Who’s going to win the battle for Number 11?
These are my thoughts on the subject from a betting perspective.
Alistair Darling: The Trade & Industry Secretary is an arch Brownite, and has for a long while been one of the favorites to be the next Chancellor. Currently available on Betfair to back at 2.5/1, or to lay from 2.75/1. Darling could conceivably be the next Chancellor, but the current prices donâ€™t tempt me either way at present.
Ed Balls: Economic Secretary to the Treasury, and for years a close adviser to Gordon Brown. Tipped by some as a future Chancellor, but would he really come straight into the cabinet at that level? Current back price of 2.65/1 seems quite short, and I would lay at this level. Balls is also hampered by a less than fluent style of communication (though that didnâ€™t stop Gordon). To make matters worse, the boundary commission has abolished his seat!
David Miliband: Generally regarded as one of the â€˜high flyersâ€™ of the government, the current DEFRA Secretary was traditionally viewed as a Blair supporter. Though, he now seems to have a foot in both Blair and Brown camps, and is likely to continue his rise whoever the next Labour leader is. However, the current back price of 9.5/1 on Betfair would need to drift a little before I would risk even a small amount.
Stephen Timms: Currently Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and a leading Brownite. Has lately been taking a more prominent role in Labourâ€™s attack on Tory economic â€˜policyâ€™. A comment by Nick Palmer on this site a couple of weeks ago that Timms would be a good bet, narrowed his price from 40 to 10 in a matter of minutes. Currently available to back on Betfair at 12.5/1, which still seems good value.
Others: Alan Johnson, John Reid, and Jack Straw are all available to back between 16/1 and 33/1, however I canâ€™t really see Gordon appointing any of them as Chancellor. But what if a Blairite (say John Hutton) was the next leader? Would he bring in another Blairite like Alan Milburn to be Chancellor? I wouldnâ€™t touch Milburn, even at his current back price of 75/1 as I canâ€™t see anyone other than Gordon being the next Labour leader. George Osbourneâ€™s lay price of 75/1 looks good value if you are brave enough to lay at those kind of levels!
To conclude, Darling is a feasible candidate, but I am not tempted by his odds. Balls will probably be Chief Secretary in a Brown government, and therefore is well worth laying at current prices. Miliband could be worth a small punt if his price drifts further (but only to lay off when the price tightens). Timms at 13.5 is excellent value. He is a Brownite, and knows the Treasury well.
My money is on Timms â€“ and Iâ€™m keeping it there.
Site notice: Sean Fear’s local election report will be posted tomororw.