24 June 2007

In a few days time Tony Blair steps down and will be replaced by Gordon Brown. In a few hours time we will know who will replace John Prescott as the party’s deputy leader. The deputy leadership campaign has not exactly gripped the public imagination - but then again why should it?

Whatever the result it was good to see that a poll in today’s Observer shows that Gordon Brown will take over as leader with that Labour ahead of the Tories for the first time in eight months. Although it could be dismissed by some as a short term bounce, there are signs that it could mark the end of Cameron’s honeymoon period – he has been in trouble with his party over grammar schools.

The Ipsos MORI poll shows Labour on 39 per cent (up four points on last month), while the Tories have fallen one point, to 36 per cent. The change in support seems to be at the expense of the Liberal Democrats, whose support has fallen from 18 to 15 per cent. 40 per cent of voters believe Brown would make the more capable Prime Minister, against 22 per cent who believe that Cameron would be better. Sir Menzies Campbell is rated by just 5 per cent of voters.

A bounce was to be expected and time will tell whether he can sustain the lead – needless to say as a partly member I hope he does! One of his first acts will be to reshuffle the Cabinet (if nothing else changed there would have to be a new Chancellor of the Exchequer and replacements for John Reid and Lord Falconer). There has been a lot of speculation as to who will rise and fall.: Jack Straw and Alistair Darling are widely tipped for promotion. Interestingly, the Observer indicates that Brown wants to make a gesture on Iraq and is keen to John Denham to a ministerial post. Denham was a Minister of State at the Home Office when but resigned over the Iraq invasion.

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