Friday, May 09, 2008

Could Geoff Hoon or Tessa Jowell really be the next PM?

The weeks between the start of the summer Parliamentary recess in July and the party conference season in September have traditionally been known in the "silly season" in political and journalistic circles. With the MPs off on their holidays, it is a time of long, slow news days at Westminster, with the result that any small thing that happens tends to get rather blown out of proportion.

Perhaps the greatest silly season story of my time in the Lobby came in August 1997, when John Prescott's throwaway remark about naming a baby crab after Peter Mandelson made headlines the length and breadth of Fleet Street.

But if the past couple of days are anything to go by, the silly season has arrived early this year. Two of my favourite bloggers have come out with what can only be described as outlandish theories about the post-Brown Labour leadership.

Mike Smithson of is one of the most insightful political commentators in the country - inside and outside the MSM. Yet incredibly, he decided to devote an entire blog post yesterday to the idea that Tessa Jowell could become Prime Minister.

Now I do realise that the raison d'etre of is political betting, as it says on the tin, and that one aspect of this is the seeking-out of unlikely scenarios from which the site's aficionados can thereby profit at long odds, but even so....

Leaving aside the fact that Jowell is the absolute personification of nannny-knows-best New Labourism, has Mike totally forgotten about the David Mills-Silvio Berlusconi affair, which nearly brought about Jowell's resignation from the Blair Cabinet?

The Daily Pundit is a less serious blog. Indeed at times, I have openly wondered whether it is a spoof on the entire political punditry industry. Today, for instance, it carries a delightful story speculating whether Guto Harri will shortly replace Michael Cole as spokesman for Mohamed-al-Fayed.

If so, it would explain why the Pundit's current hot tip for Labour leader is Geoff "Buff" Hoon, although in his defence, there is at least a literary precedent for a Chief Whip becoming party leader, namely Francis Urquhart in House of Cards.

In a recent comment on this blog, the Pundit takes me to task for failing to include Hoon in my current poll on the Labour leadership, still being headed by Jack Straw.

In my reply, I own up to the fact that I myself once tipped Hoon to be Tony Blair's successor over a few pints with a couple of Labour researchers in Bellamy's, only to be laughed out of the room.

Well, you may say, it's all very well me dissing others' efforts to make sense of the current political crisis - who do I think should become Labour leader if Brown were to be forced out?

Tomorrow, in my weekly column which will be available on this blog, I will give my answer.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

'there is a literary precedent for a Chief Whip becoming party leader'. There's a real life precedent, as well, when you consider Edward Heath (although he held other posts inbetween).

Hoon as leader? He looked seriously overpromoted as Defence Secretary (a post he got largely because the other candidate for the job, John Reid, damaged his chances by getting embroiled in a shouting match with the late Donald Dewar just before the 99 reshuffle).