Are Johnson and the two Eds the big losers?
Until last Thursday my “picks” as Brown’s replacement were Alan Johnson if there was a contest before the general election and Ed Balls if it took place afterwards. My view was that the former’s more conciliatory style and background might make him an ideal choice to face Cameron while Ed Balls had, the formidable Damien McBride on his team.
Other bets placed in the past five months, at more than 30/1 in each case, have been on James Purnell, Ed Miliband and Jon Cruddas. I’ve also got a tenner on Tony Blair at 250/1.
Well five days of “Smeargate” is changing all the assessments. Alan Johnson and Ed Miliband have both been underwhelming during their sessions as Number 10’s public face. A McBride-less Balls is much diminished and, of course, we now have the Blairites feeling free to up the ante. Could Brown’s replacement be Alan Milburn or even Charles Clark?
Certainly the long prices available on the last two are worth covering punts.
I just get this feeling that the man to watch is Jon Cruddas who, unlike almost all the others and the current incumbent, is easy both on the ear and on the eye. He is nicely positioned within the party and because he’s not a minister has been able to pursue his own reform agenda.
The front runner, Harriet Harman, has also maintained an independence but I’m less sure of her popularity in the three electoral colleges that make up the movement’s electoral process. A key part of her success in the 2007 deputy contest was the fact that there were six runners. I’d be very surprised if next time there were more than three.