh, and the punchline to all of this is: Gordon Brown loses. They haven’t seen that coming.

The quip about Gordon could send a flurry through the betting markets – if not Brown who? Currently Blair is 1.49 to be Labour leader at the General Election and Brown is 3.9. After that it is Jack Straw and Peter Hain – both at 50.

    For a long time we have been saying that the best political bet about at the moment is laying Blair & Kennedy in the Party Leaders at the General Election market on one of the betting exchanges. If either or both go decided to you win and there’s enough speculation about both men to make this a good value bet. This was one of this week’s Monday Calls on politicalbetting.com.

We do not think that anything will happen with Charles Kennedy until after the June 10 local, Euro and London elections. Elections are the oxygen that drives the party and nobody wants to interfere. If he has decided that enough is enough then an announcement would come afterwards. If the LDs do well, as looks very likely, then his position is reinforced – but this, conversely, could make it easier to stand aside.






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