It’s 16/1 against him winning a fourth term and staying as PM
If you do not mind locking your money up for several years Ladbrokes have now begun taking online bets on whether Tony Blair will fight and win the next General Election and stay at Number 10.
The price is an attractive 16/1 which we think is a fair reflection of the risk and the cost of the bookmaker and not you holding onto your stake until possibly May 2010. This market was featured in one of the Sunday papers but we have waited until it is available to online punters before giving it a mention. We have been caught out before by bookies announcing political bets which get lots of publicity but which you never hear of again.
Blair’s official position is that he will step aside for somebody else before the next election. Much of the speculation that he might go much earlier has come from those promoting a Gordon Brown premiership and not from Blair or his office. On this one we believe the Prime Minister.
Quite whether Blair would go back on his previous statement about standing aside before the next election is a hard call. Clearly it would cause huge problems in part of his party but remember they have followed him thick and thin ever since he became leader eleven years ago. Issues like the abolition of clause 4, the introduction of the New Labour agenda and going to war against Iraq without a UN vote have come and gone and the Labour party has learned to live with them.
Blair has given Labour three successive election victories. If it looked as though he could give them a fourth and he wanted to stay the party would, surely, follow behind.
Perhaps the biggest factor that will cause him to step aside will be personal and not political. But Tony Blair is still a fairly young man – what’s he going to do after he leaves Downing Street?