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Is Harriet worth a punt as next Prime Minister?

July 7th, 2008


    Will her deputy victory last year put her in a strong position?

I’ve had a soft spot for Harriet Harman as a betting prospect after tipping her in June 2007 when she was 9/1 to become the Deputy Leader of the Labour party.

Now, according to today’s Daily Mail, she is quietly pitching herself as the best option for a stand-in prime minster should a vacancy occur. The paper says that MPs acting on her behalf are quietly testing opinion and a number of back-benchers have been approached.

Clearly if Gordon stepped down in a hurry a decision would have to be taken about a stand-in leader and it would be hard to rule Harriet out – especially as she triumphed last year against five other contenders for the deputy job.

    But do her aspirations go beyond just acting as the stand-in while, presumably, a Labour leadership election takes? It would seem so. There’s already talk of Harriet being the “anybody but David Miliband” candidate.

I was always impressed by the way she beat off Alan Johnson’s challenge in 2007 and I have argued here before that the way Labour’s process works could be highly favourable to a woman. Her equality at work proposals of a fortnight ago won’t have done her any harm amongst women constituency members and trade unionists.

So this lunchtime I put the grand sum of £12 on her at 16/1 to be the next occupant of Number 10 on Betfair’s “Next PM” market. I’d have put a bit more on but that was all that was available.

Mike Smithson






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