Monday, July 05, 2004
Firstly, I'd better be clear about something. I'm a member of the Labour Party, so I have a vested interest in this. While I can't pretend to be an 'insider', I'm basing this on conversations and hearsay from people whose opinion I respect. It'll be interesting to see how wrong I can be!
Gordon Brown: The obvious front-runner, but not a shoe-in. Without doubt, the most successful Labour Chancellor ever, but his tendency to polarise the party could cause him difficulty. The way he has structured the Treasury would not directly translate to No. 10, and he will need to go on a serious charm offensive to change the public's perception of him as rather dour and uncharismatic.
Alan Milburn: A very strong candidate. Has the left-wing credentials to please the dissident unions, but also popular with the Blairite right. Has been making a number of distinctly statesman-like speeches on public service reform of late, but will need to answer tough questions about the reasons for resigning his ministerial post if he runs.
John Reid: His comments this morning could signal his intentions to run, but I suspect that he won't, instead using loyalty to Brown to win one of the top cabinet jobs. He doesn't have too many years left, and I think if he thinks hard about it, he will realise that he cannot win.
Robin Cook: Will win support because of anti-war sentiment, and looks a certainty for a cabinet post whatever the outcome. I can't see him going for the top job, but he could act as kingmaker.
Alastair Darling: Anyone who can maintain a low profile in the DoT has to be a contender and I'd pitch him as a strong outsider. However, his profile could work against him in the long run, and the party leadership could be wary of the 'Alastair Who?' effect.
I think those are the main contenders, but I think there will be a standard-bearer from the left in there as well. It could be one of many, and I'd welcome any thoughts...