Focus in the media remains on the Conservative Party, whether it is over Brexit or who will replace Prime Minister Theresa May when she steps down before the next scheduled General Election in 2022.
Candidates to fill her role are not in short supply with every weekend seemingly bringing forth new leaks, gossip and Machiavellian plotting. Jeremy Corbyn is, by contrast, enjoying a quiet life in the sense that nobody is immediately looking to take his role of Leader of the Opposition.
After the next election, that may be a different story. But who would take over as Leader of the Labour Party when he stands down?
Sitting On The Top Table
Despite being a progressive party in terms of gender and race, Labour has yet to elect a female or ethnic party leader although Dame Margaret Beckett served as interim leader after the death of John Smith while Harriet Harman held the fort after the resignations of Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband.
In that sense, Emily Thornberry’s place as 6/1 favourite with Coral. The MP for Islington South and Finsbury, a neighbouring constituency to Jeremy Corbyn’s, is Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and Shadow First Secretary of State.
Thornberry is no stranger to gaffes in the past – she knows what DEFCON1 is now – but impressed on the hustings during the last election as well as subsequently during Prime Minister’s Questions where she stands in for Corbyn with some aplomb.
The second female candidate is Angela Rayner, the current Shadow Secretary of State for Education. She is highly regarded for the stand she has taken against antisemitism and is being given plenty of opportunity to shine with education.
Rows over university leadership salaries refuse to go away, coming on top of a pension deficit in further education. The failure of 44% of local authorities to provide adequate SEND provision puts Rayner front and centre on the issue.
Joining her at 10/1 is Sir Keir Starmer. A former Director of Public Prosecutions, Starmer is currently Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union where his forensic questioning of government policy and assured performances at the despatch box earned him plaudits, particularly while Labour’s own Brexit policy remained suitably vague.
As Deputy Leader, Tom Watson might expect to be closer to the leading pack but at 33/1 with Paddy Power, his popularity is waning, and he finds himself firmly in the middle of the peloton.
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell is brushing off some unwelcome bad publicity following his comments about Winston Churchill. Sitting at 16/1 with Betfred isn’t a bad place to be, particularly as the furore will play well with sections of the Labour membership.
With stories abounding of a new ‘centrist’ party being formed predominantly by disaffected Labour MPs, the way is opening for unsung contenders. Rebecca Long-Bailey, MP for Salford and Eccles, is viewed as a strong candidate post-2022 for the party’s top job, reinforcing her current odds of 16/1. She is someone to keep an eye on the longer Jeremy Corbyn stays in office.
Yvette Cooper’s profile is high among Remain-voting MPs, putting her name to key amendments to Brexit bills aimed at stopping ‘no-deal’ from happening. That naturally puts her in conflict with Eurosceptic members of her party, Corbyn included, but at 25/1 Ladbrokes odds are not quite as long as they appear at first glance. William Hill has Cooper at 14/1.
The Long Shots
Politics finds itself lumped into ‘novelty bets’ territory and if you fancy a punt, Tony Blair at 200/1 is good for kissing your money goodbye in the same way Gordon Brown’s odds are similarly outlandish.
Not quite as far out as Speaker of the House of Commons. A former Tory MP, John Bercow is 569/1 which given his performance in the Commons slapping down former political allies, is surely the political gods playing a joke on the Tories rather than a likely outcome.
Ed Miliband and brother David are mentioned in despatches, with the former Leader at 100/1, some way behind his sibling’s 18/1 with Marathon Bet.
Neil Kinnock is the only other living former Leader of the Labour Party and he isn’t declaring a return to frontline politics. However, his son Stephen is a 100/1 shot while Hilary Benn, son of the late Tony Benn, is 66/1.
And finally, the Beast of Bolsover, Dennis Skinner is 150/1. Now that would be a Labour Party leader worth watching…