Personally, I'll be keeping an eye on The Boy Milliband, who briefly looked as if he might run. I think he did the sums and worked out that if Brown loses the next election the Party will turn on him. Then will be the time to run against him. In the meantime, he's young, he's bright, and he has time on his side and almost certainly a Cabinet position when Brown announces his reshuffle later this week.
There's increasing speculation that Brown himself has been doing the sums and has decided to call a General Election early next year. He certainly needs to do something in order to counter the accusation that he lacks a mandate, and it looks as if he's decided that, with the Tories not doing so well at the moment, and the Lib-Dems doing as well as they ever do, he should take advantage of his honeymoon period and go to the country. That way he gets a full four or five-year term to do whatever he wants, rather than spending the next two years getting ready for an election.
Risky. He's not an unknown quantity the way he was when Labour first came to power and we believed whatever they told us. We know him now, and I suspect it'll be a close thing. I think he'll win, but he might wind up with only a slim majority.
The past few weeks, this ludicrous interregnum with Tony jetting about on his Long Goodbye and Gordon travelling the country `campaigning,' have been rather extraordinary, but not in the good way. I've actually been slightly embarrassed by it all. It smacks of the showbiz vibe that we all found so attractive about New Labour back in 1997 but which now seems tired and cynical. I suppose the best you could say is that Tony Blair is coming to the end of the longest lap of honour in history. Although of course `honour' is a relative term.
I've been a little bemused, incidentally, by all the fuss surrounding Blair's supposed intention to convert to Catholicism. So what? It's not illegal to be a Catholic in this country. I can see there might have been some issues about his religion if he'd converted when he was Prime Minister - if he had to make a decision regarding abortion legislation, for instance - but if, as the media maintains, he's been a Catholic in all but name for years, what's the difference? The day after tomorrow he's going to stop being our Prime Minister, and if he wants to convert to Catholicism or Satanism it's none of our business.
His legacy? Actually, that might be trickier to work out than people think. Obviously the one overarching thing he'll be remembered for is the continuing Calvary of the people of Iraq, but does that constitute a `legacy'? Cool Britannia? `The People's Princess?' The Dome? `Education, Education, Education'? Spin? David Cameron? Was it all just hot air, smart words and mirrors? It's hard not to think that, come Wednesday, there won't be a thunder of hooves on Downing Street and people saying in hushed voices, "Who was that masked man...?"